Day 66 – The Good Old Days
Sixty six days into training for IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga and I feel great… except for work.
Don’t get me wrong. Work is OK, but HR has us all worried that we are going to say or do the wrong thing. How I yearn for the old days when practical jokes were not only tolerated, but almost encouraged.
The year was 2003. Or 4. I was working for a non-profit organization in Denton, TX. at the time. I had a big office, a fun group of coworkers and a few good victims on which to practice the time honored craft of practical jokes. There was one particular joke that almost killed our victim, or so it seemed.
B was in her early 60s. She was sort of like a mother to us and we loved her dearly. In fact, I still hear from her now and then. She had worked at this outfit for so long and done every job there that she had earned a certain level of respect, yet she could laugh, tell jokes and have fun after hours like anyone else. In other words, she could “dish it out” a bit. She was the kind of woman that could dress professionally for work and dress down for weekly outings at the garage sales around town.
B moonlit as a night cleaner for several offices in town including ours and, because of that, she knew everyone’s dirty habits. She could tell you who left skid marks in their office chair and which stall in the bathroom was used by whom. It’s not that she enjoyed it, but when she wasn’t disgusted by it she and I used to laugh about that kind of stuff. B was the perfect victim.
In the office down the hall worked K. He was a creative genius which, I think, made him very outgoing and bold. He spoke from his head, sometimes without filters, but you knew where you stood with him. He was never mean, he just saw life a little more clearly than most and was not afraid to say something mildly offensive. He had a wild streak that could make a San Francisco liberal blush. K and I were friends.
Are you familiar with those cylindrical pastries? Pepperidge Farms makes a version of them called Pirouette. Someone brought a chocolate frosted cake with those little phallic pastries protruding out in all directions. It was quite the sight.
K and I were standing in the break room and chatting over cups of coffee when we both became aware of the cake: this strange cake that seemed so out of place. The strangeness of it bothered me so started playing with one of the pastries. I slowly pulled it out from its gooey, dark chocolate foundation and held it between the two of us almost at eye level. K and I looked at each other and simultaneously uttered the same sound, “Ewwwww”. Either the pastry or the frosting had to be put to good use. Without thought or intention, my finger swiped off a glob of frosting. K followed closely behind as I ran into the women’s room where I deposited the frosting on the edge of a toilet seat. I don’t have to tell you what it looked like, but I do need to tell you that it looked real: very real.
I cleaned off my finger, went back to work and forgot about the incident until almost 60 minutes later when S came into my office. S was not a gossip, but she wanted to tell me about “the mess” that someone left behind in the women’s room because B had apparently seen it and was so disgusted by it that she told half the office what she had seen. I was imagining B performing her job that night as office cleaner wearing full industrial HAZMAT gear to clean that toilet.
K and I allowed the joke to go on for a little longer, until B was beginning to get a bit out of control. She was quite upset that someone would leave the bathroom in such a state. S was disgusted as well, but she was more concerned about B, so we let S in on the joke. S, K and I had a giggle fest behind closed doors until we realized that it was time to bring the joke to a close.
I was still in my office when K made his move, but I could hear the important stuff. K approached B,
K: “B, what’s all the fuss?”
B: “Somebody. Uh… Come here. I’ll show you”
I heard the bathroom door open and they went in. The next thing I heard was B screaming so loudly that I though she was going to have a heart attack. K later told me that the look on her face suggested a cardiac arrest after the air had depleted from her lungs. It took B a little while to recover from the shock.
Unfortunately, I had to learn what happened in the bathroom after the fact from K himself. When they first entered the bathroom together, B pointed out the evidence of someone’s unhygienic behaviors. K acted cool, but suggested that something didn’t look right. He reached down with a pointed finger to sample the offending evidence. That’s when B began screaming. K brought the sample to his nose which only made B scream louder. At some point K realized that all this was too much for B so he calmed her down and explained the whole story.
Try that in an office today and you might find yourself on the bad end of a lawsuit.