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Units of Time


Our perception of time is a funny thing. When we want time to go fast, it seems to slow down before our eyes yet when we want more of it, it seems to slip through our fingers. For example my first week in country crawled from one day to the next and after that it speed up.  By the second week I had settled on a routine. The alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. Those 15 minutes were crucial. It allowed me to fight off the effects of sleep and transition from dreamland to reality. Got up and dropped to the floor beside the bed. Did my one hundred push-ups then propped my feet up against the side of the bed, laying with my back on the floor and did another one hundred sit ups. Nothing like exercise to wake you up in the morning. Something to do with the adrenaline. My stomach growled in protest. Of to the kitchen. Toast, the necessary Big Mug of CoffeeTM and back upstairs. A quick hot shower to shake off the effects of the morning chill. Had to make it quick otherwise temptation would drive me to stay under the hot water spray for minutes at a time. Spring was in the air, but it felt like the bloody Arctic to me. My mind knew where I was, but my body had not fully caught up yet. It would take months before my body adjusted. Shirt, pants, socks and coat rested on top of the bed. I always pre-selected my clothes the night before. Once clothed and with work bag in hand I headed out the door.

“Hello neighbor!” cried a voice behind me. I turned to see Sven struggling to get his troop of kids into the car.

“Good morning!” I hailed back. Around me the suburb of Hesingham awoke from it’s slumber. Streets light went out and house lights switch on. Walking afforded a good view of the village. I headed north along Church Street and took a left on High Street. Music played in my ears from my iPod as I made my way northwest past the Town Hall. As usual a group of teenagers hanged around Vickers’ Market. Two of them wore hoodies and always tried to stare me down and they always flinched when I stared back.  The idiots didn’t know that I had grown up in tougher streets than these. It was a macho thing that men do. You either stare your opponent down or acknowledge their presence somehow. The third, a tall black kid chain smoking his cigarettes gave me the old urban nod, which I returned. Crossing the threshold I head to the fridge to pick up a bottle of chocolate milk. Some addictions you can’t fight.

“Will that be all Mr. Mendoza?” Mr. Rogers asked from behind the counter in heavy Indian accent and a smile.

I smiled back “Nope, just the usual.”

Mr. Rogers looked toward the door and yelled “Marcus, get in here. I need you to organize the back shelves before you go to school. And tell Sean that I don’t pay him to stand around in front of my store and do nothing.”

Marcus and I crossed paths at the entrance. “Coming Dad! Hey, aren’t you Michael’s brother?”

“Yes?”

“Oh…I thought you would be…different” he replied.

I looked back into the store “Could say the same thing.”

“He is my stepfather, but….”

“Good man?”

“Yeah.”

“Could be worse.”

“Yeah.”

“Marcus!” yelled Mr. Rodgers from inside the store.

“Coming! Gotta go, nice meeting you.”

“Same here.”

Left  the convenience store and continued northwest along High Street. Woodstock is a tourist town. Bars and restaurants line High Street catering to those who want to visit Winston Churchill’s birthplace. Sipping my drink one of his famous speeches came to mind:

The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day…

By quarter to 8 I reached the Quick Derby Deliver Service. Spent a few minutes checking the deliver schedule for the day before heading into my office. Sat down on my desk at around 8:15 a.m. Started by checking email and my favorite news sites. A message from my cousin Enrique popped up. He was handling the sale and/or shipment of my stuff from back home. The promise of a 7 years worth of comic books, porn mags and DVDs went a long way to secure his assistance.

The office staff trickled in around 8:30, with Charles the first to arrive. Ms. Davis came in second and sat down to discuss the daily and weekly schedule. “Sir, you have a meeting with Mr. Dolan on Tuesday and you received an invitation to the attend the monthly Business Circle meeting at the Town Hall.”

“Do I have to?” I joked.

“Mr. Dolan is one of our biggest clients. As for the Business Circle, that is optional, of course.” She said with a smirk.

“Of course. Anything else?”

“I am still waiting to schedule your visit to the dairy, Mr. Mendoza.”

“That will have to wait. I still haven’t gone over all of the financial reports.”

“Very well Sir, I’ll leave a spot open later on this week just in case.”

“Thank you Mrs. Davis. Is that all?”

“Mr. Dayton wanted me to remind you that the meeting with the sales staff is on Wednesday morning at 9.”

“Understood. Thank you Mrs. Davis.”

And so went the rest of the week. Took me most of the week to go over the financials with the company’s accountant plus a few visits to the bank with Mr. McMillan to settle the last details of the thrust. The week ended with a review of current sales figures and ad buys. Before leaving around 6:00 I had short meeting with Charles and walked home. Saturdays where half day only. Just showing my face around the place in case anything interesting happened.

As routines go, not a bad one. But then there are the things that break even the best routines.

Like what happened three weeks later….

“This the third time this month!” I said staring at one of our trucks jammed under an underpass. The old metal frame had missed the cab by a mere inches, but it sliced off the top half of the trailer. Although it was overcast the road bed was dry and the traffic light. I stood there with Charles and James looking at the same image I saw a week ago. Police officers milled around the site of the accident.

I turned to Charles, livid, and pointed at the sign that clearly stated the allotted height of the overpass “Could someone, ANYONE, explain this to me, PLEASE!”

James shrugged and opened his mouth to speak but Charles interrupted him “Its the sat-nav sir”.

“You mean the GPS thing?”

“Yes. To be honest, sir, it doesn’t work”.

Looking at the mangle mess in front of me I said “Oh really!”

I would have to deal with that later “Get another truck, I mean lorry, and transfer this one load to it. We still need to make the delivery, hopefully sometime today. Jimmie lets get back to the office”.

I turned around and found myself face to face with a police officer. “Are you in charge?”

“Yes officer” and with that he handed me piece of paper. “Good day” he said  walking away. It was a traffic ticket, and it had one to many zeroes on it.

Other things that make your day interesting is when one of your employees decides to make a pass at you. Patricia Wilson , everybody called her Patty, was that employee. Can’t say she is unattractive, far from it. Middling height, raven black hair, crystal blue eyes and a deep plunging cleavage which she never failed to displayed in full. If you got, flaunt it, I guess. Now I don’t mind such things, but I do hate to be ambushed as she did last Friday. Just as I entered my office she popped up. And for Patty, that is saying something.

“Good Morning Mr. Mendoza!” Patty said in that silky smooth tone that she reserved for the boss.

“Morning Ms. Wilson” I said.

She answered by closing the door on my secretary’s face. She then approached me with the skill of a lioness hunting a gazelle. How to throw her of my scent? I like assertive women, but I knew what she wanted and that was a big turn off. Of course my anatomy works like all any other male member of the species. That is, endowed with two heads but with just enough blood for one. If it pooled in my pants I was a goner.

“Ms. Wilson I am rather busy at the moment, anything I can do for you?”

She turned her head, her black hair cascading over her shoulder, the smell of her perfume stabbing my nose “Oh I just wanted to see how you where settling in”. She position herself so that my eyes rested on her ample forward expanse “Have you found everything to your liking”.

“Oh yes. Everything is just dandy.”

Lame

“Adjusting to a new place, a new country really must be hard”.

“I can’t complain, everyone has been very nice to me.”

Lamer

“We English are a warm and welcoming people.”

Warm, sure felt like it. If this were a porn flick, the music would change to a rapid beat right about now.

Down boy!

“So I seen, I mean heard. Is there anything in particular you need Ms. Wilson.”

Lamest!

She purred as she spoke “Oh nothing much really, just wanted to see if how you where settling in. Seeing as we do things a bit different here, or at least different from where you come from, you may need some help getting around and such.”

I had to come up with something fast. The best defense is a good offense. So… “I heard that the people in the office like to go down to the local pub. What is it called? The Dog & Whistle?”

Apparently the idea of the company’s President spending his nights at the local watering hole was not what she was looking for “Yes, I think so”.

Injecting as bland a tone as possible I pressed on “Excellent! I’ll have to check the place out. Maybe I’ll see you there Saturday?”

“Sure Mr. Mendoza, well I do have to go back to my station.”

Ever the gentleman I opened the door as she retreated from my office. Mrs. Davis gave Patty’s a withering glance as she sped past her desk. Her whisper carried well across the room “That cheeky tart!”

I looked at her. She had the broad figure of a middle aged woman that have lived a full life and had more than one child under her care. I leaned close and with a knowing smile said “Now Mrs. Davis, that is no way to talk about your co-workers” she was taken aback by this so I continued “even if your 100% correct”.

Her laugh shook the entire place to it’s foundations.

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