File Mule

by Susan on May 7, 2009


Confessions of a file mule.

I decided to quit my job about six weeks before I actually did (OK, six months, but who’s counting?). Because the circumstances were less than great and folks in my world usually get walked right out, I was nervous about being kicked in the face (metaphorically-speaking) the moment I announced my intention to go, and my pride couldn’t handle the idea that my staff and co-workers might think I had been fired. Blah blah blah, ego ego ego.

I had a ton of stuff in my office: books, files, art — ten years worth of the stuff you think you need. It would have filled a dozen paper boxes, way more than you could pack in 30 dignified minutes. Part of that was my set of permanent files – the stuff I’ve traveled with for years and years – and I was afraid that it would look like I were stealing them if I packed them up and carried them out on my last day. The files were mine; I brought them with me when I got there, but it would have looked so shady if I grabbed them when I left. To try to avoid looking like an office supply thief, I started carrying a big purse. Every night, I slid my laptop into my briefcase with two or three file folders and dropped one big red pendaflex into my purse.

When I got in the elevator, I would sweat and twitch like I was carrying heroin in my cleavage, probably making the security guards laugh their asses off as they watched me adjust my bra straps and tug on my Spanx with a Tourette’s Syndrome flourish. I was constantly terrified that I would become the subject of a bag check and have to explain that the red cardboard folder in my purse was something I bought three cities ago and had dragged around with me ever since.

Would it be more embarrassing to get searched or to have to admit that I had been hoarding all this crap for so long? Thank God there aren’t mandatory prison sentences for file mules.

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