Friday, January 12, 2007

Mail Call

The other day I was working in the mail room. It’s one of my favorite places to work. For one thing, no one ever suspects I will be in there. I get about twice as much work done in half the time. Another thing, it’s got a speedy fast computer with all of our databases. Lastly, it’s like a revolving door of people and gossip. It might be considered the best seat in the work-house.

And so, the other morning, in stepped an employee delivering some mail. One of my favorite mail delivery guys. One of my favorites because years ago when we worked in the same building I heard the sound of something familiar emanating from his computer. It was Parliament. And you don’t find too many people around here privy to the P-Funk. He is probably the only person around the workplace that would understand if I picked up the stapler, pointed it at him,and shouted I’m gonna hit you with my bop gun.

He walked in, we engaged in the usual banter of where have you been, what’s new, but then I looked at him, something was off. Something was different.

I wasn’t the only one. Another co-worker began chasing him around, telling him something was different. They came to a hault in the mailroom when she asked, “Did you get your hair cut?” She reached for his hat. This is the wonderful thing about a workplace – the opportunity to watch two adults grope and pull at each other like children.

He holds on to his hat, not giving up the reveal as to what was going on underneath. Finally, with a voracious pull and snatch, she stands there with hat in hand, wide-eyed at what it unveiled. For underneath his hat was not just a new hairdo, oh no, it was much more than that. It was a fabulous new hairdo – a la the style of Mr. T. Remember Mr. T, part of the world-famous, world-feared A-Team that drove around in a black conversation van with tinted windows and four of the strangest men who seemed to have nothing in common with each other than a penchant for wielding guns and the element of surprise as they jumped out of a black van.

“What on earth happened to your hairs?” my co-worker asked, a little older than me, perhaps a little less familiar with B.A. Baracus et al.

“My friends decided to give me a haircut.” he started explaining.

Haircuts are not uncommon for this co-worker. He often lets his hair grow long, then lops it off for some generous cause like Locks of Love. But I had a feeling this new haircut was less about generosity and more about debauchery.

He continued to explain, “So they decided why just shave it off, why not shave it in the shape of Mr. T’s haircut?”

Right – a totally normal progression of thoughts that most people have when getting, or giving, a new haircut.

“And they did this after too much _____________,” I interrupted, leaving the blank line hanging out there heavy and waiting to be filled.

I looked at him curiously – too much what, I thought. Jack Daniels? Vodka and tonics? Schlitz on tap at the Squirrel’s Cage? (the Squirrel’s Cage happens to be a bar where employees frequently hang out; I’ve yet to muster the confidence to enter a bar called the Squirrel’s Cage as the words squirrel and cage in my mind go together as well as fire and ice or creamed corn and clams or Elizabeth and decaf).

He looked back at me. “Too much milk and cookies,” he replied.

Ah, the old milk and cookies craze. You’re right, I thought, after dunking too many Oreos my friends are also likely to shave my head in support of the A-Team. This is totally normal behavior.

“What did your boss say?” I asked, curious as to how a workplace that fretted for months over the size of the font on our nametags would fare with this hairdo.

“Nothing. Yet,” he replied, honestly.

With that, I wished him well on his way and suggested he pull the hat down a little lower.

I wondered if he would spend the rest of the day milking this haircut for what it’s worth. For all he knew, in a few hours, the boss could politely suggest he reconsider the cut to better serve our customers, or at least not scare them away. If it were me, I would spend the rest of the mail route screaming “I pity the fools!” like Mr. T would so often do.

I decided to probe a little further into this Mr. T identity. I visited a website called “Ask Mr. T”. Accordingly, I asked Mr. T ‘what is with the new haircut’? And Mr. T promptly responded “Don’t ask me sucka. I’ve got more important things on my mind.”

That made me want to ask him even more.

So I did. I asked another question. Know what he said? “If you don’t stop flappin’ your lips I’m gonna smash your head black and blue.”

I get the point. I looked elsewhere at another site with Random Facts About Mr. T. My favorite was:

Following a special act of Congress in 1989, Mr. T must register his pity as a concealed weapon. His hair is the permit.


I wonder if the mail guy considered his hair a permit for something? Free beer at the Squirrel’s Cage? Permission to carry a concealed bop gun?

I suppose I’ll know how management took to this retro T-do next week when he brings the mail again. Until then, I pity the fool for having to walk around the workplace like that. Lesson learned – what sounds like a good idea at 3 am after too many milk and cookies might not go over so well at the workplace. Next time you want to go out on a limb, do something crazy - just dunk double-stuffed instead.

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