I shouldn’t let my first blog be about Bob, but I have to. Bob got fired today. Or laid off or whatever they are calling it nowadays. Downsizing. He was our Office Manager and oversaw about 10 people who clean the office or deliver mail and sit at Reception.
I have to say that I didn’t really like Bob. He’s the kind of guy that, if he thinks you like him, he never leaves your cubicle. Once you’ve been in the office world for about ten years, you can generally identify the people you want to stay away from within your first week; the office slut, the backstabbers, the nosey freaks that want to know if you’re recycling properly, the slackers who just want to plan happy hour, or the dorks from high school who look at Corporate America as their second chance to be cool and have a lot of people like them. That’s Bob. The girl who sits across from me, Brooke, made the mistake of bonding with him on her first week and every day he comes back and repeats the same joke she laughed at back then. Lucky me gets to hear it too! On Halloween, Bob came in a full bear costume his wife made. He walked around the place like he was a celebrity giggling nervously and soaking in as much attention as a man could. He said the whole family had the same costume and would go out trick-or-treating after supper! Don’t get me wrong, I like enthusiasm. But I don’t know how he got any of his work done. That day, on Halloween, we had a water pipe break in the office above us and he was in charge of evacuating and trying to clean up the mess and call up the electrician. He looked ridiculous, his face sweating make up and his bear suit all soaked.
Another irksome office moment is if you needed something like …a bunch of steno pads for a meeting or extra paper for the clip board in the conference room, you had to go find him. And if he was at his desk, you’d have the pain of looking at the latest family vacation photo he brought in. As if the sight of his cubicle wasn’t enough to give you a heart attack with all of his toys and company swag.
Anyway, back to today. About two weeks ago, someone had the idea to do a retro potluck. Everyone who wanted to be a part of it was encouraged to bring something their mom made while growing up. They called it “That 70’s Potluck.” About 27 people signed up and of course, it’s all Bob has talked about for the past 11 days because he played such an important role in it. He was organizing how many crock pots would need an electric socket and folding tables and enough chairs and ice for soda’s… Bob was in hysterics if you signed up and hadn’t told him what you were bringing yet. Poor Brooke got a visit everyday on the subject. And finally today came…
The office began to be smelly at around 10 o’clock with the large assortment of crock pots bubbling in the executive board room. It was really hard to work hearing everyone running around and people being paged by Bob. And then I saw him… Bob showed up for work today in polyester bell bottoms, a big afro, Elvis sun glasses, 6 inch platform shoes and a shirt that looked like the same pattern of my grandmother’s couch growing up. I know he was waiting for a reaction, but I couldn’t give anything. I ducked into my cube hoping he wouldn’t follow me.
About 45 minutes later, everyone hears Bob being paged every 2 minutes for about 20 minutes. And then it was quiet, which made me think maybe everyone was finally settling into work…uh, the real reason we’re all here. After a while I noticed it was really quiet. Too quiet. I stood up and prairie-dogged to see what was going on. Something was amiss. Most people seemed to be gathered in offices or in the kitchen or the board room. I kept standing there dumb-founded until I saw Bob come out of the CFO’s office. It wasn’t hard to see him because of the platform shoes and the shirt. His head was down and was walking my way. I sat down wondering what was going on until he sprung past me and headed to the back corner of the office where his cube was. I stood up again and saw him collecting things and grabbing stuff under his desk. It was very hurried and all the while, his afro was bouncing around. Then he walked into to board room. I heard some rumbling of conversation and then Bob walked out with his crock pot, obviously hot and grabbed garbage bags and a box of things from his desk and made his way towards me again. I sat down again until he passed and then shot up again. This time, I noticed that the HR intern was following him and holding his huge key ring. Bob was fired.
I sank down in my chair stunned and very still. I could feel the office getting noisy again and even a laugh, which made me sick. How could Bob be fired? And on top of it, why would anyone want to fire someone seated across from them in a fake afro, bell bottoms and their knees up to his chest because of his shoes. What is more annoying? Bob or the tact used in his discharge?
As I continued to sit there in my cube I thought about that Halloween day when the water leaked through our ceilings and remembered the worried look in Bob’s eyes. Pure distraught. And that day I knew it wasn’t about the water leak, but that his Halloween was ruined and his wife would probably kill him for ruining the costume. His kids would be disappointed. I began to think about what it would be like for Bob to come home early today and how he would tell them he lost his job. I wondered if his family were nicer people than me and saw him as a hero and a happy guy and not just some annoying boob who won’t stop talking.
It’s nearly quitting time and the potluck is over, the office stinks of more than just chipped beef and tuna noodle casserole. I feel awful in a million different ways and don’t think I’ll feel better any time soon. I do know that the next “Bob” that comes into my life will get at least a thumbs up now and then. Or maybe an extra minute longer looking at his photos from Disneyland.