When Hugging a Coworker is Totally Appropriate

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As a manager of employees in the State of California, I am required, by law, to attend and complete some very lengthy and detailed courses designed to keep the workplace “appropriate.”

The courses are always very alarming because they teach to the worst possible examples, things that make you think “do people really do that?”

But it’s good. Having a safe, conflict free work environment is essential. Everyone has a right to feel comfy at the place where they spend the majority of time during their weekdays.

As a new hire, I recently completed the mandatory training for my new company.

It’s made me all very aware, very sensitive to potential “situations.”

That said, I almost walked right through all my training to drop a big hug on a coworker.

That coworker is the nice man working the grill at the company cafeteria.

Today’s special is fish and chips, one of my fave meals.

I figured they’d pull a pre-battered fish plank out of the freezer, dunk it in the fryer, and serve it up.

Fair enough, I’d still eat it.

But no.

After placing my order, the gentleman at the grill pulled two fresh fish filets out of the refrigerator. They were real fish filets, not some amalgam of fish parts.

Then he hand dipped them in batter and laid them gently in the fryer.

He then he served them golden brown over fresh-from-the-fryer, made just for me French fries he’s hand seasoned by tossing them in a big bowl.

When he handed me the plate, he smiled and said, “enjoy.”

Really, I almost wrapped him in a big bear hug.

He deserved it, California laws be damned!

Expanding My Mind

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When I was in graduate school at NMSU, I was required to take an International Management class.

This was the early 90’s in Las Cruces. “International Management” meant discussing NAFTA and the Maquiladoras on the border.

Don’t get me wrong, that was very valuable learning, especially when NAFTA was in its infancy and no one was certain the impact it would create.

In the final analysis, I find that no matter how wonderful the professor or how much I enjoyed the class, the “international” portion of my education class was seriously lacking.

We might have discussed Japan but only very briefly, and mainly it was topic of fear as Japan was kicking our butt in manufacturing (they still are).

But that was it. Conversations about EMEA (and the Euro), the technology boom in India and vast low cost production from China were all still a long way off.

So they taught what they knew at the time and the rest I’ve had to figure out for myself.

Over the past two days, I’ve had telephone meetings with my employees located in Sydney, Sao Paulo and London.

These are three very different countries and cultures. How I speak with and manage my team varies widely. The concerns, the attention to detail, the speed of work is all over the board. I have to figure it out for each person individually so I can be the best and most effective manager possible.

Today after chatting with London, then Sao Paulo, I needed to speak with a supplier representative. I thought he was in the US until I looked at his business card. Nope, Hong Kong.

“What the hell time is it in Hong Kong?!” I wailed aloud as I’d already calculated too many time zones for the day.

For the record, 10:15am is 1:15 tomorrow morning in Hong Kong. So glad I didn’t just ring up his cell phone.

But that one moment of frustration aside, I honestly love it. Every minute of these calls and building the relationships with my team is a learning experience. I’ve worked for companies that touted themselves to be a global company. My current employer truly is.

The other day I walked to the cafeteria and as people walked past me, I heard Italian, Spanish, what I believe was Cantonese (my ear for the various Asian languages is not strong) and many, many central Asia languages spoken amongst my coworkers.

We are truly a multicultural company filled with profoundly intelligent people. I know there are many people who fear the vast influx of people from other countries of the world to the US.

Me, I love it. I feel more a part of the world than I ever did before (heck, my own brother lives in Kuala Lumpur!).

Each day my mind expands and I grow and I love every minute of that.

Last week, when I was in New Mexico, a buddy of mine from back in the day asked me what my job was these days.

I told him about the job and he’d heard of my employer (it’s a biggie).

He shook his head, spit out some Copenhagen, looked me square in the eye and said, “That’s pretty good for a little girl from New Mexico.”

Yeah. Not too bad.

(My phone lines are, indeed, humming)

Stumbling in there at the last moment

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Several months ago, I participated in a fiction project for the Brooklyn-based Art House Co-Op. I was given a theme and a Moleskine notebook and then asked to fill it with stories and images.

And I did! So much fun.

Based on that success, I decided to take on another Art House Co-Op challenge.

This one is called “The Canvas Project.”

They sent me three 4×4 inch canvases and a card with three words on it.

My job? To interpret the three words visually, one per canvas.

The words I got? Not easy.

Here they are:

1. Flatuence (because the universe is laughing at me… And yes, it can be spelled without that second L)

2. Training (really? Visually?)

3. Glassy (Oh, hey, sure. Easy peasy. I can visually display an adjective. NOT! I must have looked at the card twenty times to be sure it didn’t say “gassy”)

I’ve had the canvases since July. They were required to be postmarked today.

So of course last night I was madly painting and gluing and fretting! I had two done well ahead of time but the third one, glassy, eluded me.

But I got them done. The Good Man promised to mail them out today.

Whew.

Anyhow, I took some semi-decent photos with my iPhone last night.

Herewith, my entries to The Canvas Project exhibition:

Flatuence:

Yes. That’s pinto beans. Yes, that’s dried roses. And in case you can’t tell from the photograph, that white spot in the center? That’s a tablet of Beano.

heh.

Training:

When taking beginning painting (or drawing) classes, they tell you to draw a grid on the canvas and work square by square. So I used a very simple image and incorporated a grid as my own personal training.

All four sides carry the warning “Artist in Training.”

And finally…this is the last canvas I finished. The glue might even still be setting up while the canvas sits in a box ready to ship….

Glassy:

By the by…broken glass is a LOT harder to work with than I’d expected. Though I worked out much pent up anxiety by smashing all that glass with a hammer. One clear glass pane from a picture frame, a mirror, and a glass candle holder from the Dollar Store, a San Pellegrino green bottle and a cobalt blue tincture bottle gave their all for art.

Big fun! I’m excited to see if any of my pieces are picked for the gallery show in December.

Yay! Thanks Art House Co-Op!!!