I awoke this morning to the sound of my daughter’s foot smacking me in the face. Maybe it wasn’t the sound of it as much as it was the slap I felt. She knows I get scared at night when it rains, so she sacrifices her comfortable solo slumber to sleep in my bed in order to soothe my fears. I believe she uses her body to keep time during the night, as she constantly rotates in bed like the second hand of a clock.
After hygienically preparing myself for a day’s exhibition, I entreated the boy to do the same. If I don’t instruct him to do this, he has no problem oozing his bodily effects on those who share the day with him. Come to think of it, I don’t have a problem doing that, either, if it didn’t make me feel so icky. Yes, I’m man enough to admit to an aversion to ickiness. By this time, the daughter had dressed, having showered the night before, and requested a hearty bowl of Fruit Loops for breakfast. I donned my chef’s hat and went to work in the kitchen, not only preparing breakfast, but three healthy lunches - peanut butter and jelly in a ziplock bag (no bread - I was out), beer nuts and a half eaten an apple split three ways. By the time I fed the dogs, ex-Mrs. Rub had arrived to take the kids to school, and I departed, with a breakfast of a single banana in hand.
Traffic was average as I switched partners on the radio dial dance floor - sports radio, Howard Stern, NPR and any tolerable music I could find. I heard nothing worth remembering. Before I knew it, I was at work; ten minutes late. My boss was happy to see that I was early.
As usual, I docked my laptop, unlocked my desk and braved my phone messages - all personal. That’s a good start. There is nothing worse than having a client or co-worker harassing you from the voice mail grave before you even have a chance to check your personal email or your fantasy football message boards, which I proceeded to do after I logged into the network . Some people are so inconsiderate. Normally, I like to spend about an hour and a half getting my personal chores out of the way before I delve into work, but today I had to conduct a training session at nine am regarding some new system magic we’re moving in at month end. My company has streamlined itself out of a training staff. Luckily, they chose me to fill the void.
I’m not much of a trainer. It’s not that I don’t have patience for ignorant people, I just don’t have patience for ignorant people. The only reason they are ignorant is because I hadn’t yet told them what not to be ignorant about. And, the only way I can unignorantate them is by putting up with their ignorance until I can train them, and I don’t have the patience for that. I don’t mind, for the most part, the actual presentation of the training. It’s the preparation that brains me. In order to train a group of people, or multiple groups of people, it helps to write down what you know in an organized, meaningful and comprehensive manner. Seeing that usually, by the time training is required, the programmer hasn’t finished programming and changing the design specifications to accommodate his incompetence, it’s difficult to be comprehensive. After the new programming is moved into production, I make it a habit to ask the programming staff, "So, how does it really work?" In the training session I’d rather give them the basics and let them figure out the rest, as in, "Hey, we have some new system functionality moving in this weekend. Let me know if you have any questions. I'll be on vacation next week." This is the way I’d prefer to train since it is also how I learn - give me the skeleton and I’ll figure out where the spleen goes. And, if I happen to connect the sigmoid colon to the lung, you can bet your reversed flow circulatory system I’ll learn to never do that again. The worst part of training people, especially people you work with, is some of them like to use training sessions as bitchfests for all the other stuff that is messed up in the workplace (which will soon include this new stuff I’m telling you about). They don’t realize that if the technology worked the way it was intended, the company wouldn’t need half the employees, and they’d probably get rid of the whiners first. They realize it now, because I told them that. In fact, that is how I now start all of my training sessions, and then I throw head cheese at them to keep them on their toes. The company might want to train me in tact.
After the training session, I was famished. Breakfast bananas aren’t as filling as they appear. I dragged my brittle body to the vending machine only to find a holocaustic sign affixed to it: Out of Order. First, a one and a half percent raise, and now this! And Mother Teresa thought she had it rough. Actually, I have no idea what Mother Teresa thought, although I assume, once in a while, she thought, "golly, I need to go to the bathroom". Which is what I was thinking, but not before running out to 7-11 to buy a Coke and two 99 cent bags of barbecued Jays potato chips. After scarfing them down, I really had to go to the bathroom to read Sid’s last installment of the new television season. I recommend reading Sid’s work in the bathroom. It’ll give you an entire new appreciation for his work, especially if you have one of those "loud" people sitting next to you. They’re not as bad as the "splashers". And, nothing’s worse than those few that seem like they’re bowling in there - look out. How did I get on the bathroom subject? Thanks a lot Mother Teresa!
To build a bridge to the oasis that is lunch, I fended off a vendor, two clients and a project manager by giving them portions of what they needed. I’ll finish them off later. Or maybe tomorrow. You can’t give people everything they want immediately. It’s like feeding a stray cat - it’ll keep them coming back for more and telling its friends and, all of a sudden, you’re running a tabby half-way house, and your dogs have hired a lawyer.
Finally, lunch - the only reason I go to work. It’s no different than high school. All morning you long for lunch, and when you get to it, you cling to it like a bag of peanut butter and jelly, beer nuts and a third of a half eaten apple. I spent my lunch hour and fifteen minutes parked at a park watching the Canadian Geese walk around as if they owned the place. These geese have no fear of unarmed, non-charging humans. They come up to your car looking for handouts. They are the vagrants of nature. I tell them I have no cash, only credit cards. Suspiciously, they waddle away. I don’t think these geese can tell by sight what is food and what is a rock. They’ll pick up just about anything in their bill. If it tastes good, they eat it. If not, they drop it so the next goose can do the same thing. They don’t like onions, that’s for sure.
I awoke from my lunchtime nap disoriented, but oriented enough to know I had to conduct another training session at 2:30. I raced back to the office, hurdled over some cubicle walls, trampled Agatha, our token octegenarian, and made it to the training room in time to turn on the projector before the first trainee arrived. I arrived in time because my next training session wasn’t until 2:30 - TOMORROW. I guess I was more disoriented than I thought. Skillfully, I waited a half hour before I figured it out. This was a valuable waste of time. The art of wasting time effectively is not covered in most time management tutorials. Maybe there’s a book opportunity there. I’ll do that later.
When I returned to my office, I retrieved a voice message from Larry. You know Larry, right? He asked me to call him back, so I did. He told me he’d stop by the office in the morning to drop off the disk with the test data on it. He couldn’t have told me that in the voice mail? He had to make me call him back? What about voice mail etiquette? If you have information to give somebody, leave it all on the voice mail. If you need to discuss the information with somebody, then, and only then, do you ask that person to call you back. It’s the first thing they teach you when you get a phone. I think he was just lonely. He’s a sensitive dude, that Larry. I hear he makes his own pillows out of lint.
To bide my time until the end of the work day, I consoled a programmer, mushed around a database, took a few walks around the office and helped my boss reset her AOL email password so her husband could no longer read her emails. (I don’t’ know what’s going on there, and I don’t want to know.) Just like Fred Flinstone at the sound of the time-to-go-home horn, I slid down my dinosaur and jumped into my car at 4:30.
The rain was a bastard today, a bastard that transformed my usual 40 minute drive into an hour long drive. But, I didn’t mind. Frank Black helped me along the way. He helped me so much, at one point I realized I wasn’t paying attention to the road and almost slid off a cliff, which surprised me since the nearest cliff to me is in the Isle of Wight. If you’ve never gotten lost in a Frank Black album, I recommend it. But use an older album. He’s become an emulsion in his work with the Catholics. It happens to most of us with age. I’m an emulsion of crushed spirit and societal badgering, as you can tell by this essay. But, I try to make it work for me.
When I arrived home I was greeted by the boy and ex-Mrs. Rub, who were hanging out waiting to pick up the daughter from CCD. For those non-believers out there, CCD is Catholic schooling for children lucky enough not to have to go to a Catholic school, but unlucky enough to have at least one parent believing the Catholic religion is an important myth to understand. I lost religion in the divorce. But, I got to keep my guitar. They were sheltering at my house since it is closer to the church than ex-Mrs. Rub’s abode is. She was nice enough to buy me a Quarter Pounder value meal for dinner. I think she’s trying to kill me slowly since she knows I haven’t taken her out of my will yet, and she’s looking forward to getting the hundred and twenty-nine dollars I have saved in my bank account. I guess I’ll start my diet tomorrow. I was also greeted by the sight of some torn up dry wall. The dogs were on a mouse hunting expedition today. It was only a temporary piece of dry wall I put up until I get around to redoing the entire wall. Does seven years count as temporary? Is there a statute of limitations on temporariness?
I cleaned up the dry wall mess, and the boy and ex-Mrs. Rub left. While preparing to continue writing one of the three blog articles I’ve been working on, I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. It’s easy to catch a glimpse of yourself when you stand naked in front of a full length mirror plucking the gray hairs from your body with your teeth (the chest hairs are killers). I’m not concerned with the appearance of the gray hairs. You don’t need to see those to tell I’m old - my pants pulled up over my bellybutton give that away. I don’t like they way they feel against my skin. They’re abrasive. I think gray hairs are made out of molted cat tongues. So, I noticed I’ve put on a little bit of weight over the past twenty years. I decided to positively procrastinate the writing by working out, which is something I hadn’t done for two months. Positive procrastination is how I accomplish most things in life. I play two or more tasks against one another, and choose the least arduous to execute, while avoiding the others. This works out well, since I am able to accomplish something, while still satisfying my blowing-off instinct. It took me about two hours to clear off the dirty clothes, unused sporting equipment, beer cans and hamburger wrappers from my weight bench. I was wiped out after that. I sat down to rest at my computer, and this essay was magically typed out on the screen. So I pasted it to Leper Pop. I think the dogs wrote it to get me to forgive them for destroying my wall. Now, I’ll go to bed and do it all again tomorrow. Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, was no joke.