My mother is forever telling me about how lucky I am, and usually it pisses me off to an enormous degree because the things she’s referring to aren’t luck but involve this huge amount effort on my part. For example, when I was accepted to grad school with free tuition and a 5 year stipend, that was, according to her, incredibly lucky. And while I fully admit that it’s a fortunate circumstance that not many people experience, it wasn’t fucking luck that I got in. [Fucking luck—say it out loud. It rolls nicely off the tongue.]

However, I was fucking lucky—there are no other words for it—on Friday night because I missed this terrible episode at work by a grand total of 30 seconds.

I do HR/accounting work for an enormous corporation, and one day I will write more about my exploits there, but tonight is not the night.

I was doing the training session for a woman who just started work. Friday was her first evening. And something was off about her. Human communication is so subtle and intricate, but somehow I only ever think about that when I see someone doing it wrong. The best I can describe it is that Suzanne takes slightly too long to respond. I would say a sentence and she would wait a beat, and then another, and then another, and then respond. English is her first language, so it isn’t a translation issue. Or maybe it is. I guess I don’t know. But it’s unnerving, having someone look at you without speaking, all fidgety, after every sentence you say. But I pegged her as being a nervous lady and left it at that.

Suzanne finished her training and then went out to start her shift. I didn’t interact with her for the rest of the night, but I clocked out at 9:00 and said goodbye to her on my way out of the building. And that was the end of my night, though it wasn’t the end of Suzanne’s. Had I dicked around the office before I left, sent some texts or ate a piece of candy, I would have landed right in the middle of a veritable shit storm. Instead, I was on my merry little way out the doors and goodbye.

Suzanne tried to clock out as well, but couldn’t remember how to do it, so she asked another employee, Sylvia, for help. Sylvia is short, and she wears very nice suits every time she works. She has some form of mental retardation, but she is highly functional. As a side note, she also shaves her eyebrows and then pencils skinny black lines where they should be.

I just don’t know about that. It’s frightening, to be honest. However, Sylvia is kind and sweet, so no one talks about her eyebrows. I find it interesting about myself that kindness works as a buffer against ridicule. If someone is a nice human being, I won’t make fun of them, no matter what they have going on. I find that I make fun of people who are mean and cruel, almost exclusively, and usually about their physical appearance. “Look at her weird face. She is a mega bitch.”

Suzanne asked Sylvia to show her how to clock out, and then fainted onto Sylvia, who didn’t understand why this tall blond woman had suddenly started leaning on her. Sylvia backed away, and Suzanne fell like a motherfucking elephant, hitting her head on numerous surfaces and busting her lip open. At this point, Sylvia began running wildly in circles, hollering “Aaah! Aaah! Aaaaaaaah!” , which was enough to catch just about everyone’s attention.

Suzanne began seizing, blood everywhere from her lip. Another employee held her head so she wouldn’t hit it on the ground and the manager called the paramedics. What an awful, ghastly scene, right? Except it gets weirder and worse. Suzanne came around, but it was her first day of work—she didn’t know or recognize anyone—and she was surrounded by a circle of people in full black attire. She started to attack the person who was holding her head, yelling, “Who the fuck are you? Get the fuck OFF of me”, then trying to fight her off with her bloody hands and bloody hair and bloody face.

When the paramedics came, she couldn’t remember her name or where she was. When they asked her how old she was, she said 30. [She’s not 30]. She hit her head multiple times when she fell and when she started seizing, so the confusion and disorientation were not surprising. I’m always astounded by how fragile the brain is and how fragile we are as humans. Cartoons and movies make it seem like we can withstand much more than we actually can. All it takes is one little knock on the head in the right location.

They took her away, and her car has been in the parking lot ever since. From what I heard, Suzanne has a full time job as well. She didn’t eat on Friday at her full time job, and then she came to work her part time job and didn’t eat either, and at 9:00 her body said, ‘I quit, asshole. You didn’t feed me.’

30 seconds.

30 seconds was the difference between me driving away in my car and Suzanne falling on me instead of Sylvia. [Although I imagine that I wouldn’t have let her fall or ran around like a half dead chicken while she seized on the floor. But one never knows.]

So, all right mom. It is Mother’s day, and I will let you have this one. That was dumb luck.


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