one of these things just doesn’t belong

I’m working in a call center and walk into a separate room only to find all the people on the phones working on other things while they talk to people on the other end of the line: rolling out cookie dough and knitting and an array of other handy projects, all the while handling the calls as normal. I’m jealous of the festive air of camaraderie in the air– the group activity seems somehow orchestrated toward a common goal– as christmas party or such.

I’m working a kitchen job I’ve left and come back to into an inferior position so that the people already working there have no idea of the position I held before and naturally go about their business with ease and authority. everything has changed since I worked there before– someone’s doing flour inventory and trying to figure out how much whole wheat to order, and I start to say, well, there’s one bag right h– but just then I realize they’ve switched the storage system, where things go, and I’m all thrown off, back into my newbie status again. after that I mostly hurry around the periphery and watch and keep quiet while the kitchen machine goes about its merry progress– fast fast fast, me scrambling to keep up.

there’s one tall young man I keep kind of ending up standing near, and I know he’s probably far too young for me but still drift out of the room after him and ask, so, scott, are you an undergrad? and he says, actually a grad student– I’m in… and then he gives a long number, and I say, ahh, the sciences. he says, yeah, and then the name of whatever it is. at this point we’re in a large scooped-out lecture hall with seats bolted into the floor. he asks, and you? followed by something that suggests I’m young– like, are you always the youngest person around? I sit down on a step nearby and say, actually, I’m older than I look– a good deal older than you, I’d wager. so he appraises me and says, how do you do it? I answer, redhead genetics, and feel at once sad and relieved that the truth is out.

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