Blah blah coffin blah blah dog blah blah mermaid

I sat down next to E. at our big “all hands” meeting, which is the sort of thing that happens every few years when management has something ominous but vague to report.  In this case, the message was, “50 percent of you will be laid off sometime between two weeks and five years from now, and we can’t really be more specific, but we thought it would be helpful if you had that information for your career planning purposes.”

There’s that ‘talk amongst yourselves’ part before the meeting starts, and E. is telling me something, but I notice Vest Lady, several feet ahead of us, starts talking, so I shush E.


I give him the look that I hope says, “There’s material for the blog every single time she opens her mouth,” without saying anything.

E. gets it, and we strain to hear, and even in the few short seconds, we hear the words, “dog”, “coffin”, “cemetery”, and something about her parents.  I know.  I should have sat by her.

The meeting starts about then, and I make a note to track down the dog-coffin-cemetery story. E. seems to read my mind, and asks if I get a press badge or anything for having a blog.

The presentation is predictable, in that way of a totally opaque bureaucracy pretending to be transparent because someone said sharing information is a good idea, but they’re so unused to it that its like someone with no teeth trying to eat a carrot. Anyway, people asked long-winded questions, and Da Man responded with long silences followed by long-winded chatter that danced sort of near the question.  Like, if the question were in the center of the dance floor, the answer would be out in the parking lot smoking a joint.  

My favorite question, well, to be honest, I wasn’t really listening, but I tuned in when I heard someone saying, “so, will we be leaving two by two like Noah’s Ark?  I don’t think so.” 

In all of this, what most of us hear is blah blah blah improve customer service blah blah blah layoffs blah blah blah streamlining.

We had already heard the rumor about the 50 more people getting laid off, so it wasn’t news. In fact, when B. and I went to get coffee today, B. said we really need to start thinking out of the box about our next jobs.

“Like what?”

“Well, I’m thinking I’ll either be a phlebotomist, which you can learn to do pretty easily, or a mermaid.  You could do that too.”

“Mermaid?  Is the mermaid biz hiring lots of unemployed 40 something year old men these days?”

“Well, I guess I’d be a merman.  But you see what I mean.  We don’t have to be stuck with the same old lack of choices.”

All the blah blah blah at the meeting gave me lots of time to think about another meeting I went to earlier this week.

It was a pre-application meeting; these are often pretty sketchy, because they're for people who built stuff without permits and got caught, and now they have to get a permit.  But sometimes, what they did is something  they can never get a permit for, so for a while we pretend we’re gonna make them take whatever it is down, and then we never do.  During this initial meeting, though, that part hasn’t happened yet, so there is usually some combination of tears and rage because people think their choices are pretty grim.

Anyway, I tried to do a little background reading before the meeting, but the comments in the computer quickly devolved into something that felt sort of like tuning in to the tv show Lost in Season 6.

There was remodeling without permits, and a tragic death that could have been murder/suicide/accident, and, of course, what I was called in about, re-decking a bridge across a salmon stream. 

The story goes that a woman tripped on this bridge, fell about six feet into a tiny stream, and drowned.  Her boyfriend, who was at the meeting, didn’t report her missing for ten days, which, I dunno, that gives laid back a whole new reference point.  She apparently was lying facedown in the stream, about 50 feet from a neighbor’s house, and practically in the driveway of bf’s house.  For 10 days. Like, la la la, I’m walking down the driveway to the mailbox, ho hum, I won’t look down into the stream and notice my gf who I haven’t heard from for ten days down there….

When I say “stream”, this is the kind of feature that people argue with is about all the time, because it’s so small.  “There couldn’t possibly be fish in there,” is what we hear, because it’s about 18 inches wide and 6 inches deep.

So the gist of it is that the deceased woman’s sister turned this guy in for the bridge in disrepair, and while she was at it, brought up the point of how there had been an apartment created on the property without permits.   Thirty years ago.  And that apartment is occupied by, of all people, the deceased person’s brother, who happens to be a convicted felon, and sister of the person reporting the crime. Got that?  

If my sister, who, incidentally, just started reading this blog, were missing for five minutes, I'd call the FBI.  I wouldn't really think too hard about the permitting history of her boyfriend's rental unit, but that's just me. 

So there’s no hatch, and there’s no creepy guy saying “Destiny is such a fickle bitch,” but you can see why I was expecting someone to show up all breathless saying, “Gotta (pant) come with (pant) me right h-away.   The Others…”

Yeah, anyway, KCC 21A.24 does allow the resurfacing of the bridge, in case you were concerned.

But back to the story, which, in case you’ve forgotten, is – what about Vest Lady and the coffin? Well, here’s what happened. Her dog died back in this episode of the blog.  [Oddly enough, a blog does its own foreshadowing.  Lazy writer rejoices!]  So what she was recounting today is the tale of how she put Barky in a small coffin, crept into the cemetary at night, dug a shallow grave, and buried him in the family plot between her parents. 

 Thanks for sticking it out for that tiny, semi-macabre story.


  1. Great many fascinating facets.
    I love Vest Lady and her pragmatic approach to things. You lead an interesting life!

  2. I kinda thought there'd be more about the girlfriend-drowns-in-six-inches-of-salmon-stream. Or was she sorta like Flat Stanley, and really sensitive about being called "flat"? That might explain why he didn't notice ... Actually, a bridge six feet over a shallow stream sounds like a good way to land on your head and get knocked out AND not be seen -- who wants to go out and look down there in the rain? For the first week, he was probably grateful fro the time to himself, only started worrying on day 8 .... Day 9: "Hmmm, maybe I should do something ...". Day 10: "Ah, heck, better report her missing, just in case she fell off that stupid bridge again."

  3. Thanks Lo! And Joe, there is a little more. In researching the details on the internet, gf was described as leaving behind her husband, 2 kids, *and* this guy. The obit didn't mention anything about Flat Stanley, though.

  4. love the image of if the question were in the center of the dance floor, the answer would be out in the parking lot smoking a joint. I really needed a laugh just now so thanks! Debi (Judy's sister)

  5. This is too funny. Great story of working in the public sector.

  6. Anonymous beat me to it - the dance-floor-joint metaphor was an hysterical one-in-a-million.

  7. As I have said before...where does all this come from!! If I didn't have the experiences I have had, I would say you have a great imagination!! :)
    But, knowing what I do.... love it! :)


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