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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Staff (01/31/13)

TITLE: Staff Infection
By Beth LaBuff


Heidi smiled at the receptionist as she exited the office. Her spirits had soared when she was offered the secretarial job. The click of the door closure coincided with a creak as the receptionist vacated her chair.

Adele, the receptionist, had a germ of an idea that infected her thoughts concerning this newly hired secretary. That germ soon swelled into a gut feeling that compelled her to relate her concerns to her trusted co-worker, Betty. Betty, eager for information, listened as Adele communicated the facts, “Well, the shade of her hair is blond, but so many dye their hair, that in all probability, that isn’t likely her true color. And she does appear young, but, looks can be very deceiving you know, what with all the work one can have done these days.” They both agreed that changes in the workplace were so unsettling. They shared a moment of empathy that included commiserating pats on the arms. Adele returned to her desk, and always careful where microbes were concerned, she pumped a lavish amount of hand sanitizer to decontaminate before resuming her work.

The office news set heavy on Betty’s constitution and left her with a queasiness that needed relief. She looked around her desk and decided that in her current state of angst there was no way she could continue work, so a jaunt to the storage room for supplies was needed. On the way, she just happened to walk by Carolyn, who worked two cubicles back, and three to the left. Betty spewed out the recent news, how that “Adele has just met the new secretary, Heidi, and her hair is most likely dyed, who knows, perhaps to cover the gray as she ages.” She continued, “Adele has strong suspicions that Heidi had some sort of age-defying cosmetic surgery.” Once Betty had regurgitated all she knew, she continued on her relief mission to seek supplies, her stomach settled, knowing that Carolyn now shared in these facts of a sensitive nature.

Betty had no sooner left, when Doris’ head erupted over the partition she shared with Carolyn. Carolyn confirmed that, “Yes, there is indeed a new secretary named Heidi. She has gray hair that is probably thinning, and has had quite a bit of work done to cover the effects of aging.” Doris settled back down in her desk chair as this contagious bit of information invaded her cerebrum and left a canker on her spirit.

Over a lunch date with Edna, the news that festered in Doris’ bosom spilled out in a virulent rash of words, “Edna, dear, did you hear about the new secretary named Heidi? She probably only got the job because of all the surgery she had to hide her aging. It’s common knowledge that when one ages, the brain often becomes addled, rendering the person too feeble to adequately do their job. Carolyn also confided that Heidi has thinning hair and is practically bald. I seriously question the logic of hiring anyone who is so near retirement, but it serves this company right for not seeking my opinion.” With the expulsion of that data, Doris felt absolved of any guilt, should the workplace suffer for hiring Heidi. She left work that day with a clear conscience.

The next morning, the office was in a delirium over the news that had metastasized on the previous day. Suddenly, hearts arrested as a young blond woman came through the door. Heidi, a recent graduate from high school, soon to be a new secretary, was introduced to the office personnel. Faces flushed with the injection of this news. Heidi was joining their workforce while she attended her freshman year at the university.

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This article has been read 628 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Loren T. Lowery02/07/13
Enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek take on the topic. Honestly, some women can be so catty at times, can't they. Is there no wonder there's so many lawsuits? This scenario - which is probably all too real - makes me wonder what the real source of the infection might be. Surely not Heidi, but possibly the others.And now Heidi, after a few years in this environment under her belt,and a few years of aging to catch up with the others, she might become infected as well. I like stories that make me think - just like this one did.
Noel Mitaxa 02/07/13
Nothing like a little bit of jealousy or envy that is shared in secret to colour the scenario - even more vividly than Heidi's alleged dye. Maybe they felt she had dyed the roots dark, like I've noticed so many ladies do. Not that I've dyed my hair, it dyed all by itself - a real load off my mind.
Unfortunately so true to life, though workplace sniping is not a totally female practice.
Like the pun in your title too, which I should haph repherred to bephore this.
Danielle King 02/08/13
Clever title, Staphylococcus infection. This was so typical of what can happen when a few women get together. It once happened to me when I was waiting to be interviewed for a post, along with others. I got the job but you've never heard such porkies that were being passed around. I loved the way you wrote this. It was very realistic and those gossipers got taken down a peg or two in the end. Great job!
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/08/13
So much fun here! I loved how you carried through the gossip theme with medical phrases. I loved the "punch" at the end.
Sheldon Bass 02/11/13
I was "infected" with chuckles early on in this piece. Human nature is an ugly thing at times, especially when the malignancy of gossip invades. I liked how you hit on the topic in a duality of the "staff" of the office being infected with talk of someone new to the "staff". Great Title too.
For me it was a bit predictable, but that's just me. I really enjoyed it.
C D Swanson 02/13/13
Clever and ingenious approach to the topic. I really liked this.

God Bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/14/13
Congratulations on ranking 22 overall!