The Hatred of Minutiae…Part 2

by

Below is the continuation from yesterday’s story.

And for those following the Hicks vs. Smith lawsuit…it was settled amicably. Taylor was given the rights to his songs, as well as the original recordings. No money changed hands. (We knew Taylor wouldn’t take Smith for $75,000…even if Smith is an ass. Way to go, Taylor!)

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The Hatred of Minutiae
by Shelley Powers

Part 2

A week later she had me trained. All it took was one tink and I’d get up without speaking; grab her cup; and fill it with coffee and three sugars.

I had tried to ignore it, but there was no way that was going to work.

I tried saying, “Dianne, would you mind not tapping your cup, please?” To which she would promptly and overly apologize and then, apparently, forget two minutes later.

I tried saying, “Hey, Dianne, why don’t you go get yourself a cup of coffee? There’s a fresh pot.” But she’d simply reply, “Oh, thanks, Beth, but I’ll pass.” Then she’d wait a minute or two and start tinking again.

It was just easier for me to get up and get her some damn coffee.

“Beth, you don’t have to do that,” she would coo.

Yes I do, Tinkerbell, or I’ll be forced to break that smiley face over your head. “It’s no problem.”

-#-

Another week went by and things only got worse.

“She’s tinking at least three times a day now.” I sat on the bed and grumbled to Ted. It was Thursday evening, and he was packing to leave that Friday for a four-day, out-of-state chiropractic conference. “And she’s complaining more and more about that damn headset. She’s driving me absolutely crazy.”

“Liz, have you tried talking to the woman?” He counted out pairs of underwear for the trip.

“No, but every time she starts fiddling with the headset I ask her about the request form.”

“And what’s she say?” He counted out pairs of socks.

“She always says, ‘Procurement’s processing it.’”

“Have you talked with Laurie?”

“Yeah, she thinks I just need to be patient with her.”

Ted walked into the master bathroom with his empty shaving kit and started to fill it. “Babe, maybe you should just follow Laurie’s advice. Or just try talking to her. You’re usually so good with people. It’s hard to believe you’re having such a hard time getting along with this woman.”

It’s hard to believe you’re calmly packing while I’m having a crisis. I crossed my arms and mumbled loudly. “It’s not like I’m not trying to get along. She’s just out to get me.”

“Out to get you?” He chuckled. “Don’t you think you’re being a little dramatic?”

No. “Ted, you’re not even trying to understand.”

He stopped packing, walked over, and squatted down by the bed. “Look, I’m heading out tomorrow afternoon, and I don’t want to fight. I’m sure you’re having a tough time, but, Liz, I think you’re sweatin’ the small stuff too much. Just let what she says roll off your back.”

Why can’t you hear what I’m trying to tell you? I held back my tears of frustration. It was late and the next day would be long for both of us.

“Listen, we can talk about this more when I get back. Okay?” he said, walking back to the bathroom.

I didn’t answer. He wouldn’t have heard me anyway.

-#-

When I walked into the office the next morning, I couldn’t wait to get to the snack room and talk with Laurie.

“Mornin’, Liz.” She was punching in the time on the microwave for her croissant to heat. “I see you’re getting coffee for the troops.”

“Yeah, gotta keep those troops happy.”

“What cha mean, partner?”

“Well, I’m still having some difficulty dealing with Dianne.”

“I can’t believe that. She seems like such a nice person.”

“That’s just it, Laurie. She does seem like a nice person, yet here I am, every morning and every afternoon getting her coffee.”

“Don’t tell me you think you’re above getting someone’s coffee, Liz.”

“No, but…I also have to listen to her complain all the time about her headset.”

“Isn’t that the same headset I used to listen to you complain about.”

Busted.

“Liz, why don’t you help her out, instead of letting it bother you.”

“I have. I filled out a headset request form for her two weeks ago. All she had to do was sign it and take it to Procurement.”

“Two weeks ago? I’ll check to see what the hold up is. Until then, why don’t y’all just switch headsets?”

Has she lost her mind? “Laurie, I don’t want to give up my headset. I’ve worked here two years and earned the right to have it. It’s mine. I already had my turn at using the crappy headset.”

Laurie grimaced. I had never seen her do that before. “Actually, Liz, the headset is mine. I didn’t need it as badly as you did so I thought I’d let you use it.”

“Oh, I’d assumed you had ordered it for me.”

“No, purchases can’t be made without having a request form submitted. You know that.” Laurie gave a sigh. “Look, you do what you think is best. I just wanted you to have the facts.”

Dammit. Now she’s mad at me. I couldn’t win for losing.

I took the two mugs of coffee back to the cubicle and was greeted with a most bizarre sight. Dianne was at my desk, slumped over in my chair, with my husband running his fingers up and down her spine. The two were chatting it up like old friends until Ted noticed me standing there, undoubtedly with a slacked jaw expression on my face.

“Hey, babe!” He leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

“Hey.” I was numb. “What’re you doing here?”

“Well, I had to run some errands before I headed out and wanted to swing by and surprise you.”

You win. I’m surprised. “Thanks, sweetie.”

I set the coffee cups down as Dianne stood up. “Your husband’s the best,” she said, patting Ted’s shoulder.

Get your mitts off my man. “Yes, he is that. Um, what are y’all up to?”

They both gave a chuckle. Do not chuckle with my husband.

“Oh, that,” Dianne tittered. “We were chatting while you were out and I mentioned that I’m having trouble with my back. I think it’s from the late night studying and all the books I have to tote to class.”

She pointed to a stack of books by her desk. I had never noticed her bringing books to work before.

“So Ted graciously offered to check my back for me.”

Gracious my ass. You manipulated him, you little creep.

“She’s actually got a few vertebrae out of alignment,” Ted interjected. “I told Dianne to pop by the clinic one day next week and I’d examine her more thoroughly. Until then, I suggested she use a chair that rocks while at work so she can stretch her back while at her desk.”

Ted, what have you done? “Honey, can I speak to you down the hall for a minute?”

“Sure.”

I took his arm and led him toward the snack room. As we walked off, I looked back to see Dianne settling in to her new seat. My seat.

“Why did you do that?!” I yelled in a loud whisper when we got in the snack room.

“Do what?”

“Give her my chair!”

“Lizzy, I didn’t give her your chair. I told her I thought a chair that rocked would help her back, so she sat in your chair to try it out.”

“She’s not trying it out, Ted. She’s marking her territory. I guarantee you I’ll never get her fat butt out of it again. That’s the way she works. It’s her m.o. She manipulated you into getting her to try the chair and I assure you she’ll find some way to manipulate me into letting her keep it.”

“Liz, you need to calm down. You are blowing this way out of proportion.”

“Out of proportion! Ted, I’ve been trying to tell you for the past two weeks that Dianne is using these exact kinds of little mind games to control me. She’s a horrible person.”

Ted looked at me with consternation. “First of all, she’s not controlling you. And secondly, I know I just met the woman but she seems far from horrible. I had expected her to be some evil witch and instead, you’re the one acting crazy.”

She’s reeled you in and you can’t even see it.

I swallowed hard. I could feel the tears welling up. “Ted…are you taking her side?”

“There are no sides, Elizabeth.”

I could tell he was trying not to get angry with me, as he drew a deep breath then let it out slowly. “Liz, honey, you know I love you, but I have to tell you, you’ve become obsessed with this woman. I’m worried about you. I honestly am.” He looked at his watch. “I hate to leave this up in the air, but I’ve got to get to the airport. Try to rest this weekend. I’ll call you from the hotel.”

And with that, he was gone.

I got back to my desk and, as expected, Dianne was sitting in my chair, chatting away on the phone. I didn’t say a word. Instead, I pulled up her old chair and attempted to work.

The rest of the day was a blur and Friday night was even worse. The house seemed eerily empty and quiet, except for Ted’s all-too-brief midnight call when he reached the hotel. I couldn’t eat or sleep all weekend because I kept playing over the events of the past two weeks in my mind.

How have things gotten so bad? Why am I the only one who can see Dianne for what she is? Can I really be blowing everything out of proportion?

When Sunday night finally came, I took a shot of Jack Daniel’s and hit the sheets.

Anything to get some sleep.

That night I had a horrible dream. My chair at work was a throne and I was seated upon it wearing my headset as my crown. Laurie stood on my left, and Ted was on my right. All was peaceful and good in the world until someone began banging on the floor beneath us.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.

Tiles flew up from the floor and Dianne crawled through, her red hair flaming atop her head and her tiny nostrils mere slits in her face. I tried desperately to warn Ted and Laurie of her approach, but I was the only one who could see her.

Then she ripped the crown from my head, pushed me into the hole, and sat on my throne. I yelled and yelled for help but was only answered by more banging as the hole sealed above me.

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

I realized the noise was my alarm clock, and I woke up in a sweat. It was 6 a.m. and time to face another week of Dianne.

-#-

When I got to work and approached the cubicle, the first thing I noticed was Laurie, talking to Dianne. The second thing I noticed was that Dianne was sitting in my chair, clutching her headset.

“I’m so sorry, Dianne,” Laurie said. “I think there’s been a mix up. We can’t find your request form anywhere.”

“I understand,” Dianne sighed, her sappy little voice sounding more forlorn than it had a right to. “I’ll just fill out another form.”

Can’t you see, Laurie? Can’t you see how she’s manipulating you? She didn’t even fill out the first one.

But Laurie couldn’t see. Instead, she looked at me with disdain and jerked her head toward Dianne as if to cue me to say something. I just shook my head.

She’s not getting it. She’s got my chair, my coffee delivery service, my friend’s sympathy, my husband’s loyalty, and my peace of mind. She’s not getting my headset.

I put my coat and purse in my bottom desk drawer, turned on my computer, and opened my top drawer to take out my headset. But no sooner had I pulled it from its sanctuary, Laurie took it from my hands and, in one fell swoop, placed it on Dianne’s desk.

“Here, Dianne. I loaned this one to Elizabeth, but I’m sure she won’t mind letting you use it until a new one can be ordered.”

I was seething and couldn’t do a thing about it. I had hated myself into submission and all because of stupid Dianne. She had trumped my hatred by acting so nice and that made me hate her even more.

But then something happened that I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes. As I watched Laurie walk past Dianne to leave the cubicle, I noticed Dianne staring at me. She was smiling. Not her usual doe-eyed sappy smile. This one was evil. And as she rested her chin on her hand, she winked.

Now she’s taking my sanity.

Dumbstruck, I couldn’t do anything but stare as she glared at me through narrowed eyes. Then, without losing eye contact, she reached into her inbox and pulled out a sheet of paper. She held it up and gave it a little wave.

It was the missing request form. She had never turned it in.

Deftly she buried the form back in her inbox; picked up her new headset; and nestled it in her flaming red hair.

I touched my head where my K-2000 halo had once rested. Damn, she was good. I have to admit that. She’d won at a game I didn’t even know I was playing.

-#-

Yeah, office politics are hell. You work with people you’d never choose to be friends with. You give money when their loved ones die or when birthdays roll around, not because you give a crap but because of some strained since of obligation.

Either that or the fact that, if the hat is passed and your dollar is the only one not collected, people talk. That’s the way things are.

So here I sit, day in and day out. Stewing in my hatred of minutiae. Working back-to-back with this devil woman, who took just enough from me so that I can’t complain and who hits my chair every time she rocks back to stretch after a call.

And I am left with no recourse but to sit in my corner of the cubicle, listening to her nose whistle as I twist the cord on my K-1999 and fill out form after form for the new headset I know will never come.

– The End –

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9 Responses to “The Hatred of Minutiae…Part 2”

  1. Staci Says:

    Shell,
    I’ve always known you are talented, but this just ups the ante a bit. I really hate Dianne… and if I’m her, don’t tell me. 🙂

  2. TALK! Says:

    Thanks, Stace…that means a LOT coming from The Grammar Natzi! 😉

    Oh…and you’re NOT Dianne (I promise). But she was based on a real person I worked with about seven years ago.

  3. bamaborntxbred Says:

    I hope the real Dianne isn’t buried in your backyard…

    I know this is a fictional story, but seriously, if my friends and family were as unsupportive as Elizabeth’s were…I’d have to get new friends and family! How rude!

  4. TALK! Says:

    Who knows…maybe she IS buried out there…and that’s why I never have my lawn mowed. 😉

  5. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Dun dun duhhh….

    Hey did you watch that Duets show last night? I only watched it long enough to see some blonde wrestler defile the same stage that my luvr Taylor sang his heart out on.

  6. TALK! Says:

    I watched it…and am scarred for life.

    I only made it to the half-way point and then…SHREWSPEAKE CALLED ME!!! We ended up talking for quite a bit…yeah! I had never talked with her before.

    Soooo, I recorded the show and will have to go back and finish watching, so I can write-up a post this week.

  7. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Yeah. I was flipping over to watch it during commercial breaks of BB7 and Rockstar…and danged if the only person I ever got to see perform was that scary man. And there was noooo talent in him. He woulda been in the “make fun of files” for AI. I was cringing during his country duet…I wouldn’t have minded seeing Xena-Warrior Princess sing. She’s cool.

    U R so popular. All da girls and boys wanna call u on da phone!

  8. TALK! Says:

    I actually felt sorry for Lea Thompson…she sounded so horribly bad that I wanted to reach into the t.v. and shove a sock in her trap.

    Um…about being popular…at least all the girls…I’ve yet to hear from a boy.

    Taylor? Feel free to call me, man. We got lots to catch up on since our romp in B’ham.

  9. suzi-q Says:

    Shell, you could have “socked” it to several of those singers cause we watched it and the only one who liked the blonde wrestler was…Little Richard:) figures right! The only person that had something good going was the comedian that played on “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” many years ago (he was good)

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