An angel came down amongst us and gave unto us a book of proverbs and said, “Of these you shall take one and make of it your first LJ Idol entry, and that proverb shall be ‘When you pray, move your feet,’ and it shall be good, or you shall be booted out early from LJ Idol, and scorn shall be heaped upon thee.”
That this angel took the form of a pudgy, forty-year-old office worker named Gary, we are asked to politely overlook.
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So I don’t do a lot of praying (read none). Therefore, a proverb like: “When you pray, move your feet” doesn’t have much religious heft to it. Regardless, it still has meaning to me, thanks to Babs and Shelley. Let me explain.
First off, and this is important, Shelley, my former office mate, my clerk, my inferior, my minion... Shelley, yes, SHELLEY was a man. His father was a hippie/failed poet who was obsessed with Percy Bysshe Shelley, and that was the start of Shelley’s bad luck (I mean really, even Bysshe would have been better). To make things worse for the poor guy, bad genetics left him standing all of five-feet four in his Doc Martins. When I knew him, he was only twenty-two and had just completed a bachelor’s degree in math (as useless and nerdy as you think). He still had acne, his nose was smooshed (either by one of what must have been a long string of bullies or the aforementioned bad genetics), and his head was topped off by a neatly cropped poof of Brillo-pad hair. You’d almost think the kid was operating under some kind of curse, but the truth of it was Shelley loved life! He was an avid rock climber and kept himself incredibly fit to do it. He may have been small, but he was strong, agile, and had great endurance. He spent almost every lunch break climbing the stairs in the twenty-plus floor building in which we worked. He also had a beautiful fiance (way out of his league) who loved the outdoors as much as he did, and she was excited about learning to rock climb under his tutelage. Shelley also used that logical mind of his to work out new, more efficient systems for managing our indexing and file storage. Ultimately, he ended up leaving us to pursue better opportunities and better climbing in Colorado (all within a year of getting hired)! Quite impressive for someone who, on a bad hair day, could sort of pass for a troll doll.
Babs, on the other hand, was an exquisite woman! She may have been kissing sixty years old, but she was so gifted at pampering herself that she managed to look at least ten years younger. She mostly styled her look after Elizabeth Taylor (her idol), and the gay men in the office absolutely adored her. Of course, that always changed whenever someone actually had to work with her since, despite her ten plus years with the firm, she was hopelessly useless. In fact, she held the same position as Shelley did and had never been promoted, ever. She lost track of entire boxes of files or failed to index documents properly. The big bosses couldn’t stand her, and I’m not quite sure how she kept her job except that she really could be incredibly charming when she wanted (and she could cry on cue).
Over the few years that I worked with her, I learned a little bit about her past. She had made some money off of a car accident once but squandered it on silly things. She was divorced “a la Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton,” as she liked to point out (here’s hoping her marriage hadn’t gone as poorly as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf). Mostly, though, she struck me as sad and disoriented. Shelley, however, never seemed down. He made his own breaks and took advantage of them. He was smart and he worked hard, understanding that luck is only lucky if you know what to do with it.
That being said, I look back at Babs and I just love that crazy old lady. If Babs spent her days sitting still, wishing for some luck all the while failing to focus on her work or the life right in front of her, well, that was her loss. I’m in no position to judge. I’ve caught plenty of breaks and I’ve let plenty slip by. At least Babs always had a lovely smile, as good as any Elizabeth Taylor ever flashed.