dante's inferno, deli meat, and ethiopia

At the deli where I work, my co-worker has a boyfriend. They are fifteen and have been dating for “four months!” and are like, “sooooooo happy!” He comes in every Wednesday when she’s working and orders a turkey hoagie and flirts with her while the line of customers grows longer. Last week, I asked the boy what his name was, wanting to know it so that I could firmly, but sweetly, tell him to “get the hell out of the deli, there are sixteen people waiting in line!” My co-worker, the young dear that she is, told me that her beloved boyfriend’s name was Dante. And perhaps my reaction of, “Oh! That is presh! How’s Virgil?” was the wrong one, judging from the death glare he threw my way. But seriously, with a name like “Dante” you can’t expect me not to come back with a remark like that. I guess he’s heard that one before. 

This same co-worker has this little habit of talking to me while I am trying to do important things – like clean the automatic ham slicer or wipe down the soda cooler. And she’ll talk about these mundane things, like her weekend, her dance recital practices, or my personal favorite—her high school’s ban on hoodies. And I really want to ask her if she thinks I care. But I restrain myself and nod and throw out little nuggets like, “Oh really?” or “How could they!?” These only seem to encourage her, sadly. Or she’ll interrupt me with a question about my life while I am reading my book on economic development in Ethiopia.

“So, how old are you again?” 

I go back to reading, trying to concentrate on the pros of – 

“Have you ever been out of the state?” 

- giving aid to the government in order to - 

"What about the country?"
"Where did you go?"
"Different places."

And she grills me, asking me about the airplane food or if I got lost at all. Really?! Why not ask me about my experiences? Or about the local culture? 
Kids these days.

But my personal favorite happened last week. Ah yes. Last week. I was sitting, still reading my Ethiopian economics book when I looked over and saw my co-worker pouring over the phonebook in earnest. Speechless. I was rendered speechless. The phonebook? My mouth gaped open, I tried to eek out words to ask her what she was doing. Her response? 

"I'm trying to see if I know anyone." 

Of course! Why hadn't I considered that? 

Trying to see if she knew anyone...

The End

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