Friday, November 16th, 3:30 p.m.
It’s Friday afternoon and I am the only employee left in the building, except Gary who is doing his air shift. This seems to be the Friday pattern. Come 3:00 p.m. everyone disappears. I wish I could disappear as well, but at least it’s quiet, except for All Things Considered blasting out of multiple speakers. The lack of coworkers gives me the perfect opportunity to kill some time by snooping through their areas.
1. Horg has a small desk in the music library, and a wall covered with sulking musician glossies and a desk filled with empty candy wrappers. Horg has gained the freshman fifteen since moving into the dorms this semester. His roommate, Jack, is a jock. Their moms decorated their rooms with matching Target décor. They immediately despised each other, but quickly realized that they both enjoy getting drunk. Now the Goth kid and jock are best friends. He has a picture of the two of them on his desk. He may like Jack as more than a friend, but this has yet to be determined.
2. Vivienne reminds me of Carrie from Stephen King’s novel--if Carrie had survived that horrible night, and had gone on to finish high school, and everyone had kept making fun of her, and throwing pig blood on her. And then she'd gone off to college where her teleportation powers had faded, and she'd decided to go into radio. Her hair is just as stick straight and blonde as Carrie’s, although she usually coils it into a bun. Her desk is spotless, and if I move one of her Precious Moments figurines by just a centimeter she will notice. It is tempting but terrifying—so I do it, turning a smiling clown figure towards the corner of the desk, putting the clown in time-out.
3. Lois, Gary, and Cliff occupy the production end of the building: two recording studios, a large room used to answer phones during the pledge drive, a music library stacked with thousands of CDs, and the control room. Surrounding these main rooms are their offices, basically nests carved out of corners and old closets--a series of mounds, empty Slurpy cups, and worn out bean bag chairs burping their contents onto the carpet. It's a mysterious place of electronics and outdated periodicals, while the other end of the building remains a land of administrative peril, the front desk being the fork in the road, both paths leading to Crazytown.
4. Cliff has been the station engineer for fifteen years, but unfortunately he hasn't learned anything new in ten years. He frequently asks me to help him attach pictures to emails. His desk and work area are a jumble of cords and nails, all covered in a thick layer of dust. The most interesting thing I know about Cliff is that he is married to a professional fire eater. She is a very large woman, covered with tattoos, and she travels with a small circus. He wears a pocket protector and she eats fire, it’s an odd match, which makes it all the more intriguing. He has a picture of her on his desk, her mouth aglow. Each time she comes into the station I hope that she will offer us a free show, but it never happens. I wonder if she can get workman’s comp if her mouth burns up? I like to imagine her lighting Cliff’s smokes from across the room, or charring a steak as she throws it in the air.
5. Stuck haphazardly on Lois’ desk is a picture of her dog Fuzzy. He's a three legged mutt that she occasionally brings into work. Fuzzy knows to be quiet once the on-air light goes on. He’ll lay patiently by Lois’ feet for hours without a peep. Lois is the station's cool breeze of normal, while trapped in a sauna of delusional. Lois loves her job, and while Gladys will eventually die at her desk, Vivienne will be recruited by the IRS, and Gary will star in a jazz inspired porno, Lois will still happily be hosting Morning Edition, years from now.
6. Back in the administrative end of the building I find a note from Vivienne to Marjorie—a Post-It Note stuck to Marjorie's cube wall. She wants paper clips. The note implies that the paper clips I bought her yesterday were NOT the right size, and they were NOT going to work for her project. She needs JUMBO paper clips. Colored JUMBOS. I want to rip the note off the wall and toss it in the recycle bin, or leave another note saying how I'd love to spend my weekend shaping metal with my teeth, crafting perfect paper clips for her project. I leave the note and swallow the anger.
7. I don't know who did it. I don't want to know who did it. But someone has left a tidy pile of toenail clippings in the middle of the conference room table. I leave a Post-It Note about the toenails for the cleaning lady. Passive aggressiveness, pass it on.