Remembering Joan... Not Crawford


My first job was working for The Coca-Cola Company in Houston, TX. And it was there that I first met Joan... Joan Thomas, secretary for the office, Joan Thomas, who started working in this office four days before I had been born... Joan Thomas, the only female working with eight guys who had rather atrocious ideas of what was funny. I was the ringleader.

Joan had her own bathroom, being the only female... and although she had real challenges with answering the phone, typing and other basic skills, she could crochet. She crocheted toilet tissue covers such as the one shown, using multi-colored yarns and had even figured a way to construct a matching poodle that slid over the top of a can of Lysol... you pushed down between his ears, the mouth would open, and the spray would come right out between his teeth... I always thought the teeth would have been the hardest to make. If this sounds attractive I am not telling it right.

Joan was very passive aggressive at times... phone numbers that were vital to you would have a couple of numbers reversed, or the name might be wrong... she definitely had a love-hate relationship with us all... and so in appropriate mature fashion we would retaliate.

Back in those days many in the office smoked... especially the main boss who she adored. But she hated smoking... and rightfully so. However, every day one of us would arrive before any of the others, go into his office, retrieve a cigarette butt from his ashtray (i.e. his brand, Doral) and place it into her toilet. Upon arrival each morning she would go into the could hear her muttering and flushing the toilet... appalled that any man would dare use her bathroom, especially to smoke in there... but she thought it was the boss that she idolized, so she just suffered through it... for years.

One morning she came in to find the purple crocheted poodle swinging from a noose attached to the light fixture. She was not amused.

The real crowning achievement in the toilet wars, however, came a couple of years after I got there. She had been very difficult for a couple of weeks... nothing went well, messages lost, and we had collectively had enough.

Joan left for lunch. I had gone out that morning and purchased four big pieces of dry ice that was in the freezer in the back. Before she returned, we took off the toilet lid, forced the dry ice in there, returned the lid, along with the various crocheted items on top, turned out the light and closed the door.

Joan returned from lunch, went into the bathroom, closed the door and did whatever business was needed... and upon finishing, she flushed the toilet, apparently while still seated on it. The dry ice sort of exploded its way into the bowl, created an enormous amount of 'smoke.' Her screams were heard all over the office, the door slammed open and out she came, pulling up her drawers screaming "The john's on fire, the john's on fire," the smoke created by the dry ice billowing out of the door behind her.

After that incident we gentlemen were collectively told by the boss that this sort of thing just had to stop.

Of course it was hard to understand him since he was laughing harder than any of us.