Amelia Bedelia was excited, for it was her first day as a security dispatcher after injuring her knee and being transferred from her laborious position as nursery associate at Historic Gardens, Inc. She’d tried so hard at her last job, but couldn’t seem to tell the difference between “rows” and “rose,” “cedar,” and “seeder.” When Amelia Bedelia’s boss asked her to prune the figs, she’d made a delicate dessert with mashed plums atop the Mediterranean fruit. It made a nice jelly. They all agreed.
After her knee surgery, when her boss directed her to lose the crutches and start working regularly, she collapsed in a heap crying, because there was no place in the garden where the crutches could be seriously lost. I cannot do it, she thought to herself, and here I thought I could do anything. When he ordered her to get some mimosas, handing her a catalog, she appeared several hours later with champagne and orange-flavored Hi-C. They were out of Tropicana.
“Amelia Bedelia,” her boss said, outraged. “I’ve had it. You cannot do anything! You cannot even sow the perennials.”
“But sir,” she had replied, “I haven’t any thread!”
“She is a full-time employee now,” said Human Resources, “so we cannot fire her. But there is a small office in the basement with no windows. We could put her there where she will not cause trouble or see the light of day.”
“Yes. That would be good,” Bedelia’s boss said, happily. “Let’s cut her salary, too.”
“We’ll call her position ‘Security Dispatch.’”
They shook hands.
The security office was full of server equipment, a small safe, a large metal desk, and a microphone that worked concurrent with a two-way radio.
“Hello,” Amelia Bedelia shouted, testing the microphone. “Do you copy? I’d like to know what to do today.” Her chair was a fun swivel, and mounted on the wall were three screens with shots of different locations at the historic site. She watched visitors wander through the sunny, monitored walkways.
“Bedelia, this is Unit 1,” said the voice on the other end. “Copy that.”
“What’s that?” she asked excitedly.
“Just copy.” He sounded rushed and out of breath. She imagined him fighting off plant thieves and tramplers of the newly mulched gardens, a serious offense.
“Strange,” she thought, “but orders are orders.” Amelia Bedelia quickly came up with a plan.
First, at her computer, she opened the Incident Report folder and clicked PRINT ALL. Then she used a flash drive to record each video, and placed spyware on the computer to monitor her internet habits. Machines whirred. She put her hands on her hips, feeling accomplished.
“Still copy?” Amelia sang into the dispatcher’s microphone, far too close. “I’m not sure what else is left.”
“Whew,” she said, feeling like she could use the high fructose corn syrup of a cold Coke. Her palms were beginning to sweat. “What next?” she said ambitiously.
“Just stay put and answer phones,” Unit 1 said, the wail of an ambulance in the background. “We need to keep better records, so take notes.”
Amelia Bedelia’s eyes lit up. “This is a task I can certainly do,” she thought to herself.
At the monthly office meeting, Amelia wheeled in a cart with 34 records, including ones by Rod Stewart and Culture Club. “Records galore,” she said, smiling and blinking in the daylight.
“You are an asshole, Amelia Bedelia,” her boss said.
He contacted Human Resources about her poor work ethics. “She listens to crappy music all afternoon,” he complained, “and must have been heavily browsing internet pornography because there is spyware on all the computers. Tons of it. What can we do to convince her to quit so we are not liable for a discrimination lawsuit, since she claims to be injured?”
“Ha-ha,” said Human Resources. “She probably thinks a lawsuit is an outfit you wear to court.”
“I hate her,” said Bedelia’s boss.
“So do we,” said Human Resources, “which means we’ll just have to keep brainstorming clever ways to make her quit.”
“We need to eliminate her position and hire two part-time temps who we can fire at will and won’t have to offer health insurance or PTO to.”
“We could put really foul-smelling air fresheners in all the restrooms,” suggested Human Resources.
“Let’s add a $5,000 deductible to her health insurance policy.”
“These are all good ideas,” said Human Resources, “but what if we simply promote her into oblivion? We will call the position ‘Director of Parking Lot Observation Services.’”
They shook on it.
A serious meeting was called. Amelia Bedelia brought proof of recent accomplishments: an autographed The Cure album, various nail files and the paperwork she’d carefully buffed into tiny, colorful shreds. In addition, she delicately cradled the two dispatch phones, which her boss had instructed she cover at all times. Each was wrapped in a nice calico sheet. This made it difficult to answer calls, but they did look quite lovely.
“This is the last straw,” her boss said loudly, eying the ruined documents.
“I can buy more!” Amelia Bedelia said, trying to be helpful.
“It cannot be so,” said Human Resources, smiling, “Because you have been promoted. Your new office will be parking space number 3000, at the very bottom of the lot, over the hill. It is actually in a field, in case you were wondering. Feel free to move pertinent items to this location by the end of the day. No more record-keeping necessary. We will confiscate those, especially Nickelback, our personal favorite. Anyway, we wish you the best of luck with Parking Lot Observation Services. You do not have a boss because you are the boss, so do not report to anyone, ever.”
And Amelia Bedelia burst with pride, for she was a very competent employee after all, capable of anything. “The first thing I’m going to do,” she said to herself, “is take a much-needed vacation.” And she did.