Straight Face to Straitjacket

Clowns abound and they can be found in the work place too. I remember one in particular from several jobs ago. I’ll call him Bozo so I won’t be sued. He worked harder to make my boss laugh than he did doing his job as an individual contributor. I think it was because my boss had a reputation of being a prig with a sprig up his thingamajig. That he had only one expression—straight faced—gave Bozo a challenge he didn’t find while working in Accounts Receivable.

A brief about my boss—it was rumored that he was born at the Company*, where he started at the ground level and after throwing people under the bus and stabbing their backs, he eventually pulled himself up to VP class. He was not in the corner office just yet, although he made it clear to those who counted that he would rule from there some day. (Last time I heard he is still eyeing that carpeted real estate.)

Watching Bozo and my boss interact made for entertainment for us young ‘uns, who were still trying to spread our wings so we could soar so high before hitting that glass ceiling. But, that’s another story. This story is about the clown who just wanted us to laugh. All of us, especially the Sprig.

Once we had a company cookout in our company parking lot. There were about 25 of us getting in line to partake ready-made burgers from Costco and hot dogs so rubbery that every time we swallowed a bite, we had to get the Heimlich maneuver treatment. We also had baked beans that looked like pebbles swimming in ketchup and corn on the cob. Thanks to Monsanto’s genetically modified creation, the corn repelled all the insects around us. The only no-see-‘ems (aka gnats) at the picnic were my boss’ teeth. He never cracked a smile. Not even when Bozo revealed he was the one who pulled the April Fool’s pranks a couple of months ago, as if we didn’t suspect.

Here’s what he did. We had a Brag Board for employees to post pictures of their kids or grandkids with brief descriptions of their latest antics. Bozo had posted on the Board a picture he got from the Internet, but he made it convincingly look like a photo he had taken of a Capuchin monkey standing up and wearing a white, sleeveless dress. He wrote a caption under the photo that read, “Sally playing dress up.” While many laughed, my boss just looked at him and raised an eyebrow.

Bozo continues to describe how he had also sneaked into the women’s rest room and placed on the bathroom counter a glass of water with a set of fangs floating in it. The kind you would wear during Halloween to pretend you’re a vampire. One of the women said, “I thought they were someone’s dentures.” Everyone laughed, but my boss said, “That’s as funny as a bunch of sticks on the ground.” The clown huffed away.

Eventually, we headed back into the building. After all that exertion outside, I started to nod off in my cubicle, which was only a couple of feet away from my boss’ office. I had to be discreet, so I put on a pair of reading glasses with eyes painted on the lens to look like I’m fully awake. No one had ever come in to check my eyes that closely. Office romance was against company policy.

As I dozed off, I suddenly heard a scream from my boss’ office. I whipped off my glasses and ran to his office. I saw him standing on his chair and pointing at a massive, hairy, quivering spider. I yelped in surprise and other people came over to see what was happening. One brave soul stepped forward holding a ruler. She was a mother with kids, so she was used to facing up to horrific creatures such as what stood before my now fearful boss.

The mother of three poked the hairy mass and said, “This is a not a real spider.” She proved it by raising it with the ruler and throwing it at our direction. We laughed nervously even though she was right. It looked very real.

Although no one could prove it, bets were on that Bozo was behind this latest jest, too. But by this point it no longer mattered. He had left to join another circus.
*More anonymity so he won’t know I’m talking about him

©2015 Karina Pinella

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