HERC has seen every episode of The Office - all 201 of them. He watched the series finale (clip above) last week, preceded by an interview/clip show hybrid (below), with high hopes and a heavy heart. When it was all over, he was very happy to have witnessed it all. Especially the story of the romance between Jim and Pam.
In some ways Jim and Pam's story is similar to HERC's own love story - well, not really but here's his story anyway... Kids, this is How I Met Your Mother:
When he was 17, young HERC walked into a fast food restaurant and asked for an application. The young lady behind the counter, dressed in the restaurant's uniform of tight brown polyester pants and a similarly tight (and figure flattering) logo-patterned polyester top with a fake skirt, turned around and bent down to grab an application and HERC was in lust. She was a vision. But he was in a happy relationship with a girl who had confessed her love in his yearbook only months before.
Within a week, the owner of the restaurant called HERC's house and HERC SR took the call. He was preparing to retire from the United States Air Force after three decades of active duty and was also looking for a job. It wasn't until a few moments into the call that he realized the call was for HERC, who was standing nearby, so he took the phone from his somewhat dejected father. He would go to the restaurant only a couple of miles from his house, the next day for an interview.
At the interview, he was formally introduced to the young lady who had given him the job application. Her name was Laura and she had just graduated high school; HERC was entering his Senior year. He also met Laura's older sister, Carol, who also worked at the restaurant. HERC was hired on the spot by the owner - known as Mr. V - and told to report for training the following day. It was his first real job.
Although he was 17, HERC was not yet driving due to a traumatic incident the previous summer, when he put a three-foot-long gouge into the side his grandfather's beloved 2-month-old GMC pick-up truck while driving through the middle of an empty field. In an incredible show of restraint and love, HERC's Texas Grandfather did not yell at him when he cut too close to a cattle guard. The trauma was entirely self-inflicted. His grandfather never had the side of the truck repaired and in fact was still driving it, rusted gouge and all, eight years later when he suffered a massive heart attack and passed at the age of 55.
So HERC rode public transportation to and from school and figured out by changing buses, he could easily be dropped off near his new workplace. Of course, he was ridiculed by his older co-workers about not being able to drive. But having a girlfriend and now a job quickly assuaged his guilt and within a month he'd have his driver's license although he did not have a car of his own yet so his parents would have to pick him up from work.
Gradually, HERC and Laura formed a close friendship as they both had many similar interests. HERC began making her mixtapes. She made it abundantly clear she was focused on school and her future career with IBM - she was majoring in computer programming and accounting - and didn't have time for a boyfriend. Besides, HERC had a girlfriend that meant to world to him and they often spent afternoons ditching class and listening to records. She was the second girl in two years to ask him out, so he was flattered to be the object of someone's desire.
As the school year continued, HERC's girlfriend started hanging with the cool kids in school, the ones who mistook the noun "party" as a verb. She began drinking and doing drugs and encouraged HERC to do the same but he wasn't having it and soon she had dumped HERC, actually calling him a "party pooper." Within a week, HERC had asked Laura's sister Carol out on a date and they became boyfriend and girlfriend despite the fact that she was a Sophomore at the local University, studying pre-med and performing with the band's color guard. Having an older girlfriend, especially one who drove him to school every day in her Firebird and dropped him off in front of his friends apparently made HERC a desirable commodity and several of his female classmates asked him out but he respectfully declined each invitation that came his way.
The seventeen-year-old HERC and his nineteen-year-old girlfriend went to the movies a lot and attended several concerts but most nights they would spend time at her parents' house, watching TV or listening to music. As HERC got to know Carol and Laura's family he learned they had two brothers, one older than the two of them and one younger who was actually HERC's age but attending a different high school. All the kids in the family were one year apart so three years earlier, they were all at the same high school together. Carol's parents seemed to take a liking to HERC and he felt comfortable stopping by the house sometimes unannounced to see if Carol or Laura were home.
The friendship between Laura and HERC remained strong throughout the time he dated her sister. She was often his confidant and the one he ran all of his ideas by before springing them on Carol. If he called their house and Carol wasn't home, he'd talk to Laura. And he continued to make her mixtapes with music he'd hoped she'd like. He was also making mixtapes for Carol, to play in the Firebird.
The girls got an apartment together and HERC would spend as much time as he could there - you guessed it, watching TV and listening to music. They all worked together for a few more months before Laura took another job opening a new department store in town. She worked both jobs for a while but eventually quit working at the restaurant. As HERC's graduation approached, his Texas Grandma floated him a small loan and he bought his first car: a 1963 VW Bug. Although he was near the end of the lengthy application process to attend the United States Air Force Academy, HERC changed his mind and decided to accept a scholarship to attend the local university along with Carol and Laura.
Carol accepted an offer to spend the summer semester studying in Mexico and broke up with HERC to avoid a long distance relationship. HERC was devastated and it took a late night intervention from HERC SR to keep his only son from doing something stupid. For Graduation, Carol had bought HERC a really nice watch but when he stopped by her house to thank her, he found out that both her and Laura were out.
After wallowing in self-pity for a week or so, HERC began talking to Laura more and spending as much time as he could with her. One night she was house-sitting for her friend's parents and she called HERC at work and asked him to come by after work. Once he got there, some small talk ensued and they shared their first kiss.
HERC was still working at the restaurant but he didn't want to be there when Carol came back after the summer so he began looking for his second job and soon found himself employed as a night stocker with Target, which had just opened its first store in town. Here's how he planned his freshman year in college: classes from 8-3, work at restaurant 4-11 five days a week and then overnight at Target three days a week. It turned out to be a disaster. He lost his scholarship as his grades plummeted, he quit Target because he could not handle being around the coked-up night owls that he worked with and he grew increasingly upset about Carol's impending return to the restaurant.
Laura left the department store to work in an accounting firm, helping clients with their taxes. Generous to a fault, she began letting HERC drive her Camaro when they went out on dates and lent him the money to pay back his Grandma. They attended many movies together, ate out quite a bit, saw a bunch of concerts and even managed to listen to some music occasionally. HERC enjoyed spending time with her - he felt comfortable being himself and she seemed to feel likewise.
Carol came back with a souvenir - she had fallen in love with the son of the lady she had lived with while in Mexico and he followed her home. Her parents put him up in a small trailer they kept beside their house and Carol got him a job at the restaurant. Initially, it was an uncomfortable situation at work but eventually, HERC, and Carol's new boyfriend, Joe, became friends but she broke up with him not long after. He began attending the university and eventually found a place of his own.
HERC's father had found a couple of different jobs before landing one out of state. HERC opted to stay in town and find a place of his own. Around the same time, Laura and Carol's apartment lease ended and they decided to move in with different roommates: Carol moved into a townhome with two of her friends from the Nursing College while Laura got an apartment with her little brother's girlfriend and Laura's friend who had shared the apartment with her and Carol. HERC took an apartment around the corner from them and moved in with his co-worker Doug. HERC and Laura's relationship continued to blossom.
Then she and her roommates held an end of school party. HERC didn't attend the festivities as he didn't feel well. Two days later, he tried to call Laura and is told she's out of town. He thought it was weird that she didn't tell him and even weirder when Carol came to the door when he visited her parent's house and told him Laura needed time and space. HERC reluctantly granted her wish but threw a massive, destructive tantrum back at his apartment, breaking many of the gifts Laura had given him in the (almost a) year they'd been together including the frames that housed the portraits they had taken together.
Weeks went by and Laura went out often with her sister and her friends. HERC was still underage and could not attend the bars and clubs they were frequenting. He spent one Saturday making Laura two breakup tapes and dropped them by her apartment. Eventually and amazingly given how childish HERC's behavior had been, they rekindled their romance. She got an internship at IBM and he took classes at the community college. Their respective leases expired and both got new apartments - she moved closer to her home with her longtime roommate and HERC took a place with Carol's old boyfriend, Joe.
Laura and Carol were on track to graduate together but then Laura got sick. After more than a week with flu-like symptoms, she went to the doctor. When HERC stopped by to see her after work that same day, he got the news of his life - she was expecting their first child. He drove home that night with his head in a different space, blasting "Hey Jude" as loud as his stereo would go. When he parked the car and got out, he was surprised to find a police officer standing there, his motorcycle behind HERC's Bug. Turns out the cop had followed him, with lights and sirens for blocks but HERC neither saw nor heard him. He got three tickets that night but they didn't dampen his mood.
Around Valentine's Day, HERC proposed to Laura and she accepted. They planned to get married later in the year after she had graduated from school. Her grandparents, however, said it was their dying wish that they see her wedding so their timetable was moved up and in March 1987, in front of a small handful of friends and family, they were married by a justice of the peace in his chambers at the city courthouse. Four years after he had first laid eyes on her, HERC could now call that sexy lady his wife.
Both sisters earned their degrees and Laura was hired by IBM. Carol and one of her roommates moved in with HERC and Laura in a house they rented. Their daughter was born a few months later. HERC suffered a ruptured appendix and was hospitalized and then unable to work for a couple of weeks after that and Laura, bless her heart, took his place at the restaurant, after working at IBM all day to keep the family afloat.
In 1990, Laura gave birth to a beautiful boy child followed in 1993 by another beautiful boy. HERC finally quit the restaurant after ten years in the summer of 1993 and was unemployed for a month before landing a job he held until the company went out of business in December 2012 and is currently seeking another job. The family designed and built a new home, HERC's Hideaway, in 2000 - HERC and Laura have lived here ever since while the kids all grew up and moved out while staying nearby. They sold their old home, the one they had rented and then purchased, to MRS. HERC's older brother. HERC threw in his Bug as a bonus.
The restaurant where they met has been torn down - a car dealer occupies that space. HERC and Laura were just there on the same spot they had met, picking up their son's car from the service center. That's what got HERC thinking about their story so he decided to write it down.
Not quite the Jim and Pam story but HERC's favorite romance nevertheless. MRS. HERC, if you're reading this, HERC loves you more and more each day. He is humbled by all the gifts you have brought into his life including our three wonderful children, each one a living breathing tribute to our love. If life is a game, I have won. I am HERC.