It's a typical day in the big room of the Accounts unit. Julie was so wrong about Benny dying behind a desk. He's doing fine. At the moment he's working with Amel, a 24 year old, good-looking Bosnian boy, another one of The Moo's recent hires. She has no compunction about hiring with her hormones. Amel is teaching Benny how to process travel reimbursement claims and they are deep in discussion of whether General Zappullo had breakfast provided at his hotel or not. Believe it or not, it actually matters.
Suddenly the high-pitched, strident, unpleasant voice of the Moo rings out over the office. "Children! Meeting!"
Benton says to Amel that he didn't remember any notification of a meeting. Amel explains that Marilyn (they have to call me that) never gives any notice. When she screams, "meeting" and that's when a meeting is. Everyone swings his or her chair around to face the middle of the room.
"Okay, so let's just get organized for next week. Dinar-ee-shore, you have everything you need for the payroll?"
"Nizar-ee-shore, you're closing the journal entries on the tenth, right?"
"Why I do not keep it open for the eleventh? Belgrade is not in time."
Marilyn and Benton are the only native English speakers.
"Okay. Get Marina-shore to finish the filing. Now, Amel-ee-shore do you think Benton can take over the travel claims while you're on vacation?"
"Yes, he is handling it fine."
"Good, so Benton you just get Neva-shore to help you if you get in trouble. Any questions?"
There are none. Everybody gets back to work except Benton who follows the Moo back to her own desk.
"Can I talk to you about something, Marilyn?"
He clears his throat and he's embarrassed. "I was just noticing how you call everybody something-shore. I guess that's a Romanian diminutive."
"You're good at languages! Yes it is Romanian. How do you know?"
"Well, you have a Romanian name, so I just figured. Actually the 'shore' ending isn't all that common. It has, if I recall, a much more limited use than you seem to make of it and, um . . . Are you actually Romanian, Marilyn?"
"It's my married name. My maiden name was English."
"What was it?"
"English. Miss English."
"Made it funny when I was a schoolteacher. Hey, we got English for History. The kids got a lot of mileage from that joke. Bottom line, Benton. Where are we going with this?"
"I was just wondering why you don't call me, um . . . "
The Moo laughs at him. "We're Canadians. We've got concepts like sexual harrassment. Could never get away with this back in Ottawa. That's why Europe is so much fun. Do you want a nickname, too? Would the RCMP allow it?"
"I just want to fit in." There's something a little sad about the way he says this. Maybe he's feeling this a little more deeply than he lets on. I wonder if he had lots of friends at home. Living in the north maybe he felt isolated a lot. The big accounting room is a lively place, I'd like him to feel at home and part of the family.
"OK you tell me, Benton. According to the syntactical rules you've observed . . ." we are the only two native English speakers, we can enjoy talking to each other that way. "you are going to be - what?"
"I'm going to be Benn-ee-shore." He seems happy about it. It's heartwarming.