Clarise On Reception
By Frank Jackson

(Illustrated by Emily Horn)






You know it's funny. That's how Julie always starts her sentences. Instead of laughing she
says, That's funny.

We are in fact her subordinates and she's made us well aware. She speaks elegantly despite her
Orange County accent, but chooses to keep conversation as brief as possible. We all work at a
finance company, Julie is the Branch Manager, I am the receptionist.

It is my job to give Julie Fed Ex packages that have her name on it. It involves the same routine.
The Fed Ex guy comes in, says How are we doing today, and I say something about whatever
day it is. Much of what I do involves the same routine. The same speech day in day out.

Good Morning People's United Equipment Finance Incorporated formerly known as Federal Financial Credit soon to be known as Financial People's United Equipment Credit Corporation this is Clarise how can I help you?


There is Sean who everyday asks if it is Friday yet.

There is Phylis who everyday says Good morning, then I say Good morning how are you, then
she says Good thank you, and I say Good.

There is Steve who makes me feel very uncomfortable when he looks at me.

The phone rings.

Good Morning People's United Equipment Finance Incorporated formerly known as Federal
Financial Credit soon to be known as Financial People's United Credit Corporation this is Clarise
how can I help you?


Good morning may I speak with Julie Lochawicz please.

I can see if she's available, can I let her know who's calling.

This is her father, Mr. Lochawicz.

Thank you please hold.

He says, I just tried to call on her cell phone and she didn't answer.

I buzz Julie and tell her that her father is on the line. There's a brief moment of silence until
finally she says, Ok put him through.

There is the water cooler delivery guy who makes his weekly visit and flirts with me.

There is Tom in Sales who calls me Bartender and has a sincere mustache.

There is Jeff in Accounting who looks like an alien and tried to get me to vote for Rick
Santorum.



There is Mike the Credit Analyst who Julie hates and yells at on a consistent basis.

There is Sonya the VP who got drunk at the Christmas Party and told me about her daughter’s
abortion.



Fed Ex delivers. He says How are we doing today and I yell It's Friday! and he laughs while I
sign for it.




I walk into Julie’s office and hand her the Fed Ex package while looking down at the
floor smiling submissively.

You know it's funny, she says.

It catches me off guard.

It's my Dad, she says and snorts some type of laugh. He's always so formal, he gets on the phone
and he's like all serious, Julie, this is your father, and I'm like Dad I know.

That's funny, I say and start to walk out.

She says, Our family’s not very close. She pauses painfully, and continues, He doesn’t ever
like, you know, show his emotions when he talks. You could pick that up I bet.

I tell her that I didn’t really notice.

She says, He's an estate attorney and it's like he's always so professional he can never just be like
hey it's your Dad. It's just funny, huh.

Except it isn't. I’m noticing her eyes and they are starting to flood involuntarily.

I say, That’s funny because my Dad and his brothers are weird like that too, when they get
around each other, it's like they have their own way of talking that I don’t think anyone even
understands. But I’ll catch them, sometimes it's just the quickest look, or one of them has a
smile that just slightly lingers, and you can tell it’s something, they miss each other, or they're
proud of each other, and you wish it would just all come pouring out, like some wave of
anything, some tsunami of feeling, but then it’s like it’s gone, and they don’t even acknowledge
it. It’s funny, I guess you just know it's always there, you just try to catch it when it happens.

Ya, she snorts softly and says, That's funny. I’m waiting for her to say something like a Thank
you Clarise, but there’s nothing, just a slight hesitation on my part, an awkward moment, until
finally I hear the phone ring and head back to my desk.


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frank jackson lives in tempe, arizona

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@frankerson