28 July 2003 by Published in: in my life 2 comments

If you haven’t read Part 1 of this saga, you should do that first.

So about three weeks ago a friend of mine (henceforth to be referred to as A.K.) came into the chamber to tell us about a strange note that was left near the back (employee only) elevator. In large letters at the top of a blank sheet of paper, someone had written “If ever mortal painted an idea, that mortal was Roderick Usher”. The basement was abuzz with comments about the strange note. A.K. informed me that it had been left there by Eliza, and when I asked him how he knew, he said it was because a – she works at the desk right there by the elevator for part of the day and b – she’d left notes of this kind before. I asked him about the prior notes and there had been two that he could recall but only one that he remembered the text of. The one he remembered had said “Who wrote the book of love?”. We all had a chuckle about how wacky Eliza was and then A.K., who happened to know the first line of “The Fall of the House of Usher” by heart, slipped the paper into his typewriter and typed out the first line underneath the written note. He then replaced the note to its original location by the back elevator.

Apparently, the response was read and noted, because the next day there was a new note. It said only “Will you marry me?”. We joked that she was so impressed by yesterday’s response that she had developed a crush on A.K. He pondered an appropriate response for a while, and finally replied to that note with the last two sentences from the anti-marriage poem “Love Song” by Alan Dugan, which says ,”I can nail my left palm to the left-hand crosspiece but I can’t do everything myself. I need a hand to nail the right, a help, a love, a you, a wife.” He typed his reply on the note just as he had on the prior day and put it back where she had left it. Now the notes were receiving pretty far ranging discussion, at least in the basement, and others were starting to leave comments on the notes, which I’m sure only encouraged Eliza all the more, as the notes get wackier and more elaborate over time. Most people’s responses where of the “huh?” variety, and not nearly as inspired as A.K.’s.

Two days of typewritten responses in a row must have been making her really curious about the respondent, because the next day’s note said “Who is the best? Don’t force me to make assumptions, people.” The notes, I should mention at this point (though you will see for yourself later) are written in printed all caps. Nothing particular clever or witty was left as a response on this note, though there were the general huh? what? whatever! responses.

Deciding to push the medium a bit, Eliza’s next note featured a crude drawing of two eyes looking out from the page. Underneath the eyes was written “I know what you did.” This is possibly paraphrased, I didn’t really start documenting the contents of the notes until later. At this time I was just checking the back elevator daily and chuckling and commenting with my coworkers.

Note number 7 was a departure into non-sequitir land. I have had to reconstruct it, as I still wasn’t writing them down as they occurred. It had not sunk in to me yet that this would make a good blog entry. At any rate, what it said, as near as I and the people I’ve consulted with can remember, is : “All I have is a de-barked stick. Furthermore, I don’t know why Ford continues to make cars that don’t crank.” There was something else there, but it’s lost to the ages, I’m afraid. I remember feeling like there was a threat involved in the stick, and I thought there was something along the “not afraid to use it” lines in there somewhere, but I just can’t remember it precisely enough. What struck me was the “de-barked stick”. I went around telling people that day that I was in need of a de-barked stick, if anyone had one, to unanimous chuckles. People wrote comments on her note about how Ford cars have always been undependable, but they did not have the combined glint of genius and madness that her original note contained.

Note number 8, and we’re back to the theme of love : “I have never loved anyone for love’s sake except Josephine — maybe a little.” We all figured that was a Napoleon quote, but no one really bothered to look it up. After all, sometimes at work one has to do work, and there’s not always enough time to indulge one’s curiousity. A.K. had pretty much quit responding, after the ravings of note 7. I figured it would be my turn to write something soon.

There was a couple of noteless days in there, and then, almost as soon as we’d begun to think the phase was over came note number 9 : “We can always get more of everything except time.” Riiiiight. Ok.

However, just as we started to think the medium, the message and the messenger were all worn out, Eliza reached back into her apparently still vivid middle school experiences and produced the following masterpiece :


Admit it, you’re at a loss for words, aren’t you? I asked everyone in the basement if they had a lifesaver so I could attach it to the picture, but apparently most people here, if they eat mints, do not choose LifeSaver brand. At this point, my tales of the basement notes had traveled so far and wide that I was able to interest one of our staff photographers in documenting it, hence the picture. I am extremely grateful, as I could not have described that note in words and conveyed its true sense. In fact, from here on out, all further notes were photographically preserved, so brace yourself.

July 18th’s note :


If you look closely, you can see translations of the various non-English phrases written in another hand out to the side. It was on this note, ten days ago, that I finally made my move and replied. I have now been inexorably drawn in to the web of messages from Eliza. The last phrase in the trio on her note is lyrics of a song to a TV show from the 80’s. I’ve never seen this show, but the Internet is my friend, and so I found that the show, called High Mountain Rangers, was created by Robert Conrad, who starred in it with his two sons. So, I printed out this image and taped it to the lower right of her paper:


Alas, unlike A.K., my carefully crafted response had no appreciable effect. Perhaps she only has eyes for him.

The next note features a mixed media work, including that all time teen favorite, stickers.


Then, as if returning to the origins of her note makings, last week she presented us with the plain marker on paper note that she was first known for:


The text in pen that begins “see slide show…” is my response. I know you’ve been waiting for the chance to see my handwriting in all its sloppy glory. Again, the Internet (and google, particularly) is my friend, and I discovered that her statement was lyrics from a U2 song, so I added a few lines from the song, so she wouldn’t feel completely misunderstood. However, the rest of last week was note free. One day she added a Yen/Dollar conversion to her staircase note, but nothing new. It was rather disappointing actually, and maybe this will be the whimpering end of the note saga. I need to go and check if something’s been left there this morning.


Mon 28th Jul 2003 at 5:39 pm

That story SO beats my micky mouse ransom note office story.

Tue 26th Aug 2003 at 8:56 am


These are the type of folks that great southern novels are written about.

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