Monday, 12 October 2015

The Rocks Stars of My Fucked-Up Office

In my new department, I no longer work with lawyers. I now work with insurance adjusters. I don't know anything about insurance adjusters, other than that I don't want to be one for a living. And the ones I work with are really interesting individuals. You can decide for yourself how to interpret that after you've read my descriptions of them.
Let's begin with Bananarama. She is about my height and weight (i.e. a little short for a Russian shot-putter, but lots to hold onto). She is also about my age, which means she must have left high school in the early to mid-eighties. And looking at her, you'd think she was still there. Bananarama's do hasn't changed one single hair since she graduated. I swear. She has the biggest bangs of anyone on the floor. Hell, on any of the ten floors of the building we work in. No word of a lie, Bananarama's bangs look like this:

Goddesses on a mountaintop...

Every single time, this woman hoves into view, my brain starts playing the best fucking '80s soundtrack you've ever heard. I just have to hear her voice around the corner, and I am suddenly wearing parachute pants and sipping on a Canadian Cooler to the sound of Frankie Goes To Hollywoods' "Relax".

But Bananarama is not the only rock star in my department. Another of the adjustors is a woman who's age is difficult to ascertain because she's been ridden hard and put away wet for the better part of at least one decade. She's painfully thin and inclined to wear boots and shoes with impossibly high heels. She walks like Pan, and I swear her hip is going to dislocate outside my Hovel one day. Half of me is convinced that I am working with none other than Marianne Fucking Faithfull.

Why'd ya do it, she said. Why'd ya let her suck yer cock?
The resemblance is fucking uncanny. Her voice is the same strange blend of nasal and whisky-throated roughness, she speaks cynically and as if maybe she's got a flask in her desk. The only thing missing is the English accent. I keep hoping one day she'll come to my Hovel, spark up a cig, lean against the temporary wall and say, "I can't believe people are still bangin' on about me and Mick and that fuckin' Mars bar. It was a fuckin' lie, and even if it wasn't--but it was, love, a rotten fuckin' lie--it was forty years ago."

And then maybe she'll gift me with a version of "The Ballad of Lucy Jordon". Marianne won't have anything to do with me, but I think that's because she knows I'm onto her. I don't take it personally; it's our little secret.

So far, my interactions with everyone in my department have been pleasant on a personal level. However, it is amazing to me how much people give away that is inappropriate and they don't seem to realize it.

For example, the department is somewhat short-staffed (hence, my secondment), so a new adjuster was hired. I'll call her Ruby. Ruby is awesome. She works across from me and is thus far, a most welcome addition to the team. I hope she stays.

But the day before Ruby was scheduled to start, one of the other adjusters mentioned to someone else that she knew Ruby from another department of the City.

"And just so you don't freak out," said the adjuster, "Ruby's black."

This comment fell down between the adjuster and her conversant like a choking victim. The clerk to whom the adjuster was speaking was horrified and not sure how to respond--meanwhile the comment lay there thrashing.

Finally, the clerk said, "Oh. Okay." And then, "You know other black people work in Law, don't you?"

*choke* *gasp*

"They do?" said the adjuster, with genuine surprise. "I didn't know that."

Apparently, this adjuster never goes to the ninth floor.

And finally, still another of the adjusters engaged me in conversation about two weeks ago. The subject of Asians arose.

This adjuster said to me (and I quote), "I don't call them Asians. I call them Orientals, because Asian is too broad a term."

I was so stunned, I didn't know what to say. I mean, I thought of several comments after the fact, but is it actually my job to educate these people? I question whether it is really *my* place to confront this woman with her ignorance. Is it really worth it to say, "Honey, you're mistaken. Oriental can indicate anyone east of the Ukraine and out past the Pacific Rim right to the Pacific, but Asian is usually restricted to a handful of nations in the farthest east."

I dunno. Because an older, middle-class white woman who uses the word "Oriental" will probably not hesitate to use the word "lezbo", either.

In brief, these are some of the people in my department.


Keith said...

So far, not bad. It could be much worse. As I'm sure we will all discover.

Keith said...

Linda says - if where you work is anything like where I work, its a genuine United Nations of a workplace now. Still plenty of old white dudes & dudettes (younger ones too) but not the overwhelming Wonder bread workforce of days of yore. Which is good to see actually - all that immigration finally paying off & the immigrants or their children finally being fairly represented in all aspects of working Canadian life rather than being regulated to jobs that effectively hid their presence as it was generally low paid work in the dead of night. Which might have made it easier for said Wonder bread to accept but was a tremendous waste of the talents of said immigrants. I've met doctors, engineers, accountants & teachers who were unable to practice their profession due to professional roadblocks regarding acceptance of their professional credentials here. Essentially most were told they had to go back to school & re-qualify for their profession before they could practice it - as in take ALL the courses & exams over again at a Canadian institution. Now, one can understand had these folks gotten their degree from Shake de Bone's U, but in at least one case (the doctor) his credentials were from that unknown & wholly 3rd world institution known as Cambridge. Young educated, British (his wife was a qualified maths & English teacher but couldn't teach here due to her qualifications not being good 'enough') & oh yes - Anglo Saxons, both. Did not make the slightest bit of difference, so back to Britain they went.

Elizabeth said...

I have a coworker who was very cool in the 80's. She has photos of herself being cool in the 80's on her desk and she was indeed super pretty and apparently cool.

she still has the same hairstyle.

HUGE bangs, teased and tall hair that hangs in bleached blond strands down to the middle of her back. it's painful. but clearly brings her back to memories of happier times.

but hoo.... no longer cool

Pisser said...

I wanna covert camera phone picture of the bangs.