Had a spontaneous (they always are) lunch date with The Benchwarmer today. He is like no person I’ve ever met. I love him to bits and he has a good hug on him. He’s enthusiastic, intelligent, disorganised – despite a plethora of laptops mobile phones and Blackberrys. He’s reliably late (except for lunch with me because he knows I’d do my block). He's needy and impetuous, spontaneous and hot-blooded, exciting, full of ideas. I always come away from our soirees energised and wanting to throw in my job and go on some new venture with him before coming back to earth and realising that at my age I can't make a living selling geeky T-shirts or copywriting some obscure website. I need something more concrete than a fabulous idea! And he's full of those. He’s well-read, intellectual, romantic, and slightly self-obsessed yet selfless, does that make sense?
He’s one of the few people I can sit down with and have him distracted by mobile phone calls. He apologises because he knows I don't like it but he takes the calls anyway. Or a pretty blonde sitting behind us only to enquire about her Oraton Umbrella or Louis Vuitton Satchel, making me wonder if he's actually trying to pick up while having lunch with me or just interested in the fashion icons. So deep and yet so shallow. The man is a walking oxymoron.
The Benchwarmer first came to us as receptionist a few years ago. A tumultuous romance during his HSC year had seen this incredibly bright selective school student bomb his exams so we provided a filler and a meagre income until he decided what he was going to do. He revolutionised us, thrilled us, made us laugh and infuriated us - had he not left , I probably would have fired him but we've always stayed in contact.
He bought headphones so that he could multi-task at the reception desk. He filled in with IT solutions, he was designy and helped me with marketing material. He bought decent biscuists and did a regular coffee run (Espresso only for him, none of this instant shite but it worked out well for us) He was fun, noisy, emotional, outspoken. Clearly this lad was not going to stay long in a servile position paying a pittance. He was promoted ‘upstairs’ and became an Administrator at which he excelled but it wasn’t enough. Soon he was organising everything, solving problems and providing forward thinking solutions but nothing was exciting enough to challenge his inquisitive brain. Often, I’d have to call him at home at 9:30am to ask if he was ill or coming in to work only to have him arrive 15 minutes later, still smelling of the club, cigarette smoke and alcohol and wearing the same gear he’d gone out in the night before and waxing lyrical about some family drama or other that had prevented his punctual arrival at work. I remember him apologising profusely for deceiving me in order to attend job interviews and pretending to be sick. Rather sweet. Recognising his skills, he soon secured a prestigious almost six digit salary with a huge company.
Sadly, with the market downturn, he’s been downsized with a sizeable bunch of the IT crowd but doesn’t seem to be taking it too hard. It’s an opportunity . . . and at 23 he has a lifetime of opportunity ahead.
TheBenchwarmer is exceptional. He has a mass of forward thinking ideas that just need a little structure to pout them into practice. Lunch with him is always leisurely but he talks as frenetically as he smokes. He’s growing up and for the first time in a long time has time to work out what he wants to do in the future. Whatever it is, it will be powerful, intellectual and involve some new use of technology but with a pop culture edge. I’d wish him luck but he doesn’t need it. He’ll fall on his feet.
My dream? That he’ll establish some sort of cyber business and I’ll just be his quaint old over-paid PA with a little creative writing thrown in. I wouldn’t mind making strong coffee for The Benchwarmer, putting ice cubes in his ash tray, cooking his books, keeping him focussed and giving him relationship advice that he probably doesn’t need. . . then again, he’s got a mother to do that!
Thanks Damian for keeping me away from my desk. Always fun and good to see you so relaxed and happy.