Friday, June 13, 2014

Kelsey "Kale" Gould and the Awesomely Awkward Audit

Awkwardness entails discomfort/ineptitude with social scripts alongside a razor-sharp awareness that this absent aptitude is visible to others. For this reason, it is fitting that I should spend most of my workday in front of a computer, which, to my knowledge, is unaware of my feverish self-consciousness.

For the better of self-growth, or for the worse of self-embarrassment, there are times when I am required to interact with people. I approach my colleagues kindly and politely, with a soft voice, good humor and bad posture.

Part of my health care-centered job entails conducting audits and ensuring that our contracted agencies are following Department of Health regulations. Put another way: I must invite myself over someone else’s office – always someone older and more experienced than I am – and evaluate their performance. More than any other of my responsibilities, during this part of my job, awkwardness weighs down like an elephant in heels.

Speaking of heels, while auditing one such health care agency, I noticed that the heel on one of my dress shoes was, figuratively speaking, on its last leg. It began flopping against my foot months ago when I was trying to catch the G-train. Back then, I crazy-glued it together when I arrived at the office; astonishingly that held it for months.

I asked the receptionist if she, or anyone else in the agency, had crazy glue.

“Why do you need that?” Her expression had been humorless; now, it had taken on a look of a hostile, defensive confusion, as though I had asked if I could take her mother out on a date.

“My shoe is falling apart,” I explained, smiling in acknowledgement of the situation’s hilarity.

Her expression relaxed but retained its stolidity. “We have packaging tape,” she offered.

The receptionist returned with a roll of clear packaging tape after my contact had returned. I fumbled clumsily with it as my contact and I debated compliance, tugging at the crinkly plastic like an apprehensive skydiver at the cord of a stubborn parachute, and trying to stick the wads between the heel and sole. Eventually, my contact, a registered nurse, could no longer stand the ridiculous sight of an auditor trying to tape his shoe together: she knelt down and began taping it herself, tape on the outside. I felt like a nine year old getting his shoe tied by a dubious adult.

At the audit's welcome conclusion, I thanked her and left the building, grinning cynically to myself as I walked back to the train station, my shoe crunching noisily along.