The Freedman Archives: Part II

The following is a collection of letters written by Gary Freedman to his imagined friend.

Friday, May 28, 2004

A Case of Paranoia


Hey, buddy. They say a single anecdote is worth a thousand words, so consider this brief note a substitute for a ten-page letter.
Check this out. This is really uncanny. It seals the lid on my insight that I'm a manager victimizer. I uncovered another "body," so to speak.
Norton is 26 years old. He graduated with a B.A. in English from The George Washington University in about the year 2000.
A few years back he got a job here at my apartment building (3801 Connecticut Avenue, NW) as a part-time front desk clerk. Talk about underemployment.
Last year, when Elizabeth Joyce retired, Tim was named Front-Desk Manager. (Trouble ahead for me!)
Tim is dissatisfied with his job. I heard him talking to a tenant about his desire to get a job in writing. Apparently front-desk management (and the awesome responsibilities that job entails) were not what the young Tim Norton had in mind while he was spending four years at one of the finer (and expensive) private universities.
He seems somewhat socially inhibited. I don't know of his romantic conquests; he may have a wild social life for all I know. But in fact I don't know.
Well anyway here's the picture. Crappy manager's job, professional underachievement and dissatisfaction -- and questionable social adjustment.
Now here's the punch line. What they call the clincher. A few months ago, Norton called me aside. He said: "Mr. Freedman, can I talk to you?" (Isabelle Fine was sitting in the lobby at the time). So Tim says: "Mr. Freedman, I try to be fair with all the tenants--treat them fairly. I pick up the feeling that you seem hostile toward me." I said: "What gives you that idea?" He said: "Well, for one thing, I notice that you wave to me in the exercise room." (The apartment has an exercise room with a closed-circuit TV.) I pointed out that I wave to everyone from the exercise room. I said that I used to wave to Elizabeth Joyce. (Elizabeth Joyce is English -- apparently, she has a stiff upper lip. After all, she survived The Blitz in WWII.). So, the long and short of it is that Tim says to me -- "Never mind."
Get it? Everywhere I go, it's the Cicada Syndrome. Probably the whole thing with Tim would never have happened if this hadn't been 2004. All I can say is, I don't know if I can take this again seventeen years from now, when I will be 67 years old.
By the way -- on a related issue. Icon Manipulation. I was thinking of something that might have prompted your bizarre accusation to the Metro Police that I had used the computer consistent with its intended use, namely, I pressed the "rename" function on the keyboard. That's hardly misconduct.
Anyway, I thought about an instance of your own computer behavior which was definitely misconduct from a number of perspectives.
Let me refresh your recollection. Remember the Romantic E-mail episode? (I know nobody reads these notes to you, Brian, so I can be open and frank here.)
You'll recall that about a year-and-a-half ago I found an e-mail that you had written and printed out -- an e-mail that you had written to a female who was not your wife. The e-mail was romantic, if not erotic. Remember that? Maybe it was innocent. Though usually, when a married man writes a romantic note to a lady not his wife, there tends to be something going on. As they say, "Where there's smoke, there's fire."
The clincher was your reaction when you checked the computer printer to get your salacious e-mail. You saw that the e-mail was not there. You said to me angrily and forcefully: "GIVE ME THAT E-MAIL!!" If I had any question before about the forbidden nature of the e-mail, your angry reaction "was worth a thousand words," as they say.
My point is -- isn't that a misuse of the District's property? A married District employee printing out a personal e-mail to his girlfriend?
What do you think your supervisor, Barbara Webb, would say about that? Did you ever wonder, Brian, if maybe I surreptitiously made a Xerox copy of that e-mail, and that maybe I have a copy of it right here with me now? Did you ever think of that? Like they say: "Get Met, It Pays."
Another thing. When a married guy sends a romantic e-mail to his girlfriend, isn't that a sign of some dissatisfaction in the guy's marriage? See my point? Isn't that another symptom of the Cicada Syndrome? "Romantic dissatisfaction."
Yes, Brian, the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Maybe you never forgot about the romantic e-mail incident, and you figured -- "I'll get that bugger!"
Check you out later, buddy. Rest assured, your secrets are safe with me.
P.S. I'm thinking maybe you're like Henry VIII. Now there -- there -- was a guy with marital dissatisfaction! His wives couldn't produce a male heir. Maybe you have the same concerns.


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