Blissfully Unaware

A throw back to the Baby Boomer generation would name it the Unemployment office, but in the political correctness of the day, it is now the Employment office.  Makes a certain sense I think. You go there looking for work not unemployment, although you wouldn’t go there is you were employed. Life’s ambiguities always catch my attention. I approached the receptionist and advised her of my purpose and was instructed to take a seat.  The waiting room wasn’t filled, there was no real flurry of activity, yet she met every person who approached her counter with a mouthful of food, gingerly fingering the morsels that attempted escape, pushing and shoving them between the muffle of words she would try to voice at the same time she chewed.  How very odd I thought.  The spectacle drew my focus downward for it was hardly possible to ignore the cut of her dress.  I love the phrase “ample bosom” all by itself that phrase creates a visual.  You can imagine, without encouragement, what an ample bosom would do if inadequately restrained by a neckline meant for an after hours soiree. It might have been in the moment she checked herself in the mirror that morning; it might have been in the car, when she pressed her lipstick to her lips in the rear view mirror, the neckline might have passed muster, for it only allowed an inch or two of cleavage to peek atop the straight cutaway of her dress.  It all might have worked if not for the fact her job description required her to bend over, straighten up again, turn around, lean back, you get the picture. Little imagination needed. She simultaneously pushed the food back, checked appropriate repetitive responses, and kept “the girls” at bay, oblivious to the show, a talent that could rival a circus clown juggling as if his life depended on it.

I would have dismissed the whole affair as a “one off”.  You know, those occasions where training facilitators convince you the customer service received by their company was an exception to the prescribed exemplary behavior; very close to not really ever having happened at all. On this occasion it made me think about being the one there for employment help, while clearly this woman needed help. It could have been a one off, if it were not for having occasion to be in the same office the following week.

By ten o’clock in the morning that day, it was already hot. Stepping inside the double set of heavy doors, anyone having to wait was grateful for the air conditioning.  I had slipped into a permit parking spot rationalizing that if ticketed I could plead necessity, for the visitors’ parking lot was already full.  A police cruiser was pulling up as I entered, joining another already parked outside the main doors. The reason became evident the moment I stepped inside. To my right, in my peripheral view  two officers were snugged up alongside a young, heavy set man with short dark hair.  I vaguely recall his offsetting, straight ahead focus. In crisp sharp black uniforms, they crowded him and he bolted. Striking out like a wild horse in the desperate last moments of freedom.  I made a wide circle around the melee where the officers had his face to the cool of the stone floor, hands behind his back.  A flash of shiny chrome as the handcuffs were employed.  I had reached the receptionist counter where at least a dozen people were standing in awe of the proceedings, not really sure how to respond.  Many backed away.  A few expletives betrayed the surprise, most were on their feet or standing at a safe distance.

At this moment the receptionist stands behind the safety of her counter and having been oblivious up to this point, turns her attention to whatever the commotion might be. Realizing at last this is not something that happens every day she cries out;  “Someone call the police!” and does so with a great deal of sound and authority.  “They are the police.” came the meek reply from a young girl protecting her coffee cup.

I wasted no time in finding the room where I was to join the seminar.  I lingered no longer than it took to confirm the young man was in custody.  The remainder of his day would not go as he may have planned when he got out of bed that morning. Miss Blissfully unaware receptionist sat back down, satisfied she had done all she could.

I’m one of the lucky ones I thought as I found a chair close to the front of the room.  I wasn’t taken away in a police cruiser that morning.   I wasn’t a government clerk trying to explain some convoluted policy of reimbursement for re-training. I wasn’t the angry young man.

And more grateful I was than any of those in attendance that morning, I was not the gainfully employed, fully benefited, duly trained and utterly unaware receptionist.

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