Shirley was a very large lady in her fifties who handled reception. She had been there longer than the furniture. I’m actually being literal. The office had been remodeled several times during the past thirty-odd years, so Shirley had literally been there longer than several sets of furniture.
Shirley surrounded herself with beanie baby cats. They were draped over her computer screen and covered most of her desk. A few had even made it up onto the counter in front of her as though defending her, or trying to escape.
In addition to beanie baby cats, Shirley loved Elvis. This did not become apparent until the holidays. Some time in early December, Shirley would start playing Elvis’ Christmas Album and Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas at her desk. She kept the volume high enough to be heard clearly several desks away. It didn’t let up until after Christmas.
It was possible to get along with Shirley, but it required you never voice an opinion that conflicted with any of hers. I take that back. You didn’t actually have to voice the opinion. You could simply not nod in agreement to something she’d said. Another important thing to note about Shirley: you were not allowed to be offended or bothered by her.
Don’t think beanie baby cats by the dozens are the first things the public should see in a government office? Well, you can just go fuck yourself, you cat-hating asshat!
Think maybe headphones are a good idea in an open/shared office environment? How dare you, you un-festive bitch.
You just had to love Shirley. Seriously, it was required.