Melarny Sorczak and Daniel
"Dano" James worked together in a Victorian Government department
for more than a decade. Although they were co-workers, they
could certainly never be described as friends.
Dano was the office larrikin.
Having somehow survived the six-month probation period (during
which he could have been sacked at any time), Dano discovered
that as a permanent E-Class Officer (low level clerk) it was
virtually impossible for him to be sacked. Thereby giving Dano
free rein to exercise his natural ratbag tendencies, in any
number of ways.
One of which was his notorious
absences without leave from work. Dano had found that with his
simple tastes he only needed half a week's wages to survive. As
Melarny's supervisor, Lawrence "Lori" Perkins once said, "That's
all he needs to pay his bed and board, travelling expenses, and
keep him in drinks and smokes." So Dano only turned up for work
two or three days each week. Although in the public service you
are paid fortnightly, so he soon realised that he could achieve
the same result by working one full week, then taking the next
As annoying as Dano's long
absences were to his supervisor Jayne Spelding, and to her
supervisor Clarence "Clarry" Nobel, even worse were his silly
Usually Dano played his pranks
on anyone and everyone, but heaven help anyone who made the
mistake of reacting to his taunting. Then Dano would
mercilessly single them out for special treatment. Which was
where Melarny went wrong.
Melarny was Dano's complete
physical opposite. Whereas Dano was tall and spindly, Melarny
was very short and absolutely enormously fat. "She's a hundred
and ten kilos, if she's a day," Dano would joke.
Unlike the mythical jolly fat
person, Melarny took great offence at being called fat,
insisting, "I'm only slightly plump."
Dano, would then reply,
"Slightly plump? Have you had a good look at yourself lately
Mel? Or have all the mirrors in your home exploded? Mel, you
went beyond slightly plump ten years ago, beyond slightly fat six
years ago, beyond slightly obese three years ago, and at the
moment you're just nudging past slightly elephantine."
"I'll tell Fitzy on you, if you
don't leave me alone!" Melarny would shriek. Fitzy being Tom
Fitzpatrick, the Assistant Chief Accountant.
"I'll tell Fitzy! I'll tell
Fitzy!" Dano would mimic over and over again. Until finally
Melarny would get up from her desk and go not to Fitzy, but to
his assistant Clarry Nobel, who had a small, glass-walled office
at one side of their work area.
Then Clarry would call Dano in
and give him a stern warning against harassing his fellow
workers. However, since the warning could not be backed up with
the threat of dismissal, it always had little effect on
Melarny and Dano worked in the
Accounts Payable section, so one of Dano's favourite pranks was
to ring Melarny from another office, pretending to be an angry
client. "I've been waiting for payment for two months now,"
he'd say in a disguised voice, "and our terms are strictly cash
in ten days!"
Poor Melarny would run around
the section frantically looking through thick batches of paid
invoices, invoices waiting to be punched onto the computer, and
invoices on her desk waiting to be processed. Until finally
Dano would give the game away by bursting out into fits of
laughter over the telephone.
"Very funny, Dano!" Melarny
would shout, slamming the receiver into its cradle.
Sometimes Dano's pranks were
too obscure to make any sense at all. So Melarny was not
particularly surprised when one day he telephoned her from three
desks away and shouted "Surprise!"
"Surprise yourself!" she
replied, slamming down the receiver. As people around the
office started to laugh, she turned to Lori Perkins and
explained, "It was just that idiot, Dano."
"Yes we know," said Stephen
Stoller, a tall, balding C-Class Officer, who sat at the desk to
Melarny looked around at her
co-workers in wonder as they continued to giggle, sometimes
pointing in her direction. "Whatever is wrong with Dano must be
contagious," she thought, trying to ignore the light laughter
that continued off-and-on for the next ninety minutes, until
"What a pack of idiots!"
thought Melarny, as the snickers continued in the lift ride down
to ground level. She almost sighed her relief when finally she
stepped out into Swanston Street, however, to her consternation the snickers
followed her all the way to Flinders Street Station. And even during the long train ride
Melarny was on the brink of
screaming by the time that she finally got home, so she was in no
mood to be greeted by more snickers from her husband
"What the hell are you laughing
at, you great Jackass?" demanded Melarny.
"You've got a navy blue left
ear," explained Sergio between fits of laughter.
"What?" she asked, reaching up
to feel her ear. She stared at her blue fingers for a moment in
wonder, until remembering Dano's seemingly pointless phone call
to her a few hours earlier.
"That bastard, I'll kill him!"
shrieked Melarny, as she rushed to the bathroom to scrub at her
ear. A few weeks earlier a large bottle of navy blue stamp-pad
ink had disappeared from the stores cupboard at work, now Melarny
realised who had taken it. "That bastard's smeared blue ink
onto the receiver of my phone!" she thought.
She scrubbed at her ear until
it was red and raw, however, it would take a fortnight before the
last traces of blue faded. In the meantime she had to put up
with snickers from the other workers in the section. Until,
over that period, Jayne Spelding, Lori Perkins, Stephen Stoller,
Clarry Nobel, and a dozen others all ended up with navy blue
ears, courtesy of Dano.
Finally Fitzy put an end to
things by coming down to give them a lecture about their
carryings on. "Sit up straight and pay attention boys and
girls," thought Dano, as Fitzy, who was notorious for his school
teacher approach, launched into one of his long-winded speeches,
keeping the entire section from their work for twenty
On another occasion the
substance Dano smeared around was not ink, but glue. Colourless
super-glue, which could be smeared on too thin to be readily
seen, yet which would stick fast in only a minute or
Dano used the glue to stick
invoices to desks, stick desk drawers shut and numerous other
silly tricks. However, he wasn't rewarded with any great
success until he put glue on Melarny's chair, just after lunch
time one day.
Melarny sat down without
noticing anything wrong, despite Dano's giggling. Then, an hour
later she stood up to go to the ladies' room. There was a loud
rending of fabric as her thin dress was torn away from her
gigantically fat body, leaving Melarny standing there at the back
of the room, wearing only shoes, a near transparent, half bra,
and micro-mini panty briefs.
For a moment Melarny stood
there, too stunned to move. A nauseating, yet at the same time
strangely erotic sight. Layer over layer, roll after roll of
bright pink flesh, exposed for twenty-six sets of eyes to see.
Her enormous breasts looking like two pink watermelons, as they
sagged down over her huge, barrel-like belly, which projected
above her almost elephantine thighs. And, when she finally
started to run shrieking down the aisle between two rows of
desks, her enormous buttocks bounced up and down like twin, pink
As Lori Perkins said later, "It
was like a series of mountains of pink, sagging jelly, bouncing
around grotesquely as she ran. Man, I've always been turned-on
by big women, but after seeing those twenty-kilogram breasts
hanging down to her bellybutton, like two huge, pink,
water-filled balloons, from now on I'm sticking strictly to the
long, lean, fashion-model types!"
It took Melarny nearly six
months to live down the embarrassment of being stripped almost to
the buff in front of her workmates and this time Dano came within
a hair's breadth of actually being sacked. He was taken
upstairs by Clarry Nobel to see Fitzy, who gave Dano a stern
lecture about the stupidity and cruelty of his
Dano sat up straight, just as
if he were back in school, nodded or shook his head on cue, and
managed to lie his way out of being dismissed.
Sulking at not being able to
repeat his great trick (and wishing that instead of the
grotesquely fat Melarny, he had stripped the more shapely Jayne
Spelding), Dano immediately returned to his old habit of long,
unexplained absences from work.
Although people snickered at
Melarny's expense throughout Dano's long A.W.O.L.s, it was Jayne
Spelding who suffered the most. As Dano's supervisor, during
his absences she was forced to do his work as well as her
It had reached the seventeenth
of one month without Dano having put in an appearance yet.
Dano's and Jayne's desks were both almost overflowing with
invoices awaiting payment, and Jayne was increasingly receiving
irate telephone calls from people demanding to know when they
were going to get paid.
"Bloody public servants!"
shouted one trader, slamming the receiver down, refusing to
listen to Jayne's genuine excuse for why his account had not yet
"Bloody Dano!" shouted Jayne in
retaliation. Then, looking forward to where Lori Perkins sat in
front of her, she asked, "What do you think the chances are of
him putting in an appearance today?"
"Don't ask me," said Lori.
"You'd better ask Mel, she seems to be his favourite."
"Well, what do you say, Mel?"
asked Jayne. "Is there any chance of Dano turning up to work
"Do you me-an this year, or
next?" asked Melarny, surprised when the comment brought laughter
from the other office workers.
Looking around at the laughing
people, Melarny decided that it was much nicer to have people
laughing with her, instead of at her as they usually did. There
and then she decided that whenever Dano did finally return to
work, it would be her turn to play practical jokes on
To her pleasure Melarny's first
prank worked perfectly. It involved leaving a note on Dano's
desk saying that the minister's secretary had rung him and could
he please ring her back immediately.
"What do you mean you don't
even know who I am?" demanded Dano, not believing his ears.
"But I've got a note here from Fitzy, saying you wanted me to
"Well, I've never even heard of
you," insisted the minister's secretary hanging up.
"Surprise, Dano!" said Melarny,
turning round in her chair to look at him, pleased when everyone
burst into laughter. For the second time at Dano's
She tried the same trick on him
two or three more times, with less success, until one day Dano
simply threw the note into his rubbish bin, refusing to be
"You'd better ring her, Dano,
or you'll get into trouble!" insisted Melarny.
"I'm not dumb enough to fall
for the same trick five times!" protested Dano, immediately
wondering whether that was quite what he had meant to
"You'd better ring her!"
taunted Melarny every five minutes or so. Until an hour later
Fitzy stormed into the office, heading straight toward Dano's
"Dano," said Fitzy, almost
breathless from running, "I've just had the minister's secretary
on my back, demanding to know whether you're at work today.
Apparently she wanted you to ring her back about
"I told him she called, Mr.
Fitzpatrick," said Melarny innocently, pointing toward Dano's
rubbish bin. "I guess he didn't believe me."
"My God, Dano, don't do that!"
said Fitzy, bending down to take the note paper out of the grey
bin. "You'd better get back to her, or we'll all land in
Dano's ears were still burning
from his belated talk with the minister's secretary, when Melarny
started to unleash her next practical joke onto him. Melarny
was required to help out in the typing pool on occasions, which
is how she got the idea for the "Dano James
In the Victorian public
service, the middle- and upper-level executives are office
circular-crazy. Hardly a day passes without circulars arriving
to inform you of everything from the fact that the Chief
Accountant is only going to eat oranges in his lunch in future,
not apples, to the fact that the minister's favourite colour is
really sky-blue, not lime green as was wrongly reported in her
last inter-office circular. Since the blank circulars were kept
in the typing area, it was easy enough for Melarny to help
herself to a few to type up bogus circulars, such as:
DANO JAMES CIRCULAR NUMBER ONE:
DANO FOR P.M.!
In Canberra today, the Prime Minister was overheard to
say, "Dano James for P.M."
He was later heard to say,
"Dano James for A.M."
DJ. CIRCULAR NUMBER THREE: DANO
PUTS IN A GOOD DAY'S WORK
Earlier today, Jayne Spelding
was heard to say, "Dano James puts in a good day's
Two or three times every
DJ. CIRC. NUMBER EIGHT:
TAXPAYERS FOOT BILL FOR RECENT ELECTION
Dano James says that he is
thoroughly disgusted by the waste of taxpayers' money in the
lead-up to the recent early election. He says, "I've heard that
the Liberals spent more than $8 million, the ALP more than $10
million, and the Australian Democrats nearly $4.95¢!"
DJ. CIRC. NUMBER ELEVEN: IS
DANO JAMES THE MESSIAH?
Is Dano James really the
messiah? He's starting to think that he must be, because as he
says, "Every time I walk down the street, people stop and point
at me end offset and say, 'Jesus Christ!'"
Dano suffered through the
indignity of the bogus circulars, until someone handed him a copy
of Circular Number Eleven. Which he took upstairs to Fitzy,
demanding to receive protection from the anonymous
"He's got to be joking," said
Jayne Spelding, assuming that this was just another of Dano's
excuses to get out of working.
"Yeah, what the hell can Fitzy
do to stop people writing bogus circulars?" asked Lori Perkins.
"He writes enough of them himself."
They were both wrong, however.
A few minutes later Fitzy stormed into their working area,
waving the fake circular around in front of him and demanding to
know who was responsible for composing it. When no one
confessed he said, "Come on, own up, you can only make things
worse for yourself by keeping quiet!"
"How can they make it worse for
themselves if he doesn't know who's responsible?" thought Lori
Perkins, glancing back toward Jayne Spelding, who raised her
eyebrows in tacit agreement.
"Look come on ... who's
responsible?" demanded Fitzy. Then, as Stephen Stoller stood up
and started to head toward the corridor outside the office, "Wait
a minute, Steve. No one's going anywhere until we get to the
bottom of this!"
"We'll get to the bottom of it
fast enough, if I'm not allowed to go to the men's," insisted
Stoller, continuing on his way, to the obvious embarrassment of
Flushing red-faced as the
others laughed at his expense, Fitzy slammed a fist down onto
Lori Perkins' desk and said, "It isn't bloody funny! Can't you
all see the damage these circulars could do to poor Dano's
"With a reputation like Dano's,
you'd think held be glad of anything that might help to damage
it," said Jayne Spelding, bringing snickers of agreement from
everyone except Dano and Fitzy.
"Yeah," agreed Lori, "and
considering the way Dano loves to torment everyone else, you
can't expect us to be too upset if someone has decided to give
him a little bit of his own back."
"That isn't the bloody point!"
insisted Fitzy as the others murmured their agreement with Lori.
"The issue in hand is that poor, innocent Dano is being
viciously maligned behind his back."
"Poor, innocent Dano?" asked
Jayne, incredulous. Then, turning to face Dano, "Fitzy doesn't
know you very well, does he Dano?"
As the others burst into
laughter at Dano's expense, Melarny, who had been too terrified
by Fitzy's outbursts to speak until now, finally summoned up the
courage to say, "Are we all having detention tonight,
"Yeah, that's right," agreed
Lori. "All right boys and girls ... hands on heads!"
They all put their hands on
their heads, laughing riotously. Fitzy glared at them in rage
for a moment, then turned and stalked out of the office, almost
colliding with Stephen Stoller who was returning to the
After Fitzy was safely out of
hearing range, Lori said, "Simple Fitzy says, 'Take your hands
off you heads, boys and girls, and return to work!'"
Although she laughed with the
others, Melarny's mind was already onto other things. Namely
composing Dano James Circular number twelve.
It was as she was typing up the
next circular a few days later, that Melarny was finally caught
by Jayne Spelding.
"Are you going to turn me in to
Fitzy?" asked Melarny, as Jayne leant over to read the half typed
circular in the typewriter.
"Not if you let it go at this,"
said Jayne. "I know what a pain Dano can be with his practical
Sighing from relief, Melarny
tore the circular out of the typewriter, crumpled the paper and
threw it into her rubbish bin.
After that Melarny and Dano
continued to play pranks on each other for a few more months, but
gradually the jokes started to taper out. Fitzy had taken the
fun out of the game, by his gross over-reaction to the harmless
Dano James Circulars. Besides Dano had started to lose heart in
things. Like all pranksters he had discovered that practical
jokes aren't funny when someone else is playing them on
© Copyright 2010