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Verne Knows

Verne knows me too well.

For the first time in our lives, my husband, Peter, and I live in a building with a front desk. It’s nice to have someone there when packages are delivered, or contractors show up, and this person is usually Verne.

Verne is a natural for the job. He knows everything going on in town. He knows when music is playing in the park and where the food trucks are parked and what time deliveries are made. But what interests Verne most is what goes on inside the building. Verne knows what we are all up, to and he is never short on advice.

“I wouldn’t go there,” Verne told me when I was contemplating a Mexican restaurant. “It’s cute on the outside, but the food is ordinary.” He suggested a different restaurant.

“Oh! I like your hair,” a complete stranger said to me in the lobby one day.

“She’s overdue to get it colored,” Verne said. “Her roots are showing.”

“Verne!” the stranger said. “That’s a terrible thing to say!”

“Oh, no,” I told the stranger. “It’s all part of the full suite of services Verne provides.” (I colored my hair that week.)

One day I had to go to Home Depot twice for the same thing. “Two trips to Home Depot in one day is not a good day!” I told Verne. (Although to be fair, the folks at Home Depot were terrific.)

“Are you sure this is a problem?” Verne asked., “Or is this just your OCD talking?”

Verne had me.

“It’s my OCD talking and it’s a problem!” I said as I got on the elevator with another resident.

“Verne knows me too well,” I complained to the pink-haired young woman in the elevator.

“Verne knows us all too well!” she said.

“I know everything!” Verne agreed, as the elevator doors shut.

But there is something very comforting about having Verne at the desk in the late afternoons.

“Where are you going tonight?” Verne will ask. He’ll suggest things I should look for in the neighborhood, and I’ll come back and report to him. It’s nice, knowing there is someone at the door to greet me, someone who is interested in where I’ve been and where I’m going.

Then, one day, we got some awful news. Verne was retiring.

“I’m turning 70!” Verne said. “I can’t keep working five days a week.”

“But what will we do without you, Verne?” I asked.

“Oh! You won’t be without me.” Verne said. “I’m just going to work the weekend shift instead. John is retiring.”

John is also very nice, but he is nearly blind and requires a cane to get around. It was probably a good time for John to retire. So, there was a big retirement party for John, and Verne took over the weekends.

One Sunday afternoon, John came back to visit. Now, instead of a cane, he needed a walker to get around. But he had a big smile on his face. He had come to visit Verne.

“Pull up a chair!” Verne said. “Would you like a cup of coffee?”

“I would!” John said.

“Would you like dessert to go with that?” I asked Verne.

“What kind of dessert?” he asked me.

“None of your business. Do you want some or not?”

“Of course!” Verne said.

I had some leftover pumpkin cake, and I brought down two pieces.

“Thank you for the cake,” Verne said later on, after John had left. “That was very nice.”

“Oh, it was nothing,” I told Verne. “What would we do without you?”

Till next time,

Carrie

– Carrie Classon is a freelance writer and author and lives in New Mexico. Her columns appear each week.