Saturday, September 23, 2006
Get Me Out Of Here!
12:39 pm cdt
Maybe it’s the seasons finally changing. Maybe it’s the end of fiscal
year pressure. Maybe it’s menopause. I
don’t know. I just have an irrational, frantic urge to throw some clothes in
my car, grab the laptop, empty my bank account and flee.
Yeah, flee. No destination, no rules, no restrictions. Just drive and drive as fast as I can to anywhere that isn’t here,
and then hang a left.
I look around at what my life has become and I wonder. How did this mess
get here? When did this happen? Why
do I have no energy to do anything but come home after work and sit on the couch and play endless rounds of computer solitaire
until it’s time to crawl into bed? And I can’t answer myself. My head is filled with the mud and sludge of years of convincing myself that it’s not important, that I’m
perfectly fine just the way I am. And then something happens that kicks me in
the seat of my pants, wakes me up, makes me want to have something, anything better
than what I have now.
But swimming up towards the sunshine through the muck and grime of life is a battle I feel I’m losing. And I don’t even know if it’s normal sunshine, you know, the kind that makes the flowers bloom and happy
little bunny rabbits cavort on the lawn, or the scorching light of it going nova. Am
I swimming to salvation, or to my own immolation?
I wonder if I’m entitled to have more, enjoy more, just be more. Because I see it all around me. People leading full, happy
lives. And I feel like an outsider. I
feel like I’ve hit the halfway point in life (age-wise, at least) and everything up to now has been a major eff-up, so no
wonder I live in a dinky little hole filled with trash and I drive a ten-year-old car and an exciting weekend is one where
I get to go to knitting club.
No wonder I have a wild urge to chuck it all and make a mad, Helen-esque dash towards a fabled city where everyone
is beautiful and happy. No matter if they’re doomed. To heck with reality, I need un-reality! I want to be the woman on the cover of the supermarket romance novel, being swept onto a horse by a muscled,
raven-haired hero, off to live a life of Drama! Passion! Ecstasy!
And then I take a look around me.
As I sit on the couch, blowing dusty warehouse boogers into a used tissue before throwing it on the coffee table next
to the half-full ashtray and the pile of yarn scraps, as I dry myself off from the shower and see all the lumpy, bumpy, flabby
body parts I so desperately try to hide under oversized T-shirts, I wonder who in the world would want to run away with this. Heck, I’d probably only get halfway
up the side of that horse before my hero would grunt in pain from my weight, stare down at me, and unceremoniously drop me
in a heap by the side of the road before muttering, “Sorry, wrong girl” and galloping off into the sunset.
But I’m ashamed to say, I need it. I need that exhilarating feeling of
freshness, when your life is new and possibilities are wide open and you meet each day with unbounded, eager energy.
And then, I remember.
I remember how Jay used to make me feel this way. And I think he still
feels that way about me. And there’s something to be said for a guy who will
sleep on a couch that is ten inches too short for him just to spare you the agony of having your back go into spasms every
time he wiggles the bed.
There’s a special comfort with predictability. The sure knowledge that
no matter how bad your bed-head is, how dorky you draw, or how badly your burn the grilled-cheese sandwiches, he will understand. He accepts your imperfections. He loves
you despite them. He tells you he can’t imagine life without you. And, slowly, you realize that the hero on the horse may be tempting, but will he hold your hand on the
way to a root canal?
So I take the time to count what I am grateful for. And as the list grows
longer, the desire to run away gets smaller. And reality reminds me that the
money won’t last forever, and the car may not make it to that left turn, and that as easy as it is for an airline to lose
your baggage, the personal kind always catches up with you.
So I’m not escaping. Not yet.
But when I do, I hope I won’t be alone.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
A story in two parts from Mouseywerks Fairy Tales.
6:28 pm cdt
Once upon a time there was a girl who had a new job. There was a lot to
learn, and she worked very hard because she wanted to do very well at this new job.
One day, the girl was hard at work in the warehouse when her telephone rang. It
was her new boss, and he was calling from his office at the corporate headquarters.
She answered the phone: “Good afternoon, this is Linda.”
“Hello, uh, Was oben, hund?” she heard her new boss say.
She giggled. “Hi, um… Fahrvergnügen!”
She heard an answering chuckle on the other end of the line. “I have one
of those odd problems that you should know how to plan for,” he said. “I’ll tell
you what it is, and then I want you to tell me how you would solve it.”
“Okay,” she replied uneasily.
“We have a copier that a tech is trying to fix. If he can’t get it fixed
by the end of the day, we have to deliver a loaner. But we have a full delivery
schedule tomorrow. So, what would you do to get the loaner delivered?”
“Oh,” she reached for her mouse and opened the delivery schedule. “What’s
the customer’s address?”
Her boss gave her the address, and she entered it into the computer.
After thinking for a bit, she hit upon an obvious solution. “We could
ask if the customer can meet us at 7:30 am, and ask the drivers to come in a half-hour early, and deliver it first thing.”
“Good answer,” her boss replied. “When I know more, I’ll call you back.”
The girl went back to her usual duties, relieved that she hadn’t sounded like a complete airhead.
About an hour later, her boss called again.
“We have a complication,” he said.
The girl rolled her eyes. Oh, great. “Now what?” she asked.
“The loaner machine is coming on a truck from another warehouse, and there won’t be time to get it checked out before
the end of the day today. So we can’t deliver it until later tomorrow morning. So, Plan A is out. What’s Plan B?”
The girl knew her boss’s favorite answer to that question. “Plan B is
to have a Plan C,” she responded.
Her boss chuckled again. “Very good. Now,
what is Plan C?”
“Um… I don’t… we can’t send out the drivers on two separate trucks, because the loaner is too big for one person to
manage… so, um….” She frantically tried to think, but there was nothing in her
head but white noise. So, for a moment, she was silent.
“But we could use the second truck…” he encouraged.
“Yeah,” she blurted. “The second truck, with, maybe, some, um, good-looking,
strong men to deliver the loaner, like, um…Troy, and – "
“Like Troy, and maybe one of the Re-man guys.”
Like you, she had been thinking. "Yeah. A Re-man player-to-be-named-later."
hear the smile on her boss’s face as he said, “Very good! You passed the test.”
“Oh, goody!” She grinned widely, and with a voice dripping with sarcastic
enthusiasm said, “I passed the test! Does this mean I get a cookie?”
“I can send you a cookie,” he replied, deadpan.
“I was just joking,” she laughed. “You don’t have to send me a cookie.”
“Um, okay,” he said. “We still don’t know if the tech can fix the copier,
so we may not have to deliver the loaner at all. I’ll let you know.”
“Okay,” she said and hung up the phone.
The rest of her shift passed quickly, and as she was getting ready to go home the courier stopped by her desk with
an interdepartmental mail envelope. Her name was on it, written in her boss’s
handwriting. She undid the string closure and peered inside, then inverted it
onto her desk.
Out came a cookie.
A Keebler fudge stripe cookie.
The girl giggled. The she laughed.
Then she collapsed into her chair, her hoots of hilarity echoing throughout the warehouse.
When she was finally able to catch her breath, she ate the cookie.
After work that day, the girl went to her old job site to help out her replacement.
Earlier that day, her old boss had called with a desperate plea to help fix the folding machine. It had jammed, and between the two of them they hadn’t been able to clear it out. She had given as much help as she could over the phone, and her old boss was so grateful she told the girl
she owed her a kringle, because she knew that kringles were one of the girl’s guilty pleasures. But the folding machine was
still broken, and since the girl had some time to kill before she had to pick up her boyfriend from work, she decided to go
have a look at the machine herself.
She was able to clear the jam, and went home feeling good.
The next day, just before lunch, the courier stopped by her desk again. He
had a package for her. It was flat, and roughly rectangular, and wrapped in plain
brown paper. On it was written: “Deliver to Linda, immediately.”
The girl was flummoxed as to what it could be. A copier part? She wondered, maybe an output tray that needs to go with
a machine? Curious, she hefted the package.
Too heavy for an output tray, she thought.
And then she recognized the handwriting on the brown paper. It was her
And as she opened up the package, she started to laugh, because she had realized what she would find inside.
It was a kringle.
The girl laughed so loudly and so hard that she had to put her head down on her desk and hold her sides to keep them
Because there was a post-it on the cellophane kringle wrapper. Besides
thanking her for fixing the folding machine, it told the girl to tell her boss something.
It told her to tell him that the kringle was bigger than his cookie.
Saturday, September 9, 2006
At least now, they are tears of laughter.
1:07 pm cdt
Labor Day has finally passed. For most people, that means their trophy
kids are back in school, and they can get back to their preferred routine of bragging about them to all the other soccer moms
while secretly relieved to not have the little rugrats underfoot 24/7 because, you know, the actual job of raising children
is beneath most parents. They don’t even get their brats’ school supplies until
the last possible moment, and then they wonder why the stores are out of compasses.
Like a kid needs a new compass every year? Like the laws of mathematics
have changed, and they can’t use last year’s compass or they’ll get all the answers wrong?
Apparently, only nerds use the same compass from fifth grade all the way up to graduation. I still have mine. It used to be my mom’s. I guess we just define nerdiness, if “nerd” means relaxing on Labor Day with a big pitcher of cold lemonade
and some killer barbeque chicken and great music, while the rest of the world is in an office supply store fighting over the
So I’m glad I’m a nerd. It helps me get along with my boss. When he walks up to me, all five-foot-nine-inch-polo-wearing-gadget-loving-caucasian-as-you-can-get, and
greets me with a clearly enunciated “What up, dawg?” that comes out so awkward that it’s almost cool, well, I know I’m in
good company, nerd-wise. He did it last week, and for some reason then asked
me how to say it in German. I don’t know why.
So he started guessing.
He knew “dog” was “hund”. So he started putting German words in front
of it, like “über”. I told him that would be, like, overdog, and maybe he meant
“unterhund”, for underdog? He laughed, and I said I didn’t know, because the
only German I knew was what I picked up while visiting my great-aunt in 1986. Simple
things, like the words for train station (bahnhof) and airport (flughafen).
Well, he latched on to “flug”. And all of a sudden, FlugHund, the flying dog, was born. And
the whole rest of the week, it was FlugHund this and FlugHund that. Even when
I told him that the literal translation of what up, dawg is “was oben, hund”. If
it wasn’t FlugHund, it was über-goober and das-ist-gut and Isn’t-German-a-romantic-language,-what-with-all-the-spitting-when-you-speak?
So now I can’t call my boss without running the risk of
him saying some loony thing in pseudo-german that sends me into fits of laughter so badly that I drop the telephone. I don’t know what’s gotten into him. Maybe
it’s the caffeine in all those cans of Diet Pepsi with Lime he’s always drinking. Maybe
it’s the looming end-of-fiscal-year chaos that is approaching with all the stealth of a herd of soccer moms fighting over
the last protractor.
But it’s sure better than when he made me cry.
Next time: The Chronicles
of the Cookie vs. the Kringle, or “Why I Was Making That Strange Hooting Noise At My Desk On Friday”.
Saturday, September 2, 2006
I'm almost speechless.
4:51 pm cdt
I guess He knew what He was doing.
He already knew, back on April 20th, that things were going to get ugly.
He must have known. And He yanked me out of the path of the storm.
At the time, I didn’t have a clue to what the future held. I thought I
was happy. I did my job well. I
worked with nice people. I had four more years of a contract to protect me.
But Hurricane Great-High-Muckety-Muck was just starting his nefarious spin. He’d
had two years to build up his power, two years to lull his boss into a false sense of control.
And while the boss was out loving and teaching the people and basically oblivious to the reality that was the day-to-day
operation of the business, Hurricane GHMM’s outer edges began to brush the coast.
But now he is making landfall. And my former co-workers are starting to
evacuate to safer ground. I’m in shock.
Two more people I thought would work there forever are getting out. They’re
saying things like “it’s not fun to work there anymore”.
And that’s really sad. Because when I started working there over six years
ago, I couldn’t believe how much laughter echoed down those halls. It was a fun
place to work. It wasn’t perfect, but its heart was in the right place.
Now there’s nothing at the center but a still, empty, eerie hole. And
what swirls around that hole… I’m just glad I don’t have to deal with.
Yeah, He knew. And although it hurt like hell, I’m glad I’m out of there.