by Anselmo Watkins
A tense situation at the Francis University continued into mid-afternoon Thursday as a loud, wide-ranging, obnoxious conversation between noted office gadfly Esmerelda D’Espino and assistant director Tina Knight entered its third hour of inane babble, holding the rest of the cubicle-based events management office hostage.
“It is impossible to get any work done here with them babbling away,” said co-worker Ted Winter, who has been trapped in his cube for over two hours, unable to do work that requires any concentration. “You’d think they’d shut the damn door or something. But no, they just keep going on and on.”
The conversation, which has been punctuated by bursts of cackling laughter and self-satisfying smugness, has included gossiping about random faculty members, friends they mutually know but don’t really like, the weather, “Dancing With the Stars,” and, inexplicably, pudding.
According to fellow hostage and coworker Ling Lau, Espino is a well-known gossip, close to retirement and has no concept of personal space. “She is one of those people who sits too close to you,” Lau said. “She’s the last person you want in a meeting with you – she just takes over with questions and comments, droning on and on.”
Knight, a long-time Francis employee whose career path has been used by many as a perfect depiction of the Peter Principal, is described by Lau as “not having the skills necessary to adroitly cut off an unwanted conversation.”
“She’s friendly and nice, but not particularly bright. She just says ‘um hmmmm’ over and over. It’s the perfect storm for babble,” Lau said.
Senior analyst Dean Chasse, desperate to finish a report before an afternoon deadline ironically imposed by Knight, escaped by grabbing a laptop and heading to the Student Union Building to try to find a quiet place to work. But, tragically, as soon as he sat down, three co-eds sat nearby and talked about their weekend plans, a really cute puppy and the guy that Sheila met over the internet who had “texted her each of the last three days and who wanted to come meet her at her on campus apartment and didn’t realize that they probably ought to meet somewhere in public and who is probably a creeper.”
“Poor Dean,” said Lau. “He thought he had gotten out, but for this to happen to him twice in one day is just a nightmare.”