Saturday, September 29, 2007

aboard the Koo Koo train...

For the past couple of weeks, a representative from our main European office has been visiting at work, and this weekend, our department head is flying to Europe, all as part of an ongoing effort to make our day to day operations more global in nature. (Yeah, it sounds like so much hooey to me, too, but I’m wording it like that because I’ve been steeped in corporate jargon at the endless series of mandatory meetings that I’ve attended on this very topic in the past couple of weeks).

So yesterday there was a farewell department lunch at a Mexican restaurant, sometime after which, back at the office (“back on campus” in corporate jargon), we were ordered to assemble for a group photo. Shortly before the appointed time, I ambled downstairs with two colleagues, M and S, only to discover The Liar busily walking about with a tripod and an expensive SLR digital camera, because, Master Photographer that she is (this in addition to all her other achievements), she had volunteered to take the pic, which she didn’t actually do...but more on that in a minute.

While we were waiting, S commented wryly (and quietly) to M and me that she was missing her badge and hoped she hadn’t lost it. The Liar overheard this comment and immediately interjected herself into our conversation. “$35 to replace it!” she announced, briskly and loudly, as if we’d asked, “AND they’re going to fix it so we can’t use each other’s badges anymore”. The three of us looked at The Liar, which of course is what she wanted. “$35 to replace a lost badge? Are you kidding?” M asked. “No, no, I’m not kidding! $35!” The Liar said happily, enjoying the schadenfreude aspect of the moment even though I’d be willing to bet she doesn’t know the term. “AND they’re going to fix it so we can’t use each other’s badges anymore,” she repeated, like a parrot, in case we hadn’t heard her the first time.
The Liar inhabits a dramatic and strange universe that is apparently parallel to the one inhabited by the rest of us, in which things like fines, retribution and punishment loom large and appear frequently.

I rolled my eyes but took the bait: “So how would anyone know whether I’m using my badge or someone else’s?” I asked The Liar. “I mean, what are they going to do, scan our eyeballs? Or maybe take a thumbprint?” “Oh, for Pete’s sake!” M exclaimed, seeing where this was going. “That doesn’t make any sense. If they scanned a thumprint, for a machine to tell whether it’s mine or not, they’d have to have my prints on file, and no one has my prints on file!” The Liar began to beam, warming to her topic. “The government has MY prints on file,” she said, “and I bet they have Judi’s prints on file too, because I know Judi is a bad, bad girl...”

I smiled benignly at The Liar. “In fact, my prints are on file,” I said, “because as you know, I spent 5 years of my misspent youth working for the Feds...”

The Liar moved close to M. I used to think she had no sense of interpersonal space, but in fact this is not so. The Liar knows exactly what she is doing, and she enjoys doing it. “Wanna know why MY prints are on file?” she asked M, in her hoarsest, breathiest, most conspiratorial voice. “It’s because,” she continued without waiting for M to assent, “like Judi, I worked for the Feds, too. For several years, I was a photographer for the Feds...they sent me everywhere. I had Top Secret clearance...no, wait, I take that back, I had TOP TOP Secret Clearance...” and with that she was off on another of her confabulations. S had slipped away to look for her badge, and I walked away in disgust, leaving M to deal with The Liar by herself.

In addition to being a Master Photographer with Top Top Secret Clearance for The Feds, The Liar is, by her own account: a certified clinical research study coordinator; a certified clinical research monitor; an accomplished jazz saxophonist who is regularly invited to jam with professional musicians; an ordained minister; a licensed helicopter pilot...to name a few of the things for which she regularly takes credit...and then there are the things she could have been but chose not to pursue: professional stand up comic (this in spite of the fact that she’s not remotely funny); a Van Cliburn finalist (dunno whether she actually even plays piano...and in spite of dropping this tidbit at every opportunity, she’s never expressed an interest in, nor any knowledge of, classical music in my presence); a clinical psychologist (she’s told me she’s completed all of the necessary coursework on a PhD at an unnamed institution, but decided not to finish when a client committed suicide)...I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

The Liar also happens to be gay, and although she claims to be in a long-term, committed relationship, she never misses an opportunity to hit on K while at work. K, a friend with whom I previously worked in child and adult psychiatry, straight, married, and 25 years younger than The Liar, has made it abundantly clear to The Liar that she does not welcome her advances. Nevertheless, The Liar, apparently believing herself to be, in addition to everything else, irresistible, continues to hit on K with amazing regularity and a complete lack of discretion. To paraphrase Leonard Cohen, her lust is a secret all over the block...

Yesterday, after leaving M to deal with The Liar on her own, I spotted K, and walked over to join her in walking to the appointed place for the photograph. “What’s the story today?” K asked, looking at The Liar, who was still talking animatedly to M, clearly a reluctant audience. “She’s telling her all about how she had top top secret clearance working as a professional photographer for the Feds,” I said. K snorted. “There is something SERIOUSLY wrong with her,” she said. I nodded my head in agreement.

When we were assembled outside on the steps for the group photograph, The Liar produced a minion, someone who doesn’t work in our department, to take the actual pic. I would have thought, being a Master Photographer and all and having set up the shot with the camera on a tripod, The Liar would have simply used the timer or a remote to snap a series of pics. But what do I know? No, instead, after spending some time looking through the lens and making much of her ability to focus, like that was some amazing talent, etc., etc., she turned the camera over to her “assistant” and ran to join us on the steps. A total of 3 pics were taken with The Liar in the photograph with the rest of us, then she dismissed her minion, removed the camera from the tripod, and proceeded to snap some more shots of the group.

At least, that’s what she said she was doing.
I looked over at K. Smiling into the lens, she said quietly through gritted teeth, “This damn well better not be a series of close ups of my face!” while two coworkers, aware of The Liar's passion for K, chanted softly, “K’s gonna end up on the ‘net tonight” ...

Oh yeah. Another day at the office...or, as K so aptly put it...aaaaaaaaallllllllllllll aaaaaaaabbbbbbbbbooooooarrrdddddddddd the Koo Koo train...

6 comments:

Lisa :-] said...

Oh, my goodness... Your office sounds like a bad sitcom...;)

alphawoman said...

Is the Liar's name Jane by any chance??

emmapeelDallas said...

Close! I guess every office has one...

Erin said...

Yes, we have one too! Love the story and, as always, the way you tell it! :)

Chris said...

I would believe she is UNDER THE CARE of a clinical psychologist. And I might believe said psychologist killed her/himself after listening to the Liar.

Are you sure this wasn't the script about the Dunder Mifflin office?

dreaminglily said...

Sometimes I still can't believe those people are real. The Liars of the world are absolutely fascinating to me. I can't believe how much some people can lie lol

~Lily