“It occurred to me that my speech or my silence, indeed any action of mine, would be a mere futility.” – Joseph Conrad
I was given a project today. One that I’m still trying to make sense of. It can best be summarized by my puzzled response to Lt. Figaro when he gave it to me. At the time of assignment, Susie’s and my eyebrows were having a contest to see whose could climb higher.
“So you want me to run reports.”
“From a database I don’t have access to, using a program that hasn’t worked form months, to organize information that no one can find, with query requests that don’t exist.”
“Hi, this is [ahem] from the History department. We’ve just received a package that appears to contain a human skull. Could you send someone over, please?”
– [ahem] from History department
We sent over an officer half expecting to uncover a Halloween decoration with “Made in China” stamped merrily across it. Imagine our surprise then when he carted back a box containing two and half genuine human noggins! Look to be Native American remains, they’re trying to trace them now. Naturally the desecration of human bodies and disturbing of Indian remains is both illegal and (especially at this time of year) liable to open portals into the nether world, but sue me, I’m thrilled. I dashed back to the patrol room, slapped on a pair of plastic gloves, and got to handle them under the officer’s watchful eye. It’s the most interesting thing that’s happened in a couple of weeks! And if I drop dead in the near future, you can snuff it up to an ancient curse.
In less bizarre but equally exciting news, poodles, come back tomorrow for an exciting new giveaway!
Note: the prize will not include federally protected remains, items, artwork, etc. Apologies in advance for any disappointment.
“It’s like saying ‘Macbeth’ in the theatre!” – Grey’s Anatomy
Surviving in the corporate world, even on the rather planktonian level of a University police office, requires certain precautions of the supernatural variety. Whether by occult design or unnatural happenstance, bad things often happen in threes. Whenever one needs a large print job, an obligatory sacrifice of small animals/Freshmen is usually necessary to get its resident poltergeist to permit the entire project to come out unscathed. When discussing hypothetical future events, it is absolutely necessary to pound, not simply knock, on wood to ensure that nothing will hex your efforts.
And you must never, under any circumstances, ever make the fatal mistake of saying that the office is “quiet.” It matters not if it’s dull as tombs, to draw attention to any dearth of activity is to invoke the wrath of the Office Gods who delight in punishing mortals. The moment you mention that you haven’t enough to do, that no one has come to the front desk in some weeks, or that the phone hasn’t even rung in approximately 400 years…le deluge.
Cars start colliding, thieves pour from the shadows and swipe everything in sight, power lines go down and tornadoes spin up.
Friday I made the classic error. Hennessy and I were comparing late afternoon notes on our days when I confessed that the office was dead.
Immediately bellows erupted from Lt. Figaro’s office and echoed down the hall as he and a patron got into it a bit over the phone. And mere moments after that a young lady appeared, asking one of the officers to do something to a report (I didn’t hear precisely what, but it seemed she wished to come off sounding better than she felt the report currently did). She was instantly and brusquely informed that no such change would be made and was bid a stern good day and exited snarling. Every phone in the office started ringing. Lt. Figaro finally hung up on his frothing foe and stormed out to raise havoc in the patrol room.
Seeing that she was next in line for a lashing, I quietly suggested to Hennessy that she and I extricate ourselves from the situation my tongue had foolishly caused. We escaped to do the laundry run.
“The cat likes overhearing children stories.” – Amelie (2001)
Working at University Police Department, one overhears things. And if one is like me, with the unnatural ability to tune into conversations at the oddest, most embarrassing, or just when it’s heading for the HR office reportable. one overhears too much.
Can you guess the context of what was overheard this week?
“I need to go put a shirt on.”
A) Lt. Colossus gets in from his shift at Chippendales
B) A load of pasta had spilled down Lt. Figaro’s best uniform
C) A student officer, forced to strip when he got soaked in a downpour, relates his frustration
“She was the least flexible woman I’ve ever done!”
A) Wise relates a tale from her pregnancy yoga class
B) Lt. Citrus accidentally lets slip an insight to his scandal ridden past
C) Officer Lampost fingerprints an octogenarian
“Wow, I’ve never seen you in clothes!”
A) Bebe reveals her scandalous affair, HR is called
B) Bebe reveals her propensity to visit Chippendales (see Number 1)
C) Bebe embarrasses an officer when we get a rare glimpse of him in street clothes
“Have you ever been jogging with fireflies. Magical!”
A) A student officer is on drugs
B) A student officer is severely concussed
C) Hell if we know…
A) A student officer is on drugs, again
B) A student officer ate a whole bag of Jolly Ranchers and is vibrating from a sugar high
The answers are all “C”
1-2 correct: you’ve a filthy mind
3-4 correct: you’ve a boring mind
5 correct: cheater!
“Ah, Cindy Sondheim, you should have lived in an earlier age. Things were simpler, less complicated. Do you know how many women had nervous breakdowns in the fourteenth century? Two.”
– Love at First Bite
Thanks for all the lovely pick-me-up comments yesterday, darlings. It was really nice to know how many of you have felt the same way – and as every last one of you have turned out amazing and unbelievably fabulous, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to do the same with a bit more time, a few more naps, and much less stress.
Yesterday was beastly (if you couldn’t tell!). We’ve heard negatives on some of J.’s internship applications and are still waiting to hear back on others, which is almost more nerve wracking.
I had to hire a dozen students last minute and despite telling administration multiple times that we don’t have space for any more people, they were still shocked to discover that we didn’t have enough lockers or uniforms/gear for them. Unfortunately, the ones ending up looking foolish in this situation are your friendly neighborhood C. and Hennessy, who have to explain to several students why they have to cart a pile half as tall as me of gear home with them.
I barely averted a few violations that would have added up to potentially thousands of dollars in fines had I not caught them.
I’d only got four hours of sleep the night before.
So, these and other factors combined into the perfect storm. Literally! Just as I was getting ready to go do the laundry run, a massive lightening and rain storm whipped up. You may recall how often it rains when I do the laundry run, it’s lately become the office joke. So when I ambled past Susie’s office to tell her I was heading out I glanced our her window and froze. It was pitch black outside and rain was lashing the pane.
I felt a helpless, hysterical giggle start bubbling up inside of me and a clapped a hand over my mouth to keep it in. But to no avail! Both Susie and Wise turned, saw the rain, and started chuckling. Then Chief poked his head around the corner and grumbled, “Have you done the laundry yet?”
That did it. I collapsed on Susie’s desk laughing (and nearly crying). She and Wise joined in, Chief stared at us a minute before retreating to the safety of his office. When I got home, I put on flannel pants, an oversized sweatshirt, pinned my hair up, and crawled into bed with a book.
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
– Isaac Asimov
The interesting thing about working at a university is how much information, equipment, and expertise is available to you. So when a plastic bag filled with large bones is found buried on the grounds, it’s the work of a moment to ask someone from Anthropology to come over and verify that they aren’t human. Just in case. Or, less professionally, when one is hungry, one can just scamper over to any of the cafes, food halls, or centers that provide sustenance for cheap prices.
Alternatively, using campus resources can often put one in an awkward situation.
In the library there is a very nice media lab where you can covert anything in any format to any other format you please. Now I’m pretty technologically illiterate, but even I can appreciate that sort of thing. And for the first time I got to use it yesterday when Lt. Citrus gave me a sack full of VHS tapes and told me to convert them to DVDs. How neat, thought I, and off I trotted.
I got a crash course in using the towering masses of machinery and, after snatching a book to keep me company (another benefit of a university setting), I got to work. There was a lot of loading/unloading tapes, keeping an eye on the screens, finalizing data, etc., but mostly it involved waiting for the tapes to run fully (which could last from a few minutes to a couple hours). And I even watched a couple: guy holding an audience hostage because God told him he was supposed to be supreme dictator or Earth, rioting at football games, your average wierdos…you know, the usual.
However there was some pretty dark stuff too and when converting those I taped paper over the screens (because I am of the somewhat old fashion opinion that an individual’s personal tragedy is nobody else’s damn business). During these tapes, I kicked back with my book until I was rudely disturbed but a gentleman marching up to me.
“You’ve been here for a long time,” he accused.
“Yes, and I apologize, but I am working on something important on behalf of the University. I’m nearly done. Do you need the machines?”
“No,” he said snappishly . “I just think you’re being inconsiderate taking up so much time.”
Not really prepared to handle this sort of time management vigilante-ism (side note – not one person had previously needed to use the machines or asked me when I would be done), I only blinked.
“You’re probably not even doing anything remotely important,” he continued, crossing his arms and turning up his nose. “What are you working on?”
I felt an eyebrow climb at his tone but answered in a chipper voice, “Well I’m transferring a video taken from a homicide scene investigation. Then I’ll have to transfer the autopsy tapes as well, care to watch?”
His eyes bugged for a moment and then he slunk off.
Like I said, the equipment and resources amassed here are fantastic, but the ability to see some people in all there snippy, self-important silliness might be my favorite part of my job after all.
Several times a week, background investigators come into the office to collect information on former students who have applied for government or high profile jobs. Most of the investigators are pretty normal and businesslike, but one or two of them make my eyebrows climb.
One of the, according to the police grapevine, once had a normal 9-5 job and seemed perfectly ordinary, until the day he had a “divine revelation” that there was going to be a massive earthquake that would destroy everything – or something to that effect. I misremember if this was supposed to be connected to an end-times scenario. Anyway, based on this “revelation” he quit his job, packed up his wife, food, and probably guns and moved to a cabin in the mountains. (Sidenote – the mountains? Usually located on fault lines of tectonic plates? Really?) Sadly the appointed day for this catastrophic event came…and went. Years ago. So, chalking it up to experience, he moved back to civilization. He’s a very nice man, very professional, and privately I consider him a harmless sort of lunatic.
Slightly more creepy is Fetish Guy. One day, wanting to look grown up, I piled my hair on my head and threw on a pearl set me father gave me and felt very country gentry and pretty…until a regular background investigator came in for a check. He handed me the paperwork and, catching a full look at me, stopped in his tracks.
“You’re wearing pearls,” he said slowly.
“Uh, yes,” I said, a bit stupidly.
“I love it when women wear those.”
“Oh. Thank you.” Backed away slowly.
Now, every time he comes in he always gives me an uncomfortable glance over and asks where my pearls are because he “really likes seeing me wear them.”
Who, exactly, did the background check on the background checkers?
“Sweet is revenge – especially to women.”
– Lord Byron
Good morning, minions. Where can I get the best real-looking plastic snakes money can buy?
Last week, after doing the laundry run, I returned the key to Lt. Colossus as per usual. Then J. and I headed up to the City for the evening. I’d left my phone at home because it needed to charge, and when we came back I had about half a dozen messages on it that proceeded thus:
“C. this is —- from work, Lt. Colossus asked me to call you and find out where you left the key to the van. Could you call me back? Thanks.”
“C. this is —- again, we really need that key.”
“This is Officer —-, I’m not happy. You know that you’re supposed to turn that key into Colossus when you’re done, it’s not your car. We need to use it.”
“C., Colossus. Where the hell is that key? You know better than to keep it, damn it! We need it!”
“C.! Where is it?!”
“C. Hi…sorry…this is Colossus…I found the key…see you tomorrow.”
The blasted man, after having told all the officers on duty who needed the van that I had absconded with their blessed key, had accidentally taken it home with him in his pants pocket. Jupiter Ammon, what is it with men and pants in this office?!
But to add insult to injury, this morning he found Lt. Citrus pressing a uniform in the supply room and cracked, “Shouldn’t you have to wear a skirt to do that?”
Wise heard him and let him have it with both barrels.
“But you girls weren’t supposed to hear that,” he protested.
“It’s sexist whether we hear it or not,” I retorted.
“You just have not sense of humor,” he tried to tease.
Foolish, foolish man. I’ve officially lost patience with your mild but all-pervading sexism and your tendency to blame things on me. And unlike most women you seem to know, I am not of the ignore-it-and-it-will-go-away persuasion. Also I know three very important things about you. 1 – that you scream like a girl, 2 – that you are terrified of snakes, 3 – your locker combination.
There are many ways to cure sexism and undesirable behavior. I choose psychological warfare.
“All abstract sciences are nothing but the study of relations between signs.”
– Denis Diderot
One of my annual duties is to process raises for all of the student employees, all 150-200 of them. Each of these raises must be individually entered, then individual added to two separate databases (before I hand them off to Susie who enters them into another worksheet). As you may imagine, this takes quite a bit of time. I usually clear my entire schedule to work solely on this project so that I can get it done in a couple of days.
These couple of days are brain melting. I stare at the computer screen without breaks from the moment I get into work until the moment I leave. By the time I limp out to my car, my eyes are crossing and uncrossing beyond my control. I swear I’ve developed carpal syndrome in my right index finger.
Funny things happen to my head, such as yesterday when I had to do a double take because Pandora (which often doesn’t make sense anyway), playing in my peripherals suddenly flashed a picture of King Leonidas from 300…no…wait. It wasn’t a naked, roaring barbarian, it was Dave Matthews. I rubbed my eyes and prayed for 5pm. But it pays off to do it all at once because within three days I can usually get back to my normal schedule only slightly worse for wear.
The only way I am able to get it all done in a timely matter is by carefully cultivating the idea that anyone who disturbs me during this process will be marched out into the parking lot, lined up, and summarily shot. This year, to facilitate the speedy processing of raises, I put up the following sign:
And, much to my royal irritation, everyone has been ignoring it. Cretins.