It was March seventeenth, St. Paddy's Day, and someone from the office had brought in a bunch of green plastic Irish "bowler" hats & left them on the credenza in the front office. So I put one on & then decided to pin one of the green shamrocks made from a pipe stem cleaner on my tie. I was having trouble with the pin when Carroll came to my rescue & did the honors.
An hour or so later I stuck my head in the door again -- with the hat on -- and said, "Should I wear the the hat to Hyattsville?"
"Oh yes," chorused both Carroll & Sharla.
So I went outside, green bowler hat on, and waited under the arch for the shuttle to our APHIS Hyattsville, Md., headquarters. (On the trip out, I exchanged computer talk with Dave Jones.)
When I got to Hyattsville and went into the building, I received some looks & comments & a half dozen or more "I love your hat" remarks from assorted people, some of whom I knew, as I meandered my way through the halls on my way to my first stop on the fifth floor to see Kevin Conner, our video guy.
"Oh, I love your hat!" said Laurie Smith, our photographer, whose office is in the same area. "Can I have it?"
"Maybe I'll leave it with you when I go back," I answered.
Cheri Landini, she of the two great big beautiful, uh, blue eyes, liked the hat, too. "Do you want me to hold your hat while you go to your meeting and represent LPA?" she asked.
"No. I think I'll wear it to the meeting."
"Let me put it another way," she replied. "While you represent LPA at the meeting, would you like me to hold your hat?"
"No," I said, "I think I'll wear it." And I did, at least right at the start.
So when I was ready to head back downtown, I swung past Laurie's office & presented her with the hat, putting it on her head.
"You look cuter in it than I do," I said.
"Yeah," she drawled with an elfish little grin on her face as she gave me a hug; "I thought I would."
On my return, someone in the front office said, "Where's your hat?"
"Oh, I gave it to Laurie Smith," I said. "But I got a good deal . . . I traded the hat for a hug. So it was worth it."
And Paula, who also was sitting there, said, "I'll bet it was -- if it was from Laurie."
If you liked this chapter, e-mail the author!