So if you read my last post, I work with a funky rhinoceros named Sondra. I told her she smelled like “Let my people go!” and she went to HR.
The mediation was scheduled at some random office building, one of the ones that people just rent out. Sondra arrived just before I did, and how did I know this? Because the receptionist had car air-fresheners attached to her personal fan and had it oscillating.
In my mind, I was thinking, “This literal heifer.”
The mediator booked a large conference room, and I sighed in relief. Maybe I wouldn’t have to sit too close to her and risk passing out. Apparently, my words from yesterday didn’t stick with Sondra, and I wasn’t sure if this meeting would make a difference either.
The conference room had a long, mahogany table with twenty chairs surrounding it. As I entered, Sondra had her back to me, while an older woman with bushy blonde hair and runny mascara sat directly across from her.
They were sitting at the far end, and there was an open seat at the head of the table. Naturally, I walked my ass right over to the other side of the room and took my seat as far away from them as possible.
“Why ya sittin’ all the way over there?” asked the lady. She had a thick southern accent with a smoker’s baritone. “Why don’t ya come join us?”
“I’m an advocate of respecting people’s personal space,” I said, smiling as sweetly as possible, but the lady wasn’t having it.
“Listen, if you want me to tell your boss you didn’t cooperate, that’s fine,” she said. “We can just cancel the meeting now.”
“Okay, fine,” I ambled back to their side of the room and seated myself between them at the head of the table.
“Okay, lovely,” said the lady. “My name is Janice Freeman, and I’m here to help y’all sort out a little incident that happened at y’alls workplace. The purpose of this meeting is to reach a mutual compromise. I understand y’all won’t be best friends when you leave here, but we need to get y’all to work together as best as you can.”
Sondra nodded intently, and I tried to smile but was too focused on remembering to breathe through my mouth.
“So yesterday,” Janice spread her hands out like she was preparing to show us a poster board, “You two had a little disagreement where one of you said something a little impolite to the other. I’m going to start with Sondra, and I ask that you, Solomon, please let her finish before it’s your turn to speak.”
I nodded, wanting so badly to roll my eyes. Of course, she was going to let Sondra speak first. Here we go.
“Well…you see…um,” Sondra always speaks in this low, half-whisper. It’s like she’s afraid to raise her voice, which is perfect for this scenario so she can sell herself as the victim. “I had just found my stimulus check and was preparing to take a lunch break. I was just s-s-sitting at my desk, and um…he came up to me. H-h-he was so…angry.”
She wiped at her eyes knowing good and well she didn’t have any tears. God, I knew she was going to be dramatic with HR. She’s probably been waiting for weeks to pull this act out of her funky ass.
Janice nodded and looked concerned, hanging on Sondra’s every syllable. Yup, I was without a doubt going to be reprimanded for this. I don’t even know why they bothered to call me here in the first place.
“H-he said I smelled like…medieval times, and…and everyone just stared at me,” Sondra’s voice started to do that stupid shaking thing when she’s fake crying. I’ve seen her do it when she wanted to get sent home for the day. “I f-f-felt so ashamed r-r-ridiculed. I don’t f-feel like I can show my face at the office anymore.”
She buried her face in her hands and started sobbing quietly, but I knew it was all an act. Still, it wouldn’t make much of a difference. I just couldn’t believe she was really sitting here putting on a performance. I shook my head and chuckled.
“I hope you don’t think that’s funny,” said Janice. “Solomon, why don’t you tell us what happened and why you said what you said.”
I straightened up in my chair, refusing to look in Sondra’s direction.
“Well first, Ms. Freeman, I did not say she smelled like medieval times,” I began. “I said she smelled like Biblical times, very reminiscent of the aroma left behind by lamb sacrifices.”
Janice huffed and clenched her jaw. “Oh, so you’re a funny man, huh? You didn’t think what you said might hurt somebody’s feelings?”
“Ms. Freeman, we are both adults,” I said. “We work in an environment where we’re required to communicate with angry, vengeful spirits who say and do much worse. I’ll admit I could have been a little nicer, but she does smell, and it’s interfering with my concentration at work.”
At this, Sondra slammed her hands down on the table, shot up from her chair, and flew out of the conference room. Her sobs echoed down the hallway as she ran.
“Sondra, wait!” Janice ran after her, and I sat alone for a few minutes, still breathing through my mouth because it still wasn’t safe yet.
I was livid! You mean to tell me she FOUND her stimulus check the other day but couldn’t STIMULATE herself to take a bath? She bought herself lunch but couldn’t spend three dollars at the corner store for some body wash? Disgraceful!
I’m not done with that sentient funk cloud. Mark my words. Somebody is going to do something about this.