“Jane, would you do me a favor?”
I was startled by the voice—it was Frank. He rarely spoke, except to the other male professors and only then to talk about baseball. I was shocked he knew my name.
“Well, I had to ask John what your name was. I’m not good with names.”
Really? We’ve shared this office for half a decade and you barely acknowledge my presence. I would not be surprised that he didn’t know my name, but to ask John—and he knows his name? Is he a male chauvinist pig or what? And—the fact he’s only speaking to me because he wants a favor? So many things to say—do I err on the side of valor and keep my mouth shut? Naw.
Besides, my brain and mouth have never been connected.
“You’re a real charmer, Frank.”
Frank blinked three times and his weight shifted from the balls of his feet to his heels. I noticed he was holding some papers in both hands, which he began to curl. I gave a sly smile—I’m fluent in sarcasm and sarcastic looks. I swiveled toward him in my office chair. “What’s the favor?”
He tried to smile and act casually. No wonder I don’t have any friends. I shoot them down the minute I get them within my sights. What’s wrong with me?
“Well, uh,” he kind of laughed. His right eye continued to twitch. “I was wondering if you could take a look at this for me. Since you teach comp, you’re a genius with words.”
“I wouldn’t say I’m a genius, but I’d be happy to take a look. What is it?”
Seeing his opportunity, he pulled up his chair and sat down. He was very tall and thin and the chair could easily seat two of him. Some people have all the luck—my kingdom for a working metabolism. He put the papers on the desk and smoothed them out with both of his hands, his long fingers trying to uncurl the damage he did.
“Well, my wife is working on cover letters for a job search. Now that our little guys are in school, we decided it’s time for her to begin working outside the home …”
My head was swimming. Wife? Little guys? As in, you have children?
And, oink—we decided it was time for her to begin to work?
“—and I always hear you and the other girls—“
Oink. “Michelle and Erin?”
“Right,” he wasn’t sure how to react. “But I always hear you ladies—“
“—talking about your students writing resumes and such and I thought, if you wouldn’t mind—“
“Sure, I’d be happy to help.”
I felt like a kid on Christmas. This was insane. I was getting a peek behind the curtain. I began, almost too casually, asking questions. Too bad I can’t write this information down so I can tell Michelle and Erin, that would be too obvious. I hope I can remember it all.
Yes, he’s married, just celebrated their 12th anniversary. He has three children, a girl and two boys. Ages 11, 9, and 6. All three love baseball. He spends his evenings outside with them playing catch. Crap—what was it he said about the dog? Oh, and his wife’s letter.
After this, Frank did speak a little more to me, mostly when there were fewer people in the office, but it was a start. We could almost have casual conversations, which were mostly about the weather, but it was a dialogue. And his wife did get the job. Over the years, she worked her way up to a pretty important position and was given more responsibility.
All thanks to me.