The saying goes that life is what happens to you when you’re busy making plans. Maybe you’re planning a wedding, a career move, a girl’s night out or just planning on making a sandwich. The point is that when you aren’t looking, when you least expect it to or even want it to for that matter- life intervenes and says, “So… this is what’s going to happen.”Two and a half years ago, I was working as an Account Specialist at a claim center in Carmel Mountain Ranch when my supervisor called me; she let me know that I’d been selected to learn more about a position with a different department: Enterprise Fleet Management. Fleet was all but an urban legend to me shrouded in wonder and mystery. I knew little of what Fleet did or what it was all about, and because I was comfortable where I was, I turned it down.
A few days later, I got a call from a number with a 909 area code. He was a Regional Sales Manager in this Fleet division and wanted to pick my brain. I agreed to meet having nothing to lose and because I’d also forgotten my wallet. I also hadn’t packed a lunch, so.... hey, why the heck? Why not?
We talked for over an hour in getting-to-know-you fashion, then came the questions he’d driven up there to ask: why had I said no? What were my concerns? Could he possibly change my mind? And because I am often awkward in these types of situations, what came out of my mouth was: “I don’t want to involve you in my mess. I’m medically fucked up.”
This friendly man with a shaven head and super blue eyes stopped chewing his roasted veggie salad, and he asked, “Like, psychologically, or… ?” and then came an awkward pause. I laughed out loud like a crazy person and then for reasons I cannot explain to you, I told private truths to this stranger who had the nerve to turn around and care. I told him I’d need to leave early on Thursdays. No one could know why. Little did I know that this man knew all about complications- cancer, divorce, single-fatherhood. That afternoon I called my boss and told her I’d had a change of heart. A few short weeks later I took up a space in a cubicle at 6330 Marindustry Drive.
Two and half years later, I look back and wonder what would have become of me had I not agreed to meet that man at Luna Café that summer. I wouldn’t have gotten a call from my new boss Melissa inviting me to Palm Springs for the weekend. I wouldn’t have been handed a pair of glasses, suspenders and drink tickets and told to show up ready to party as a Comic Con nerd. I wouldn’t have almost been abandoned in the desert by an employee with an agenda, or apologized to a thousand times the following Monday by everyone in the office.I would never have met Michele, the blonde, human meerkat who speaks a different language known by only a chosen few: I wouldn’t know what a strippy truck is, or a Scooby or a ladybird or crotch monkey, how to jimmy-jammy something or kick someone in the kanicki. I might not know that “Kumbayashi” is actually Michele-speak for Kombucha. I might never have ordered root fries or met three Corgis as cute as can be.
I’d never have met Alisa, super stalker extraordinaire. I might not have stopped to smell the egg whites in the morning or else have missed out on her infectious laugh. I might also have never been stalked by her crazy customers when she and my friend Tara were out of the office, and someday I promise I’ll go ahead and forgive her for that.I’d never have met Grumbles, who turned the word "mailers" to "mellers" and will put a smile on your face every SINGLE day come what day. I’d have missed out on his headstand while wearing a camo helmet, and never met his adorable daughters who will head-butt their way into your hearts.
I’ve never have Amy (aka Rosie or Ramy), whose dance moves are awesome and who always had high-protein snacks. I wouldn’t get Asian texts or have someone to talk Chanel to, or someone to scold for her shopping habits knowing full and well she will never learn.
I’d never have worked with Marty again, since I'd worked with her once before, she the queen of toast and talking to no-one-ness. I’d never have known what it’s like to have someone watch you from the next cubicle and have them creep you the hell out each time. I'd have missed her helpful nature and willingness to be a team player. I thank her for that.I’d never have met Denise- the brave soul and big heart who will fill my shoes. The giver of fleet’s absolute worst news quiz, the badass who showed up with her own stock of Nerf weaponry.
I’d never have met Cheyenne, the most normal one of the bunch of us. My right hand, my cake-pop provider and my stable source of reality. I’d have missed out on a thousand “what the heck?” moments and not had someone to dare me to dream. I’d still have 42,000 driver name changes to do and an even bigger pile of files to reconcile.I’ve never have met Kristin, the spider monkey and pallet-rider who laughs at dumbness with me like cats, owls and Kirimi-Chan. The girl who pushes me to dream bigger and aim a little higher, who got me to like country and taught me to replace the word “girl” with “squirrel.”
I’d never have met Tara, my dear sweet friend Tara, the world’s most friendly angry person whose laugh is possibly my favorite in the world. She taught me about “perry-meters,” crap holes, fudgesicles, monsties and daaaaaaark chocolaaaaate. I’ve never have learned to “do-do” song or how to sing your way through a shitty-ass day.I’d never have learned that Fleet is pretty much Unicef from a guy named John that makes the BEST bruschetta, a real life Fun Hunter who trolls the halls with a stomp and a snap. He reads texts, said my face looks like chicken fat on my third day and never stops talking about poop. I’d never have met his baby who I secretly want to kidnap (just kidding , Maureen!).
I’d never have met this Zack guy from Philly who buys me books and loooooves those spirit fingers, who means what he says when he cares and has no recollection of emphatically tearing some documents up; I’d never have met his alter egos, like the black minister from the Southern Baptist pulpit, or met his future musician son (age 3) who’d like to talk to our controller Gerges.That guy that took me to lunch Greg- I’d never have eaten about a thousand dollars’ worth of sushi with him after one too many sake shots or Sapporos, or God knows what other things. I’d never have learned to absolutely love salmon or known that my Spanish sounds like an aggressive samurai. When I waived a white flag and reached for a Kleenex box, I’d never have gotten my pony, or my diamonds, or avocado pudding, or a single flower in a simple vase.
I’d never have met my superhero boss Mel who reads through life with me, who once took me to a library opening and had my back every. single. time. I’d never have laughed that hard at Mustang Sally, tasted Rumchata or been to random creepy fabric stores; I’d have paid $90 for a headband it took her kid 30 seconds to make. She made one of the scariest, biggest decisions of my life a little bit easier. She let me go even when it was hard to, because she understood that it was my time.What about the Nerf battles? The sales meetings? The brownie bites? The CVI pens? The thirty second dance parties and closet where everything went to die? Creepy Kevin? All-caps guy and his slow march towards zombiesm? The feet guy, the Russian mafia embezzlers? The FedEx chick who can’t see glass? The Padres and Chargers games, the Basic pizza? The 8:08s that start off strong but always go awry? What about the costumes? The holiday parties? The video filming, the weirdness? The pouring of granulated sugar on a dude in a fishnet crop-top, and of course the Harlem shake? What about the kayaks and the twerking in a child’s XL onesie? What about “skrrrrrr!” or “No I don’t!” or the many renditions of “Smack That?”
What about the weirdos I consider my family and that it’s so gosh damn hard to leave?
I’ll carry them with me always like family, these crazies, the freaks of Fleet.
Since you don't say goodbye to people you'll see again...
See you later,