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Her name was Beatrice - and she was probably the most mannish looking woman I’d ever seen. That includes Drag Queens - because, if you think about it, most of them actually TRY to look like women.

I had flipped ahead in my book, at the lesson where we would learn to add image fields into the database, and I came across her.

It was a small, black and white photo used as the example. The actual caption said, “Let’s close Windows Client and navigate to this page through PeopleSoft Internet Architecture. Notice how Beatrice’s image is now viewable through a browser interface.” Below this was the screen shot of “BAquiono.gif’.

My first thought was: Oh my God, that is the ugliest woman I have ever seen!

I started to think that it could have been a man. I checked the wording and found several references to her. I gave up on that idea - yike! .

When the class arrived at the point to which I’d skipped there was a general shuffling and chuckle around the room.

“Yes, yes.” Our instructor, Shelly, gave a guilty laugh. “I’ve asked them to change the manual or the image on the demo database - because everyone makes fun of Beatrice whenever they get to this point.”

I felt very bad about this- especially after all that had happened recently. I had to admit, I’d done the same damn thing when I saw her - only I kept it to myself- but my silence didn’t make it any better. I’d still thought the same fucking thing.

Not only did the people in these classes consistently ridicule this woman’s picture - but it was bad enough to be a disturbance - and have the instructor request a specific change. I felt terrible - was this behavior acceptable for an adult? Was it?

I looked around the room. We were all grown-ups- at least everyone else was. I was the only one in class with an explicative on his shirt.

I’d discovered that morning that I’d left Columbus with only one extra shirt- the E2 Nodespotting shirt that Clampe had given me Saturday night. I wanted to wear it - just not to a business function. But I’d realized that, once I’d arrived in class and taken my seat (in the back of the room so as not to offend anyone behind me), I didn’t mind wearing it at all. In fact I'd forgotten about it completely and stood in a long line for coffee, faced the phone bank in order to dial into work… who knows who saw it. No one ever mentioned it to me so I assume no one was ever offended. What did this lack of discretion say about my maturity?

But really, what did that uncomfortable laugh say about everyone else’s?

I stared down at the grainy photo of Beatrice. She was a large woman of at least 40, glasses, some kind of overall-dress, white shirt and a very bad -split down the middle- hairstyle.

I tried my usual perspective shift as I looked at the photo and tried to put myself in the scene where it was taken.

Beatrice stood in front of the blue background and faced the digital camera stand. She shrugged. This was completely useless. She wanted to get back to work - not go through this crap. There was enough going on back at her cubicle and the last thing she wanted was to deal with an overzealous manager obsessed with personalizing the training manuals.

Dave had made them all take numbers and he drew out seven from her floor. However, the only other person from her department in this round was Ginny, the superficial bitch from accounting design who’d had her hair done the day before and she looked fucking great!

Beatrice hated her. She’d played up the whole event with such saccharine excitement that Beatrice wanted to puke. Ginny was always the type who overplayed everything.

Dave had grabbed Beatrice right after lunch when she’d just come back from her walk. She looked like she’d been cleaning horse stalls - she hated the fact that she sweated so badly. She wiped her hand across her slick forehead and drew her long, unkempt bangs behind her ears.

“OK.” Her manager grinned at her and moved his mouse as he studied the image. “This is going to be great.”

“You know, I really don’t like the idea of having my picture in this manual.” Beatrice said.

“It’ll look great!” He assured her then waved his hand in front of him. “Move a little to the left… good. That’s fine…. Trust me.” His forehead wrinkled a bit and began performing a long series of mouse clicks.

She stood still, bored and frustrated. Dave had never been the brightest guy. He was nice for a kid - she believed he was only about thirty or so- but his lack of experience made it difficult for her to respect this type of distraction from real work. She sighed and began planning out the rest of the afternoon: her riding lesson on Beeches in the hot Austin sun - and showing her daughter, Lea, how to mount the horse properly. The thought made her grin unselfconsciously -


Perfect!” Dave stood up and grinned wolfishly. “This will be great. Students will love the fact the real employees go into making these things.” He waved her over and she looked down at the CRT screen with only mild interest. It wasn’t a bad picture, granted, and it had a nice thought behind it. She nodded and went back to her cubicle to finish work.

Three weeks later, when Dave distributed the books she stared at the picture dumbfounded. She hadn’t noticed until that horrible moment just how much she resembled her father. She closed the book and threw it in the trash below her desk - she hoped that they would come up with a new revision of the manual before these ever hit the street. In the background she heard Ginny squeal with mock delight.

I looked back up from the manual and my thoughts at Shelly, who looked down in confusion at another student’s screen. “It isn’t in there?” she asked then clicked around the directories looking for ‘BAquiono.gif’. “I only asked them to remove it a week ago. I figured that it would take them forever to get rid of it.”

She walked back up to her terminal and clicked a bit, then said: “Ok, don’t use that one, look for a file that says ‘Gbuckland.gif’. That will work fine.”

I turned back to my system and clicked on the image to find that Gbuckland.gif was a perky, thirty-something with a fake smile and fluffy hair.

I started digging in some of the off directories and found another image of Beatrice, this one had the image pasted in a drivers license mock-up. I cut the photo off, saved it and imported it into the database using it as planned.

During the next break I used paintbrush to draw a moustache on the picture of Gbuckland, what an ugly bitch.

Previous part - I think you are my favorite today. Is that ok?
Next Part - I Went to Atlanta and All I Got Was This Lousy Pile of Junk

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