January 5, 2000
When The Cat's Away

David was dinking around in the Baby Boomer Chat Room for awhile last night ... our old *cyber stomping grounds,* and the place where he and I first became friends, five years ago.

I haven't set foot in the Boom Room in centuries -- not since the old cheap-chablis-and-"!sdrawkcab epyt ydobyrevE" §ecraTerri days -- but David still likes to pop in there, from time to time. Sometimes I stand behind him at the computer and read over his shoulder while he chats with his friends. Last night, though, I was feeling wiped-out from a long day of Executive Assitude. From the next room, where I was curled up in bed watching "Will & Grace," I could hear the happy little clackety-clack-clack noises of his keyboard.

Suddenly he stopped clacking. "Hey!" he yelled. "Carolyn just asked about Franz!"

Yikes. Some of the old Boomer Buddies are still reading the website??  I am flattered.  I admit it. I am also ever-so-slightly weirded-out. Most of those people probably remember me as the irritating maniac who blew into the room every night, tanked on Paul Masson, and ordered everybody to stand on their heads. I can only wonder what they must think of the new-and-improved, types-with-her-fingers-instead-of-her-nose, quiet, dignified, §OBER §ecra.

Even more surprising, though -- and amusing, and just plain WEIRD -- is the fact that FRANZ is apparently achieving a sort of minor Internet cult status, thanks to *FootNotes.*

Even in the Baby Boomer Chat Room.

I get e-mail about Franz all the time, mostly from people who want to relate their own "Little Boss From Hell" stories. (The boss who stood in the doorway and scratched his back on the door jamb, during the job interview ... the boss who left used dental floss in his "Out" Box ... the boss who had his secretary call an employee at the hospital -- while the man's wife was having a biopsy -- and ordered him to come into the office for a marketing meeting.) I love getting that kind of e-mail. It's comforting. It's gratifying. And it reminds me, especially at moments when I most need reminding -- like yesterday -- that I am not alone in my struggle to maintain my composure, my sanity ... and my fingernails.

It seems like everybody, at one time or another, has worked for a *Franz.*

He got on an airplane yesterday afternoon and left for Washington D.C., where he will be attending two annual industry meetings, back-to-back. He'll be out of the office until late next week. 

(Allow me to enjoy a quiet, dignified, Executive Ass *Wooo-Fudking-Hoooooo* Moment, here.)

As always, it took weeks and weeks of phone calls and faxes and perspiration and paper cuts to make all of his arrangements.  And, as always, he tried to switch everything around at the very last second.

Our office was officially closed yesterday -- a sort of postponed Christmas/New Year/Just-In-Case-The-World-Explodes holiday for everybody -- but I was *drafted* to come into an otherwise empty office and help him get ready for the airport. Did I complain? No.  (At least, not out loud.) "I'll be glad to come in and help," I said, 35.7% sincerely. I knew it would make me look good if I was cheerful and cooperative.

Besides ... I get to take a make-up holiday sometime next week.

Did I come unglued when he took the itinerary I had so meticulously, lovingly, carefully crafted (an itinerary, I hasten to point out, that *he* had approved -- TWICE) and essentially pooped all over it?  No. I got on the phone and quietly requested the new changes he was asking for. (And I made sure to thank the beleaguered reservations clerk on the other end of the line for making those changes. Again.)

Did I burst into tears when he said "I can't believe how brain-dead everybody in this entire office is"? No.

(Did I launch into a rousing chorus of "Almighty God, Thou Hast Delivered Us From the Beast" when he finally packed up his briefcase and his box of Kleenex and his cell phone and got into the elevator at 12:46:32 p.m. PST? You'dbetterbelieveit.)

A few months ago, a day like yesterday would have left me flattened. I would have spent the entire day running back and forth to the ladies' room, mopping up the Maybelline, and then the entire evening making David every bit as miserable as I was. So what's different now? How come yesterday left me tired and a little headachey and ready for bed at 7:35 p.m. ... but otherwise unscarred?

I guess the only thing that has changed, really, is me, and the way *I* react to his eleventh-hour rantings and ravings. I've learned to expect him to go haywire, just before he leaves the office on a trip. (Frankly,  I just plug it into the itinerary. "Franz: Giant Hissy Fit, 9:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.") And that helps me gear up for it in advance.

Plus -- and this is probably more important than anything -- I've stopped thinking of this job as the last stop on the career train. 

But that is another story for another day.

A couple of months ago I posted something on this website -- some-or-another nonsense about "pre-New-Year's resolutions" -- announcing that I was going to try and stay in the Exec Ass position until the end of 1999. Things were going especially bad at work at the time, and I was perilously close to packing it in. (In fact, I did "pack it in," in a manner of speaking -- I tossed all of my personal belongings into a grocery bag and brought them home to The Castle. That way, I figured, if I suddenly decided to resign I could make a clean getaway without accidentally leaving my beloved wind-up chicken behind.)

But I ended up staying. "Just until the end of December," I resolved. Mostly I didn't want to screw up the holidays for anybody ... like The Tots. Or David. Or the Ex-Hub. Or the bill collectors.

OK. So now it's 2000 ... holidays safely behind us ... resolution accomplished ...

an island of calm in a sea of chaos... and NOW I've decided to try and hang in until next month. Specifically, until February 7th, which will be my one-year anniversary with the Totem Pole Company. 

Why? Mainly because "one year" of employment looks better on a résumé than "eleven and a half months." Don't you think?

For another thing, I can't exactly afford to quit right now. (See: Christmas trip to TicTac/Tots' new computer/monthly child support payments/occasional need for frivolous stuff like *Maybelline* and *groceries* and *electricity.*)

And for another thing, there are still the occasional, surreal moments when I actually LIKE my job. I like having my very own little office ... with my very own little door. I like the quiet and the privacy of the *Corporate* end of the building. I like my job title. I like the status. I like the courtesy and deference that people show me,  especially when they're trying to suck up and get to the boss through me. I like my co-workers. I like riding in an elevator. I like wearing "grown-up" clothes. I like knowing where everything is, here in the office. I like it when the doorman calls me by name, every morning. I like a lot of the stuff I do every day: phones, and correspondence, and organizing files, and figuring out solutions to thorny problems. ("Yellow Post-It? Or green?")  

And of course I like the money. It's not BIG money, mind you. I'm still not gonna run right out and buy that brand-new IBM Thinkpad Notebook. But it's better money than I ever made as a Lobby Goddess.

I like almost everything about my job. And the one thing I don't-like-so-much is four time zones away, for ten blissful days.

And that makes it a little easier to officially extend the deadline another month.

In the meantime, I've got a few Franz-free days to enjoy.

Of course we'll still be joined by the umbilical cord of voicemail while he's in DC. I still expect to walk into my office and see that damnable message light blinking. But his calendar is solidly packed with meetings and luncheons and seminars, followed by more meetings and more luncheons and more seminars  --  gosh: I wonder how *that* happened? -- which should keep him too busy to reach out and aggravate somebody much.

Am I going to call in sick  and download True Type fonts all day, while he's gone? No. That would be a waste of perfectly good Franz-free days.

Am I going to lock my door, sit in my office and read People Magazine, while he's gone? No. I'm still buried under seven metric tons of paperwork left over from the 20th century. It's going to take me all ten days, just to catch up.

Am I going to use this opportunity to clean and alphabetize and organize and antibacterialize every inch of his office, from top to bottom, while he's gone?  HELL no. If anybody's office is going to get "organized" in his absence, it's going to be MINE.

Am I going to enjoy the peace and quiet, while he's gone?


special *howdy* to: my old pal carolyn ... and any of the other b3 regulars who may occasionally pop into *footnotes.* for all of my occasional griping and grumbling to the contrary, i remember those old boom room days fondly. [the parts that i DO remember, anyhow.] and you guys were a big part of that experience.

now !sdrawkcab epyt ydobyrevE ... just for old times' sake.

a year ago

here's where i'll ask a *relevant* question:
what's YOUR *little boss from hell* story?
if it involves dental floss ... i don't wanna hear about it.

amazingly profound thought of the day: I don't know why i did it. I dont know why i liked it. And i don't know why i'll do it again ~ bart simpson