As admittedly nasty as women can be to one another, men have an unabashed streak of cruelty in which they glory and wallow. Even sporadic subscriber Mr. X, who is usually the kindest and gentlest of souls, points to his trash can when I offer him a Cobra's Nose and says, "Put it in my 'In' box." Perhaps Harvest said it best when from her position as Bell Captain she said of her staff, "My bellmen are so mean. You would not believe what they say to each other. And God how they eat!"

The greatest concentration of men at Cosmodemonic is in Tech Support, though percentage-wise the Warehouses now have them beat. Before certain Tech Managers/Social Engineers began tinkering with integration you could roam an entire quarter of the building without happening upon a picture of a flower. Bullying was rampant. Mr. Flintstone took special delight in silencing ninnies and sheparding Byron to his cube of origin whenever he was caught outside it.

In this environment, communication occurred on at least three different levels. The actual tally was certainly much higher, but I was not nearly astute enough to detect them all. One of these strata was that of computer sound bites that ran commentary on every event and conversation in the room, and belied any illusion of privacy you may have foolishly taken for granted. The individual samples became so familiar to the room's inhabitants that a single word or syllable carried the entire impact of the phrase-kind of like that joke about telling jokes in prison by their number-which rendered most of that level of communiqué unintelligible to the uninitiated, though I became really familiar with the "Jane, you ignorant slut" one thanks to Mr Enigma's tireless efforts.

Upon certain employees was bestowed the dubious distinction of having a particular sound bite played each time he popped up on the Tech Support radar. King James the Former Product Manager Amen, for example, got an earful of the Imperial Margarine fanfare every time he entered the room. Another employee so honored was this putty colored character named Steve Schaefer, who had a nasal voice, inflexible work habits, and vile, explosive temper. Mostly because of the first attribute, he was called duck related names and his every move was heralded with a din of quacking.

When he quit under circumstances I don't recall, he was utterly unlamented and unremembered until his resume rolled onto the Tech Support fax machine not long ago. Mr Enigma showed it to me, attributing it to "that guy who sounded like a cartoon." The only remarkable thing about the resume, other than the speed with which Mr E destroyed it, is the following impenetrable sentence, "Very handy and able to fabricate and part or bracket not commercially available."

As a Zen meditation device, I think it leaves that "one hand clapping" deal eating dust.

Written by Sharon C. McGovern

From Vol. 19

Get Back to Work!