Graced with the ability to read upside down, and the fact that he possessed uncharacteristically legible penmanship, I noticed he lived here in town. How nice, a local, I thought, knowing he probably already had a measure of familiarity with his business to be conducted.
“What may I do to be of service?” Even in my short tenure, I was becoming accustomed to a more stilted offering of assistance, as the majority of visitors required business permits and financial transactions that warranted, in my mind, a greater measure of professionalism, despite my initial tête-à-tête. Toying with him was fun, and although it primarily transpired for Bonnie’s benefit, his was a hand I didn’t mind clasping.
He continued to write and waited to respond until he completed the task at hand.
“I would like a permit for firewood.” His hands finally returned to their respective pockets. He struck a pose, unintentionally, and his shoulders appeared even broader as a result. How adorable was he?
“For commercial or private use?” Only two weeks into my job and I already knew exactly how to handle this transaction.
“Private, thank you.”
I reached beneath the counter, retrieving the folder of blank documents. I expect he completed one previously, but nonetheless, I reviewed the procedures. I would own this conversation as much as the handshake.
“You are welcome. Please complete the top portion with your information, select ‘private’ under usage request type and provide a brief description of the nature of your request. Ideally, most applicants state, ‘firewood,’ or ‘camping supplies’ as their intended purpose.” The pen vanished in his grasp. I almost wished my hand was still inside there.
He listened politely, and I appreciated it, but once I stopped talking, he glanced down and exhibited far more skill with the form than my meager nine and a half days of experience. I allowed him to work in silence, but hovered just close enough to be conveniently available, or perhaps, just to enjoy the warmth of human contact, particularly this human.
Bonnie joined our company, leaving the stack of finished copies on my desk. Her expression appeared to know more than I could interpret as she kept moving towards the entrance to her office at the end of the room. Through the glass window separating her from the outer space, I glanced back to see she settled at her desk with just a brief glance towards the counter, checking on the visitor more than on me and my simple victory over my test subject.
After a brief review, he spun the paper around granting me the ability to read right-side up, and likewise execute the document. ‘Firewood.’ I read it to myself and nearly read it aloud. He knew he wrote that, and clearly he seemed to know what he wanted, so the least I could do would be to get him on his way. “Thank you, let me get your tags and a copy of the request for you.”
With my back to him, I finally put more than a few feet between us, and in less than three minutes, I pulled all six tags and offered him the duplicate request and released him from the mouse trap into which he unwittingly stumbled. He handed over a prepared check; he clearly knew what the cost would be.
“Thank you, and enjoy your time in the forest.”
“Thank you, Natalie.” I hoped he would extend his hand, but instead I settled for his eyes grabbing mine nearly as tightly as I likewise held his hand. I might have to try that eye technique myself in the future. I held my ground until after his boot vanished out the glass door and down the side steps. The cowbell jingled a moment longer, and I bested its chime. Oh, yes, I needed to conduct this experiment again. What fun!