L is around the corner

Posted on April 6th, 2009 No comments. The post is really that bad, huh?

I’m sure you’ve experienced this too; walking down the street just thinking your own devious thoughts when, all of a sudden, synchronicity jumps out from around the corner, grabbing your wallet and sprinting into a nearby entrance in one clean, continuous, and startling motion.

That was my morning commute;  a drab, water-logged grey smear with occasional pelts of icy snow.

I thought a little old-school tunage would be appropriate, so I plugged in my Zune and managed to run through about three songs in the Trip-Hop list before rounding the building to the 540 King streetcar stop. There, Tricky’s croaking “hell is around the corner” cut into a chill Massive Attack groove, the words foreshadowing the presence of something dark and evil just a few feet away.

Let’s call her L.

I’ve known her professionally for a number of years. Our paths have managed to cross on more than one occasion, and each of those times I was reminded of why I wasn’t keen on seeing her again. To sum it up succinctly, she doesn’t get fired well.

It’s not the kind of not getting fired well you’re probably thinking of. There are no angry expressions, violence, or bridge-burning words; just a psychotic grin accompanied by a wholly unsettling and removed calmness.

Allow me to paint the picture for you. On each occasion, settings aside, the situation is the same: At the time of the incident, she has either spent the previous six months or so producing something she was never asked to produce or, sometimes, nothing at all. There’s usually not great shock when the head of HR approaches her to “have a chat.” After this she returns to work at her desk, broad grin adorning her wide face, giving everyone the impression that she’d just received a raise.

On the contrary, she’d just been let go. Only she’s not letting go.

Management circles her desk and and explains slowly that she’s no longer an employee. She nods, eyes focused, clear, and clearly failing to take in reality, kind of like a serial murderer trying to figure out why the skin suit she fashioned isn’t giving her the power of its’ victims. Then she turns her head back to the monitor and resumes working.

At this point security usually intervene, physically escorting her from the premises. She flashes that magic smile at everyone as she leaves, perhaps still unaware of her situation, or perhaps deciding how best to decapitate all of her favourite ex-colleagues. That, in a scary nutshell, is L and her unceasing smile (trust me, it’s not incredible positivity).

As I swung around the corner this morning, that smile cut through the crowd like a bloodied knife. She looked straight at me with a horrible focus and a curt little Asian head-nod that indicated I was now very possibly the next unsolved murder of the year. Evading conversation seemed like a quick way to a sliced carotid, so I waved and said hello.

Despite my lack of interaction with her in the past, she knew my name, my age, where I’d lived and worked over the past few years, the name of my cat, and other creepy factoids meticulously gathered from the few sentences I spoke in front of her (not to her, as she explained).

My own memories  stopped at the companies where she claimed we had worked together (until they came flooding back later in a long-repressed deluge).

“What’s your name again?” I asked.

“Oh, you don’t remember?” she replied with an even deeper and more unsettling grin.

I glanced nervously at my watch while shaking my head no. Twenty minutes to my destination; God, please let me live through this!

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