January 31st, 2007

I Did Not Realize I So Resembled the Unabomber

It started out as a simple errand. And, like many things that start out as simple errands, it devolved into an Extremely Irritating Situation.


I had to make a visit to a former editor’s office and pick up the instructions for the interim editor. (That would be me.) He’d emailed me—this is a direct quote, now—“I know that if you show up there and tell 'em you're the interim editor, they'll show you where the office is and let you in.”


Oh, the hilarity.


I had forgotten—because I so rarely visit this office—about the Odd Receptionist Man. He’s not an odd receptionist because he’s a man, mind you; he’s a receptionist man who happens to be extremely, extremely odd. (I can’t get more specific than that. I’m thinking he would be a great basis for a character in a fantasy MS I plan to start revising in the next few months.) Every time I’ve encountered him, he has been cool and dismissive, as though he hopes his attitude will dissuade me from annoying whichever party it is I am there to distract from his Extremely Important Work.


Ever optimistic (and somewhat absentminded. Honestly, I’d forgotten about the Odd Receptionist Man and his evident dislike of me), I strolled up to the desk and explained my errand.


“Oh,” he said. “Well, we’ll just call him up.”


“Is he here?” I was momentarily excited that my friendly editor would be able to tell me a little bit about interimming, and then I’d have his notes to refer to on top of it.


“I don’t know, I haven’t seen him.”


I knew what that meant. This guy evidently doesn’t know the first thing that is going on with this paper, or he’d know that my friendly editor has, at this juncture, no intention of returning to the office. “He said he isn’t coming back,” I told ORM. “So I just need to pick up the papers.”


This is where it really started going downhill.


“I can’t let you go there unless there’s someone to let you in,” he told me. “For security purposes.”


For security purposes! What editor’s office has ever been so jealously guarded? And for Pete’s sake, what kind of a security threat do I appear to pose? Now I know very well that appearances can be deceiving, but my appearances (when not hiding mysteriously behind a yam plant as in my LiveJournal pic) have always been of the sort to slip me right out of potential traffic tickets and to ease the way with angry security guards. (See earlier blog entry about awakening nuns by turning somersaults through their sprinklers in the middle of the night.) Where have I gone wrong, that now instead of being able to chatter my way out of difficult situations, I can’t even slip into a situation that’s not supposed to be difficult in the first place?


These were the thoughts zipping through my annoyed mind. My face, however, was doing whatever it does. I could tell The Look was in action because of ORM’s sudden zeal.


“But maybe we can catch him at home. Or maybe I have his cell number. Let me just look here”—the Rolodex flew across the desk—“oh, maybe it’s not under his last name, maybe it’s under his first name, here it is, let me just dial it for you and see—”


So there you have it: when I’m just being me, I look like a security threat. But when I give someone this menacing and powerful Look, things start going my way. How logical is that?


I would here like to document the Top Seven Most Annoying Things About The Look:


  1. I don’t know what it looks like. I also don’t know what it feels like, because I never know I’ve made The Look until I see the terrified reactions of others, and it flits across my face so swiftly that I have yet to document exactly what contortions my features are making during the phenomenon.
  2. This means I cannot make The Look on command.
  3. It is a dreadful waste of power not to be able to call upon such a weapon (er—tool) when the situation calls for it.
  4. I wouldn’t mind making The Look so much if I did it only when I was supremely irritated or actually wanted to terrify someone. (Those of you who do not know me may need to be told: there absolutely are situations in which I feel compelled to terrify someone. Desperate times call for desperate measures, you know?) But that it just happens of its own accord doesn’t seem fair.
  5. Also, I don’t like the way it seems to happen when I’m just thinking. Sure, it sometimes happens when I’m thinking rude things like, “How can I convey to this jackass the complete idiocy of that suggestion without sounding snotty?” But still, a situation like that really doesn’t warrant The Look.
  6. In fact, the last time I evidently made The Look, I wasn’t even in a bad mood. Scarcely even irritated, I was just walking out of a workspace to join a meeting already in progress. Evidently I looked so terrifying that, a friend of mine told me, she not only looked away, she turned away so that she would not glance at me accidentally.
  7. The same friend told me that fire was coming out of my eyes. (Okay, that I kinda like.)

 On the plus side, I did gain entrance to my former editor's office.


On the negative side: once I read the interimming notes, I discovered that much of the interim work will rely on reference to a news wire site. That requires a password. Which is saved on my editor’s computer. In his office.


Which means another visit to ORM.


But hey, if I take a handmirror with me, and keep it poised at all times, maybe—just maybe—I can finally get a good look at The Look. If I don’t turn to stone, this could be the start of my control over a great and powerful weapon. Er—tool. The world may never be the same.

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