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5:28 a.m. - 2005-12-13

WHO KNEW POT PIES COULD CARRY SO MUCH PAIN?


There's this guy at work ... super nice guy ... been with us about a month.

Sadly, his desk is right next to the microwave.

We don't really have a "kitchen" at work ... just a sink, refrigerator, microwave, pantry, toaster oven and garbage can at one end of a large room where the new guy works.

Four days out of five, I take my lunch to work because if you work through your lunch hour, you get to leave an hour early and I love me some leavin' at 4:00.

Most of those days, I'm having to microwave something.

Which means, I have to talk to ... new guy.

It's not that I mind talking to new guy.

It's just that ... he's back there all alone working in this big room and lunchtime is the one time that people come into the room for brief moments.

If I were in his shoes, I'd probably do what he does.

And that is ... chit-chat your ass off while you're cooking your lunch in the microwave.

At first I didn't mind it.

Then a co-worker said something along the lines of "That must have took a long time to cook. I guess you're all caught up on Joe's life story, huh?"

And it dawned on me ... man ... Joe sure must be lonely back there.

Yesterday, I brought a microwavable pot pie.

Four minutes.

Plus three minutes to cool down.

Great.

I get the pot pie out of the freezer and slowly walk to the microwave like it was the electric chair and I was Tookie Williams.

"Hey, Uncle Bob!" Joe says.

"Hey Joe," I said and then added "Where you goin' with that gun in your hand?"

...Went FLYING over his head ...

"What gun?" Joe asked. "I don't have a gun."

"I know, Joe," I said. "It's a song lyric. Forget about it."

"Oh," Joe said. "What song?"

"It's called 'Hey Joe',"I said as the microwave clock read 3:45 minutes left on my pot pie.

"There's a song called 'Hey Joe'?" he asked, eyes widening.

"Yes Joe. A song called 'Hey Joe'."

"Who sings it?"

"Jimi Hendrix probably has the most popular version, but it's been recorded several times."

"Can you get me a copy?" Joe asked. "I'd love to have a copy of it. I'd play it all the time."

3:35 minutes left.

"I'll try to scrounge up a copy for you, Joe."

(Silence for all of three seconds)

"Have a good weekend?" Joe asked.

"Yeah," I said. "I got this thing ... Moxi ... "

"What's Moxi?"

"It's like the cable company's version of TiVo," I said.

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah," I said. "It's pretty cool really."

"Yeah," Joe says. He pauses for a second and says "What's TiVo?"

3:15 minutes left.

"It's like a computer for your TV. It records the shows you want to see and then holds them in the computer in an easy-to-find folder type of thing. You can then watch the shows at your convenience and delete them when you're finished watching them or keep them to watch them again."

"Wow."

"Yeah."

"I don't watch much TV," he says. "I doubt I'd really need it."

"Then I guess we don't have fuck else more to talk about then, huh Joe?"

(I didn't really say that. But it ALMOST came tumbling out of my mouth.)

2:50 minutes left.

"Wanna guess what I did this weekend?" Joe asks.

Yeah Joe. That's why I'm back here. This whole "microwaving a pot pie" shit is just a cover-up for my real intentions here. I'm fucking DYING to guess what you did this weekend.

(Once again ... I didn't really say that.)

"What'd you do, Joe?"

"Guess."

Great.

As if I don't get enough of this crap at home ... now I've got to guess what the new guy did over the weekend.

"Uhhhhh ... Christmas shop?"

"Nope. Got that done already."

2:30 minutes left.

"What'd you do, Joe?"

"Guess!"

2:26 minutes left.

"Uhhhhh ..." I said.

And honestly ... at this point ... I just didn't care. Call me an asshole, but all I wanted was my pot pie. I wanted scorching hot beefy gravy and flimsy pastry burning the roof of my mouth while I inhaled and exhaled through my mouth, trying desperately to cool the stuff down before it set my innards on fire. That's all I wanted out of this deal. And I wanted my pot pie to cook in SILENCE. I deal with people all day long in my office. These four minutes by the microwave are MY TIME.

I DON'T WANT TO GUESS!!!!!!

"Ummmmmm...paint your house?" I asked.

"Nope," he grinned. "You'll never guess, so I'll just tell you. I went down to the homeless shelter and fed the homeless people."

Oh.

Well then.

I spent the weekend scoping out shitty movies on HBO East illegally until the cable company wised up and shut it off.

And Joe fed the homeless.

Joe 1 Illegal Movie-Watching Asshole 0.

"That's great, Joe," I said. "That's a very rewarding thing to do."

2:00 minutes left.

"Yeah," Joe said. "I was homeless for a short time in the 80s."

Wow.

I mean ... technically, I was too. I got kicked out of college, couldn't pay my rent, refused to go back home to Mom and Dad and spent my nights sleeping on the floors of friends' apartments, strange girls' beds that I met in bars or wherever I could find a place.

I slept on the floor of a public bathroom one night. THAT'S homeless.

After about a month or two of that, I went home to Mom and Dad.

I don't really consider it "homeless" because I always had a home I could go back to.

I look back at it as an awakening ... like the hippies that used to go to Europe and backpack across the countryside.

But Joe ... he was full blown homeless.

I never slept under a bridge while 18 wheelers went speeding by.

Joe's been there and done that, got the t-shirt and sold it for dog food.

1:00 minute left.

It's really kind of hard to carry your end of a conversation when a guy's telling you that he used to panhandle on the side of an interstate exit ramp so he could buy coffee to stay warm and awake.

And trust me ... truly former homeless people don't want to hear some spoiled rich college kid's story about having to go home with women he met in bars just so he'd have a place to crash for a day or two.

"Ha!" Joe snorted. "You call THAT homeless? I had to suck a guy's dick once for $20 so I could buy a cot in a shelter for Christmas Eve!"

I.

Just.

Want.

My.

Fucking.

Pot.

Pie.

Dammit.

You.

That's all. Just a cheap assed 60 cent pot pie. That's all I'm here for. I don't want to hear the new guy's story about schlonking on a honker so he could have a warm place to sleep in sub-zero temperatures.

"Wow,"I said because I never know the correct thing to say when people tell you they've had to perform sexual acts against their will in order to provide the simple pleasures of life in their past.

I used to just laugh and point at them and hold my stomach while laughing.

As it turns out, that wasn't the coolest thing to do.

The microwave bell rang.

"Well Joe," I said. "It's been nice talking to you."

"You too, Bobby!" he smiled.

"If it's any consolation," I said quietly. "I won't ever ask you to suck my dick for $20."

He just stared at me with a confused look on his face.

I decided to let my pot pie's three minute cooldown time take place at my desk.

Today ... McDonalds.

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