“Mws. Venice, I can’t find my pants anywah!”
-one of her students who can’t pronounce his R’s
Having finally let go of (most of) my rage about the incident I am about to relate, let me share the tale of The Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants.
One of my less enviable jobs is doing the laundry for the department. When I first started we were with a company that picked up and delivered our stuff as part of their service, which we loved. However over time we found their service also included the smashing of zippers, losing of uniforms, discoloration of the same (most memorably turning some silver patches a most ungentlemanly shade of pink), and dishonesty about accounts…all of which served to outweigh the convenience of delivery. After various warnings, cajoling, and threats, we switched to a new dry cleaner.
With tolerance for laundry mistakes at an all time low, I honestly expected some officers to be annoyed with longer-than-usual turnarounds, etc., during the switch. I did not expect that Lt. South would come to me about clothing that was missing almost immediately. This happened three weeks ago…and instantly the scandal took over my work life!
Without fail, three times a week South lectured me about locating their clothes before we staggered out the door burdened with laundry baskets. Then off to the cleaners with Hennessy where we were lectured on how they are a model of integrity, business acumen, whatever…but still unable to find the missing items. Back to the office to be subjected to scorn for failing to find four shirts and three pants (because the loss of those items by the individuals or the cleaners is clearly my fault). Cue the Chief and Lt. Figaro both taking me diplomatically aside to urge me towards “better efforts” in finding the articles. Week 2 rolled around and we escalated to South going down to the cleaners, to bully them into finding his pants I suppose, and the cleaners immediately seeing this as antagonistic (no idea why) chose to punish me and Hennessy with ever louder defenses. We were ordered to carry increasingly vicious responses back and forth and adequately punished by both sides for thm…a double case of Shoot the Messenger. According to their records, South’s pants had been signed, sealed, and delivered.
Honestly, I believed the cleaners. I’m convinced that half of the lost/misplaced problems we had with our last cleaners were purely officer operator error. The guys wouldn’t label their things, or just do it improperly, find items that didn’t belong to them but neglect to turn them in, and never failed to whine to their lowly secretaries when a problem arose that us girls literally had no control over.
By week three I was so sick of the heckling, whining, and lecturing that I yanked Lt. Colossus head out from where it was buried in the sand and flat out ordered him to get us a master key to go through all the lockers in case any of the missing clothes had managed to find their way into them. Sure enough, one pair of pants had meandered into Lt. Citrus’ shirts…the which he entirely neglected to mention even though Wise sent out two emails asking any unclaimed or unknown stuff to be turned into us.
That left two. I spent nearly twenty minutes talking the cleaners off their Righteous Anger ledge with Hennessy before we trudged back to the office emptyhanded again yesterday.
“Well?” demanded South as we stumbled into the office laden with laundry not belonging to him.
“No luck,” I said, “They’ve asked you to call them so they can work out restitution–”
“They can call one of you, that’s what you girls are for,” he rolled his eyes.
I could have gleefully disemboweled him with a hanger!
AND THEN! This morning, Susie came up to me as I was giving a pants update to Aims and Sport.
“You’ll never guess,” she breathed almost maliciously.
“You’ve found them!” I gasped.
“South did…in his home closet.”
I felt my face drain in anger. I’d spent three weeks getting abused by my supervisor, lectured by my boss, barked at by our dry cleaner, dragging my friends an co-workers into it, being slapped in the face with my own lowly station as a secretary maliciously and repeatedly, and forced into the roll of Resident Wench On Behalf of the Entire Department. I’d spent several hours delivering laundry, trying to ameliorate irrationally angry people, and leading a witch hunt for pants thieves…only to find that the man who had started it had FAILED TO LOOK IN HIS OWN CLOSET? Moreover had failed at any point in the last month to check and see if he already had the items, convienently marked “Delivered?”
Apparently my wrath has an effect. After trying to joke once about how the last three weeks “gave me something to do” and being met with my evilest of vicious stares, he hasn’t been seen in the front office all day. In fact he’s been using the back hall to get around instead. Good.