Yoharie: Report from the Trenches (part one)
Report from the Trenches
She’d taken atta girl from her boss a couple of times.
The trap, being a complex edifice—capable, for taking knocks, of resettling once more into a workable balance; and partly held together, like a wall grown over in ivy, by organic intrusions—you couldn’t anticipate how an ordinary human impulse might transmogrify into a guilty plea down the road. You didn’t know you were in danger. You didn’t even know how you felt about things.
“It was like you’d say, golly gee, or something. A kind of ha-ha self-consciousness you’re talking funny. Cause, I mean, atta-girl…it’s nineteen fifties, gal Friday stuff. So…I was the only one on the team. I felt like, someone has to joke when I do a good job…it’s like, there has to be that little buffer… He can’t commit to it, being serious, if he’s only talking to Giarma Yoharie. For that matter, he can’t even say my name without that tone of voice, you know, that little tee hee. And you know,” she told Trevor, “it’s been my name my whole life. I’ve heard it. Whatever your stupid comment is.”
Without a doubt though, before she’d crossed the line, the daily clown show had been teasing, in its nature. However.
Trevor was making his face and voice blank, saying this. A proof he offered, maybe. But she didn’t know him.
“Trevor Royce,” she said, folding her arms.
Naïve, starting life, you got advice from magazines, from websites, talk shows. The hosts were chipper, the solutions: “How to Deal with Toxic People”; “Try These Five Office Hacks If You Want a Promotion!”…worked in their scenarios…and you said to yourself, why not?
In Giarma’s case the bad counsel had been, turn it around! Sometimes people just need to hear what they sound like!
Her boss had been late with her performance review…that she was supposed to read and sign. He’d popped out of his office, laid it on her desk, said, “There you go.”
And she’d said: “Atta girl.”
She had thus painted the target on her own back.
Brandon, who joked a lot, by his own account, took it as a jab at his manhood…or maybe upstartery from one too lowly to dare it.
Which made Giarma think of another thing. She told Trevor: “So one time the radio was playing…it was oldies, that song Oh What a Night…I don’t know who that is…”
“Frankie Valli. Or someone else.”
“Covers it.” She half-smiled. “So anyway, I was kind of singing along…I didn’t even know her name…but I was never gonna be the same…and you know, it was like…” He waited, and she gestured in search of expression. That they could pretend to think a woman singing the lyrics to a song was playing into….
Or giving a jumping off point for…
“That kind of lezzie fantasy guys are always so gaga over…cause it was that all day long… And other stuff.”
One of them…because Brandon got his acolytes to pile on…had happened across a weather forecast. And she’d trusted Joel at the time. With innocent eyes, he’d asked Giarma to check and tell him what the temperature was.
69 degrees. Tee hee.
The Theramain Health Group administrative offices housed the worst collection of people in the world. This was no secret at MSW Benefits, where even the Brandonettes dreaded the call. Also, Theramain had once employed Brandon. He told Giarma, “You’ve got a special relationship with the guys. I’m giving that one to you.”
This was his friendly way of saying, “Bitch, I’m gonna throw you in the snake pit.”
She and Brandon always at that point had put on their faces, and smiled at each other through their teeth.
And when she moved to the conference room screen, the Theramen, as she thought of them, took out their phones. She put her flash drive into the company-provided laptop (she seriously did not want to set up her own on their wireless, and they’d been dangerously cooperative at this demurral).
USB device not recognized.
Next: USB flash drive not formatted.
Next: USB drive cannot read media.
But, when she’d rooted in her attaché for the binder with the printed material, one of the guys came up, and sort of swirled his hand over the touchpad.
“I don’t know what your problem is,” he’d grinned at her.
One important member of the team had been away, on “family business”. Giarma, being special to the Theramen, found herself back within a week, one on one with him in his office.
Trevor frowned, and so she said to him: “No, he wasn’t handsy…just SOS, you know?”
The password he gave her was wrong. It wasn’t wrong, of course…she keyed it in one-fingered, careful of capitals, just as he read it out to her. But it wouldn’t take. She got locked out. He dialed for her. She took the phone and spoke to the IT guy. She got a new password. She keyed it in one-fingered, careful of capitals. She got locked out.
Report from the Trenches
(2018, Stephanie Foster)