16 December 2005

The Office Martyr

My office has steadily reduced in numbers over the last year yet the martyr remains stubbornly tied to her stake. Once she played to a full house of seventy plus and although that sympathetic audience has dwindled to a small matinee attendance, the quality of her performance has not diminished. Once a mere lieutenant, she has risen by default to dizzy heights and now seeks condolence in the full glare of the spotlight.

Each day brings cause for a new pained expression. Etched on her face is the statement “I really shouldn’t be here, I think I have double pneumonia. But someone needs to make the effort or this office will simply fall apart.” There is a danger that colleagues will forget how gravely ill she is, so regular reinforcement is crucial. Accordingly frenzied bouts of sneezing are interspersed with lung-shredding coughs and laboured breathing.

Sceptical observers of this phenomenon know it will be hard to maintain the illness at “touch and go” status. Sooner or later patience will be rewarded and the mask will slip. The phone rings, trill, trill… our martyr’s plaintive voice greets the caller, cracking and stuttering through strings of phlegm. Sentences are punctuated with exaggerated sniffs, yet as the call proceeds, a curious and remarkable recovery begins. Thirty seconds in, the conversation is running smoothly. Vowels and consonants are pronounced with ease and eloquence and the slow, sorrowful tones replaced with enthusiasm and giggles…

Similar speedy recovery from dental treatment is equally astonishing. Much clattering and banging draws attention to a late arrival. “How did it go?” we inquire politely. The response is barely intelligible, delivered through a mouth evidently still numb from invasive treatment. Speech is managed with almost no discernible jaw movement. There is considerable mumbling and lines of dribble keep mysteriously appearing thereby prompting frequent dabbing of the lips. Clearly there have been multiple extractions and probably root canal fillings. However, within the hour she is heard explaining to a colleague with startling clarity, “yes I was little late, I had a dental check-up...”

On occasions this heroic devotion to work reaches an astounding level of commitment. Movement from desk to photocopier is achieved only with strenuous effort and a good deal of grunting. The left leg proceeds normally but the right is dragged behind limp and lifeless. Incredibly there has been no steady onset of this condition, surely she must have suffered a massive road traffic accident over the weekend. The useless limb is hauled along like a suitcase on wheels as she attempts the return journey to her desk. A subsequent trip to the fax requires the same effort, yet smart onlookers note the tragic injury has now afflicted the left leg while the right is good as new. Later the signs are of only a slight limp and even more perplexing is the mid-morning sight of our martyr positively sprinting to the coffee machine...

The stench of burning martyr hangs heavy in the air…

12 comments:

Cocaine Jesus said...

you know what? i think maybe ricky gervias should speak to this lady. she might make a good candidate for the female version of "the office"

Jane said...

"The stench of burning martyr hangs heavy in the air…"

LOL. Virgo you are a literary genius.

I've never read anything by Stephen King, but for some reason this entry reminds me of something out of "misery" or "doloris claiborne".

Perfect Virgo said...

CJ - RG would have a field day, enough material for a whole new series! I find her irritating rather than funny but that's because I have to witness the charade daily.

Jane - why thank you Ma'am! I need to try something lighter now and again to get back to reality! So interesting that you should mention King without having read him and even though this was humour not horror. I have every one of his novels and have read each several times. I wonder if some of his aura has rubbed off on me? Hope it made you giggle.

NMAMFQLMSH said...

I'm exhausted just reading your post.
I see you,
JJ

dAAve said...

You and your colleagues certainly deserve compensation for being witness to the office martyr. Maybe she could give you all a day off, just by her not showing up. Then, maybe she'd go skiing and really do some damage.

Recovery works in mysterious ways.

mussolini said...

i saw RG on conan o'brien last month (or so) and he was hysterical. unfortunately only i understand british accent/british humor in this part of the world. i have no one to talk to about THE OFFICE or HUMAN REMAINS or ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS. *gets very sad*

how are you?

Perfect Virgo said...

JJ - we get worn out watching, I can assure you!

HP - skiing... now that is a nice thought. God knows we could do with a break!!

Mussolini - that kind of behaviour is so transparent! She would never know we were laughing at her I'm sure. 'The Office' was of course compulsive viewing and I'm delighted to hear you haven't lost your 'British' sense of humour. I find sarcasm and irony desparately funny.

Thanks for asking, I am up and down and I guess the blog acts as a kind of barometer. Think too much, analyse too much and expect too much... But hey, it's hard to change.

Patry Francis said...

Wonderful character study! The martyr would be great in a comic novel...or perhaps as the victim in a murder mystery.

Meanwhile, your comment about "thinking too much, analyzing too much and expecting too much" sounds like a classic virgo.

just sayin' said...

I wonder if she's trying out for a role in a play somewhere.

finnegan said...

Cocaine Jesus has the right idea here. The Office Martyr comes off as the ne plus ultra candidate for "The Office".

She is also the perfect candidate for
some harmless sabotage. You know, holiday cheer and all that.

Perhaps your good commenters here can come up with a few good ideas?

Loved this portrait you've painted, P.V. I've got it hanging skewed for added effect.

Cocaine Jesus said...

harmless sabotage?
nah.
full blooded torture more like. removal of certain bodily parts with tongs.
but enough of how i and my wife spend our weekends!

Perfect Virgo said...

Patry - I like your idea of a murder mystery, I know a host of prime suspects! Yes you are quite right about the classic Virgo traits, I know I have them but I can't seem to shake them off. Maybe I should stop trying and instead learn to live more comfortably with them.

Morgan - 'all the world's a stage' and the office is certainly hers - she "struts and frets her hour" every day! Luckily she is away now until after New Year so we get some brief repite.

Finn - sabotage is always lurking in the corner of my mind young man and I'll hatch a plan before I leave there! (Suggestions welcome.)

She's also one of those infuriating people who goes through life saying "pacifically" when really she means "specifically." No one has had the nerve to correct her, YET!

CJ - good heavnes not the dreaded tongs, have you no mercy? Great idea actually and I'd like to slice off her ears with a knife and tell her "That's because you never listen but she wouldn't hear me!"