A little low-level harassment

As I was getting dressed for (damn it) work, I chanced to inhale my own exhale, and it was rank. I haven’t brushed my teeth or showered since Friday morning, because those are workday chores, and anyway, personal hygiene is overrated, don’t you think?

My philosophy is, if it doesn’t stink, it doesn’t need to be cleaned. Haven’t changed my underwear since Christmas. The socks, which I’ve been wearing since mid-December, were a little stiff and stale, so I rinsed then in the sink yesterday, dried them on the fan overnight, and they’re back on my tootsies this A.M. 

♦ ♦ ♦

Dead beat and bone tired from a weekend of doing nothing, I could’ve used one more day off, maybe two. It’s the same every weekend, and probably the same for you. Same for everyone who stops and thinks about it (which leads to a different question, does everyone stop and think about it?).

Having to work for a living... doing stupid things for stupid people... and being locked into a schedule of exactly what days and what time you must start and stop doing those stupid things... "Insanity" is a word that's used too often, too casually, so I'll just say, that doesn't seem extra sane. 

But there I was at 7:55, flashing my plastic card and stepping into the building, riding the elevator up, to start doing stupid things for stupid people at the assigned stupid time.

♦ ♦ ♦

Carlotta wore a simple outfit that simply knocked me out — a soft beige flowery velvet v-neck t-shirt that was a little too tight, with a loose yellow vest and tan slacks. Yeah, I noticed. From “Good morning” to “Good night,” it took will power to hold eye contact when we spoke, politely trying not to look at everything else.

When we had a question and walked across the hall to get the wrong answer from an executive, she tugged at her top and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t have anything to wear.”

“You look great in nothing to wear,” was my instant retort, but of course I didn’t say it. We’re at work, and I try to be a good kid. All morning, though, she was snagging my back pocket with her pinky whenever she needed me.

Pretty sure I wrote about her tugging at me a few weeks ago, but maybe I edited it out? The pinky-yank at my pants is her new thing. She often pulls at my belt or pocket, when she has a question. It's a little uncomfortable, but in a good way.

It’s a weird dynamic between Lottie and me. She doesn’t get my better jokes, because English isn’t her native language or maybe because they’re not funny, but she laughs at my dumber cracks. She makes jokes too, makes me laugh, but her best lines are invariably the dirty ones. When we’re talking, half the time it’s about work, but the other half is something racy. 

This afternoon she asked what I thought of her perfume, and asked me to sniff at her neck. I sure didn't say no. On low-cut days like today, she'll often find a reason to bend over when we’re talking. She’s flirting with me, and it’s not just my imagination. Even Kallie has commented on it.

But Carlotta and I have also talked about sexual harassment in the workplace, and of course she’s had no tolerance when it’s happened to her. I once heard her holler at a then-co-worker who got out of line, and she’s told me that at a different job she slapped and shouted at a touchy-feely boss.

A little low-level harassment is what she’s doing to me. I’ll never complain, though. I'll never discourage her in any way, and never understand why she toys with a fat slob like me. Everyone needs a hobby, though, and I’m happy to be hers. 

♦ ♦ ♦

After work and supper, I snuck back to the office to print December, but found several of my many bosses still there. I whirled around and left without being spotted, but only because I was lucky. I don't want to be asked, “What are you doing in the office at 7:00 at night, and what’s in your backpack?”

I wondered why they were there so late, but then remembered, it’s inventory time at the store. Lots of things to be counted, input, and filed, so people in other departments are working overtime hours. The managers and executives don’t actually do any of that work, or any work at all, but they stay late to sit around and watch. 

Taking inventory will take some time — maybe weeks, I dunno — so I might have to pay Kinko’s to print the December issue, or wait until the inventory is over, and the photocopier is more easily available after hours.

Doing the math … 8¢ p/page at a copy shop, times 26 pages p/zine, means every copy would cost me $2.08, not counting postage and envelopes. 32 people have paid for the next issue, so paying for printing would cost … $66.56, with no copies kept for future orders. Ouch. I have the money, but it would hurt to spend it. My wallet is thin, and I'm a cheapskate, so the December issue might be a few weeks late.

From Pathetic Life #8
Tuesday, January 3, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Addendum, 2021: Why was Carlotta so 'friendly' toward me? I always wondered, and never figured it out. It was pity, probably. She'd known me for a year before any of it started, so maybe she'd (correctly) surmised that I was 100% harmless, too introverted to ever say or do anything. 

I was fat, lonely, and almost intentionally repulsive, and she tossed me a kindness by smiling at me, talking to me, and weirdly asking me to sniff her neck. I remember that last moment vividly, years and decades later.

It was inappropriate for the workplace, and I wish it had been a bit more inappropriate, and wherever you are today, Lottie — thank you.

Pathetic Life 

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