Working Dad

Pretty in Pink
Pretty in Pink | Flickr

For years, I would beg my dad to let me tag along with him when he had to work on the weekends. His corporate office building was amazing, and I loved every sight, smell, and sound. I would visit every cubicle and just dream of the day I could have my own to work in and decorate. My favorite cubes had Dilbert comic strips under the name plates. That was a pretty good indicator that someone cool worked there. Sometimes, my dad would take me on a tour and tell me facts and stories about each of his coworkers. The one thing they all had in common was a shelf full of large, labeled binders, brimming with hundreds of pages of probably very boring documents.

No one else was ever working on his floor on Saturday, so my dad would set me up at someone's empty desk, turn on their computer for me, and let me play—usually solitaire or one of the old Linux games. After an hour or so, he would ask me if I wanted a snack, and we would venture off to the vending machines on some other floor. That's where I first fell in love with the smell of elevators. (The staircases in the building were sleek and gorgeous and also a cherished part of the adventure, but they only smelled like cleaning products.) The vending machines all stood in a row: one for candy bars and chips, one for cold beverages, a very impressive one that spit out disgusting hot chocolate (and probably disgusting coffee), and one with a fancy spinning racks that held a pitiful variety of yogurts and stale sandwiches. I always asked for a Twix and a Coke the first time around. On extra long visits, I would go back later for a hot chocolate on my own.

After the trip to the vending machines, we would go back to work, my dad doing something important while I read a book in the conference room and wrote meticulous notes on the white board. Occasionally, he would ask me to fetch something from a printer in someone else's cubicle, a responsibility I took very seriously. Long before I was ready, he would announce that he was done with his work, and I would pout a little and then gather my things and follow him back to reality.