For the Love of Chicken Salad

19 05 2009

I’m a sucker and a wimp. A WIMP, I tell you. Today was the day I was going to walk into the botanical gardens volunteer appreciation luncheon and turn in my pseudo-resignation. And I couldn’t do it. Just couldn’t. Because there was the head of the education department at the front door smiling warmly at me. Then he said–get this–“Hello, Gigi. I haven’t seen you since the salamander festival. We missed you there.”

And there was my docent partner from last year, who was mysteriously reassigned to another docent team this year. Curses. I miss her.

And the guy in charge of wildflowers with his adorable, trendy glasses and not-so-subtle glance down at my, um, name tag. The name tag, incidentally, was meant to be worn around the neck, hanging from an elastic band that was so soft around the neck it was almost silky. Damn them. Always paying attention to the smallest detail.

Then there was that chicken salad on multigrain bread that I ordered, which was everything I’d hoped it could be. As if that weren’t enough, my box contained a giant chocolate chip cookie, Baked Lays (that’s right, Baked), fresh fruit (the stuff you hate to cut up yourself, cantaloupes, melons), and on the table, huge, sweaty jugs of sweetened AND unsweetened tea.

So I downed my worthy-of-a-last-meal-before-execution boxed lunch and listened to a presentation about proposed changes to the gardens. Treetops this, new greenhouse that. Yada yada yada. And then the moment of truth. I went to slip out the back door at 12:57 while the presentation was still going. The program was set to end at 1. I just needed not to make eye contact with anyone on the way out, and all would be well. But the director of the docent program stood at the back door. She was tall and thin, and she had cropped silver hair, like my old fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Mulligan. “Here, take this as a token of our appreciation,” she whispered. I looked up at her and offered a reluctant smile. Were her eyes turning liquidy? Unbelievable.

She handed me a $20 coupon off any class offered at the gardens, and the clincher–this little fake bird in a mossy bird’s nest, wrapped in a plastic bag with earthy ribbons. Why, why did I go? I should’ve known I wouldn’t stand a chance.

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