My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

Out of Office Assistant

2005-06-11
It was a long week which usually isn’t the case when I’m super busy and away from the office like I’ve been. I attended a professional conference in Richmond for most of the week, surrounded by people who do what I do at universities and non-profits along the East Coast. It’s always nice to see them except for one woman who I knew a slightly well but who was so annoying and rude that my initial opinion about her has been radically readjusted.

I really wonder what makes people suck so much, and so many of them do in general, but if you’ve ever been to one of these things, there are always kooks that reveal themselves and make me wonder how they got hired in the first place, much less trusted to go out of town for “continuing education” and not get beaten to a pulp by their peers.

The first kooky woman was from New Jersey and was complaining before the conference even got started. You may not have noticed it, but it’s been HOT AS SHIT in the last week. Here in Richmond, we’re talking 96 degrees and 110% humidity. The kind of day you’d expect in July but not necessarily in the beginning of June after a colder than usual May. Anyway. So the conference was held in the amazing new student commons of VCU (my previously-humble alma mater) and the a/c was cranked.

I’ve been to my share of conferences in hotels and elsewhere and, no matter the weather or the season, the building is always freezing. Take a sweater, is my advice. So the kook. She’s in a knee length skirt, open toed shoes, sleeveless blouse and a straw hat (!!). She flags down the conference chair and complains that she’s freezing and wants someone to turn down the a/c AND she wants an alternative to the half-and-half creamer for her coffee. Something low cal? Something quarter-and-quarter? I don’t know but frankly, I’ve never been one to complain about FREE FOOD. And when I have special dietary needs? I bring them with me. Also? The commons had not only a Starbucks but another independent coffee shop in it. Not to mention the zillion other coffee-buying opportunities throughout the campus. So, lady, if you're unhappy with free coffee, you're welcome to leave the building and pay for a "correct" cup all by your insane self.

Kook later showed up late in one of the sessions I was monitoring (good little volunteer that I am), shuffled around some papers, mumbled to herself, left the room, came back three minutes later, sat back down, got up and announced she wasn’t interested in what the speaker was talking about that she was only interested in Pure Research, not management techniques (two words that were, I believe, in the title of the presentation), and then left for good. What. The. Fuck. Ever. Lady.

Christ.

But the Winner of the FreshHell Get Into Hell Free Card is a woman from my own chapter of the research organization. She arrived all flustered and bitched about the parking (the lot assigned to those staying in dorms was mysteriously closed with no warning. There was an alternate parking option at no cost--in a deck much closer to the conference), the fact that she couldn’t find her way around, had no idea where the dorm was or where she was parked, ad nauseum.

You know, we’re researchers. We find information for a living. We’re on the Internet all day long. The Internet has maps, all kinds of helpful tools. The conference information gave a zillion links to specific maps like The Dorms, The Parking Lots, Map of Campus. But. Nevermind that. I offered to take her to her car and escort her to the dorm. I ended up CARRYING HER MOTHERFUCKING SUITCASE four blocks in 96 degree heat, all the while listening to her complain about how she’d just gotten over the stomach flu (TMI!!) and wasn’t feeling right yet, didn’t feel safe in Richmond, so sorry she was walking so slowly, and was thinking maybe she’d go home after all, which made me want to punch her in the face.

There was construction going on next to the dorm and the safety gate was filled with...guess what? Construction workers! This made her even more nervous but I refused to hesitate since I was dragging her suitcase down the middle of the road. How I managed to keep my mouth shut, I don’t know, but I’m not usually one to hold my tongue. You’d a been proud of me! We rounded the corner and found the dorm. Not. Too. Difficult. A. Task. For a relatively intelligent person. Such as myself. I get her to the right place and she says, “Oh, I don’t know if this was such a good idea. Maybe I’ll go home.”

{Insert Head Explosion Here}

I am still in Volunteer/Diplomat Mode and ask if she’d like me to wait while she checks in and walk her back to the commons. No, she has to rest awhile and moan and whine and complain. Okay. I give her very easy to follow directions and leave.

I find out later that she ended up checking out of the dorm (apparently she has a bad back and couldn't take the mattresses) and checking into the Radisson. Glad her employer can afford that!

On Friday, she’s in a session I’m monitoring. One of my jobs is to hand out evaluations and collect them as people leave. 99.99% of the conference goers actually handed me their evaluation as they left the sessions. They even smiled. Said thanks.

That .01% (or whatever, I’m not a math genius)? Was her. She left the session before it ended. Left her evaluation on the table, looked at me, and pointed to the evaluation. So I could pick it up for her lazy ass. Like I’m her fucking personal slave.

I hope I never see her again. I swear to god.

The good side of going to the conference was being able to take Dusty to preschool and pick her up two days in a row. We had some very interesting conversations. She informed me that she could see the ocean from the car window. “That’s not possible,” dumb mommy replies, “The ocean’s two hours away. In the opposite direction.”

“I have magic eyes,” Dusty said. Touche.

On Thursday, her breakfast was a bagel with cream cheese AND peanut butter. We had to leave early so she ate it in the car. As she peeling the bagel apart, and musing on peanut butter, she says,

“Peanut butter’s good for me. What’s in it?”

“Protein.”

“Does protein make you fart?”

“No.”

“Does it make you have a baby?”

“No.”

“What makes you have a baby?”

“A fertilized egg.” (Whoo, dodged the bullet there!)

“Oh.”

Well, groovy ghoulies, on Monday I meet with the LCSW-counselor. I’ll let you know how that goes.

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1:38 p.m. ::
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