by Nicole Brodeur, "Seattle Times" columnist

HERE IN THE Pacific Northwest, work gives our lives meaning, and meaning makes our work live. So it's nice to see so many people back at work, filling The Seattle Times with meaning, even if some of my co-workers have gone out of their way to be mean to me. Steve Johnston has a potato with my name on it sitting on his desk. Every time I walk by, he stabs it with a pen. Jean Godden gives me looks that could fell a Honey Bucket. And today in the lunch room, Misha Berson was tossing old food from the employee fridge. When I mentioned that I had also noticed a strange odor, Misha looked at me and said, "Yeah, Brodeur, something in this building sure does stink."

It was fun being a scab while the strike was on: the office crowded with lean and hungry replacement workers, that you're-my-girl gleam in Mr. Blethen's eyes when we passed in the hallway. "Never explain, Nicole," he would call out as he strolled by. "And never apologize!" I would respond. It was our little joke! But I'm not sure what I expected from my striking co-workers once the strike ended. I certainly didn't expect Ron Judd to egg my car.

Shit. We went out on strike on November 2. I walked that picket line for 28 fucking days and didn't cross until December 22. Then the goddamn strike ends on January 8! If I had held out two more weeks, I wouldn't be sitting at my desk feeling like a truckful of goat puke. What the fuck was I thinking?

So what's that strange odor at the Times? It's me. I'm a stinkin' scab. Okay, guys, I get it. Now knock it off. I'm warning you. Once more with that potato, Johnston, and I'll stuff it up your ass. And, Judd, it's not like I don't know where you park your car.