Category Archives: Work

On Magic Tricks, Pine Furniture, Hairlice, Marketing, and Hybrid Bikes

Today found me searching online for possible freelance jobs. While perusing the various advertisments, I happened upon a post looking for someone to write two five-hundred-word articles on each of the following topics:

Magic Tricks
Pine Furniture
Hybrid Bikes

I am sorely tempted to respond, saying that I will write one kickass five-hundred-word article incorporating all five topics. In fact, I’ve already written it. It goes like this:

Bruno the Magician needed to improve his act. He had the magic trick—he could turn hybrid bikes into pine Barcaloungers with just a little eye of newt and some hairlice. However, he usually had to steal the hybrid bikes, and while Bruno wasn’t the most cleanly of magicians, he did not at the moment have hairlice. Somehow, he had to find a way to get the bikes and the lice in one place. He also required an audience, as what magician wants to perform such a feat with no one to watch.

Bruno, old boy, he thought to himself, you need to find a marketing consultant. So Bruno got in touch with the guy who sold his pine Barcaloungers and asked him about how he advertised his wares.

“Oh, I go ACME Marketing up the street,” he said. And so Bruno stole his last bike, bought some hairlice from his usual connection, and with his eye of newt went up the street to ACME Marketing. There, he told the marketing consultant of his woes and showed him the trick.

Upon viewing such a magical transformation, the marketing guru cried, “Genius! You simply must continue to transform hybrid bikes into pine furniture. If you will just sign here and give me $500, I will be able to provide you with a marketing plan.”

Now Bruno was not a rich man, but since he did not want to wind up in jail (the signs for missing hybrid bikes were clogging the telephone poles around town, and the cops were on the lookout for the mystery thief), he decided to sign the papers and fork over the money.

“Excellent,” the ACME Marketing consultant said. “Now here’s the secret: Recycling. You convince people who were about to trade in their hybrid bikes that they would rather recycle them instead of junk them. In return for the bike and a small fee, they get a pine Barcalounger, or they can get a percentage from the proceeds of the sale of said pine Barcalounger. That way, you won’t piss off your dealer friend, and you’ll still get some money.”

Bruno the Magician smiled, “Yes, yes,” he said. “That’s just the thing. Recycling. I wonder why I didn’t think of it. There’s just one more thing. Where do I get the hairlice?”

While the ACME Marketing consultant was tempted to charge Bruno more for the advice, he really liked the trick and decided to help the magician.

“I know. You perform you magic trick at a school. School children are filthy beasts, and one of them almost always has hairlice. So you get a group of hybrid bike owners ready to surrender their bikes, schedule a magic show, and presto! You’ll do your trick and stay out of jail!”

So happy was Bruno that he could have kissed the ACME Marketing consultant. “Perfect! I’ll start advertising today! How can I ever thank you?”

“Well,” the ACME Marketing consultant said, “I could always use a pine Barcalounger.”

I think I’ll send the man my story and see what he thinks. I could make fifty bucks!

Looking on the Bright Side of Unemployment

Earlier this week, Date forwarded me an article from the Boston Globe about people delighted to be among the newly unemployed. “We’re so fing cutting edge,” he wrote in the subject line. I suppose we are. He’s taken to calling unemployment Funemployment. I am in complete agreement.

The past couple of weeks of not having to work have left me positively giddy. My hellish commute? Gone. My should-I-stay-or-should-I-go dance I’d been doing with my job for the last couple of years? Over. Sitting in an office all day, doing someone else’s bidding? Nope. Not me. Aside from the still, small voice telling me that the money is going to run out sometime soon, I can’t remember a time in my adult life when I’ve been happier.

In the days that followed the layoff, I followed the advice those gurus offer the newly unemployed and got in touch with contacts and friends to share with them the news that I’d become a statistic. The results amazed me. Not only did people promise to be on the lookout for jobs, they also reached out to let me know that they cared for me and wanted the best for me. Those close by invited me over to their homes, or out for a meal or a drink. I’ve been in touch with old friends I haven’t talked to in years. My old coworkers pitched in and sent me a care package. However cheesy it may sound, knowing that people value me and my contributions to the world has been affirming.

My life has a natural rhythm to it these days. I get up without an alarm clock. I stay in my jammies long past when it is proper. The Great American Novel this blog ain’t, but these scribbles represent the first writing I have done in over a year. I’ve been cooking real food again, with joy instead of begrudging necessity. I made bread this week! Last week I cooked dinner for Date, and yesterday I had my sister and nephew over for lunch. Sure I also spent Tuesday working on my résumé and sending out applications (I can’t be completely impractical), but I’ve also spent a lot of time imagining how my life could be. Because if I am really honest with myself, if I could get away with it, I would never work in an office again.

Yesterday I went to the Pink Slip Coffee Meetup, and until Date showed up, I might have been the only one happy with my current lot. I know I am lucky, in that my severance was generous and that I have a little bit of time before I need to scramble, but I really talked up the upside of unemployment. It was the first time I’d admitted to anyone outside a few close friends that I do not want to rejoin the rat race. It felt really, really good.

What am I going to do? I don’t know. I do need to figure out a way to make a living, and soon. But right now, in this moment, with the sun shining through my open window (it’s warm!), life is absolutely perfect.

I have to go now. I’m going to go to my favorite North End caffè and then to a wine bottega. After that, I will pick up some fruit, veg, and cheese at Haymarket before heading home to cook some more. Date is coming over this afternoon to watch Twin Peaks.

It’s Friday. And I don’t have to work.

And the Winner Is…

My boss. For the most appallingly rude personal comment directed at me in years.

Here’s what happened. On Friday we received an outstanding résumé from a potential freelancer. It turned out that she had freelanced from us years about fifteen years ago and had since gotten her PhD. From the looks of things, she had not been able to find work in her field and was trying her hand again at freelancing. This is certainly common enough, and my boss, my coworker, and I were talking about the lack of work being a major deterrent to getting an advanced degree.

“I thought about getting a PhD after my master’s,” I said, “but I looked down that lonely road and saw years and years spent in my head, forming no real attachments and not having a real home, only to have to find a job outside the field. I decided that for me, it just wasn’t worth it.”

My boss looked at me and said sarcastically, “Well, you had all that time. Do you have any real attachments or a real home?”

Well, you know the answer to that one, Bitch. My life is completely meaningless, and I spend every night home alone with my fifty cats, eating ice cream out of the carton and plotting how to foil the neighborhood children.

I checked that reaction and used my schmoozer skills to take the “high road.” “Tell me when to stop,” I said, laughing and waving my fingers in the air. I then explained what I meant, which didn’t have anything to do at all with finding a man or buying a house but instead about living in a place and forming a community of my choosing. I didn’t love my subject enough to sacrifice the best years of my life for it—and that’s not to say that other people couldn’t decide to make those sacrifices and have it be the right decision for them. We joked for a few more moments, and then she went into her office.

And that’s when I started crying. I’d like to say that digs about my single life don’t hurt and that I’m just able to laugh them off, but they do. I know that I have a full life now, and I am enjoying it, but still. This isn’t my first pick. I really don’t need my boss’s judgment to remind me that it isn’t my first pick.

My young coworker, who was part of the conversation and was just as shocked as I was, offered a lot of support, and I managed to recover myself enough to enjoy my weekend anyway. In fact, I’m sure I had more fun. Single people get to go to parties and go off on their own adventures without any guilt whatsoever. Still, her words came to me this weekend, and I did think a lot about how this wasn’t what I really wanted.

And now I have to go in today and face the winner of the prize for most appallingly rude personal comment directed at me in years. Wish me luck.

Long Day

Oh hurrah, pasta with lemon cream sauce is delicious. Mmmmm. So’s wine. Wine’s tasty too. I’m feeling much better now.

Last night’s swearing at W via the radio tuckered me right out. I overslept my alarm and had to drive at a dangerous speed in order to make it to work in time to lead my meeting this morning. On my way to work, I heard on the BBC that the US evidently attacked an Iranian military base in Iraqi-controlled Kurdistan. Brilliant, George. Fuck up one war, and go start another one, this time with a nuclear power. Thanks. Is this guy missing his precious bodily fluids or something?

I got through the meeting, despite the coffee not kicking in until about half-way through. Then I had to try to finish proofreading an index from hell. Honestly, this freelance indexer must have the most retentive anus in the history of retentiveness. He indexed absolutely everything in the entire book, twice (that’s not good). His sense of organization is frankly bizarre, and I spent days trying to get the blasted index to make logical sense before I could sit down to do the three-hour job of proofreading the thing. Of course the project’s drop-dead date is tomorrow, and lateness will not be tolerated. Just as I was cussing the indexer out for his dumbassness, the freelancer e-mails me about his payment. I didn’t answer.

While giving my brain a break from the drudgery, I came across a very bizarre little piece of news. Canadian coins, it seems, are bugged with movement-tracking software. Since when does James Bond live in Canada? What’s next, Q, and even more groovy gadgets? Seems like a strange way to spy on people, but I have hopes that Canada has plans to liberate us from W. Canadian Bond, help us out, eh?

I stayed late to try to finish the index, but my eyes were starting to cross, so I’ll finish it tomorrow. I came home and made lemon cream sauce instead. And had some wine. Everything is right in Sundryland again. I haven’t turned on the radio, and I don’t have any Canadian money.

Monday, Monday . . .

Not much going on in my world today. We had our last warehouse shift today. It was all I could do not to let out a triumphant whoop when the clock chimed; my silly grin could not be contained. I do feel a twinge of regret over missing out on the tackiness, but I’ll survive. It might be nice to have do my own job. It’s been a while.

I have therapy later on this evening. An hour of someone subjecting my crazy ideas about holidays and men to reality is always a nice way to cap off a Monday. The good news is that my parents just something amazing—they gave me a whole bunch of money to help me pay off some old bills. Unbidden. Yay, Parents! Talk about Christmas present. And, I don’t want to jinx anything, but things look good in the dating department, too (no, not with IcelandMan. I read his profile. He’s hilarious, but he’s also completely unhinged. Pity, I would have liked Iceland for a time, I think). The upshot of all this rambling is that I don’t think I’m going to spend an hour crying about my miserable life this evening, and that’s good.

After therapy I’m supposed to meet up with an old friend who’s around until tomorrow morning before she flies back to California. Here’s the thing, though. I don’t really feel like it. Sure, I’d like to see her and all, but I don’t feel like doing two hours of driving tonight to do it. What I really feel like doing is going home, curling up in my comfy chair, and knitting while watching a movie. I feel like a jerk for canceling, but I didn’t know she was going to be around until after she got here, so it’s not like these were longstanding plans. Oh well. Next time.

Anything interesting going on with you?

Random Monday Musings

Holy crap, this story made me laugh. I can see it now. A family brings home their Christmas tree, and the fresh pine scent fills the house. Mugs of hot chocolate all around. Singing along with the Christmas music, the family begins to decorate. Everything is just holiday perfect until… Aieeeeee! The tree has beady little eyes! I can see a horror movie franchise here. Perhaps I should write a screenplay, The Christmas Trees Have Eyes. Whaaa haaa haaaa haa.

So I didn’t go out with Flattering French Guy, as you may have guessed. I just couldn’t go through with it. I called him and wound up having to leave a message saying that I didn’t think it was a good idea for us to meet up. When I hung up I felt nothing but relief. There are other men out there, and I’m sure that Flattering Guy can flatter his way in to some other woman’s heart.

Nothing much went on with me this weekend. I stayed close to home and made some major progress on the holiday knitting. Check out my posts on Punk Rock Knitters (here and here), if you’d like (exception: Ms. Smokestack cannot click on these links, or she will ruin her surprise).

The only other thing of note that happened to me was that I fell in the driveway. Splatted was more like it. Hey, Grace! I turned my foot, and now I’m walking with a limp. I have huge bruises on my elbow and hip. Pretty. And now it’s off to the warehouse.

Taking One for the Team

I believe I’ve mentioned before that the parent company of my employer requires us to pitch in and help out from time to time. We are required to work at two warehouse sales per year (if we travel for the company, otherwise, we are on for all three sales). In addition to this, we are required to assist in the warehouse or call center in December. Since I have not had previous call center training, I’m on warehouse duty.

Until yesterday my warehouse duty consisted of checking packages before they were shipped out to customers. While it can be physically taxing (some of the boxes are full of heavy books), and I pretty much hurt my back every year, I’ve resigned myself to it. Yesterday, though, I was required to do “picking” (no, not noses or wedgies). This involved waiting for boxes to come off a conveyer belt, checking the slip, retrieving the item, plunking in the box, and shoving the box back onto the conveyer belt. Not terribly complicated, but not exactly what I went to university for either.

The first three hours were pretty slow. I was just about to pat myself on the back when the onslaught began. All of the sudden, large boxes were flying at me. The last hour I think we had about 150 large boxes come off the conveyer belt. Unfortunately the conveyer belt does not handle the large boxes very well, and so the line kept jamming. Boxes crashed into each other, and one or two even fell off the line. People were telling me to reset the line constantly, which would have been fine, if I’d known how to do it. Then the guy who was opening up the boxes of stuff went on break without leaving me with enough stinky ugly doormats to put in the boxes. So for ten minutes or so, until some people who actually work in the warehouse realized that something was going wrong came to help me, boxes were just piling up, and the conveyer belt was jamming ,and I was saying the “eff” word a lot.

Even though three people wound up helping me, and we were rushing around like proverbial headless chickens, we were still backed up when it was time for me to go. The bell dinged, I said, “Bye,” and then I went to leave. There was just one problem. I could barely walk. It took me forever to get back to my desk, and when I got there I couldn’t sit down. My back was one big zone of pain. I had two more hours to work, but there was no way I could sit for two hours to do it. Before I could drive home, I had to take four Advil to loosen my back up enough to make the trip (I would apologize for the reckless driving, but see post on Hummers below). Once home, I took a forty-five minute hot shower, used the shiatsu massager I got last year after warehouse duty, and then applied a hot water bottle. I fell asleep in my comfy chair at 7:30 and was in bed at 8:00 (not normal). When the alarm went off at 7:00 this morning, I was stunned. I slept for another hour before hauling my sorry ass out of bed.

I feel like an old lady today. I’m sitting up ramrod straight, and it hurts to turn my head. I got myself put back on checking for next week, and if I feel so much as a twinge, I’m going home. The team does not get my back.