"I Think I Hammered A Cop"
because my life is poetry in motion and always has been.
Here is a link to the previous post in case you're a glutton for punishment. And if you are, I'm so glad you're here:
The triggered memories continue. My First Car, among other embarrassing things.
This memory was triggered by the unraveling of the cable knit sweater that was my first office job.
After I had worked there for awhile, kicking all forms of butt, the VP talked them into writing me a 'bonus' check for $1,500 to get a new car. Why? Besides all the kicking of butts, the VP liked me for whatever reason. Also, and most importantly, somehow she happened to get a look at my Camaro, and she insisted I take this check and immediately go get another car. ANY other car.
I have no idea who called her attention to my car, or how she knew this car was mine, but I'm guessing it had something to do with one of two things:
1. I was the only teenager who worked there. Remember the movie "Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead?" Kelly Bundy had to get a job after the babysitter died, and she pretended to be an adult, but really she was in high school, and this whole period of my life FELT EXACTLY LIKE THAT.
Actually for the most part? My life still feels like that.
2. Many times I would arrive at work super early (long story) and be the first person there not in the royal family. The CFO, the VP's dad would say,
"Joy, you get the worm!"
Therefore he knew my car was the only car in the lot he didn't recognize. That make sense?
Also, my car stuck out like a broken cartoon thumb just smashed by a carnival hammer.
My first car was a bitchen Camaro my sister gave me. Super sweet, coolest first car EVER, that is until I spun it like a top in the rain and slammed into a guard rail. Totally sober. It spun all the time in the lightest of rain. That car was just front heavy and some bags of sand in the trunk didn't make a difference.
|This was NOT it, but look how much CAR is in the front compared to the back. Right? collectorcarpricetracker.com|
At the time it was embarrassing. Anywhere I went, everyone for miles around knew JOY IS HERE. When people arrived at places I was, the big joke was,
"Is Joy here?"
or sarcastically pointing out that I was, in fact, there, met with a response like,
"Oh, I was wondering whose car that was"
For the VP of this company, I'm sure it was what a layperson might call "an eyesore."
Butt, it was paid for and I didn't have money to get it fixed. I wish I did have a picture, this was after Polaroids and before digital cameras so I think I have a TOTAL of 8 pictures from these decades. Dropping off film to be developed was hard, man.
I also had to crawl underneath the car and unlock/unwrap that giant, comical, medieval chain each time I needed to lift the hood to check the oil. Which was about once a week, because it was always low.
So the car looked a little like the one above. Except no blue stripes, and there were now dings and dents and oh, also? The hood was always open a little bit.
It always looked like the car was just smashed by a car, or I had just came from an accident. NBD right? Unless you saw it.
Also UNLESS you happen to be driving in an area where there was a hit and run. That story is the one from my Scary Police Officers post, where I got pulled over and the cops scared me half to death because they thought I just hit someone and drove away. But I didn't.
Tangent story, but it happened with this car.
Anyway, when word got out that the Camaro was mine, it brought all the characters out of the woodwork.
A lot of people needed to hear why the hood wouldn't close.
Was anyone hurt?
Did I get a ticket?
Was I drinking?
Like everyone asked that one. But I wasn't, and I still have a witness.
It was the talk of the place for awhile, which drove that love-r-ly Lisa girl crazy as you can imagine. This was an office building, so the lot was full of station wagons, various family trucksters and sedans, your Toyota Celicas, Chevy Cavaliers and whatnot, and then my steamping heap. Changing the whole look of the place from Professional Office Building to Indoor Flea Market with black market back alley deals.
Most of my co-workers put up a supportive front, especially dudes because:
GIRL driving old Camaro
Picture that scene in Vacation. Ok no, not really, not really at all. Totally different league. It just popped into my mind and made me laugh.
Anyone who knows me now will definitely laugh hysterically at that, but back at this time? I took the advice of an older woman and bought a bunch of dresses and high heels to wear to work. Apparently that + Camaro was the formula for attracting the unwanted attention of every dude in the Midwest in the 90's. I hated almost every disgusting minute of it.
If every guy just went away and left me alone when I asked him to? I probably would have loved it. Maybe I would be a pleasant person today, who can say. Instead? I will never drive a sports car or wear dresses pretty much ever again. My husband is lucky I even decided to keep dating dudes. Instead of murdering them with a hammer, which would have been understandable in my situation.
This was the first place I learned about how persistent and sneaky dudes can be when they want to date you. Even if you've told them you're not interested. Or that you're already dating someone. Or that you shouldn't date because you work together. Or whatever. Guys don't care what you think or what you want a lot of times. It was even worse then.
One guy, let's call him Jim, was one such dude. He always acted like the office Nice Guy. And maybe he was a nice guy, I don't know. All I know was how he suddenly changed, turned things around on me, and how mortified he was that I didn't eat up his bullcrap.
He made it a point to come around and talk to me and ask me questions, like,
"Does this tie match these pants?"
Jim was (probably still is if he's still alive) completely color blind. That was literally the most interesting thing about him, in his own mind anyway. He said he really could only see shades of black, white and brown. So EVERY photo was sepia-toned to Jim. Lucky!
However, this meant Jim had a hard time picking out clothing and knowing what matched with what. Jim told everyone he ever passed on the street this story. As another co-worker guessed, it probably got him a lot of attention, if not sympathy.
His mother had to sew cute little tags into his ties and pants for work, triangle for blue, square for red, I think rectangle for green. You get the idea. This way he could just pick a triangle tie with triangle pants and be on his way. Pretty genius actually. But he still used this whole thing to ask chicks if he matched. The sympathy card maybe, or just an excuse to start a chat.
Anyway, Jim did thing that a lot of dudes I would work with tried over the years:
The "work outing."
As in, they want to date you but instead of just asking for a date, they pretend it's just a couple of co-workers you know, just hanging out. No big whoop.
I was only 17 so I had no idea this was even a thing. Seriously, if you have young kids, cousins, or family members, let them know about this trick. It's a trap!
He had an "extra ticket" to a baseball game and would I want to go? Just a work outing, no pressure. But then he wouldn't take any money for the ticket. And then insisted on buying my drinks. Which, in my dumb mind, he had to because I was only 17 and I couldn't legally buy beer, but he wouldn't take any money for it later.
Then, after 2 of these such outings when he tried to kiss me, and I wouldn't do it, he acted like I was the worst person in the world for going on two "dates" (suddenly they were dates because ANYONE could figure that out, duh) and wasn't I just such a young dumb dumb.
The weird thing was, we may have eventually gotten to that point if he wasn't such a jerk about it. We got along well enough. We had enough in common to have good conversations. Clearly I was willing to go places with him and we had fun. I wasn't initially attracted to him, but I always (and still do) liked people for the way they made me feel more than anything else. At first he made me feel smart and funny. He got my dry humor, we talked about books, current events, Andy Rooney, weird stuff I couldn't talk about with dudes my own age.
I was also......how do I put this?
Not one of those girls that was hard to get. I know what you're thinking, that is NOT how you would say it. I was a bit of what you might call a tramp. If you were religious, judgmental, jealous, or afraid to use the word whore. But at least all of my shenanigans were on my own terms. This is what feminism is about for me on a personal level. MY choices, MY call. I was just more of a tomboy and acted more like a dude about a lot of things. And that was okay. However, this Jim situation threw me for a loop.
He tried an immediate audible Friend Zone/Co-Worker switcheroo, and this was the first job I really cared about keeping. To me it was totally out of left field, keeping with the baseball theme. I was dating someone else, was naive in the ways of men (spoiler: Lots of them are really gross.) I was going through a tough time in my personal life, and I totally misread this situation like the 3rd base coach was waving for me to run home, and I stayed firm on 2nd. A real home run of a situation badly handled.
Jim didn't understand, or handle it like a nice guy. Or the older person. Or a human person. Months later when I took the guy I was ACTUALLY dating, like with my own real consent, to an actual work outing, Jim pulled him aside and warned him that he shouldn't be dating me, because I was "really young."
I mean, I was really young. I had to be either 18 or 19, maximum, because the company crumbled when I was 19. But the guy I was actually dating was only a few years older than I. Also the guy I was actually dating wasn't trying to pull any stunts or trick me into anything I wasn't down with, so my age wasn't a factor. At all.
I also, not long after this, dated someone who was almost 10 years older than I was and that was fine and dandy like huckleberry candy. No trickery, no problem. I guess that's the lesson.
Young people: Let there be NO gray area with consent. People around young people: Make sure they know.
Dudes trying to trick people: Anything without consent is illegal.
So after this happened, then at work, this once seemingly super nice guy would walk by my desk and sarcastically ask about the guy I was actually dating.
How was he doing?
What does he do for a living?
And the like.
|Oh relax, I know not ALL colorblind people are evil. Just all men.|
I could not avoid Jim, or this never-ending line of intensely uncomfortable questioning, because I was the receptionist so I was stuck at the front desk. Not only stuck there, but I had a brilliant idea about how everyone could get their mail, by coming up by ME in a huge tickler file I created. I cleaned out an entire drawer of a filing cabinet and put a file with everyone's name in it, where I filed their mail. Every day.
Which seemed like a good idea, until everyone from the company actually started to come up and get their mail, usually after I had to remind them 20 times, and then would strike up conversations with me. Worst idea ever. I learned everything about people's lives, the fake stuff they wanted to brag about anyway, and they asked questions about mine. I learned how much people in Chicagoland really give a frick about the WEATHER. So much.
Remember, I could not just get up and walk away. I just had to sit there like a bartender, but without drinks. I was like Sam Malone without Carla and Norm to entertain me. This isn't where I started to hate people, but this clinched it for sure.
In my defense, I HAD to do something in terms of the mail delivery because the old system? Was driving Lisa just completely insane. The old system was:
The receptionist would walk around delivering everyone's mail to their desks. While this happened, people would chat me up and inevitably the switchboard would ring so I would have to answer it using other people's phones, and try to find people while not at the switchboard, etc. This process not only took forever, but it was obvious that every time I chatted with someone, especially Jim, Lisa would die inside a little.
Jim would come 'check his mail' or 'check for messages' at least 4 times a day, always with comments and chit-chat. I would find out later (long story) Lisa may have had a thing for Jim. That's at least another post or 7, but this may have explained her absolute hatred of me, since Jim was always talking to me.
Like Jim with Pam from The Office. The American one. Even though, very unlike Pam, I just sat there, smiling as politely as I could and saying as little as any human being with a mouth could say because I hated Jim by this time.
Lisa was the roommate of Melissa, who was the head of marketing and having an extra-marital affair with the much older married president of the company. I take back the much older part, just the married part really bothered me.
I should probably give these birds fake names, but I don't know, I can't think of any right now and who cares if they find this blog. All of this was 100% true and those biotches were totally mean to me so they deserve their stories to be told. Anyway, somehow Lisa convinced Melissa to convince the president to put Lisa in charge of the receptionist and all of her doings.
Lisa would follow me around, correcting me, telling me to go back to my desk, listen to my conversations and constantly tell me the same things over and over. She called a meeting once with me, her, Melissa for reasons still not known to me and Dee, just so she could talk about how I shouldn't be making personal calls.
This happened because ONE TIME my grandmother called me at work to see if I could come take her to the store later. Lisa heard this because she was always watching me and listening to everything, and I had to speak loudly to my grandmother so she could hear me.
The phone conversation lasted all of maybe 90 seconds. The meeting? Was over an hour long.
Before this time, Dee was 'in charge' of my comings and goings and daily tasks. Dee, in case you missed the earlier posts, was the secretary to the president of the company. Dee and Melissa did not get along, which surprised me. Dee was having an extra-marital affair with my dad's super drunk waste of skin BFF, Dwayne, so you would think they would have shared Gold Digging secrets or get pedicures together or something.
The early 90's were a super romantic time to be alive, I guess. The divorce rate was lower, no doubt because everyone just stayed married and had affairs with each other? Is that better, religious people? Clear it up for a girl, would ya?
I don't know, I was just a dumb kid obvy.
How and why a different secretary suddenly had to watch my every move, listen to my every conversation, and go out of her way to tell me I shouldn't be spending so much time 'talking to people,' I don't know. I also don't know why she thought it would be a good idea for a receptionist to be rude to people who came to talk to her, but this is exactly what she told me to do.
"You can say 'Hi' back, but then let people know you have work to do."
Even though I really didn't.
I was always asking people if there were things I could be doing when the phone wasn't ringing. You know, since Lisa made sure I couldn't get up from the desk to deliver mail and faxes to people anymore.
Yes, let's go back once more in the way-back machine to a time when people sent faxes! On curly fax paper that came out in ONE LONG ROLL, so you had to physically CUT the paper into page-size pieces. TRUE STORY.
What's a phone message tray?
Weeeellllll, before voice mail actual people (me) answered switchboard, transferred calls to certain extensions by PUNCHING IN NUMBERS with actual meaty, flesh fingers, and if that call didn't get answered?
The call came back to ME.
If they wanted to leave the person a message, I had to write it down, like with a pen, and put the paper in a place where they could come and get it when they got back from lunch, meeting, wherever.
Every employee would walk by my desk in the morning, when they got back from lunch, or out of a meeting and come to check the wheel for messages and/or faxes.
|We had two of these, with every person's name on a slot.|
"They know who I am, and they know what this is regarding."
Then when I gave people the message, they would ask me,
"WHO is this? What company are they with? What did they want?"
So even though no caller out of a thousand wanted to take the time to tell me their info, I had to press them for the spelling of their name if I couldn't figure it out, their company name, phone number, what the call was regarding, and various other questions people would later ask me.
"Did he sound mad?"
Most of the time my answer was the same,
"I don't remember because we get probably thousands of calls a day and I take at least 50 messages a day."
This was almost never an acceptable answer.
People also couldn't comprehend that if they lost their piece of paper with their phone message on it, that I didn't somehow still have that number.
That's when I discovered phone message books that made another copy. This made me several people's personal hero.
|Just by writing on these, you made a copy you could keep. |
My book was 4-up, but you get the idea.
I'm not sure if every office was like an episode of Dynasty in the 90's, but a lot of the ones I worked at were. This was everything to a lot of people.
A lot of things happened after this, but for purposes of wrapping THIS up:
I bought a sensible 4-door blue Corsica. Good car, great gas mileage. Though after a Camaro, my bar was low.
Lisa gave herself MS, or maybe karma gave her MS, for real. She had a diagnoses from a doctor and was on medical leave when the company blew up.
I dated that guy I dated with consent, on and off and on again for a loooong time.
I may have, later, kind of, dated a different dude from this company for a short period of time. Welp.
I have to stop at this point. I'm sure this post is 'too long' as my husband would say, and I need to go back and clean it up. But also this old laptop is starting to freak out. Literally if I hit BACKSPACE right now, it actually closes this post and does not save anything from the last time I manually clicked "Save."
This has happened twice, and unlike the message books of the 90's, I don't have another copy.
I need to take a bat to a fax machine in a field right now, so until next time, peace out Home Skillets.
If you haven't seen the movie "Office Space" and you've ever worked in an office, with pretty much anyone, you really need to see it. Just don't watch it too many times if you still work in an office. Sometimes it just feels too good to be a gangster.