1-800-DENALI

I got this wonderful compliment from someone who reads my blog who said something like, “I love the way your mind works.” Which was so very nice, but made me realize that my blog posts have all been kind of deep and about the big things in life. And that IS me. But not always. So I thought I’d share another part of me today.

I was at the pharmacy the other day waiting for them to figure out how to fill a freaking prescription. Since I was stuck at the store for 30 minutes, I finally remembered to get my husband the deodorant that I have forgotten like 3 separate times. Normally, we make our own deodorant. We’ve used it for the past year or so, and it’s always worked great. But maybe it’s just too hot this summer or who knows, because he wanted some store bought stuff. So after 10 minutes of sniffing varieties, I finally settled on one named “Denali.” I chose it because it smells nice but not very strong. I’m kind of picky about that sort of thing.

So now I lay my head on my husband on the couch, and I keep thinking “Denali” every time I smell his new deodorant. Can’t get the thought out of my head, or the story that it inevitably provokes.

I’ve never been to Alaska or Denali National Park, although I’d love to go. But the name brings back this guy that I used to work with at a ski resort in Colorado when I lived out there. It was the ski season after Georgia was born and I was working in a tiny little room in the back of the children’s center answering phones and making reservations for ski school. I took the job because it was flexible and allowed me to go over to the employee day care and nurse Georgia every few hours. Plus, my friend Susanne worked there with me too and she was always a hoot. She had a baby just 2 months older than Georgia so we sort of referred to our office as the nursing/pumping room. Well, until this guy came along and got hired to answer phones with us. Let’s call him Bob. Truthfully, I don’t remember his name. I remember that he was fresh off a stay taking care of some cabins up in Denali National Park. I remember this whole bleeping story but not the guy’s name.

So Bob came to work in our tiny little office with the two breastfeeding mothers. Susanne has a very dry German sense of humor. She would often pretend to squirt breast milk into the envelopes of the crabby customers who had called to make reservations. And I’ve always prided myself on having a fairly well developed sense of humor. And poor Bob just doesn’t fit in. I would say that even if Bob had been a breastfeeding mother, he wouldn’t have fit in. He rarely showered, was overweight, loved junk food and television and didn’t ski. What he was doing at a ski resort full of fitness and outdoor freaks is beyond me. The only thing he did like, and ever wanted to talk about, was Denali National Park. All day long.

He also wasn’t the sharpest crayon in the box. The phone job was simple and clear cut. It was almost impossible to screw up but he did just that all the time. We overheard him on the phone one day telling a potential customer that the resort took a deposit for ski school so that, “If you don’t show and screw us over, we get to keep your 50 bucks.” This guy belonged back up in Alaska as far as I was concerned. But Susanne and I would fix his errors and cuss him out behind his back on his days off. It was annoying but manageable. Then he got kinda snarky when we’d try to help him do his job better. He complained to our boss that we were “picking on him.” She told us to try to be nicer to him. Which I swear, we were! We had the patience of saints with that guy!

So we fixed his mistakes and tried to smile through all his boring Denali stories and didn’t correct him since it bothered his delicate sensibilities so very much. And we just tried to make it through the days that he worked with us.

One day, Bob just didn’t show up in the morning. He didn’t call in or anything until way later in the day, but Susanne and I kind of assumed that he’d quit. First off, ski towns are transient places full of people finding themselves or leaving themselves behind. People and employees come and go and there isn’t always a big reason. But Bob was no surprise being that he didn’t fit in there anyway.

We finally got a call from our boss later in the day that Bob had called and quit. Said he was moving on farther west to Utah in hopes of a better working environment. We were thrilled and changed our computer’s screensavers to read “For further information, dial 1-800-DENALI.” We were in a great mood.

Our boss showed up later in our office to drop some papers off and saw our computer screens. She was one of our closest friends but still didn’t quite share in our joy or sense of humor.

You DROVE him away!” she sort of yelled.

But we didn’t. He would’ve disliked anyone and she knew it. He wasn’t very smart and caused more problems than he was worth and she knew that too. She just had to be all exasperated at us because one of her employees quit and blamed us. She wasn’t really mad, but she did tell us to stop feeling so much joy over the whole thing.

That was nearly 18 years ago now. And a stick of deodorant brought it all back. So I wrote it all out to share and show you that it’s not just deep stuff going on in here. Sometimes its just random silly things like really hoping that guy went back to Denali.

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