Disclaimer: Beware the flying sharks.
Spoilers: Only some specific ones for the fourth season episode Driven.
Summary: Madam No-Hugs returns with a new tactic for discouraging sexual harassment in the workplace, with predictable results.
Tracy Taylor adjusted the blazer of her power suit one final time before stepping into the room. She had been dreading this particular seminar for weeks, as evidenced by the highly inappropriate angry face she had drawn next to the appointment in her personal planner, although she had decided to let it go because she had purchased that particular planner herself and it was not, therefore, DOD property. There was the possibility that the pen she had used was from the supply room, but she doubted that was an issue since she had technically been using it for work-related purposes. She found even the least hint of impropriety distasteful – one of the many reasons she was so good at her job.
A deep breath and… "Good morning, everyone." She gave the room a quick once-over as the buzz of conversation died away. It had picked up again toward the back of the room by the time she had given her standard introduction with the added attempt at cordiality that she recognized some familiar faces in the crowd. Perhaps she had let her disapproval over this fact leak through into her tone.
She cleared her throat to silence the man she remembered for his strange question about physically assaulting his coworkers during her last seminar with this particular group at NCIS. Civilian-staffed agencies were the worst. The soldiers who went through her seminar were at least well trained enough to pay attention and keep their mouths shut. "Well, ladies and gentlemen, we will begin the formal program with a video presentation, then, because so many of you have been through this training on more than one occasion, we will be moving beyond what would normally be done. Rather than lecturing you all day, we will be engaging in some role-playing scenarios that will give you a chance to experience the effects of sexual harassment in a more meaningful way, as it will be played out amongst your colleagues. If someone would be so kind as to turn off the lights, we'll begin the video presentation."
Twenty short minutes later, she was careful to make her bump against the desk of a sleeping agent look accidental as she moved back toward the front of the room. "So, now that we've all had a nice review of what constitutes inappropriate behavior in the workplace, perhaps we could give some examples of the three categories into which we can divide these behaviors. Could anyone give me an example of green light behavior?"
She pointed to an unassuming agent in the third row, who shrugged. "A handshake?"
"Good. Anyone else?"
She reluctantly pointed to a bespectacled man in the first row. "Autopsies," he stated confidently, "as long as you're wearing gloves."
"Yes, well, for most people, green light behavior involves actions like the handshake or a tap on the shoulder to get someone's attention." Tracy moved between the aisles, stopping beside a woman with long dark hair. She settled her hand on the woman's shoulder, leaving it there as she looked around the room. "Who can tell me what I'm doing wrong?"
"You're groping a woman with an itchy trigger finger?"
Tracy turned to the side to confront the man who had spoken. "What is your name, sir?"
"Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo," he paused to give her an exaggerated wink, "and Ziva really will start dislocating things or just ripping them right off if you don't…"
"She is demonstrating questionable physical contact, Tony."
"Yes, exactly." Tracy returned her hands to their customary position, folded in front where they could be seen, and felt pleased that someone had been paying attention. "I hope I didn't make you uncomfortable, Ziva, if you'll allow me to use your first name."
Ziva shook her head with a smile before turning a scowl on DiNozzo. He stuck his tongue out at her. Tracy cleared her throat to remind them that they were still being observed. DiNozzo pouted as he slumped in his chair; she would be willing to overlook a small amount of disciplinary inappropriate contact in his case. She continued her talk without incident, though she had the feeling that he continued making faces when her back was turned.
Making a special effort to forge on without paying him any mind, she reached the conclusion of the morning's work ten minutes ahead of schedule, "Before we take a short break, I would like to pass out the role-playing scenarios for the rest of the session. I'll need three pairs of volunteers." Only two hands were cautiously raised – the bespectacled man and a pigtailed woman who she seemed to remember had issues with hugging – until a silver-haired gentleman leaning against the wall cleared his throat. Four more hands immediately shot up, including Ziva and DiNozzo. She was hesitant to include him in the exercise, but she paired him with Ziva in the hopes that she might be able to exert some positive influence over him. "All right. We'll reconvene here in fifteen minutes. Role-playing partners can take a few extra minutes to discuss what they will be presenting."
As she walked to the vending machine to get what she felt was a well-deserved cup of coffee, Tracy noticed Ziva giving DiNozzo a shove through a door down the hallway. She shrugged and said nothing, one of the responses she hated seeing most. Perhaps she could take Ziva aside and gently mention it when they had finished their scene.
Fifteen minutes later, a younger agent with a familiar face and the bespectacled man did an exemplary job of demonstrating ideal behavior when they portrayed an encounter between colleagues, one of whom had just received a promotion, although the mutually agreed upon congratulatory pats on the back stipulated in the script may have been more forced than necessary. They bowed and took their seats.
The next scenario, one demonstrating questionable conduct, did not play out quite so well, and Tracy had to interrupt the pair multiple times for moving off-script for seemingly comedic purposes. Ms. Sciuto, the pigtailed woman, simply could not wrap her mind around why spontaneous hugs were not appropriate workplace etiquette. The elderly gentleman performing the scene with her was no help. "It's really no bother to me if Abigail wishes to express affection. I find it to be one of the more charming facets of her personality."
Tracy took a deep breath to control the impulse to scream. Was she talking just to hear her own voice? "What you need to realize – what you all need to realize – is that we are speaking about universal principles. Would you be comfortable if I were to walk up to you and hug you with no warning, Mister…"
"Mallard. Dr. Mallard, though you may call me Ducky. And to answer your question, I would be surprised but delighted if you decided to hug me, Ms. Taylor."
Though taken aback by the comment and annoyed by the nervous laughter that spread through the room, Tracy didn't allow herself a visible response. "That is flattering, Dr. Mallard. Perhaps you and Ms. Sciuto could take your seats while we discuss this scene."
"But we didn't even get to the part where we…"
"I appreciate your enthusiasm, Ms. Sciuto, but I believe you have already made some helpful points." Tracy spent the next ten minutes explaining why almost everything that had occurred in the three minute interaction had been inappropriate. "Are there any further questions, or can we move on to…?" She glanced around the room and realized that her third pair was missing. "It appears our final role-players are still rehearsing." She stalked toward the door. "While I get them, please discuss yellow-light behavior amongst yourselves."
Tracy strode purposefully out of the room and down the hall to what she assumed was the conference room where Ziva and DiNozzo had taken their scripts. She suspected they were simply taking an extended break, perhaps drinking coffee and talking about how they didn't want to return to the seminar. Indignation coursed through her body. Every single day it was the same people acting as if she had been dropped on their heads to ruin their lives. No one understood that she was doing her best – her damned best – to protect them from…from…
She paused in front of what she thought was the correct door. Why did the sign say 'Copy Room'? She seized the knob and pushed inward without knocking.
Less than a minute later, she marched into Director Vance's office. "Sir, I apologize, but something has come up and I will not be able to continue the seminar."
His eyebrows went up in surprise. "Is everything all right?"
"I think your employees have absorbed all they can and I will give them credit for the full day, but I need to leave now."
"I hope nothing is…"
"Not at all. Have a pleasant day."
She vowed never to lead another seminar at NCIS as she left the building. There was just no helping some people.
Director Vance decided his legs could use a good stretch, so he walked downstairs himself. The loud hum of conversation did not completely die away as he entered the meeting room. "Ms. Taylor has had some personal business come up, so you're all off the hook for the rest of this training. Take a long lunch, be back at your desks for this afternoon."
A chorus of thank yous and chairs scraping against the carpet followed him from the room. He was almost flattened by David and DiNozzo walking back down the hallway. "No rush, you two. Seminar's over."
DiNozzo didn't seem as happy about the news as Vance would have expected, though David was smiling. "Why?"
"Personal reasons. Ms. Taylor didn't share, but then she's not exactly the type to." He stepped to the side to allow the first few people out of the meeting room past. "I just told everyone to take some extra time at lunch, but I doubt Gibbs heard me, so I'll expect those completed case reports by the end of the day."
David's smile widened. "And before we had the chance to present our role-playing scene."
"All that rehearsal for nothing." DiNozzo was grinning now as well.
Vance didn't even bother to ask. He was almost around the corner when DiNozzo said, "Oh, Director, I, uh…I think there's something wrong with the copy room door. The knob or the lock or, uh, something."
"What are you telling me for?"
"File a report with maintenance, DiNozzo."
"Right." He snapped his fingers. "They would be the ones to handle it."
Vance couldn't be sure, but he thought he caught a glimpse of shining stainless steel around DiNozzo's wrist. He shrugged and headed for the stairs. Maybe dealing with a suspect in handcuffs was part of the role-playing thing they'd mentioned for the seminar.