I have a pretty standard office job. Monday through Friday, I’m in a tall building in the financial district, sitting in cubicle, wearing business casual clothes and surrounded by people saying business-y things like “ramp up” and “market action”.

But my job does have one thing that most financial district firms don’t: a bubbly, not-quite 5 feet tall Vietnamese man with a one-of-a-kind take on the English language. His constant and surprising references to American popular culture are a welcome change from the business jargon common in the office (as well as a respite from our right-wing receptionist who tends to foam at the mouth about immigration, environmentalists and how “globalization sucks”).

If someone isn’t at their desk, he’ll ask, “Is she Gone with the Wind?”, or “Is he Bye Bye Birdie?”.When woman in the office was trying to get a friend a job, he said she was “a desperate housewife.”

He doesn’t just walk to work. He says he “walks like an Egyptian.”

Any problem is “a May Day”, as in: “We’ve got a may day over here!” when someone’s toast is burning in the toaster oven.

A celebration is “happy hour” or “party time”.  Most company events offer a chance to “Eat all you can eat!”, while Friday’s are a double whammy of “TGIF! Happy Hour!”. If he has too much to drink during a happy hour, he says he is “hanging over”.

Most of what he says is fairly self explanatory, but it’s not always easy to piece together. A few years back, someone asked him how long he’d worked at the company.  “Six years,” he said. “Sweet Sixteen!”

Recently, he uncovered a box of supplies and he said it was “a miracle on the Hudson.” Eventually, I remembered the plane that landed on the Hudson River in New York City earlier this year, and how newspapers used the headline, The Miracle on the Hudson.

Instead of asking if you’re happy, he asks, “Are you happily ever after?” And with someone like him around, it’s tempting to say yes. Yes, even in this tired office environment, I am happily ever after.


One Response to “TGIF”

  1. sarah Says:

    That is so great! Why can’t every workplace have a character like that? The best part is that i have students with some unusual speech habits like that and now I can finally humor myself by picturing them in the professional world.
    I have to admit I laughed heartily at “we’ve got a may day over here” about the toast.

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