Looking For A Jay-Oh-Bee

The other morning I was driving to the train station and listening to the radio for the road report because here in Canada, we’ve moved from last week’s warm weather, known fondly as “fool’s spring” to this week’s “second winter” which would account for all the snow we’ve gotten over the last few days.

Morning radio is a lot of boring talk, interspersed with a little music, and a LOT of commercials. And it’s a strange mix of ads for lawyers, bankruptcy trustees, tax accountants and something called ‘Sell-Off Vacations.com’ and I can’t help but wonder if the target audience is mobsters:

Big Jimmy: The fuzz are closing in. What are we gonna do?
Mack the Spatula: I’ve been listening to the radio and I have an idea…

Anyway, I was driving and switching back and forth between stations (I have a cool thingy on my steering wheel that lets me do that with my thumb) trying desperately to find some actual music, when I heard a commercial for a recruitment agency. They detailed the advantages of signing up with them, and then said, “Start a new career now at Zip Recruiter.com/Canada. That’s Zip Recruiter dot com slash See-Eh-En-Eh-Dee-Eh” and I was like WHAT?! Of all the things in that web address to be more specific about, you chose to spell out the name of the country we LIVE IN? So you assume that the person can spell ‘Recruiter’ but not the most phonetically obvious country in the world? I mean, it’s not like we live in Kyrgyzstan or Azerbaijan or even Britain (which sounds like it should be spelled ‘Brit-in’). In fact, I think the only country that would be even easier to spell than Canada would be Finland. And let’s not even get started on that slash, like WHICH SLASH? The forward slash or the backwards one, because personally, I would want more information on THAT and especially where to find it on my keyboard since one of them is under the question mark, and the other can be literally ANYWHERE. And frankly, if you can’t spell the name of the very country that you live in, I think you have bigger problems than not being able to find a new job.

I had mostly put it out of my mind, except to randomly shake my head every once in a while, until yesterday, when it occurred to me that I might indeed need their services. I was working from home, and I got up early to start working on a report for a 10 o’clock phone meeting, and let me just emphasize PHONE here, as in, the people you are meeting with can only hear your voice. I called in at the appropriate time and told my director that I’d been working on a doc that I could email for her to look at. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “I just figured out how we could all look at it together in Teams—let me send you the link. When you get it, just click on it” and when I clicked on the link the screen opened and there I was, ON CAMERA, in my housecoat, not wearing any makeup, my hair standing up all over the place, because I WAS WORKING FROM HOME so why the hell would I be all fancy?!! So I kind of screeched and ducked and said, “I didn’t know this was a video link” and I heard laughing and someone gasp, “Oh my god” and then my director said, “Click on the video camera icon and it will turn the camera off” but I couldn’t find the icon at first so I had my thumb over the camera lens on my laptop until I was able to locate it, which I finally did while everyone else waited in silence, and now I think I need a new job.

And because I DO know how to spell Canada, I figured I had a leg up on all the other applicants so I headed over to Zip Recruiter to see what they had for me. The first thing that caught my eye was Private Investigator. I think I’d be great at that because I read a lot of Nancy Drew as a young girl and my shoes always match my handbag. Also, I’m really good at solving mysteries and I have the reflexes of a middle-aged ninja.

Me (leaping out awkwardly from behind a door): Aha!! It was YOU who ate the cake that was on the counter!!
Titus (nervously licking icing off his whiskers): You’ll never be able to prove it!
Me: Prove it? Ha! I saw you do it with my own eyes!
Titus (confused): Then why didn’t you stop me?
Me: (whispers): Because you looked so cute and happy…plus I filmed the whole thing with my phone so I could post it on Facebook.

Is there cake?

OK, maybe I wouldn’t make the best detective, which was a shame because it came with full benefits. Another job that piqued my interest was Video Game Developer. I don’t know what kind of technical skills you need for that, but I have lots of ideas that I could give to someone to make a game with. My current favourite is The Commuter. In this game, you have to get from the train station to the subway in under five minutes, while avoiding the following obstacles:

  • The university student who stops at the bottom of the escalator to post a selfie on Instagram.
  • The two elderly woman who are drifting back and forth erratically while discussing their cats.
  • The line-up at Pastry Hut that stretches across the concourse.
  • The group of teens playing hacky sack right in front of the doors.
  • The man who can’t find his subway pass and is blocking the turnstile.
  • The people who apparently don’t work and who can see the subway coming but are in NO HURRY TO GET DOWN THE GODDAMNED STAIRS.

It’s a very stressful game actually, and I don’t know how much fun playing it would really be. I do it every day and I don’t enjoy it at all if I’m being honest. So maybe my video game ideas aren’t the best. I was getting a little discouraged in my job hunt so instead I just put the word “Fun” in the Zip Recruiter search bar and waited excitedly to see what came up. The first job on the list was “On-line Math Coach”. And now all I can think is that a) Zip Recruiter is the most f*cked up job agency on the Pee-El-Eh-En-Ee-Tee and b) from now on, I will get completely gussied up when I’m working from home, just in case.

Cursed By Santa

I’m currently in quite the state, due to the fact that I just got a new laptop after 9 years. This one is fast and shiny, but there is no discernible way to remove the password requirement from MY OWN DAMN COMPUTER. I’ve literally spent an hour this morning watching tutorials and carefully following instructions and all I’ve managed to do is create ANOTHER f*cking account under MY OWN NAME that has become the default account and now, when I restart my computer, not only do I have to put in a password, I have to switch accounts. And then suddenly, all my apostrophes turned into accented ‘e’s and I finally figured how to stop that, but whatever I did now makes it impossible to create an ‘e’ with an accent so apparently I’ve lost my alt keyboard and can no longer speak French.

Anyway, this is NOT about how much I hate my computer; this is about how I finally figured out why my life is so weird, which is to say that I think I was cursed as a very small child by Santa Claus. And what led to this bizarre, albeit obvious, conclusion? Last week, my parents came over for my mother’s early birthday dinner. At the end of the evening, right before they left, my mother pulled a card out of her purse and said, “Ooh, I found this the other day, and I thought you might want it!” On the front of the card, it said, “Christmas Fairyland” and on the inside was a picture of me at the age of 2, sitting on the lap of a Santa Claus. “Oh, that’s cute,” I said. “Thanks,” and I put it aside.

But then the other day, I opened it up and took a closer look. And that’s when I realized that it wasn’t really Santa. I mean, I KNOW it’s not the real Santa Claus, obviously—what I mean is that I think the lap I was precariously perched on belonged to some kind of demonic creature a la Stephen King. (Note that I couldn’t put the accent on the ‘a’ because my keyboard is no longer bilingual. Sorry). It’s like in It, when the kids realize that Pennywise is in all the historic pictures of Derry going back hundreds of years, except MY clown is dressed in a Santa suit. Don’t believe me? Take a good look at those dead eyes—they follow you wherever you go. They’re the eyes of a man who wants nothing more than to devour your soul. And look at ME—it’s like he just whispered, “You will be cursed with a mind that never shuts off” and I’m like “Get me off this guy’s lap and also, is Fred Flintstone based on a real caveman? Will people be able to live in space some day? Will I ever get a robot butler? Which bathroom stall is the best one? Wouldn’t Player One be a fantastic nickname? Oh my god, it’s already started!” So now you know.

In Other News…

Speaking of bathroom stalls, we’ve been having a problem at work with Stall Number 3. If you’ll recall from a couple of years ago, there are five bathroom stalls in the ladies’ bathroom. Stall 5 is my favourite, because it’s against the far wall with no other stall to the left, so if Stall 4 is empty, I ALWAYS use Stall 5. However, if Stall 4 is occupied, then I immediately go to Stall 2 if the ones on either side are both empty. I NEVER use Stall 1 because a ghost lives in it. Stall 4 always smells weird. Also, I heard that the number 4 is considered unlucky in some cultures, and no one wants to be unlucky in a public bathroom. I WILL use Stall 3 in an absolute emergency. But now, Stall 3 has supplanted Stall 4 as the worst non-haunted stall because twice in the last two weeks, it has been plugged up rather badly and won’t flush. And I don’t know what’s wrong with the person who’s been plugging it up (aside from the need to reduce the vast amount of fibre in their diet) because they’re not leaving a note saying Out Of Order or anything—all they’re leaving is A LARGE PILE OF POO LYING ON A GIANT BED OF TOILET PAPER. And this has forced me to go not once, but TWICE to the young woman who looks after facilities and have this conversation:

Incident 1

Me: Um, hi Deirdre. The third stall in the bathroom doesn’t seem to be working. It’s full and won’t flush.
Deirdre: OK, no problem. I’ll call the plumber.
Me: It wasn’t me. I swear.
Deirdre (laughs): OK.

Incident 2

Me: Um, hi Deirdre. The third stall in the bathroom doesn’t seem to be working again. It’s full and won’t flush.
Deirdre: OK, no problem. I’ll call the plumber again.
Me: It wasn’t me. I swear. Seriously, I know that it seems like it’s always me reporting it, but I didn’t do it. This is NOT a “Blame your fart on the dog” kind of situation.
Deirdre (laughs harder): OK. I believe you.

It really wasn’t me. I swear.

Let Me Be Frank

So on Thursday, we were trying to figure out how to get home because all the Via trains were cancelled (long story) and a bunch of us took a GO train halfway home then figured we would share a cab to Brantford from there. We were looking for one more person, and I saw someone I knew standing further up. “Frank!!” I called out, loudly enough that everyone else stopped talking. The man turned and started coming towards me. IT WASN’T FRANK. But he kept looking at me and getting closer, and my friend next to me whispered, “Why aren’t you saying anything?” But I didn’t know what was going on with Man-Who-Looked-Like-Frank-But-Wasn’t-Frank, so I kept very deliberately staring out the window until he was right in front of me.

Me: Um…hi?
Man: Do we know each other?
Me: No, I mistook you for someone else.
Man: But you called my name.
Me: You’re FRANK?
Man: Yes.
Me: Sorry—I meant a different Frank.

And I don’t even know how to end this story except to ask how many completely bald, short men wearing huge headphones and a trench coat named Frank are out there riding the trains every day? Are we in The Matrix and this is a Mr. Smith-type situation? Because if this is The Matrix, I want my damned robot butler.

All Hail The Rat Queen

This giant stuffed rat dressed in a pioneer costume sits atop a cardboard box in the middle of the warehouse used by the secret agency to house our secret stuff. It’s been there for years. No one knows why, and if you ask anyone why it’s there, they just shrug. And I’m not sure if it’s there to WARD OFF the rats like a bizarre eyeless scarecrow or if it’s there for the rats to worship. But SOMEONE OR SOMETHING has been leaving it offerings of paper flowers and I will think about this every day for the rest of my life, and that’s my curse.

My Week 236: Highway to Hell, Dancing in the Closet

So starting this past Thursday, I am once again working off-site, which means that my morning commute has changed quite a bit. Instead of leaving my condo, going down in one elevator, crossing the street, and going up to my office in another elevator, I now have to drive on the world’s worst highway for an hour and a half. This is an estimate—the time can change depending on the stupidity of other drivers and something that traffic reporters insist on calling “volume”, which is just a nice way of saying there are way too many f*cking cars on the road. I won’t bore you with the details—I’ve written plenty about the Highway of Hell in the past. But Saturday morning’s commute was the worst thing I’ve ever had to do.

It was pouring rain, and it was 6:00 am, so also pitch black out thanks to Daylight Savings Time. I had thought initially about taking the back way, but Ken was listening to the traffic report and there was an accident on one of those roads. It involved a cattle truck. There were cows on the road. Literal cows. Of the Holstein variety. So I had no choice but to take the highway. I knew I was going to have problems about ten minutes into the drive to GET to the highway when it was raining so hard that I couldn’t see the lines on the road, but I thought I would be OK. I was wrong. I pulled onto the on-ramp and was immediately hit by the spray of a truck barreling past. I don’t know how HE could see anything, but he was going like a bat out of hell—a blind bat to be exact. I started driving and thought, “I need to get off this highway now” but I couldn’t see well enough to even figure out where any exits were, and in a horrifying twist of fate, I had left my cell phone at home in the charger, so I couldn’t even do what any normal person would do, which would be to call Ken. So I carried on, hunched over the wheel, terrified that at any moment, I would either go off the road or be hit by a transport truck. I did this for over an hour. In the pouring rain. In the dark.

I can’t even describe how I felt—the closest feeling would be the time that my gas fireplace started making a loud grinding sound and black smoke started pouring out of it, and I thought the house was going to blow up. My knuckles were white, my shoulders were screaming with tension, and I couldn’t even cry because I knew if I did, the visibility would only get worse.

Finally, I got to the convention centre’s access road, and breathed a huge sigh of relief. I pulled into the parking lot, put the car into park, and then, just as I thought my ordeal was finally over, a GIANT F*CKING SPIDER chose that exact moment to swing down from my visor. My reaction was to scream, and then I became convinced that I actually HAD died on the road and I was now in hell. Let me clarify that I don’t normally have a fear of spiders but I was really stressed out and this one was black and hairy and the size of a quarter and I didn’t have any Kleenex to catch it with because at a stoplight 5 minutes prior, I had used the only tissue in my possession, then I rolled down the window and surreptitiously tossed it out onto the road on the grounds that paper is essentially wood fibre and natural and whatnot, and NOT litter, but now I was obviously being punished by the environmental gods. So I grabbed my wallet and tried to whack the giant spider out the window but I missed and it fell off its creepy webstring and seemed to disappear perhaps into my boot, which caused me to scream again and jump out of the car, stomping my feet vigorously because as you all know, if a spider is in your boot, the most appropriate thing to do is crush it into your sock, because why the f*ck wouldn’t I want a spider corpse in my boot all day? But when I took my boot off, there was no spider, which means it’s still hiding somewhere in my car.

So to make a long story short, I need to buy another car.

And now, to relieve the tension, here’s something a little more funny. As I was getting dressed this morning in the dark, I tried to turn on my closet light, but I was too tired to do the dance properly. I hit the closet light with a pair of underwear to activate the motion sensor, and remembered something I wrote a long time ago, which will explain what I mean by ‘dance’:

One Friday night, I came home from Toronto. I went into the walk-in closet to get changed, reached up to pull the chain on the light to turn it on, but couldn’t find it.

Ken: The chain broke this week.
Me: How do I get the light on then?
Ken: I installed a motion detector light bulb.
Me: But I’m IN the closet. Why hasn’t it come on?
Ken:  You have to come out of the closet. Now walk to the right, along the side of the bed. Now walk to the left and move towards the bathroom door. Take two steps forward, then hop one step back on kind of an angle.
Me: What?
Ken: You did it wrong that time. Try it again. This time, make it more of a 30 degree angle instead of a 45 degree angle.
Me: Can’t you just get another chain?
Ken: No, this is much better. Oh, by the way, when you’re finished, you have to shut the closet door. If Titus walks past, he triggers the light and it will wake you up.
Me: I didn’t realize Titus could do Country Line Dancing.
Titus: Pivot, Turn, and Quick-Ball Change! Yeehaw!
Ken: You’ll get used to it.

Ken was right. Now, if I want the closet light on, I just hum “Achy, Breaky Heart”, the magic takes over, and it’s all good.

My Week 146: I Need To Learn German, Happy Anniversary!

Well. It’s been a fairly hectic week, what with me having to drive on the highway to and from home. The upside is that I get to spend more time with Ken, Titus, and Raven. Notice that I didn’t mention K, because she’s working in an auto parts factory for the summer to make money for next year. We have her tuition covered etc., but I was like, “If you want to keep buying light sabres and land in Scotland, then get a job, kid.” I’ll explain the Scottish real estate thing later. The downside of all this driving is, of course, that I have to drive on the worst highway in the world. I’ve already said plenty about that in previous posts, so I won’t pursue it any further except to say that it gave me time to think of some pretty random things for this week’s foray into the world of the absurd.

1) Last week, I went back to Toronto on the train. During the trip, I had to use the nasty train bathroom. They always smell of pee, mostly because the train is very wobbly. It’s not a problem for me, since I SIT on the seat, but if you’re one of those people who likes to stand and try to aim at the opening (male OR female—I’m not judge-y), I can guarantee you’re going to miss at some point and get your urine all over the place. As a result, I line the seat with toilet paper just in case. After, I sat back down in my seat. Then I got off the train, and took the subway home. I must have looked pretty cute because I was getting a lot of looks, like “Hey girl,” and “Nice, old lady”. When I got to my stop, I walked to my condo, and it was all good. Then I got into the apartment and realized that I didn’t have any milk for the morning, so I decided to pop down to the Loblaw’s on the corner. I was standing at the light, waiting to cross, when a German couple approached me. I could tell they were German because they were saying things like, “Das Madchen hat Toilettenpapier auf ihrem Arsch”, which I didn’t understand, having a limited amount of high school German, but I assumed they needed directions. Then the woman said, “Excuse me,” and I was like “Sure”, thinking she needed to know where the CN Tower or the Eaton Centre was. But then she said, “You haf some papier on your back.” I tried to see where she was talking about, and the guy she was with was pointing and saying, “Das is right zere,” until finally, I got a glimpse of it, and was able to pull it off. It was a square of toilet paper. I had been walking around with a square of toilet paper hanging from my waistband for the last hour. Well, no worries—it was gone now, and I could buy milk without shame. I laughed and thanked the German couple and went merrily on my way. They seemed pleased, having helped me, and yelled out, “Es gibt noch mehr Toilettenpapier!” which I assumed meant, “We gave you help with the toilet paper!” so I waved and gave them a thumbs-up. Unfortunately, my German sucks. When I got back to my condo, finally, I started to change into my pajamas, and discovered to my horror that I had only pulled off the LAST SQUARE of toilet paper and that there were 6 additional squares that I had unwittingly tucked into my waistband in the train bathroom and which were hanging down like a paper tail the whole time I was in the grocery store. And now I need to learn more German.

2) Last week, a colleague of mine and I were having a conversation about why he was bailing on going out for a drink on his last night before leaving the secret agency for good because he and his wife just had a baby. “I have to pick up something that I found on Kijiji,” he said.

“What could possibly be so important that you’re not coming for a drink? I’m buying, for God’s sake!”

“Exactly,” he said. “It IS for God’s sake. This couple is advertising all of their daughter’s baptism and communion stuff, on sale for super-cheap. I know it sounds weird, but it was only used once and it’s generic, with the dove on it and all, so I might as well get it now rather than pay twice as much later.”

Me: Why do Catholics have pigeons all over everything?
Colleague: Not pigeons. Doves. There’s a slight difference.
Me: I’m not seeing it, but OK—why doves?
Colleague: The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes fire shoots out of its head. If you ever see a dove breathing fire, you know you’re in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Me: Either that, or in the latest Harry Potter movie, like “Harry Potter and the Fire-breathing Pigeon”.
Colleague: Dove. It’s a dove.
Me: OK.

The next morning, I went into my office, and there on my desk, was a little dove planter, with a fern in it. My colleague popped his head in:

Colleague: I got you this as a going-away present.
Me: Cool! Does it breathe fire?!
Colleague: No, it’s only ceramic. But the plant is fake, so you can’t kill it.
Me: You know me so well. I’m going to miss you more than you know.

And I will.

3) Yesterday, I was at the mall, and I decided to buy some Cinnabons for a treat. K loves them, and I could take some to my parents for dessert that night. So I went up to the counter:

Me: I would like some of those little Cinnabons please.
Woman: THEY ONLY COME IN BOXES OF 9 AND 12.
Me: Oh. How many of the big ones can I get?
Woman (sighs): THEY ONLY COME IN BOXES OF 4 AND 6.
Me: Um, okay. Can I get a box of 4?
Woman (rolls eyes): THEY’RE RIGHT DOWN THERE. YOU GET THEM YOURSELF.

So I grabbed a box from below the counter. I’m not an expert in buying ‘bons’, so I thought she was pretty mean, and very yell-y. But I got her back because just as she was packing up the box of 4, I said, “You know what? I changed my mind. I’ll take the box of 9 little ones.” And then she rolled her eyes really hard again, and gave me back the box, which I switched out. Then I paid and told her to “have a good day” but I might have said it slightly sarcastically, so I totally SHOWED HER. When I got home, I told K and Ken that the woman at the Cinnabons counter was very rude to me, and K said, “Was it the old lady with the short white hair?” and I was like, “YES!!”, and she said, “She’s always really rude to us too, when we go there.” So at least I know it’s not just me, and now I REALLY wish I knew German because I could have just smiled at her and said, “Du hast Toilettenpapier auf deinen Arsch”.

4) On Friday, it was our 27th Anniversary. Ken said “Happy anniversary” first, but I was the first one to post it on Facebook, so I thought I won. Then he posted a picture of two puzzle pieces which said “You” and “Me”, and I was like, “Aww—that’s sweet!” But then I realized it was a gif, and when I watched it, the two little puzzle pieces moved towards each other and fit together. Which sounds really cute, but the one puzzle piece had a part like a very large phallus, and the other one had an opening, so when they fit together, it looked super-dirty. And then I also realized that the puzzle piece with the phallic bit said “You”, as in me, and the apparently-lady piece said “Me”, as in Ken, and that was even more disturbing in terms of what Ken intended:

Me: I think you got the genders on those puzzle pieces wrong. At least I’m hoping. I think we’re both too old to be trying stuff like that.
Ken: What are you talking about?!
Me: That gif was a little dirty.
Ken: It was two puzzle pieces. What’s dirty about THAT?
Me: Did you watch the animation? Very pornographic.
Ken: They fit together! It’s cute, like “we’re a perfect fit”! Get your mind out of the gutter.
Me: Super-dirty. What WILL our friends think?
Ken: Happy Anniversary, weirdo.
Me: Yeah. Ich liebe dich. That means “I love your–”
Ken: No, it doesn’t.

 

 

My Week 143: Awkwardness at Work, 2 Quick Tales

I am sometimes awkward at work

Anyone who knows me (or visits this site frequently) knows that I can be a little awkward around other people. I quite often misinterpret the things other people say, mostly because in my head, life is like a Monty Python sketch, which is to say it’s weird, and funny, and quite often self-referential, like if you haven’t watched the show before, you might not understand the joke. For instance, the other day, I was going through some materials with a co-worker, looking for common patterns, when another colleague walked in and asked, “Have you found anything?”

“Well,” I answered, “it could be something, or it could just be a case of a million monkeys with a million typewriters.”

“Writing the bible. Right,” replied my colleague. And I so badly wanted to say, “Ah, you’ve seen this episode before,” but I didn’t, because that would be pushing my luck. And also, I wanted to hug her, because mostly when I say that, people think I’m either obsessed with monkeys, or don’t like the Bible. Not that I actually LIKE the Bible—I’m kind of ambivalent towards it, like if I was to review it, I would probably say something like “Choppy style, but interesting plot. A little too preachy for this critic. 3 out of 5 stars.”

Anyway, recently I got promoted, so I’ve gone from being able to wallow in my comfort zone to being right out there in the spotlight. And it’s hella uncomfortable. In work situations, I normally like to sit and listen, just observe, and I only say something if I think it’s important. In my head, I like to think I’m perceived thusly: “She doesn’t speak very often, but when she does, we all should listen.” Unfortunately, the reality is probably more like, “What the hell is she talking about NOW? It’s always monkeys, monkeys, monkeys.”

But since the promotion, when I’m in meetings, instead of just being able to sit there, listen, and make notes, I’m REQUIRED to speak. And it’s usually when I least expect it.

Director: And then the 4th quarter targets….
Other Director: The memo about this requires a decision note…
Chair: And now for a report from mydangblog.
Me: What?! I…We are an EFFECTIVE team.

You can tell that I was lost in thought, going through Tom Cruise movies in my head. Thank goodness I was stuck at Oblivion, and not Jerry McGuire, because “Show me the money!” might not have gone over as well. (Just for the record, they don’t actually call me ‘mydangblog’ at work, but it would be super-funny if they did.) And the other day, we were having a high up meeting, and we were told not to let people into the office without escorts, because it IS a secret agency, and there are a lot of confidential materials in the office that are not for the public’s eye. “In fact,” said one of the Directors, “this came about because last week, we discovered that a former employee was in the office, and no one knew about it.”

Me: What?! You mean, like, for days? Was he hiding somewhere? I KNEW we needed to clean up that storage room!
Director: No. He was only here for a couple of hours. He wasn’t hiding—he just wasn’t being escorted by the person who let him in.
Me: Oh, good, because otherwise that would have been REALLY disconcerting.
Director: Yes. Sigh.

Now that I’m a manager, I’m also responsible for a budget. And it’s a HUGE f*cking budget. When I was a high school department head, my total budget was $12 000, and I was responsible for every penny. I had an Excel spreadsheet with two columns: ‘What I Have’ and ‘What I Spent’. My only job was to make sure that ‘What I Spent’ was never more than ‘What I Have’. When I first saw my new budget, I was completely freaked out, and my first thought was, “I’m gonna need a bigger spreadsheet.” So I asked to have a meeting with the Manager of Finance:

Me: So I’m a little concerned about how I’m supposed to keep track of all this.
Finance Manager: Keep track?
Me: Well, there are over 200 budget lines with like another 500 sublines. Does the spreadsheet you sent me automatically calculate debits or do I have to do that manually? I think I should probably pin the calculator to the task bar if that’s the case, cuz this is gonna take a LOT of time.
Finance Manager: Uh, no. This is just ‘for your information’. We have a whole department that deals with budget calculations.
Me: Oh. OK. Cool.

And speaking of cool, the person who had my office before me had a big-ass fan. Me, I’m always cold, so I haven’t used it yet, but last week it was getting pretty hot, so I decided to turn it on.

Step 1) Plug fan in and press ‘Power’ button.
Step 2) Hold hand up in front of fan to see how cold the air is.
Step 3) Look at fan skeptically.
Step 4) Change the setting to high and place hand in front of fan again.
Step 5) Look at fan skeptically.
Step 6) Change setting to “Oscillate” and place hand in front of fan again.
Step 7) Turn fan off and then back on.
Step 8) Realize that fan is not a computer and that turning it off and on again made no difference.
Step 9) Pick up fan to shake it and discover that fan is facing backwards.
Step 10) Turn fan around so that it is no longer blowing cold air at the wall.

And finally, the coup de grace of my awkward week:

I work with a very nice gentleman about my own age. On Wednesday, I was having trouble with my computer, so I went over to his desk. He’s lucky, in that he has a window, but also unlucky, in that it looks right over into the highrise building next door. I was in the middle of a conversation with him when this happened:

Me: So are you having trouble with your drives? I can’t get anything to load.
Very Nice Gentleman: No, mine seem–
Me: Holy sh*t! There’s a girl in that window and she’s completely naked!
VNG (clears throat): Oh, gosh. Anyway–
Me: No, seriously. Good lord! Okay, now she’s putting on underwear. Doesn’t she know we can see her?!
VNG: Um, I actually can’t from where I’m sitting. So, have you tried restarting your com–
Me: She’s right there! Just stand up a little bit!
VNG: No, that’s OK.

So I stood there for a little while longer until the girl was dressed and gone. It wasn’t until later that I realized that the poor guy was probably mortified and all like “Can’t we just talk about monkeys?!” And now, I feel terrible for trying to make him look at naked ladies . But probably not as terrible as the girl would be, if she knew that she can be seen in all her glory from our office windows.

Two Quick Stories:

Crazy for Adjectives:

Right now, I’m going through resumes for a position I’m hiring for. The one notable thing is that people really go a little overboard with their superlatives. Either that, or they REALLY want to work with me. I started making a list of things that people say that will not get them a foot in the door. First, there are the people who are ‘delighted’ to be applying for the position. These people are also possessed of ‘great enthusiasm’, as well as ‘great eagerness’. Then there are the people who are ‘extremely knowledgeable’ and are ‘highly adept’. Finally, there are those who tell me that ‘As you can see’, they will be an ‘excellent addition’ and a ‘valuable member’. Then I got the feeling that maybe they all thought they were applying for a position as “puppy petter” or “ice cream truck client”. I mean, my office is a great place to work, but it’s no kitten farm, so dial it back a notch, Skippy.

Nickels and Dimes:

I was on the train Friday night, and we were sitting in the station waiting to depart, when the guy in the seat across the aisle from me suddenly starting talking VERY LOUDLY to someone on his cellphone. It was his bank. He was angry because he had paid for something by cheque from his line of credit which he rarely did, and he was charged a service fee, which he had NEVER been charged before. Then he gave the person on the other end his account number and the answer to his secret question, AND the dollar amount of the cheque, which was $2, 226.00 and I was like, “That service charge must have been huge for him to do this in front of everyone”, and also “I could totally hack his account”, at which point, he said, “It was twenty-five cents. I don’t understand why I’m being charged to use my line of credit. I want it credited back to my account immediately.” I actually snickered out loud at how serious and pissy he was. Then the train left the station and he was quiet for a while, so I assumed the bank’s customer service representative told him he was silly, and to go away. But suddenly, after about 10 minutes, I heard him say, “Yes,” and I realized he was STILL on the phone. Then he said, “Thank you. I hope this never happens again.” I just love that the customer service rep. kept him on hold for so long, hoping that he would hang up. Yet, he persisted.

My Week 105: Business Class, Trump’s Clown Car, Dirty Pencils and Other Stuff

Friday Night: I have insomnia for many reasons

I got home from Toronto on Friday night after a fairly non-eventful train ride. I was seated next to an elderly woman who immediately pulled out a book—always a good sign, because while I’m too kind to NOT talk to strangers on a train and often find them very interesting, I was tired and just wanted to do a little reading of my own. Also, the bar cart came by almost right away, and no one raised an eyebrow when I asked for TWO white wines. I always follow that up loudly and wearily with “It’s been one of those weeks” so that I won’t get judged by my fellow passengers for being some kind of middle-aged “Girl on the Train”—the fact of the matter is that normally the week is fine but I’m just extremely thirsty. The conductor never seems to care, but this time though, he chuckled and said, “Good idea—I won’t be back for a while.” So there I was, nestled into my reclining pleather seat, headphones on, book open, happily sipping away. Right before my station, I DID have a nice conversation with my seat partner, who was 76 and going to visit her twin sister for their birthday. Then Ken picked me up, we had Swiss Chalet take-out, watched a little TV, then went to bed. So you see, it should have been a great night for sleeping. But no.

I woke up at 2 am like a shot. I don’t know why. I had a headache and I was thirsty, so I went downstairs for a juicebox and some Advil (I’m sure right now you’re thinking “What the f*ck? This is the most boring sh*t I’ve ever read!” Just wait—it might get funnier). I got back into bed, and I lay there. And lay there. And lay there, getting more pissed off. Because every time I started to doze off, something would happen to wake me up again—Ken would snore and I’d have to hit him, Raven would start punching me in the back, Titus was having some kind of weird dream that made him twitch and snort, then it was raining and I felt compelled to get up and verify that fact for god knows what reason. Then the worst thing happened—suddenly, Titus jumped off the bed, went out into the hall, then FELL DOWN THE STAIRS. Under normal circumstances, he sounds like a herd of elephants going either up or down, but this time, the only way I can describe it is to say it sounded like a herd of elephants collapsing in a heap and then tumbling to the bottom. I screamed, “Titus!” and Ken, like the Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland, said sleepily, “Titus went downstairs.” Then he closed his eyes and went back to sleep while I ran out of the room. I turned the lights on and there was Titus at the bottom of the stairs, blinking and looking a little dazed. I was like, “Oh my god—are you OK?!”

Titus: I’m fine. Nothing to see here…
Me: What the hell were you doing?
Titus: I was going downstairs. Duh. How much wine did you drink on the train, anyway?
Me: Why were you going downstairs?
Titus: I was bored.
Me: What do you mean, bored?! It’s 3 o’clock in the morning. Why weren’t you sleeping like a normal, human—I mean, a normal dog? Wait a minute—were you sneaking down to look for food?
Titus: I may or may not have been thinking about the French fry you may or may not have dropped on the floor…
Ken (from the bedroom): What are you guys doing?! You’re keeping me awake!

Well, Titus seemed fine and managed to jump back up on the bed quite agilely, so no harm done. Except that I was now WIDE awake, with no hope of sleep on the horizon. All I could do was lie there and think about all the things that week that had perplexed, baffled, and annoyed me. Because unlike most weeks, it actually WAS one of those weeks:

Sunday: I forgot to buy my train ticket back to Toronto until late Sunday afternoon, and by that time everything was sold out except Business class. I was initially mad, but then I thought , hey, it might be nice to upgrade just this once, even if it IS double the cost of a regular ticket. There must be perks, or why would anyone pay for it? Turns out, because they’re idiots. First, there’s no Business Class Lounge in the train station where I depart from, so take THAT off the list. There IS a large handicapped washroom, and a vending machine, but it’s still not very lounge-y (mostly because the toilet doesn’t flush properly and is always clogged toilet paper, and the vending machine only sells Coke). Second, Business Class is supposed to get Priority Boarding. When the train pulled in, I made my way up to the door of Car 1 with another older guy in a suit. We waited. The door to Car 3 opened and a female conductor got out. She yelled something at us, and gestured. The older guy said, “Just wait—sometimes it takes them a minute to open the Business Class door.” But the female conductor kept yelling and gesturing, so I finally said to him, “She works this train a lot—she’s not very nice, so I’d pay attention to her or she might just “forget” to bring the bar cart by.” And he said, “You’re right, she might—we better go down there.” At which point, we had to wait BEHIND all the other Economy Class riders before we got on board. Priority boarding, my ass. Third, the conductor for Car 1 was actually standing right next to the door when we finally made our way down the aisle to the end. And the luggage rack was a third the size of the regular racks. I said, “Where am I supposed to put my suitcase?” and he JUST SHRUGGED. And I was like, “Seriously. There’s no room here.” So he slowly reached up and moved a gym bag off the second level and said, “There you go.” I said, “I can’t lift this up that high” and he just looked at me. So I turned around, threw my stuff on my seat, and deadlifted my f*cking suitcase up, with him watching. In Economy Class, they ALWAYS help with luggage. It was like I was in Reverse World, where you pay more for sh*t but get less for your money. And even though he came by 4 times with the bar cart and offered to “top me up” every time, I still didn’t forgive him. So what exactly is the bonus of Business Class, you ask? Well, apparently you get dinner and free booze. So, essentially I paid an extra $45 for a $7 glass of wine, and food that I didn’t eat because it was 8:30 at night, and who the hell thinks, “I’d better hold off eating at a normal human time cuz I’ll be getting a yummy box of train food right before bed”? I’m buying my train tickets a week ahead from now on, just to be sure.

Monday: I watched the US Election debate. I don’t know why people hate Hillary Clinton so much. I’m from Canada, and from here, she seems pretty OK. Unlike her opponent, Donald Trump, who is quite frankly, the most stupid person I’ve ever seen on television, and if he wins the election, American has just turned itself into a giant clown car with Trump at the wheel. And that put me in mind of those rival car commercials—Matthew McConaughey for Lincoln and Kit Harrington for Infiniti, where they both drive around and Matthew says profoundly strange things which lack context, and Kit recites William Blake poems. I imagined Donald Trump in his clown car with America in the back and he was like, “Ok you guys, shut up. Shut Up! Now, listen to me. “Mary had a little lamb— No, wait, what am I saying, it was a HUGE lamb. It was the hugest lamb ever, like I can’t even tell you how bigly that lamb was, it was so huge. I always have the biggest lambs and the greatest too, because I’m going to make lambs great again. And my lamb has the whitest fleece, you wouldn’t believe how white its fleece is, and it’s white because I’m smart, like the smartest person in American, smarter even than those guys on Jeopardy, like I could win Jeopardy forever, and always get Final Jeopardy, because my lamb is the best lamb. And if you say anything mean about my lamb, I will wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and tweet about how fat you are.” Yes, America, this could be your next Commander in Chief. Just pray he hits “Tweet” and not “Launch”.

Tuesday: I was watching The Voice. I love the singing, and the way the coaches banter and tease each other. However, on Tuesday, during one such witty exchange with Adam Levine, Blake Shelton pointed at his jeans and jean jacket and referred to it as a “Canadian tuxedo”. And I was like “WTF Blake?!” I have never in my life heard that expression, and it doesn’t even make sense. I live in a small town, and also the biggest city in Canada, and I can count on one hand the last time I saw a guy wearing a jean jacket ANYWHERE, let alone to a fancy occasion. The Canadian tuxedo is like every other ACTUAL tuxedo, except that it comes with thermal underwear, a bib for when they serve the poutine, and a special pocket for your loonies and toonies. If you’re going to perpetuate stereotypes about Canadians, Blake Shelton, make sure you get them right.

Wednesday: I really wanted to go for a swim, but I still can’t because I just got a new tattoo (and had an old one redone) so I can’t put them in water for too long. I was bemoaning the fact that I was missing the exercise, and my co-worker said, “How long is the pool?” I only do the breaststroke, and I couldn’t think of any other way to describe it other than to say “It’s about 9 strokes of the breast.” And now swimming sounds kind of dirty, or kinky, and maybe I should just use the treadmill.

Thursday: I went to Loblaw’s and saw Old John on the way. I asked him if he wanted anything, and he asked for a loaf of white bread and some Cheez Whiz. I was only in the grocery store for literally 10 minutes, and when I came out, he was gone. This has happened before, but the last time it was orange juice, and I could drink it myself. But now I had ten dollars’ worth of gluten and cheese glue, and what the hell was I going to do with THAT? And could I find another homeless guy to give it to? No! The one night I have a veritable feast for someone, they’ve all decided to find another street to panhandle on. Talk about inconsiderate. I finally found someone the next morning outside the drug store, all wrapped up in a sleeping bag, so I gently set it down next to him, because I didn’t want him to wake up and be like “Cheez Whiz? Um, no thanks.” And of course, now I’m worried about Old John, because the last time he disappeared, he was in the hospital. He better show up next week, and when he does, I’m buying him some bread and Cheez Whiz and he can damn well eat it. I’m not mad at HIM, of course. I’m mad at the company that charges $6.99 for a jar of something that tastes like sh*t, and he loves it but he can’t afford it. And on the other side of the coin, Casa Loma, one of Toronto’s big tourist attractions, has been turned into a Hallowe’en House of Horrors at a cost of 1.5 million dollars. 1.5 million dollars for Hallowe’en, when there are people who can’t afford bread and slimey cheese. Trick or treat.

Friday: We’ve been making powerpoints for the last three weeks to train people with. I hate powerpoint, but by now, I’m the f*cking Queen of powerpoint, having made so many that my desktop is a slideshow nightmare. By Friday, we were getting a little giddy about what we were doing, putting in random pieces of clip art, colouring our fonts in weird colours, and just getting all crazy in the way that secret agency workers often do. You know you’ve had enough when this is the conversation:

L: We need to take out that pencil guy graphic.
Me: But he’s cute and happy. He reminds me of the Microsoft paperclip, but not quite so smug and patronizing, you know?
L: Look at his pencil tip. It’s not appropriate.
Me: It DOES look kind of dirty, the way it’s down between his legs. Who would design something like that? Children use this program!
L: Pedo pencil needs to go.
Me: I agree. There must be a non-sexual pencil out there somewhere.

pencil-person-cartoon-hi

So there you have it. And remember, I didn’t say it WOULD get funnier; I said it MIGHT get funnier. And now I’m going back to bed with a glass of wine.

 

My Week 85: Grinder Week, TMI at the Dentist

Thursday: I am at least two of the seven dwarves.

I think we were all really sleepy and grumpy this week for some reason. It seems like it’s been a long spring, without much hope of warm weather yet. In fact, the other day, my work partner and I were going down to Loblaws, and we were debating whether or not we needed our coats. I said, “When the hell is that question going to be moot? At what point will we just be like, “Let’s go” and our coats don’t even come into the equation?” And then we were happy we wore our coats because it was ridiculously cold, even for May, and I decided that no matter how much I love being Canadian, the weather here is beyond stupid and can very easily ruin any “I love Canada” moment you might be inclined to have. (Also, just for the record, when I say “work partner”, I don’t mean like “work wife” or “work husband”. I mean the person who is the other member of my work TEAM. If I HAD a work husband, I would want it to be someone like Patrick Stewart or John Cho, which would mean I’d have to change careers and somehow try to get into the acting profession—god, these work relationships can be so complicated….)

So I think the general trend towards sleepiness and grumpiness is natural, all things considered, and this is how I know that it’s been an unusually grinding week for everyone I know:

1) I got some really good news on Monday. I was over the moon, but Ken was at some “important” meeting, and my parents were away, so I did what any normal person would do—I called K.

Me: Guess What?! I just heard from the publisher. They’re publishing my novel!!
K: Oh, sweet! That’s so cool!

We chatted for a little while longer, then I told her I’d call her later, after her exam. So at 4 pm, this was the conversation.

Me: How was your exam?
K: Pretty good.
Me: I’m still really excited!
K: About what?
Me: About what I told you this morning!
K: Did we talk this morning?
Me: For like over 5 minutes. I told you my novel was getting published.
K: It is?! That’s awesome!
Me: Were you in bed when I called you?
K: Um, maybe. Sorry, I honestly don’t remember talking to you. I HAD just written my 9th exam in 8 days. Yay for you though…

But I forgive her, because I got to experience her happiness for me twice in one day, and when you have a teenager, that doesn’t happen very often.

2) Later in the week, I found myself being so tired that I was having trouble processing simple conversations. People would try to explain things to me, and I would just nod and pretend I was totally on board with everything. The final straw came on Thursday, when I found something online that I really wanted to keep.

Me: God, this is a perfect example. Remind me later that I want to use this.
L: Write it on a sticky note in case I forget.
Me: Um, how is THAT going to work?
L: What?
Me: Well, the sample is on the computer. If I put a sticky note on it, the second I navigate away from it, the sticky note is useless.
L: Did you seriously think I was suggesting that you put a sticky note on your computer screen?
Me: No…?
L (slowly): Write all the details about the sample on a sticky note. Then stick it somewhere you will see it later. Not on your computer screen. Somewhere ELSE.
Me: Oh right. That makes sense.
L: Sigh.

sticky note

But I know I’m not the only one because on Friday, I took the train home. First, a work colleague and I were taking the same subway to the train station, and he wanted to leave earlier than I normally do, which was OK because it’s nice to have company on the subway. So I waited for him to pack up. It was an arduous process, as he looked for his glasses case, tucked away miscellaneous work items, cleaned his desk, checked his wallet for his driver’s licence and made sure his cell phone was charged. We finally got down to the subway platform and he suddenly exclaimed, “Oh no!! I forgot my train ticket!” I was like “Where?” because I was pretty sure he’d gone through every drawer in his desk already. But he had to go back to the office, leaving me to ride the subway alone in rush hour, and having to wait in line for the train longer than usual. And then I got super grumpy, not at him, because he’s a really great guy and my track record for remembering things last week wasn’t stellar either. So in a continuation of the things that grind my gears:

3) Why the hell am I waiting in line at the train station? The train I take has assigned seats and you can’t get on without a previously purchased ticket. Yet, without fail, everyone hurries to line up for half an hour, and because I always worry that they know something I don’t, I end up in the stupid line. Then I get mad at myself for being a lemming. And there’s always that ONE person who tries to cut into the line, even though we all have seats. A woman did that to me on Friday—she was sitting in the waiting room, then just casually got up and slid into line in front of me. LIKE THE LINE DIDN’T EVEN F*CKING MATTER. I was simultaneously outraged AND jealous of her refusal to acknowledge the bizarre line-up protocol that the rest of us have established for absolutely no good reason. And of course, there are always the people from the “business class lounge” who get “priority boarding” and just stroll right past all of us, which makes me want to yell, “Hey—it’s a Via Rail train, not the f*cking Orient Express. Take your smugness down a notch.”

4) I finally got on the train and it was the ride from hell. Normally, my fellow passengers are a normal bunch, who respect the rules and keep the ride pleasant, but it was Friday the 13th unfortunately. I was thinking it would be a great ride initially, because the bar cart came around right away, which doesn’t always happen. But then everything became a surreal nightmare. The guy across the aisle from me started peeling and eating hardboiled eggs and drinking what looked like a smoothie made from compost. And to make matters worse, he was flicking bits of shell onto the floor. Then I caught a whiff of something nastier than “demon egg” (because of the sulphur, right?), and I looked to the other side of me—the nice-looking elderly lady who was my seat companion had decided to TAKE OFF HER SHOES and was sitting barefoot. The smell was a cross between talcum powder and death. I took off my headphones to read, because I can’t concentrate on a book and music lyrics at the same time, only to discover that the woman behind me was carrying on a very loud running commentary of inanity to the child sitting beside her:

Woman: You’re a really good artist.
Child: Thanks.
Woman: You know who else is a good artist? Your dad.
Child: Is he?
Woman: And so is your aunt. She’s a really good artist.
Child: Really?
Woman: And so is your other aunt.
Child: Uh huh.
Woman: And so is your uncle. He’s a really good artist too.
Child: Oh.
Woman: Your grandmother was a really good artist.
Child: *silently drawing*
Woman: Oh—you know what?!
Child: What?
Woman: Your cousin Frank is a really good artist.

And so it went on in the same vein. When I finally got to my station, I collapsed into Ken’s arms. “I’m so tired”, I said. “I was on the verge of losing it on the train—“YOU, stop eating your damn baby chickens and pick up their skins, YOU, put your damn shoes back on, and YOU, shut the hell up—there’s a collective noun for that sh*t—‘Everyone in OUR FAMILY is a good artist’, and be done with it!!!” Ken just looked at me in wonderment, and perhaps a little fear.

“I ordered pizza and wings,” he said.

“Can we eat them in bed?” I asked.

“Um, ok,” he answered.

Best. Husband. Ever.

Saturday: Too much information

On Saturday morning, I went to the dentist. I’ve been going to the same dentist for years, but I didn’t realize that they have a completely different staff on Saturdays. The receptionist WASN’T Nina, for starters, although the Saturday receptionist seemed quite nice. But when the hygienist came out, I became more suspicious. “Where’s Harmony?” I asked. Let me just tell you that Harmony has been my hygienist for many years. She’s a lovely woman, and completely suits her name. We like all the same TV shows, and she has a wonderful knack of carrying on a two-sided conversation about Breaking Bad or Suits with me, even with her hands in my mouth, kind of like this:

“Did you see the latest episode of _____?”

“Eh—i wa o ood”

“I know, right? Could you believe it when____?”

“I ow. I uz azy.”

The new, unfamiliar hygienist said, in a very bubbly voice, “Oh, she’s on her honeymoon. But she doesn’t work Saturdays anyway.”

Well, all right. “Cindy” seemed very professional and competent, so I decided to give it a go. I got comfortably seated, and then the deluge began. By the time we were done, I literally knew EVERYTHING about Cindy’s life: where she went to high school, how she met her husband, his career ups and downs, their respective families and where they all lived…she was very entertaining, and the appointment just flew by. I don’t think she actually took a breath for 25 minutes. But the best part was this:

“So my husband lost over 80 pounds in the last year. I’d known him for so long that it just crept up on us, then one day, he was really fat. So he decided to lose 30 pounds, but I think he got addicted to weight loss because now he’s really thin and worries about his skin flaps but I just keep telling him to tone up and not worry about the weight. He ran his first marathon last year. The only thing is that I really like to snack and I never gain weight, but if there’s snack food in the house, he’ll like binge-eat it all so I have to hide it. I had this really great hiding place in the baking cupboard, but somehow he found it and ate everything and I know he MUST have been looking for it because why would he be in the baking cupboard since he never bakes, right? So then I was hiding all my snack food in the car, but now it’s getting too warm and I’m worried things will melt or go bad. So the other day, I found the perfect spot, and if he finds it, I’ll KNOW he’s been deliberately looking, because I put everything in a TAMPAX BOX IN THE GUESTROOM BATHROOM. If those chocolate bars disappear, I’ll know he was searching the house for food, because why would he want a tampon, right? My only worry is that I might have a girlfriend staying over and she might need a tampon, and then she’d be like, “Is this what you’ve been using? How does THAT work?”

I didn’t know who to feel more sorry for—her, her poor snackless husband, or the unsuspecting house guest. At any rate, I was laughing so hard that I barely felt my gums being ripped open by the assortment of picks in her arsenal. And I had no cavities. Yay me.