I work for this company, a typical nine to five office, complete with the usual cast of employee characters. It has a culture all of its own reflected in stories that are passed down from the older employees to the younger ones. In fact, it’s fun to watch the old timers substitute the lunch room table for the campfire of old, as they tell these tales to new hires who are looking for any excuse to avoid returning to their desks when the lunch period ends.
I witnessed one such story being told by a plant manager, who was just a few days from retirement. Now, I can’t say it was 100% truth, but there was certainly a lot of detail that would have been hard for the old guy to make up. Anyway, here’s how his story went.
Some years ago, there was this employee who worked in the customer service department. He was 39 years old and loved clowns. He had photos of clowns hung all over his cubicle. He had autographed photos from Barnum and Bailey circus clowns showing them chasing each other in little cars, spraying bottles full of seltzer at the crowd and shoveling excrement from behind elephants as they paraded along typical Main Streets in America.
It turned out that there was this woman in quality control who detested clowns and was quite literally terrified at the very thought of them. So Mr. 39 year-old clown was never her favorite person.
She would secretly complain to the lady who worked the switchboard that his raspy voice made him sound like a child molester and the cigarette he always had dangling from his mouth made him look like an ex-con. She especially disliked him around Halloween when he dressed up as (you guessed it) a clown.
On this particular Halloween day, our clowny parked in the lot and came out of the car dressed in his finest clown boy outfit. This consisted of two clumps of carrot hair on either side of his head, a Homer Simpson face with white outlined, Betty Davis eyes, and moist red lips that bled in a line down his chin and around his cheek bones like someone had just stuck his face in raw meat. A bright red nose made of a spongy material crowned his face like a maraschino cherry on top of an ice cream sundae.
He wore a baggy polka dot one piece suit and size 15 shoes that scraped along the gravel as he walked absentmindedly along the road that led to the front of the building where he worked. He puffed on his half burned cigarette no doubt thinking about his day and what he was supposed to do and what meeting he was supposed to attend, rather than how he looked clumping in his holy Bozo Clarabelle forsaken outfit.
Suddenly, a car came roaring by and the mirror caught the baggy part of the pants near his left rear cheek (where he had a rubber chicken sticking out of his pocket), spun him around in the air, and knocked him onto the ground in one instant pratfall. The impact sent his hair piece flying into the air and his red nose was knocked clean off his face. Dazed and shaken, he was helped up by one of the people in accounting who happened to be a dwarf. They looked like they were about to perform a bit together as the clown guy leaned on the dwarfs head in order to pick himself up from the ground. Once on his feet, he appeared to be okay.
Word soon spread that it was the lady from quality who was driving the car. When she finally stopped, she couldn’t move, since her hands were wrapped so tightly around the steering wheel. (They had to show her the red nose to convince her there was nothing left of the clown to fear before she would let go).
The whole thing was witnessed by the shipping manager as he helped one of his guys load a truck on the side of the building. Now the guy didn’t exactly see it all or hear anything, so he wouldn’t testify to it. But he later told the old guy telling the story that he saw her pump her fist down in one motion, and mouthed something inaudible.
Now he’s no lip reader, but he could have sworn the word was, “Yes!”