Friday, September 23, 2005

My Work Crush

Yesterday I went on a field trip to New Jersey with a group of coworkers to do publishing research. And while the publishing-related part of the trip was good, my suspicions about the uninterestingness of New Jersey were confirmed.

New Jersey? Not so much.

Despite the sprawling Jersey suburbs, it was a good day. And not just because I had PMS and was able to satisfy my overwhelming carb craving with a gigantic bowl of potato, bacon and cheese soup from some chain restaurant in a strip mall. It was also a good day because it was really the first opportunity I had to get to know some of my coworkers, and for them to get to know me. I've spent most of my time at my new company holed up in my office, leaving only to wolf down some spicy tuna rolls from Go Sushi or attend a meeting or two. And until yesterday, I didn't realize how absolutely lonely I've been for the last month and a half.

As if the period food and social interaction weren't enough, I also got to have an in-depth conversation with The Enigma. The Enigma is my ultimate work crush. Not a crush like I want to leave spiceboy and have little enigmatic babies with this guy or anything like that. But a work crush in the way that I admire what he does and how he does it and generally, wish I could be just like him. Only not a guy.

Anyway, the Enigma is wildly successful and well regarded both at my company and in the small and incestuous publishing industry. Waaaay back when I was on the remotest outskirts of publishing and desperately trying to get "in," I used to send him letters that were full of hope and sincerity. Pretty nerdy, huh? I doubt he remembers it now, but it's embarrassing enough to make me seriously consider taking spiceboy's name when we get married just so The Enigma never figures it out.

But I digress. The Enigma always comes in to work really early and leaves really late. His projects are widely publicized in major national publications. He produces so much work that he has his own assistant, and no one else in the office--not even some of the higher level execs--have their own assistants. It seems like everywhere I go, everyone knows his name, and they all say the same thing about him in the same awed tone: He is so amazing!

I've been dying to talk to him ever since I started this job, but I really haven't found the right time. He always seems to be wrapped up in his own brilliant, enigmatic work, and I've never been able to find the right time to strike up a conversation with him.

As a matter of fact, the only time I've even gotten close to him before yesterday, I was doing something inexpert and embarrassing. It was my first week of work. I decided to be an overachiever and go into the office super early. The plate glass doors that lead to our office are always automatically locked, and during normal business hours, the receptionist buzzes us through. But if you come in very early or on the weekends, you have to use this little key card thing. Supposedly, all you have to do is wave it in front of the sensor and voila--you're in.


But have I mentioned that I'm technologically inept? I don't have cable. I have proven to myself and others that I'm terrible at instant messaging, and try as I might, I've never once been able to send or receive a text message on my cell phone.

So there I was at the butt crack of dawn in my pretty skirt and fancy shoes, fumbling with this ridiculous key card. And every time I waved the card in front of the sensor, instead of turning green and allowing me through, it would do some kind of schizophrenic red-green flashing thing before going back to red and denying me entry. Thinking I could fool it if I moved more quickly, I started a wave-run-tug on the door routine that did nothing but make me sweaty, which caused my makeup to fade, my once well-styled hair to frizz out, and my fingers to leave gross sweaty fingerprints all over the pristine glass doors.

So there I was--sweaty, flustered, and frizzy. And who gets off the elevator? You guessed it. I smiled and was about to say something but he wooshed on by, flashed his card and breezed through the doors, presumably on his way to do something amazing and noteworthy. He gave me a half smile and an imperceptible nod as he passed, and I hurried after him through the doors so I wouldn't get locked out again. Not one of my shining moments.

But yesterday, when the car service came to rescue my coworkers and I from the Jersey suburbs, The Enigma and I shared a car since we both live on the Upper East Side. And during the ride home,we actually had a conversation. A conversation in which I managed to not sweat and managed even to sound quite intelligent. I learned that though The Enigma seems really busy and not interested while he's at the office, he's actually quite approachable one on one.

Just hearing him talk about his work reminds me exactly why I'm in this field and why I love what I do. And then we started talking about the books we love and the books we're dying to read.

Was it a great ride home?

It was sooooo a great ride home.

Today, during the most boring stretch of the afternoon, The Enigma stopped by my office and gave me one of the books I mentioned on the ride home last night. "I picked this up a few months ago and I forgot I had it," he said. "Enjoy!"

As he handed the book to me, I had visions of us becoming the best work friends
ever--going to fabulous lunches and making faces at boring meetings and banding together to fight fierce battles against publishing injustices. In that moment, I wanted to throw myself at him and yell TEACH ME EVERYTHING YOU KNOW! BE MY MENTOR!

But instead I just thanked him and took the book and thought back to those nerdy letters I wrote. Maybe, someday, I'll get the guts to ask him about it.