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Back when I first worked for the Toll Road Authority, Priss was the receptionist. She was, without a doubt, the worst receptionist I’ve ever met. She was not a people person, and she hated the telephone. Since greeting people and answering the phone where the two prime components of her job, I got a kick out watching how bad she was at it. It’s not she couldn’t do a good job; she simply didn’t care to.

The phone at the front desk rang non-stop because the calls from the public to ask about getting a Toll Tag or to check on their Toll Tag Accounts were routed through the main switchboard. Priss answered it in a monotone. “Toll road authority can I help you one moment please,” and transfer the call. If it was an EZ Tag call, she would put them in a voicemail loop where they would sit until one of the 10 or so people working in the EZ Tag store at the time picked it up, or after 20 minutes or so it would ring back to Priss.


One Caustic, One Long )
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“Son of a bitch!”

I yell this at least three times a day while at the office. It’s Dave’s fault. He’s trying to kill me. Well, maybe not kill me exactly, but that may well be the end result one day. What’s he’s trying to do is give himself a fit of the giggles, because I am one of those people who startles very easy and it amuses him to no end, which is why he likes to walk up behind my chair and give it a “twack!” Without fail I will jump out of my skin and scream. Then I utter a few choice words in his direction.

It all balances out in the end. )
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Dave and I had worked together (or at least, close to each other) for a few of weeks when it came to light that we knew each other already. On that day we had to pick up some prospective clients from the airport and drop them off at a steakhouse for a meeting with people more important than we are. We drove them in the SUVs with the company wrap, and were taking my boss’s car back to the office when we started talking about places we’d worked before. I said something about the toll road authority. Dave, who was driving gave me a sideways glance.

“You used to work at the toll road authority?”

No Breaking the Law Of Unintended Consequences )
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Almost every place I have worked, I have run into a woman like Big Death's Dixie. Her face is different, her name is different, but she is – in essence – the same woman. At Big Death, Dixie was 50ish with an out of date haircut and jowls. At the technology company where I used to work, her name was Candace and she was in her early 20s; she was briefly a manager over me before it became clear that she'd lied about her credentials and got laid off. At the toll road authority she was in her 40s and her name was Becky; she was the administrative assistant in the personnel department. Because I did not have to work directly with Becky she and I got along quite well, but she made life a living hell for my friend Joy, who had to work closely with her.

A Dixie is always charming, but rarely pretty. In fact, two out the three Dixies I've known have been on the plain side, but they made up for their lack of attractiveness by having 10 times the moxie of everyone else around them. A Dixie can kiss up to management in a way that is almost pornographic in how far she is willing to take it. When a Dixie decides she doesn't like you she will talk to your manager with a sad, serious expression and will explain with great earnestness how she has tried to work with you – tried, tried, tried! – but that despite her best efforts you just won't get with the program. You are the problem, a Dixie will make it clear. Every little mistake you have made will be magnified and every quirk you have will be presented as a character flaw.

There Ain't No Good In an Evil-Hearted Woman )
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I used to work with a woman name Lauri W., who was hands down one of the sweetest people I've ever met. I had a sort of Mom-crush on her, in that she was everything I wanted in a replacement mother and I secretly wanted her to adopt me. She had a couple of young-adult sons who gave her a lot of grief and stress, so I figured a no-fuss daughter such as myself wouldn't be too much of a burden and could perhaps have been a benefit, since I never needed bailing out of jail like her real kids. Perhaps I should have spoken up and asked if she was open to the idea of taking me in.

A Little Known Secret About Bowling Allies )
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I got a message the other day from Bren, who I used to work with at the Toll Road Authority. She wanted to let me know that the wife of Flatulent Charlie had died in a car accident, in case I wanted to show my respects. Charlie was head of the Revenue Collections department at the Toll Road Authority when I worked there several years back. He is a crusty old grouch with white hair, a white moustache, a beer gut, and a digestive system that under international treaty is counted as a biological weapon of mass destruction.

I always thought that Flatulent Charlie's wife was sweet, but there is no way that I wanted to attend her funeral. At most funerals, the widow or widower sits in the front pew and the lesser mourners sit behind them. The idea of spending an hour sitting behind Flatulent Charlie fills me with horror because Charlie is – to put it bluntly – very, very flatulent.

Even sitting at the back of the chapel would be no escape. Charlie's farts are legendary. He is the king of the SBD. They float in a heavy cloud around him. They linger, they lurk, they leap up and lung down your airways when you least expect them. I can't begin to describe what it's like to ride in an elevator with the man. A short trip from the second floor of the Toll Road Authority building to the first seems to last hours when you can't breath.

House plants wither and die when he walks by.

So do canaries.

I am sad to hear about his wife. Nevertheless, I think I'll just drop a card in the mail letting him know I'm sorry for his loss, and call it good.



* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * # * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
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Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about Shelly and Chris, a couple I used to know though my old coworker Bren, who had grown up with the two of them.

Shelly was an Amazon of a woman, tall and big boned. She liked to have fun, and for her that usually involved getting drunk. I've never met another person – man or woman – who could drink like Shelly. She is the only person I've ever met who always ordered two beers at a time so she could have one in each hand.

She enjoyed drinking, and was grateful that she didn't the kind of issues that would mean she shouldn't drink. Holding her beer in each hand, I often heard her say (no doubt because she had forgotten she'd mentioned this before), "Both of my parents are alcoholics. Thank God I'm not one!"

Mixed Emotions, Shaken Not Stirred )
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Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about Colton, the step-grandson of a woman I used to work with. Pam did not use the word "step" when she referred to Colton; in her mind, she just skipped having children herself and went strait to being a grandmother by marrying Colton's grandfather. It's the easiest and best way to become a grandmother, if you think about it.

I haven't thought of Colton in years, but this morning I found myself behind an SUV with a sticker on the rear window that consisted of a picture of a baseball with the name "Colton" underneath it. I haven't met many kids named Colton, so this brought to mind Pam's grandson. It's a good thing, too: I can't let myself forget him, because he and I have a date. We are to meet up for root beers in the year 2015, or possibly real beers in the year 2018. We shook on it six years ago, and he promised to be there. The drinks are on me if he shows up. In fact, I would do anything to pick up that tab, because according to Colton's doctors he is not expected to live until then.

My Date With An Angel )
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Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about my friend Joy and remembering the time I spoke with her ex on the phone. I would bet he still remembers talking to me, even though he never learned my name. This is fine, since he gave me a new name during the conversation.

I met Aaron only once, when he visited Joy at the Toll Road Authority with their newborn daughter shortly after she got back from maternity leave. I disliked him the moment I saw him. I though that he had the cold, distant eyes of a sociopath. Joy let me hold the baby for a moment that day and introduced us, but Aaron barely glanced at me. If he'd known what would happen the next time we talked, he would have made note of my full name and no doubt an additional future restraining order would have been filed against him.

Smile when you call me that… )
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Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about how next week my former boss at the Toll Road Authority will be very anxious that I might do something nice for her. Friends who still work there have told me that she usually takes a few days off around August 13th, just in case I might do something nice. What makes her quake in her boots like this? Flowers – she's afraid she might get some.

Saying it with flowers )
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Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about my 30th birthday, which stands out in my memory because my co-workers all pitched in to have me mutilated. It’s the only time anything like has ever happened to me.

Bellybuttons, navel rings, and things that go Boom )
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Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about an event that I organized back when I worked for the county Toll Road Authority that I called Short Skirt Tuesday. It wasn't any sort of official event, but more of an organized attempt to harass and annoy a particularly prudish coworker. It succeeded beyond my expectations.

Short! Skirts! )
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Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about Ben, who worked in the Revenue Collections department of the Toll Road Authority back in my civil service days, and who probably still does. Ben was, hands down, the strangest person I've ever worked with, and not in an edgy or endearing way.

Highlighted Hotties )
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Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about a woman that I used to work with and how I love it when someone surprises me with an unexpected revelation about themselves.

When Karen first came to work at the Toll Road Authority, a few of us were suspicious of her. We figured that no one could possibly be that nice. She always appeared smiling, friendly and cheerful. She carried around a bible and books with titles like, "A Christian Woman's Daily Devotional." She attended church twice a week. She didn't swear or gossip. If she hadn't been so sweet, it would have been very easy to hate her.

Even Saints weren't always Saints )
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Today on my drive into work, I was thinking about a phone call I once answered at the county agency that I used to work at from a woman who made a very big mistake one Valentine's Day.

Paying the tolls for a blown relationship )
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Today on the drive into work, I was remembering a conversation I had at my bachlorette party back in 2000. WARNING: Rated R for adult content and humor. Some discretion is advised. )

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