Oh Mary…how you made me laugh

I am genuinely looking forward to ageing. With age comes a certain level of ‘I don’t give a crap’ attitude.
This attitude was first demonstrated to me by Mary.
When I was in my early 20’s, I worked in a cash office, in (the currently) infamous Dunnes. I loved it. Not so much the job itself but I really loved the people working with me in that tiny office.
I had been working in the office about a year or so, when I had to train up a new office member, Mary. I had experience with Mary, between working on the customer service desk and training people on the cash registers, I had gotten to know Mary quiet well.
Mary had perviously worked and been trained by me, on the cash registers so the two women I worked with in the office, decided I could train Mary.
Mary was a perfectionist in everything she did and how she looked. Her hair, a perfect balance of dark and light shades teasing strands of grey giving the illusion, her hair was never dyed. Her register was a dream for cash office staff, her coupons all in order of value, neatly folded into coin bags, while her notes all faced the same way, and her coin, she had managed to let run so low that her bag would weigh nothing, taking seconds for us to run what little coin she had, through the coin machine,she was never over a cent or under a cent, she was always down to the cent. She was perfect cash office material.
Except for one thing. Mary was hard to get along with. She was opinionated.”Well Geraldine, I just can’t call you Ger, Geraldine is your name is it not. Your poor mother” she’d shake her head and walk off. She offered advice out of nowhere, “If you kept 500 euro in your account at all times, the bank can’t charge you all those extra fees, you should ensure you do that from now on Geraldine”. I’d nod and be polite. “Great advice Mary. Thank you.” She tended to discriminate,”Them travellers claim they can’t write , yet they can sign for their benefits” she’d tut. “Mary, shh, they can’t sign, the mark it x” I’d reply, hoping no one had heard us,”Isn’t X a bloody letter! Pure laziness, used to getting something for nothing”. Needless to say, there was more than one reason for transferring Mary to an enclosed office, away from the public. Now, don’t get me wrong, Mary was likeable just from a different era, she meant no harm and I knew and accepted that.
I had begun training Mary, she was a quick learner and full of enthusiasm for her new role. “Did you know, I got a new dog, a king Charles” she informed me, after another office member announced her brand new baby’s name. “Lovely” I smiled. “Jamie.” She stated. “Sorry, what?” I felt a smile dance on my lips. “Jamie. But I had my pup first.” I laughed. I couldn’t help it. “Mary!” I laughed again. “Don’t tell anyone that, in fairness her’s is a baby, yours is a pup!”. Mary smiled, “Geraldine, I’ve done my raring of babies, my babies are having babies, if I want to call my pup Jamie, I will, I don’t care. And I certainly don’t care if miss up her own pants knows it or not”. I had to admire Mary, I laughed, “Go on Mary” she gave me the high five(it had taken me weeks to teach her that it was ok to high five me!) and giggled while she counted and separated weeks of coupons.
One evening, we were literally waiting for the clock to strike 6, when Mary asked if we would mind, her running out to pick up a dress she spotted on her lunch break. H and I were taken aback, Mary was not known for parting with her cash especially for a thing as silly as a dress. This is the same woman who advised me, “Never tell anyone about your earnings, ANYONE. And there IS such a thing as a free meal”.
“Is she off somewhere?” H asked as she emptied the bins. “I’ve no idea. She hasn’t said anything to me” I had spent most of my time with Mary, H and K used to joke that we were fast becoming best buddies. I didn’t mind, I liked Mary, even if there were only a handful of others who felt the same way.
“Give us a look Mary” I asked as she came back into the office. “Oh no, no, it’s just a dress Geraldine, no need.” She tutted, gripping the bag tighter. H tried. “Ah come on Mary, give us something!” “I’m going to a wedding tomorrow” Mary stood straightening her uniform. “Well, thats nice”H smiled. “Who’s getting married?” I asked, watching the woman fidget. “Oh…am…oh” she didn’t want to answer, so I pushed. “Come on Mary, who’s getting married?, tell us!”
H and I laughed as Mary refused to answer. “Ah grand so, have a nice time at it anyway. Can we see the dress? Is it the blue one out there? I like that one, and its great value at only 50 euro too” H nodded at me. “Oh that mammy dress is it H?” I teased. “Ya brat” she tossed an empty coin bag at me. “It’s my sons . It’s my sons wedding” Mary suddenly blurted out. We both stared at her. “It’s my sons wedding. Yes its the blue dress. I didn’t want to spend too much on it…I don’t think it’ll last, shes just not right for him” Mary shrugged her shoulders, “So there ye have it”. Neither of us were expecting that answer.
“Well, as long as you are there for him Mary” H offered, while I tried so hard not to laugh. “MARY!” I let out a gulp of laughter. “Geraldine, I am old. I have no time for playing pretend” she rolled her eyes, grabbing her bag, she glanced at the clock.”A minute to six. I am going to leave now. There’s no point in waiting past 6, they don’t pay you to wait.” H got up, “Will you wait for Sylvia Ger?”. I nodded “Enjoy the wedding Mary, I suppose”, I added as I began to tidy up my desk. H laughed,”Yes Mary. Try to enjoy it”. Mary looked back at me as she held the door for H, “I won’t enjoy it, I’ll just have to tolerate it”
Mary continued to work with us for another few months, we never did find out how the wedding went and she certainly didn’t offer.
She thought me that, at some point in our lives and if we are lucky enough, we get to drop all that sugar coated nonsense, all the political correctness and say what we really think…and not give two shits about who we offend.
I think I will enjoy that…

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