Wednesday’s Got The Blues

The rain has returned in earnest here in the Bay Area. At this moment, there are swirling black clouds and wind driving rain into my office windows.

It’s sort of tough to take, though not unexpected, after the wonderfully sunny weekend we enjoyed (see flower photos a few posts down).

While on a conference call yesterday during which both my team and I roundly chastised a supplier, while on mute for a bit, I had occasion to vent my feelings about the return of winter to my empty marker board.

Herewith, my latest doodle.

Click to see larger size. In case it’s tough to read, the umbrella says “Spring”






Round Two: Your Definition and My Definition Differ Greatly

Yesterday, early in the morning, I had my weekly one on one with the boss.

He’s in the US this week, so it was nice to have a face to face meeting. I have such respect and yes, I’ll say it, affection for my boss. He’s amazing.

I had a long list of items to discuss, and we jumped right into the fray.

It was a good meeting, much cussed, much discussed. Decisions made. Strategy set.

When I’d exhausted my list of items, I said to Boss Man, “so, do you have anything for me?”

He said he did. There were a couple small items. “No problem, boss, I’m on it.”

He continued,”Also, I wanted to let you know that I’m going to put you on a development plan.”

Then the world went molasses on me.

Oooooh. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

My hearing slowed down. My head swam.

I’ve been a manager for a long time. Development plan is a cute little Human Resources euphemism for “You suck, we’re trying to fire you, but we have to do a ‘development plan’ first to document what a toad you are.”

What had I done? In four months I already blew this gig?

Sure, I was a little blunt with that supplier, but damn, they suck at invoicing! And ok, I might have made a joke in a serious meeting, but that’s just my way. Everyone seemed to appreciate the moment of levity! And fine, I might have been late to work a few times this week, but that’s mainly because I was on seven in the morning calls with India, and I took them from home.

I’m not a perfect employee! But damnit! I work hard and my intentions are right!

While the edges of my eyes went wavy, and I tried to figure out where exactly I’d screwed the pooch, I noticed my boss was still talking.

“And so we’ll be working on this over the next month. Being new, you may not know that development plans are only offered to our top performers, so be aware that not all of your coworkers will be doing this same activity.”

Wait. What?

Oh. I see. “Development plan” as used at *this* company is a good thing.

Whew.

My heart can now regain regular rhythmic activities.

(And then I almost cried….but I held it in. A girl crying at work is sooooo uncool.)

The Lonely Road

I’ll send the angels to watch over you tonight
And you send them right back to me
A lonely road is a bodyguard
If we really want it to be

— From “Sleeping in Paris” by Rosanne Cash

Yesterday I climbed into the Jeep and went on a long overdue road trip, just me and my steel beast, 130 highway miles and lots and lots of thinking.

The reason for the trip was nothing earth shattering, just had to head up to the north side of Sacramento to attend some work related meetings.

Clocking in at just under three hours, it was a ghastly drive, not only because it lacks any sort of interesting things to see, but the stop and go traffic kept me on my toes most of the way.

I left plenty early to avoid commute traffic but had no luck. California’s Highway 80 is a busy road no matter what time of day.

As I drove, dodging other cars, stepping quickly on my brakes for yet another slowdown, stopping to pay the toll on the Carquinez Bridge, and cursing under my breath, I yearned for a different sort of road trip.

Growing up in New Mexico, the ability to hop in the car for the sole purpose of a long thoughtful drive was something I took advantage of every chance I got.

While living in Albuquerque, sometimes I’d gas up the car and drive to Soccoro, only to turn around and drive home.

I can’t lie to ya, Albuquerque to Soccoro isn’t a visually interesting drive either, but once out of the city limits, it’s a pretty easy road with hardly any traffic. I’d set the cruise control on 75, point ‘er south in a straight line and let my mind work out the problems of the day.

Straight roads and very little traffic produce a very fine form of therapy.

My all time favorite drive and think road, however, is Highway 28 in southern New Mexico. The stretch of road from Las Cruces to La Union and back includes canopy of pecan trees arcing over the road, arboreal arms to embrace and hold me safe in case I need to cry.

I got a lot of thinking taken care of on Highway 28.

Not so much on California’s highway 80. The thinking was more like, “uh, stopping again? Why? Oh please don’t slam into me!”

But still, it was a road trip and there is something beautiful about me, my decade old Jeep, shuffle on the iTunes and a problem to work out in my mind.

Oh, by the way, something else happened while out there on the road.

First, this occurred:

Shocking, isn’t it?

Then, from out of nowhere, this happened:

(No, mom, I wasn’t driving almost 80 while taking a photograph of my odometer. Why do you ask?)

It’s the first car I’ve ever owned from fresh off the lot to one hundred thousand miles. Sort of proud of my little Jeep.

And just because I’m feeling gratuitous, here’s a quad cam shot of the Bay Bridge (because the Golden Gate gets all the love).

(Click for full size)

Ok, I’m wandering off the point here. Let’s tie this whole thing together, and get back to where we began.

I discovered today that any road, even a commute time busy three lane highway in Northern California can be a lonely road.

And a lonely road is a bodyguard if we really want it to be.
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All photographs by Karen Fayeth, and taken with my iPhone 4. Bay Bridge shot from the QuadCamera app.

A Little Bit of Kindness at the Office

Last night, before going to bed, I took some extra time to prepare a batch of my delicious chicken salad.

I took care to make it a good batch, filled with perfectly grilled chicken, not too much mayo and my secret ingredients that make it, in my opinion, the best chicken salad ever.

Then, when the batch was made, taste tested and found to be perfect, I loaded it up into a container.

I packed that container along with an already packed container of soup, a bag of my favorite chips, and a bit of cough syrup into a small shopping bag.

This little bag of goodness was meant to go to work with me Monday morning.

I’m not trying to save money, although packing my lunch meets that goal.

What I AM trying to do is take good care of myself.

How many people think they *should* take their lunch to work, then pack a dried up lunch meat sandwich, a mealy apple and a bag of pretzels?

Or, even worse, they toss a Healthy Choice frozen entrée into their work bag and think that will satisfy them for the afternoon.

No.

I approach packing my lunch with all the care a doting mother would shower upon her cherished child.

It’s like a love letter from Sunday Night Me to Monday Morning Me. A gift. A bit of home to remind me that even though I must work in a standard gray cubicle farm, I’m still an individual. I’m different.

I matter enough to have Sunday Night Me go to the effort to make something nice and not just something slapped together.

I actually look forward to my lunch today. I’m not looking for ways to get out of eating what’s in the office fridge. Nope, I can hardly wait until noon.

And I’ll eat my meal prepared with love and I will feel loved and I will know that I did a very good thing for myself.

Heck, caught up in the swell, I almost want to write myself a note to surprise me at the bottom of the lunch bag.

“Have a good day, dear. Someone at home loves you.”

My Magnetic Personality

For years I have told friends that I am a “freak magnet,” and for years, I’ve had them tell me, “Oh, don’t be silly! Everyone says that.”

Then we go out to a bar or a dance club or a restaurant and sure enough, the wackiest person in the room will find their way to me like a moth to a flame.

I don’t head out to the bars and clubs much anymore, so I think I’ve grown a little soft in my ability to head off the loo-loos who inevitably end up sitting next to me.

Wednesday this week, I got invited to a “customer appreciation event” associated with my job.

Well, ok. Appreciate me!

It was a HUGE event with piles of free food, an endless flow of free booze and lots and lots of live musical entertainment.

While I had a gosh dang good time, I was always aware of the fact that I was having a gosh dang good time along with my boss and several coworkers.

I had a few glasses of wine then switched to water about two hours before my anticipated departure time.

At the end of the evening my boss, coworkers and I parted ways at the shuttle busses. The various busses were on different routes to take people back to their hotels and parking in different parts of the city.

Sadly, my route was the most popular, so I stood in a very long line for about forty-five minutes. People were yelling at each other for cutting in line, being snotty and aggressive, and generally at the end of their tether.

I practiced my meditation and art of being calm while I waited my way to the front of the line. Finally I got on a bus and found a seat.

And here’s where my magnetic personality comes in.

The drunkest, largest male human I may have ever encountered stumbled his way onto the shuttle, looked over his seating opportunities, and flung himself into the seat next to me.

Then passed out.

Hey, fine. I’m down with that. It will make for a quiet ride.

Oh nooo. That would be too easy.

As the bus jerked to a start, The Mountain next to me woke up and began making those burping, choking sounds.

“Dude,” I said, forcefully, “are you going to throw up?”

He looked at me somberly and nodded.

“THEN GET OFF THE BUS!” I hollered.

Well. He was at that stage of drunk where all your bones have gone gelatinous, and was unable to stand. Or move. Or do much of anything other than….

Begin vomiting.

He at least had the grace to vomit toward the aisle and not on me.

However…this is where I lost my mind.

I’d been up for a 7am meeting, working hard all day, celebrating heavily all night, and at 1:00 in the morning, wedged in at the window seat next to a vomit breathing dragon, I’d lost my sense of humor.

“Somebody help me! This guy is throwing up!” I yelled to my fellow travelers.

I heard someone go “Ew.” But that was all.

So I tried again, “Help me! Please! This guy needs to get off the bus! He’s throwing up all over the place!”

The bus driver walked down the aisle, saw the guy throwing up, make a “yuck” face and turned around and went back to the front of the bus.

“Are you serious?!? You aren’t going to help me!?!” I yelled at his retreating back.

I was ignored.

So I ratcheted up my freak out and began yelling with renewed energy.

Finally, the guy who appeared to be the friend of Captain Puke came over and in the most condescending way possible asked, “Are you ok?”

“NO!” I replied.

“Do you want out of that seat?”

“YES!” I replied.

So he grabbed my arm and tugged and I pushed off with my legs and we sort of drag vaulted me over the top of the now passed out guy.

An incredible gentleman in the back of the bus stood up and told me that back home in Chicago he commutes to work every day on a bus, and was used to standing. He gave up his seat for me. I thanked him profusely.

When we finally arrived at our destination, as we exited the chartered shuttle bus, we all filed past Barf Boy. He was still passed out in the seat, vomit all down his front.

His friend…the guy that told me what a “good guy” his friend was as he dragged me out of the seat?

He left the unconscious man on the bus.

Fabulous.

What a talent I have, attracting the elite of the world to sit next to me.