Three Kid Circus : Can I Get A Hee?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Can I Get A Hee?

For some reason, I woke up this morning thinking about some old co-workers of mine. I worked at a company that had two divisions: one produced 'natural' cosmetics and toiletries like shampoo and face scrubs, and the other was working on a cure for Erectile Disfunction. And the president of the Erectile Disfunction division was named Ed. *Snort*

Anyway, these coworkers of mine were hilarious, and made the job fun. We worked in cubicles that were in direct line of sight from the president's office, and he was anal with a capital A. He didn't like to see more than one tidy stack of paper on the desk, and only if you were working on it, right that second. No visible in-boxes. No filing could accumulate. No coffee cups visible. No message pads, no personal items. No pens or pencils were to be seen. Oh, and we were supposed to be silent. At all times.

As you can probably guess from my personality, this is a huge issue for me. I can't shut my mouth off. My male co-worker (I'll call him Joe) and my female co-worker (Let's say, um, Sue) had worked for this company for several years, and were great at following the rules. Joe sat in the cube next to me, Sue across the aisle. For the first couple of days, I kept my nose to the grindstone, and was miserable. The third day, I heard a soft beep and looked at my phone. My intercom line was blinking. I picked up the phone and Sue said "Crazy yet? Wanna get some lunch? Joe and I are going in 5 minutes. Put your pen away!"

The moment we stepped out the breakroom door, squinting and blinking in the midday glare, the conversation erupted. Sue had a wonderful laugh. She was also an excellent mimic, and could imitate every employee. Joe was adorable, and he knew it. He was from a large Portuguese family, and as the weeks passed, took every opportunity to speak Portuguese in front of me, which I assume was supposed to impress me. With his blond hair and blue eyes, he was "...my mother's cutest child, I mean, she took me with her everywhere because people always went crazy over her beautiful blond boy. I'm totally the cutest son in my family."

I love modesty like that.

Sue was a single mother used to adventure. She planned lots of road trips, loved NASCAR and had a thousand stories. She brought me up to speed on all the company scuttlebutt, and taught me how to get around the silence rule (instant messaging, and intercom calls :) Suddenly my days were full of inside jokes. Our human resource lady was really perky. Sue informed me that her maiden name was "Twinkle" (not really, it was something equally cutesy and perky, though) and took pains to announce her arrival ala the "Here Comes Miss America!" with "Now on the runway, Miss Human Resources - Katrina... TWINkle!" Ms. Twinkle would obligingly do a catwalk turn before entering her office. I wonder if she thought it was funny like we did?

Joe was young and naive, and Sue and I had a good time 'educating' this fine young man. Example: A friend of mine was at a bar, talking to a cute guy. Our other friend was sitting next to her, saying "cornhole, cornhole, cornhole" under her breath. Friend #1 was flirting away, when the desired subliminal effect took hold. "I'm graduating from cornhole this year. Did I just say CORNHOLE?" Yeah, the guy was really impressed.

I repeated this tale at work, Sue and Joe laughed appreciatively. The next day, Joe comes back looking sheepish. Apparently, he went home to his mama, and kept slipping the word 'cornhole' into conversation. He thought it was funny, but he had NO IDEA what he was saying. His mom freaked out. And he reported this back to us. And we STILL had to explain what it meant. Ahahahahaha! Can you guess what we nicknamed Joe? Good times, good times.

*note: apparently Joe was not the only person unsure on "cornhole." It's actually a game
but also is a slang word for, uh, the place where you go poopie.

Anyway, then the company hired a new manager. Oh man. She brought her little poodle with mangy butt issues and decorated her office with poster prints like those '80s parrots and jungle cats. She had an unfortunate last name, that with the aid of white-out and a manual typewriter was easily transformed on her business cards to read "Skank." This was Sue's idea. I'm not that wicked.

Anyhoo, Ms. Skank had a braying laugh. She sounded just like a donkey. We were beside ourselves the first time we heard it. Especially since she would break into the braying to say "isn't that HILARIOUS?" and "Could you just DIE?" Sue, ever quick on the uptake, coined a phrase that is part of my lexicon to this day. Anything idiotic was greeted with "Can I get a Hee Haw?" at which point Joe and I would repeat "Hee Haw." And then we'd laugh like donkeys.

As time wore on, the Haw seemed superfluous, and "Can I get a hee?" seemed to do the trick nicely. As luck would have it, I ended up leaving shortly after learning I was pregnant with my first. To this very day, I find myself saying in my sarcastic inner voice "Hee Haw!" at choice moments.

There you have it. A touching recollection of a formative employment experience, which probably scarred innocent perky people and donkey laughing bosses for life.