Sunday, June 10, 2007

Regarding Ms. Smith

The two or three regular readers of The Schprock Report who have heard of Ms. Smith recognize her as the quintessential client from hell. Equipped with such knowledge, these people may continue to read this post; however, I must entreat those not familiar with Ms. Smith and the story of how she would rather get shot to please follow that link and read the whole tale first. Certainly Ms. Smith has popped up in other places in this blog, but this one story truly encapsulates what the Ms. Smith experience has been all about. So go ahead and read it and we can wait. Take your time.

(taps foot, whistles, glances at watch)

Back now? Good. Let’s begin.

I will deliver the news about Ms. Smith by telling you exactly how I broke it to 80 Hour Man, who had the day off when we heard these unexpected tidings of her. 80 Hour Man and I usually get in to work before everyone else, so, after he stepped out of the elevator and we said our good mornings, I insisted he sit down and prepare himself for some rather shocking news. He did so with a smile on his face, no doubt expecting something facetious to come out of me. When I saw he was properly seated, I asked him, “Do you know Ms. Smith?”




“Dead!” I repeated.

“She’s dead?”


Yes, Ms. Smith is dead, from what cause we don’t know. Theories abound of course, but all that is known is that her parents discovered her body in her house possibly on Wednesday. Ms. Smith was only 33 years old, incredibly young to die, and this, as I’ve said, has led to all manner of speculation. I instantly thought of suicide but have since amended that. Whatever the cause, and whatever opinion you or I or anyone might have of her, it’s very, very sad.

The most popular theory is that an eating disorder did her in. It is true that Ms. Smith was seen very rarely to eat. One of our bosses, the creative director, used to supply Ms. Smith with fresh fruit and little vegetarian dainties every time Ms. Smith made one of her infamous, prolonged visits. The rest of the people in the office acted like starving wolves held at bay, waiting for enough time to pass to politely dive into the food she obviously would not eat. I could almost sense a certain pride she might have felt in disciplining herself to not put nourishment into her system while looking at the rest of us as weak.

Another theory is cocaine. The president of our company heard rumors that Ms. Smith battled an addiction to the white powder some time ago, and maybe a renewed abuse of that drug led to her demise. She seemed to live on Diet Coke, so there’s a sort of irony in considering the possibility that the other coke would in the end deprive her of the life the first Coke sustained. Suicide, of course, is right up there. She had gone through a string of high-powered positions in the schoolbook publishing world, always leaving each job under a cloud, and an imminent dismissal from this, her latest position, with no other prospect in sight, might have meant a loss of stature and material wealth too much for her to bear.

Here’s my theory: I’m guessing Ms. Smith suffered from a rare disorder, let’s say some obscure blood disease, which she kept hidden while bravely putting in 16 hour days, knowing all the while her life would be cut short. That would explain her mysterious absences during urgent projects when she would suddenly become completely unavailable: she could have been receiving critical, life-preserving treatments during those times.

Well, like I say, it’s a theory.

Whatever the case, I feel bad. I always kind of liked her even though she frustrated me and made me furious at times. She was, at bottom, a nice person, and I always thought she led a pathetic life despite her five bedroom house, Jaguar, $5,000 boots, her Gucci this and Gucci that, and a yearly salary with all those zeros in it. In a way, I think she fussed and micromanaged herself to death, and that’s just plain sad.


Blogger Farrago said...

Wow, Schprockie! That truly is a shocker. You have my respect for being sad about her, despite the way she treated you. It reminds me of a person I worked with in the past. It's too long a story for your comments section, but let's just say she treated me awfully as a co-worker and, in general, as a person.

I eventually moved on to other endeavors and, after I had moved away from that area, I discovered that she had been diagnosed with leukemia, and then, about a year and a half later, died.

I lost a friend over her when I refused to be saddened by her death. I wasn't happy about her death, but I wasn't sad. It's like if you told me of the death of your wife's sister's friend's cousin. It's someone who doesn't affect my life. You have my condolences, but I'm not saddened.

And he removed me from his life over it. That saddened me. But I've moved on.

4:36 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Ok, that was totally unexpected. I'm not trying to be dramatic here, but I wouldn't rule out the other way to die, the type of death that obsesses authors of crime novels. She was a real dandy, a feather ruffler to say the least. It makes me sad too, because she was a character that is rarely encountered in real life.

6:11 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

Holy crap! When you sat 80Hour Man down I had a feeling she was dead, but I didn't really expect it. I hope for her parents' sake, she didn't kill herself, but if she did, I'd say she's the perfect example of Money doesn't buy happiness. How incredibly sad.

Puts some things into perspective for me, so thank you.

7:26 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

(shines bright light) Alright, Mr. Schprock, would you mind telling us where you were between the hours of 8 and 3? You're not fooling anyone! Tell us now, and maybe we'll go easy on you.

Ahem. I bet it was the Diet Coke/cocaine mixture that did her in. Like Mentos, only the explosion's in the nose. At least the aspertame will keep her well-preserved.

Oh, and it's all very sad. Really.

7:44 AM  
Blogger tiff said...

Simply this: too young.


9:39 AM  
Blogger Flash said...

Wow...It's always strange to hear about someone dying when we've come to know her so "well" from a blog.

I'm sorry for the people close to her.

But at 33? I guess you just never know.....

I hope for your sake the gates of hell don't replace her with someone worse.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Oh my gosh, that is so sad. I remember sticking up for Ms. Smith more than once. I love strong businesswoman. Perhaps because I shall never be one.

Hopefully she's micromanaging an untidy parcel in heaven right now.

12:23 PM  
Blogger fermicat said...

Wow, that's rather shocking, especially given her young age and strong personality. It would have been interesting to see what she would have been like in her 50s - would her dominant traits be magnified, or would she have mellowed out? Now no one will ever know, and that is sad.

2:44 PM  
Blogger LL said...

Well... at least she'll not be ruining your life again.

You see... I'm pragmatic that way. She has every right to make the choices that led to her early demise, but no right to selfishly foist them upon the rest of you.

5:38 PM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

Well, I'm sad that you are sad that she is gone. I'm also a tad miffed that she had Gucci this and Gucci that and was still so miserable to the people of obvious quality around her. I think it's kind of tragic actually.

8:01 PM  
Blogger rennratt said...

Given her tendencies to micromanage, exaggerate, rant, etc. I'm guessing it was a combination of high blood pressure and a heart attack.

Likely brought on by living on soda - and never eating.

Though I loathed the way she treated others, I am sad for her family. And for her.

I can not begin to imagine how lonely she really was.

7:31 PM  

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