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Shaving Olympia Dukakis

They say she was there when the building went up. She moved over to the new one when they knocked the old one down. When our division moved from that new building to a satellite office, she moved in to that building. I guess that means that I have first hand knowledge that she was there when the last two buildings went up. I’m going to take it on faith that she was there when they constructed the one that got knocked down.

Let’s call her Gail, since that’s not her name. She’s the secretary for our little slice of the big operation.

Form 518 Arrives On A Breeze

Olympia Dukakis at "Norman Jewison and Fr...

Olympia Dukakis, number 12 on the list of the top 100 people I never thought I'd write about (Image via Wikipedia)

She’s been here forever. She could have retired years ago, but she didn’t. I’m pretty certain she’s not going to anytime soon. Most of the people who talk about what will happen around here after I retire are younger than me, they’re locked in to this place. Gail’s not locked in, but she talks about when I’m gone like she’s one of the new kids. She’s not planning to leave anytime soon.

Gail remembers a lot of the old timers that I do, and the ones from before my time as well. She remembers how they did things, how we did things and a good bit of how we do things today.

Not only does she remember how things were done, she still has the paper forms that were used back before the Microsoft invasion. Sometimes, when people who don’t know any better complain about the difficulty of completing a task on a slow computer, I’ll call on Gail. “Show him the old form 518 we used to use for that in the ‘80’s, Gail.” A few minutes later she comes back with a yellowed 518 and the complaining stops.

She’s as good as gold, she’ll do whatever needs doing. She’s got tasks, she gets more. Her disposition never changes. I wish she could go, she deserves that.

Gail Blows Up To A Category 3 Storm

Conversations with Gail can be a challenge for people who aren’t from her generation.

"Sir, what the hell is Woolco?" (Image via Wikipedia)

Once, I heard her go to someone else in the office about a problem at a nearby shopping center. They addressed the current problem, but the discussion didn’t end there. Soon, the conversation was swirling back toward the 1970’s to a story from when she was a clerk at the Woolco store that was in that same shopping center back then. Twenty minutes later, her nostalgic word storm blew over and she wandered back to her desk. Her conversation partner staggered by my desk a few minutes later. I looked up and she said “sir, what the hell is Woolco?”

She’s as good as gold. She means well. So many don’t know what she’s talking about when one of her conversations blows ashore. I wish she could go, she deserves that.

The Storm Increases In Strength. A Mandatory Evacuation Order Is In Place

This morning I was in the copier room when Gail came in. She seems to like the beard and has somehow equated it with me pursuing a career in acting. We’ve covered this ground several times since I grew the beard. I’m not sure how skills as an actor connect with my ability to grow a beard quickly. I just thought the fast growing beard thing meant that I was part Italian.

English: Pres. U.S. Grant (between 1870 and 18...

General U.S. Grant, imitating me. (Image via Wikipedia)

The conversation raged on. At that point it didn’t matter if I were a Thespian or an Italian, the only thing I could do was board up the windows and ride it out.

She pointed out that Olympia Dukakis didn’t find fame as an actress until later in life. The gust that followed that, the one about how my beard made me look like Ulysses S. Grant,  blew me against a cabinet. I braced myself there until the confusing word storm blew by and she moved on up the coast to her work station.

Olympia Dukakis. Ulysses S. Grant. Me. Apparently Olympia needs a shave.

She’s as good as gold. She’s capable and does her job well. She could easily do this for many more years. But she deserves to be collecting her pension and doing a little part-time work just to stay busy.Gail has earned that.

Some people suffer when the alarm clock goes off and they realize it is time to go to work. Others find their happiness at the office. They would just as soon stay at the office and make me imagine Olympia Dukakis’ barber.

It takes all kinds.

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9 Comments on “Shaving Olympia Dukakis”

  1. Todd Pack says:

    I think every organization has a Gail. I’m glad yours goes a good job and is someone people like. Mine wasn’t. Mine was crabby and incompetent but kept her job management was afraid she’d sue if they fired her. I hear she finally took a buyout. I don’t think anyone in the office missed her once she finally left.

    As for your becoming an actor, you fairly close to Wilmington, right? They still make movies in Wilmington. I can picture you as the sleazy bartender or the scuzzy night clerk or the leering gas station attendant.

  2. Laura says:

    Wait — didn’t you make a video of yourself with your beard? Or was that just a photo? If it was a video, then that’s sort of like acting, and it is directly related to your beard. Gail was right all along.

    Also, are your beard skills limited to just growing it quickly? Because if you could also retract it, that might come in really handy for your acting career.

  3. Lenore Diane says:

    I agree with Todd – I think there is a Gail in every workplace. I liked ‘my’ Gail. She was always entertaining, which is a nice thing to have at work.
    Why won’t Gail leave? I hope it is because she enjoys the work too much. I also hope she’ll read your post. It’s nice. Tributes should be shared. Unless of course your ‘she should go’ is said in the same tone as the joke, “Take my wife … please.”

  4. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    I had a Gail, too. She moved away after she retired last year and I miss her so much! She was short, quite short, but moved very quickly. You couldn’t see her in the aisles until it was too late. She’d rush into my cubicle and blurt out some random stuff and then be gone. She was also Adam Lambert’s biggest fan. She had a huge desktop monitor wallpaper of him in a suggestive pose. Gosh, I love that woman! And miss her.

  5. Debbie says:

    The “Gails” of this world don’t leave because they can’t. Where else would they find their purpose in life? Where else can they be in the know? Where else can they draw a paycheck, enjoy the camaraderie, maybe score a birthday card now and then? You’re fortunate to have a “Gail” you actually like — too many out there aren’t so lucky!

  6. Curiously enough, I completely understand the logic in Gail’s word storm.

    I’m kind of sorry I read this, though, because I’d been equating your beard with the mental image of another great thespian (Brad Pitt). Actually, not equating — you work it better than he does.

    Now, though, now I’ve replaced the mental image with a bearded Jon Lovitz. I don’t like this.

  7. planetross says:

    This was a bit ramblely and disconnected … were you channelling Gail?

    note: I’m the 4th longest active employee in a company of about 50 people. I get where Gail is coming from.

    double note: I used to work for Woolworths in High School … and for 5 years between going to University the first time and the second time.


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