Interview With a Ninja

There are not many things in life that are as skilled, sneaky and elusive as the proverbial Ninja.  

Ashley, the Office Ninja. cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Angelo González:

The traditional depiction of a ninja is a member of a class of 14th-century Japanese mercenaries who were highly trained in combat and hired for covert stealth operations.  Ashley Fulenwider (a.k.a. the Runde Office Ninja) may not be fully trained in mortal combat, but she embodies many ninja-like traits and executes each as a well honed art. Personally, I’ve never witnessed anyone enter and leave a room as quietly and overwhelmingly unnoticed as Ashley.  Recently, I was presented with the rare opportunity to capture the Runde Office Ninja while she was a bit off-guard and I conducted this brief interview.

What do you do here at Runde’s?
I take pictures of the used vehicles and I file ALL the papers (that’s a lot of papers) and answer the phones and direct all the calls to where they need to go AND I write checks for the finance staff occasionally.

How long have you worked at Runde’s, how are you liking your stay?
A little over a year. I must say that I like it quite a bit.  I don’t have to stay in the office all day, I get to go outside and I get to drive some pretty nice vehicles.

Are you from the area?
No, I’m from Stoughton, Wisconsin originally. It’s like an hour-and-a-half away…

Ashley trying to blend in with normal attire.

What’s the population of Stoughton?
What?  I have no idea… I’m going to take a wild guess and say twelve-thousand, something like that. I don’t know if that’s right… (actual Stoughton population as of 2010: 12,611…Nice “guess” Ashley…)

Random Stoughton fact: In June 2010, after completing Stoughton’s third water tower, the painters mistakenly omitted the second “T” from one of the two sides of the water tower displaying the city’s name. It was displayed correctly on one side and as “STOUGHON” on the other… the mistake was fixed afterwards at no cost to the city.

But you live in Dubuque, IA now?
Yes, I do. I live with my Mom and Dad. I like living in Dubuque more than Stoughton because there’s more to do here.

What do you do in Dubuque?
*long drawn out sigh* Hang out with friends, catch a movie, go a couple of places, watch some Netflix.

Netflix just had a price increase recently, what do you think of that?
I… dislike that.

What kind of movies do you like?
I like ALL of them. … except I don’t really like Sci-fi movies.
…Sorry, not really a fan of westerns … although I have heard great things about the 1985 throwback western “Silverado” with Danny Glover, Kevin Kline and Kevin Kostner.
Disney Movies?
Ugh, no. Disney movies … they just…got terrible. They used to be good, like when I was little.
Ok… So other than the strangely limited number of “ALL” movies you like, you enjoy old-school Disney movies like the Lion King? You know they just re-released Lion King 3D in theatres?
Um…ya. Lion king is a good movie. I didn’t know it was out in theaters again, that’s cool!

What’s the most recent movie you’ve seen in theatres?
Cowboys and Aliens… It really wasn’t as good as I thought it would be.

Anyone else in the family?
My sister Meghan, who lives in an apartment with her boyfriend, and we have two dogs at home… I have no idea what kind they are… they are like a mix of a lot of things.

Do you like your dogs?
I…uhh… try to. They’re ok sometimes?… I like MY cat, she’s my favorite.

*phone rings and Ashley answers to direct the customer*
“Runde Chevrolet how may I direct your call?   Sure, just a second please.”
*Phone rings again*
“Runde Chevrolet how may I direct your call?   Sure, hold on and I’ll transfer you to that extension.”

Have you ever seen the movie Office Space?
Ya. It’s been awhile though…

Does your job remind of you of the office lady, Nina, from that movie when she answers the phone “Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking…. Just a moment.” over and over again?
*laughs* That’s just part of what I do here!  But you have to remember that every call is very important so I treat them that way.

Do you bake things during your spare time at home?
Do you mean like banana bread and carrot cake … stuff like that? 
Yes, like baked goods.   Nope … I don’t and probably won’t any time soon.

Your sister worked here as well, correct?
Yeah she worked here for a little under a year. I used to call her for help a lot when I first started and was trying to get used to everything.  She was a great resource and would try to help me out.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the Tri-State area?
Buffalo Wild Wings, I get the Buffalo Ranch Chicken Wrap EVERY time. No tomatoes!

Favorite Dessert?
You know those little glazed bananas you get at the end of the meal at Taiko Steakhouse?  Those. 
I think it’s called Bananas Foster.  It actually originated in a restaurant in New Orleans when the owner of the restaurant challenged the head chef to create an awesome dessert with bananas as the main ingredient back when there was an outrageous surplus of bananas in the Big Easy … just saw a special about it on the food network.

Anyway, so you just had your 20th birthday, right?   No longer a teenager, how do you feel about that?
Feelin’ pretty good about that. I’m not an annoying teen anymore. I’m an adult now and can bring suitcases with me and everything.

…Congratulations…!? What did you do for your birthday?
We went to Taiko and ate some sushi.
Did you get your picture taken there?
Picture taken? For What?
You know, they give out those big Japanese cook hats to birthday people and take their picture.
NO, absolutely not. I would never let anyone tell them it’s my birthday there, I wouldn’t go otherwise… that’s embarrassing.

Do you have a favorite football team?
Yes, The Giants… *she lets out a short sigh under her breath* …we’ll get there, oh yes.

What else do you like to do?
I play video games and I like to eat at McDonalds sometimes … who doesn’t?.

Favorite music artist?
“Lights”. Because she is awesome and every single song she sings is stellar. She’s WAY famous… in Canada — probably more famous than Justin Bieber and Avril Lavigne combined up there.  But not here … not yet.
So she’s like the Britney Spears of Canada?
Huh? No, Britney Spears is TERRIBLE… just terrible.
Oh, ok… so more like Lady Gaga?
Not really, she’s not gonna like, go to some award show dressed in meat dress like Lady Gaga, or dress up like a guy being all weird.

What do you look forward to the most in life?
I don’t know, getting all settled down and not having to worry about anything?
So you just turned 20 and you can’t wait till you live like you’re a retired 80 year-old?
*laughs* Maybe not quite like that, there are more urgent goals I have in mind that will make me feel more settled.

What would you do if you won the lottery?
I’d go on a very long vacation to anywhere… I don’t even know where, but it’d be a long vacation. I’d just randomly pick a spot, go there, then figure out what to do with the money once I get there. THEN I’d pay off my sisters schooling, then pay off mine, pay off my parents house and stuff like that.

They call you “Ninja” around this place. Why’s that?
Because I sneak in and out and am so quite that nobody knows I’m there. Like earlier today when you were talking to yourself while you thought I was still in the room.

Yeah, thanks for that… anyway, thanks for the interview Ashley! And thank you for not escaping mid-interview, I appreciate it!  Viva la Office Ninja!

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