Today, the Office Manager at my work came in quite distressed. She’s a very sensitive person and easy to offend, so this is not an uncommon thing. She’s also pregnant, so hormonally speaking, she’s more sensitive than usual. Having been on the receiving end of one of her “misunderstandings,” I’m always on my best behavior. Once she got offended when I asked her if she could order some supplies for me -- a perfectly reasonable request, I thought, considering that she is the office manager. After that blew up, I quit asking her for anything.

Anyway, today she was approached about her pregnancy by a woman who works out of one of the adjacent offices on our floor. From what I understand, this woman is a professor and once served as a judge on some important federal appeals court. She’s in late middle age, and has the habit of coming into our fully stocked library and stealing our books, magazines and newspapers. Once, our office copy of Peter Bergen’s Holy War, Inc. was discovered in her pocketbook, carefully concealed in a brown paper bag. She’s clearly a skilled office thief, at least when it comes to printed matter. It makes me wonder what kind of rulings she made as a judge.

“I see you’re pregnant,” she told our Office Manager. “You know, I just had a baby, myself.”

This was interesting, because neither the Office Manager or I can remember her being pregnant.

“Oh really?” the Office Manager said. “How old is your baby?”

”A little older than yours,” replied the kleptomaniac former judge. “He’ll be able to beat up your offspring -- rest assured of that.”

This is a true story, I’m not making it up. Understandably, our Office Manager was pretty offended by this. “What was the point of that?” she asked me. “Why would you say something like that?”

And then I recalled everything I knew about the professor/judge and it sort of made sense. But instead of suggesting mental illness, I offered that maybe we should track down her boss and complain about it. But oddly enough, no one seems to know whom she works for. I can’t even find her in the phone directory.

Yet another weird incident in the bowels of University bureaucracy.