#1. The Week Old Dumpster Cake:
Donnie works in the Mail Room and has a not-so-secret admirer who works in the cafeteria. Last Thursday his admirer saved a slice of birthday cake for him and even went so far as to write his name on it with icing. Donnie’s been off for the last few days but when he got in this morning, it was sitting on his desk just where she’d left it 7 days ago. It’d been sitting at room temperature without the dignity of saran wrap, so he commenced with throwing it in the trash.
A couple hours later I was chatting it up with a housekeeper whilst waiting for the elevator. She was in an inordinately cheerful mood which became less mysterious when I caught sight of Donnie’s week-old cake sitting on the edge of her mop cart with a bite missing. Waste not, want not I suppose.
#2. The Family Secret:
In case you missed it, one of my favorite work projects is the restoration of an old cemetery from the late 1800s. I’ve hired a PhD student to help me with genealogical research in hopes of notifying the families for a re-dedication service. After numerous stories in the local news, a man contacted the hospital, stating his Great Grandfather was buried in the cemetery but that he didn’t want any of the other members of his family finding out. He said he’d read the medical chart and that if we released any of the information he would sue us.
Two things immediately happened: First, our Medical Records Department took this very seriously and put a full stop to any viewing and printing of this man’s chart. Secondly, I became very consumed by the need to find out what he was hiding.
Thankfully I had a very innocent looking spy at my disposal, and one whom relies upon me for a paycheque. Using a legit errand for a cover story, I had the student researcher slip the blacklisted roll of microfilm into the reader and locate the mystery chart– printing every single page despite the huge handwritten sign on the wall expressly forbidding it.
Nothing intrigues me more than a dark family secret and he didn’t disappoint. This Great Grandfather had been committed after reports that he’d begun carrying a club around so he could beat his wife at all times. While terrible, this seemed rather unremarkable given the things I see on a daily basis but then I kept reading. His “wife” was an 11 year old girl he’d adopted after his first wife died. Then he decided to “marry” her.
What the ever loving eff.
So I suppose I can’t blame this guy for trying to keep the rest of the family from finding out that this arrangement brought them into existence. The moral of the story is this: Never trust anyone to keep your secrets because you never know when a curious redhead might have copies of it printed out and locked in her desk drawer.
#3. The IT Phone Call of Silence
A faceless name from IT called me yesterday to schedule a conference call regarding our telemedicine network. I wasn’t even sure how she’d landed on me as the person to assist her but I was feeling generous/open to distraction so I pulled up the Outlook calendar where we schedule room space.
“Sure, let me pull it up…. What time again?”
“I’m looking at 1:30PM next Tuesday.”
“Okay let’s see… yeah that looks like it’ll be good.”
I reserved the room and hung up. An hour later, IT Girl called back.
“Can we look at another day?”
“I’m thinking Wednesday.”
“Okay yeah it looks like that should work.”
“I think that’s going to be a good time, let me see… You know, my sister used to work at that hospital.”
“Oh yeah? What did she do?”
She went on to share personal tidbits about her sister and her nursing license and how she has two kids now.
I sat there, waiting, not sure what to say next. But she kept the conversation alive.
“So, do you like your job?”
“Yeah, it keeps me interested and can be a lot of fun.”
She fell silent again but I could hear her typing in the background. I had no clue why she was keeping me on the line if she didn’t know what date she wanted… I’d booked the room ten minutes before, just in case. But she kept initiating polite conversation.
“Yeah this telemedicine thing has been such a hassle, am I right?”
“Yeah… I wouldn’t think it would be so difficult to figure out.”
She murmured her agreement and went back to typing. I’d accepted the silence for so long that it would be way too awkward for me to randomly ask her to call me back when she was sure. Obviously I was filling some void in her life by listening to her work. The Director of Finance rang me on my other line and I stared at the caller ID in desperation. But I still couldn’t break the awkwardness, so I texted her.
“OMG I’M ON A PHONE CALL AND I DON’T KNOW WHY.”
I checked the timer. We’d been on the phone for 25 minutes.
“Any exciting plans for your weekend?”
I answered noncommittally, trying to convince myself that this was normal behavior for IT people. They must get accustomed to keeping people on the phone in dead silence while they work. I assumed she was emailing multiple parties to confirm the meeting time, no big deal.
But it had been half an hour.
I strategized ways to end the conversation but I couldn’t do it.
Now 35 minutes had passed. Deep breaths, Aussa, it’s time to embrace the awkward and just say something.
“So… “ she started, beating me to the punch, “Do you want to just call me back when you know if the room is available?”
“WHAT! I was waiting on YOU.”
“No, I was waiting on YOU.”
“I’ve had the room booked since you first called, I thought you were confirming the time?”
“No, that’s definitely the time…”
“Okay so we’re all set.”
“Well… enjoy your weekend.”
“Yeah, say hi to your sister.”
It was finally over.
What’s the most awkward phone call you’ve ever had? Does your family history hold any particularly dark secrets? Anything awkward happen to YOU this week?
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