Saturday, January 27, 2007
The Train Keeps A Rollin'
4:47 pm cst
There are days when I wonder why I even get out of bed. Some days it’s
just not worth it to crawl into the shower at the butt-crack of dawn and barrel down the Belt before the sun comes up. Some days that’s the best part – like this last Tuesday, the rolling-train-wreck-on-fire-with-rabid-monkeys-flinging-yesterday’s-breakfast-at-you
kind of day. Tuesday was one of those days that made the chaos of Wednesday,
Thursday, and Friday seem normal. If I never have to experience another Tuesday
again, I will die happy.
I won’t go into excruciating detail here (because, really, I don’t want to relive it and shed any more tears of frustration
and also I don’t think this laptop is waterproof), but Tuesday started with three copiers that were not ready for that day’s
deliveries (one that was still a pile of parts and pieces at 8:00 am); a delivery schedule that was being changed every half
hour which prompted several tense phone conversations with upset systems engineers; a poor bewildered rookie delivery driver
who ended up coming back to the warehouse three times in order to complete his scheduled route; two customers who tried to
refuse delivery because the channels of communication between them and their parent organization consisted solely of smoke
signals and it was a windy day; and a row of equipment to check in that required binoculars to see from one end to the other. By eight in the morning I knew it was going to be bad.
By eleven, the train wreck was hitting full speed. By two I just prayed
to survive. At 5:20, when I left (nearly two hours late), all I wanted to do
was collapse in relief that I was still sane.
It makes me glad that I don’t have my boss’s job. I mean, with all the
glamour and luxury and leisure time, he must have people beating down his door begging him to hire them. Everyone wants work that makes them want to tear their hair out.
No motivational posters needed in my workspace. Like I would have time
to read them, anyway.
No, it must be kind of tough to be the person that has to keep our sorry arses fired up all the time. It doesn’t help that we’re a pretty wise bunch. (We’re a bunch
of wise-arses, too, which makes it even more challenging). So we’re not gonna
be fooled by some lame exercise out of a Management 101 textbook. You want us
to produce, you gotta be creative. Or at least pretty darn funny.
So it’s a good thing that my boss is a funny guy. Because he was having
trouble getting us to get our timesheets completed correctly and in on time. So
his request to shape up came in the form of a contest, wrapped in a competition, inside a battle. And even though it’s as corny as they come, we’re having fun with it.
He divided us into two teams: the three who work in the corporate headquarters building, and the three of us who work
in the warehouse. We get a demerit for every timesheet with a mistake, and a
demerit for every late timesheet. And at the end of three months, he will take
the team that has the fewest demerits out to lunch at Famous Dave’s Barbeque.
We rolled our eyes when he proposed this “contest”. We all agreed it was
pretty childish. And then, being the children that we are, we started to play.
Since we would be getting weekly scores, I suggested we have a traveling trophy, to be awarded to each week’s low-scoring
team. And that the trophy should be a bottle of Famous Dave’s barbeque sauce. Then, after awarding it to us (ha-ha-ha-evil-grin-ha-ha-ha) the first week, he told
us we could decorate it. And since it can get kind of chilly in the warehouse,
what with all the loading dock doors getting opened all the time, I knit it a sweater.
The next week, I had the feeling that the other team would capture ownership of the sauce. And because the corporate headquarters building is always colder than a polar bear’s butt (and to tease
the girl on the other team who always has a blanket wrapped around her while she works), I crocheted it an afghan.
The bottle came home to us last week, with a note on the sweater. It said
that, for incentive, our boss would wear the sweater out to lunch with the winning team.
The note now has a second part: that for even more incentive, our boss will wear it to work with the losing team…
although where on his body he is going to wear a barbeque-sauce-bottle-sized sweater, I
don’t want to know.
One of my teammates said that he is going to buy a sympathy card to send to the other team when they lose. We’ll all leave greasy fingerprints on it when we sign it, and then he’s going to seal it with barbeque
Three weeks down, ten to go. I can’t wait to see what other depravities
we’ll inflict upon this contest.
It almost makes it worth dealing with the rabid monkeys.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
12:26 pm cst
I am not capable of having a normal conversation.
It is impossible for me to mouth banal sentiments like “Cold today,
isn’t it?” or “Traffic was really bad”, or “Yes, I thought it was funny, too”. I try to be conventional, typical, average…
and then words come out of my mouth, and before my lips have formed the final syllable I find myself thinking “what dark,
twisted, freaky corner of my brain did that come from?”
I can’t just say it’s cold; I have to describe how cold by stating
the fact that when I went outside and took a deep, healthy breath of sub-zero chilled atmosphere, every booger in my nose
was instantly frozen. And that frozen boogers tug at one’s nose-hairs, so as far as pain goes this is not an especially gratifying
experience. Plus, upon returning to a heated interior, these frozen boogers rapidly return to their liquid state, and promptly
decide to exit my nasal cavity in a most non-lady-like fashion. So forgive the wads of toilet paper I have pressed to my face.
I can’t complain about traffic like a normal person; that is, shake
my fist at them and hit the gas pedal. No, I have to vent about the 10,000 other idiot drivers that all want to occupy the
twelve-by-eight bit of pavement that my car is currently using. And question the possibility that they have their own little
global-warming problem right there in the passenger compartment of their SUV: carbon dioxide levels that must be approaching
critical, because only an oxygen-deprived brain could think that flying across three lanes to make your exit at 75mph in a
blinding rainstorm is “okay driving”.
And I can’t just say something is funny. I have to describe in exquisite
detail the exact physical reaction I had to said funny movie/book/incident, including the exact substance that came rapidly
shooting out, the approximate distance it traveled, and the pattern it made upon impact.
Unfortunately, this means that the
victims of other
participants in my conversations often end up with a glassy-eyed, befuzzled stare on their faces, and their “half” of the
dialogue consists of a couple of “uh-huh”s and a nod.
Kind of like the poor girl at the gas station this morning. You see,
there has been a miracle, and miracles tend to make me babble even more incoherently than usual. What was this gift from heaven,
you ask? It was the fact that the price of gasoline has fallen under $2.00 a gallon. And my fill-up, for the first
time in I-don’t-remember, cost less than $30.00. $26.00, to be exact.
I’m sure I wasn’t the first person to comment about that to the nice
girl who took my money. But I’m sure she wasn’t expecting a dissertation on my childhood of fifty-cent gas or Dad’s twenty-five-cent-a-gallon
gas and a $10,000 home and his first job with a whopping $5000-a-year salary. So a “Yeah… crazy…” is all she had. I guess
she wasn’t one of those few people who can match me stroke-for-stroke in the arena of wacky conversationalism. Those who do,
I call friends. Those who get it, but can’t join the fray, I call admirers. I wish I had more of both.
Instead, I have a wad of toilet paper pressed to my face.
Excuse me. Even with the cheap gasoline, It’s damn cold outside.
Monday, January 15, 2007
A Word To The Wise:
11:45 pm cst
Be careful what you wish for.
Five point one inches. It may not seem like a lot of snow, but 5.1 inches
can put a dent in your day. Or your car.
Thank goodness today was a holiday, and only half the idiot drivers had to go to work, so no close encounters with
high-speed bumper cars. Whew.
Of course, that’s the “official total”. Everyone in this city knows that the official weather totals are taken at the airport, and that the airport
is in its own climatic area code. It’s never as hot, or cold, or snowy, or rainy
at the airport than it is anywhere else in the city. You can be sitting in a
puddle of your own sweat, watching the grass spontaneously combust, and the airport’s official high temperature will be a
mild 67 degrees. So, their 5.1 inches probably translates to at least ten inches
in my neighborhood. And that is a
lot of snow.
It’s been over a month and a half since it snowed here. For Wisconsin,
that is seriously weird. Normally by the middle of January we’ve broken in our
new snow boots, had to buy a new ice scraper for the car, and lost at least three gloves.
But not this year. And, as absence makes the heart grow fonder, the quarter-million-or-so
residents of this city have been pining for snow. Apparently, all that wishing
was a shout that Mother Nature couldn’t ignore. And, boy did she give us what
It started Friday afternoon with freezing drizzle. Then Saturday afternoon
brought sleet mixed with snow. And last night, while we were grocery shopping,
winter finally found its way home.
Ten inches or so later a deep, bass rumble begins to reverberate about town.
No, it’s not an avalanche. It’s those same quarter-million people muttering
under their breath as they shovel their sidewalks.
Is it April yet?