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February 11, 2008

The Icelandic

Today is Hilda's birthday. Happy birthday Hilda! I can't even remember Hilda's last name but I can remember her birthday because it's close to mine and there's a lot of people I know whose birthdays are in February. Aquarians like Aquarians. And Pisces.

She was Icelandic and she had the whitest, finest, baby blonde duck hair. She drove around in a red Carmen Ghia with a black soft top which was down as much as Vancouver's weather would permit.It was a really noisy little car but it was really fun to drive around in especially in the summer. We worked at an ICBC Bodily Injury Claim Center together in the year of Expo 86.

She worked in the mailroom and I was having every ounce of my soul and my brain sucked out of me doing dictatyping as part of a typing pool. We used typewriters. Can you believe it? I don't care what anyone says, there's still something to be said about the sound of a typewriter.

I was part of a pool of women typing the dictation of ICBC adjusters who were commenting on people who were putting in claims as a result of car accidents or fake car accidents or staged car accidents. I can remember this much older woman, Shirley, who was in the pool and when we got new typewriters, the kind that had some automated functionality, that change in technology just about pushed her over the edge. She was very funny. And, she did her work and kept to herself probably because she was about 25 years older than the rest of us. Poor Shirley.

My favorite part was when we got to watch the video surveillance footage of someone claiming to be completely disabled. A private investigator would videotape the "suspect". First, the tape would show some guy barely able to move hobbling out of the claim center and then later the same day, he'd be playing tennis. Serving. Rallying. Running. Jumping. Sweet! I guess it was our little treat. Little break of humour in the day. Seems a little warped in hindsight.

I was deeply infatuated with someone there and vice versa and at that time he was wooing me and I would get invited to accompany him and his friend, a fellow adjuster, out to lunch at nice restaurants. Because he was in the position to do whatever the hell he wanted as a result of his lofty position, our lunches would sometimes be 2 hours long. We'd have wine. A lot of wine. I remember once coming back to the office after lots of wine and barely being able to sit at my desk. I remember looking at the floor and thinking would anyone notice if I just layed down for a bit on the rug beside my desk. Would it really matter? Could I? Should I?

One of my other friends from there at the time, Cheryl, whose last name I also can't recall, kept coming by and asking with alarm, Gayle, are you okay? Gayle, do you want some coffee? I could barely speak at that point. I'd just giggle. That would be my response.

It gives me great pleasure now to think of this time just because none of that would happen now. Not only would I not end up having an affair with someone 18 years older than me, on purpose (god - that would be REALLY, REALLY old now!) but I don't know too many workplaces (not even newspapers) where people now go out together during the day and get completely wasted.

This was the same place where I just lost it one day and simply left. It wouldn't have really mattered, nobody would have really noticed, except I was on the main switchboard at the time and I remember my poor friend Cheryl having to cover for me, running between her desk and then back to the main switchboard so a tag team of clerical friends took turns pretending to be getting a file, going to the washroom all the while taking turns for me on switchboard while Cheryl was frantically calling me at home saying, Gayle, where the hell are you? Get back here. What are you doing? Are you sick?

Ya, I'm sick. I'm really sick. I'm having a nervous breakdown. I quit a couple of days later.

That job is the number one reason I love the television show, The Office.

And, I would just like to say, as another year of my own life is soon to turn over, I have come a long way since then, Baby!

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