Thursday, October 8, 2009

Like a Good Neighbor, the Matron is There

The Matron has a cozy little office, one in a row of cozy little offices strung together down a narrow little hallway. Biologist, philosopher, sociologist, political scientist, linguist, medic: that hallway has it all! There is much collegiality and good will. The Matron has only known these people for a year and she adores them (mostly but that's a post-tenure post).

She especially adores Edward, not Ed, who has the office directly across the hall.

Edward, not Ed, looks like he hit retirement age about five years ago but bounced back against that wall for another season. He can't hear all that well. This second trait immediately endeared him to the harried working mama Matron, who is often as not happy NOT to have that ten minute chat about this and that. Edward, not Ed, usually doesn't even notice when her comings and going.

Edward, not Ed, generally brings along his dog, Elsie, a lovely Australian Shepherd who shares Ed's seasoned status.

Official College Memo Distributed Every September Since 1989: "Please remember that because this is a state building, no animals are allowed. You may not bring dogs, cats or ferrets on campus."

Elsie has been coming to campus with Edward, not Ed, since about 1989, too.

Edward: "Why, Mary. I just ignore those old memos! What's an old professor without his dog?"

Edward, not Ed, has a strained relationship with his computer -- with technology introduced after 1989 too, actually. For this reason, the Matron is a frequent visitor to his office.

Edward: "Mary? Say, you would think the faculty bulletin is on our web site, right? Do you think we could locate that?"

Edward: "Mary? Say, aren't we supposed to fill out student withdrawal forms online. That can't be too terribly tough to find, can it?"

Theirs is not a one-sided relationship. Edward (rightfully) assumes that the Matron shares his sweet tooth and takes keeping her satisfied, seriously. If he's just read a fabulous book, a copy makes it to her desk. He inquires after the children and his interest? Not rudimentary. He's genuine.

They share dog stories. She inquires after his grandchildren. Genuine, too.

Today, Edward not Ed, tapped on the Matronly door.

Edward: "Say, Mary. Are you going to that hour and a half training session for the new voice mail system?"

Matron: "You mean the hands-on facilitation for our new communication tool - the telephone/internet/email units we're getting, headsets optional?"

Edward: "Say, Mary. I meant to ask you about that. Yup. That's the one. Will we be able to answer the phone and use voice mail?"

Matron: "Oh yes but there's so much more! These are incredible, complex machines that will let you send messages to groups, set up meetings, invite people to forums, email and more. That's why we have the hour and a half training."

Small silence.

Edward: "Say, Mary. About all that hoopla. Are we still going to be able to answer the phone and use voice mail?"

Matron: "Of course!"

Small silence.

Edward: "Say, Mary? Are you going to that training? Sounds awfully involved, doesn't it?"

There was something about that 'say Mary,' that gave the Matron pause. She took a good long look at him.

Matron: "Edward. I have an idea. How about if you skip that meeting. I'm going. I'll show you how to answer the phone and use the voice mail."

Edward: "Now, there's an idea!"

And later that day there was chocolate--in the sweetest way possible.


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

This is a very sweet story. You are a good, good woman.

SUEB0B said...

It sounds like a beautiful relationship

smalltownme said...

Kind Matron. You've done him a great favor.

I did a good neighbor thing today, too, and drove home a sick child (and he must be 15 already? still a child, to me).

JCK said...

What a lovely story. I like that Edward, not Ed. And the Matron, too. :)

MidLifeMama said...

Everyone needs both an Edward and a Mary in their lives.

Michele R said...

That is very lovely. I'd look forward to going to an office in a hallway like that.

Anonymous said...

You are wonderful. And it sounds as though he knows it. I'm lifting my cup to you and Edward, not Ed.

Wenderina said...

Oh I loved this. I work with a woman who thinks it is a secret that she is over 80 (but we can all do the math). She is still the most intelligent of all of us, but yes technology and other moving parts sometimes get the better of her. It's important to remember that she offers so much more and that a few moments here or there to sort out a computer glitch is so worth it.

JFS in IL said...

Is he your Mr. Grant?

p.s. Scarlett ever hear about that iCarly commercial?

Anonymous said...

Definitely a sweet story. You are a treasure (as is Edward, not Ed).

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I have similar interactions -- and if I feel sorry for myself at all, I realize that in 40is years, when I've been at BNCC for 47 years and I'm 80, some sweet young thing will go to the training for me and teach me how to do the things I want to do..