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Sue Spitulnik

Polka-dots Make the Day More Normal

On Friday, April 10, 2020, my husband, Bob, came out of the front room, now his office, into the family room where I had put lunch on the table, lifted his pant leg, stuck his foot in front of me and said, "I needed a polka-dot fix, so I put on my blue polka-dot socks."

Let me explain. We are currently dealing with a pandemic of Coronavirus  (COVID-19) in the United States and worldwide. Thus on March 15th we moved his office computer and monitors home because of an edict from New York Governor Cuomo that said all employees must work from home if at all possible. Yes, that was a Sunday. We did it that day so there wouldn't be other people in the fourteen-story downtown Rochester building where he works. We saw the building security guard, Alex, and one other woman performing the same chore, from a different floor, who he didn't know.

On a normal day in his office where about twenty women work, there is usually one or two who have on polka-dots of some sort and come to Bob's office door to show him. It might be a skirt, a blouse, a pair of leggings, or just a scarf with polka-dots but they make sure he knows, and he eats it up with a big grin under his handlebar mustache.

Bob started working for Home Leasing in August 2016. At the holiday party, held in January 2017, three ladies and one man showed him they were sporting polka-dots. This was my first time meeting his fellow workmates. We ate dinner at a table with a man named George who looked at me and asked, "He's only been at the office four months and people are wearing polka dots for him. How does he do that?" I chuckled. George continued, "I've worked there 32 years and no one does that for me." I said something to the effect, "He has his ways and it doesn't surprise me."

Bob is the guy in the office who says hello to each person, each morning. He isn't shy about sharing the fact he loves polka-dots. When he goes on vacation, the girls lament he won't be there to say good morning, so he sends the ones who have mentioned it a morning email and tells them our plans for the day. By the end of the vacation, more names have been added to the email list.

For his 70th birthday, in 2018, an employee named Francine cut out 70 polka-dots and taped them to his office door in a random pattern. There were seven colors, ten dots each in different sizes. To make the day more special, the female employees all wore polka-dot clothing. He's still talking about it, and yes, he's still working.

Bob and Polka Dot ladies
The polka-dot ladies with Bob in the center
Polka Dot Door

A polka-dot 70th birthday surprise. Bob's office door.

During this pandemic, he is determined to stay in a routine. He gets up at 7 am, takes his shower, dresses and walks four steps to his home-office to turn on the computer.  We don't have a large house. There he sits, working away, for at least eight hours, if not nine. His job is estimating the cost to build new multi-unit apartment buildings, college buildings, and sometimes refurbishing old buildings into apartments keeping the insides historically accurate. He loves his work and it is his hobby. He is highly respected in his field and well known in the area. My explanation for that is he's very knowledgeable, accurate, honest, loyal, and he knows how to make another person feel important whether it be a family member, workmate, or business associate.

So how is he coping during this strange time? He makes comments he could stay more focused if he were at his regular office. He wishes his reference materials were close at hand. He longs for a computer system that can send very large attachments in a few seconds and for a printer that can spit out 100-page booklets in color on 11 x 17 inch pages. His job is essential because it has to do with affordable housing so he is working with architects on buildings that will get built in the next couple of years via group meetings on the computer and takes/makes many phone calls talking to other people in the building trade to get estimates for their part of the work on a multi-million dollar job. He gets his meals served to him by his wife, instead of them being made by her ahead of time to take to the office and most importantly, he wears his own polka-dots.





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