Wednesday, August 15, 2012

complicated candy

I am the office candy girl.

All three secretaries have candy on their desks. But mine by far is the most popular. The crayon-colored yellow, orange, blue and red orbs grab eyeballs as they walk past, trying to avoid their luring gaze, sticking to business. When I refill the bowl with fresh stock, they clank heavily against the glass like pebbles being dropped into a new fishbowl. In the room next door, the accountant's head pivots quickly, alerted to the arrival of her midmorning pick-me-up. I see her tempered excitement through the glass window, phone to ear, teeth biting over her lip as she ponders the moment of her brief reprieve.

"Does this mean I have to talk to you?" the husky partner says as he scoops up a serving of Peanut M&Ms, his third today. He always siphons out the Plains. "Only if you want to," I reply. There is no written etiquette around these things. Sometimes they're in a hurry, so they quickly spoon up a handful, unconcerned about the distribution of the colors or nuts -- 30 seconds til the conference call.

Everyone uses the spoon except one, who plucks one or two carefully with his fingers and grins like a kid who's found a forgotten carton of ice cream in the freezer. A kid with a bald spot, unmarried, too-long tie. Some, filling the brief quiet, ask me how I'm doing, how I like the place so far, what's going on this weekend. The conversation generally spans the time it takes to transfer the desired quantity from bowl to palm – and then we’re off into our separate orbits.

Mostly, I get smiles. And knowing nods. We share a moment of pure pleasure brought, uniquely, by a rainbow-hued, hardcased piece of milk chocolate, that great bite of crunchy-chewy-sweet. We feel, ever so briefly, like kids again. Sometimes we share a secret. "I went over my quota today," the accountant says, "but I'm OK with that, because I went running this morning." For the men, it's mostly fun, a forgetfulness of the rules; for the women, transgression. I comfort them in their time of sin. "It's OK," I say. "A little chocolate never hurt anyone."

The husky partner, scooping out his fourth, confesses, "I can't keep doing this -- fill it with dried fruit, or something!" We both know this feigned derision is all cover. A trust is formed. I will never take away his moment of late-afternoon joy.

The IT guy, passing by, points downward at the just-filled bowl. "That is evil," he says. On the way out, he helps himself. "Pure evil," looking me straight in the eye. Behind it, his happiness is winking.

photo credit here

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