For some reason I thought of this a few nights ago. I woke up in the middle of the night and all of a sudden I remembered this amusing little anecdote, which I now share, regarding Mojo’s illustrious college career.
Throughout college I was a work/study student, as they call it. I started my first year in the library. My second year I earned most of my munnies editing the school’s weekly newspaper during the second semester. And the last two years I primarily worked in the school’s Media Center, where I passed out cameras and darkroom equipment to worthy photography students, video cameras and decks to worthy video students, and scheduled time for them at the video editing stations and/or the sound studio. (I was also a sound engineer, so I was one of the few with keys to the sound studio, where we had a one-inch eight-track recorder, and a couple of quarter-inch half-tracks. In my glory days I could edit and splice quarter-inch tape like a pro, taking individual measures out of music, breaths and paper rattles out of narrations, and--if the need arose--constructing words out of outtakes and isolated sounds. Literally; we’re talking razor blades and tape. Amusingly, all of these various skill sets--along with pasting up mechanicals for print production--have been made completely obsolete by computers and even, to some extent, smart phones. So college could be considered a complete financial bust, unless society collapses and people once again wish to have their mix tapes compiled entirely by hand, or their newspapers printed once more on paper. But I digress.)
My point is, even at a young age, when most students are getting drunk and being irresponsible, Mojo was a shining beacon of responsibility and snotty maturity. I have nothing against having fun, but I personally LIKE to be on time and I LIKE to do a good job when assigned a task, and I tend to look somewhat askance at those who choose to do neither, and this was even more glaringly apparent in college, before I learned to Temper My Weenieness with Patience and Fortitude. I had friends and we had fun, but I also had my job and I was (and still am) a MODEL EMPLOYEE. Mostly because I find being in trouble and being yelled at is VASTLY UNPLEASANT. So I try to avoid it, and being responsible and punctual and clean and reverent and all that other Boy Scout stuff tends to be a good way to avoid being yelled at by your boss. (Kids, take notes!)
My boss at the Media Center was a kind, motherly woman named Elsie, and I made sure she ADORED ME. I made her life as a boss as pleasant as possible, and she reciprocated in kind. She was great fun, Mojo was great fun, and since I ALWAYS showed up for work and did everything competently, I did not require much supervision. I often worked the evening shifts, and my only transgression in my career with Elsie was, there was this HUGE glass-covered, metal-framed poster hanging in the office that predated all of us, and I hit upon the BRILLIANT scheme of gluing a cork dartboard onto the back of it. On slow nights some of us would flip the poster around, pull a set of darts out from behind the counter and “play darts”. I use this term VERY loosely because I do not have a CLUE how one ACTUALLY plays darts, but we put a strip of tape on the floor to stand behind and we’d take turns throwing the darts at the board and cheering the person who got theirs closest to the bullseye, pretending it was awesome skill and not dumb luck.
This could have gone on forever and relatively unnoticed (except for the holes that were mysteriously appearing every now and then in the drywall around the poster... I mean, REALLY, people, if you can't hit a two-foot by three-foot target only ten or fifteen feet away, you have NO BUSINESS throwing sharp objects in the first place) ...but....well, let’s just say there are many people in the world who are FAR LESS COMPETENT than Mojo, and at the time I was still young and naive enough to not quite fully appreciate this truth. If *I* were hanging a super-heavy glass-covered metal-framed poster, I would make sure the nail I was using actually HIT A JOIST. Since I foolishly assumed this is how EVERY human being would hang something super-heavy, it never once OCCURRED to me to look at the nail holding the poster on the wall. Turns out the monjamook that hung it just jabbed a nail into some sheetrock and left it at that. Who knows how many years that picture hung on that nail, sufficiently held in place so long as it was not moved... but it did not survive repeatedly picking up the picture and turning it around every time we decided to play darts. So one morning while Elsie was there the picture suddenly CRASHED to the ground in a HUGE MASS of shattered glass and mysterious bits of dartboard. The jig was up. Being a woman of Honor and Integrity I confessed immediately and got Elsie laughing at our ingenuity, and promised to Never Do It Again. The End.
So that was my sole indiscretion in a long history of responsibility and punctuality, and I spent the remainder of my time at college in Elsie’s good graces. Until.
It was LITERALLY the last day of school. Classes were over, exams were finishing up, and I was working the night shift with my friend and colleague, a cool guy I will call T. T. and I were working until nine or ten at night, and being as late in the season as it was, the place was DEAD. And my parents were flying into the airport that evening. I forget why this was, but I was scheduled to work when they were flying in, and I couldn’t help myself. I asked T., since the place was so TOTALLY dead, if it be okay with him if I blew off the rest of the shift to meet my parents at the airport. T. was totally cool--“Yeah, fine, go ahead”--so I screeched on out of there and drove to the airport. Back then they didn’t have such strict security, and so long as you acted like you belonged there you could walk straight through to the gate (and if they caught you and asked to see your ticket, they just made you leave). So I met my parents at the airport, introduced them to VC, aka “Van Cat”--a stray cat I had picked up in my travels who lived in the van I drove, since my landlord did not allow pets--drove them to their hotel, had a lovely time, and eventually staggered home to stew in my ever-growing guilt.
Because I don’t blow off work, plain and simple. And even though this was the VERY LAST DAY EVER of my job at the school--I was graduating in two or three days, which was why my parents had flown in--I REALLY didn’t want to leave my job and Elsie on such a terrible, irresponsible note. So the next morning, after I knew Elsie had gotten into the office, I gave her a call to confess my bad behavior and apologize for what I had done the night before. The conversation, as I remember it, went something like this:
MOJO: Hey, Elsie, I just had to call you this morning and apologize for my behavior last night. I usually don’t do stuff like that.
ELSIE: (very coldly and angrily) I see.
MOJO: You know me, I’m usually VERY responsible. All I can say is, the place was TOTALLY DEAD, and T. said it would be okay, but all last night I’ve been feeling horribly guilty about it, so I had to call you to apologize.
ELSIE: (even angrier and colder, if such a thing is possible) Uh-huh. So, you think just an apology is going to set things straight, huh?
I was increasingly bewildered at Elsie’s response. I mean, in the Grand Scale of Boneheaded Things College Students Have Done, I have to say blowing off work when the shift was covered is pretty low. I honestly couldn’t BELIEVE she was this angry at me. *ME*, her darling little prissily responsible Mojo!!! But I could tell from her tone on the phone that she was really, TRULY angry with me. And I was like, wow, this is TOTALLY OVERREACTING, lady! I mean, CHILL, dude; it’s not that bad! And here I am APOLOGIZING like a freakin’ ADULT, and if we were in person I’m starting to think she’d dash me in the face with a glass of water and tell me what I could do with my apology. This woman LOVED me! I was FLOORED! I’m your MODEL EMPLOYEE! WHAT THE HELL? So I started stammering.
MOJO: Well, umm, I’m really sorry, and I didn’t really plan on doing it. My parents were flying in and I wanted to pick them up at the airport. T. said it was fine, and he could handle the counter, and it was TOTALLY DEAD. I’m really sorry, I’ve never blown off work before in my LIFE, and I had NO IDEA you would be so upset about it.
ELSIE: Wait a minute. I think we’re having two entirely different conversations, here. Did you say you blew off work yesterday?
MOJO: Yes. I left three hours early to meet my parents at the airport. Again, I’m really sorry, I just haven’t seen them in months.
ELSIE: So you weren’t at the office last night.
MOJO: No, I’m SOOO sorry. I usually don’t do stuff like that, but T. said it was all right and I was excited to see my parents, so I left about three hours early. I didn’t put the hours on the timesheet or anything, I’m not trying to rip you off, I know I can’t make up the hours, I was just--
(At this point, Elsie start laughing. Laughing HYSTERICALLY.)
ELSIE: So you weren’t here last night.
MOJO: No, I wasn’t. I’m so sorry. I blew off work to meet my parents at the airport.
ELSIE: (laughing still) So you don’t know what happened.
Elsie eventually stopped laughing long enough to fill me in. It turns out the last night at the Media Center was so very DEADLY dull (I’m sure due in part to my absence), some of our regulars got together to toast another year of school. Someone brought a six-pack, then someone made a beer run, and it turned into a regular PARTY. So when Elsie came to work the next morning, she found beer cans strewn all about the office, AND--in a final, glorious farewell--someone had thrown up all over her desk.
Later that day I gave my parents the tour and brought them over to meet Elsie. There were fans going everywhere, but those who do not suffer from anosmia (as Mojo does) informed me that the place just REEKED. It was still a horrifying mess.
Elsie and I enjoyed many a final laugh as we recounted my stammering apology to her that morning. Things were totally cool with us. Because, again, on the Grand Scale of Boneheaded Things College Students Have Done, me blowing off that last day of work was NOTHING. Certainly compared to the EPIC WASTELAND my friends and colleagues left behind. Once again, Mojo emerges positively GOLDEN from her harmless little escapade...