Being in the office after Dwight had left for the hospital with Michael and Jim was like being in a room where the oldest, noisiest, most ineffective air conditioner was turned off unexpectedly after hours of being on. It was like rediscovering what quiet could sound like.
Karen was still trying to figure out how most people in the Scranton branch could come in day after day work for Michael and not have a mental breakdown. Sure, Josh used to be patronizing at times, with some pretty sexist undertones, but overall, she had been able to do her job mostly unencumbered. Michael was cycling between being overtly sexist, racist and childish at a breakneck pace that left her bewildered and overwhelmed. Seeing people’s apathy towards it didn’t help.
So after working more efficiently in the last two hours then she had the whole morning (or week really), she felt like she deserved a break and went for a snack. Entering the breakroom, she saw Pam sitting at a table drinking what appeared to be tea and reading a magazine.
Karen decided it would be a great opportunity to get to talk to her. She hadn’t had the chance yet, and Pam seemed by far one of the sanest people in the office. Karen would need allies if she was to survive there. With that in mind, she greeted her warmly as she bought a chocolate bar from the machine. “Hey, Pam.”
Pam looked up from what she was reading. “Hey, Karen.”
“Have you heard anything yet?”
“Yes, Dwight has a concussion, but he should be alright in a couple of days.”
“Though he was kind of… nicer. Concussed.”
Pam visibly bit down a smile and Karen counted that as a win.
“Mind if I join you?” she gestured at the empty chair.
“Not at all.”
“Thanks,” Karen said as she sat down. She was then able to see that Pam was reading a wedding magazine.
“Doing a lot of planning?”
Pam started nodding. “Yes, and not a lot of time to do it.” Her head tilted down, in a self-deprecating manner Karen had seen her do before.
Karen wondered what a neutral way was to engage the conversation about how her fiancé seemed like kinda of an asshole. During the short time she had been here, Roy had not made a great impression on her. The last time she had seen him, he had come to pick Pam up at the end of the day and he had berated her for not being ready and had asked her what could be so important about her job. Pam had laughed it up as a joke, but Karen had seen her discomfort. So yes, Roy had made a strong entry in the d-bag category for Karen. Probably no way to say that nicely though. At least, not yet.
"So, are you doing a local reception? "
"Yes. Roy, hmm, we don't want to spend too much on the ceremony and both our families are from around here, so it makes sense."
Karen was sure it made sense to someone.
“Right,” she answered as genuinely as she could. Time for a change of subject before she voiced an opinion that nobody had asked for.
“Can I ask you a question?”
She saw Pam tense up imperceptibly, like she was preparing for an attack. Karen wondered how many people questioned Pam’s relationship to her face. She could think of at least one person, but the bias there couldn’t be overstated.
“Sure,” Pam responded reluctantly.
“On a scale from one to ten, how crazy was what happened this morning with Michael for Dunder Mifflin Scranton? How does “grilling your foot on a Foreman Grill” fits in your daily lives? Because, try as I might, I don’t think I have a full perspective on the local landscape yet.”
Pam relaxed visibly and actually smiled a little.
“That’s a good question. Many great minds have tried and failed to establish a comprehensive Michael Scott insanity theorem.”
Karen laughed. “Yeah, I’m not surprised.”
“From a humble observer, I would place it as a seven.”
“Only a seven?” Karen asked, only half joking and groaning internally.
“Yes, you have the stupid yet unpredictable premise, the classic and insulting overreaction, and then the legendary conference meeting with props and guests,” Pam paused in reflection. “I guess Dwight being concussed might bring it to an eight.”
“I think Dwight being nice brings it to an eight, rather than him being concussed.”
“You might be right about that,” Pam conceded graciously.
“Let me calibrate this thing further. What would be a four?”
Pam was now fully engaged, her eyes bright with mirth. She took on an expression of faked seriousness. “Let me think. A four would stop productivity for at least two hours but wouldn’t require any paperwork with HR or necessitate a call from corporate. That rules out the fire or the Dundies.”
Karen mouthed the word ‘Dundies’ uncomprehending.
Pam continued undeterred. “I believe the Secret Santa turned White Elephant party would be eligible, and so would be the Office Olympics probably.”
Karen stared speechless for a moment longer before replying. “Okay, you and I need to go for a drink at some point because I need more context for all of this, and I believe alcohol will be necessary.”
Pam looked surprised yet pleased at the suggestion. “Yes, that’d be great.”
“Awesome. I have so many questions. And I am a little afraid to ask what a ten would be.”
Pam then proceeded to blow Karen’s mind forever.
“Have you heard about Michael and Jan yet?”