Because office jobs tend to numb the even the sharpest brain from time to time, every one of us who has earned a crust from behind a desk has committed some sort of balls up while navigating the proclivities of workmates with razor-thin trigger points and suffered the consequences.
It doesn’t matter what; be it forgetting Sandra from HR’s cat’s funeral and being excluded from Tuesday afternoon tea for a month, or accidentally losing David from Sales’ mini basketball and having to stifle laughter as he sends a howlingly cooked mass email about it, or having to buy Slagathor from the Department of Hell a new creepy doll to soothe his feelings after remarking that his existing collection of them all “smell like Satan’s anus” despite the fact that they do, in fact, contain portions of the Devil’s actual butthole.
We’ve all done it. We’ve all crossed paths with a rotten workplace unit. We’ve all suffered professional turmoil as a result.
Just be thankful though, that none of you have ever gone quite as bung on quite as high a target than Quinn Cummings, who shared what might well be the most magnificent story of workplace foot-in-mouth you’re ever likely to see.
Cummings, a former child actor who now works as a writer, shared a story from her time as a Hollywood talent agent that honestly has to be read to be believed.
The story goes that after quitting acting, Cummings began working in the office of noted agent Susan Smith, a beloved figure in Hollywood who helped discover the likes of Kathy Bates and, in this story, Brian Dennehy. But a figure who, like most other prominent agents, might well have been clinically insane.
Cummings took to Twitter earlier today to share the story regarding Dennehy, a long-wanted production of Death of a Salesman, a Tony Award acceptance speech, and a very unfortunate choice of photo.
Strap yourselves in for this one, mates. It’s a bloody ride-and-a-half.
Gather round, Gentle Readers. It is time I tell the story of the worst decision I ever made in an office. Some of you have heard this. Some have not. Whatever you do in your office today, this week, the rest of this year, you can console yourself by recalling this tale.— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) November 7, 2018
2. She could negotiate a deal like few who have ever trod the earth. Casting would give her all the money they had budgeted for that part, plus a little more, plus promising to get her dog Barnaby groomed. She was magnificent to watch.— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) November 7, 2018
I'm sure you're thinking, "Quinn, it's the entertainment industry, they are all insane." Yes, many are. So consider this; if you told someone you worked for Susan, people who worked for insane people would look and you and whisper, "I hear she's insane."— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) November 7, 2018
She went through assistants with comical speed. One young man – who had endured the rigors of law school – went to "move his car" after ninety minutes on her desk and never came back.— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) November 7, 2018
But oh, did she love her clients. She had no husband, no children; her clients were everything. Specifically, Kathy Bates and Brian Dennehy. She had discovered both of them when they were doing off-off-off-Near Hackensack-Broadway. She adored them. One could argue she made them.— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) November 7, 2018
Brian got the kinds of reviews he deserved. The play was a huge hit. So huge, in fact, that it went to Broadway. Again, Susan hammered out the seemingly endless details of moving a production to a Broadway theater. She went to the opening. The reviews were love letters to Brian.— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) November 7, 2018
I was now an agent, not her assistant, but Susan didn't hold with such distinctions. We all got screamed at, we all became miserable, we all started whatever self-soothing behavior allowed us to not cry in the hallway. At the very least, Brian's win would delight her.— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) November 7, 2018
The next morning, we walked around with the resigned despair of a tank of sentient lobsters. We were all to be boiled alive, it was just a matter of when. Susan flew in the door, raced to her office, slammed the door shut. The quiet was actually worse.— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) November 7, 2018
He would put a full-page ad in both VARIETY and HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, the daily trade papers read by everyone, thanking her. It was to be a surprise. The only thing Brian had needed from the Chet was a picture of her to put in the ad. Problem was, Chet couldn't find one.— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) November 7, 2018
I smiled, because I did. Susan, like many women of a certain age, wasn't terribly fond of having her picture taken but it so happened there was a picture of her on the side-table in her office. Susan loved decorating, nothing was by chance, she must have liked that picture.— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) November 7, 2018
The next day, we all waited breathlessly for her to walk in the back door from the parking lot, down the long hallways, past each of our offices. For once, she wouldn't be screaming. I wondered if she would hug me. I decided it was a small price to pay.— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) November 7, 2018
I swear to you, even the phones stopped ringing for a second.— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) November 7, 2018
"Who the fuck," she screamed, "Gave Brian a picture OF MY MOTHER."— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) November 7, 2018
Somehow, it got better.
After the thread went viral, Dennehy’s daughter Kathleen Dennehy jumped into the replies and added a little extra spice to the whole shebang.
Quinn, you might not remember me but we met at the office. Susan repped me for a little while until I also 'had to move my car'. But as Brian Dennehy's daughter, I can tell you this. You describe Susan perfectly and my dad misses her every single hour of every single day. Thx.— Kathleen Dennehy (@jakedenn23) November 8, 2018
OF COURSE I REMEMBER YOU! Hi! Please give your father my love and, all these years later, my sincere apology. I had no idea, but I have mild face blindness.— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) November 8, 2018
(I still assert she and her mother looked eerily alike.)
Did you know Susan & her mom hated each other? Apparently her mom was beautiful & told Susan her whole life that she wasn’t beautiful. Which is partially why Susan was so fierce & so nuttastic. That’s partially what’s bittersweetly funny about this. I’ll read it to my dad. ❤️— Kathleen Dennehy (@jakedenn23) November 8, 2018
Oh yeah, I didn't even want to head down that road because the story was long enough but I had inadvertently made possibly the world's most perfect mistake.— Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) November 8, 2018
I mean, this whole thing is worthy of a standing ovation, frankly. Beautiful, awkward, hilarious, and magnificently written. Good gear all around.
And that’s why you don’t have to feel too bad the next time you bring in Choc Wheatens in for Biscuit Day even though you know that Wilhelm is allergic to chocolate and wheat.