Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Giving "Petty" Cash a Whole New Meaning

On my way to work, looking tre' "business cazh".

Here's the great thing about working in an office with less than 15 people: Everybody is always watching. Always looking, sneaking a peek around a corner, or there, in their offices, glaring at me in open disdain.

Or at least, in this paranoid little Jew mind of mine, they are.

I haven't spoken about work in a few months, so let me remind you: I'm one of three "support staff" folks, one of whom is very sweet, the other who is a complete, jumbled, mean-spirited maniac. A woman who, once a day, manages to swing by my desk to snidely ask "How are those rabies shots going? Wow, it must reaaaally ruin your weekend, huh? I bet it hurts a lot too! How big is the needle? Does the doctor jab it in ya real hard, or what? Do ya bleed? A lot? Does it give you nightmares?" I've dubbed this woman "Malekhamoves", Yiddish for "The Angel of Death." The same woman who smokes 6 times a day, coughs for hours on end, speaks to me like an autistic 4th grader, treats me as though I were the bastard spawn of a man that left her, and my resemblance is too much to bear, and leers at me for no reason whatsoever. (So what if I wear fishnet hotpants to work! They're pinstriped!) She also has "Nickelodeon Gak!" for brains and it takes her 10 hours to do anything. That could range from "counting" on one hand to finding a file on her computer.

Above, Mavis, always judging. It should be noted she bears a striking resemblance to Chris O'Donnell.

Needless to say, she and I don't get along. But still, I remain mature and professional even though I have trouble breathing.

So a couple of months ago, I noticed that one of our file room doors had been locked shut. "Odd", I thought. I jiggled the handle. No movement. I asked my one attorney friend here what the deal was, and he explained that this woman, let's call her Mavis, hid certain high-end supplies in a secret nook in that room (read: Bic pens, pencils, etc.). A few days ago, Mavis noticed something strange... some highly coveted AA batteries had gone missing! (Cut the lights, and read in a Clue-style, old woman voice "My pearls!")

Well, I immediately became defensive. If, in fact, some batteries were stolen, why didn't anyone tell me about it? Why was this being kept a secret? The answer, was obvious: They thought I had done it. They thought I was the thief! Now while I'm not sitting on any kind of moral high ground here (let's say I cheated on a chemistry quiz in high school, for example, which I'm not necessarily saying), I'm no fuckin' thief. Sure, I stuff my bra full of grapes at the market and eat them down long aisle strolls, and fine, maybe I passed a "note" to a "bank teller" once (relax, it just said "You're doing a great job!"), but batteries? Practically everything I own is rechargeable. Anyway why am I defending myself to you? I ain't know nuffin' from nuffin'!

Now the question was, do I say anything? If I did defend myself without being formally accused, I'd look even guiltier. I decided that my best bet was to just stay quiet about it, not create a stir, and lose sleep on my own time. Does stressing about bullshit outside of the office count as overtime? I think it should.

So there I am, quiet, pasty, halo a-gleaming -- but then it occurrs to me that I have files I need to access in that office. So, I ask my boss if I can get "access" to these files, and she snaps back "No! No one is allowed in that room! Absolutely nobody." My face burns -- now I'm starting to think that I'm in some sort of Phillip K. Dick story. Are the robots coming? Is there a time bomb inside of me? Do I have to utter a certain phrase in order to set it off? Would that phrase be "I am an underpaid and undervalued employee?"


All hahaha-ing aside, I began worrying about my goat, and why it went missing. Someone, clearly, had gotten it. Yet, still, I remained quiet, and for no reason at all, felt guilty.

Have you seen me?

Last week, as I made my way over the postage machine, Mavis was stocking the shelves in the off-limits supply room. When her beady eyes spotted me approaching, the cornered crow's claws curled in disgust. She grabbed the wooden door, and slammed it... die-rectum-ly in my fatchay (Italian for "Face of the Innocent").

Well. That to me was the last straw. No longer was I being paranoid -- I had a reason now. An official one. You slam the door in my face, so as to prevent me from seeing where you stash your loot? I am now convinced she keeps cartons of Virginia Slims in there, as nothing else could matter to her nearly as much. (I told ya, she’s a classy broad.)

I came back to my desk absolutely seething. I consulted with a friend over whether or not I should speak up about this clear misunderstanding, my feeling being that I should still stay quiet about it and just stir in my own acid reflux. He suggested that maturity got me nowhere so far, and that I should speak up. Now maybe it was something in the air, or the late night shot full of immunoglobin I had the night before (amazing what bars are serving these days), but my body turned ice cold. My fingers stiffened, my heart stopped. “He’s right!”

I smoothed out my Gap modern fit trousers, tucked some stray hairs into bobby pins, rolled back away from my desk, stood up… and marched. I marched for those wrongfully accussed, I marched for justice. I took the moral highground directly into my boss’s office. “I need to speak with you about something,” I said (probably meekly). Les Miserables lyrics came flooding into my head: "When the beating of your heart, echose the beating of a drum!" I wiped some dirt off of my face and quietly shut the door. Withholding as much rage as possible, I launched into my fears: the locked fileroom door, the missing batteries, being kept in the dark about everything, the door slamming, the leering… my eyes were bulging out of their deceivingly Asian sockets.

My boss shook her head. “You’re being really paranoid right now.” Did I have a choice? “It has nothing to do with you -- I can’t say what happened, but it has nothing to do with you.” “Really? Cause I felt really accused.” “Do you think we would let that go?” she asked. I guess they wouldn’t, although then again these are the same people who took 4 months to fire a woman who showed up for work drunk day after day and smelled like she was in week-old diapers and an outfit that her cats had used both as a litterbox and, likely, a masturbatory device. In fact, I could very well NOT see them bringing it up. Nevertheless, I felt relieved. “So you’re telling me I can sleep tonight?” I lamely quipped. Why don’t you tell that to the case full of Sparks you consumed before bedtime, Collins.

Today, I had to go to Staples to buy some stationary used for our holiday invitations. I was given a whole $20 bill, and while I was tempted to buy a case full of Wonka bars (fingers crossed, Golden Ticky!), I knew I was morally obligated to return with 2 reams of paper. I purposefully kept the money in a separate envelope, so as not to mix their small-minded, petty cash with my liberal, philanthropic money. Once back in the office, I peeled off a soaked cashmere sweater (don’t you hate this season?) and headed over with the receipt and change. Within seconds, Mavis was back at my desk.

“This is a quarter short!” she shouted.

“Huh, that’s weird…” I furrowed my caveman-like browbone. “I kept it totally separate -- I didn’t even take my wallet out!”

“Well, I didn’t take MY wallet out either!” she snapped. Point: Mavis!

“OK, no big deal.” While I reached for my changepurse (yes, a tiny purse for change), I debated fucking with her brain. “Oh, RIGHT, the twenty-five cents… bah bah bah bah… um, I bought a giiiiiant gumball with it on the way back, I was soooo thirsty..."

"Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?"

Or another possiblity: "Eek, I meant to tell you… buuuuut I accidentally swallowed that quarter when putting it back in my bag... Give me like… an hour? If I’m lucky! Maybe two?? I’ll get it back to you A.S.S.A.P."

Instead, I pulled a single, shiny tuppens from my wallet and placed it in her tar-stained hand. “No big deal, maybe it fell out,” I stated calmly.

“Well, I don’t know what happ--” she started to scream.

“Forget about it! I don’t mind, it’s just a quarter.”

I smiled the smile of a person who had just forked over 5 minutes of their salary.

If you want the honest truth, it seems to me like there’s only one thing I’m capable of stealing...


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