Saturday, August 26, 2006
Snakes On An Elevator
Okay, so I'm making a cheap reference to a crap-ass summer movie, but it's not like I killed anybody. At least, not yet.
I just wanted to write about a bizarre and ultimately funny inicident that happened as I was leaving work yesterday.
There's a woman at my office--well, she was at my office, but Friday was her last day.
We'll call her Jill--thought she doesn't know jack! (Sorry, couldn't resist that one.) Anyhow, for the whole time we worked together Jill would never give me the time of day.
She sat two desks away from me for close to a year, but every time I walked by her, she'd get this zombie glaze over her eyes and look through me like I was disembodied spirit. At first I would nod to her, something I do with everybody in the office, as I think it's polite.
But after being blown off a few times too many, I shifted to an attitude along the lines of "kiss my royal Irish patootie, bee-yatch!" and ignored the living hell of her.
Code of Silence
It felt stupid, though, and I didn't understand what this woman's problem was. Did I insult her in some way? We had not been formally introduced, which sometimes management does with new hires, but so what?
You see someone walking by, you say hello. That doesn't mean you're moving in with them, or coming over for Sunday dinner, or asking for an organ donation. It's just good freaking manners.
Things got worse when the company moved another woman into the cube right next to me. We'll call Ass--, no, no, we won't call her that. We'll call her Lizzy. Yeah, Lizzy, that should keep me out of trouble.
Anyway, Lizzy is piece of work, one of these attention-starved individuals who laugh too loud, talk too much, and labor under the misguided impression that they're free spirits when they're just flaming buttheads.
She'll read IM's all day and laughs--I mean laughs--so loudly I feel like I'm on a sitcom. I wonder sometimes if she's IM'ing Henry Youngman from beyound the grave, giving all the laughing she does, but even so, it's distracting as hell and pretty goddamn rude.
Lizzie wears headphones in the office and listens to music, something I've never seen in any place I've worked at; it just isn't done. And even that I could ignore, but she doesn't just listen to the music, she sways in her seat, closes her eyes and bobs her head like she's having an orgasm. Of course, Lizzie just can't enjoy her music; she has to share it with the world. I'm hoping she keeps her orgasms private.
Now, I'm a cranky old bastard, I'll admit that. I don't like my current situation and I'm doing my best to fix that. I'll never be named employee of the month, but even I know there is a code of behavoir you must adhere to in an office just so people can function.
What-you think I want to be sitting next to you, day after day, listening to your inane guffawing? Brace yourself for a shock, honey, but, ah...no, I'm not.
Worse yet, we seem to have the exact same schedule, so when the office is virtually empty at night, I can count on this loser being in the neighboring cube making enough noise to drown out a barnyard.
One time she printed something out on the computer, and then skipped--skipped like a goddamn child--over to the printer, while I was struggling with my last story of the day. What the hell, girl? Are we going to play hide and seek next? Great, you get lost and I'm go looking for you...sooner or later.
I finally had to tell to her to keep it down it got so ridiculous, something that isn't easy for me as I usually fume in silence.
Lizzy tried to make peace, or so I thought, one afternoon when she offered to move to another cube. Like a schmuck, I said no, that we could work this thing out, and I almost thought we could be something like friends.
Until last week, when some of the guys in the office were joking around. They are truly a funny bunch and when they kid each other, it lightens things up and makes the day a little easier. I forget what they were doing this time, but I leaned over to another co-worked and commented on how crazy these guys were.
"It's only a problem when it's a girl," Ass-, I mean, Lizzy, chimes in.
How's that? Those guys are funny, ass clown, while you, on the other hand, are a flaming dimwit. How dare you turn this into some kind of feminist crusade when the fact is you're ill-mannered bunghole who belongs in a stall with the other jackasses. And who the hell was talking to you, anyway?
But I didn't say anything, falling back into my fuming mode. I just stopped talking to her and cut her dead whenever I see in the hallway. Yes, I know, very mature.
Okay, so now I've got Jill and Lizzy, Scylla and Charybdis, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, whatever you want to call them, on either side of me, making my working life rather sucky indeed. I'm a fairly reasonable guy, but somehow I've got a growing enemies list.
Which brings us to Friday, when I get an-email saying that it was Jill's last day.
Yippee! I shout inwardly, doing the math and realizing the bunghole count has been reduced by half. Now we all we need is for Lizzy to skip off the edge of the Grand Canyon and life will be beautiful once again.
Late in the day one of my co-workers--one that I'm actually talking to--hands me a blue envelope. I see it's a farewell card for Silent Jill. Now I'm supposed to sign this thing, commit this act of Hallmark perjury just to look like a good sport? Hell, no.
I toyed with the idea of writing something nasty in the card, but I didn't. She's going, that's a good thing, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. No need to spoil the lift-off.
So I tried to pass the thing on and everybody's signed it. I spoke my first words in weeks to Lizzy--you sign this?--and walked around the office trying to dump Jill's card like it was radioactive waste.
I don't even talk to this bimbo, I whined to myself as I wandered from desk to desk.
Finally I give the damn thing to my boss and try to laugh it off. The day's almost over. I've got a blind date that I'm not too charged up about--(and rightfully so, as it turns out) and I'll be leaving the office.
I snub Jill for one last time and then I hit the elevator bank. I see someone coming out of the office behind and...it's Jill. She's clutching her plant, that goddamn card, and bag of her office possessions.
It's just her and me getting on the elevator. No crowd of co-workers boarding with us for protection, and no one from any of the building's other 14 floors gets on. It's a straight descent that feels like it'll last forever.
This is like some kind of scientific experiment they do with rats and I'm wondering if there weren't a bunch of guys in lab coats watching us on the security camera.
I look to the ceiling and ask, why God, why? Why do we have to be leaving at the exact time? The whole time I worked with this woman, I never ran into her on the elevator, not once. I thought she scaled the side of the builing like Spiderman or took the freight elevator up to the office with the maintenance crew.
Apparently not. So here we are, trapped in this metal box, praying for those doors to open. I'm stuck, I don't know what to, so I...talked.
"So you're leaving us?" I say in a burst of incredible wit.
"Why, yes," she responds with equal vigor.
And for that brief time, we almost had a conversation. When we got downstairs, I wished her well, and went my merry way. I wondered why we had not spoke before, why she found me so repulsive that she could only talk to me moments before we would part for all time.
It felt so strange conversing with this woman, but I didn't ask for the silent treatment. It was her idea. I suspect she realized I had no power in the office, that I couldn't advance her career, and I was thus not worth knowing.
It doesn't matter any more, but I am proud of how I handled the business in the elevator. I can speak in a civil manner with someone for a few minutes and not burst into flames. Now I'm at a point where I thank God for the elevator experience because it taught me to think on my feet and avoid wallowing in anger.
I wonder if this is a sign I should try and make friends with Lizzy. Maybe that could be a positive experience as well, and I wouldn't have to feel my blood pressure go up every time I lay eyes on her.
Maybe, but I'm still kind of partial to that Grand Canyon leap...