The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Lose

It was a day like any other in the asphalt jungle. I was still reeling from the departing supervisor incident, which had left a wound that was still a little raw. So it was with caution that I greeted the new girl at the Community Center – Nakita. She was a nice enough young woman; a tall, attractive African-American with an impressive pedigree. She was joining our team of therapists in the Preventive Services Program. Nakita boasted degrees from Rutgers and Columbia University, with a promise of acceptance to Harvard’s Ph.D. program. Wow! I thought. We’ve hit the jackpot here. But something just didn’t seem right. Don’t brilliant women wear polyester pantsuits? Don’t brillaitn women match their handbags with their shoes? Aren’t smart women humble and self-effacing? Nakita was none of these things. She was almost “chic.” If her mouth ran any faster, it would end up in New Jersey. In fact, it was all about her. I smelled a cute little rat.

Sure enough, after the usual inquiries were made for her school credentials, Nakita disappeared. For three days, no one could reach her. It wasn’t until later that we learned that Nakita had lied about everything. She was caught trying to bribe a secretary at Rutgers. She had no degrees, no invitation to Harvard. No polyester pantsuits. She was a total fraud. We learned later that she’d finally caught up with her mouth in New Jersey. I felt vindicated, since all of my co-workers had accused me of jealousy when I’d mentioned my concerns. I was happy to see that my “phony-detector” was working. My happiness was short-lived, however. I ended up with Nakita’s entire caseload. Another lesson learned; life is definitely not fair. I went home and threw out everything made out of polyester.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed my misadventures at the community center, I wasn’t making squat. I needed to find a job that paid more – after all, I had my son’s Tae Kwon Do and my daughter’s ballet lessons to think of. So a friend helped me get a job nearby at a Foster Care agency. It was here that I earned my Ph.D. in Office Politics. I should have know right away that I would have a hard time of it, when one of the caseworkers looked me up and down and slammed the door in my face. Hmmm. It seemed like a strange greeting.

A word about the pecking order should be mentioned here. It exists. Everywhere. Here, it was clearly set in concrete, and the sooner I learned it, he better. There was the “Head Honcho.” He happened to be the one who helped me get the job, so I was already off on the wrong foot. Then there was the “Big Cheese.” She’d been working there since 300 B.C., was older than God, and could bite your head off with one smooth motion. Fortunately, she liked Hershey’s kisses. Next was the “Top Tomato.” She was sleeping with the “Head Honcho.” I knew better than to mess with her. Let’s not forget the “Office Marm.” She was the only one who knew exactly where everything was, so if you pissed her off, you could forget about ever finding paper for the copy machine. Needless to say, I was near the bottom of this totem pole. In fact, I was kissing concrete. It was clear that I would have few outlets for my frustrations, so what was I to do? I had to take it out on someone. It was usually the cleaning lady, or my computer. Or my bulletin board. I would sometimes be found with my fingers wrapped around a biological parent’s neck. I was only human. Let’s just say that by the time I left that illustrious establishment, I had trashed my office. Take that, Office Marm! Consider my Hershey’s kisses adequate compensation.

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