It's a Cruel Time

August 2006.  Los Angeles, California.  Giraudon and Ken Trucking.  The main office building holds shipping, human resources, and customer service personnel.  You walk in on the first floor to a large floor of 10 cubicles all staffed with vibrant, energetic workers.  Six men, six women.  We are concerned here with the women, Marge, Kathy, Susan, Anne, Allison, and Andrea.  Susan is a thirty year-old attractive shipping clerk, not married but looking.  Her first husband left after six years of marriage.  Anne is a twenty-three-year-old college graduate who handles diversified customer service.  Marge is to the left in a separate office for human resources.  Kathy, a married 33 year-old, is handling accounts payable.

Susan:  You know, I've never had to think about the camaraderie of an office before now.

Anne:  What's "camaraderie"?  Did you just order one from Tony's Pizza?

Susan:  Are you joking?  Do you want a serious answer?  I'm waiting for you to say, I agree."

Anne:  Truthfully, I've heard that word before, but I would just say the "friendship level."

Susan:  I'm sorry.  You always have a book in your hand.  I didn't think that was a crazy concept to you.

Anne:  Oh, well.

Susan:  Some people can be so rude and think nothing of it.

Anne:  Signs of the times.

Susan:  I like your laconic style.

Anne:   What's "laconic"?  Can you order one of those, too?

Susan:  You are being silly.  Just look at your way of speech and you'll understand the word.  Haha.

Anne:  Brief and to the point, I bet.

Susan:  Bingo.  Bingo (loud) 

Anne:  Calm down.

Susan:  I'm not excited.

Anne:  We're right near each other.  You don't have to shout.

Susan:  I can't believe that ass Kathy keeps bothering me.  She has no scruples.

Anne:  You're too refined. (tersely)

Susan:  This harks back to what I was starting to say about camaraderie.  This is an important office.  A lot of volume.  And one of the workers feels free to badmouth me.  I expect some consideration around here.  You've seen how nasty she can get.

Anne:  Sure.

Susan:  What do you think about that?

Anne:  Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of. 

Susan:  How so, afraid?

Anne:  We have work to do.  Who wants to be bothered?  You have to have a way of handling harrassment.  I can't advise.  But you need to put your foot down.  Put both feet down, in fact.

Susan:  The beauty of it is in being good.  I think, anyway.

Anne:  Now who's being laconic.  (laughter)

Susan:  I'm of the mind that sticks and stones will break my bones.  But enough is enough.  Thank God, she's over at the other end of the door.  I'd have to question a seating change.

Anne:  I wouldn't want to worry about craziness sitting near me either.

Susan:  Here she comes to use the FAX.

Kathy is the worker that Susan has been referring to and she is approaching them as they talk.

Kathy:  (directing this shout toward Susan)  Whores out of here!  I see you not working Susan.  (with contempt)  Let's go, move your ass.

Susan: (quiet, ignoring that statement, to Anne)  And, what's amazing is that no one bats an eyelash at that yelling.

Anne:  It must seem natural to the others.  People are acting out a lot these days.

Susan:  I wanted to call that to your attention.

Anne:  That's not camaraderie.

Susan:  You're very polite.

Kathy: (again, at a distance)  (shouting)  I dfon't want to look at your ugly face.  It's a crazy ugly face!  You must work here!

Susan:  (prompted to respond by the nature of the words, in a measured tone)  Oh, shut up.  You're bothering the office.

Kathy walks past them back to her location yonder.

Susan:  Someone has taught her that she can cross over that boundary line of right and wrong.

Anne:  That's some kind of an unusual hatred.

Susan:  I'm going to have to speak to Marge in HR about that.  I was a little afraid to make waves because if the rest of the office hasn't scolded her for her behavior, I'm nervous about dealing with her.

Anne:  That issue is a real issue.  She must be having an authority kick.  I can't scold anyone, Susan, not for you or for anyone else.  I don't like thinking about what I would do if she were doing that to me.  I'd probably choose a bad beating, just between you and me.

Susan:  Chains of consequences.  I'm nervous about speaking to Marge.  She surely can't approve of yelling in the office.

The next day after having spoken with Marge about Kathy's harrassment.

Susan:  I hope that helps.  Marge had a talk with Kathy at the end of her shift.  Marge was very polite about it.  She told me not to worry.  She sounded sympahetic about us both.

Anne: You need to act.  A nut like that can get out of hand.

Kathy (on passing again toward the FAX, in a low voice) Is that what you think?  Talk to HR about me?  I'm going to get you for that.

Susan:  What a nasty mouth!  She wants to be a thorn in my side.

Anne:  People are afraid to be witnesses, too.  Unemployment is such a problem.  If Marge is afraid of her, you mightr have an extended problem.  I'll talk to Allison about it.  I'm sure Allison doesn't approve.

Susan:  It all comes down to camaraderie.  We don't think going around talking at each other is an effective behavior.  

Anne:  Watch threatening court also.  Everybody is a reluctant witness.


VeraWinters   VeraWinters wrote
on 7/14/2009 4:16:02 AM
When I first started to read this I thought. Oh great another boring conversation between office workers. but it is actully a very compelling word play. The cemistry between women is great and it is very realistic, not a commecial glossy script. Well Done. Vera

1 act
writing frederic
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This play illustrates why I have obsessed about values since becoming a writer 26 years ago. What are we going to do when we can't get people to listen to reason? We need to reflect hard on these issues.