Upon starting as an Administrative Assistant at a manufacturing plant in New York, I was given a tour of the long building by the fifty-something head Administrator. She had short auburn curls, wore wire rimmed glasses, and kept her lips tightly pursed as though everything big or small, alive or inanimate, tested her patience. Slight of figure, she dressed like a 1960’s high society woman in sheath dresses with three quarters sleeves and matching flats.
The tour wrapped up in the kitchen, where the Administrator beckoned to the sink laden with used coffee mugs.
“You are to wash anything left here by other employees.” I thought she was joking, but her pursed lips told otherwise. Employees were supposed to wash their own mugs and store them upside down on the drying rack, but didn’t, and evidently it was my problem.
“Now, where to keep your mug,” the Administrator wondered aloud, as she tapped her rosebud mouth with her pointer figure and scanned the kitchen.
Why not the drying rack, same as everyone else’s? I wondered.
There was no space in the entire kitchen to store my coffee mug, determined the Administrator.
“Follow me,” she said, holding the mug I’d brought from home far from her body as though carrying a bag of dog doo.
I followed her obediently as she zigged and zagged, got up on her tiptoes and crouched down low, looking for a good storage option somewhere in the building. Aside from the room where products were made, literally the rest of the property was designed for storage of said products.
I found myself standing with the Administrator in the reception office’s single-occupant bathroom.
“Ah!” she exclaimed exuberantly. “Here we go!”
Beneath the sink was a cupboard, which the Administrator opened. She hinged forward and set my mug on the top shelf, just above the stockpile of toilet paper. Closing the cupboard doors, she rose with her pink lips upturned in a prim smile. One more crisis averted, one more battle won, one more feat accomplished.
I frowned at the cupboard, then at the Administrator’s back as she left the bathroom.
I’d rather just keep it in my hand, thanks! I wanted to call after her.
After all, what was the plan for when another employee beat me to the bathroom with a newspaper tucked under their arm? Would I knock on the door and ask the occupant to please pass me the mug from the cupboard?
I never touched the mug again, needless to say. It’s probably still in that cupboard, collecting dust and spiders.