Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I work at a sewer plant. Of course, I didn't know it was the sewer plant when I initially applied for the job. It was touted as "Water Pollution Control" and I couldn't help thinking how nice it would be to work for an environmentally-conscious industry. Water Pollution Control = sewer plant. Yuck. George Orwell would be so proud of the community for which I work. We have "Water Pollution Control" and our garbage dump is known as the "Ecological Facility." No sewer plant or garbage dump in our town! It's not really so bad, though (except on those days when the vanilla filter isn't working just right), but sometimes when someone comes in to our office from just having left one of the REALLY stinky buildings, well, let's just say that I've learned to have entire conversations without breathing once through my nose. I also keep a giant bottle of hand sanitizer - watermelon scented - on my desk, right next to my stapler. Recently I've started to wonder whether my stapler might feel slightly neglected, considering how often I employ its neighbor. So I asked it:

Does it bother you at all that I reach past you so often to get to the hand sanitizer?

No, dahling, not one bit. (She was a beautiful stapler - a purple and black Swingline with just a hint of yellow. She sounded very much like Tallulah Bankhead [see TCM.com] - a deep, raspy, world-weary voice with an accent like a Southern belle schooled in England.) Ah absolutely love it when you wash your hands. Really ah do. And watermelon brings back some lovely memories.

But (I hated to admit this), I've actually knocked you over a few times. (She was ergonomically designed - an upright model.) I hope you'll forgive me.

Listen, dahling, ah've been pushed over plenty of times, but that doesn't mean ah'm a pushover. Ah know you never did it deliberately. Ah gladly accept your apology.

Thank you so much. You know, it's a shame you have to work down here. You seem like you should at least be in the Mayor's Office.

(She chuckled.)
Ah could say the same of you, don't you think?

Oh no, not at all. Everything's so casual and relaxed down here. And we even have an office cat!

Well, yes, dahling, but you see ah'm not as sophisticated as you may think ah am. Ah simply adore all the nitty gritty, as one might say. Plus ah'm the first to read all the really good gossip, since you are essentially the entire personnel department, beg pardon - human resources - down here.

You read what I staple?

Of course, dahling. What else did you expect me to do with my time?

And you gossip about it? To who?

To WHOM, dahling..to whom! Why simply everyone, of course. As a matter of fact, ah'd be careful what papers ah leave next to that telephone, if ah was you. Between you and me, she just can't keep her mouthpiece quiet.

(I glanced suspiciously at my phone, which startled me something silly when it suddenly rang. I gingerly reached for the receiver, wondering whether my entire upcoming conversation would be fodder for gossip after we all left for the day.)

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