I know it’s coming because I can hear him outside the door and, sure enough, Ray’s head appears in my door frame, followed by his body. He says, as he does every day, several times, “Oh Chicken, Sweet Chicken, how we all love Chicken. And how’s Chicken today?”
“Mornin’ Ray. Doin’ well. How about you?”
“Can’t complain. Got up on the right side of the grass”
“Just another day in Paradise, huh Ray?”
“Yup, that’s right Chicken. See ya later.”
It’s a good day when I know it’s coming. Quite often, I don’t. Quite often, I’m standing at the copier or at the front desk, lost in thought, minding my own business when, suddenly…
“Chicken Sweet Chicken, we all love Chicken”
I jump a half-mile, turn a somersault and come back down, landing where I began. I am growing tired of this conversational thread and I am especially growing tired of jumping out of my skin several times a day.
I suspect Ray knows this, but the amount of pleasure he gets from sneaking up on me outweighs any guilt he feels over repeatedly initiating my fight or flight response on an otherwise boring work day.
I try to give old Ray the benefit of the doubt. He’s old and hard of hearing, I tell myself. He doesn’t realize how loud he is.
Some other things Ray doesn’t realize is how many times a day his eyes wander down to my chest or how often he demeans women or how many times a day he complains about his crazy wife.
But still, we work together, so common ground must be sought.
“How’re the grand kids, Ray?…”
And he’s off. He’d give the shirt off his back for those kids. His eyes shine and his persona changes from grouchy old man to proud Pépé.
It’s just another day in Paradise.