Wednesday, November 6, 2019

In Loving Memory of Pamela Harrison

I was sitting at my desk that day,
pretending to work,
as I usually do,
but instead scrolling
through my Twitter feed,
barely reading any of the posts.
Time has no meaning
on a Thursday afternoon.
Suddenly, the lights flickered on and off,
our computers turned off,
a sad whining sound,
and you could hear a quiet groan
rise up from all corners of the office,
then a panicked female scream
from the direction of the copier room,
and we poked our heads out of our offices
or from behind our cubicle walls,
and some people went running,
then there were more gasps and shrieks.
“Someone call 911!” Vernon cried,
because of course he couldn’t just do it himself.
I joined the back of the crowd
that had gathered in the hallway,
hands covering open mouths.
“What happened?” I whispered to the IT Guy,
the newer one whose name I couldn’t remember,
and he whispered back,
“I don’t know. Something happened to Pamela, though.”
Diana emerged from the copier room,
sobbing and hyperventilating,
supported by Catherine on one side and Martin on the other,
and I guess she was the one who found Pamela,
so I can understand she was shocked,
but she had tried to get Pamela fired every other month,
so it was kind of like,
oh please.
Anyway, Trevor pushed his way to the front
and took charge of the scene.
“Everyone go back to your offices,” he ordered.
“Make some room!”
He firmly closed the door to the copier room,
and that was that.
Paramedics and police were summoned to the office,
and the flashing red strobe lights of their vehicles
lit our office like a dance club,
but we were all deathly silent,
and afraid to leave our respective workspaces
in case Trevor saw us
and thought we were snooping around
or interfering.
Janice, the receptionist,
was keeping certain people informed
via instant messaging
of the comings and goings of emergency personnel.
“Omg,” she wrote, “They just took out a gurney.
Pamela was covered with a white sheet!
I opened the door for them, but no one thanked me.”
At the end of the day,
Trevor sent an office-wide email,
tastefully explaining that Pamela had been involved
in a “tragic accident involving the copier,”
but not really getting into the gory details.
He assured us that tech support for the copier
would be out as soon as possible
and until that time,
we were to use the old copier in the smaller workroom.
A large number of us went to the wake and the funeral,
more than would have gone
if she had had a heart attack in her sleep
or was in a car wreck on the way to the grocery store.
There was a large bouquet from the company,
probably the largest flower arrangement there.
Diana accepted compliments for its size and beauty.
Business carried on mostly as usual,
except a month later,
when we got the new copier,
we all gathered outside the newly christened
“Pamela Harrison Memorial Copy Room”
and had a moment of silence.

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