“We should have both worn babushkas,” I whispered to my wife, after the guard scanned our IDs, took our photos and directed us toward the bank of elevators, one already open, waiting to whisk us to the 39th floor. “I should be carrying a chicken.”
Well, not both. I was being succinct. My wife’s hair would be in a kerchief, but I would wear some large, sincere peasant hat. Plus a scattering of straw on our clothes.
“That’s how I felt when my parents came to see my office,” my wife remarked.
Of course she did. Most kids do. While not as culturally prominent as traditional rites of passage, like communion or commencement, the parental office visit is no less real. The pivot between the first quarter of life — childhood, education — and the subsequent half century of adult employment.
Though like everything else, the Mom and Dad Inspection Tour takes on new meaning thanks to COVID-19, and our often depopulated workplaces.
It’s less traumatic, for starters, when your new colleagues are mostly virtual. There is nobody to cringe before. Our inability to embarrass our unflappable older son, even a little, sapped some of the fun.
“These are my parents!” he called across the polished wood and granite vastness, to a group of well-scrubbed young people.
“Nice to meet you!” one young man shouted back, though we hadn’t met, or even broken stride.
“He’s my summer associate,” our boy explained.
I’ve been in my share of swank law firms, with glass conference room walls that turn opaque at the touch of a panel. But this joint, in New York’s financial district, took the prize. It had the quiet immensity of a pharaoh’s tomb, or an unused set for the movie version of an Ayn Rand novel directed by Fritz Lang.
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