He comes from a different country like me. He has an accent when he speaks English that is heavier than mine. We play cat and mouse with masks at the library. He comes to work on the computer every day at the library and we greet each other with a big smile under our masks.
“Good morning!” The greeting is accompanied by a respectful nod each day.
He pulls his mask down once he sits. I go near him and gesture to pull it up over his nose. I smile, or my eyes smile when I do it. He immediately pulls it up. But he tries every day, knowing that I will tell him to pull up his mask. It has almost become a game. The only other interaction we have is when he comes to the kiosk to ask for printer paper. I fill up the printer and he says thank you.
One morning, I did not see him at his usual chair at the library. Later, after my shift, I went upstairs to shelve a cart. He was there using the stapler near the kiosk. He waved and I waved back.
“How are you?” We asked each other simultaneously.
He said, “I came to the library and you were not there. I wondered where is my lady?”
I said I was there in the morning but my shift at that particular service point had ended when he came.
We bade each other farewell. But “where’s my lady” lingered in my head. We, library workers, create unique bonds with the library users. On days when I feel I need to quit my job, I focus on these relationships that I created with the library users. However, I wondered if his usage of “my lady” would be considered not politically correct. Personally, I thought it was sweet. But I decided to relate the story to my very astute 22 year old daughter, who also works at our library system. I just told her the story without asking if she found “where’s my lady” offensive. She said, “Oh mom! That is so sweet.”
It was sweet. Simple human interactions like these are such joyful aspects of the job I do.