Summer sniffles and the zombie apocalypse. That escalated quickly.

If you have ever watched the History Channel or stayed awake long enough in History class you have heard about the worst plagues ever to be recorded.

The Black Death 1340 – 1771

Smallpox  430 BC ‘ish- 1979

Influenza Pandemic / Spanish Flu 1918-1919

The Common Cold Summer Edition 2016

That’s right. I just put a summer cold in with the worst things ever to happen to humans.

Am  I stretching? Maybe.

Am I being a little insensitive? Probably.

It could be the cold meds or it could be that I don’t really care about being politically correct among friends. We are friends after all aren’t we?

It feels a lot like something terrible is happening here, my throat is on fire and my nose is producing an awful lot of mucus. 

I have tissues stuck in my nostrils and I feel like I may need another box of Kleenex soon.

 I can’t seem to swallow and my head feels like it is in a vice.

I have a sneaky little cough that creeps up only when I need to talk.

 

I spared you the picture of the tissue in my nose. You’re welcome.

 

Which is what I do. I talk. All the time.

Right now when I speak it sounds like a small animals plea for help.Kinda squeaking, sorta whispered and definitely muffled.

It feels like giving a speech under water. 

Distorted face and all. 

Just blubbering and desperate attempts at cohesive words. A comical attempt to breathe and speak without the aid of my nose. 

All this open mouth gasping makes delivering oxygen to the lungs I have not yet coughed up very, very difficult.

Then there are the coworkers who don’t dare to cross my doorway. Like there is an unseen germ barrier they are safe from. If they hover just a couple of inches from the safety of the hallway they might not need to be decontaminated.

This can both good and bad.

Sure there are some co-workers I don’t really mind to not see for days but we do have to accomplish things here in the office. Put on your hospital mask and let’s get this meeting over with. We have flow charts and spreadsheets to look at. Let me just wipe off that drool.

I think I may actually have heard the sound of an aerosol can behind me when I left the common room. 

The faint smell of Lysol wafting behind me.

The good news is I am almost oblivious to the uncharacteristic avoidance of my work team as I am the general disgust on friends faces as I shove another tissue into my nostril.

My trashcan is overflowing with snotty little ghosts and the bags under my eyes make me look like a zombie.

Sounding more and more like a frightening history lesson in human suffering isn’t it?

I am barely awake having taken so much OTC cold remedy and barely getting any sleep. 

Sleep is such a generous word. 

I really mean something more like trying to rest in an upright position while ranging from ice-cold shivers to blanket throwing sweats.

 All the while sniffling and coughing and generally annoying my wife all night. She loves it when I wake her all night fighting to fluff the pillows and adjust myself for optimum mucus flow.

I could easily snag the lead role in a horror movie featuring the undead.

While I wait patiently for my chance to be a zombie movie star I will be over here all alone in my office. Half asleep and surrounded by a fog of disinfectant. 

 Whimpering, sniffling and coughing the song of my people. 

The song of the common cold. 

The song of the flu-pocalypse.

 

 

 

 

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Manager Blues

Monday to Friday, every morning is the same routine basically; I warily reach for my cell to turn off the alarm and immediately fall lifelessly back into my pillows for a few more minutes of still silence.

It never fails, my body is too tired to get up yet my brain tells me I must.

I have to job to do.

An office to get to.

A desk fish to feed and plants to water.

I have calls to make, emails to write,  questions to answer and decisions to make. I have payroll to approve and discounts to calculate.

I am a manager. I am exhausted. I see more blues than I share.

All the problems are my problem, all the successes my celebrations. I coach, I cry, I beam with pride. I hire them in and I see them out. I teach them and I am taught. I read the written and listen to the spoken. I take notes and assign direction.

Some days I am the star of the show and others I am merely a prop. I am both loved and hated, often in the same day. I am both the hero and the villain.

I see more red than I act.

Their struggles are my struggles. Their tasks my tasks and their challenges ultimately my own. I rise to great each with courage and inspiration, professionalism and seasoned knowledge.

All of these before I see the green at the end of the week.

 

I almost peed myself today. Confessions from behind the desk.

It’s not everyday that a thunderstorm features the kind of booming and shaking and severe lighting such as it did over my office today.

Most Friday’s are casual around here, peaceful, easy going. Slow enough to relax a little, catch up on water cooler gossip or check on our favorite sports teams.

Not today though … not at all. The morning started out promising, we had high hopes for an easy day. We ordered lunch and slowly but surely it got a little busier and with those calls came clouds.

No. I know these things aren’t related. Yes, it was entirely coincidental.

I do think mother nature has had it out for me for awhile. If she knows I might be enjoying myself she throws something nasty my way.

Today it was the thunderstorm that sat over my office building for far too long. Shaking windows and rattling nerves. Sending lightening strikes right to the ground, right outside my window. Rains flooding the very parking lot where my car was conveniently parked. The spot right outside the back exit.

I indulged myself today, as people often do on Friday, with some take-out lunch. It happened to come with an XL drink. I sipped it like a lady all afternoon, taking time away from my work only to replace the make shift napkin coaster under my ginormous plastic cup.

It didn’t take long before the sound of the rain seduced my bladder awake and I had the urge to flush the extra fluids.

Only I don’t like lightening.

It scares me. Really, really scares me to the point I don’t want to get up from my executive desk chair.

I can’t risk walking by all these windows.What if lightening comes in and zaps me where I stand? What if it is just really loud and I scream and jump onto a co-workers desk?             Or … into their lap?!

I don’t want to roll the dice on the power going out.                                                                    What if it happens while I am in the restroom stall? In the pitch dark?! No light, just me feeling around with my pants at my ankles. No thanks.

So I wait. Patiently. Dancing a little in my seat. Hearing the thunder getting louder and louder. Cracking right outside my window with streaks of bright white light mocking me.

I sat and wondered what to do. Risk it? Get up? Stay here and wait it out?

Then it happened.

The loudest crack of thunder I have ever heard. So close to my window that I jumped about 4 inches from my seat. I hovered there while the lightening filled the room enlarging my already my wide eyes.

I almost lost it.

My bladder control that is.

I almost peed myself, right there in the chair. In my office. In front of the entire staff.

The storm is over but my search for professional adult diapers is on.

Corporate ink stains – a tattood journey

Professionally speaking I must consider every action, my words are carefully calculated and my decisions are timed in general accordance with boosting the bottom line.

Personally however I live life on the edge. I make most of my decisions on the fly. I tornado into situations I probably shouldn’t, trapeze over pending doom without a blink and stumble into society with enough sarcasm sprinkled swear words to start a whole new language. That may be a slight exaggeration but you get the point.

While I look like a successfully employed woman, under my corporate skin is a delicately flawed masterpiece.

I love tattoos, I love the statement and sentiment and the art. I love how personal each is, how much goes into each and the emotion behind each story.

I love everything about them. Except the stigma in today’s professional environment.

This is an art form, in most cases well considered and powerfully meaningful.

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Historically people from all walks of life have been adorned with permanent ink. Royalty, warriors, sportsmen and poets. Ancestors of all nationalities, ages, and trades.

I am working on some new large pieces right now which speak to my soul. I also have several smaller works on my body, all of which I can easily cover. I am ready to cover for any situation which it is socially expected for me to do so. However, the temptation is great to get “just a little one” where it is easily visible in daily life. More visible than the ones already outside of the confines of my basic wardrobe. Just a little larger than the tiny open heart behind my ear, a little more obvious than the roman numerals of my wedding date across my foot.

Something a little more daring, a little more bold.

A bit more of a middle finger to the corporate world. A little declaration of my independence, a tiny flag flying in the face of conformity.

The love of my life for instance made a choice, much earlier than the choice to love me, to get a tattoo in a highly visible area. An ink stain handicap if you will – which is all society cares to see. It sits there defiantly on her hand just waiting to tell her truth, her unique story.

She is kind and smart and strong. She is a hard worker and a team player. She is articulate and personable.

Regardless of all of these things – in a corporate world she is simply a highly visible tattoo.

A closed door.

A rejection notice.

A “no” for any career with appearance requirements.

My desire to be unique, to express myself as an individual is stifled. Should I chose to follow my urge to expand my tattoo canvas I am a rebel. Not in such a way to be recognized as an individual but lumped together with real hardened societal taboos. The kind of harmful, dark and immoral sort of rejects you are kepttumblr_mg5rxmDtZW1rbraxfo1_500 safe from in your daily life.

Regardless of my offerings, talents and contributions, to be permanently inked in visible space is to reduce my chances of professional growth. Reduced chances by immeasurable calculations over the lifetime of my career. Considering I am forever  from retirement and have a half life yet to live I must tread a little more carefully.

I have to be very mindful not to make one of my impromptu life decisions which can not be easily reversed. My brain barely wraps around this rationalization and I must continually remind myself I would like to someday afford to retire to a beach. Painted toes in the sand and faded tattoos telling tales of my youth, the arrogance that comes with it and the love that compelled me to get them in the first place.

Until then I will wrap my art, continue on with my 9-5 and dream of the day when I can be free. I will display my inked skin without fear or rejection.

I will still be a rebel when I’m finished here, just on slightly different adventure with a few more tattoos and a way better tan.

 

 

Sexism. In my own house?!

I was recently promoted.

I will give you a moment here to cheer and clap. It’s kinda a big deal.

My son, 11 years old is ever so proud. Sorta. In a way kids are proud of their parents life success.

We were all having pizza at a local Italian joint and he says to me …    “So. Mom. You’re a manager now, right?”

I smile at my sweet innocent boy and wait for him to be adorable and congratulatory. I just knew he was super proud of his hard working momma.

That’s about when the dramatic mother – son music moment going in my head screeches to a halt.

Instead of lavish congratulations he snatches the last piece of cheese bread and gives me what he affectionately calls “a life lesson”.

My kid. “I guess you’ll need to be wearing tuxedos to work now.”

I just stared blankly as he continued to chomp the last piece of delicious cheese loaded carbs.

He swallows the last bite and then catches himself …

“No. I know tuxedos are for weddings and proms. You need a tux-odd-o.” … “You can’t be wearing what you always wear.”

What I always wear?! I clutched at my sweater collar and shifted in my seat a bit.

Mind you my office is casual and our work wardrobe is generally dress casual. I wear skirts and dresses and tunics and leggings.
Mostly.
Never a tuxedo. Or a tux-odd-o. Whatever the hell that is.

I dismissed entirely that he just made up a word. I didn’t or couldn’t understand any of the other words that were coming out his mouth.

My daughter did though. She advised him to shut up.

“Shut up now!” I believe is how she put her advice to him.

I asked, almost nervously, what it was I should wear and he gave it to me straight.

Ties and polos and black pants.

Because that’s what people wear when they wish to be considered serious.

He went on to tell me that I should no longer wear dresses and skirts as being attractive wouldn’t be professional. Nobody is going to take orders from a women in a skirt. If she is attractive people won’t listen to her. She can’t be the boss. Managers wear pants. and ties.

Seriously.
It got worse.
He pointed out the most powerful and well known lady in politics and said that because she wore dresses and looked pretty nobody cared what she had to say. Her husband wore the pants. Literally. He wears the pants. He also manages an entire country but that’s not the important part.

I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say. He sensed the potential immediate danger and so did my lovely co-parent. She made a joke about shopping where Hillary Clinton does to lighten things up a bit. Pant suits?? I was not amused.

I’m not sure where a kid with 2 moms gets this stuff.
Other kids?
School?
TV?
His dad??
Not from me.

I can assure you I am taken quite seriously with my dresses and cardigans. It just goes to show it doesn’t matter entirely what you teach your kids at home, society will influence their thoughts.

As for his “life lesson” it’s pretty funny. It’s pretty sad and it’s probably pretty true.

By the way I will most likely be bombarded with neck ties for Christmas from my coworkers. They thought that story was hilarious.

I may even rock a tie and some black pants on occasion in the future.

My wardrobe style is versatile enough to pull off even a “tux-odd-o” on occasion.

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Tips from customer service aka be nice damn it

Everyone has needed to contact customer service at one time or another. We live in a world where we aren’t heading downtown for our groceries, the mail and the tailor.

Today’s consumer is online, our services are digital and we don’t know our mail person other than the uniform and mail truck.

I have a few tips from an insider in the industry and I would like to share them with you.What-people-think-Customer-Service-Rep-does-edited

1. Be courteous. Seriously. The person on the other end of the line is getting paid to fix your problem not be your punching bag. These are real people with real feelings and emotions.
Customer service agents are not robots.

2. Just like a representative is not a robot they aren’t mind readers. Unless you called the psychic hotline the person you are talking to has not a clue what you need from them.

Explain your problem in a calm and rational manner and wait for the response.

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3. Be patient.

While you are waiting on help for your problem keep in mind there are 100 ways to solve said problem and your representative needs to carefully factor all the possibilities. If you are pushing your rep to the point he or she puts you in hold to stop listening to you bitch they have already decided not to be generous. At this point they just want you off the line and you’re getting a hasty resolution … if any.
The power is in their hands.

4. Have faith in those powers.

Customer service exists to solve customer problems. Amazing, huh? If you come at the person on the other line totally unwilling to accept a solution they will be much less inclined to offer you the best one.

See #3 there are many ways your complaint can be handled.

5. Be happy If your complaint is resolved. There is no need to bash the company all over social media after the resolution. Simply put you don’t need to contact your friend Joe at the newspaper to report that a company made an error, especially if they have since corrected said error.

Mistakes happen and if they are corrected should you really be wasting time bashing them some more?

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6. Most companies hire professionals to clean up reputations. By leaving a trail of nasty comments everywhere you can only limit any future resolution possibility.

Want to be in their good side? Compliment the service provided to correct the initial problem. You might even score discounts or free stuff.

Really. Free stuff for being NICE.

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7. Want to know why you never hear about this free stuff thing? It’s because the only voices yelling are the ones who were dissatisfied. Try shouting about how much you appreciate a company and see what happens. I bet it will be a nice surprise. Not a truck load of free snacks or an envelope of cash from your bank but still. Free cool stuff from places you clearly shop or do business anyway.

So there you have it. Customer service 101 for the customer. It will get you further, faster and it will open doors that would otherwise be slammed in your face.

Whatever you do today remember that those are real people on the other side of your rant. Be nice damn it.

Beer slushy, monkey poop and a beach trip.

I have a full life. There are not enough hours in my days or days in my week.

What I want to do, what I would like to do and what I need to do are entirely separate.
Similar to a zoo, without the zebras, elephants, lions and monkeys it’s just a few caged animals. All together it’s a zoo. Like my life right now.

A freaking zoo. A strange new attraction around every corner.

If I start charging admission maybe I can afford a snow cone machine with a beer option.

That might actually solve all my problems now that I think about it.

I don’t sleep enough, I dream too much, and I can relax rarely. It’s catching up to me.

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Every day. Monday – Friday

My career choice keeps me on my toes, it’s unforgiving some days. Lucky for me I have the next week off. Sort of. Mostly.

I’m fairly certain at least once a day my thoughts will be consumed by a “problem child” … anyone who has ever worked an advocate position knows exactly to who or what I refer.

I find it similar to what having a fire-breathing, baby animal eating, dragon as a pet might be like. As much as your job is to please the masses there are some you simply can not. Sadly, like a pet dragon, you can’t exactly just find them a new caretaker. You can’t dump them at a nice farm-house in the country. Nobody wants to deal with an asshole of a pet dragon. Even when you go on vacation. Still your my problem.

wpid-f531c7312407d88733ef3de72ddaa157.jpgMy children (as offspring often are) happen to be entirely dependent on me to entertain them, feed them and house them in a comfortable home. The same home which they are constantly being told to clean their messes from.

The laundry is ever piling, the fridge constantly emptied and the noise ever-present.

The bathrooms are always smelly and the toilet paper rolls are always empty.

There are dirty, mismatched socks and single shoes in random places and I’m pretty sure I nearly stepped on another Lego.
The Wi-Fi is slow and the cookies are gone. A sure sign they are hiding somewhere watching Netflix while I mop the sticky substance from the kitchen floor.

They are too big to put in a basket on the church steps. At least I think so. If I have to play “guess the smell” again I might hit up the container store for the biggest basket I can find.

My spouse who I give my conditional love makes me absolutely crazy sometimes. Like now. She’s making me lose my mind. right now.

You know those plaques and signs in the zoo which tell you about the animal you’re standing in front of? Well marriage doesn’t come with those. There are no guides or maps. There are no little foot print marks to tell you what to do or where to go next.

Not at all like this. I would be alright with this.
Not at all like this. I would be alright with this.

You are on your own. If you get lost and can’t find your way, the next step could lead you into the boa exhibit where you will be squeezed lifeless and consumed.

Ok, that was dramatic but that’s what marriage feels like. sometimes.

We are about to head to a beach front hotel for a week. Just us. Sounds like a romantic dream doesn’t it? Now throw in a tiny budget and little sleep. As much love as we have we are only human and sometimes it’s not always coming up roses. I keep looking for her hand, maybe together we can reach the exit door of the aquarium building and stop feeling like we are under water.

imageAll we need to do is get to the warm sunshine outside the exit door but it’s elusive.

and I’m too tired to form the words for directions.

and I’m too pissed off to ask her which way to go.

remember how I said sometimes she’s an asshole? Yeah that.

I miss the days of throwing caution to the wind and leaving with nothing but a bikini and a toothbrush for my next adventure.

Unfortunately I am trying to keep up my zoo. If anyone finds the door labeled “beach – this way!” let me know.

Until then I’ll just be over here with my beer slushy, teaching monkeys not to fling poo.