@

I have a coworker whom I really enjoy working with because he challenges my brain. MC is genius smart. I mean really. Genius.

I’ve had a lot of opportunity to work on projects with MC and I always come away feeling as if I’ve pushed myself beyond my limits. It’s a great feeling to know you can still learn things you honestly thought you could never grasp. I don’t even want to admit how giddy it made me to learn how to create and use pivot tables in Excel.

MC has a unique personality. He’s uber polite, professional, extremely proper, almost old-fashioned in some ways. So it surprised me when I realized he has a fun side too. A while ago, I received an instant message from MC. There was a project I was expecting and I knew he would be providing some details in this message.

“Agent Terri,” began the message. “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”

It made me laugh. I told MC he was now responsible for the fact that the Mission Impossible theme song would be stuck in my head for the remainder of the day. I told him I accepted the mission.

Since that time, MC has often addressed me as Agent Terri, in person, in emails or in instant messages. Which is kind of funny, now that I think about it. MC does not allow anyone to refer to him by the nickname commonly associated with his given name. He prefers to be called only by his formal name. Yet I remain Agent Terri.

Lately, some of MC’s email messages to me have begun with the “at” symbol. Since we are jointly working on several items, there is a lot of email communication between us. The first time one of MC’s emails began with the “at” symbol, I assumed that he had simply composed his message in a rush. He’s a very busy guy. You might even say that his workload is overwhelming. It’s one of the drawbacks of being the person who knows so much and possesses such a variety of talents.

Several emails from MC lately have begun with or contained the “at” symbol. I wondered if it was symbolic of something, kind of like the way a colon, dash and parentheses are combined to make a sideways smiley face.

This morning, I met with MC to discuss another project with which I was helping him. As we concluded our meeting, he stated that he would email some instructions to me along with a spreadsheet to document our findings. True to his word, later that morning I received the details he had promised. And upon opening the spreadsheet, I saw the two columns he said he would add so that we could each document our findings. One was labeled “MC’s” and one was labeled, “@’s.”

That’s when it dawned on me. “@” wasn’t symbolic of some sort of smiley face. “@” was symbolic of me! I am @. Agent Terri. AT. @.

I’m trying to figure out if it’s funny that it took me this long to realize that I am @, or if it’s funny that MC assumed I would automatically know that @ is code for Agent Terri.

Either way, I kind of like having my own symbol! Move over, Prince!