Feb 022010
 

Dear Internet Diary,

It appears that when I was born on July 30, 1979, I was bestowed with the flimsiest immune system this side of AIDs. I had intended on writing about Alisha’s and my very fortuitous evening at the Penguins game last night, but my throat hurts so bad that I am in tears and my skin is pleading with me to dunk it in a tub of hot, sudsy water. I don’t know if this is some kind of obsessive-compulsion, but I get real nervous if I go more than a day without writing in here. What does that mean?? I don’t know. So I hurried up and found something old to post from LiveJournal. It’s from the secret locked-entry vault because it’s about co-workers, but since I no longer work there, who gives a fuck, am I right?

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Murder Girl and the Coat Hook Conundrum

January 2007

Thursday night, I walked into the kitchen to get a coffee refill. Two girls, Kristy and Allicia, were conversing near the counter. I was just in time to catch Allicia saying, “…and now I’m facing murder charges…”

I was stunned into silence and tried frantically to suppress nervous giggles. Two weeks ago, I had heard Allcia telling someone that she teaches bible study and that anyone who knows her knows that ministry is her whole life. My presence apparently didn’t faze her one bit as she continued telling Kristy things that would probably be best told to a lawyer. I tried to shake myself out of the stupor so I could hear more and try to piece together what she did, but the situation only proved to further unravel as Allicia noticed the empty coffee mug in my hand and reached over with the pot to fill it.

Horrified, I watched as coffee rose up to the brim. I have a system and she completely shot it to hell. So while she was diving deeper into the tumultuous situation she’s created for herself, I was too busy dwelling on the fact that she poured my coffee before I had a chance to lace the bottom of my mug with the flavorings of my choosing. I always add this stuff first because I’m lazy and it cuts out the dirtying of the spoon step, you see. Why bother pissing around, meat-fisting a spoon, when you can already be slurping the surface of the hot brew? So while I was standing there, now staring into a piping hot mug, Kristy–who earlier had seen the picture of Riley on my desk asked if he was “what, like three?” when he’s clearly still a baby– leaned over and handed me the cannister of sugar. I use sweetener, not sugar, but what did I do?

I thanked her and poured it into my mug.

Peer pressure works in mysterious ways. It’s amazing that I’m not waddling around with my asshole corked with bags of heroine, that’s for sure. Sometimes I think I purposely don’t say no, just to make things uncomfortable for myself. Why sit back at my desk with a cup of coffee garnished the way I like it when I can grimace through a seemingly never-ending cup of bad-tasting sludge?

Why didn’t I simply raise my hand in a halting fashion and say, “No thanks, Kristy, I prefer a pack of sweetener” or “No, Allicia, I’ll pour my own damn cup of coffee”? Because I’m Erin, that’s why! I mean, what’s the worst that would happen, Allicia’d kill me? Oh wait.

Sometimes my brain doesn’t work quick enough and get myself into these dumb scenarios. I really think it does this to me on purpose, to see how situations will play out. Awhile back, when some guy in the cemetery told me to have a nice walk, as we stood near my car, why didn’t I just say, “Thanks, but I’m actually finished with my walk and now I’m going home”? Or better yet, not said shit and just got in my car and left? Instead, I walked past my car and continued to walk, even though my legs were killing me and it was kind of fucking hot that day.

So now I had a cup of coffee prepared out of order and with real sugar instead of sweetener. There was nothing to stir my coffee with, and instead of dumping it for an improved cup I retreated back to my desk with my crappy cup of caffeine and sipped through the bitterness with a puckered face.

What if some day, Kristy is in a good mood and takes it upon herself to gift me with a cup of coffee and thinks that I like it with a dusting of sugar and not stirred?

But I guess the bigger question here is: I wonder who Allicia killed?

***

At first glance, Tina appears to be kind of white trashy, with her femmullet hybrid in gray. But I think maybe she just makes bad choices when it comes to her hair, much like Hoover. Tina was hired a week before Bill and me but one would mistake that she’s been here much longer, with her air of superiority and need to take charge. She wears high-waisted mom-jeans, sweatshirts with turtlenecks peeking out of the collar, and she caps off the ensemble with a pair of plain white Reeboks.

She’s a walking billboard swathed in United We Stand banners and yellow magnetic mini-van ribbons. Her daughter writes pro-war poems which Tina submits to Fox News and is then shocked when she doesn’t receive a response.

Allicia (aka Murder Girl) is a large-framed black woman who speaks softly yet each word is tinged with annunciated assurance. Usually she wears a golden weave but lately her hair has been pulled back into a natty ponytail held in place by a too-large and ruffled Scrunchie. At her last job, a co-worker told her that she liked her Coach purse, so Allicia gave it to her. A valiant and upstanding gesture for a suspected murderer, am I right?

During a quick meeting Tuesday night, there was a situation.

“Does anyone have any questions?” Michelle asked as she brought the meeting to a close. We were all gathered around the section where Allicia and two others sit.

Allicia slowly turned in her seat and  said, “Someone took my coat hook.” Each employee has a hook which attaches to the top of their cubicle wall, but in Allicia’s section, she and the other two employees have theirs hanging all in a row, on a shared wall. I looked over and noticed that now there were only two.

Michelle said she would get Allicia a new one. I thought this meant the meeting was over, so I started to turn on my heels.

“But Michelle, someone took my coat hook,” Allicia repeated. Michelle nervously repeated that she would simply get a new one for her.

“Wait, I think I took it,” someone piped up from behind me. It was Tina. Great.

“Well, it wasn’t your coat hook to take,” Allicia spat, flavoring her complaint with ebonical verve. (And that’s the best kind of verve to have, really.)

“I needed a coat hook and asked Michelle for one. We didn’t think anyone was using one of the ones on that wall, since there were three,” Tina retorted, not balking at Allicia’s increasing agitation.

If I hadn’t walked in on Allicia’s murder-talk last week, maybe this would have been easier to exit, but instead I stood there, glued to my spot, waiting excitedly to see how it would play out. Everyone else stared at their shoes or picked awkwardly at their cuticles while my head snapped back and forth like I was following a tennis ball during match point. Would it come to blows? Would I get splattered with blood? Maybe it would make the news. Oh, mama, one could only hope!

“There were three coat hooks because there are three people who sit here,” Allicia seethed behind her character-building gapped teeth. Michelle shifted in her seat and was probably desperately trying to find a way to diffuse this escalating situation. Once again, she offered to get Allicia a new hook.

“I don’t want a new hook. People should axe before they take.”

Tina turned up the volume when she shot back, “I did ask!” Her face was flushed with spreading florets of anger.

A heavy drapery of tension hung over the room.

Allicia turned her back on the room as she mumbled, “Next time, axe the right person.” That’s my girl, right there.

Michelle stood up and we all dispersed. On our way back to our section, Bill and I discussed our relief to be basically sitting in a desolate area of the room, ostracized from the rest of them.

This way, we wouldn’t get caught in any impending crossfire.

Later that night, Michelle was sitting with me at my desk, going over some new applications. I tried to press her for more information regarding Tina and Allicia but all I could squeeze out was that Tina and Allicia are both strong-willed women who clash and that the coat hook debacle was the stupidest scenario she’s encountered as a supervisor.

“I mean, do you know how easily I could have just gotten her a new one?” she said with tired eyes.

Yeah, what was the big deal, I thought. But then I discussed it with my super-sleuth friend Bill From Michigan who theorized that perhaps the coat hook was Allicia’s murder weapon which would explain why she was so desperate to get it back. I did notice the next night that the wall was once again decorated with a trio of hooks; I wonder if Allicia got hers back, or if she settled for a new one.

I bet everyone else forgot about the incident quickly after it ended, but I childishly obsessed over it for the rest of the shift. Besides, Eleanore wasn’t there for me to record snippets of her conversations with my cell phone, so I had to busy myself some other way.

Allicia stopped by my area near the end of the shift. I guess I should be thankful that Allicia likes me and will jiggle the back of my chair when she passes by and then laugh a Michael Jackson-esque “ha-HEE!”. She was complaining to Michelle and me about how tired she was and that she thought walking around the parking lot, in the brisk air, would wake her up but it hadn’t. Michelle implored her to be cautious while walking around out there at night, because the facilities border on the cusp of one of Pittsburgh’s seedier neighborhoods.

“I’m not worried,” Allicia drawled. “Besides, I have a knife.”

I think I’m going to ask Allicia if I can join her on her next walk, get her to open up to me. Maybe I can force her to say something mildly humorous and I’ll give her a playful shove and squeal, “Oh, you KILL me!” Do you think that would trigger anything?

God, I am so attracted to danger! It makes me giddy and hyper.

  One Response to “Two Tales of Murder Girl: 2007”

  1. I remember this! I hope that with your new job you’ll find lots of stories to share. I miss your work tales!

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