Every office has one. Mine, I’ll call her “Elle”(to protect the innocent) may just be the mayor of Crazy Town. While nice enough on good days, she has the ability to break up groups of people gathered around the coffee machine and send them scurrying for cover. She’s a five foot tall New York transplant of Italian descent with short cropped hair, thick coke-bottle glasses, and a natural gift for over-sharing. The many dramatic occurrences I’ve become privy to over the years include, but are not limited to:
-Performing for the B Street Theater
-Having been almost murdered by her ex-husband (currently serving the last of his thirty-year sentence for the woman he did kill.)
-Having been nearly drowned by her mother
-Her love affair with Jameson Irish Whiskey
She tells me these stories I’m guessing because she tells them to everyone, but also because I’m somewhat of a captive audience with my position requiring me to remain at my desk for much of the day and my inability to tell her to simply “go away”.
In today’s ride into Crazy Town, Elle walked up to my desk and huffed, ever so dramatically, until I could no longer stare blankly at my monitor and I was forced to turn my attention toward her. Had I a seat belt, I would’ve buckled it.
“I am just so sick of these people.” Elle waved her hands about like a psych ward maestro, thumb and index fingers pinched together on both hands. “Do you know what they did?”
“I do not,” I said.
“These fucking people.” She leaned in and stage-whispered the word fucking. “These fucking people, I swear. I’m going to go to the Sacramento Bee and tell them what’s going on.”
“And what would that be?”
“All those people back there. Did you know John comes in two hours late every day? Every day! And Laura? As soon as the boss leaves at four o’clock she’s out the door. She’s supposed to stay until five you know.”
“You don’t care? That doesn’t bother you?”
“How does that not bother you? They’re wasting state resources. It’s stealing. They’re stealing.” She let the last word draw out with all the vitriol of a displaced New Yorker.
“How do you know that’s what’s happening?” I asked.
“Hello! I see it every day.”
She then proceeded to spend the next several minutes briefing me on the ways in which she’s been spying on her co-workers bad habits; lunches she’s deemed too long, late arrivals and early departures. People generally not doing their jobs.
“Not that I’m one to complain. I’m not a complainer,” she said.
“Yeah, but you don’t know that John hasn’t worked out his late arrivals with your manager. Maybe he’s got to deal with his kids or something. And Laura? Maybe she’s got to go get her kid from day-care. You don’t know that they’re not using their leave time.”
“Yes I do, yes I do.” She placed her hands flat on the edge of my desk and leaned in. “Why are you defending them?”
“I’m not defending them. I’m just saying you don’t know. Do you audit their time sheets to make sure they’re using their time?”
“No. But I know.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I do.”
“Ah, so wasting State time seems to be something you feel really strongly about.”
“Why don’t you feel really strongly about it? Those are your tax dollars too,” she said.
“That’s true. You do realize though, that you’ve been up here for,” I glanced down at the non-existent watch on my wrist. “About twenty minutes now.”
Elle glared at me, and I mean glared. “What are you trying to say?”
“I’m just saying. It’s 10:30AM, so I know you’re not on lunch. And I’m reasonably sure that complaining about your co-workers isn’t on your duty statement.” Knowing Elle to be a good, wholesome Catholic woman I added, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”