I Bought a Woodpecker

A couple of months ago, I bought a woodpecker.

Tara and I were in Portland, eating lunch from the food cart pod on SW 10th & Alder. There was a toy store across the street, and on a whim we decided to stop in and browse. There was the usual assortment of board games and puzzles and stuffed animals and bubble guns and dominoes and ant farms and erector sets and race cars, and most of it was really pricey. Then again, this was an independent toy store on a busy corner in a major metropolitan city, not a suburban big box retailer like Toys ‘R Us (thank god), so the higher cost was understandable. Gotta support the local economy, right? It’s the reason why I always buy Tillamook cheese instead of the cheaper stuff, and never shy away from Burgerville even though lunch for two at Portland’s local organic and sustainable fast food chain (NO franchises) can set you back a good $18, a far cry from McDonald’s. On the way out, I spotted this and couldn’t resist.

Just a random novelty. You pull his head back, and he slides down the metal pole, his beak tapping against it all woodpecker-like. Cute, and at only $2, a steal (not to mention the cheapest item in the entire store, hands down). When I bought it, I decided it would make the perfect knick-knack for my future desk in my future cubicle in the future office where I would be working. In the future. It gave me a goal to aspire to. Well, the poor little woodpecker sat on my dresser in the bedroom for a couple of months, gathering dust, while my job search did the same. And then, suddenly, I found myself employed. Which, by the way, kinda makes my head spin, how quickly everything fell into place. Some companies make you jump through hoops before you can even walk through the door, with multiple interviews (phone, in-person, follow-up, panel interview, etc.). It was like that where I worked before. This time out, a single 30-minute interview with two people sealed the deal. Gotta love that.

Anyway, today I finally brought my woodpecker in to work. I’ve been there two weeks now, and today was Vanessa’s – the girl who trained me – last day, so I figured it was time to make the cubicle mine and give it a little flavor. The above pic was taken this morning, right after I set him out. I will admit, I spent a bit of time playing with my woodpecker before I actually got to work. Just a couple of minutes. It’s okay, I was there early! I love seeing him on my desk. It feels like the woodpecker represents an achievement of sorts, and serves as a testament to dedication and commitment and optimism and the belief that things will all work out in the end.

So Vanessa is gone now – moving to New York City on Sunday – which means I am completely on my own. If you had asked me after my first day whether I could handle that, I’d probably have flown into a sort of wild-eyed panic and said there was no way possible I’d be able to pick everything up in so short a time, but that was the first-day jitters speaking. By the end of last week I felt fairly confident that another five days under her tutelage would give me the confidence and experience necessary to do well in the job, and sure enough at the end of week two I feel like I know enough to not only get by, but to excel in my position. Sure, it’s a little scary now that I’m on my own, and to make matters worse my supervisor will be out of the office on Monday. But I do feel like I’ve picked up enough knowledge and have a pretty good grasp of the procedures necessary to function just fine on my own. For the past two days, I’ve basically been flying solo anyway, so it’s all good. Here’s to new adventures.

And here’s to the weekend. I can finally appreciate those again, and Tara and I are headed to the Oregon coast tomorrow for a day at the beach. Gotta make the most of our time off, don’tcha know!


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

13 thoughts on “I Bought a Woodpecker

  1. Love the woodpecker. Now I can finally get my mind out of the gutter after that comment Tara made on FB. Not that it was really, really in the gutter…but it was a little.

    See what my kids to do me…FERBLUNJIT…that’s me!!


    1. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t at least a little bit in the gutter after that comment. Which was pretty funny, by the way!

      Ferblunjit? Is that another character in a Stephen King novel I’m unaware of??


      1. Or crud…you’re Polish…not Jewish…shame on me!

        It means ‘lost or mixed up’ in Yiddish….lol


    1. There’s nothing you can say without having it sound dirty. But that’s okay, it hasn’t stopped anybody else so far.

      Hope you and Sara are having a wonderful weekend!


  2. Mark, LOVE the woodpecker. How cute!

    ” But I do feel like I’ve picked up enough knowledge and have a pretty good grasp of the procedures necessary to function just fine on my own. For the past two days, I’ve basically been flying solo anyway, so it’s all good.”

    Bravo, buddy! I knew you’d get the hang of it quickly!

    Wishing you and Tara a faaaaaabulous week!


    1. It all seemed pretty overwhelming at first, but of course after a bit of time and practice things usually do fall into place and make more sense. Enjoy your last day in Florida, Ron!


  3. I love that the woodpecker became a part of the goal setting: a knick knack for my desk for when I get a job. Just don’t get in to trouble for playing with your woody at work. 😉

    Inappropriate jokes aside, have fun this weekend! Joe and I are taking a getaway to a nearby cave for hiking.


  4. Oh so you like these things? Come to Miami. They start at 3AM and sound like a bazillion jack hammers and after you can’t sleep and have to go to work they finally stop at sunrise. Hey so how’s that new job working out?


    1. Are you serious? I never knew Miami had a woodpecker problem. Alligators perhaps. Manatees maybe. But woodpeckers?? Yikes. I’d be pretty cranky all the time if they woke me up early like that!


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