So, the wannabe clerical assistant walks into the proctologist office and asks what her duties will entail. The employer immediately hands her a pair of latex gloves with the ominous warning, “Although my office will have the standard duties of copying, filling, and typing, do expect to handle a whole lot of smelly shit.”
In answer, the wannabe asks, “Will the shit I have to deal with come from the patient’s ass, or from your bossy mouth?”
Lame jocularity aside, I never worked for a proctologist although I might as well have. Instead, long ago, I worked in an office that was so strange, so foul, and so terrifying that I wished I had dealt with the solid type of crap. As it was, I only stayed at the company for a year. Yet let’s not jump ahead in this story.
Here was the start of my adventures in becoming a clerical assistant.
This was back in the late 90s. I had picked up the newspaper looking for an immediate job to pay the delinquent gas bill.
*I lived in a house separated into two apartments. Whoever installed the gas meters had switched the lines to the house. For a year and a half, I paid the gas bill for the wrong apartment. The company came and switched off the one, not realizing it was mine. After I made numerous calls about not having any gas for a week, they finally realized the mistake and switched the line back on. Yet I still had to pay for MY OWN OUTSTANDING BILL because the other apartment was unoccupied. HAHAHAHA . . . er . . . um . . . yeah, it wasn’t really that funny. *
Anyway, I saw the part-time assistant ad with no other information about the business. They needed someone with the ability to type with at least one finger and a toe, can make butt copies without breaking the copier glass, could file papers into a metal box in such a special way to where a person can slit a vein from paper cuts, create origami hats from large mailing envelopes while sticking stamps all over their naked body and shouting “Ooo-la-la-la-la-la” as they rush down the halls, and retrieve paperwork from the dark cavernous depths called “Storage Hell.”
Hey, I could be dumb enough to do that.
I called, passed the phone interview, and headed down for the face-to-face interrogation. I nodded, blissfully ignorant when listening about the position because I didn’t really care WHAT the company did so long as it paid the bills. They could have said they would be lowering me headfirst into a vat of nuclear waste to scrape clean the toxic sides with a nail file. I would have just kept smiling, nodding, and saying, “That sounds great! I’d love to work here!”
After the fifteen-minute interview, I headed home and kicked the stupid gas meter before hearing the phone ring inside the apartment. Figuring my cat would pick it up, I kicked the meter again and read my mail. Then I headed inside and checked the messages on the answering machine.
“Hello? Is this the talent agency?” Two high-pitched giggles sounded. “Why, I’m just a wonderful singer. Listen to me sing.” Annoying, grating, drowning puppy cries came through the speaker. Then, gratefully, the answering machine imploded.
I picked up the kitchen phone and hit *69 to get the phone number of the pranksters. They had been calling for four straight days. I figured I would get around to calling their parents to tell them about the incidents while lying about how the phone company messed up the bill where they had reversed charges. So now the pranksters’ parents had to pay me - with the check written out to the gas company.
I placed a pot on the stove to fix myself a late lunch only to discover the pilot light went out (again) for the gas stove. Since I’m not a smoker, I don’t normally carry matches or a lighter. From below my feet, I heard the banging noises of the swinging basement door blown about by the wind. Drug addicts kept busting the lock to use the basement for a place where they could toke up. The clock on the microwave said 2pm, so I decided to go down there and swipe a lighter while their minds were still off in la-la land. Halfway down the hall, the phone rang.
Assuming it was the prank caller again, I grabbed my door keys. On the metal ring was a small silver whistle. I placed the whistle into my mouth, drew a deep breath, and answered the phone.
“Hello, can I speak to Michelle Hickman?”
Since it wasn’t the annoying, puppy-drowning, girl, I choked on the air and gulped a big breath down. Then I said in a tiny, squeaky voice. “Speaking.”
“This is [manager who had conducted the interview along with annoying, lazy assistant manager]. We are calling to inform you that you have the job. Please come in Monday.”
My mind felt lightheaded, maybe because I was standing near the floor vent and the drug fumes were coming up into the apartment. I knew I had to saw something. So I opened my mouth as my stomach suddenly contracted, bringing back up the blast of swallowed air.
“Thank . . . BUUURRRPPP . . . you.”
An hour after the interview saw me jumping for joy, until I stopped and scratched my head trying to remember what the company was about. Then I shrugged. I would find out everything on Monday, but only if I could grab a lighter from the druggies downstairs to give nourishment to my hungry belly.
And so here ends part one of my adventures when I became a clerical assistant. Part two will talk about the time when I partook in my duties. It surprised the crap out of me that the company was a . . .
*Go ahead. Guess. No, you don’t win anything but the pleasure of laughing at my misery, although I might whisper to you the actual name of the company that I won’t reveal in this story. And be specific in your guess. No half-baked answers allowed*