March 11, 2003
Same As The Old Boss


In a dazzling display of fiscal efficiency and corporate streamlining (read this: nobody wanted the job), The Dirt Company has decided not to hire a replacement for Scott, after all.

Scott, you may recall, was the wildly-popular/incredibly-groovy/late-lamented Office Manager who defected last month, in order to join a rival dirt firm across town. For a while after he left, there was some talk of hiring a new OM from within the company. Then there was some talk of hiring somebody from outside the company. (Then there was some talk of a reality show on FOX: "Hired By America.") But all of that early negotiation appears to have fallen through: instead, the company is now offering us the loan of a pre-packaged Corporate Suit. He flies in from the home office in Los Angeles two or three times a month, sets up his laptop in the guest cubicle, fires off a couple of Triple-Quadruple-Urgent-All-Company e-mails ... and then gets back on the airplane and disappears for another couple of weeks. It's sort of like having a substitute teacher, once or twice a month ... except that it's the exact same substitute teacher, every time, so there are no unpleasant surprises. (Plus we don't stuff sanitary napkins and leftover tuna casserole into his pencil drawer when he's away from his desk.)

That's the good news.

The bad news: his name is Franz.

I swear to god. His name is Franz. No ... he's not THAT Franz. Last I heard, THAT Franz was still raising blood pressure and lowering matching funds over at The Totem Pole Company. Even so, what are the odds that I would end up working for two Franzes in one lifetime?

In Oakland, forcryingoutloud??

(For those of you tuning in mid-episode, Franz #1 was my boss for the first couple of years after I transplanted here to California: basically, he is the reason why they invented St. John's Wort. You can read about him here or here or here ... or just try typing the words "re-rescheduled colonoscopy appointment" into your favorite search engine.)

Even though The New Franz has absolutely zero connection whatsoever to The Old Franz, except for having the same first name -- and the same ruddy complexion, and the same penchant for thousand dollar suits and four dollar ties -- the whole thing is still creeping me out, ever-so-slightly. It's like winding up with two Clarence Trepaniers in one lifetime ... or two Ю僱êrvØ¡s, or two Great-Aunt Leonas, or two President George Bushes.

In fairness, I should point out that The New Franz seems to be a very nice person ... from what little I know of him so far, anyway. The first day that he was here in the office, in his official capacity of Interim Temporary Fill-In Once-In-A-While Office Manager, I went out of my way to smile cutely at him every time he looked in my direction, and to make sure there was lots of hot black coffee in the lunchroom at all times, and to pronounce his unpronounceable last name correctly. Not that he has actually ever noticed any of this stuff I do for his benefit: mostly he spends his time here whispering intensely into his cell phone ... striding intensely up and down the hallway with his shirtsleeves rolled up ... gazing intensely out the window at the parking lot below, making sure nobody is breaking into his rental car again. I don't think any of us are used to this level of intensity, frankly: it's going to take some getting used to. Plus all of a sudden I'm finding myself saying things I never thought I'd hear myself say, ever again ... like, "Franz, your meeting is about to begin," or "Franz, did you want that printed in color or black and white?," or "Franz, I have your mother on Line Two." 

It's going to take a while for those icy cold fingers of dread to quit snapping my sphincter shut whenever I say his name out loud.

Privately, I have my doubts about this whole concept of the 'Offsite Office Manager.' Somehow it seems to defeat the whole purpose of hiring somebody to "manage" the "office" ... sort of like having heart surgery over the phone. How the heck is he going to know when we're loading up our backpacks with office supplies, or playing hallway sock-hockey with a couple of four thousand dollar inclinometers and a leftover Krispy Kreme? 

Or sitting at the front desk writing a *FootNotes* entry in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon? 

Still, I'm determined to be cooperative and pleasant and accomodating, for however long this weird new arrangement lasts. And I'll treat The New Franz with all of the respect and courtesy that his position -- if not his name -- deserve.

Unless he asks me to antibacterialize his dwarf schefflera, I mean. Then the guy is on his own.



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i'm just kidding about the inclinometers, ok?
[we use yardsticks.]