23 November, 2011

Ghouls (no punchline here - move along).

I think we're on firm ground in stating that La Mondaine is a ghoul. The only way she could be more of one would be if she hung around graveyards and had chunks of cadaver caught between her teeth, but here's the latest example, anyway.

Several weeks ago a couple of people in another part of the organisation were involved in a serious car accident. This is like heroin for La Mondaine and she begins relentlessly pumping people for details - she doesn't even know the pair that well and the kind of questions she's asking make it clear that she's had nothing to do with either of them in the last several years at least. Nevertheless, every detail is of vital importance. When another elderly colleague ambles by for his twice-weekly gossip session, she pounces on him for information.

"Who was driving? Was he hurt much? He wasn't? Oh, he must feel so awful. Does he feel awful? I'm sure he must. Tell me how awful he's feeling. I'd ask his wife, but she's taken time off to look after him while he recovers. He has to feel terrible, though. Are you sure you haven't heard how much guilt and suffering he's going through? Tell me everything you know about his pain! I must know! I want to wallow in it!"

It's not pretty. And then she switches to the more seriously-injured of the pair, who's still in hospital.

"Have you heard from him? Have you heard about him? Oh, it must be so awful for him! It must be so awful for his family! Does he have children? He does? Oh, the poor children! Oh, his poor wife what's-her-name! How is she coping. Has she told you how she's coping? It  must be hard for her. She must be suffering. How much is she suffering? A lot? More than a lot? How would you not despair? How could you keep going? Her anguish must reach to the heavens, so how can she possibly bear it? And with the kids, too!"

"Nah," says the elderly gossip. The other one, that is. "She's German." (Because apparently Germans are soulless, unemotional machines that just keep going regardless).

"She's not suffering? How can she not be? Tell me she is! She must be suffering in the face of this tragedy! Why is she not sharing her pain and stress with the rest of us like a normal person? Does she not understand that we hunger for her pain and are suffering, too? If I can't lick the fresh tears of grief from the faces of her and her children, why can no-one at least quantify her suffering for me, so that I can rest easy at night like the horrid Pain Vampire that I am?"

She may not have used those exact words, granted, but her morbid need to indulge and wallow in someone else's misfortune was genuinely sickening. She may even have dropped below the threshold separating the merely contemptible from the disgusting.

I have no punchline for this. It turns out there's no humour to be found here, not even in mocking her foibles. La Mondaine may well be the first complete failure as a human being it's been my misfortune to work alongside.

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