My Week 234: Up On The Roof

As many of you know, I’m from a very small town, but I work in Toronto, so during the week, I live downtown in a condo. I’m on the 34th floor. I have a balcony but I never go out there, not because I’m afraid of heights but because I’m afraid of falling FROM them. But the view from my windows is always very interesting, because I can see into other buildings as well as being able to look down on other roofs, and I’ve seen some crazy stuff. One of the buildings opposite had this naked mannequin in the window for the longest time. Once in a while, it sported a jaunty fedora, but it never wore pants. EVER. I’m just glad I had the posterior view because looking at mannequin junk every day would be very disconcerting.

Look at my bum!

 Last week, I was looking out my bedroom window, which overlooks another building. I’ve seen it hundreds of times, but I’ve never actually paid attention to the thing that I suddenly noticed and am now absolutely befuddled by. Take a look at the picture below. It shows the side of a building with a beautiful mural celebrating singers and venues in Toronto. There’s also a rooftop which features a ladder.

Ladder to nowhere

 Now think about the ladder. What is the deal with that f*cking ladder? It comes out of a brick wall, goes down and then along the roof, then suddenly stops. It’s not high enough to reach the next level of the roof, and it’s above the door in the brick. If you look closely you can tell that it doesn’t go INTO the brick—it’s just attached to it. It’s either performance art making a statement about the futility of life or a very poorly designed roller coaster.

When I first moved to Toronto in 2015, I lived a different building on the 27th floor. I was initially alarmed by how high up I was, and the fact that I had floor to ceiling windows made me a little dizzy. But I soon learned to love the view—I could see the sun rising over the lake in the morning, and the city lights were gorgeous at night. But the best part was that the condo directly overlooked the roof of the building next door, which, when I moved in, featured a lovely roof garden with raised boxes of shrubberies, lighted paths, benches, and whatnot. Then around the beginning of March, I looked out and saw a crew of workers starting to dismantle the whole thing. I was initially dismayed, but not long after they ripped it apart and took it down to bare concrete, they started laying new rubber membrane and then putting down patterned paving stones. I had ongoing hope that one day it would become an even more beautiful rooftop garden. But the PACE of the workers concerned me. There were 4 men–they arrived around 7 am every morning, and they were gone by the time I got home from work. And after a month, they hadn’t even finished LAYING the paving stones. One Thursday night when I got in, it seemed that all of the stones were in place. Except for ONE SPOT, where there was a hole with a single paving stone missing. I assumed they had left it because it was quitting time, and that it would be easy to finish up the next morning, but I was wrong.

On Friday morning, I got up, and the crew was there. They were too far away to really identify but there were 4 guys—let’s call them Bill, Frank, Bob, and Monty. Over the course of the next hour, as I was getting ready for work, I was fascinated by their activity—or lack thereof—as you can tell by this chronicle which I have named “The Tale of the Hole”:

7:02 – Bill, Frank, and Monty are wandering aimlessly around the roof. Bob comes out of a porta-potty. (I have NO idea how they got a porta-potty up there.) I go into the bathroom and wash my face.

7:05 – Bill is staring at the hole. Frank is leaning against the wall, having a smoke. I put in my contact lenses.

7:07 – Bill is standing IN the hole. Frank is staring at him. I wash my hair.

7:10 – Bill and Frank are BOTH standing in the hole. It’s a tight fit AND they’re facing each other. I dry my hair.

7:15 – Frank is standing in the hole. Bill is about 10 feet away, lying on his stomach facing the hole and using his thumb as a gauge. For what exactly, I have no idea. Monty is hovering nearby. No sign of Bob. I pour out some cereal and go back into the bathroom to put on some make-up.

7:20 – Frank is out of the hole, and Bill is once again in it. He’s jumping up and down. Frank observes him carefully. I put my cereal bowl in the sink and apply mascara.

7:22 – Frank and Bill are kneeling on either side of the hole. They are facing each other and look like they are genuflecting. Perhaps a small god lives in the hole. I brush my teeth.

7:24 – Monty is standing in the hole. Frank and Bill observe him carefully. Could it be a time-travel portal? Maybe that explains what happened to Bob, whom I haven’t seen in a little while. No, wait—Bob has just come out of the porta-potty again. So much for the time-travel theory. Unless the porta-potty IS the portal. Hmmm. I go into my room to get dressed.

7:29 – Monty and Bill are standing next to the hole. Bob has made his way over, and seems to be instructing Frank on how to kill an imaginary insect by stomping repeatedly on it with his foot. He stomps, then looks encouragingly at Frank, who then stomps a little himself. They continue this for several minutes. I pack my lunch.

7:33 – Bob and Frank are still “killing insects”. Monty and Bill are now both lying on their stomachs across from each other, facing the hole, and both are using their thumbs as gauges. Again, for what, I have no idea. I get my bags ready to leave.

As I leave, Bill is once again IN the hole. Monty, Frank, and Bob are observing him carefully. I have hope that, based on the efforts of the morning, the hole will be filled by the time I get home from work.

4:30 – I arrive at my condo, anxious to see what progress the crew have made. Not only is the hole still visible, there are now at least 14 other holes where once there were none. It’s going to be a long summer.

So many holes…

And it was a very long time before that roof was finished—if you want to know what happened next, check out My Week 94: Sexy Roof Time.

I’m actually moving home at the end of April to start commuting  to work daily by train. I’m really excited about it, but I WILL miss the views.

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My Week 233: All The Weird Things

It’s been a strange time lately, a time when all the weird things are happening. If you read The Mystery of the Tip Sheet on the Table, I should tell you that was only the “Tip” of the iceberg, haha, and I apologize for the terrible pun, but I’ve certainly had some experiences in the last three weeks that have been completely outside my wheelhouse, and most of them have to do with the magical world of math. I call it “magical” because there are formulas, and also whenever I see someone solve an equation, I squeal excitedly and exclaim breathlessly with child-like wonder, “How did you do that?!” Here are the 5 strange things that have beset my life recently:

1) I applied for a job closer to home. I love my current job, but I have to live in the city during the week, and it’s getting pretty sketchy downtown. The job was kind of the same as what I do now, I thought, and to be honest, I didn’t really want to change jobs immediately, but at the bottom of the job posting it said that eligible candidates would be put in a pool for future positions, and that seemed like a great opportunity. So I applied, and lo and behold, I got an email about an interview. And at the bottom of the email was a description of the interview telling me that I would have to prepare a presentation for the interview panel. On MATH. My first reaction was, “Did they even LOOK at my resume?” Because I have a lot of qualifications and experience, none of which have anything at ALL to do with the numbers or adding or dividing or whatnot. The closest I’ve ever come to doing math professionally was teaching Life of Pi. And then it said at the bottom of the description that there would be a TEST at the end of the interview, and I was like, “What? A MATH TEST?!” because nowhere in the job description had it even mentioned math at all, and it seemed pretty obvious by then that they probably already had someone for the job, someone who was, perhaps, good at math. So when the place called me to confirm that I got the invite, I actually had to ask the woman, “So is the test at the end a math test?” because if it was, there was no point in going, but she said she didn’t think so, that it was probably a “scenario”. Which it was. And ironically, I totally ROCKED the math presentation, but I blew the “scenario” which was writing a letter in response to someone who was very angry. I responded the way I normally would—no, not by saying “Take a f*cking step back”—but in a professional way which is “Please provide more information to help me understand your anger.” It turns out though, that apparently I was supposed to direct them to a variety of different websites where they could explore their feelings themselves. Ultimately, it was not fun, but I DID get put into the pool for future positions, mostly on the merit of my math presentation, which is another one of life’s great mysteries.

Isn’t it magic-y?

2) I went to empty my blog spam folder, which usually contains about 30 comments about Nike shoes or Viagra, and there were 1, 167 spam comments in there. They were all for CBD oil (derived from marijuana). So I emptied the spam folder, and three days later, there were another 2, 000 messages, again for CBD oil, and all I could think was “Someone REALLY wants me to get high”. But then I did a little research and it turns out that CBD oil isn’t psychoactive, so I’m not sure what’s going on there, but the Viagra people need to step up their game.

3) I had to go by myself to do a presentation (this time on my actual work instead of magic-y math sh*t) to a group of around 60 people. I don’t enjoy standing up in front of people at any given moment—I don’t even say much in meetings when I’m sitting down—but someone had to do it, and I was that someone. I stayed in a hotel the night before because the weather was supposed to be lousy for travelling the next day. I decided to order some Swiss Chalet chicken, and then stay in for the night watching the Oscars. I called up Swiss Chalet and asked for delivery, but when the woman gave me the total, I realize I didn’t have any money so I said, “Oh, I don’t have any cash on me. Will the guy take Visa or is there something else I need to do?” and then I realized to my horror that it sounded like I was offering to instigate a porn scene where the lady doesn’t have money but offers to “take it out in trade” with the nubile young delivery man. Luckily, you can pay for Swiss Chalet over the phone,  and a very sturdy older lady came to my hotel room, so no worries there. But then, incredibly, the hotel TV had 54 channels and not one was showing the Oscars, so I ended up watching porn. No I didn’t. That was a joke. I ended up watching a Flip or Flop Nashville marathon.

The presentation the next day went OK, except for the snarky guy sitting right in front of the podium who kept muttering under his breath and rolling his eyes, which was very distracting. At one point, he raised his hand to angrily complain about how hard it was to use a particular report, and I felt like saying, “Well, toilet training is hard too, but I assume you’ve figured that one out.” Instead I just smiled and said, “Here are some websites you can use to explore your feelings about this issue.”

4) Then I got back to the office and was asked to start supervising, in addition to my own team, another team whose job revolves completely around MATH. My reaction again was “Have you even LOOKED at my resume?!” And now not only do I have to try and understand math in English, I also have to try and understand it in FRENCH, because we have two official languages, and math is hard in both of them. At least the people are nice and don’t roll their eyes at me.

5) On Tuesday, I raced to get dinner finished and get ready for bed so that I could be all cozy on the couch in my pajamas in time for my favourite new TV show The Launch (it’s Canadian). I made it with a minute to spare and yelled to my roommate, “Come on, it’s almost starting!” Then I went up and down the guide and couldn’t find it on anywhere. “I don’t understand” I said. “Are they on hiatus already” and my roommate said, “Isn’t The Launch on Wednesdays?” and I said “Yes,” and she said, “Today is Tuesday”, and this is what too much math does to you. So we resigned ourselves to watching The Voice and I was trying to figure out Instagram when I realized my young cousin was starting some ‘live’ video thing so I clicked on it. He and his friend were talking, then suddenly he said, “Hi Suzanne”, and I shrieked and threw the phone down and said to my roommate, “Oh my god, can he SEE me?!” She started laughing hysterically and explained how your name comes up at the bottom so that people know you’re watching, and it reminded me of the first time I tried to send a fax, and panicked when the paper went into the fax machine because there was a phone number on the back of the form that I needed. The secretary at the school also laughed hysterically just like my roommate and explained that the paper would come back out once it had been scanned. “Did you think the fax machine magically transported the actual paper to the person you’re sending it to?” she asked.  “Of course not—that would be ridiculous,” I said, but in my head I was like, “Yes. Yes, I totally f*cking did.” Because faxes are magical. Just like math.

(I just had a short story published in the inaugural issue of a terrific literary magazine called Slippage Lit. It’s called Perfect Food, and if you want to read it, click here: https://www.slippagelit.com/perfectfood)

 

My Week 232: The Mystery of the Tip Sheet on the Table

Something very strange happened to me this week, a mystery worthy of Nancy Drew, and if you’re familiar with the intrepid young detective, you’ll be happy to note that, just like Nancy, I was wearing pearls, and my handbag matched my pumps. Because nothing screams “I can solve crimes better than the Hardy Boys!” like wardrobe coordination. If you come here often, you’ll know I’m quite frequently beset by mysteries—there are so many, including The Mystery of the Mouthguard on the Landing (still unsolved), The Mystery of the Box of Porn on the Porch (it was the wife of the local church deacon—who’d have thought?!), The Mystery of the Salt in My Hair (we’ll never know), and more recently, Who The F*ck Is Daniel: A Netflix Original.

But this one? This one is freaking me out more than all of them put together. Here’s the scenario:

On Wednesday, I was working late, trying to create one Excel spreadsheet by cobbling together the information from about three others. I was having a terrible time so I wandered out of my office and found that there were a couple of people on our floor. I asked the first woman if she knew anything about copying and pasting into Excel, and she replied, “Mais non, pas vraiment—I tink you jus’ ‘ighlight de cell and right-click” (she’s very French, as you can see). I made my way back to my office but on the way, I realized that one of my team members was still working, so I asked her. She was a little more familiar with the hidden ways of Microsoft so she came back to my office with me and we kind of stared at it for a while, and then she said, “I really tink you jus’ ‘ighlight de cell and right-click comme ca” (she’s also French, obvs), and she did it, and the cell moved. So I thought I was all set, but ultimately it didn’t work for reasons which will bore the sh*t out of you, and this preamble is already too long. I finally resorted to individually copying and pasting each of about 150 cells. Then I went home.

The next morning, I opened my office door, and there, right smack in the middle of my table was a “2013 Excel Tip Sheet”. And I was like, “Aw, I work with such nice people!” I went to thank the first colleague and she looked puzzled. “Non, it was not moi,” she said. Then my team member arrived and I brought the Tip Sheet out and said, “Thank you so much for this—it was very thoughtful” and her brow furrowed and she said, “It was not moi.” And then another team member said, “Don’t you lock your office when you leave? How did someone get in there to put it on your table?” and I had a sudden epiphany that made my blood run cold. Someone HAD been in my office! But it was still locked when I arrived on Thursday morning, so how could this have happened?!

The evidence.

And it was terrible because, first and foremost, I LOVE my office. It’s my sanctum sanctorum, my beautiful refuge. It’s bright and airy, and big enough to hold team meetings in, and I have plants and a mini-frig and assorted antique boxes and my signed Gary Numan poster on the wall. It’s the best office of all of them, except for the senior exec. offices. It’s a fact, although sometimes it sounds like I’m bragging. For example, the other day, a new manager started. We needed to have a joint Skype meeting with our director so we had to decide whose office to use:

Me: So do you want to use yours or mine?
New Guy: It doesn’t really matter.
Me: We should probably use mine. It’s big and it has a window. You can see the CN Tower.
Other Colleague: Haha—are you bragging?
Me: No! It’s just that mine is really bright and comfortable. I have 3 screens and those nice wheely chairs…
Other Colleague: So braggy…
Me: No, I…
New Guy (looks around his own small office with no windows and only two screens): Sigh. Yours is fine.
Me: Do you like cappuccino? I have a Keurig.

But now, my office had been violated and I was beside myself. And to make matters worse, we all decided that the only way anyone could have known about my Excel problem was if my office was also BUGGED. Someone has heard all the crazy things that happen in there, which is mostly me having fairly mundane meetings, me singing off-key, me swearing at the computer, and me whispering, “Math…so much math” under my breath (which is a story for next week). And while the idea that we have an office spy and I need a cone of silence seems outlandish, it’s more logical than any of the other solutions I can think of:

1) My office is haunted by a software-savvy ghost. This is highly doubtful because I was given no assistance whatsoever with the Adobe debacle of 2017.

2) I’m being anonymously gaslit (or is it “gaslighted”?). Again, doubtful. I’ve been gaslit before, and it wasn’t anywhere NEAR this helpful:

Bob: I never said that.
Me: You said it to my face yesterday.
Bob: No, I didn’t. You’re imagining things. What are you going to accuse me of next? Telling everyone you suck at Excel?!
Me: You did that last week…
Bob: Maybe you shouldn’t have taken me off FACEBOOK!!

3) The only person who has a key to my office is someone on the cleaning staff. Could it have been a helpful custodian who also moonlights as an IT trouble-shooter and overheard me swearing at my computer? But if that was true, wouldn’t there have also been a cheery sticky note attached to the Tip Sheet that said, “Have an Excel-ent day!”?

But I’ve formulated a secret plan. I have an antique cheese box on the table that contains individually wrapped chocolate squares. I keep it filled in case any of my co-workers are in need of a quick pick-me-up, and I can use this to my advantage. No, I am NOT going to poison the chocolates—I’m a detective, not a serial killer. Instead, I’ve carefully counted the number of chocolates in the box. When I get to work on Monday, we’ll see if any have been taken over the weekend. And if the spy happens to be reading this—do you have anything on how to do a Google Hangout?