So, one mystery solved, sort of. I learned what happened to the secretary/de facto office manager and why she hasn't been sending out the e-mails about expenses and whatnot the last couple months. It's for good reason: she's not with the company anymore.
I haven't yet learned why she's not there anymore. The boss said that she and the company had parted ways and that the time had come for other things, which sounds like the way you phrase the consequences of the employee spending twenty minutes screaming profanities and explanations of the boss's ineptitude at him in front of the entire staff. Except I don't imagine that's what happened, because the way the company is run that sort of thing is expected. I don't think the boss truly came to see me as needed, for example, until the time I did yell back at him and leave until I was good and ready to come back. For someone who's been with the company for years, and was truly indispensable to keeping the company running smoothly, a simple conflict is not a sufficient explanation. Maybe she really did find a more compelling offer.
That's the best I can say, anyway, at least until the next time the boss summons me East and I can get back to office gossip. There's no talk of when that might be, and I don't figure to encourage the boss into thinking of having me out any particular time. If I can work this right, I'll manage a trip for just before the summer amusement park touring season, and be safe from summoning away from home for most of the summer.
Meanwhile this does mean that after a long, long time of stability there's been rather a lot of turnover in the office. Notably, I think, of the people I would hang out with in the lunch room, only one besides me is still working for the company, and him only on a very part-time basis, a couple days a month. Nobody, except the boss, who was on the second floor is still around, and there've been a couple people on the third and the first floor changed too. For a company that carried on for a long, long time because everybody knew what they were supposed to be, this much staff turnover in eighteen months is unsettling at least.
Trivia: The name of the George Washington Memorial Bridge was announced nine months before its dedication. New York Port Authority chairman John F Galvin admitted there was the potential for confusion, as a Washington Bridge crossed the Harlem River barely a mile to the east, but he expected that people would just call the new structure the ``Hudson River Bridge'' whatever its official name was. Source: Engineers Of Dreams: Great Bridge Builders and the Spanning of America, Henry Petroski.
Currently Reading: The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life Of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom, Graham Farmelo.