Jingle, jingle...I look up just in time to see our postman walking through the door. Where had the time gone? How could it already be 1 o'clock in the afternoon?
"Afternoon Murray, missed you last week."
"Hey Jack, yea; they had me out hiking the trails again, snapping pictures."
"Got any hot coffee in this place?"
"Let me go check, I need a refill too. How about I meet you back out here after you deliver the mail?"
"That sounds great."
I grab Jack's travel mug and head on back to the staff area. The smell of freshly brewed coffee assaults my nose as I pass through the doorway. I think I am the only one here who offers Jack coffee. His uniform might be a different color but we all work for the government so it isn't like I'm breaking any rules here by giving out coffee to a fellow government employee. Which reminds me, how come nobody had come to offer me a break this morning while I was out in the v.c.?
I fill up our respective coffee mugs and head on back. Jack files on through the office doors with a plastic white box full of various sized letters and giant envelopes.
"Thanks. It's pretty wet today."
"It seems to have washed all our visitors away."
with a smile Jack says;" That can't be all bad. By the looks of it you were pretty immersed in your computer when I first came in."
"You're right, I hadn't realized what time it was. Thanks for bringing me back to reality."
"Hey, did ya hear about the black bear people keep seeing?"
"What? Have you been listening in on all the gossip again down at the diner?"
"Well, yes but this isn't gossip. Marty and Jasper saw it while they were out trying to pull Jasper's truck out of that mud behind the school."
"Are you sure they hadn't been pouring bourbon in their coffee again?"
laughing Jack says " I wouldn't have thought anything about what those two were saying except Emily says her trash keeps getting knocked over and riffled through."
"I'll have to ask around here in the office. That's all we need is a young black bear causing trouble again."
"Well, I better get back out there and finish my route."
"Ok, see ya tomorrow Jack."
And with that Jack nods, pulls his rain coat up, grabs his coffee and heads out the door. Maybe next up I'll try my hand at being a mail man. It can't be all that different from a park ranger, at least out here. In a city is would be a whole different ball of wax.
I sit back down at the desk and flip open my laptop. What's this? An email from my old principal?
"Hello Murray, Hope things are going well for you. All the kids are incredibly sad and disappointed that you aren't back with us this year. What should I tell them?--Suri"
The kids miss me? How sad is that? I do miss their excited little faces and the joy they would have as we discovered some new crazy thing an animal might do.
"Hello Suri, Things are great here. I have an idea, that is if the new teacher is game for it. How about we let the kids try and figure out where I am? They can ask one question once a week until they figure it out. They can plot it on a map if they want to. That way they can stay in contact with me but also learn something as well.--Murray"
That should keep the kids entertained and curious. Instead of "Where's Waldo" they can now have "Where's Murray?" I hope the new teacher doesn't think I'm stepping on their toes with my suggestion but they are teaching my old class and probably following my old curriculum.
"Need a break?"
I look up to see Karen standing by the desk. Karen has been a ranger at this park for the last 15 years, she's actually one of our two female employees. I'm not sure why there is such a large group of men who work in this park, maybe it's the solitude of the area? Who knows. She's looking at me for an answer.
"Yes, please." And away I go closing my laptop and heading for the bathroom. Back in the staff lounge I am trying to find my lunch in the refrigerator when I hear footsteps behind me.
"Oh, hello Bill."
Bill is one of our maintenance guys and he of all people might have heard about this black bear.
"Bill, have you heard anything about a black bear causing problems in town lately?"
"mmm..." He's nodding as he chews a bit of his turkey sandwich. "Yup, I was down at the feed store the other day and I heard Marty yakking about some bear he saw. But you know Marty doesn't always have the most accurate information. I ran into Emily though and she said something about her trash being knocked over."
For once the story was holding up, if the same people were talking about it. I have always learned to not take everything I hear as the complete truth while living in a small town. It is a very good idea to ask around and cover your bases before believing it as the truth.