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Tag Archives: Roland

fragments…Roland ~ 2

old newspaperUntil we invoked a closed-door policy on his office, Roland’s desk and shelves and hunched figure were on full view, a collision of neatness and chaos. Every surface was covered with piles of paper, the piles squared and tidy, like with like.

Newspapers towered in stacks along the credenza (those on the floor having been removed when the nighttime cleaning service threatened to quit). Dozens of yellow pads sat in two piles, used and unused, and lined sheets that had escaped their pads made up yet another. Manila folders, filled with papers and borrowed from the department’s master files, claimed one corner of his desk, where the pile rose ever higher, nearly obscuring Rolly from view.

While-You-Were-Out phone message slips, Post-it notes (new and used) and business cards had their own stacks, and then there was the sad but neatly stacked collections of folded paper bags and slightly-used paper napkins Rolly saved from the meals he ate at his desk, in spite of the company’s no-food-at-your-desk policy.

In between the stacks, aligned neatly as timber, were pencils, toothpicks and, for some reason, unused drinking straws still in their paper wrappers.

When the situation became intolerable, Rolly was ordered by his friend the boss to clear out the mess. But he was incapable of parting with his paper, so we sent him away and descended on the office with trash bags and recycling bins. Hoping to find room to put away the few things worth saving, but expecting more crammed paper, we opened the credenza, file cabinets and desk drawers. They were utterly empty.
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newspaper image by ShironekoEuro

fragments…Roland

yellow padRoland was a good man. Heart of gold, we’d say, making excuses for him. He was personable, kind, handsome in his own way. He’d show up at the office scrubbed and slicked, tie knotted tight, two hours late, ready to go. He greeted the day with fresh enthusiasm, as if this would be the lap through the maze that would get him to the prize.

In the accident of employment, with the well-meaning help of people he’d known since high school, Rolly had followed a greased path to the wrong work. He should have been a football coach, a mail carrier, a cop. Instead, he sat at a desk and wrote press releases, each word a labor.

He wrote on yellow legal pads, in pencil, the paper furrowed and ridged with the pressure of the lead. Within an hour, he’d be sagging, his tie loosened, his shirt no longer neat, his face already looking like he had forgotten to shave.

His were the simplest stories: a promotion, a new employee, a remodeled office. The text was rote, first sentence and last nearly identical in every release. He only had to write two or three lines for the middle, no fancy words, no research. But it would take him all day, writing the lines over and over on his yellow pad until they were perfect.

Once a week, he’d fire up the computer and type the story. Leaning in, he’d peer at the monitor over his half-glasses, then look down at the keyboard, to find the next letter, inventing the alphabet.

We put up with him, but the boss loved him. Kept him around like a mascot, a wounded older brother. Used him as a chauffeur, a part-time friend, a human shield for a shy man in a too-public position…