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."
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!"
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.