He’s the grumpiest man I have ever met, and has been my best friend at work for fourteen years. He is not my best friend out of work. In fact we don’t see each other at all, except at work, because we are completely different. We have spent eight hours a day in an office together, every week day, since 1998, bickering, laughing, working and being, I like to think, best work friends.
Every day for the past fourteen years, at around about 12:30, he has turned to my desk and said: “What’s for lunchie, Crunchy?” It was funny to start with, then it got irritating. On Wednesdays he has egg sandwiches for lunch. Wednesday nights, his wife cooks a chicken. Sometimes he crunches his carrots too loudly, too near me, and I shout at him. Other times he tuts at me for my liberal views, and I tut at him for his conservative ones. His first granddaughter turned one in December. His sense of humour is almost as black as mine.
For the past couple of months, he’s been worried, he turns 65 in August and here, in The Ivory Tower, where we work, that means forced retirement, no exceptions. He’s not ready for retirement.
Over the weekend, he fell. Hard. Nobody is quite sure if he had a stroke first and fell, or just fell. Whatever. The result was a bleed in his head, ICU, he can’t speak. We’re all waiting, watching, hoping. He’s not Joe now. I hope he’ll be back.
All I want to hear is “What’s for lunchie, Crunchy?”