The RLC Department decided to have a p0t luck dinner on Friday. Well, it was mostly the ANG side that wanted to do it. OSI remains populated almost entirely by guys in their twenties. I’m not sure who all’s in the pot luck demographic, but it’s not unmarried guys in that age group. ANG is now half-male also, also predominantly unmarried. So the girls all thought of something creative that they would bring and half of the guys all volunteered for chips and dip.
The fact that almost nobody in OSI agreed to participate was a point of irritation for Carol Goddard and Mallory Hardin, who had organized this. They decided that only those that brought something would get to participate. The night before Clancy and I made a midnight run to the convenience store and I decided to pick up some easy cheese, cream cheese, and crackers of a couple sorts. It wasn’t particularly creative, but I figured that it wasn’t chips and dip and it wasn’t cheap so it couldn’t be too easily disregarded.
So Friday it was on. Carol’s husband and an ANG programmer, complimented by junkie-cheesy contribution. I commented that it was great for occasions like this because I enjoy eating it, but a whole can of easy cheese or bar of cream cheese is simply too much. This way I can have some without having a lot. He agreed with my logic.
Carol had to make a run to the grocery store to pick up some more stuff when Ulysses entered the picture. Ulysses asked if he could have some and Willard said “sure.” So Ulysses was eating some when Frank approached him and told him that the food was for ANG only. Ulysses thought he was joking. I actually assumed that he was, too. But something in the manner that Frank charged back to his desk told Ulysses that he wasn’t.
Ulysses is a salesman. He’s one of very few black people in the Mocum area. True to stereotype, he was a linebacker at BYU. His sales region is the South. The degree of unselfconsciousness required in all these things is indicative of how much of a people-person he is. His business is in being likeable. He really doesn’t like being unliked.
So he gave me the rest of his plate, apologized to Frank and told him that he wasn’t trying to be a freeloader. Frank was not impressed. Ulysses offered Frank a couple bucks to pay for the foot he ate and told Frank that he had given the rest of the plate to me. Frank tossed the money into the trash can and muttered “Will didn’t bring anything, either.”
This had me concerned that my contribution didn’t count. Granted the cheese and crackers wasn’t really elaborate, and I hadn’t announced that I was going to bring it (because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get anything), but I didn’t get any of the cheap stuff and it went in excess of $10, worth more than anything I would eat twofold. I knew that Frank knew that I had brought something because he and I had a conversation.
When Carol got back, I asked her if my contribution counted and she assured me that it had. It was a selfish question considering all that was going on, but it at least provided a seque into explaining all that had occured. Frank was huddled in his corner. Not talking. Not eating. Just sitting there. Ulysses, still feeling bad, went to the store and brought some Diet Lime Coke to contribute. He offered it to Frank, but Frank declined. And sat there untalking and uneating. Ulysses ended up giving the drink to me, which worked out well because Clancy is a huge Diet Lime Coke fan.
I like Frank. He’s a good guy and a very hard worker. He was supposed to be the first of the ANG team to be transferred to my team because of his current superviser/subordinate relationship with his wife. I was looking forward to it. But this whole chain of events underscored a petulent side of him that had not gone completely unnoticed before.
Carol and Frank eventually had a showdown of sorts. They were in the breakroom having a heated conversation for well over an hour. It was another illustration of having married coworkers (particularly of the superviser/subordinate variety).
Everything eventually calmed down. Frank talked to me Monday to let me know that there was some sort of miscommunication and that he knew I had brought something. He apparently apologized to Ulysses, too. Ulysses apologized again, though it had been evident from the get-go that he felt bad about the whole thing.
At first I was sorry when Carol said that there wouldn’t be any more pot luck lunches. Then I thought about it and was relieved.