the day after the storm,
and we're all wearing our *real* faces again.
are the false, icky
smiles and the phony God-I'm-so-incredibly-interested-in-everything-you-have-to-say!
body language: in their place, our usual
placid/distracted/ever-so-slightly-cranky expressions. Gone, too, are
the neckties and the uncomfortable high heels ... the weirdly pristine
desktops ... the formal, politely modulated voices. ("Hello.
you today? Will you have time to sit down and discuss the Yreka project
later?") Today it's back to T-shirts and paperwork
and shouting at each other down the hallway. ("LINE
SIX! I said LINE
day after the storm ...
life goes back to normal around
The Dirt Company.
Storm Armand blew
through our office yesterday: the Dirt Company CEO's first stop on his
whirlwind Summer 2002 tour of all the California offices. (Or, as the
boys downstairs in the lab are referring to it this morning,
"Armandapalooza.") We were given plenty of advance warning
he was coming, of course ... more than enough time to ditch the Krispy
Kreme boxes and dust off the employee handbooks. Still, knowing in
advance that he was headed in our direction didn't prevent some of my
more nervous co-workers from the sort of performance anxiety usually
reserved for wedding ceremonies or spelling bees.
me, of course, this was
all a sort of backwards déjà vu. Back in the bad
of the Totem Pole Company, when my work life revolved
rescheduling colonoscopy appointments and picking mealbugs off a dying
dwarf schleffera, one of my favorite things in
was shipping Franz
off to the other Totem Pole Company offices for the day. It gave me a
break from overflowing In Baskets and eighteen-minute
voicemails. It gave me a chance to get some real work done. (Read this:
some of my best *FootNotes* entries were composed while my boss was
making life miserable for my Southern California
It helped me hang on long enough to put two years of Executive Assitude
on my résumé .
I could turn right around
and become a RECEPTIONIST again. But that's another story for another day.)
-- and I
think this was the part I liked best of all -- it
valuable *Sympathy Molecules* from the
other Totem Pole Company Asses. The 911 calls would start coming in
before he even got off the plane.
is calling me from
the airport!," Lori in San Diego would whimper into the
wants me to rent a mimeograph machine!"
"I don't know how you
dooooooo it!" Carlene in San Ramon would wail.
"He's only been
here for five minutes and I'm already out of Advil!"
would listen to their
complaints, and I would offer my best long-distance advice, and I would
bask in empathy and admiration and Executive Ass solidarity.
then I would kick off my
shoes, close my office door and peel another banana.
it's my turn to see how
the other half lives. While Armand's Executive Ass was no doubt peeling
her banana in luxurious peace and quiet
hundred miles away ... her boss was here, tilting the orbit of THIS
office for the entire day. Officially he was here to meet with a client
in the morning, and then to tour possible new office space in downtown
Oakland with Scott and JoAnne, later in the afternoon. But we all knew
the real reason he was here: to rearrange schedules
furniture ... to veto vacations and unplug pet projects ... to make
everybody feel edgy and paranoid and under the gun ...
and to basically generate as much turmoil, havoc and emotional mayhem
as possible within a nine-hour timeframe.
(Where do they learn this
stuff, anyway?? Do they teach it in CEO College or something?)
Fortunately, I'm still flying pretty low under the radar as far as
Armand is concerned. As long as I answer the phone on the first ring,
I'm aces in his book. My one and only *Oh Shidt* Moment
was when he asked me -- at 4:47 p.m. -- to get him a cup of coffee.
"I ass-ume," he said, in his cultured Mediterranean accent,
"that there iss still coffee available in the lunchroom?"
Basically I'm the only caffeine addict around this place, but
even *I* usually quit drinking it by 10 a.m. every day. "Can
offer you a cup of tea instead?" I asked him sweetly.
the end of the day, when I
finally snuck out the door and went home, four people were crying ...
and only one of them was female.
it was a relief to walk
into the office this morning and see that things were back to normal,
once again. Papers piled miles high on every desktop. Krispy Kreme
boxes strewn across the top of the file cabinets. Radios blaring. Two
of the geoscience guys playing hockey with a $4,000 inclinometer.
over," said The Main Nerdy Geoscientist Guy ... just before he bit into
agree. Yesterday wasn't a
big bunch of fun for anybody. But the truth is that I would rather put
up with a couple of days' worth of Tropical Storm Armand, every once in
a while, and then eat my banana in peace and quiet the other 250
working days ...
than the other way around.
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