Working in any business for 25 plus years, I suppose knowing more dirt on bosses and employees than you need or care to is inevitable. A lot of the information is best left unspoken (or written!) until you no longer face firing or an ass-whooping. I will temper what I divulge here in order to avoid the best witness protection program.
I decided for myself that it was best to feign ignorance when it came to the knowledge of some busy practices that I’m pretty sure skirted the acceptability of the law. Not information that is necessarily shared with you or sent in an email, but dealing with daily (nightly) business, keeping your eyes and ears open, it’s like osmosis and tequila: you eventually absorb It. Then you decide how much of it if you shared it, would require sawing off a finger or denying access to your phone for an hour. I would make an excellent spy. Under interrogation, I could forget my own name if I had to.
I have always been the person who lets very little slip by me — unless it’s red flags thrown by shady boyfriends. I seem to have a knack for reading between the lines (the subtext, in theater terminology), and wading through the bullshit that is being assimilated that follows “party lines.” I can’t imagine being a person of position in the current administration, listening to bat-shit craziness daily, and is expected to ape it back to the public or the press. I would be rolling my eyes so far that I could see behind me! A rare few, myself included, would occasionally clock the ridiculous crap and call it out, but that’s like pulling hair out of your teeth — or so I’ve heard!
Other things required a stoic silence (until now).
One day a big boss decided to beat up his ex-boyfriend and my coworker. When I answered the phone and patched it through to an office where they both were, I could not have anticipated what would happen next. Suddenly the door between our offices was flung open and my coworker has knocked up three steps, and as he scrambled to run was popped fully in the face with a fist and sent sprawling several feet. I heard my own voice screaming the boss’s name which seemed to shake him from his red-eyed rage, allowing the victim to hightail it out of the building (and directly to the nearest police station to file a report.)
I walked to the other side of the building, shaking like a leaf. A bit later I managed to enrage the bully when he found me and attempted to make excuses, saying, “I told him not to drag you’ll into it!”
I replied, “I wasn’t in until you kicked his ass in front of me.” For a brief moment, I thought I might be next. I guess he decided he’d done enough damage for one day.
After that, things were very strained for a while and a strange set of rules were implemented that involved some court-ordered social distancing (when social distancing was called a restraining order).
Dossiers on fellow employees were fairly common, though based more on gossip than facts: boyfriend situations, drinking and drug issues, and the all-important sexual activity, especially if it involved something kinky. To that end, I heard stories that made Fifty Shades of Gray look like Winnie the Pooh, even if Pooh was digging for honey in Eyore’s happy woods. Those things are best kept in my mind’s impenetrable vault in hopes that some queen is avoiding spreading my business like peanut butter and jelly on bread: sticky and sweet, and hard to swallow.
The no-holds-barred gossip was saved for the unaware bar customer who drank too much, shared way too much, and thought the bartender was his “pal and confidante.” Please, Mary, I’m waiting for my shift to end to laugh at you with my coworkers, so take your drink and move on. But not before tipping me like I’m your therapist.
The only real useful gathered gossip was who was single, who wasn’t but was willing to cheat, and who was looking for someone to shower with gifts, all filed for future reference. And, of course, the all-important size of equipment. Tested at the first opening. Chance!