Sunday, January 22, 2017

Grin and Take It For a Season

Many years ago I worked for just over a year part time at an insurance agency in a nearby rural county. It was a string of agencies all owned by a same drunken obnoxious woman, the local head of the Republican party. Her father owned a string of local car dealerships, and was politically well connected to everyone in the area. High up in Richmond at the state level of government too.

She brought me in to work on getting the ancient computer systems replaced and creating an interactive network between the locations. I would show up two or three days a week, work on the systems, installing, troubleshooting, setting up a database and other tasks. I'd keep my mouth shut, show up in appropriate business attire and work.

This woman, I'm going to call her Cynthia, was foul-mouthed, sat her in office drinking, smoking and listening to the police scanner pausing only to fight with husband #6. Daddy had given her the business. It was heavy going for me and I knew once things were straightened out on the information technology end I was going to have to leave. The cursing! The drinking! The yelled conversations about things like her 'puss filled pussy' (true story!) and how so-in-so was banging such-in-such or the goings on in the county she was eavesdropping on via the police scanner. A vile river of gossip and dirty words punctuated by vodka belches.

I also had to rebuff a large number of attempts by her to get me to drink with her or go to the country club to play golf. I did play golf once in a great while during college and every now and then when I was dating Jim, but I had not played for years by then. Add in I was in my own personal 'Carrie Nation' alcohol-hating phase and still drinking the Possum Creek koolaide. I was not about to do something as sinful as wear a short golf skirt and drink, or as frivolous as play golf. This was strictly business. Everything about this lady horrified me! People at church had warned me about her!

Every single day I went in I would pray for a long time for patience and to keep my tongue silent. I'd dread it, looking forward to the day I could leave for good. I kept telling myself that this was just for a short season, 18 months tops! I can do anything in the God that strengthens me and be an awesome witness to her on how a 'Good Christian' woman behaves.

My daughter was telling her boyfriend the other day about my time with Cynthia, all the wild tales right down to the time that the local country club's ladies locker room had been destroyed by a tornado and Cynthia cooked up a scheme to replace it. For about two weeks every time I was in the main office Cynthia was holed up in her office drinking and watching the film 'Calendar Girls'. If you've not seen 'Calendar Girls' it's a cute film about a women's club in the UK raising money by posing for and publishing a tastefully nude calendar of themselves. Cynthia became completely obsessional about the film that month.

After enough viewings Cynthia decided that this is exactly how her country club was going to raise funds to rebuild the ladies showers and locker rooms. Her exact idea was that the lady golfers like her were going to pose jaybird naked on the country club's golf course for a calendar and sell the calendar as a fundraiser.

I tried very hard to talk her out of it, just like I did every single time she cooked up a very bad idea and boy were there a long string of sheerly awful schemes coming out of her mind. I pointed out that hiding your gonads was going to be a difficulty on the golf course, what were they going to pose behind? A ball washer? One of those tiny flags? A woodie club? A golf bag? The caddy? I used every argument I could muster, about the inappropriateness of middle aged ladies parading in the buff in a public place, the immorality, the possibility of ridicule by every rural recondite in the area. She would not listen.

In the end she didn't get her way, no matter how wealthy and influential she and her family were. Once Cynthia approached the country club board of directors with the plan she was soundly voted down, with many of the same reasons I'd already tried on her. Cynthia hired a photographer on her own, recruited the few ladies at the club she could cow into it and took a number of test shots on her large estate and made up a sample calendar. I was gone from her employment by then because this battle of the calendar went on for a very long time, but my understanding is that it didn't go well and that several copies fell into the very wrong hands in this area, passed around, copied, scanned into the computer, launched onto the internet and hooted and hollered over by those same hillbilly types she insured at a high rate. She almost went into hiding the embarrassment was so great.

Back to my point, which really was not about the calendar. Boy did I follow that rabbit hole. After I'd been there over a year and was close to finishing up my original task Cynthia fired me. She confronted me bright and early one Monday morning over the fact that someone had been accessing hard core porn on a work computer and she thought it was me. I went into the server, ran a report, and the report showed that it was only being accessed from her husband's computer and much of it happened late at night or when I wasn't even working. I pointed out that it was not me, but it was her husband and she paid out the remainder of my contract right then and ordered me to leave.

I was so glad, it was only for a season, but in retrospect I should have ended the job the first time she tried to twist my arm to drink with her or during her first stupid scheme or the first time she started shouting out about her gynecological woes.

So this is sort of what my life feels like this week. Today I discovered that someone I'd admired, looked up to and loved from afar for years died of cancer last night. Discovered my poor mother had fallen down again and injured herself and Jim is no better. I'm trying to tell myself that this is just an awful season and I'll be alright if I just block my ears and do not drink the martinis... or pose nude for a calendar or anything super stupid.


No comments: