An old life before the flip flops

On Christmas Eve I watched a movie together with my lovely friend Mairi. We did this virtually as she’s in Oman, using What’s App to synchronise our start time and chat on the action throughout. When the movie had finished we followed up with a quick video chat before I headed to bed.

It was during that chat that she reminded me that my life of encountering bonkersness started long before I came to Cambodia and of two nutters I had previously encountered, namely Perfume Paula & the Angry Buddhist.

Fast forward to today (29th December) and I’m procrastinating. And whilst doing so I found a folder on my desktop that I’d forgotten about called ‘am writing’. A sub folder called ‘you couldn’t make it up’ piqued my interest and lo and behold, the following gem lay within…

“Two minutes.  Two whole minutes.  That’s all it took for me to realise two things:

  1. The woman standing beside me had some serious issues and
  2. Working with her was probably not going to be a walk in the park.

It was my first day in my new job, I’d had a longish and fairly unmemorable induction conversation with my boss (think induction by numbers complete with a tick list for good measure) and was now being introduced to the team.

“So Sara, this is our office space and this is your desk” my boss intoned.  

As I looked at the expanse of desk immediately in front of me, I became aware of a presence to my left,  grinning inanely and cloaked head to toe in black, long dark hair flowing wildly, face shrouded in large dark sunglasses.  (Sadly, my google searches for ‘weird goth old lady’ ‘darth vader on crack’ and ‘hag wearing sunnies’ failed to bring up a picture to mirror the reality.)

“This is your desk mate, Paula” he continued.

I turned to face my neighbour and, before I could utter a greeting, a monologue ensued.  Delivered at warp speed, in a shrill high pitched voice it went something like this:

“Er er er hi, I’m Paula, I’m glad you don’t wear perfume, err I’m allergic to perfume, it’s the daffodils, I’m allergic to something in daffodils they say, they don’t know what it is but it’s something in err perfume that they use that comes from daffodils and I’m allergic to it so I’m glad you aren’t wearing perfume because err I have an allergy”.

The monologue ended and I was vaguely aware of a silence all around me as the rest of my new colleagues and my boss looked on, I guess eager to see how the hell I was going to deal with the onslaught.

Without thinking I replied: “well actually, I am wearing perfume” and before I could continue Paula was off again:

“Oh, well, err, it must be expensive perfume because I’m allergic to some perfumes, some perfumes err have daffodil in them and I’m allergic to whatever that is but they don’t know what it is but I’m allergic to it and your perfume must not have it in because it’s expensive and I’m not having a reaction.  I usually have a reaction err because I’m allergic.”

In hindsight, I should never have mentioned that I was wearing perfume and I certainly shouldn’t have said what I did next but I’d been practising being a more authentic me and I wasn’t going to give up such a glorious opportunity to try it out for size.

“Well” I kicked off, “as you say, my perfume is expensive and I wear it every day, it’s part of who I am.  But, if you’re able to tell me what element of perfume it is you’re allergic to I’ll happily contact the manufacturer to get clarification whether it’s in my perfume or not”.

This achieved nothing other than to kick Paula off on another “I’m allergic to perfume, it’s the daffodils…” rant, at which point I put my bag down, sighing loudly before turning to my boss and asking “what now”,  a look of perplexity on my face and utter fear on his.”


And that, my dear reader, gives you a little insight into the delightful!?!?!?! perfume Paula. Sadly there’s not another document labelled Angry Buddhist, but I’ll try my best to sum him up in a blogpost for you some time soon.

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