Out of the Office


grace_icon.gif len_icon.gif

Scene Title Out of the Office
Synopsis When they're not stuck behind desks, apparently both Grace and Len like to be doing something.
Date July 2, 2009

Somewhere on Staten Island

The media, government representatives, general public paints Staten Island as no better than a den of thieves, the home of lawless anarchy, something more akin to the Wild West or pirate towns. Anyone who lives there must be lawbreakers and it's a good riddance we're quit of them anyway.

Grace knows better. Staten is in its way a shelter for the Ferrymen as well — and because of the Ferrymen, she also has some idea of just how many people still live on Staten not because it lets them dodge the law, but because it is home. Because, like so many of the former Midtown residents now housed in refugee camps and trailers, they have no resources and no place else to go.

That's why she's out here now, at nearly noon under an only half-cloudy sky; seventy-two degrees Fahrenheit that feels more like eighty, plus seventy-eight percent humidity. The sunscreen might keep her light skin from burning, but it doesn't stop leather gloves, black hair, red tanktop, or blue cutoff shorts from sticking uncomfortably.

It's not the first time she's done this, waded into a mob of strangers, set her hands to a crumpled trashcan, a splintered two-by-four, a hunk of concrete, and helped haul the debris somewhere other than the middle of the street. She pretends that she wouldn't rather be anywhere else right now, and for the most part that helps. Plus it's almost time to break for lunch, which might be the reason Grace looks at her watch between every additional load. Time marches on, but with the speed of molasses.

Suddenly finding himself with some free time on his hands, and knowing that he truly cannot spend 24 hours a day singing karaoke and drinking beers, Len has decided to find himself another hobby. One of the things that paid leave is good for, it seems. He has heard through the grapevine of the efforts of volunteers out at Staten Island and decided to throw himself into the mix.

As the minute hand begins to inch towards noon and the upcoming lunch break, Len walks down the sidewalk, jeans and a t-shirt for once, and instead of his trademarked cowboy hat, he has a baseball cap on his head, backwards. His hands have large gloves and his own t-shirt is stuck against his skin with sweat. He reaches behind him and pulls a hanky from his back pocket and wipes at his brow as he brings an armload of splintered wood over to dump into the trashcan. He dips his head in greeting to Grace, a brief smirk crosses his face. "It'll get here eventually." he says.

Looking at Len across the growing pile of lumps of concrete, Grace arches one dark brow, one corner of her mouth tugging back a moment later in a subtle, rueful smirk. "I've been here all morning. 'Eventually' isn't soon enough." The harsh tones of her ruined voice erase any subtlety from the words, though her expression and the context of the statement suggest it's no more than a good-natured complaint. She glances back over her shoulder towards the rubble-strewn street, the ruins of several buildings on the other side. "Wouldn't know we'd even made a dent without seeing what it looked like at dawn."

Len takes a look around, nodding. "I don't expect it's going to get better any time soon. Nice that folks like us care enough to come out and help, but honestly — I think it's more for our benefit than those who actually live here." He grins over at her and shrugs. "We like to think we're doing our part. And we are, but as you said, you'd never notice." He turns in time to take some debris from someone bringing by more for the dumpster, and drops it in. He nods to the thanks given and turns back to Grace. "It's a good way to keep in shape and work on that tan, right?" Good natured as always, Len removes the glove from his right hand and offers it over. "Len Denton."

"Gotta trust they picked this spot for a reason," Grace replies. "Out of all the places we could be working." And they did, but she's not about to explain to a complete stranger how or why. As Len pitches more wood into the bin, she studies the block, blue eyes narrowing thoughtfully. It isn't until she hears him offer his name that Grace realizes she's being spoken to again, her attention catching up with what her ears heard.

"Sorry," she says politely, turning back to Len. The woman pulls both of her gloves off, shakes the proffered hand. "Grace Matheson." She smiles faintly at the mention of tanning. "I don't tan so much as burn. Speaking of which, lunch break or no I think I'm due for another layer of sunscreen." Hence, the gloves get tucked into her belt and Grace moves out of the way of people still working, heading in the direction of the volunteer staging area.

It's not really a job, so it's not like lunch breaks are all that monitored. Whatever reason there is for working on this particular block, it doesn't matter to Len. He's actually out doing manual labor for the first time in a long time. It almost brings him back to working at home. Sweat on his brow, and dirt under his boots. He follows her as she goes to get sunscreen. "I think there's plenty in this world to worry about without having to worry about skin cancer," he chuckles. He takes the cap off his head and uses the hanky to wipe at the sweat that rushes down his face that had accumulated under the rim, his balding head glistening with the moisture. "How often do you come out here to enjoy the festivities?"

The fact that Grace seems to be known by all of the organizers, even if most of the volunteers themselves are unfamiliar to her, could either be proof or contradiction of the 'breaks aren't monitored' idea. The people who are setting out row upon row of boxed lunches for the volunteers pause in their task long enough to wave at the woman and her taller shadow, as do the ones replenishing the cases of bottled water for their convenience.

A gesture gets two of those tossed Grace's way, the woman offering one to Len as she comes to a halt under the shade of a tree. Several backpacks and bags lean against the base of its trunk. "Oh, this is my first day out here," the woman answers. "Do enough of these things, though, that I'm pretty sure I'm at the top of everyone's call-list by now. What about you?"

Well, there's a partially true answer about the come out as Len isn't unfamiliar with Staten, though mostly familiar with it in a more official capacity. "First time out here for this. I find myself with a little time off, so figure I may as well put myself to good use." He is actually surprised to find the lunches being laid out. This is more organized than he thought. "I imagine that this won't be my last day out here. Though, by the end of the day I imagine that I'll be ready for a nice cool shower and a beer." He accepts the water and joins Grace underneath the tree. "And I have a feeling I'll be leaving my number for a call back. I'm actually enjoying the hard work. It… beats my tedious desk job."

"Well, more hands are always welcome. There's an email list or two around, too. Couple forum things. My roommate's better at keeping track of those than I am, I admit," Grace replies with a crooked quirk of her lips. She cracks open the water, takes a couple of small drinks before capping it again and sitting down on the dry, dying grass. Rummaging around in her backpack yields a tube of sunscreen, which she proceeds to coat her exposed skin with. "And, for the record," the woman points out, "just about anything beats a tedious desk job."

Len pops his top off his water and nods. "I'll see if I can get some contact information." A soft jingle goes off around him and he reaches to his side for a Blackberry which he checks before firing off a response and tucking it back onto his clip. "I guess you never really leave the office when you have one of these," he smirks. "And yeah, office job was not what I intended to do with myself, but what can you do? Gotta pay the bills. But this right here, brings me back to working the ranch back in Texas." he grins. He watches her as she puts on the sunscreen, taking a swallow from the bottle of water.

"Mm. Office is one of those things that never lets go of you once it's got its hooks in," she agrees. Grace lapses into silence as she applies sunscreen to her face, reacquiring the thread of conversation once that's finished. That she's being watched doesn't faze the woman any. "Managed to avoid that, myself. Splitting bills helps, too; I'd probably be in a bind if I was freelancing and living alone, prices being as crazy as they are."

One of the people who previously greeted Grace in passing approaches the pair, grass crunching under her feet, boxes in hand. "Hey, Grace." The woman, probably a little older than Grace herself, nods politely to Len. "We've got chicken salad, turkey, and some tomato-cheese vegetarian thing I figure you won't want." She glances between the two. "Thought I'd save you the trouble of walking back over."

A gesture from Grace cedes first pick to Len.

Len returns the nod, complete with charming smile as he picks the turkey. "Thanks for the lunch. Next time it's on me," he teases. The remainder of lunch is quiet as hunger takes precedence at this particular time. Once lunch is finished, it's back to work and Grace and Len are split up, but not without Len giving Grace his number to call him if she hears of another time when they're getting folks together for more volunteer work.

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