Roles

I had an interesting conversation at work the other day. My wife and I work for the same employer, so we end up having lunch together. She was under the weather one day and stayed home from work. As a consequence, I had to acquire my lunch the old fashioned way, Micky D’s.

Happily married does not mean the same thing to everybody
My buddy Elroy (see Words) has an assistant whom I’ll call Donna. She, he and I all work in the same general area and tend to interact and react with and to each other, often. Donna happened to notice that I was sporting some fast food. She asked where my wife was and I told her that she was taking a sick day. Everybody in our area knows the Mrs makes home made lunch for me. Quite often, we have a big theme meal on the weekend and she will make soup and sandwiches out of the leftovers, and we will have that for lunch the rest of the week.

I can always tell when Donna and I are going to have a session. She gets a look and it’s game on.
“So,” Donna asks meekly “Was the Mrs so ill, that she perhaps did not slave over a hot stove, making lunches for the week?” Donna likes give me a little blow back about how everything we eat is homemade. I told her “No, the Mrs did indeed slave over a hot stove, making me lunches for the week,” and then took a bite out of my Quarter Pounder with Cheese. This flustered her a bit, but she hung in there and upped the ante, with “why are you not eating your slaved-over home cooked meal instead of Micky D’s?” I tossed a few more chips on to the metaphoric poker table and said, with a mouthful of fries, “cause she’s not here.” “You mean,” she said “your wife has to be here to serve your meals?” I called her hand with “Yup.” “Why??” she asked, with more than a hint of exasperation. I tend to have this effect on her. My final offering, eased gently into the punch bowl was “Not my job.” Donna had to leave, things were not computing.

I finished my meal (Micky D’s has really slid lately) and let Donna cool down for another round.
About 45 minutes later, Donna and Elroy were at the front desk, with no customers and I sidled up behind them and let her begin. She made sure Elroy was paying attention and started out “Let me get this straight. Your wife has to be here to serve you or you’ll just get fast food?” “Yes” I said. This got a raised eyebrow from Elroy. Donna tried the why question again. I told them, “It’s not my job.” Her eyes got big and she asked “Then what is your job?” I replied “My job is Fire, Water, Meat and Security.” This kinda shocked them both. I was rollin’. “Her job is Cooking, Laundry and Morale.” I got a big snort out of Elroy on the last part there. I continued, “We are happily married and a strong part of that is knowing what role we individually play in this marriage. Believe it or not, this is a two way street. She chose her part as much as I did. So, when she’s not here, I am not going to cook food to eat it, because it will be sub-par and I am not going to do the dishes. Not my job.”

I could tell they needed a moment to digest that, so I relayed a story of a couple of years ago. Our employer has little holiday get-togethers with its employees. Everybody is obligated to show up at the central office and eat a little something with the big shots. We got there and I found us a seat, the Mrs asked me what I wanted and I said whatever. So, she brings me a plate and one of the big shots, I’ll call him CW, noticed this and had to say something. He asked the Mrs if she was “actually serving me,” she said “yes,” He looked mortified and said “My wife would never…” I looked up and calmly replied “You chose poorly.” He was a good sport about it and I kept my job.

That got a gasp from Donna and a guffaw from Elroy. I told them it’s not arrogance but respect that I show my wife, as she does to me. I do the outside stuff, she does the inside stuff. We help each other when there is a need and it all works out. Donna, having thought about it, mentioned that her husband had taken away one of her jobs, laundry. I said that was great. Happily married does not mean the same thing to everybody. And with that said, I wandered back to my desk. Here’s hoping the Mrs is not sick another day. I might starve.