Out the front door, locking it behind me. As I walk past my apartment (Apartment #9) and head for the stairs I place my keys in my right pocket. I get stopped abruptly at apartment 7 by a voice calling.
“Denver! Yoo-hoo Denver!”
I turn and see the 74-year-old Mrs. Godfrey waving me to come back.
“Denver, me and Rodney spoke to Patricia last night and she plans to visit this Wednesday, you do remember her don’t ya?”
Patricia or Pat or even Fatty Patty as I jokingly call her in my head is the granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey. She is supposedly 29 but to me she appears to be pushing 40. Weighing in at near 350 lbs with the face of a farm pig – if pigs wore short red wigs. Fat pat the pig in a wig. Dr. Seuss character idea?
“Yes, of course I remember Fa- I mean Pat Mrs. Godfrey!”
I said with the most enthusiasm I could muster.
“Good! Very good! You know she is still single? And, well by the looks of it Denver, so are you.”
Mrs. Godfrey not so discreetly hinting at the idea of Patricia and I dating.
“Yeah, well, we’ll see Mrs. Godfrey. But right now I really need to head to work. Got pay them bills you know?”
“Okie dokie Denver, you have a nice day! Hope to see you Wednesday! No reason for a nice young man like yourself to be lonely.”
She said this then winked.
I waved bye then quickly head for the stairs.
I start my walk on to Masters Street and begin to think about to number one problem with me, the undiagnosed but clear as day issue that controls my life. Anxiety. The reason I am not married. The reason I have no friends but just mere acquaintances. The reason I am not a professional comedian but just a fan. Anxiety. I think want makes this condition so horrible is that most who suffer with it are not ignorant to it. It’s not like some mental illnesses were you aren’t aware of your problem. I’m not crazy but something, somewhere in my brains hard wiring, is not put together correctly. Sometimes if I’m greeted by a stranger who simply smiles and says “hello”, I will freeze and say nothing or just give an awkward node or raising of my hand with my chin down. I made a major leap last year. I started an account on Facebook. I mean, I have 32 friends! 20 of these are family members and I’m not close to and the other 12, well, random people I don’t know at all. The mysteriously 12 range between people like John Rogers from Kansas to Ming Cho from Barstow California. I almost had a panic attack when setting up the account when it asked for a profile picture! One picture! Of me! For the whole world to see! I think not. I settled with the default picture for people who don’t like the way they look. I know this is all irrational fear – like an author who feels they will die before they finish writing their next novel – but like I said, it’s how I am hardwired.
I reach the end of Master Street and turn myself on to Main Street. This is where all the businesses including Home Helpers Inc (where I work) are located in Mainstay Georgia. Mainstay is a decently small town of approximately 10,000 people. This town is considered boring to most due to its lack of attractions. For fun most people here travel to Preston Valley about 15 miles south of Mainstay. Preston Valley is at least 5 times the area size of Mainstay with about ten times the population – this is a nightmare of a town to me. People from Mainstay and other small surrounding cities visit Preston Valley for the Drive-In theater, big chain restaurants and of course the drugs you can be sure to find at any given street corner or back alley behind a homeless shelter or most surprising to me anyway, the Christian Mission Project where five dollars of every paycheck I receive goes to help elderly homeless.
I keep pressing forward to Home Helper Inc. where I have been employed for 11 years. This not my dream job, not by a long shot.
I have arrived. I walk into the parking lot of my workplace. HOME HELPER INC. written in all orange upper case letters. Home Helpers Inc, you’ve probably seen their commercial on TV. They are a multi million dollar company that sells cheap “Made In China” furniture, decor, etc. I walk in the through the sliding glass doors and make my way to the break room where the scanner we use to clock in is located. After I clock in I headed toward the back of the store, this is the Receiving Area, where I work. I like my job. I work alone and it is quiet except for when the store receives a new load of stock. I enjoy what I do and it does pay more than the door greeter but I recognize that my position keeps my emotional and social progress in limbo. My position doesn’t hurt me but it certainly isn’t developing me into a social butterfly.
I’m about half to my work area and get stopped by my hyper active Manager Christopher Holt.
“Denver! My man! Hope you’re ready because we have 15 trucks coming in and you ain’t leavin til they are unloaded and processed!”
I give him my standard emotionless stare. Knowing he lives for reactions.
“Ah, I’m just joshin’ ya Denver, it’s gonna be a good day! No trucks this week, cooperate says we gotta free up some room in inventory for the Black Friday event next month. So I’m just needin’ you to do some housekeeping in receiving.”
“Ok, sounds good Chris.”
“Good, I can always count on you to do the job and never complain! Oh yeah, FYI, you are employee of the month! Again!”
He leans in closer and whispers.
“Like always, you don’t have to give a speech buddy.”
He winks and moves on to help out a female customer looking at toilets. This comment Mr. Holt made about not speaking for my acceptance of the Employee of the Month award is referring to an incident 6 years.
Nobody that works here now was employed here at that time except for Chris and myself. Once a month all employees come in early for a Saturday morning meeting. It was Christopher’s first month as manager. He talked about the coming months sales goals, read customer feedback and concluded with his idea of an overhauled Employee of the Month program. He said each month he’d choose one person found to go above and beyond their work duties. He told everyone the winner will get their name posted on the break room bulletin board, a $10 Wal-Mart Gift Card, and that he expected the recipient to give a short acceptance speech. I hated every aspect of this idea. I hated it more when he announced ME as the first person he had chosen. He called my name. I stayed put in my seat until he insisted I stand up and come stand next to him. Once I was standing shoulder to shoulder and facing the “crowd”. Christopher, the guy I just started to hate, pats me on the back and tells the crowd all about hard work. He hands me my gift card. Then finally ask me for a few words. I froze! My face looked like a bright red tomatoes. I few people chuckled but I don’t believe it was out of ill will. My fight or flight instincts kick in and I ran!