Friday, October 22, 2004

Guess the password, win a whiner

I love driving in my car when I am stressed.

Sometimes I don't even turn on the radio. Or the iPod.

I bought one of those adapters that let you play your iPod in the car, and I am hopelessly addicted. I haven't listened to the radio in a month. I really hope they don't activate the Emergency Broadcast Sytem while I'm driving, because while everybody else is heading for low ground in anticipation of a terrorist bombing, I'll be bopping along to "Turning Japanese" by the Vapors.

The hum of the engine, and the rhythm of shifting the gears up and down, really calms me. It feels good to know that I'm not at my desk, and I can't hear my phone ring (at least not my office phone), and no one can stick their head in the door and tell me that they need me for "just a minute". Because it's never just a minute.

I'm pretty sure Lila gave me the right password. Something tells me she wanted me to come and see her, that she wanted to tell me how angry she was, and that she changed the password on purpose because she knew I would come to her to get it.

Once I get the spreadsheet opened, I really need to figure out how we are going to fill Lila's position. Lila answered the phone, and was really good at it. People loved hearing a real voice on the other end of the line. In the short term, we can go back to the automated attendant, but I really feel we have to replace her. Fast.

She also worked on a lot of reports and other miscellaneous duties for us. She was actually very productive, and loved her work. It's going to take someone really good to fill her shoes.

Back at the office. Four people are gathered around Lila's computer.

"'scuse me!" I say.

"Didja get the password?" Bonnie says.

"Yes. Move over."

"What was it? What happened? Why did she storm out of here?"

I start to type the password. Bonnie stares at my fingers. I give her a slow, angry glare. She turns away.

C-O-C-K-S-U-C-K-E-R, I type.

The spreadsheet opens.

"THANK GOD!" Bonnie says.


Dom is sitting across from me in my office. "So how did it go? What was her deal?"

"She's nuts," I say. "Totally over the edge."

"I think she's drinking," Dom says. "She acted kinda drunk."


"Steve, I hope you won't take this the wrong way, but..."

I look at him.

"How did you end up hiring her?"

"How did I HIRE her?"

"Did she apply, did she send you a resume..."

"Somebody referred her. Can't remember who," I say, dismissively. Move along, my friend. Nothing to see here.

"Was something going on between you two?"


"I know, I know. It's just that...I see her...looking at you sometimes. It's the way a little girl looks at her daddy."

"Ok, now that's just gross, Dom."

"No girl looks at a guy that way unless he's pounding her. Hard."

I roll my eyes and try to look disinterested. "If you say so, Dom."

"You were fucking her! You were!" he says, sitting up in his seat. "Of COURSE! It makes such sense now! You were dating her, and you got her the job here, and then you broke up with her, and she quit. Right?"

No. Actually, I WANTED to fuck her, so I hired her, and wore expensive suits and extra cologne for a couple of months until I charmed her into bed. Then my mother kicked the bucket, and I became a clingy little candyass, and spoiled her so much that I was doomed to shit with the door open for the rest of my life, lest she stress out over being "alone". But you get points for trying, Dom.

"If you say," I reply.

"I can't BELIEVE I didn't notice this earlier," he says softly, smiling.

"Are you done?" I say, impatiently.

He smiles wider. "You. Were. Fucking her! DAMMIT, Steve, you are good! You're incredible! And you never talk about girls, either. You like to work on the DL, don't you?"


"OK, OK," he says.

"Who are you going to hire to fill Lila's position?" I might as well try to delegate this one. After all, I recruited Lila, if you can call shopping at the Gap recruiting.

"I'm gonna hire Heidi," he says.

"Heidi WHO?"

"The one from the other night. You know, Megan's friend? She told me she was looking for a new job."

"WHAT?! That little chick? She's got diarrhea of the mouth," I say.

"She knows Access and Excel," he says. "She does a lot of work on the phone, also. Her resume is excellent. I also checked a reference and it was very good. I'm telling you, Steve, she's gonna be awesome!"

"I don't buy it," I say. "I cringe at the thought of her answering the phone here."

"She's gonna be a great employee," Dom says.

"Go get her resume," I say.

He leaves and returns with the resume. I dial the number on the cover letter.

"What are you doing?" Dom asks.

"I'm giving her an interview," I say.

"Good afternoon, DLR Securities, this is Heidi speaking, how may I help you?" a sultry woman's voice says. She sounds HOT. I am picturing a girl with thick, dark curls and massive, heaving boobs tucked precariously into a thin cotton strapless dress. And she's wearing those chunky sandals with the crisscrossed laces.

NO fucking way this is the same Heidi. It must be someone else.

"Hi, I'm looking for, uhhhhhhhh, Antonio Carrussio," I say. It's my seventh-grade gym teacher's name. I like it; it's poetic.

"I beg your pardon," she says. Her voice is neat, clipped and proper, like something you would hear on Masterpiece Theater.

"I think he works in your, ah, maintenance department," I say. Let's see how she handles a weird phone call.

"Ohh, I'm sorry sir, you've reached our investor relations department," she says. "Our maintenance department is at extension 3207. But I don't see anyone by that name in our company directory."

"That's ok, I'll check the name and call back. You've been very helpful. What was your name again, please?" I ask.

"This is Heidi," she says. And suddenly, she sounds just a bit familiar.

Holy fucking shit. It really is her.

She sounds NOTHING like the whiny, irritating girl from the other night. Nothing. She can take off one voice, and put on another, like you and I change hats.

I look at Dom. He folds his arms and gives me an "I-told-you-so" sneer.

Looks like we have ourselves a new secretary.