What Did You Call Me?

-by Redsland

Some days you’re the hammer, some days you’re the nail. Today I’m thinking screwdriver. Hold the OJ.

Around the office, I’m known as “the baseball guy.” Years ago this could have been attributed to the fact that I was a rabid fan. But I’m less rabid today, thanks in part to the loss of my pet raccoon, Snarly, and, somewhat ironically, to the dogged efforts of the medical community.

You probably know the type I’m often assumed to be. Perhaps you’re me yourself, and if so, do you know where either of us put the car keys? People who festoon their offices with autographed festoonery. Who proclaim “We’re number one!” when the RPI clearly says they’re in the middle teens. People who, I think we can agree, have probably painted their chests more times than they’ve polished their shoes.

Not me. Not anymore. But I perpetuate the myth of fandom. Why, you ask? Easy. I do it for those who are close to me. As a courtesy to my colleagues. For them. What can I say? I’m a giver.

Why shouldn’t I be? We’re all the same. We put our pants on one leg at a time. Or, if you prefer, our panty hose, if, say, the office is really cold or we’re all going clubbing later. In any case, we all race to work each day, rush to our desks, and frantically try to cram 10 hours of Amazon.com and personal calls into only eight.

Before all of that and again after it, there are a few moments of silent calm as we walk to and from our cars. And sometimes, quite by coincidence, I’ll be traveling to or from my car at precisely the same time you are. This is going to cause us to wait for an elevator together. To ride up or down together. To be together. And nothing, I have found, makes it easier for people to strike up a conversation of approximately elevator-ride length than being with “the baseball guy.”

Well, maybe I shouldn’t say nothing makes it easier. After all, alcohol is well known as the social lubricant. But there is no place for alcohol in the office, wink wink, and besides, there are precious few people here I’d want to lubricate, and even fewer whom I’d want to have lubricate me.

And so I grease the skids by being “the baseball guy.” If not for my well-known avocation, who knows how many “going up?” tete-a-tetes beginning with “How about that…” might have ended with “…weather,” rather than “…pitching”? Coincidentally, both questions elicit the same response, which is, “5, please.”

Superficial chit-chat is such a strange animal. People seem compelled to engage in it with acquaintances whose names they can’t quite remember, but stop speaking the moment an actual stranger climbs into the same elevator. My evening? To regale you with the tale would give you such a fascinating glimpse into my very being that when someone from “3” infiltrates our midst, we instantly lock down into an information embargo that would make the Dell hotline beam with pride.

The truth is, there are a lot of perks to being “the baseball guy.” My March Madness brackets can and do tank without much comment. If you draw my name in the Secret Santa pool, any gift that’s held together with red stitches or covered in tobacco juice is perfectly acceptable, including Don Zimmer. And when new hires are being trotted around on their first day, I’ve noticed that many more of them manage to say something cogent to me than they do to my neighbor, “the extreme antiquing guy.”

Sure, my title is a little one-dimensional, but it’s a far cry better than the sobriquets I’ve earned at previous places of employment, like “the baseball guy who better not show up late again,” and “guess whose turn it is to clean out the john.”

Yep, it’s a sweet little system in which everybody wins. Everyone gets to focus on their own problems without thinking too much or too hard about me. And me? Well, now I can finally stop watching all of those games and just focus on the things I love: piles and piles of stats.

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