Posted on


From the PorchBy Amber Nagle
From the PorchBy Amber Nagle

It happened 18 years ago, but still, I think about that night every time I pass the Mexican Restaurant near the crossroads in Adairsville. I was working at a rubber floor mat factory at the time, and one day, several of my coworkers invited me to an impromptu get-together — a team-building exercise — after work. I drove home after working late that day, grabbed my husband, and the two of us drove the ten minutes to El Nopal.

In the back, we could see three tables pushed together with several of my rowdy coworkers (mostly male) huddled around them — some were eating and others had mugs of beer in front of them. I introduced my husband to the folks he had not met before, and we took our seats at the table. That’s about the time that I noticed her — Lynn Montgomery, who headed up our Human Resources (HR) department at the plant. I spoke with her often at work and found her to be both friendly and professional in the workplace. On this night, Lynn sat slouched over the nearby bar in the back slurping a Margarita, wearing one of those huge, over-sized, red, sequined sombreros, and smoking a cigar.

I had only worked at the plant for two or three months, but I was already known for my candid assessment of uncomfortable situations. My coworkers saw me watching Lynn as if I was watching a freak show at a carnival, and they sat quietly waiting for me to comment.

“I didn’t know Lynn smoked,” I finally said.

“She doesn’t,” one of my friends replied.

“And we think that’s her third or fourth Margarita,” another added. “We lost count.”

Like a train wreck, I couldn’t look away. I watched Lynn gulp down her tequila-laden drink, lick the salt from its rim, take a long drag from the cigar, and blow a puff of smoke upward toward the ceiling. Then she turned and saw me sitting at the table with the others and waved with great enthusiasm — like a preschooler on a soccer field noticing a grandparent seated on the bleachers near the sidelines.

I looked around the table at my coworkers and voiced my concern.

“She looks sloppy drunk,” I said. “Trashed, intoxicated, wasted, liquored up … like Otis Campbell on ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’ Oh Lord.”

My coworkers howled at my outburst, as I stared at the bar at Lynn Montgomery, who was now flirting with a gentleman seated beside her — her arm draped over his shoulder, her face near his razor-stubbled cheek, and that big sombrero pushed way back on her head like a scene from a Western.

“Does she even know that guy?” I asked.

Again, my coworkers rolled in laughter at my response to the situation. My husband brought his face close to my ear and whispered, “Stop staring at her. What do you want to eat?”

But I couldn’t help but stare at her. This was shocking. This was not the person I worked with — the person who was in charge of order and lawfulness in our workplace. Or perhaps it was — like she was leading a weird double life like “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

The waiter came, and I ordered food. I glanced over at another coworker and answered a couple of questions before looking back at the bar to find that Lynn was gone. Five minutes went by. Then ten. Then fifteen. No Lynn. I pushed myself from the table and headed toward the restroom. When I pushed the door open, there was the head of HR, sitting on a nasty tile floor with that big, red sombrero across her lap. In her drunken stupor, she looked up at me, smiled continued from page

and waved that enthusiastic, childish wave again.

“Oh Lord,” I said. “We’ve got to get you home. Where do you live?”

Lynn Montgomery explained that she lived 30 minutes away, and I devised a plan to get her home safely. I drove her Toyota as she sat in the passenger seat with a bucket on the floorboard, waiting for the inevitable. My coworker, Richard, who had offered to drive me home afterward, followed me in his truck.

The two of us walked her inside her house and set her down gently on her sofa like a blonde-headed throw pillow. We put her phone on the table next to her, along with a pack of saltine crackers, two aspirins, and a bottle of water, and then we left the head of HR’s house.

For brevity, I’ve left a lot out of this story, but let me close by saying this: The following day, Lynn Montgomery beat me to work and looked like a million bucks, which was equally as surprising as the night before. And also, she and I never spoke of the events of the previous evening again (or the sombrero), though I was showered with praise on my first performance evaluation with words like, “Amber is a compassionate, caring, get-things-done problem solver both on the factory floor and outside of the workplace.”

She eventually left the floor mat company, and the plant closed the following year. I lost track of Lynn Montgomery, but I think of her several times a month, when I pass that Mexican Restaurant. In my memory, I see her sitting at the bar holding a chunky cigar in her dainty, manicured hand, I see her waving her hands back and forth like windshield wipers, and most of all, I see that big, red sombrero, and I whisper, “Oh Lord.”

YARD OF THE MONTH – The City of Lyons Code Enforcement Officer Chris Failla has selected the city’s first Yard of the Month award, which honors those who work diligently to ensure their portion of the city has excellent curb appeal. These winners received a gift certificate to a restaurant in town, and will display a sign in their yard for a month. L to R: Chris Failla, Matilda Oliver, Drayton Oliver.Photo by Makaylee Randolph

Recent Death Notices