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international librarian of mystery

Friday, December 03, 2004

On File

Mrs Liddesdale - my boss, called me into her office.

It was first thing Thursday, and I had got to the library still suffering from a head-cold. I had spent the entire weekend recovering from the vodka-fired hangover I had inflicted upon myself on the previous Friday night. Josh called in the middle of my most self-pitying misery on Saturday evening, and we had an 'off-the-blog' discussion (you only need ask) which, while I can't report the details of, can say made me feel a whole lot worse.

So, after spent Saturday and Sunday purging the hangover and emotional turmoil from my body, by Monday my immune system had only just started to change focus and to try and battle the cold. It was proving a hard struggle. The base of my nostrils were red raw from the repeated wiping I had been giving them with cheap toilet paper. I had moved through the start of the week at the library on auto-pilot, barely keeping on top of my workload. So when Mrs Liddesdale called me into her office, I thought I was just in for a little pep-talk, or, at worst, a 'go home and get some sleep'. Little did I know where it was going to go...

"Natalie," said Mrs Liddesdale, "close the door please."

Ugh. No, not now, I thought, I feel terrible. I closed the door. Mrs Liddesdale looked nervous too - something was afoot.

"Natalie, I just have to ask, were you actually sick last Friday?"
"But did you go to that event? At the bowls club?"
"Did you read my blog?"
"Yes. I mean, some people here do, and for that reason, I need to know if what you were really out drinking on Friday afternoon after you'd called in sick."
"Well, I suppose, yes. Yes, that's true. But the rest of it ..."
"Thank you Natalie. Mrs Darjeeling had asked me just to confirm that fact with you."

Mrs Liddesdale gestured me to sit. I sat, taking the chance to empty the contents of my nasal passages into yet another wad of sandpaper-textured toilet paper.

"Natalie, Mrs Darjeeling has also asked me to remind you of some of the discussions you've had with her regarding the appropriateness of what you write. Now I, for one, don't want to see you getting into trouble. But, really, I mean, you seem to be incriminating yourself. I don't understand it, Natalie, why?"
"But it's all made up Mrs Liddesdale, really."
"But obviously not all of it. You did go to that event at the bowls club?"
"Well, yes."
"And the drinking? The fact you were at a party after having called in sick?"
"Ah, yes, well, guilty. I mean it was stupid in retrospect."

Mrs Liddesdale looked at me. She wasn't jumping in to disagree, and, indeed, nodded for me to continue...

"I didn't realise this cold would linger like it has. It won't happen again."

Again Mrs Liddesdale urged me on with her eyes...

"Err, so ... so, yes, I apologise. I'm sorry."
"You don't really have to be sorry to me. Natalie. Really, it's yourself that you're getting into trouble. I am going to have to talk about Mrs Darjeeling about this, and it will be added to your personnel file."

Added to the file? Since when have they had a file?

"Can I see my personnel file?" I asked.
"Well, yes, of course. Just ask Mr White in Admin."

As soon as I can, I thought.

"Now," continued Mrs Liddesdale, "I know Mrs Darjeeling has told you about the possibility of a written warning. This won't warrant one. But if I were you, I'd certainly be trying to keep my head down for a little while. Really, you needn't be giving people excuses to go after you at the moment."
"Thanks Natalie."

I left her office, and headed straight over to the Admin department to get my file. Mr White reported it wasn't there - Mrs Darjeeling had requested it earlier. I was told it wouldn't be available to me until tomorrow.

Denied information! A most unseemly knock-back for an information professional! I skulked back to work - a shift on returns, with ... of course, Josh.

What a day. Could things get worse?