Yesterday, they fired a lady I work with. She was extremely incompetent. She hadn’t been in the office since before Christmas. Before that, she had alienated most of the staff with her inappropriate comments, the kind your nutty old uncle might make when he had sipped too much “cough medicine.” She used to tell everyone she was taller than they were. She was 5’2″ on a good day.
I used to hide when I saw her coming, or get very busy with something and just nod and smile.
She did whatever she wanted and nothing she was assigned. She spent all her time trying to get a new table and chairs for her office. The other ladies always commented on her hair (uncombed) or her dress (inappropriate). She took off days to take care of her 24 year-old daughter who had a cold. Actually, she took off quite a few days, claiming sickness or whatever.
I knew something was going to happen, as it usually does when office routine and responsibilities were so blatantly flaunted. Would she be reprimanded? Demoted? Asked to leave? And what would she do in response? The office gossipers considered this question with nervous laughs and looks over the shoulder. Uzis were mentioned more than once.
I should have listened more closely to the drums that morning. She was back for the first time in a month, quietly working on her laptop. As I passed, she said, “Hey.” Her eyes looked strange and I hurried down the hall away from her office.
Suddenly, key staff began vanishing. Everyone who worked directly with her was gone. A Human Resources person wheeled a cart through our area. It was so quiet I could hear the printer churning.
As she left, she looked me in the eye. I told her to take care, and never before had I meant it so completely. She wished me the same. Then she plodded down the hallway, following the human resources person and pushing the rickety cart, full of all that her office held that wasn’t company property.
When she had been ushered out, many felt that order had been restored and were, in small, quiet ways, glad not to have to face her again.
I felt stunned and dead.
And the worst part of it is, I really don’t know why.