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  • My wife, Kathy, knows more stuff about more things, than just about anyone I know. She is truly the queen of trivia. It’s really incredible the things that she knows about. When she was first coming around my family, our first trip together, we stopped to see my genius older brother Jim and his family in Connecticut. Jim has an I.Q. from another planet. He’s a certifiable genius. This was in the mid-80’s, when trivial pursuit was the big game everyone was playing. When you played with Jim, you played for second place. No one ever beat Jim – until Kathy not only beat him, she buried him. She was an instant legend in the family. She has continued to amaze everyone with her knowledge of all things big and small.

    At work, I have been a supervisor and/or manager for 25 years. I’m not going to tell you that I’ve seen it all, because the last time I said that, Shannon (not her real name) came to work for me. She was a real enigma – very intelligent lady, good work ethic, always busy doing something. The only drawback to her work ethic was, she did what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it. She didn’t follow directions well. She also had a problem interacting with people. She tended to piss them off. She could be condescending, and liked to give people nicknames. I don’t know how many times I told her not to do that, it’s not appropriate, but she just couldn’t help herself. She got bored easily, and just had to stir things up to entertain herself. It seemed like I was always putting out fires that Shannon started, and was always calling her into my office to yank her up on some thing or other.

    She always had a good story, a good reason for why she did what she did. She was masterful at using certain words and phrases that had more than one meaning, where one meaning might be derogatory, while another could be a perfectly plausible thing to say. A path had gotten beaten to my door of all the people in the office who she had pissed off. Each time, Shannon would come in, and I would hear her perfectly reasonable explanation of what she’d really meant when she said what she said, and I’d wind up having to say, “Well, just try not to say things to people that’ll piss them off”, but I could never nail her for it. I was really getting tired of her shenanigans, though.

    Finally, I’d had enough, and I issued her a letter of caution that said, whether or not she had meant to anger her fellow employees, she was warned that any further incidents of people complaining about things she said could result in disciplinary action.

    She became very quiet for a time after this. It was an uneasy quiet, though. I could almost hear the bomb ticking away inside of her, just waiting for the right moment to explode. There was one employee, in particular, who she had such a hard time getting along with, she’d been instructed not to have any direct interactions with – if she needed something from the employee, she was to send an e-mail – no direct interaction.

    Then it happened. That employee’s supervisor came into my office, all red-faced and mad as a bee, and I just said, “What did Shannon do now?” “She called Keisha a selfish wench!” Well, that was it. I called Shannon into my office, and she admitted to it. “I was just joking with her!” Not good enough. You’ve been warned. I’m referring you up for disciplinary action. That’s it. Now, get out of here, and for God’s sake, keep your mouth shut out there!

    So, a little later, I’m relaying the incident to Kathy on the phone. She immediately comes back with, “Well, of course she called her a selfish wench. Today is “International Talk Like a Pirate Day”. No, it’s not. There is no such thing. “Look it up!” Sure enough, that day, September 19th, was indeed, International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Who knew? Why, Kathy did, of course. She knows all these things! “Do not ever tell Shannon what day it is! That’s all I need is for her to have another excuse for saying something outrageous to a co-worker!”

    Shannon didn’t wind up getting fired – in fact, she got off with a Letter of Reprimand. But, she never did figure out what September 19th was. Every year, on September 19th, I would remember, and hope that she didn’t figure it out. She finally retired last year. I went to her retirement party. She was handing out business cards for her consulting business she was going into. I took one of her business cards, and wrote on the back of it – “Save the Date – September 19th – International Talk Like A Pirate Day!”, and gave it back to her.

    I wonder if she’ll ever put it together.

    Avast, ye lads and lasses. Hoist thee anchor, batten the hatches, set sail and bring me a noggin of rum, won’t ya, matey. Ye be sail’N amid a Scurvy savagery, it’d be smarts of ya to keep yer langy-loving tongue w’Ere it belong, and not be sassing a Cap’N.

    Arrrrrgghhhh!!! Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day, mates and lasses. Don’t be selfish wenches, now!
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