AN ALTER EGO EVENING

After the vacation posts, I’ve had trouble getting back into the regular swing of writing. Work is insanely busy. The boys came home from their respective colleges for a visit. Work is insanely busy. Did I say that already? Really, really busy.

So busy, in fact, that we (the marketing and graphics team) went to dinner and drinks last night to celebrate basic survival and sanity. Things for which we have a whole new appreciation.

A good time was had by all and we only embarrassed ourselves a dozen times or so. I don’t know what happened to my normally professional, yet fun group, but I think someone put something in their drinks. Okay, OUR drinks.

It started out innocently enough, at a table in the bar over a pre-dinner cocktail. With dry ice.

Then, we moved into the quiet, elegant dining room where only a few other tables held diners who spoke softly to each other as the soothing sound of the water feature lulled them into a delusion. The delusion that five women could sit at a table together – not working late for the first time in weeks – and not totally lose their minds.

My breakdown began when I was told by the waiter that my favorite items at this restaurant (which I had been bragging to the girls about for DAYS) were no longer on the menu.

“No giant onion rings?”

“No,” the mellow voiced waiter, Jordan, answered. “But we have a new item. Corn.”

“Corn?” My eyebrows scrunched together as I tried to make sense of this.

“Whiskey creamed corn. It’s excellent.”

“Jordan, do you see that no matter how excellent it is, it’s not a giant onion ring?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. What about the bacon wrapped cheese stuffed shrimp?”

Sadly, Jordan admitted, “We don’t have that anymore.”

“I see.”

“Well, just bring us some of that delicious bread I’ve been craving all day.”

“The ones that come in little six packs?”

“Yes, those.”

“Yeah, we don’t have those anymore. We have baguette now.”

“Kill me.”

As I inelegantly rested my forehead on the table, proud of myself for not banging it against the surface over and over, a strange thing happened.

The marketing team’s alter egos came out to play.

We had the F-bomber, Madame LOUD, the Spiller, the Instigator, and my mother.

The F-bomber was in rare form and seemingly unaware of her ferocity, or the fact that we were the only people speaking loudly enough to be heard in the whole restaurant.

Also suffering from some sort of inner ear anomaly, was Madame LOUD. Normally, at work, when Madame comes close to discuss something “privately” her volume level is so low I have to lip-read. Not that she is unusually quiet all the time, but the volume knob typically doesn’t get stuck at 11. It usually hovers around 5-7. At our table near the front door, in a quiet restaurant with a handful of people, she was determined to include the kitchen staff in our conversation, lest they feel uninformed.

At this point, I started channeling my mother, who continued to “Sssshhhh” people with a hand gesture reminiscent of an agitated sock puppet.

It didn’t work.

The Instigator managed to keep herself out of trouble, but offered encouragement to everyone else around her. Mostly by laughing.

The Spiller doused herself in red wine, which she tragically thought had only stained her skirt, but had in fact sloshed all over the white blouse she wore. The pronouncement of relief as she dabbed at her black skirt – completely unaware of the giant red stain virtually under her nose brought on a fresh burst of laughter from the table and scowls from those near us. And an MF bomb.

Somewhere around this time, for some ill-conceived reason, the general manager brought us complimentary bottles of red and white wine. (I think to make up for the onion ring and bread disappointment.) But REALLY? What was he thinking? Were we not loud and obnoxious ENOUGH? He was GIVING us bottles of wine?

The red was gratefully accepted, but the white FREE wine was rejected by Madame LOUD on my behalf. Too sweet. With a look of complete confusion on his face, the poor GM went away and came back with something oakier and more buttery. (Like the missing bread used to be.)

He also agreed that the wine he tried to foist on us (for FREE) was pretty sweet for a Chardonnay.

The Instigator giggled.

Jordan rolled his eyes and wished us far, far away.

I shushed everyone. Again. Unsuccessfully.

Today, the Instigator has a bruise on her shoulder-blade. (Madame LOUD became Madame I Don’t Know My Own Strength.)

The alter egos have not been seen since.

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ANOTHER YEAR OLDER, BUT NOT MORE MATURE

Today is my birthday. I share it with Richard Nixon, Joan Baez and Kate Middleton. I missed Elvis’ by just one day.

I have no particular plans for this year’s event. No Anntastic adventure or Annapalooza. For one thing, it is a Monday. A Monday that for some unknown reason I have not taken as a vacation day. Unless a kind soul has hidden a carton of Sofia’s under my desk, it will be a Monday like any other. Only I will invariably feel older.

Then again, I always feel at least a year older on Mondays. And today promises to be abysmal. I have four meetings. Everyone knows a day containing more than one meeting is a day in which you get nothing done. Instead, you sit in rooms talking about things you need to get done. then you schedule a follow-up meeting so everyone can keep track of what’s been done. And not done.

What kind of birthday fun is that? If groups of people are going to gather on my birthday and demand my attendance, there should at least be cake involved. (Or in my case, queso.) Plus, candles and champagne.

Wait. I have a diabolical idea. At least it will amuse me.

What I’ll do is walk into every meeting today a few minutes late. I’ll back into the room as though I’m talking to someone in the hallway. As I turn around to face the conference table I will jump back and GASP. Then I’ll slap my hand to my chest and gush, “Oh my goodness! You GUYS!! A surprise party? For me? You SHOULDN’T have!!!”

That should liven things up.

Or get me fired.

Happy Monday to all!

 

UPDATE:

I was greeted this morning with a little surprise from my team. Awwww. They’re the best.

FEEDING FRENZY

There is a plot afoot to starve me to death. I can tell because usually, we HAVE food in the house. Typically, the only issue is that I get a handful of chips or crackers or what-have-you and the rest gets sucked into the gaping maws of Hubby and his partner in crime – Austin – the minute I leave the house.

But this is different. Hubby has NOT gone to the store AT ALL. In at least a week. I’ve decided it must be some sort of last-ditch diet effort before we go to the beachy family reunion. The problem is, the lack of sustenance is making me a very dangerous human being. (Forget beachy, I’m leaning way more toward bitchy.)

Yesterday for breakfast, I had a trail mix bar that had been in the bottom of my purse for 2 months. For lunch, Hubby sent me to work with a Lean Cuisine. Chicken. It had the consistency of…let’s just say…NOT chicken. I popped a Valium and an anti-inflammatory just to get something on my stomach.

I SHOULD have had a good breakfast this morning. My co-workers and I take turns on Friday – as a little motivational treat. Usually, it’s some variety of breakfast tacos (from different origins). Thanks to the Jenny Craig Circle of Hell at home, I was a bit obsessed with the idea of food this morning. So what happens when I throw my stuff down at my desk and race over to where my co-worker has deposited his loot? I find the smallest damn breakfast tacos I have ever seen. One for each of us. One.

After inhaling the “teaser” tacos we pondered voting our inferior breakfast supplier out of our little club. Sure, it will be painful for him at first, but it may just save his life. You do NOT want to deal with four hungry (possibly hung over) women, one of whom is already undergoing a war of attrition on the home front.

So now, I am hunkered down at my desk with room temperature venison sausage and a handful of crackers that somehow escaped the cupboard embargo. Things are not looking hopeful for the afternoon.

We ARE, however, sporting a new motto in the marketing department:

Don’t mess with breakfast.

LET ME GOOGLE THAT FOR YOU

Are you that person others email or call and ask, “Do you know the name of that restaurant that’s on the corner of X and Y?” Or, “Who invented Comic Sans and why do seemingly intelligent people continue to use it?” 

If you are and you haven’t heard of “Let me Google that for you,” allow me to introduce you. The link below will take you to a web page that looks like Google’s home page. Type your question (or more accurately, the person’s question who has mistaken you for the 411 operator) in the box and click a button. The site generates a link you can send to your confused friend / co-worker. This brilliant little link will walk the recipient of your email through the process of Googling, thus creating more free time for you. AND – added bonus – it reeks of just the right amount of snarkiness. All in favor?  

Check it out for yourself.  We’ll ask something people have been wondering about for YEARS.   http://tinyurl.com/6d93rfp

I have been tempted to respond to co-workers with one of these handy little lmgtfy.com links, but so far have resisted the urge. I know someone who did and it wasn’t exactly a love-fest afterward. So be forewarned. Friends and family? Send it. Your boss? Neither I, nor lmgtfy.com can be held responsible. Proceed at your own risk. 

P.S.
Thanks, Marisa, for introducing ME to this. Good thing it wasn’t during its intended use.

OPERATOR ERROR

Have you dealt with someone recently and discovered they have absolutely NO computer common sense at all?  I’m not talking about your 60-year-old mother, I mean someone you consider a peer? I have. It’s surprising in this world of Facebook, Twitter, email, iPhones, and Blackberries, but it’s true – some people are just a little behind the curve. What I found really surprising was for that curve to involve email. Aren’t we all on the same page regarding email? Nothing tricky involved. No code writing. Just click (new), type, attach, click (send).

I received a call from an individual I emailed recently. They asked if I could resend an email (and attachment), but to not write anything in the body so they could “forward” without my comments. If I had sound effects at my desk you would have heard the screeching of tires. I was literally speechless. My mouth kept moving, but nothing came out. In my head, I tried and discarded many questions, all of which were potentially insulting. I finally stammered my way into asking if they didn’t want to just save the attachment to their own computer so they would 1) have it as a reference and 2) be able to attach it to as many emails as they liked. This elicited a response about how they “used to try to save attachments but could never find them again.” (No doubt saving to the mysterious default location, instead of selecting a nice logical file folder.)

Another disturbing request was made that I resend an email the recipient accidentally deleted. I gently suggested they search in their email trash (deleted items) folder for it, but was informed they never bothered to create a trash folder, therefore didn’t have one. I sighed heavily and gave up. So much for teaching self-sufficiency.

Yet another individual continues to fax revisions and mark ups, or worse yet, call and expect someone to take  dictation over the phone. It’s the 21st century people. Let’s all agree to take a basic computer course if such is needed, (it is) and stop pretending. No harm, no foul.

I’ll send you an Outlook appointment for a course. You just open it, click accept and…

Outlook is the name of your email system.

?

Microsoft Outlook.

?

No, it’s not the same as Microsoft Word.

?

Do you use the schedule? The calendar?

?

No. The one on the computer. In Outlook. There’s email and a calendar…

?

Nevermind. I’ll resend that email right away. Yes, blank.

DISTRACTIBLE ME

I either have A.D.D. or unrealistic expectations. At one point I had a mind like a steel trap. Nothing escaped me. Now, I think I’m senile. I blame technology. More specifically, email. For some reason I feel I have to respond to every request as it comes in. Instead of working on one project at a time, I juggle priorities on the fly, picking and sorting by time required and potential for success.

What’s that?  So-and-so needs a brochure to show a potential client? Well, I can take care of that in 15 minutes, then get back to the budget I was working on. Problem is, by the time I finish that, another request comes in, and another, then someone’s standing at my desk because they just sent me an email and I didn’t respond within 5 seconds. It’s not like I’m just sitting around HOPING someone will impede my progress on whatever it was I started earlier that I have now forgotten about completely. 

I know it’s especially bad when I go to the little Outlook icon at the bottom of my screen and see that I have 8 emails open. I go through each to see why and find that I have composed an email response to one, but then apparently was interrupted and never sent it. The others are all open because they contain some little task that is currently in progress because I am jumping from one thing to another  like a crazed frog. Tasks-10, Ann-0.  Not winning.

By the end of the day, the to-do list I started with is still staring at me and nothing has been crossed off.  I add a half-dozen carry-overs for the next day.  Lastly, I assure each person I will indeed deliver whatever it is they want into their hot little hands “YESTERDAY,” and I prepare to turn off my computer.   

A warning pops up asking if I would like to exit without saving. Saving what? I click on the program and up pops the very first thing I started this morning. The budget. With a sigh, I save and close. Tomorrow will be a better day. I will complete tasks.  I will not be interrupted by this roving band of well-intentioned hijackers I call my co-workers. 

There.  I feel better alre