Chapter 204: Louella Goads A Friend

by A.C. Cherbonnier
       LOUELLA and Millie settled into their seats on the MARC train to Washington, off for their first day as temp workers for a lobbying firm. It was six-thirty a.m.
       “You know,” said Millie, thumbing through a copy of Prevention, “I’m really getting into this environmental thing—not trashing the planet and all that. How about you?”
       Doesn’t concern me, Louella thought. I mean, how much mess can one person make? I hardly even eat! She said, “Sure. It’s important.”
       “Well, it can get you into trouble, caring about stuff like that,” sniffed Millie. “I lost my last job over it. ”
       “You’re kidding! How’d that happen?” Louella stifled a yawn and wished she could snooze.
       “Well, I used to be in printing sales. That was a tough job, let me tell you! A real man’s world! But I got along okay for quite a while until I lost a big account.”
       “Oh, come on! How could you do that? I mean, it’s not like you personally did the printing or anything, right?”
       “Yeah, you’re right. All I did was give the client more information than they wanted to hear.”
       “Oh! Been there, done that!” said Louella, flashing her white crowns. “Sure teaches you to keep your mouth shut, huh?”
       “You don’t know the half of it!”
       “So what’d you do that was so bad? Tell somebody their nephew’s graphic design looked nasty or what?”
       “No—nothing like that. See, this was a big nonprofit. I mean, big. Like a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of printing a year. And we’d been doing their work for years. I just don’t know what made me do it—I mean, everything was going along fine. But I just had to open my big mouth, know what I mean?”
       Come on—come on! Get to the point! Louella groused inwardly. “Well, what’d you do?”
       There was a pause while the train stopped at the airport to take on more passengers. Now the car was standing-room-only, and Louella, who never willingly touched other people, felt creepy.
       The train lurched forward again. Millie picked up the thread of her story. “So I figured, these people are involved with health and all, and so I thought I’d tell them we were selling them something different from what they thought they were buying. That we’d changed the inks we were using.”
       “Oh, geez! No! Big mistake!”
       “Yeah, I see that now. Hindsight and all that. So what I did was, I told this woman I worked with that on the last couple of jobs we’d been substituting the special ink color they always used—one of the old kind of inks with really bad dyes and metals and stuff in it—with soy-based ink that looked exactly the same. I mean, exactly.”
       “So what was her problem? Soy ink doesn’t pollute, right?”
       “You got it! So I thought I was doing them a favor by telling them. Thought they’d feel good about themselves and maybe even print a little note on their jobs telling their customers they were doing the right thing. But instead, they fired me. Said they couldn’t use us unless we used the bad ink.”
       “Did you go over her head to her boss? I would have!”
       “Never thought of that!” marvelled Millie. “What would you have done?”
       “Let me give you a plan, okay?”


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This story was published on February 28, 2001.