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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Telephones: When You Really Want to Communicate

A re-post from February of 2011, specifically for my cousin Shell.  

I’ve only been fired once.

It was actually quite unfair, coming as it did during my performance review.

I had been unaware, until it was presented to me, that the one woman in a company of 48 who did not care for me was my boss’s best friend.

And she had made it a point to express her displeasure.

I listened in stunned disbelief as, one week before Christmas, I was let go.

“We could put you on a performance plan,” Nancy said, smiling, “but you’d just burn anyway.”

And that, my friends, was a direct quote.

They had security walk me out, a hiccuping woman clutching both her dignity and a cardboard box stuffed with a year’s worth of work-related detritus.

Karen was already home when I got there. Two single women with their two boys. I sat at the kitchen table with my head in my hands.

Karen poured.

“Here,” she said, handing me a shot of vodka. I held the shot dully, staring inwardly. She fished a pickle out of the jar, handed it to me.

“Nostrovya,” she said.

We downed our vodka, ate our pickles.

And in the morning, my pillow was wet with tears.

A couple months later, Karen moved out, moved in with the man who would become her husband, moved out to the country where she gained acres of land, a four-bedroom house, Rottweilers and chickens and mosquitoes and a commute that made your eyes cross.

I worked odd jobs until the next full-time opportunity came along; and Karen remained at the place I had just gotten fired from.

She would call me, from time to time, to share the gossip. So and so had a baby. So and so got a divorce.

And someone had been tampering with Nancy’s office.

Karen laughed gleefully. “Someone’s been doing things to her phone,” she whispers.

I switch ears. “Yeah? What things?”

“Yikes!” she hisses. “I gotta go.”

She called back a day later. “Did I tell you what happened to Nancy?”

Nancy. I may never like another person named “Nancy”.


“Someone came in and smeared dog poop all over her phone!”


Karen’s laughing, and from experience I know she’s going to have to wipe her eyes soon. “Her phone! Hee hee hee! Someone smeared what appears to be DOG poop on her phone and now they’re talking about setting up surveillance video! Oops. Shoot. I gotta go.”

She hangs up.

That afternoon, I flip through my mail: bills, circulars – and a newsletter from my old place of employment: Sales are up, costs are down, a recipe from someone in Marketing.

And a short article, written by Karen, about her Rottweilers.

Karen’s dogs.


I run to the phone.

“Good afternoon, Free Market Slave Trade.”

“May I speak with Karen, please?”

“Hold, please.”

Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking, and when she passes – 
“Good afternoon. This is Karen.”

I utter a string of excitable curse words, and Karen starts laughing. “What’s going on with you?”

“I know who smeared the dog poop on Nancy’s phone!”

The line goes absolutely silent.

“Karen, did you just write an article for your company’s newsletter?”

Continued silence.

“More to the point, did you write about your dogs?”

The silence, if possible, becomes even more silent.

“!@#$!@*!! They’re going to fire me,” she says, finally.

“Nah,” I said. “They got nothin'. You look like an angel, and everyone loves you.”

She sighs. “I gotta go,” she says.

“Hey, Karen?”



“She just made me so damn mad,” she says.

“I love you,” I say.

“I love you, too.”

And we laugh.

The surveillance camera never went up, Nancy was fired less than a year later, and the mystery of who smeared the dog poop on her phone remained, officially, unsolved.


savannah said...

why am i hearing randy newman's voice singing, you've got a friend in me??? sugar, tell karen I.LOVE.HER. ;~) xoxoxox

Beach Bum said...


An awesome working class hero!

fmcgmccllc said...

Gotta love a woman who is always thinking up new ways to recycle a little dog poop.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

A friend in need is a friend with a bag of dog poop.

Paula Wooters said...

Karen avenged you! I <3 her!

Mitchell is Moving said...

Oh, how I wish I had had a Karen in MY life. I think I'm in love!

joeh said...

That is just wrong and disgusting!

I love it.

How do these people become bosses. There are so many sadistic pricks in positions of mini-power and they just enjoy making other people miserable. I have known several such people and they deserve dog poop on their phones. Usually they pick on people they feel may be threats to their power. Fortunately most get found out, get fired and are miserable losers.

My first Ex was a Nancy, my wife is a Karen.

Wait...my Aunt Nancy was a doll, so it isn't just the name.
Great story well told!

vanilla said...

A friend in the right place trumps friends in high places.

Linda Myers said...

Bad behavior at work. That's why I quit my job after 20 years. You can like the work, and you can like some of the people, but if you've got a person like that, yuck.

I got fired twice. Once was in an employment agency, when I was unable to make the 20 cold calls a day that I was being measured on. And once was after only a week - in a job I considered temporary in my mind - when they told me I didn't have the confidence to be a secretary.

Thank goodness for both of them!

Chef Files said...

Nothing wrong with a good old fashioned bout of revenge. Every dog has its day.

Joanne Noragon said...

What goes around comes around. Sometimes brown and smelly.

Alistair Robertson said...

I can only say that I hope the dog who's poo was used also needed worming.

Give Karen a round of applause.

Geo. said...

I don't understand. How did the dog know which office was Nancy's?

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Oh, the walk from the office with the cardboard box, the next day pillow- been there, 2002. A mass layoff, but ouch. Hurt almost as bad as my worst breakup.
Where were Karen and her Rotts when I needed them?

Eva Gallant said...

It's great to have a friend like that!

Stephen Hayes said...

Fun story. What a good friend.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

What an awesome friend! I've known Nancy-types in my life and it's always good to hear about one of them getting a just comeuppance.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

What an awesome friend! I've known Nancy-types in my life and it's always good to hear about one of them getting a just comeuppance.

Ms Sparrow said...

Being fired is a double rejection. You are being thrown out as an employee and turned away as a person.
The security escort is just cruel and insulting on top of it!

WrathofDawn said...

Does that fall under the heading of "Minnesota nice?"

Whatever it's called, Karen's my kinda woman.

Indigo Roth said...

Nothing whispers Friendship like being willing to smear dogshit on an offender. Nostrovya, Pearl x

jenny_o said...

And that smell? It was the sweet smell of a bit of justice, I think :)

Rose L said...

Now that is just downright BAD!!! giggle giggle!!
I do not every want to make eihter of you upset with me!

Cloudia said...

some people deserve the hell they heap on others. did I say that?!

Have a lovely week-
Aloha from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >

The Elephant's Child said...

What a wonderful friend. And Cloudia was right, and I didn't say it either.

River said...

Everyone needs a Karen in their life. I'm glad to read Nancy got fired.

Gigi said...

I need a sister like that! Can I borrow Karen for a bit?

goatman said...

Great story, well written.
Thanks for my day's smile.

Suldog said...

Loved this post then, still love it now. Hell of a good friend there!