February 18, 2000
Who Are You?
(And what have you done with Franz?)

There's been a new guy at The Totem Pole Company this week.

Funny thing is ... he looks a lot like Franz.  Same goatee. Same ruddy cheeks. Same little round glasses. Same elegantly cut suit, tasteful shoes and $14.98 tie.

He sounds a lot like Franz, too ... especially when he's standing in the hallway right outside my office, blowing his nose. (Except that this guy doesn't hand me the used Kleenex and tell me to "Toss this, wouldya?") 

He even smells like Franz: a combination of Fisherman's Friend Throat Lozenges, raw onions and Rave Super-Hold Hairspray.

He sharpens his pencils a lot, just like Franz. And he fiddles obsessively with his vertical blinds all day, just like Franz.

But that is where the similarities end.

This new guy does too many things that Franz would never ever do. For instance, he says "Good morning" before he asks "Where the hell is my newspaper?" And he either doesn't notice that the astrology section and the classifieds are missing every day, or else he doesn't care. He listens to his own phone messages the same day they land in his voicemail box. He reads his own mail, or at least glances at it. He signs everything you put in front of him without question. He makes it to all of his scheduled meetings on time, and once he's there, he sticks to the agenda and doesn't veer off into rambling monologues about the Eurostar Chunnel or four quad pedestrian gates. When the meeting is over, he gets up, leaves and moves on to the next item on his agenda.

I could swear I heard him reheating his own coffee in the lunchroom yesterday.

This new guy hasn't kept anybody waiting in the reception area for hours and hours this week, while his assistant vainly attempts to placate the disgruntled visitor with coffee and tapdancing ("Hang on while I light my batons, OK?") He hasn't called anybody a "nincompoop." He hasn't slammed any doors. He hasn't hung up on anybody.

Not a single Totem Pole Company employee has quit their job while the new guy has been here: in fact, the hallways have been filled with a bizarre sense of community and *warm fuzziness* all week long. (Unless it's because we've all got a three-day weekend coming up. Or because everybody has been turned into a pod person except me.)

I know it's wishful thinking on my part ... and I know that all good things must come to an end eventually ... but I really really like this new guy, and I wish he would stick around. While he's been here, the past few days, I've gotten a taste of what it must be like to work for somebody you really like and respect and want to do your best work for.

And I realize that that is exactly what I want. I just haven't quite figured out how I'm going to go about getting it.