I work at an online company. This company rewards it’s employees with a month long sabbatical for tenured service. While on my sabbatical, my department made a number of hirings. One of them was a crazy lady that they decided to place right in front of me. Did I know that she was a little crazy, of course not. She appeared to the naked mind to be a perfectly ordinary, if not pleasant, individual.
I did notice, on my first day back, that she talked to herself a lot. No big deal, I thought, she’s new. She’s trying to work herself through these difficult and overwhelming cases. That first day, I paid little to no attention to her. The second day, she began talking to herself when I sat down at 8:00 am to the point when she left at 5:30. Boy, I thought, this girl is certainly struggling. I could see her get a little frustrated, but I understood such a dilemma, we’re all new at one point in our lives. She did talk to herself A LOT though.
The third day was something different altogether however. On the third day, she started silently screaming at her computer. She was going off. Her head was bopping, and her teeth were showing. I glanced around to determine the source of her frustration. I couldn’t find anything. Rather than subsiding, as the day past, her frustrations grew as the day progressed. I am not usually phased by much, but I had one foot pointed to the door in case some sort of progression occurred. She pulled out a cookie. Presumably to calm her nerves, or she may have been diabetic. I still don’t know the answer to that question. I would never go so far as to say I’m a macho male who feels no fear, but I’ve never felt fear watching someone eat a cookie before.
The manner in which she devoured this cookie, however, caused me some trepidation. This woman laughs at things. Uproarious laughter. She has no headphones on. She turns to the left and the right on different occasions, and she laughs. On one occasion, she placed a hand between her breasts and apologized for laughing so hard. She wasn’t speaking to me, the person unfortunate enough to be in front of her, she wasn’t speaking to anyone. When she speaks casually to herself, she gesticulates to expound her meaning.
She flails her arms about in a fashion one will at a party when they are having one hell of a time. I wondered one day if she is talking to people in the future or the past, or is she one of those rare individuals who–like a Kurt Vonnegut character–is unstuck in time, and she’s living in the past, the present and the future at the same time? I wondered one day–if I started talking to myself, laughing, and yelling at my computer screen–what she would think of me? Would she make it a point to ridicule me? If she did ridicule me, would she be doing so because she was unaware of her own activities, or would she be ridiculing me to suggest to all around her that she wasn’t one of those people who did such crazy things? Would my activities provide her with a chance to define her own character by lifting herself up above those who engage in such activities? The other day she stood, looking at a fellow employee named Natalie.
The lady was hovering near enough to Natalie that Natalie thought she had a work related question. Natalie is a senior agent on our team. “What’s up?” Natalie asked. “Just stretching,” was the lady’s reply. “Sean, she was standing completely still.” Natalie informed me. My reply: “Did you ask her what muscles she was stretching?” She eats her ear wax. She pulls it out, examines it, and occasionally eats it. I often wonder what her selection process involves. What’s a good batch and what’s a bad batch? I wondered one day, if I cracked a joke about people who eat their own ear wax, what her reaction would be. Would she laugh from a distance at such foolish people, or would she defend her fellow ear wax eaters? “Hey, I eat my ear wax, how dare you crack on my people?”