May 29, 1999
The Marcel Marceau Treatment


I dreamed that I went to my former boss and asked for my job back.

"I didn't expect things to be so complicated," I whined. Meaning, my recent dizzying leap from the bottom of The Totem Pole to the *Corporate* top floor. And I asked him if they'd hired my replacement yet.

In the dream, he looked at me sadly. "Andrea is going to be the new receptionist now," he said. "But you can sit next to her and staple the newsletter together, if you'd like to."

End of dream.

In reality, this former boss of mine -- a boss who used to bring ME coffee in the morning -- a boss who once told me that I was "the glue that held the office together" -- no longer looks me in the eye. If he sees me coming down the hallway, he ducks into the copy room. On the one or two occasions when we've been forced to occupy the same room at the same time, this past week, he's managed a stiff and insincere "hihow'sitgoing" ... and then promptly walked away.

I'm not sure, but I suspect he may be spitting in my coffee when I'm not looking.

(OK ... I made that one up. I have never in fact actually caught him in flagranto sputtum. But I'll bet the idea has crossed his mind, a time or eleven.)

It's not just my former boss, either. Suddenly it seems like everyone in my old department is giving me The Marcel Marceau Treatment ... from the nice lady in Word Processing who used to share her M&M's and show me pictures of her kids, to the nice lady in Accounting who always invited me to walk around the lake at lunchtime. Even the nice FedEx lady has been frosty. ("I don't suppose YOU can sign for this anymore, can you?")

And at the risk of sounding like a great big undeserving nitpicky looking-a-gift-promotion-in-the-mouth BABY ... it sorta hurts.


*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

I understand where the hostility is coming from. In February I'm hired by the Totem Pole Company as a lowly receptionist, and three months later -- bam! -- I'm kicked upstairs, literally overnight. Essentially, I have just leapfrogged over the four or five logical "next-step" clerical positions within the company, and have been plunked right into the top spot. Without paying my dues. Without a college degree. Without four or five years of toiling in the production department first. Without a decent pair of shoes, even.

No wonder they're giving me the cold shoulder in the copy room.

There is also the fact that everything happened so fast. There was no time to arrange for a new receptionist -- not even a temp -- so front desk duty this week was split between two or three already-seriously-overworked women who, unlike me, HATE HATE HATE answering phones. ("Totem Pole Company. Andrea speaking. Make it snappy.")  I'm sure that having to cover for my newly-executized-butt didn't win me any Brownie points with them.

Sigh.

I know that things will settle down eventually ... but in the meantime I am closely examining my own behavior. Am I acting smug? Am I gloating? Am I giving off *Snooty Vibes*? I hope not. I don't think I am. I've been sorta barricaded upstairs all week, training with the outgoing E.A. and trying to get assimilated into my new surroundings (Where the hell is the fax machine? the letterhead? the other half of my banana?) ... but I deliberately wandered into my old department at least five or six times a day, and I always attempted to be friendly. I sought them out for advice. I borrowed their Kleenex. (I even gave it back when I was finished.) I made absolutely zero secret of the fact that I'm scared to death -- "If I get a call, I'll be in the bathroom throwing up some more" -- or the fact that NO ONE is more thrown for a loop by all of this than I am. I gave thank-you cards and little boxes of candy to the women who covered the front desk this week.

I wrote my former boss a letter, thanking him for his "support" and "encouragement." [Har].

And still ... all conversation ceases the instant I walk into the production room. 

Sigh again.



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