Thursday, 31 March 2011

Douchebag Dirt

Before I begin, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank douchebags parked in front of my house for being the finest examples of lazy, selfish twats. I can't use my garage, asswipes, because the back alley is impassable. Yesterday, I got stuck up to my axles in slush and needed the Hunneydoo and a kind neighbour (who never parks in front of our place) to shovel me out. If I could use my garage, I assure you, I would. Instead, I am forced to park on the street in front of my house, except that I can't because you fucking jerk-offs are there, because you're too lazy to drive up the street and turn around in the alley so that you can park in front of your own places. Except for the fact that I don't want the hassle with the heat, I would happily pelt your SUVs with golf balls fired out of a slingshot at close range. Fuck you, shitheaps.

And speaking of shitheaps…

The pettiness constantly demonstrated at the office truly astounds me. It seems that people will take any opportunity that even remotely presents itself to take something completely unrelated to them personally.

For example: two weeks ago, my crew decided to eschew our bag lunches and spring for Chinese food. It was cheap, hot and delicious. Unfortunately, Sylvester decided to take it as a personal affront that we didn't include her in this (to which I said, privately to Princess Anne, "Well, what's the point of my taking my break with people I like if hafta take my break with her?" I mean, I don't mind Sylvester per se, but unfortunately, Teeth comes attached. So to speak).

So when we were finished our Chinese food, we invited the Other Pod to finish it (as there was plenty) and Sylvester roundly snubbed us.

"No," she said, "that's fine."

Well, fuck you then. Don't eat it. And so we were quite careful not to make a big deal of it when the Other Pod ordered Chinese food this afternoon for their lunch (on Sylvester's day off, ">hahahaha). But we did remark amongst ourselves on the pettiness of the reaction our own lunch had inspired.

"Well, what do you expect?" said the Princess of Wales. "These women have shitty lives, married to assholes and they work at shitty jobs going nowhere. It's easier to stir up shit for other people than to change your life."

Then, she and Princess Anne let me in on some of the dirt exhibited by certain of the husbands at the staff do back in January. And let me tell you, these men are pigs. Teeth's husband told Yvette, one of my new podmates, that she was "fucking hawt", although whether Teeth was in the immediate vicinity, I don't know.

And then Wolf Woman's husband said to Wolf Woman once they got home from said do, "When you get in on Monday, tell Yvette she's got a fucking hawt ass." And Wolf Woman's self-esteem is sufficiently in the toilet that she dutifully passed the message on the following Monday.

I don't get it, but it makes me feel all icky, especially having met Wolf Woman's husband on numerous occasions: shaves his head, looks in need of a shower all the time, smells of cigarette smoke, and apparently has no respect whatsoever for Wolf Woman, which is hardly surprising, given that she has none for herself.

They share a child together, who is a young lad with some behavioural issues related to ADD impulsivity. He has been prescribed medication to help him with these issues and when he is on the meds, his behaviour is much improved. But sometimes, the poor little guy doesn't get the meds because Mommy and Daddy need smokes that week. And they are perennially short on cash because Wolf Woman's husband owes thousands of dollars in child support every month because he's got something like five different kids out there for whom he is responsible (biologically, anyway).

And Teeth's husband is no better: he operates a snow removal business in the winter and a landscaping business in the summer, which is remarkable, because he doesn't have a drivers license due to being so far behind in child support payments. So all the insurance, registration and ownership of the vehicles, including a truck, quad and bobcat, are in Teeth's name. And don't think for a minute that she doesn't take every opportunity to rub his nose in that, which I'm sure plays a large role in why he makes harrassing comments to other women with whom Teeth works.

It's like a fucking train wreck, and I cannot understand why or even how these people continue to grind out their existence in these revolting relationships and not change their lives. Maybe they don't even realize that they are unhappy. Maybe they grew up thinking this is what it's supposed to be like. Maybe, in the case of Teeth's rednecked pigdog, they feel trapped, financially or otherwise.

But holy crap! I can see making these mistakes (I did, we've all had dysfunctional relationships and made mistakes) when you're twenty years old and fresh outta the nest. But these people are in their forties (yes, even Teeth). It certainly makes me grateful for what I have in my life and the relationships with which I have been blessed.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

A Day of Disappointment

Overall, I'd say that my new crew at work is a vast improvement over the previous one, which is not to say that I didn't and don't find things I like about Sylvester, Mulan and Wolf Woman. It's just that Teeth's behaviour, and my unwillingness to challenge her on Certain Issues, made the new group the only viable alternative.

And I do enjoy my time with them. When we laugh, which is often, it isn't at anyone's expense. Sex is not the only topic of conversation, and when it comes up, it is alluded to and then the subject is changed. Even Two Clowns is more entertaining than irritating, because everyone in that room smells the bullshit and is laughing inside.

But over the last couple of days--and particularly today--a few things have come up to dash my expectations somewhat.

First off, the Princess of Wales. She's young, so many of her attitudes and opinions may be informed by her relative lack of experience. Nevertheless, I confess that as a proud (tho' not rabid) Canadian, I was disappointed to hear her say that she would return to Wales in a heartbeat (even though she has been here since she was six), and has no intention of getting her citizenship. I protested, saying that as a landed immigrant, she is required to pay taxes but not entitled to vote (which seems wrong to me, taxation without representation). She told me that she in fact finds her ineligibility to vote a relief, because she "hates politics".

I find her point of view--to which she is of course entitled--disappointing because first, if she hasn't actually lived in Wales since she was a small child, and she is now shy of thirty, she cannot have any real experience of what it is like to live there. Now, I'm certain that Wales is a lovely nation; I would like to visit sometime. But my second point is that Canada has treated her quite well; she is employed, both as a biller full-time and as a massage therapist part-time, and she has recently bought her own home. So why the yearning for somewhere else?

Now don't get me wrong, I can understand the yearning for somewhere else. I do a fair amount of yearning myself on a regular basis. But to refuse citizenship based on lame excuses ("It's expensive", "The test is too hard!") seems to me to be dismissive of a place that has welcomed you with every opportunity for success.

Princess Anne told the Princess of Wales that she votes because then she feels entitled to complain. And hey, whatever gets folks out to the polling stations is okay by me. Short of buying votes, of course.

But then Princess Anne went and spoiled it all by telling us that she was in StoopidStore (a local grocery chain) on the weekend...

"...and the place was crowded with Pakis!"

I was startled.

"I don't have a problem with them, but when you're surrounded by them...and all you can smell is curry..."

Okay, so lemme get this straight: you don't have a problem with "Pakis", but you're not comfortable in a warehouse-sized room full of them? And, seriously, you're bitching about the smell? Seriously? Listen, honey, you sound like a racist to me, and I'm amazed that you can't hear yourself talking. What you said is ignorant and hateful and I am deeply crestfallen that you entertain such opinions. Jeez.

Finally, you would think that our recent interactions with Flake would have made it perfectly clear to her that we--and by that I mean BOTH of us (just in case there is a tendency to believe that as the outspoken one, I do all of the Little Hunneydoo's talking for her)--no longer desire her presence in our lives. But I guess some people take some convincing or are slow to get the hint. Because as I stepped out of the front door this morning, I discovered that a small gift bag had been left there by Flake sometime overnight or earlier in the a.m. It was mostly foodstuffs, including treats for the dogs and a package of catnip seeds for the cat.

And attached was a note saying, "For the gifts you gave. The balance of your Christmas gift. Love, Flake."


It is a measure of Flake's chronic inability to get organized that she can't get a Christmas gift together until St. Patrick's Day. It is more importantly a measure of her passive aggression (though I doubt she'd interpret her actions this way) that she would use said Christmas gift to remind us of how she still loves us and is thinking of us, no matter how brutally we have cast her aside.

Yeah, whatever. Listen, Flake: go away. We no speak the crazy here. We no wanna the drama. Capiche? Get it? Comprendez-vous? We're not gonna call ya, we're not gonna reach out and hold your hand and sing "Kumbaya" until you feel better. We're ignoring you. Permanently. We'd appreciate it if you would do the same. Please stop leaving us offerings of food and gifts for the dogs; don't think that any of your birthday wishes or phone calls will elicit any response. We're done. Honestly and truly done.


Saturday, 12 March 2011

Two Clowns

SCENE: Somewhere in California or Arizona, close to the border of Mexico. Wooden buildings (an inn, stables, general store, Chinese laundry, land office, saloon) line the broad dirt track that is the main street of this grey little village. At the far end of the street is a small adobe church, beyond which one can see the flat prairie stretching out infinitely, until the horizon blends with the white hot sky and disappears.
(The camera looks over the shoulder of a figure dressed in a black cowboy hat and leather vest. In the distance, in front of the church in the middle of the street, stands ME, wearing a wide-brimmed Spanish hat and a Mexican serape. One corner of the serape is thrown over my shoulder and my fingers twitch as they hover over the polished handle of my Colt revolver in the holster slung over over my right hip.

(Sagebrush bounces lazily across the street between us and out of the shot.

(ECU: me--my steely blue eyes narrowed under the brim of my hat, the dog-end of a cherrot clenched between my [nice, perfectly-aligned] teeth.)

ME (in a gravelly voice): I'm a biller.

(ECU: my opponent: tall, blonde, older and harder-looking. She's been ridden hard and put away wet a few times, but makes an effort not to show it.)

HER: I'm a manager.

ME (with rising impatience): I have diabetes and an ovarian cyst named Bryan Adams.

HER (spits in the dirt contemptuously): I have my period 28 days a month.

ME (shifting on my feet, ready for action): I had a clown at my eighth birthday party.

HER: I had two clowns. And pony rides.

ME (gritting teeth): Who are you?

HER: They call me Two Clowns. Word of advice to you, newcomer, since you're new to our pod. I don't have conversations, I have competitions. I don't care if I have to lie: I'm smarter, more accomplished, more knowledgeable...hell, I'm just better than you. Better than everyone. It doesn't matter what your experience is: I've already done it, and done it bigger and better than anyone else who has ever lived. You took Chemistry in high school? Big deal: I invented an alloy. You got a cold? Fuck you. I died on the way to work this morning and gave myself CPR. You got drunk on the weekend? Lightweight! I drank a case of tequila by myself. In twenty minutes. And then finished the New York Times crossword puzzle while performing brain surgery on an oyster.

ME (with mounting frustration): Why? Why can't we just converse?

TWO CLOWNS (lights a cigarette, flicks the match into the street): That's just how I roll, man. That's just how I roll. But if it pisses you off so much, I hear Teeth is looking for people to take her break with.

ME: No, I'm good. Buy you a coffee?

(TWO CLOWNS and ME saunter off the street side-by-side towards the saloon. Camera pans back to take in the entire town. Cue titles: in Western-style script burnt into the screen like a branding iron:)

There's One In Every Crowd

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Is This Junior High? Or An Office? I Can't Tell.

Today, I was in the dispatch area, talking to Stretch about a webtech issue and one of my drivers. Wolf Woman was on her way out for a smoke, and said, "I need to see you for a sec."

So when she came back in, she took me aside and said, "Teeth asked me why you're not taking your breaks with us anymore."

"Why doesn't she just ask me?" I said, exasperated.

"I dunno, but I didn't tell her anything."

I thanked her for her time, but seriously: did I somehow magically get transported back to junior high school? Is Teeth so chronically phobic about an honest confrontation--or even communication--that she has to go to her BFF about it, rather than talk to me directly?

Well, if you don't like confrontation, Teeth, don't be such an asshole. Or is it just fights you think you can win that you pick?

My outrage continued apace today, because at the end of the day, Sylvester was explaining to Svetlana, the new biller (who speaks with some kind of eastern European accent) that tomorrow we won't be doing any billing.

"But there will be lots to do, like scanning and filing and photocopying, and...well, I'm not sure how you're going to take this..."

"What?" Svetlana asked.

"Well," Sylvester said, "when Teeth gets me to do these tasks, she calls me her 'scanning bitch.'"

"Yeah," Teeth piped up. "In Canada, it isn't a mean thing to say. It just means you're doing my work for the day."

Yeah, way to go, Teeth. Let me make something clear to you: in Canada, referring to someone as your bitch, especially in the workplace, is not only mean. It is juvenile and potential harrassment if the "bitch" deems it so, you loopy cunt.

Jesus Christ, how does this woman keep her job??? And everytime I think that she was being set up to take the Office Manager position, I damn near faint dead away.

And by the way, she has no friggin' idea what to make of me taking my breaks with the other billers. She has fallen all over herself in the last day and a half to be pleasant, cheerful and inclusive towards me. She is desperately confused, and it's kind of funny to watch.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Electric Chair

"You wouldn't talk to me that way if I wasn't in this chair, Jane."
"But you are in the chair, Blanche. You are in the chair!"
--Joan Crawford (Blanche), and Bette Davis (Jane) from Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, 1962

First, I want to thank everyone who shared their thoughts and feelings with me in the comments of my last post. It gave me a lot to think about, as well as some much needed perspective. I mulled it all over the weekend, and went to work this morning determined that I was simply going to take my breaks and lunch with the other group of billers. I knew that Teeth would notice instantly and not be able to keep herself from commenting, but in order to better enjoy my time at work, I felt this was the most mature and positive step.

The new group is lots of fun, decidedly more mature emotionally, and none of them are on any kind of disturbing power trip. The funniest thing about this group of about seven women is that when they congregate in the staff room, at least four of them immediately start texting or surfing the net on their phones. They still manage to carry on conversations with the rest of us, though, so I just shake my head, laugh and eat my fibre bar.

(By the way, I may have to give up eating Indian food that is prepared commercially. We had Indian buffet at a local establishment last night and by the time I got home, I had Delhi Belly so badly I was afraid I would rocket right off the toilet. And it went on ALL NIGHT. Holy sufferin' Sarasvati.)

Anyway, the morning break went by without comment, but Teeth was pretty busy, training the new biller, who is ostensibly Mrs. Orange's replacement. Lunch time came, and when I got back, Teeth and the rest of the gang were preparing to go.

"So," Teeth said, "we're not good enough for you anymore?"

"That's pretty much it, yeah," I replied.

"Fine," she replied, and huffed off.

And, no--perhaps my response was not the most mature, and a titch confrontational. But fuck her and her passive aggression. If you are honestly interested in knowing why I don't take my breaks with you anymore, fucking ASK ME. Don't do that junior high school bullshit that you just pulled.

But I've decided that Teeth isn't actually interested in knowing why I won't join them anymore. I suspect she knows damn well. She brought it up in order to demonstrate to me that she has noticed and does Not Approve. To which my response was: Big Fuckin' Deal. If I cared, I'd be joining you in the lunch room.

Yanno who had the most honest approach? Wolf Woman. (Sylvester just doesn't care to get involved and spends most of the break smoking anyway). Later, when we were alone, Wolf Woman wanted to know if she was the reason I had more or less defected to the other group.

"No," I said honestly. "It's not you." And I went on to explain to her how I felt about watching Teeth bully her daughter out of the chair on Friday afternoon and how I just didn't want to watch that kind of social drama anymore. She said she hadn't noticed what was going on (which I'm not buying, but okay), that she understood and that was that. We're just fine and I'm glad for that.

The most amazing part of all? Moments after my interaction with Teeth, the Princess of Wales in the pod closest to the staff room emailed me to tell me she had just overheard Teeth telling the new biller which chair belonged to whom. And she was using a baby voice to do it.

Crazy shit.

And just as an aside, Wolf Woman and her daughter were talking to the Princess of Wales on Friday just before we left for the weekend. Because the Princess of Wales doesn't have an accent, they were skeptical that she is a landed immigrant. (Actually, I think the words they used were "illegal alien".) The Cub even went so far as to ask, "Where's Wales?" which made me want to hit her with a fucking atlas.

Anyway, in order to convince them, the PoW pulled out her landed immigrant document, which is written in Welsh Gaelic.

"I don't get it," said the Cub.

"Yeah," said Wolf Woman. "Is this written in Wale-ish?"

Wow. Just wow.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Buck Teeth?

My ethical dilemma regarding how to deal with bullies continues. And I'm really struggling with this, folks. How far do I buck Teeth and still maintain my integrity?

As previously mentioned, Wolf Woman's daughter, The Cub, is working temporarily in our office doing some much-needed filing and some reception. She is not necessarily atuned to the nuances of our social heirarchy, such as all the bullshit surrounding where Teeth feels entitled to sit.

Yesterday at afternoon break, we entered the staff room to find The Cub already in Teeth's chair (which is separate from the chair she uses at lunch). Now, you must understand that there is an identical chair just a few feet away from the one in which The Cub was relaxing. And it was empty. It's usually where I sit, but I am not an asshole (well, at least not around the issue of chairs), so anyone who feels inclined to sit in it is more than welcome.

Teeth, however, approached The Cub and said, in that fucking obnoxious tone wherein she pretends to be joking but her intention is altogether serious, "Get your ass out of my chair."

The Cub looked confused. "What?" she said.

"You're in my chair. Move it," repeated Teeth, following her words with a high-pitched inane giggle that is the real-life equivalent of ;-) in an email.

Mulan suddenly grabbed one of the chairs that ring the tables where we eat our lunches and offered it to The Cub, saying, "You haf to mooove!"

So The Cub got up and moved to the identical cushy chair where I usually sit (because I had seen already how this would pan out and taken a chair at the table farthest from Teeth as I could manage). Teeth then not only took the chair that she had wrested from the Cub, but then turned Mulan's chair around to face her and put her feet up in it. And from there she proceeded to hold court for 15 minutes, insinuating herself into conversations that didn't involve her and making comments.

I briefly considered saying something to Teeth about how she needs to get over this childish territorial issue around where she sits, and if she really feels the need to have that chair and no other, maybe she could learn to honestly ask for it, rather than bullying people around.

Actually, what I wanted to say was, "Listen, Francis the talking mule, you need to get over your fucking self. You have no more entitlement to that chair than anyone else, and you certainly have no right to talk to anyone in that fashion. So why don't you get off your fat WalMart ass and sit somewhere else, preferably in another building. And while you're at it, you can floss those massive incisors with my pubic hair, you fucking ditchpig."

But I didn't. I kept my face shut. And why? It's complicated, I suppose. I didn't expect The Cub to say anything--I mean, she's only 17 in an office with her mother's "friends", women older than herself who she instinctively still sees as authority figures in some way. She's a good kid, I'd say.

But I expected perhaps a little more from her mother, Wolf Woman, who watched whole interaction without a single word. And to be sure, I don't know the whole story: maybe she's got so much going on with her sketchy husband and his out-of-control son at home that she just can't take on another issue by confronting Teeth and making waves at work, too. I dunno.

I left the lunch room shortly after that and spent it in the other pod talking to the Princess of Wales and her podmate. I was pissed off and disgusted by Teeth's behaviour, sure, but I think I was also a little disappointed in myself for not saying anything. Or at least I was struggling with why not. And I'm trying to face the facts about why not without rationalizing or having to admit that, in this case at least, I was a coward.

It's not that I haven't stood up to bullies before. As a child, I did so by speaking their own language: violence. I wasn't a scrapper, but I did have my limits. I remember being in elementary school and the school bully, Billy DeWinter (and that's his real name) was hassling me in the mud room at recess. I finally had enough, and even though he was a full head taller than I (and in a higher grade), I finally hauled off and punched him in the jaw. He hit me back, but it was the last time.

Later on, on junior high, I was harrassed by this greasy little shitbag whose name currently escapes me. Our journey home consisted of a long steep hill that ran along 64 Street in Calgary. Typically after school, I would be carrying my binders for homework, a textbook and a trumpet case, as I was in the school band. This was in the days before backpacks, so I was carrying all this in my arms with the trumpet case in one hand. The Shitbag would frequently drive up behind me on his bike and knock something flying, and if he did it right, my binder would pop open and papers would be everywhere.

One day, I was determined that the little fucker wasn't going to do this anymore. I walked along with my friend, chatting, but keeping an eye open casually for the Shitbag's approach. I saw him coming up on my left side, and tensed, reasserting my grip on the trumpet case in my right hand. I'm sure all of you know what is coming here. When he got close enough, I whirled on him and slammed that trumpet case right into his revolting little face, knocking him off the bike onto the grass.

Then I ran like fuck.

Now back then, I met violence with violence, and although it invariably got me in trouble with the adults, it nevertheless worked, at least on the bullies I was interacting with. Thereafter, they confined their interactions with me by yelling unpleasant things about my acne or whatever from a safe distance. It was still bullying, but on a scale I could handle, was how I figured it.

If I had known Teeth in junior high school, I would have eventually met her out by the bike racks and fixed her dental issues for her. And I confess, I had the urge yesterday. But obviously one can't--and shouldn't--lay a beating on one's senior biller over an issue that didn't involve one.

But then the question is, when does one get involved? It seems obvious to me that management had a talk with Teeth, because her demeanour towards me has been one of perfect respect; we only talk about neutral topics now, and the incidences of inappropriate comments about other people has dropped dramatically. So in that instance, I clearly won. How far do I want to push it? How much do I take on when it doesn't involve me directly? Part of me is tempted to do as one of my commenters suggests and start challenging her by parking in her spot and sitting in her chair, essentially calling her on her shit. I don't know if at this point, Teeth would feel confidant enough to take me on over the chair (she's usually in before me in the mornings and taking her parking spot would be harder). On one level, it would be interesting to find out how cognizant she is that I won the last round. Certainly claiming her chair would upset the office dynamic, at least in our pod.

But again, how much hassle do I want? The chair doesn't concern me, although I found her bullying of a seventeen-year-old girl appalling and childish. It's really none of my business, especially if her mother didn't feel the need to say anything. On the other hand, how much do bullies get away with because people who aren't involved decide that it "isn't their business" or "it's not up to me."

Was I coward yesterday? Or prudent?

Possibly both, but what I know is that I think I am going to start taking my breaks with the other pod, because this whole issue is affecting how I feel about going into work. I just dread breaks and lunchtime. And I'm not sure how I feel about going into Immediate Supervisor's office and saying, "I'm not happy here because Teeth is such an all-around twunt." I mean, seriously, Immediate Supervisor had my back when I mentioned the inappropriate comments Teeth made to and about me personally; is she really expected to hold my temp hand while I sort through an ethical dilemma surrounding the juvenile beahviour of her staff member of ten years? It's true the behaviour is resented amongst the rest of the staff, but it's really up to them to tell her about it. And they don't. And I won't be their Spartacus. I need this job.

But then the sad truth is that Teeth wins. Again. And it drives me absolutely crazy that that sophomoric, nasty dimwit gets all that power and then abuses it.

Oh, and Mrs. Orange quit. Her boyfriend ostensibly got a job in Saudi making $700.00 a day as a safety inspector or something, so she didn't bother showing up. She didn't even call. They just noticed all of her shit was gone from her desk on Wednesday morning. Amazing, huh?

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Long In the Tooth

Today's post concerns history and Teeth.

Yesterday, while we were discussing genealogy, she mentioned that she is related to Eric the Red.

"Leif Eriksson was his son," she added.

No shit, Dick Tracy, thanks for the hot tip. Sheesh.

On the other hand, her being descended from a band of merciless, marauding Norse warriors explains a lot of things about Teeth's personality. It also explains why, in the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, I frequently want to bury a Viking boarding axe in her skull.