Her name was Brenda and it suited her. I saw her chins marching ahead of her before she showed up and she peered at me through thick murky spectacles that made her eyes look like small black holes in the snow. I don't think she got out much.
"Yes. How can I help, you?" she said tersely.
I explained I was the delinquent person whose offspring's after school check had been returned because my bank changed from the woeful Royal Bank of Canada to the abysmal PNC.
She grunted and escorted me to her cubicle in the scruffy bowels of the treasurer's office. You have to love local government. Just 15 minutes earlier I had been in the hall waiting for a cashier. There were nine positions. Eight of them were closed. One of them had a human being of some description behind it but her closed sign was up and she appeared to be busy updating her Facebook status.
The only available cashier was engaged in a conversation with two colleagues and told me to go back and wait until I was called - a process that entailed a discordant mutter into a microphone.
When I explained I wanted to pay an outstanding bill she looked at me as if I had just emerged from a flying saucer from the Planet Zob and declared: "Eathlings - give me your brains."
Which would not have involved a great deal of gathering on behalf of the aliens, at the treasurer's department.
"You want to what?" she said. Frustrated I felt I was back at a drive-through where a metallic voice screams about how it can't understand me and a Big Mac becomes a kid's happy meal with chicken nuggets. I have taken to moronically calling out the number on the menu.
Fortunately I had written Brenda's name on a piece of paper and I was sent back to the office.
I had spoken to Brenda earlier on the telephone when I had foolishly tried to pay the outstanding bill on a debit or a credit card.
"Cash or banker's draft," she declared tersely
"What about a personal check?"
"A stone tablet from ancient Mesopotamia."
So I withdrew the money from an ATM that charged me $2.50 for the dubious pleasure of being in 7-Eleven only to find an ATM that only charged $2 for the pleasure of withdrawing one's own money inside the treasurer's department.
Brenda's cubicle scared me somewhat. It wasn't even interesting enough to be gray and was instead a faded brown color. I got the impression Brenda had worked here since the days when Vikings came ashore and declared: "We are here to pillage your homes and womanfolk," and yet the cubicle was somewhat sad. There were a few desultory family photos including a daughter in a school team who would look like Brenda one day.
There were a few boxes of Kleenex, a calender and nothing much of note besides. I found myself thinking if I was unlucky to work from a cubicle again I would certainly put up a few pictures of the Duomo in Florence, Tuscan poppy fields and Picasso's Guernica.
But Brenda's cubicle was a curious hybrid of being not messy or clean. It was a void, and a void full of voided checks at that.
I pulled out my cash and was curious to see a $100 note bears the face of Benjamin Franklin. I had never realized but wasn't particularly impressed given that I have never seen the big deal with Franklin.
If we're talking founding fathers I've always been more keen on Alexander Hamilton, who died in a dual on July 11, 1804 surprisingly enough.
Brenda seemed slightly more friendly when she realized I had the means to pay and I resisted the urge to rifle through her filing cabinets as she "obtained authorization from a superior."
I didn't ask if the superior also wore a vast floral top and pink pants, although I assumed it was de rigour around these parts.
I don't think my existence has been embellished much by my visit to the treasurer's department. I should also take this opportunity to point out I don't have a downer on women called Brenda per se. But you wouldn't call a newborn Brenda now would you, any more than you would call her Doris or Gladys.
The treasurer's department may not have prompted me to think outside the box but it certainly made me glad of a life outside the cubicle.