“What brings you down here then?” the PFY asks the Director after he popped through the door unannounced.
“Oh, I wanted to give you a heads-up on your new manager.”
“Really, has Roy left?” the PFY asks, knowing the answer only too well.
“Yes. He messaged me over the break saying he wouldn’t be coming back. Something about photos in his secret Santa packet that he didn’t want to go into.”
“So you’ve already made an appointment then?” I ask, knowing this answer as well.
“Yes – in fact TWO appointments!”
“Yes. As you may know Roy’s P.A. didn’t return after the break either – having also received some photos...”
“The SAME photos as it happens,” the PFY adds.
“In any case, she hasn’t returned and we were recommended a husband-and-wife team who’d come free from a contract.”
“Oooh, that’s never good,” The PFY says, shaking his head.
“As a matter of fact it is! They’re a well-known couple with a proven record of problem-solving and thinking outside the box. He does the technical side and she does the program planning and organisation. They’ve helped sort out the IT in a number of companies.”
“Trust me,” I say. “Sooner or later he’ll wake up the Crazy.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” the Director’s P.A. snaps from the doorway behind us.
“It means he’ll reap the whirlwind of her Crazy,” The PFY says.
“So all women are crazy – is that what you’re saying?!”
“Yes,” the PFY says – skilled at defusing volatile situations, but mostly choosing not to. “But then so are all men.”
“The Crazy lives in us all,” I say “and it’s a light sleeper. Some of us have a little bit of Crazy and some of us have a 40,000 litre drum filled to the brim of the stuff – and you don’t know how much Crazy there is until it’s awake – by which time it’s waaaay too late to try and cram it back in the box.”
“I’m not with you,” the Director says as his P.A. stalks off – possibly with the half-awake Crazy wandering around in her mind looking for the bathroom.
“Some things you do will disturb the Crazy,” I explain “Its eyes will open and you’ll see it and recognise it. Then it will go back to sleep and you will experience that deep sense of relief that only comes from dodging a large calibre bullet.”
“And some things you do,” the PFY continues “will wake up the Crazy, you'll reap the whirlwind and then spend quite some time getting it back to sleep again.”
“Other things you do,” I add, “will wake up the Crazy, give it 4 cans of Red Bull and unleash it on your world - otherwise known as opening Pandora's box.”
“Yeah, I’m still not sure I...”
“Okay, as a for-instance,” the PFY says, “disturbing the Crazy would be saying something offhand like ‘I like your sister’. So long as that’s all you say, you’re probably OK. Waking the Crazy would be saying something like ‘I really like your sister’ – especially if you’ve recently had the is-she-prettier- than-me conversation.”
“Opening Pandora’s box on the other hand,” I continue, “would be saying 'I might just grab a couple of photos of her when she gets out of the pool’.”
"His Crazy might be prodded awake when she asks him: 'Can we really afford that?' or the old classic, 'Wow, this is the seventh time your mother has called you today'."
“And the workplace is a minefield for the Crazy,” The PFY adds. “The separation of work and home provides that necessary barrier so that if hubby casually mentions that he had a working lunch with the new woman from stores about the stock retention numbers, wifey is quite likely to imagine a pasty-faced chip-batty eating bruiser who spends half her day pushing a pallet lifter around a warehouse.”
“As opposed to an ex-model who spends half her day working wirelessly in the gym reorganising inventory levels around the country from a tablet with gentle movements of her tastefully manicured index finger,” I say.
“And as this illusion is maintained everyone is happy. But if they work in the same place then she KNOWS exactly what every woman in the building looks like – and he’s aware of every bloke that pauses too long at her desk when her top button has come undone.”
“Possibly on purpose,” the PFY adds, as an indication of just how lightly the Crazy can sleep.
“If that were the case they wouldn’t have such a stellar record. These two have been working together for over 10 years and received three industry awards in the process!”
“You don’t seem convinced.”
“There are so many pitfalls,” I explain. “For instance ‘The Pause’.”
“The Pause between her asking ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ and you saying ‘No’ – because No is the only answer. If you respond too quickly she’ll know it’s something you’ve practised, but if you respond too slowly she’ll know that you’re thinking ‘not compared to a Routemaster’.”
“Then there’s casualness,” The PFY says
“Yeah, you have to answer the question with the right amount of casualness. So if she asks you whether you think her sister is attractive, you never say ‘NO!’. That just sounds guilty.”
“So, for that matter, does ‘WHO?’.” I add “YOU know who, and she KNOWS you know who – so all you’re really doing is stalling,” I add.
“Which is why the best answer is ‘I suppose so’,” The PFY says. “Casual. Make it sound like you don’t think so but you’re doing her a favour because it’s her sister.”
“And don’t ever, EVER say ‘it depends what you mean by attractive’ because that’s just stalling, and stalling…”
“...wakes up the Crazy?” the Director asks.
“OUT OF BED, ACCIDENTALLY BREAKING ALL YOUR OLD VINYL, CRAZY”
“It certainly sounds challenging.”
“You don’t know the half of it. There’s the mind games too,” The PFY says.
“The mind games?”
“Yeah – like ‘Which top do you think I should wear, the pink or the blue?’. Obviously you’re not stupid enough to say ‘Who cares?’ and saying ‘either’ is not showing an interest, so you say ‘blue’.
To which she will say ‘I think I’ll wear the pink'.”
“The only reason we’ve come up for this behaviour is that it’s the Crazy wanting to leap bodies” I say.
“Well I certainly...”
“And then there’s the danger words.”
“The... danger... words?”
“Yes, like safe words, but very, very unsafe. If you hear them you have to fake a seizure and get the hell out of there,” I say.
“Words like ‘I just want your honest opinion’.”
“Or ‘Don’t think of my feelings at all’,” the PFY chips in.
“If you can’t fake a seizure then pick a finger that you don’t need and slam it in a desk drawer.”
“Because those words are actually the sound of the Tractor Beam of the Crazy engaging – to pull you into the abyss.”
“Yes, well, I thank you for all your... help, but I think this one’s going to work out OK.”
“Oh if only it weren’t already over,” I sigh.
“Yes, the PFY met them in the lift on the way up. Apparently there was some dispute about a webpage he’d printed of "hottest workplaces in the UK" with a couple of photographs circled. Fell out of his pocket, apparently – though he denied everything. Pity, I was quite looking forward to that thinking-outside-the-box business.”