September 26, 2001
Interrogation

 


 
They've been sending their sneakiest, most experienced operatives upstairs to interrogate me, the past couple of days.

Yesterday it was the little Accounting Manager. "I hear you're leaving us!" she said, appearing suddenly in my doorway in the middle of the morning. When I confirmed that yes, the rumors were true, she charged into my office and plopped herself down in the chair facing my desk, obviously settling in for a nice long gossipfest.

"So what make you finally decide to go?" she asked.

"Oh," I said pleasantly, "it's just time to move on, I think." And I continued punching numbers into the timesheet program.

She pushed the door shut behind her and skooched the chair closer to my desk. "No ... I mean really," she murmured, leaning towards me. "You can tell me. Was it Jim? Or the other guys? You just couldn't take their shit no more, right?" And the look she gave me was very much the way I imagine a hungry wolverine eyeballs a nice juicy bunny.

I stopped punching numbers for a moment. "Working for The Totem Pole Company has been an amazing growth opportunity," I said to her. "I feel very sad about leaving." And I smiled: my sunniest, dopiest, fakiest smile.

You could see it in her face: surprise ... followed by confusion ... followed by suspicion and disbelief. She tried a few more questions -- Do I already have another job lined up? Was I leaving because of money? Does my husband approve of my decision? -- but my answers remained deliberately vague and evasive. Eventually, disappointed by my failure to provide her with grist for the Totem Pole Company rumor mill, she offered me a limp and insincere 'good luck' and headed back downstairs to the first floor (where I'm sure she immediately reported to the rest of the Accounting Department that Secra is suffering some sort of nervous breakdown).

Today it was The Office Gossip, fresh from her Workplace Ethics Seminar. "Oh my god!" she shrieked. "Is it true? Are you really leaving??" When I said yes, I'm really and truly leaving this time, she slipped into my office and leaned against the door, barricading it closed.

"So what made you decide to leave?" she asked.

I shrugged. "It's time to move on," I replied.  And I ontinued to proofread the minutes from last week's Marketing Meeting.

She cracked the door open and looked up and down the hallway. When she was satisfied that we were safely unobserved, she closed the door again. "No, I mean really,"she said, leaning towards me with a long, conspiratorial wink. "You can tell me. Is it because they're paying Joni more than they're paying you? Or because they were talking about turning your office into the Marketing Library? Or because Jim told Stan that Franz said that George was upset about you doing market traffic analysis reports for Bob, when you should have been doing traffic analysis market reports for The Other Bob?"

I stopped proofreading for a moment. "Working for The Totem Pole Company has been an amazing growth opportunity," I said. "I feel very sad about leaving." And I smiled at her: my brightest, blandest, phoniest smile.

Her expression never changed -- she managed to maintain her polite, frozen smile -- but something in her eyes changed. The twinkling curiousity was replaced by something harder and colder. She tried a few more questions -- Was I glad to be leaving? Did I already have another job lined up, under the table? Was I planning to read Jim the riot act before I leave? -- but when it became clear that I wasn't about to give her anything in the way of juicy office poop, she finally offered me a limp and insincere 'good luck' and headed back downstairs to the first floor (where I'm sure she immediately reported to the rest of the Marketing Department that Secra is the snootiest, snottiest bitch on the face of the planet).

I don't care. I'm not about to jeopardize a future employment recommendation for a couple minutes' worth of mindless gossip and Testosterone-Unit-bashing ... regardless of how much fun (or how therapeutic, or how deserved, or how entertaining) it might be.

And I'm certainly not about to tell these women that THEY are half the reason I'm leaving.





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