I Need Some Cheek Salve

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Yeah, so I’ve talked a lot here on the blog about my job and working with folks around the globe. I am having a lot of fun and getting pretty gosh darn smart about the different cultures in the regions where I’m working.

But there’s one thing I’m having a LOT of trouble with.

It’s the kiss-cheek greeting thing.

The Euro folks seem to favor this method, and it’s not one cheek, but both. Shake hands, smooch one side, smooch the other side.

Suddenly, I become VERY rigid when I see these supplier reps coming in for a landing on my face. Gah!

Just this week, we had a VERY large meeting where there were, I kid you not, eight people who flew in from London for a meeting. I greeted them in the lobby and had to kiss-kiss all eight of these sumnabitches.

I don’t even know all of them. Hell, I don’t even LIKE most the ones I do know.

But they all stood in line to smooch-smooch me.

Then…when the two hour meeting was over, it was time to leave, and they all lined up to smooch-smooch me on the way out.

I felt a little…mauled…by the time the day was through.

Might I add that I was the only girl in the room of eight external people and five coworkers. There was no kissy-kissy between the guys. No, I got the brunt of the moist greetings.

Damnit! I’m an American! We like a little bit of space in our greetings! Also, I’m no good at the kiss-kiss. I never know where to land the thing. Do just sort of kiss the air? Or do I actually place it? And what if, horror of horrors, I miss and land it wrong?

I did accidentally bump noses with one of the dudes. Is that bad form?

All that aside, it just seems…wrong…to get to get that intimate with a freaking supplier. They aren’t my friends! They aren’t in my confidence! THEY ARE SUPPLIERS and therefore need to be treated at arm’s length to be sure they remember their boundaries.

Then again, maybe this is all a negotiation tactic to throw me off my game. Ooh, if I think about it that way, this kissy-kissy crap seems diabolical.

Mostly it just makes me uncomfortable.



And Yo Mama Too!

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Last week I was presented with a large amount of challenges in my young and budding career with The New Employer.

Things have gone pretty well so far, and I’ve been able to tuck a few successes under my belt. My boss seems reasonably happy with my work. I’ve even gotten a few kudos from other teams.

I’d say I’ve been doing a decent job, still learning, still growing. All in all, I’d give my performance over the past eight months a solid B. Maybe even as much as a B+

Enter the events of last week. I’ll spare you the details, but I came up against a very volatile and angry person at one of our offices in an undisclosed Asian country. I’ll be a bit dodgy about details as that seems to make best sense in this public forum.

I have to admit, honestly, I have now encountered one of the biggest bullies I’ve ever run across in my little life.

And by “biggest” I don’t mean in physical stature.

I can remember only once during my schooldays where I was bullied. A girl who was my friend in elementary school fell in with a bad crowd in mid-school. She started making threatening calls to the house. She promised to beat me up if I didn’t stop looking at her funny. (has she met me? I always look funny! I was born that way, waka-waka…thanks folks I’ll be here all week…tip your waitress…)

On one of these awful calls with me crying and my former friend acting hateful, my mom pulled the phone out of my hand and had a good solid conversation with the girl. As soon as my mom interceded, the bullying ceased.

Honestly, that’s about the worst I’ve ever had to deal with. Until now.

Who could imagine that my worst bully would arise when I’m in my forties? I sure didn’t. I thought I was past all of that B.S. once I hit adulthood.

Nope.

This gent is an angry, unreasonable man. I try to be open and work with him, and he says really awful things in return. Long hateful emails in which he calls into question me, my management abilities, the capabilities of my team, and perhaps whether I’m best suited for the role in which my employer hired me.

And every time he sends a vitriol filled note, he copies a higher level of my management team in on the action. By way of the dreaded cc field, he’s making a case to those who control my destiny that I’m a complete idiot.

Karen bashing! Yay!……. /sarcasm

Today I was looking in the company directory to get this guy’s contact information. I agreed with my boss earlier today that I’m going to call him directly to try to sort this out. The best way to deal with a bully is to face them head on, and I’m gonna do so.

I happened to notice that not only does this fine fellow live in the same country as my hardworking ex-pat big brother, he even works in the same large office towers.

So here’s the question: Am I too old to ask my big brother go beat someone up?





C’mon, how great was that movie “My Bodyguard“? Loved that movie. Just noticed on IMDB that it came out in 1980. Damn I’m old.


In case you were wondering, my boss is awesome and has been very supportive through all of this. I know that the real bodyguard lies within my boss and my amazing management team. I’ve watched my VP smack someone down before. It was brutal and final, so I’m certain she won’t let this mess go on much further.


I Fought The Law, and the Law Won

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So it’s 4:30 in the morning and I’m awake and working. At my job. At 4:30 in the morning. It’s dark and all hell is breaking loose, business wise, in several of the major Asian countries I’m working with.

The problem isn’t entirely my fault, but it’s my team, and I manage them, so I take the fall because that’s what a manager should do.

The time zones are right, mostly, for talking to my folks already working through the end of what is their Thursday, pesky time zones being what they are. It’s really right timing for talking to my boss. Four thirty means noon-thirty in London and the meaty part of his day.

He asks me why the hell I’m up so early. Well, for one thing, I can’t sleep. For two things, there are emails scorching the inside of my email inbox. Someone’s gotta do something about it, and that’s someone’s gotta be me.

So we’re talking. My voice is still creaky from lack of sleep as I make my case. “I’m in over my head here,” I tell him, and he agrees to help.

I’m keyed up on adrenaline and buzzing like a pot of coffee and two five hour energy drinks dancing a polka across a vat of 1970’s diet pills.

The boss and I are puzzling through the problems. We’re working on solutions. I’m trying to answer as best I can and agree to find out answers to questions I don’t know.

So the boss is talking, going on a long riff as he’s wont to do. It’s good stuff and I’m listening hard. While I listen, I lean my chair back on two legs, perched there for a moment.

I say “two legs” but perhaps I should say “two wheels” because that’s really the case. I’m nestled into my worn but comfy home office chair. I do this all the time, go up on two wheels, while I’m thinking or listening or just because.

I’m listening. I’m “um hmming” and I’m very into the conversation when I guess the gods that rule gravity decide that it’s time they had a say in this situation.

With nary a wobble or early warning, I go from being semi-upright, let’s say a nice 10 degree angle, to staring at the ceiling, knees in the air, I’m-an-astronaut-strapped-to-a-solid-rocket-booster-and-ready-to-light-this-candle position.

This descent of Karenkind does not occur without some noise. And by noise I mean a bone-jarring rattle that travels in waves through my seventy year old domicile. I can hear the plumbing pipes rattling below the floor.

The boys who follow earthquakes over in their center in Palo Alto might have noticed a barely imperceptible blip on the screen while taking another sip of stale government coffee. Meanwhile, seismic waves are going off in my home.

The curious cat, a moment ago fast asleep, comes galloping down the hall to find out what’s the deal. The Good Man turns on the bedside light. I see the yellow glow at the other end of the house.

Over there in London, either my boss hasn’t heard or doesn’t care. He keeps talking. I lay there, knees up, and listen. And reply. I continue the conversation, because the last thing I want to hear right now is “what was that?” because I have no good answer. “I just fell over in my chair” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in my capacity as either employee or human.

I half expect The Good Man to come check in on me, and am glad he doesn’t. I assume he hears me still talking and believes me to be all right.

Slowly, making the least amount of noise possible, over a period of several minutes, I slide out of the chair and slither into an Indian-style sitting position on the floor.

I finish my call. I hang up. I put my chair back upright and I pat its fake leather back as if to say, “we’re all right, big fella.”

I walk down the hall to go back to bed. The Good Man is snoozing with the light on. I place my iPhone on my bedside table, and as I do, I knock a stack of hardcover library books onto the floor. They make a sizable crash.

Apparently gravity and me are gonna tussle today. Being as how he has the law on his side, I think gravity is going to win.

I plan to give it a good fight.





Image found from Alex Huges Cartoons and Caricatures, a really fun site. I recommend a visit.


Oddly enough, this post actually sorta fits with this week’s Theme Thursday, which is book, so we’ll call it good.


I’m So Pulling out my Textbooks

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Back in 1890, they passed into law this little ol’ thing called the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

From the wiki: “The purpose of the act was to oppose the combination of entities that could potentially harm competition, such as monopolies or cartels.”

Yes, this is a good thing. Boon to a free economy and such.

Well I’m ready to invoke that act on a little institution known as Getty Images.

If you look around the web and you see an image you like, look closer…odds are Getty already owns it. And don’t both trying to “borrow” it, Getty wants their money and they want it bad.

Oh, and they are large enough to bring a whole passel of lawyers along for the ride.

Getty owns most shots from any professional sporting event. Getty owns the photos of most individual players too.

Getty has hoovered up many of the great images on Flickr, too. In many cases, photographers *gladly* gave over rights to their photos in hopes of making a little money or at least getting a little exposure.

Understandable, but I don’t have to like it.

Ever visited iStockPhoto, a place where you can find a lot of for-pay great stock images? Getty.

And now, oh now, my fave royalty free photo site, stock.xchng is under new management.

You guessed it, Getty has booted the original team (ok, they probably received a nice sum for their time and trouble) and is now in charge.

I’ll betcha some cold hard cash that many of these formerly free images will no longer be free. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that stock.xchng will soon be blended entirely into iStockPhoto and s’long high quality royalty free photos.

This make Hulk maaaad.

I’m just a little personal blog. I don’t make big ad bucks. I make no bucks from my blog. I do it for the satisfaction. And oh so sorry, can’t pay for high quality photos with just my sense of satisfaction.

Bah!

Photo below, found by searching “greedy” on stock.xchng.








Photo by Svilen Milev and used royalty free (for the time being) from stock.xchng.


An Open Letter To My iPod

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Dear Shuffle Function on my iPod Shuffle:

Today, after a really long day at work that started WAY too early this morning and ended WAY too late, I climbed my large and rather tired behind up onto my treadmill and fired up the big machine.

Normally I can rely on you, my long suffering iPod, veteran of many miles, to get me through the agony of exercise.

Not today.

Here’s a hint, little musical device: when I need a little inspiration, how ’bout we avoid every single four bar blues available on the playlist, huh?

Minor chords don’t really scream “get that heartrate up!” Albert King and John Lee Hooker are really better suited to competitive whiskey drinking, not sweating for my health.

And that John Denver song? Yer killin’ me! (yes, I have John Denver on my iPod. No, I’m not ashamed)

Workout time is also not time for Colbie Callat, John Legend, or Coltraine.

Damn, iPod Shuffle, that skip function got more of a workout today than I did!

That said, dropping a “Stayin’ Alive” on me near the end of the hour? That was inspired.

Occasionally, you still got it, Shuffle.

Sad iPod cross stitch from benjibot‘s Flickr photostream.