"Tell me again, dad, what do you do at work?"
I muck about, was the thought that crossed Gogu"s mind, but he refrained from saying it aloud. He was spiteful for not having succeeded till now to offer an answer so that the child could understand, neither had he an idea about what explanation to give. Oh, brother… It isn"t easy to manage a project, but it looks like it"s even harder to explain how you do that. He grumbled:
"I am in charge of projects; that"s what I do. But what are you about again?"
"Our teacher told us to invite our parents to tell us what they do at work, to give us an example. And she also told us to ask them to come dressed in their uniform… if they have one", he quickly added upon seeing Gogu"s grimace. "Mircea"s dad is a firefighter, so he can come in his uniform, and Maria"s mom is a doctor and she has an overall, and Danut"s dad is a cop…"
"I see…"- said Gogu - "and what would you like me to wear?"
The child looked at him with his big eyes; one could see that he was intensely thinking whether he had ever seen his dad in some sort of special attire. He probably didn"t find anything in his memory, "cause he said nothing more, he just remained staring at his father, waiting for a verdict.
And so, the plot thickens, thought Gogu. Instead of explaining to a single child, now I have to explain to an entire class. And I don"t even have a uniform… He reviewed the child"s list: fireman, doctor, policeman. How can you compete with them? They surely have stories to tell, spectacular situations in eager rivalry. Plus the uniform… The child"s voice broke the daydream:
"And what do they call you?"
Superman. Or Wonderwoman, respectively. No, he didn"t say this aloud. Instead, he asked:
"When did you say this meeting of yours with the parents is?"
"Anytime next week, provided we let the teacher know in time. This is what she said."
This is what the teacher said, Gogu mocked the child to himself. There goes my possibility to escape. What excuse can you find for an entire week?! Yes, this was something serious.
"Let me think about it and I"ll tell you when I can come so that you can let your teacher know. And I will also think about what I"m going to say, so as not to embarrass you. Ok?"
The child"s eyes glittered, he smiled with satisfaction, kissed his dad and, clearly relieved, uttered above his shoulder while exiting the room:
"Yes, dad, very well. I"m counting on you."
Firefighter, doctor, policeman. For the first time Gogu thought he had a dull job. No, I don"t, he came back to his senses. "Cause I like what I do. It"s just that I don"t have a uniform, he added with a bit of sorrow. But it is not the coat that makes the man. And then, I really am a kind of superman sometimes… He found himself smiling at the thought of some tights and a red cape hung over his shoulders, but he banished the hilarious image to concentrate on the speech.
Gogu was sweating and his hands were cold. He, who used to unblinkingly deliver presentations for the management or for the client, was fearsome at the thought of talking to some kids, his son"s colleagues. He realized he wanted to make an impression on them more than on any potential client.
All eyes were fastened on Gogu. He looked about for his son, saw him and smiled at him. Then, he focused on him and began:
"My son told me that until now you have heard about the jobs of a mechanic, a firefighter, a doctor and a policeman. Is that true?"
"And the pharmacist!" added a little girl from the back of the classroom.
Another one with a uniform, Gogu couldn"t help thinking; you couldn"t find an engineer… But he knew exactly what he was going to tell the kids, so he no longer hesitated and went on, taking out of his bag a thick rubbery raincoat, which was quite shabby and smelled like salted water:
"I am a project manager." He put his raincoat on, made a theatrical pause, laughed to himself and continued: "And I"ve got the raincoat of a sea captain. Because this is our function - that of a captain, except that it is on land. We coordinate the team that successfully brings the ship to its destination. From the moment we get in charge of the ship, we decide if we are going to use the engine or the sails and we coordinate the team to keep the compass course, to schedule a trip, to use the navigation tools, to lift up or to lower the sails. Everyone in the team knows their role, but the captain is the one who helps them synchronize, who interprets the weather forecast, monitors the position on GPS, decides if they anchor for the night or if they continue along their way. In nice weather or under a storm, my job is to keep the team safe and to make sure their work is not affected by external factors.
A little fair-haired girl with cornrows, sitting in the first row, suddenly put her hand up, but didn"t wait for Gogu"s approval:
"Sir, but who is in your team?"
"Anyone can be in my team: mechanics, firemen, doctors, policemen… even pharmacists."
"And the raincoat, what do you need it for?"
by Ovidiu Mățan
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