From the Small World Files

Date nights are once again a regular part of life, and since our Chinook Book coupons expire this week, we went out for dinner to the Vita Cafe on Alberta last Tuesday.

I haven’t been to the Vita in over five years, but it was just as quietly smug and ‘Portlandia’ as I remember. I was surprised to see they served beef burgers and told Jess I would be right back, I was going to go have a look at the farm and check on the cows.

She asked what I was ordering, but I hadn’t finished reading the back of the menu, which detailed their values at great length and described in detail just what the hell seitan is made of anyway, among other things.

In short, it was all the things I both love and laugh at about my home town, right down to the waitress, who, when I asked if the nachos could be made with dairy cheese (I was careful not to say ‘real’), said, “…we can.” in a way that let me know her opinion of me had just plummeted.

Shortly after we ordered, a guy sitting across from us at a booth with his wife and two small kids turned and gave me the pointy finger. Not the look-what-you-did pointy finger but the HEY WHAT’S UP, I TOTALLY KNOW YOU! pointy finger.

I could only give him a friendly confused look in return.

“We totally used to work together!” he said.

Now I was really confused. I’m generally better at remembering at least faces, but I wasn’t getting anything. But he seemed really sure. I went through as much of my resume as I could think of off the top of my head but still no hits. Maybe it was the other bald black chick, I thought. Our connection was obviously from a long time ago, so it was probably before Carla moved here, but Aisha was still in town…

He gave up for the moment, but said he’s let me know if it came to him. We both resumed our respective dinners.

Later, when I was thinking I should probably stop eating nachos but still taking bites, he turned and said, “It was the Marriott!”

“Wow. I completely blocked that one out. Nice work.”

“My wife figured it out.”

Now that the mystery was solved, hazy memories did start to come back. His hair had been only slightly longer and other than the kids that proved he seemed to have achieved some modicum of maturity, he seemed exactly the same–fun loving, cheerful, pleasant to be around. I could see how the younger version would have morphed into a great dad.

We reminisced on all the reasons why we had both blocked out one of the worst employment experiences of our lives.

After dinner we all ended up outside talking. Adam (I had finally admitted to not remembering his name and asked), and his wife Jill were both from Wisconsin, so then they bonded with Jess over familiar names and places.

They asked if we planned to have kids, a subject which has recently come up again, and about which my feelings haven’t changed since I have been old enough to know I had a choice about such matters. “We can have all the kids we want, as long as they’re rented,” I said.

They expressed interest in renting out their kids, who seemed sweet and well behaved, so I gave Adam my card (if you’re reading this Adam, call me, I really meant it).

The next morning, I stopped at Courier Coffee for my usual americano fix on the way to work. Another regular came in after me. After he ordered, he turned to me and said, “How was your cross race?”

Not, ‘don’t you race cross.’ How was your race.

“It was…hard.” The course had been dry so it was all speed (for those who had it), running, and cornering. “But good, I finished.”

He asked about my team, and when I told him said, “Oh my wife is joining that team!” When I asked about his team, it turned out to be the same as my coworker Adam who recently joined Metal Toad as a project manager.

Like I said, this town is small. Postage stamp small.

Most of the time, I like it that way.

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