Knock! Knock! I heard a knock at the door of my office. It was my office — but the room seemed strange, the trinkets on the shelf were unfamiliar. The last occupant hurriedly moved out and left a few items here and there. I just moved into the office earlier that morning. After all, this was my first day back at work after a long hiatus to deal with “family matters”.
My boss peeked in the door and politely whispered that I would had a visitor. I looked down at the faded and worn-out leather of my shoes that rested uneasily on the carpeted floor. My hands calmly and visibly wresting on knees as I gently felt the smoothness my blue jeans with my finger tips.
Earlier that day, my supervisor — “The Rear Admiral” — walked into that office, asked me how my grandmother was doing as she reached down to give me a hug. Why ask about my grandmother? Well, Grandma Lillie Mae had unfortunately suffered 2 strokes in a short time span. I was out of the office for almost a month on family medical leave to deal with the situation in South Florida. Yet, that wasn’t the only
I rolled my chair backwards as I said “no thank you. do not touch me.” It sounded weird. Why would anyone say that to their supervisor of all people? Well, you certainly wouldn’t want signs of love, care, and affection from someone you knew didn’t give a fuck…someone you suspected was out to get you. The same woman that so graciously asked about my grandmother and caringly swooped in for a hug had signed off on a workplace harassment and violence investigation against me because her friends complained that I was being nice enough to them while they tried to defraud the United States Government. So, pardon my boorishness at the thought of embracing such a deceitful creature.
Admiral Wilson whispered that “someone” was here to see me. She had already sent the team shrink in to ask me a a few questions. Dr. Skvorc ( pronounced like the first two syllables in Kevorkian) asked me about my grandmother (again), how I felt, and if I wanted anything from my old office. I managed to either look away or stare at the ground as the inquisition went on. These people were not to be trusted. I had a feeling…a nauseating feeling…that the Admiral would love to see me escorted out that day with the type of cuff-links that surround your wrists.
In stepped a tall, blonde woman. The sort you see with kids in tow at a Starbucks on a Saturday morning in downtown Bethesda. She could be my neighbor or someone I passed in Building 31 on the NIH’s campus. Probably working somewhere in Senior Management. She looked a bit disheveled. Out of sorts. “Hello. I’m Laura,” she spoke softly and curiously. She looked like a woman playing the Price is Wrong. A perversely different game than the popular TV show. In this version, behind every door is an unknown penalty. Well, she courageously spun the wheel.
“I was asked by your boss to come here. I’m from HR — uh — CIVIL. You see…she’s concerned about you. I have to tell you…there are 2 plain-clothed police officers outside your door.”