It was a text message to me, from Corb, and two hours later I received the news: his grandmother had fallen out of bed that morning and suffered what they believed to be either a mini stroke or possibly a seizure. Either way, it wasnt good, and she had been rushed to the hospital, right after Corb's brother Scott and his wife had collected their kids and taken them over to pick grandma up from her bedroom floor (which did strike me as a strange family outing.)
I thought for sure this had to be the story, but when I questioned Corb about it later that night, he frowned and then said,
"Actually no. That wasn't it at all."
"So, what's up, then?"
Corb shook his head and idly continued playing the Sims. "Work. You remember the problems I've been having with the girl in the cubicle next door and her gay best friend?"
It had been brewing for quite a while, practically since the day he had started. The girl next door was an unhappy wench, with a habit of falling asleep at her desk and an allergic dislike of perfumes that rendered her slightly smelly and also, caused her to be deeply offended whenever the smell of perfume or cologne wafted their way to her nostrils,
She also hated Corb. Deeeeeeeply hated him. Perhaps it was his cologne (she liked to call him "the French whore," just for fun.) Whatever it was, though, she spent her days taking her unhappiness out on my poor guy. Some days she was nice, although that was usually when she wanted him to stand guard for their boss while she napped. (However, that was a request he usually ignored, which meant she got in trouble, which would piss her off even more.) Most of the time she was hostile, and lately she had taken to talking about him loudly behind his back to her gay best friend. Usually while he was within earshot.
Which was actually the reason for the story he had texted me about, before his grandmother fell ill. It appears that a few days before, her gay best friend had decided he wanted to be the boss, and had taken to calling people to his desk, to tell them how they could improve upon what they were doing, or the mistakes they were making in the system (usually his suggestions were wrong, by the way.) He had called Corb over at one point, but Corb found the whole thing annoying, especially because the gay best friend hadn't been asked by the boss to do it, and also, what he was basically doing was trying to undo the procedures that the boss was trying to implement.
So, I imagine Corb had been a little snippy.
When Corb came back from his break later on in the day, the gay best friend was standing in his cubicle. "What's going on?" Corb asked.
"Oh, nothing," said the gay best friend. "I just wanted to, um, check something at your desk." He moved in close to Corb, something he liked to do, which always made Corb feel a little uncomfortable. And then he lifted up his hand ans stroked the side of Corb's cheek. "Bye, sweetie!"
Now, look. Corb's not a big fan of public displays of affection, even with me, and he's also not the type to be overly demonstrative. The Gay Best Friend is a completely different type of gay, the kind that lives for public contact...rubbing of shoulders, touching your arm, that sort of thing. Corb had been cool with that, although he didn't like it, but stroking the side of his cheek was...well, just weird. Like something out of Little Britain weird.
Later on in the day, he working at his computer when he heard the gay best friend move over to the smelly girl next door.
"What's HIS problem today?" Meaning Corb, of course.
"Oh, you know," she said, loudly. "He's just being a raging vagina today. Like always."
Well, apparently the comment had not gone unnoticed. It had been heard by enough people, because the next morning (the day of the text message), Corb's boss had tapped him on the back and said, "Let's go for a walk."
Oh, Egad. Corb felt his heart fall into his stomach. Had he done something wrong? Dreading the conversation, he fell in step behind her, out of the old industrial building, toward the river that wound its way past the warehouse area.
Corb waited a few minutes, traded small talk. Then: What's up?"
"Well, the thing is, I've received a few complaints about Mary the past couple of days. About her attitude. How she's been saying some pretty inappropriate things. Yelling at people without having a right to. The funny thing is, all the people that have been come to me are mentioning that she's particularly mean to you. But the funny thing is, the only person who hasn't come to me to talk about this is...well, you."
"Why is that, Corb?"
I think I have my theories about why Corb wouldn't go to her, but he didn't go into anything. Instead, he just said, "Well, I wasn't sure exactly what to do about it."
"You should have come to me, that's what. So, what has she been doing?"
Then it all came out. The name calling (raging vagina, cunt, bitch), the times she would get mad at him and scream at him, then stop talking to him for the day (some of these were during training.) The hours she would spend talking on her cell phone, on personal calls, about the guys she had hooked up with the night before. The times she fell asleep at her desk. And then, the weird things, like the time she had come to work and said,
"So Corb, how's Dianna Dufres doing today?"
That was his mother. Corb was taken a little bit aback. "Excuse me?"
"And how do you like living at Oak Haven in Eldredge? Are they nice apartments?" Then she laughed, seeing that he was looking a little upset. "Oh, I was just doing a little bit of research last night at home, on you. Useful stuff to have!"
The whole episode had kind of freaked him out. It just seemed a little stalkerish, in a "Fatal Attraction" sort of way. Which was another reason he hadn't gone to anyone. Given the way she was acting, he was afraid she might go postal on him, or something.
His boss looked at him, appalled. "Corb, you realize that as your supervisor, I have to do something about this."
Corb kept walking, not looking at her. "I know."
"I'm going to have to report this to HR." A pause. "Would you being willing to talk to HR about this, Corb? It would be completely confidential, of course. And, we'd be interviewing other people, too."
Corb had reluctantly agreed, and about a half an hour later, he was called into the office of the vice president of Human Resources. He told the whole story. It was right when he returned from his office that he had received word about his grandmother.
He learned about what happened next from a friend at work. "Mary totally freaked after you left,"she texted. "She was called into the office, and half an hour later came storming to her desk, saying that's it, she's done. She's done this with place, and unless she gets a new supervisor and is moved far away from you, she's never coming back."
Four days later, they started clearing out her cubicle. Corb spent the days afraid that she was going to come in and try something overly dramatic. But she hasn't. The only thing he's heard is the gay best friend, going around telling everyone that Corb made up stories about her, which he doesn't believe, so Corb must be lying.
Also, the gay best friend was reprimanded for inappropriate touching. He's furious with Corb, even though Corb didn't say a word about it. That was someone else, entirely. He claims that Corb is homophobic, even though that's clearly not the case.
I have to admit, I'm kind of happy that I don't work in call centers. These sort of mini-dramas are something I don't miss one bit. It's a shame that Corb had to weather this storm, though, and that he had to patiently endure it, mostly in silence. That wasn't fair, but it's nice to see the bullies get their just desserts, in the end.
Hopefully, that's the happy ending to this story.