Pam Doublewide walks into the file room where I spend my daytime hours. She's carrying a stack of manila folders and she's breathing audibly, beads of sweat showing on her pale, pudgy forehead. She makes me feel uncomfortable.
"It is hot in here", Pam observes, correctly. The temperature in the file room is always at least ten degrees higher than anywhere else in the building, with the possible exception of the loading dock.
"Um," I say.
Pam laboriously lowers herself onto her haunches and starts sifting her folders into the contents of one of the bottom shelves. Her breathing becomes louder. I wish I could afford to refill my inhaler, I think, Pam could sure use a hit of Albuterol.
Pam says something. I don't catch it. What did she say?
"I said, 'how can you stand it in here?'"
"Um." It's a lot easier without you here to remind me how miserable I am.
"Aren't you hot? It's hot in here."
"Um. Why don't you let me file those for you?" Otherwise, I will have to listen while you sweat , and frankly, it's grossing me out.
"Would you? That would be great!"
"No problem." You can leave now.
But Pam doesn't leave. She hovers behind me, idly picking at the stickers on a nearby cabinet. It doesn't take me long to put away her files; done, I return to my tiny PC station. Pam doesn't leave, she is doing something behind me, I hear her huffing and puffing but can't see her. Pam outweighs me by at least one hundred and fifty pounds , the sheer presence of her looming, unseen bulk makes me uneasy, so I sit at my computer, silent and unmoving, waiting for her to go away.
"It's hot. How can you stand it in here?", she repeats.
"I asked about it last month. BS (Building Services) told me that the copy machine makes it hot in here and there's nothing they can do." I know that isn't true, because I unplugged it one day and it didn't cool off one whit.
"Oh. Have you asked again?"
"No." You know, it's cool everywhere but here. Why don't you go somewhere cool?
Pam stands behind me, looking over my shoulder as I sit. I hate that.
I pretend to be interested in my Outlook folders.
"Is that your wife or your sister?", she asks, indicating a photograph next to my monitor.
"Both. We are from West Virginia." Oh shit. I didn't mean to say that.
"Really? So am I. I grew up in Elkins."
"I have never been to Elkins." Except for a few horrible visits as a child. I hate that fucking town and would like to erase all thoughts of it from my mind forever. Thanks for bringing it up.
I move my mouse around until an Excel sheet opens. I start randomly changing colors in the fields.
"Oh. It is a wonderful town, I miss it...well, I will be back soon with more files."