Thursday, December 15, 2005

Back in the Saddle

Today was a normal enough day at the Factory. Around three, I was doing whatever it is I normally do around three (i.e. surfin' the 'Net) and feeling rather smug — but also all warm and fuzzy inside — because the Home Alone viewing I'd been attempting to instigate since the day after Thanksgiving had finally come to fruition.

And then it started.

My first thought was, "Little Quiet Kari usually listens to oldies; she certainly doesn't strike me as the type to make the sudden switch to rage metal." But then I realized it wasn't Little Quiet Kari or her little quiet oldies-playing radio. It was an actual person, actually outside our office, actually having the loudest and most heated cell phone conversation I've ever eavesdropped on.

Those of us without window access hustled to the north side of the office, where those with window access were already splayed out over their desks or craning their necks to "see what was the matter" (or so the Christmas tie-in goes). The disappointment at not being able to see anything was only temporary, as the one-sided and oh-so-piercing conversation alone was enough to keep us entertained.

I wish now, in retrospect, that I'd found within me a miraculous knowledge of shorthand so I could have transcribed the goings-down in their accurate entirety, but alas, I will have to paraphrase: "FUCK FUCK FUCK! This is the worst day of my life! FUCK FUCK FUCK! All over some stupid machine. FUCK FUCK FUCK! Don't talk to me like that! Don't you know what my IQ is?! FUCK FUCK FUCK! I'm going to kill myself."

We put our spyfest on temporary hold as The Boss walked down the hall, peeking into all the north-facing offices and giving us the old "are you sure you should be up to whatever you're up to?" eyebrows. As soon as he'd made the obligatory rounds, though, our cheeks were pressed right back up against those windows. There was a little more "FUCK FUCK FUCK!" and a few "You fucking stupid bitch"-es thrown in for good measure. All in all, it was Thursday afternoon entertainment at its finest.

And then the rumor circulated that it was our new receptionist, Colorful Leeser, who was having the midafternoon meltdown. Someone in a north-facing office down the hall MacGuyvered a compact mirror, some Scotch tape and a pencil into a periscope and confirmed the rumor moments later. The Boss then went down, "smoothed things over" (sotto voce so we window-watchers couldn't hear the denoument of our little afternoon theater), came back up and did the rounds, laughing the incident off as a minor breakdown and nothing to concern ourselves with. As if!

I thought nothing could ever top Strong Mayor?-gate 2005, a scary-exhilarating workplace incident that I'm still afraid to write about, but that ended with one major player screaming at another even more major player: "Fuck you! Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!"

After that debacle, we all of us banded together. We formed a united front, made verbal declarations of intent to turn in our resignations, en masse, the next day, first thing; waved our fists in the air until we were too drunk to continue; dissolved into fits of remember whens! and down with the mans! and this is just the beginnings!; exchanged sloppy kisses in a haze of jangled nerves and professed allegiances and gin-and-tonics.

Today was different. There were no declarations, no waving fists, no intense-situation-driven make-outs. Today I went home — alone — not knowing exactly what happened, but possessing an acute awareness of the fact that, no matter where I am, what I'm doing, or how laid-back I think things are, I am consistently plagued by elaborate workplace drama. Workplace drama and equine references...