Love in a Box of Chocolates

ford chocolate 1

If you’ve ever doubted your worth, either from a childhood of conditional love or a string of failed romantic relationships or a simple period of feeling down, then you might have an inkling about what I’m talking about in this post. Despite the often-obnoxious front I put up on this website and in my daily life, it’s still sometimes difficult for me to fathom that I have an effect on people, and that people might actually value me. I will occasionally marvel that someone in my office building, whom I’ve never met before, knows who I am. Part of it is because I’m so bad at remembering names and people that I just assume others do the same, but part of it comes from a deep-seeded disbelief that I matter. The smokescreen of all the fabulousness that surrounds me is only proof of this underlying fallibility.

I recently transferred offices, moving back to downtown Albany after a little over a year at an office in Rensselaer. As much as I loved the people in the office, and as integral and valued as I felt, it still took me by surprise to see and realize the bonds that I’d made in that relatively short time frame. I’m not one to require a pat on the back or regular acknowledgment of accomplishments (if I did, I wouldn’t have made it beyond childhood), but when it happens I do my best to be gracious and appreciative. I know how rare it can be.

During my time in that office, I came to know and adore the people with whom I had the privilege of working. I also hoped I added something to the office that went beyond the capable performance of my job duties. I’ll never be the greatest or most technically proficient at my job, but I’ve always felt I bring something else to an office environment that raises morale and makes it a little more enjoyable to come to work. It’s not something that can necessarily be evaluated in a job review or put down on paper with any measurable units of output – but you know it when it’s there, and you realize it even more when it’s gone. Even with this awareness, however, I was completely caught off guard with the parting gift of that office across the river.

Having asked that no big party or to-do was in the works, I relaxed on my last day, counting on the fact that nothing like a tearful going-away scene was about to be enacted. (For the cajillionth time, I honestly do not do well when the focus of all attention is directed on me. I wilt in that limelight. Disbelieve at your own peril.)

As we were enjoying a lunch for Administrative Assistant’s Day, my supervisor presented me with a box of Whitman Chocolates. I thought I disguised my lack of enthusiasm for the present pretty well (I’m not a box-of-chocolates kind of guy) though later I was told my distaste was quite apparent. Not wanting to make a production, I said a quick ‘Thank you’ and tried to move the attention on toward someone else. Instead, they insisted that I open it. Now, if I’m not a box-of-chocolates kind of guy, I’m even less of a let’s-open-the-gifts-and-ooh-and-ahh-like-we’re-at-a-baby-shower type of guy. But they had always been good to me in that office, so I obliged in this one last act of appreciation.

After breaking through the outer plastic wrap, I lifted the top of the box. In the center of the chocolates was the familiar rectangular box of a Tom Ford Private Blend, ‘Oud Fleur.’ At that instant I was too much in shock to fully convey what I was feeling, but it was the closest I’ve come to crying in a long time. That someone had listened, and had made the effort to know me enough to make the perfect choice, touched me in ways that most gifts never could. Usually only Andy is adept, and concerned, enough to figure out what I really want. Here was a group of people I’d known just a year, showing that I had made an impression on the office after all, that my presence had not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. I was moved.

Though I’ve moved on to another office, I will always hold my time there, and the people I met along the way, close to my heart.

(Special shout-out to my friend Ginny, whom I know did more than her fair share to make this glorious miracle happen.)

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