Warm & Fuzzy
caller wants to
speak to The Business Development Manager right
call," he bellows into his speakerphone, in a voice like the thundering
wrath of God. (Ever notice that it's the naturally-overloud
Testosterone Units who use their speakerphones the most? As if they
really need all of that extra amplification?) "This is EXTREMELY
URGENT," he adds, just in case I didn't *get* the extreme urgency
sorry," I tell him,
my voice oozing professional regret. "Jane is out of the office this
morning, although we do expect her later today. May I offer you her
is a moment of
prolonged and calculated silence on his end. This is a popular power
affectation in the business world, especially among
some of the older Executive Testosterone Units. I think that *they*
think that pausing dramatically before they reply is
intimidating. Actually, it just makes me wonder if they might have
a traumatic head injury. In this instance, the prolonged and
calculated silence is followed by an equally calculated sigh of
is NOT going to be adequate," he snaps at me finally. "Give me her cell
give me her cell phone number.'
you mind giving me her cell phone number?'
me her cell phone number.'
be glad to," I say.
"Let me look that up for you." And I swivel around in my chair and
squint across the counter at the phone list mounted next to the In/Out
when I realize
I'm in trouble.
I am able to
read the entire phone list, top to bottom, without any problem at all
... including the row of teeny-tiny cell phone numbers at the very
bottom of the page. This morning, however, the whole thing looks
something like this:
first thought is that
somebody is playing another stoopid belated-April-Fools-Day joke on me:
that they've swapped out my usual crisp, readable Arial 11 pt. for
Egyptian hierroglyphics just for chuckles. (If they'll stoop to
whoopie cushion under my chair pad, they'll stoop to anything.) It
takes me a couple of seconds to realize that the problem isn't the font
OR the phone list. It's me.
forgotten that I'm
operating *sans vision correction* today.
I'm not sure what
happened -- whether it was because I woke up exhausted for the third
morning in a row, or because I was in a hurry, or because my pants do
not precisely match my blouse today -- but for some reason I simply
get my new contact lenses to cooperate this morning. I stood in front
of the bathroom mirror for what felt like forever ... struggling to get
them inserted, struggling to get them aligned, struggling to get them
comfortable ... but I would no sooner get one lens into place than the
other one would spring off the end of my finger and hit the floor
running. At one point, the right lens took a complete detour
from the center of my eyeball and wound up lodged in the upper corner
of my eye: it felt like I had the April 2003 issue of "O" Magazine
jammed beneath my eyelid. By the time I finally managed to jiggle it
loose, I'd been poking at my face for half an hour. Both of my eyes
were ugly and bloody-looking, like I'd been on a
cheap-chablis-and-chat-room bender the night before. At that point I
simply yanked them out -- the lenses, I mean, not my eyeballs -- and
said forget it, I'll go without them for one day. I didn't even have
time to look for the ugly auxiliary glasses. I've felt like Mr. Magoo
all morning, as a result ... looking through a Vaseline-smeared lens at
a fuzzy, indistinct world. I don't have a lot of typing or reading to
do today, anyway, so this hasn't really been a problem.
the caller makes
little constipated noises of irritation into his speakerphone, I lean
all the way across my desk and squint as hard as I can at the phone
list. It's no use: the numbers are completely unreadable, even from a
mere foot and a half away. I knew my eyesight was getting bad. I guess
I hadn't realized just how
bad. Meanwhile, the increasingly cranky caller is still waiting for the
cell phone number. Clearly, my only option here is to stall.
me look that number up for you," I say to him again ... and I
plunge him directly on hold before he has a chance to squawk in
protest. While the little red *hold* button blinks furiously, I get up
from my desk, walk all the way around to the end of the counter and
grab the phone list.
gradually swims into focus and becomes 555-123-4567.
sit back down at my
desk, with the phone list in my hand, and push the blinking red button.
"Thank you for holding," I say to him sweetly. "I've got that number
for you now." And I read him Jane's cell phone number -- I have to read
it to him three times, as a matter of fact, each time more slowly --
while he writes it down. (With crayon, maybe?) I'm about to ask him
if he'd like to also leave her a back-up voicemail message, just in
case he isn't able to reach her by cell -- I get as far as "Would you
like to" -- when he slams the phone down in my ear.
gotta run: the Dulcolax is kicking in!
hang up the phone and
return to my coffee and my timesheets. I am in too glorious a mood to
allow one overblown dickhead to ruin my day. It's Friday, after all.
It's payday. The Project From Hell is safely behind me. My son is
flying in from TicTac tonight to spend the weekend with us. Life is
fundamentally good at the moment.
in the day -- much, much later
in the day, when I'm busy and distracted and I've forgotten all about
Dickhead Speakerphone Guy -- Jane calls me from her lunch meeting in
Pleasanton. "Thanks a lot for giving
him my cell phone number," she says.
I not supposed to
give it to him?" I ask her, my heart in my throat.
try to be so
careful about these things -- about not divulging too much information
over the phone, especially when it comes to the female managers in the
office -- and now it occurs to me that perhaps Dickhead Speakerphone
Guy is one of those callers to whom I am never, ever, ever supposed to
divulge information of any kind, personal or otherwise. Maybe he's her
ex-husband. Or her parole officer. Or her IRS agent.
she actually sounds
happy. "No, no, no," she says. "You totally saved my bacon on this
one." Dickhead Speakerphone Guy, it turns out, is our brand-new
bazillion-dollar client ... and the cell phone call I helped facilitate
this morning will probably, if all goes well, be reflected on this
year's Christmas bonus.
god," she says,
sounding amazed. "He totally loves YOU.
What'd you do, whisper sweet nothings into his ear?"
shrug. What can I tell
you? It's all in a day's work when you're a Professional Ass. But just
to be on the safe side ... I think I'm going to start leaving the phone
list a bit closer to the phone, from now on.
I'm going to
permanently stash the ugly auxiliary glasses in my bottom desk drawer.
to throw a rock?