I work in a big, sunny room directly over a cabinet shop. A volatile woman runs the shop beneath my feet, so my work day is punctuated by the sounds of nail guns, sanding machines and powered screw drivers, as well as by her prodigious swearing.
Every once in a while, my downstairs neighbor has a particularly bad day at the band saw, which means neither of us get any peace. On those days, it’s like I’m working in a factory next to the swearing vent: the tube that channels the toxic expletive gas into the atmosphere.
A few months back, the cabinet maker was trying to negotiate with ATT, which had been double booking her on her cell phone, charging her for it on her cable bill while still sending her a separate cell phone bill. She stopped paying the cell phone bill, figuring it was covered in her new cable payment, an error that ATT was sure to catch and correct. Instead ATT had canceled her phone service for non-payment. She found this out that morning when her phone stopped working.
She came to work really, really pissed, slamming things around. Just trying to get a human to pick up the phone over at ATT, had her stomping around the workshop swearing, “Shit, shit, shit, mother fucker, shit, shit, shit, cunt, shit, asshole, damn, mother fucker, shit.” She’d pause to take a breath, then start the whole string up again.
When someone finally came on the line, her voice instantly dropped to smooth, chipper and deferential, as she patiently explained their error. That person evidently responded that he or she couldn’t help her, was the wrong department and would switch her to the department who could. “Oh, OK,” she said, but during the interval, her mantra returned, “Shit, shit, shit, mother fucker, shit, shit, shit, cunt, shit, asshole, damn, mother fucker, shit.” Adding, “Stop playing that mother fucking god damn music!”
Then the next person came on the line. Her voice dropped to smooth and sweet again. But guess what? This problem was the domain of another department, to which she would be transferring my neighbor right now. And the mantra returned.
At first, I was sort of enjoying this. I liked the rhythm of her chant. Plus, she was giving voice to the way I feel trapped in the phone tree. As the ATT shuffle continued, I started getting angry too. I was angry at her and angry on her behalf. What they were doing to her was totally unfair. I was outraged! And could she please shut up about it?
Today was another one of those days.
She was working on a large commission and made a mistake, a big one. “No! No! No! Mother fucking god damn mother fucking no! You lame ass, shit brained, douche bag. That’s right, you stupid bitch,” she said. “There goes all your god damn mother fucking profit. There it goes, stupid bitch.”
As I listened to her escalate through the trap door that separates us, and came along for the ride. I wasn’t having a very good day either. I’m writing something I really care about and it’s not yet come together. I’m a lame ass, shit brained douche bag too.
Then she stopped and started to hum. She burst into song.
“Oh shit head, oh shit head, where’s my gun? I’m going to shoot you, yes I am, right in your mother fucking face.”
Nice tune, neighbor, but this is where we parted company.