Notes on the 2004 Stumptown Christmas Parade
Rising Star of the Literary World

Office Princess

1. During my interview, the General Manager explained that this typesetting position was available because Fair Maiden had resigned in order to care for her aging father. She'd been with the printshop for six years and was referred to as "that girl." I said it was encouraging to hear that she had been employed with them for so long.

2. Arwyn was in a bluegrass band- your typical "tortured" artist. "I just want to be making music," she always moaned. Sure. We'd all rather be somewhere besides at work. She was a strange bird.

3. Someone had named her hard drive "Fair Maiden," but Melissa was her real name. One day her husband called the office and was put on hold. The lady who picked up the line by mistake was greeted by, "Hello, Peanut." Fair Maiden did not think this was funny. I'm not sure if they teased her directly about this nickname, but the story quickly became part of office lore.

4. Arwyn had named her hard drive "Den of Chaos." When I replaced her, I was afraid to clear out items in these folders, and afraid to name any clever folders of my own.

5. Fair Maiden's favorite typefaces were American Classic and Cheltenham. Arwyn was always finding a use for Harlequin.

6. Arwyn's layouts were always "rigged" in one way or another. Twenty-something single spaces instead of a customized tab, white picture boxes used to cover up uneven lines. The kind of sloppy work you only see when you examine the file, not in the printed product. Whatever works, we always say.

7. People told me Fair Maiden was just a "classic bitch." Once upon a time, she was overheard chewing her husband out on the phone for spending $25 on postage stamps. No further context was available on the purchase. She occasionally did things to redeem herself, like that time she sent a sympathy card when a co-worker had a death in the family.

8. One day Arwyn declared that she would skip lunch breaks and begin leaving an hour early, at 4pm. This was met with protest and indignation on the part of the other staff members, who never thought of their hours as negotiable, or their time as too valuable.

9. Fair Maiden was an only child- a fact used to explain/reinforce her image as "spoiled." Her father used to drop by the office frequently. "I got your oil changed," he'd say and she'd cut him off, complaining, "That was never really the problem. The brakes need work." This was the same dad she supposedly quit work for.

10. After only a week at work, Arwyn laid down the law. She was there to do typesetting, she said, not answer the phone, give quotes to customers, hop up and down out of her seat all day to see who's at the door. Coming from a traditional company- which supported the separate positions for sales, design and production management, Arwyn was incensed at the new and constant demands on her time.The owners had a good chuckle at this announcement. "Not in a printshop this size," they said. Their organizational model was more of the everybody-pitch-in-while-the-boss-plays-golf kind of thing.

11. On the other hand, Fair Maiden was a fast, capable worker. She'd finish up her bin of typesetting orders by lunchtime and spend the rest of the day immersed in some mystery project, without ever offering to help others in the department. Finally, her officemates conspired to search her computer and find out what she was typing. It turns out she was keeping some sort of journal. Investigators were shocked at the level of compulsion with which she catalogued the minutia of her daily existence, from her daily workout, calories ingested, vacation plans, car maintenance and general worries to semi-fictional scenarios where she referred to herself as "Fair Maiden." She and her husband were fond of travel. One of her entries reads: "Not a single person has asked about my trip or what I'm doing with my vacation days. Phooey on them." I expect this was her only indictment of them directly, and has thus been committed to memory verbatim.

12. Arwyn claimed to know all the software, but one time the boss watched her struggling to touch up a photo. "How do you get rid of this?" she said. "Use the Eraser tool," he said. "Where's that?" she said. Now how do you get by in any photo-editing program without knowing about the Eraser tool? is what he'd like to know.

13. From the items listed under "Recent Documents," Fair Maiden could see that her diaries had been opened. She could not guess, however, that her coworkers had gone so far as to burn a CD of her writings. She did not confront them about the violation, but instead began deleting her personal documents in batches. She became quite pinched. She put in her 2 weeks notice shortly after, and did not speak to anyone in her department during that time. The General Manager never learned the details of her departure.

14. Arywn's gravest sin was her bad attitude towards customers. She once took liberties with the official logo of a customer who happened to be the owner's personal accountant. At some other point, she told a customer they "didn't know what they were talking about." This is generally true, but you're supposed to wait 'til the customer leaves to discuss it.

15. Fair Maiden abused the company email system for personal uses. The department head configured Fair Maiden's email client to copy all incoming messages to her inbox. By 10:30 the next morning, her mailbox was flooded with over 30 messages to Fair Maiden, including one from the father mentioning that he'd "pass on" her resume.

16. Arwyn had a weird thing about raisins. She ate them very carefully, spreading out a handful on her desktop and inspecting them for stems and debris. This is the kind of thing that people remember about you.



I wonder what Douglas Coupland has named his hardrive. Bottle of Somethin'? Corner of Chaos? Black Hole of Superb Thoughts? =)

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