Friday, November 10, 2006

Coworkers: Part 53 - The Pact

   An informal pow wow was held in the Backroom. Subject - Tawnya. After John discovered Tawnya faced an upcoming criminal trial, we argued about what our involvement should be. We, as in the Sound Warehouse crew. We shut all recent hires completely out of the loop. Most were still unknown factors.
   Telling The Professor was out of the question. He talked to himself. Loudly. Mandy harbored a temper, and disliked Tawnya. If she possessed a drop of information, her mouth would trigger. Kristi was Mandy's best friend, they shared secrets. Cymon was new, but already trailed after Mandy like the lovestruck. Mikey was unpredictable and twisted, he might ask Tawnya out, initiate spawning to implant jail larva.
   From what we had learned (newspaper columnists could be useful), it seemed foregone that Tawnya would serve time. She was temporarily out on probation, enjoying dwindling freedom.
   How did she get hired? Because our application only asked if one had been "convicted." Not if one faced conviction. Tawnya had wisely kept mum on that aspect.
   Plus, she passed the drug test!
   Employees were in 90% agreement on how we dealt with Tawnya. Treat her normally. Feign ignorance. Never - never - mention the incident, or the upcoming trial. That differing 10%, however, was Dan. Typically enough, Dan wanted to know. What had happened? Why did it happen? Did she feel guilty? Anxious?
   The rest of us strongly disagreed. Missy and Trina thought the whole mess was bad mojo. John and I argued that if one of us entered into any discussion, as in confidence, we could be summoned for a lengthy court date. We'd be questioned, we'd be cross examined, we'd lose work.
   Pat sided with Dan, she desperately wanted to know. Tawnya was better than watching a car wreck. "This is fun!" she insisted. Yet she reluctantly followed the other females.

   The situation was deliciously awkward. Tawnya carried a terrible secret. Most of us knew that secret, which we couldn't divulge. Did Tawnya suspect? I wondered. Right away, Kristi's intuition sensed something amiss and she pressed me, but I wouldn't confide in her.
   Persistently, Dan poked around or needled.
   Truck day, lunch break, whenever there was a small gang in the back, Dan might voice, "So like family here. Where we share and help each other." or "I don't know, I've done some bad things. What about you?" or "Ha ha, like you could ever hurt anyone."
   We wanted to clobber him. Afterward, we'd just scream, "Dan!" He'd laugh lightly and stroll away with his coffee.
   Tawnya was comfortable with Dan. Too comfortable. If he made an inappropriate comment she punched him. Hard. Once, she drove her fist into his stomach and he bent over in pain. "Oh, Dan, quit being such a pussy," she giggled.
   My favorite alarm moment came when she brought in a batch of fresh cookies she'd baked herself. Nervous would be understating how her coworkers viewed that plate. A few were flat terrified. Yet, since not all employees were in the loop, others suffered no fear. The Professor ate a couple ... and lived. Cymon ate a couple more ... no problem. Then everyone feasted.
   End of August, Tawnya gave notice and returned to college. In addition to her television commercials and modeling, she was a straight A student in a hard science major. Her university experience was ending, however.
   The court date, moving inexorably, arrived.
   The trial unfolded as our columnist insider predicted.
   Tawnya changed clothes. Her college dreams, her life, were placed on hold.

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