Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Gift

Every once in a while, I'll receive a gift and wonder if it was a mistake. I don't mean that to sound like an expression of ingratitude. But often the implications of a gift go far beyond the gift itself. Whenever I'm left wondering what misdeed was done to deserve such a thing, it's typically not a good sign.

I am reminded of the time when I was 13 and babysitting frequently for a family in my neighborhood. When I arrived one Tuesday around Christmas, Beth graciously handed me a beautifully wrapped package as she headed out the door to leave me to tend her daughters. I'm pretty sure her husband was the one to take the next shift and I took my gift home to open it alone. I removed the bow and carefully peeled the tape from the corners to reveal an extra large men's pajama top - green and covered in alligators. The term 'complete shock' come to mind. I'm sure I spent some time looking through the paper to see if the pants were somewhere. They weren't. Then I wondered if maybe I had accidentally received a gift that was intended for her extra large husband. If I were to confront the alleged error and it weren't an error, I would look like a fool. And if I thanked the family for their gift and they realized the error, we would all look like fools. And if I said nothing... well then we could all just pretend it hadn't happened. Husband could enjoy his alligator pajama pants with a t-shirt, while I swam in my own sea of reptile fabric, forever uncertain of the intention of such a gift. And that's exactly what happened.

My thirteen year-old mind didn't really project any intended meaning into the awkward gift, I simply accepted it as strange. But perhaps the cynicism that comes with nearly 25 years of life has changed me. When I came into work on Monday and saw something strange on my desk, I first asked my coworker what it was. When she didn't know, I realized immediately that I was once again victim to the strange gift syndrome. Only this time, nothing was done to conceal it. Alone on my desk, wrapped only in clear plastic, was a single placemat and set of chopsticks. Later, my boss came in and confirmed that it was, in fact, intentional. It was to "thank me for all my extra work in making Medica a success." Sure, it was thoughtful of them to get me something, but since then I've had a while to develop different theories about the true origin and/or implications of my gift.

First of all, I was thrown off by the fact that it was a single place mat. Don't placemats usually come in sets? Who did they pawn off the other placemats on as gifts? Past interns? Who knows. The fact that there is just one makes me wonder what they must think will come of me - maybe that I'll become some lonely girl sitting in an apartment alone eating chinese take-out alone. Well, you never know... but who are they to assume it? Basically, I've decided that it was just some rejected house deco. For as much as I would have liked the Buddha statue instead, I've learned that gift recipients cannot be choosers.


1 comment:

Whitney said...

That is so great! The strange thing is...I had a similar thing happen to me when I was thirteen. Except I got the gift from my aunt, but it was a strange night top (no bottoms) that had an unusually large and kind of scary looking cartoon alligator on the front. I know I felt the same exact thing you did when I opened that gift - complete shock. Yeah...people are weird. But my favorite part of the whole story was that it was only one placemat. What do your employers think of you? Maybe you need to let them know that you are not some recluse who'd rather sit alone eating than going out with friends...ha ha!

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