Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley...."

That song popped into my head for no reason at all this afternoon, so now I pass it on to you.

I Can't Believe I Just Said That
I just got to say the most wonderful words imaginable to my rep at the temp agency: "This will be my last week at [The Hatchery] until June, as I'm going to be traveling for the next couple of months." Okay, so I had to type them in an email instead of getting to say them to her aloud because I ran out of daytime minutes on my cell phone, but the experience was just as sweet nonetheless.

Once again: "I'm going to be traveling for the next couple of months." Never mind that half of that time will be spent working as a substitute teacher while staying at my parents' house in the swampy estuary where they live in Maryland. It shouldn't be too hot while I'm there, the lilacs will be in bloom, if it does get too hot that just means more swimming in the river to cool off while traipsing about the fields of Neverland (our affectionate name for my friend Jesse's family farm) and building bonfires. Plus, subbing can be fun in small doses, especially if I get a lot of elementary school classes. Kids ages 5-11 think I'm hilarious. I'm ignoring all of the implications of that last statement regarding the intellectual level of my sense of humor. It's not that at ALL, it's just that they're purer, more in touch with the cosmic forces and therefore not worried about appearing "too cool" to laugh and enjoy life. If I gesture to an imaginary horse over my shoulder that I hadn't referenced before, they're right there with me and don't miss a beat, and begin laughing at all the silly things the imaginary horse is doing over my shoulder. Actually, that really did happen during a legendary presentation I gave on Why You Shouldn't Smoke to a class of third graders last year. I was much more informative than the pamphlet sent around by the Board of Education, and I had them in side-splitting laughter the whole time. I actually had to pause at one point so one little girl dressed up as a Baltimore Ravens football cheerleader could take a moment and catch her breath. So yes, it will be like a vacation.

Mustn't Write A Blog Entry Without Mentioning The Girls
So I'm down to my last week in Chicago for a time. Planning a Girls' Night "in the traditional style," where I fully intend to drink too much, swing around lamp posts if we step out to a local spot during the evening like we keep threatening to, do cartwheels in the lobby of Abbie's building, and generally act like an idiot while catching as much of the action on tape as I can, to be parlayed into a Music Video of Epic Proportions. Actually, my sister and I have made a few music videos of our own in the past, and it really does take a lot of footage to fill two minutes, you'd be surprised. I've revealed the song I've chosen only to a few select people. But no, it isn't "Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley," in case you were wondering.

More Ideas to Make Life Easier

I've been meaning to discuss these ideas for a while. I need computer programmers to come up with the following keyboard functions:
  • The ability to highlight text and change it from lower case letters to ALL CAPS.
  • The ability to hit an alternate CAPS lock which only capitalizes the First Letters Of Words.
  • The ability to highlight text and change it from ALL CAPS to lower case.
Am I right? How great would that be? Data entry drones the world over are mentally hoisting me onto their shoulders and carrying me to the nearest bar to buy me a drink. Let's make this happen, Microsoft. Show those over-privileged Mac users a thing or two. Just because you have more money to spend on a box of lights that I use as a glorified word processor that also has internet, a dvd player, and the occasional free tv show doesn't mean you're the only innovators out there! I just came up with three new CAPS functions, how do you like that?!?!

But I digress.

Chalet Islande
It's been very nice staying at my Temporary Quarters. I'm with my Icelandic friends, which forces me to face the fact that my Icelandic vocabulary and grammar are atrocious, and that I must study up before my trip. Time to get out the Icelandic-English dictionary and start reading Morgunblaðið online, preferably without tearing my hair out. On the other hand, it was fun being called upstairs for dinner by my full first and middle names the other day. Much nicer than when my mom does it, because when she calls me by my full name it usually just means I'm in trouble. Or that it's time to wake up, which always includes the loud snapping of fingers and a more snarling tone of voice. ;) Anyway, they have cable TV and showed me how to work it last night, so I now have television for the first time in six months, and cable for the first time in seven. I stayed up way too late last night watching it, time to get caught up on trashy reality shows (they boost my self-esteem!) and Frasier reruns (it's educational!).

Podcast Addiction Continues
I just realized as I breathlessly typed crazed praise for my favorite radio program, Woman's Hour, to a friend of mine who expressed interest when I mentioned it in my facebook status today, that I am more informed about the U.K. Parliamentary elections than I was about the U.S. Presidential elections in 2008. I'm also more informed about British news and current events, all of which I glean from my various podcasts that I listen to in order to maintain the last shreds of my already tenuous grip on my own sanity during the work day. Even though, except for "Woman's Hour" and "The Best of Today," all I listen to are comedy programs and morning shows geared toward commuters. How sad is that? I love listening to them but sometimes it's torture because I get to hear about all of these cool plays that are showing over there that sound awesome, but that I can't see because I'm here. Or they'll interview actors from movies that sound amazing, and I get so excited to watch them and start looking for a pen to write down the names... And then it turns out they're only showing on the BBC and I can't watch them, not even on the internet because I don't have a "television licence number"? What's that about? Stupid international copyright laws, what a bunch of b.s. I'm also still not sure which British political party I like, I've been trying to figure out the difference for a while now. I think I'll just stick to my traditional political credo: "All politicians are crooks, and Barack Obama is not the second coming of the Messiah, no matter how nice his teeth are." -gasp!- My friend has agreed to try Woman's Hour and discuss it tomorrow! I'm so excited! (And in no way is that depressing.)

"I Do What I Want!"
I think rules at work are stupid. Not the rules about equal pay, or that your boss can't demand sexual favors from you in order to let you keep your job, I mean rules about when you should come to the office or when you should leave, how long your breaks need to be, etc. We're all adults by now, aren't we? Are there any children around? No. As long as we get our work done and don't act like a-holes, isn't that good enough? I see the question in your eyes, and the answer is yes. I finally got told that I need to start coming to work on time. *sigh* Well, I had a good run. Four months of coming in late without anyone batting an eyelash is pretty good, if you ask me. And, apparently, the only reason I need to start coming in on time is that they're hiring a bunch of new people for the next busy season and there aren't enough seats for us to stray from the schedule. So, no more 9 to 4 for me. The night people come in at 2:30 and they need a place to sit. *siiiiigh* What time does a person even need to wake up in order to be at work at 7:30 a.m.? Have you ever heard of such barbarism? 7:30! In the morning! I asked Alisha to give me a wake-up call, and she has agreed, she says it helps her get up too. Even though she'll be calling at what American military forces and all-around bad-asses might call "oh-dark-thirty," it's a comfort to hear a friend's voice, half-muffled by one side of her face still lying smushed on the pillow, letting another friend know it's time to get up. While others dream on or stand, zombie-like, beneath steaming hot showers, willing their eyes to open, we trudge into the dreary morning, a full hour (at least) before the rest of the Western Hemisphere, to enter data, for crying out loud. Oy.

Oh well, it's money. Money soon to be spent on chocolate-covered snúður, Egils Apelsín, Tuborg and Viking beer, green Opal, Nói Siríus chocolates, Hraun bitar, flatkökur, hangikjöt, kleinur, SS pylsur ("Eina með öllu"), Coke in a glass bottle which I will drink through a licorice straw (Icelandic lakkrís is the best licorice on Earth, so don't make a face), and various other delectable goodies.

Let's Wrap It Up With A Revenge Tale

A funny thing happened at the Hatchery yesterday. They're bringing in more and more new people every day, presumably in anticipation of a busy few months. I've made friends with one of the new people, a nice girl who is a few years younger than me. I arrived at work yesterday and sat in Alisha's usual desk because she wasn't there and the seat I normally sit in was taken. I went through my usual morning routine: cup of coffee, cup of instant oatmeal I bring from home (maple and brown sugar flavored), get my first promotion to work on for the day, check iTunes for fresh podcasts to download (I got one of my supervisors to give me the password for the office wireless internet), got up and went to the kitchen to try to get a stronger signal for said podcast downloading, and had to talk to one of the "team leaders" (god I hate office jargon) a couple of times about something work-related.

I got back to my seat and only then noticed yet another, newer girl sitting at the work station next to me. It was already sweltering in the data entry room, and all of the fans were on except for the one at the end of our row. I was seated in the next-to-last seat, and she was in the seat closest to the fan. I got her attention and asked her if she minded if I turned on the fan, since it was getting hot in there. She said she didn't mind. I asked her if she was sure, because if she was cold I didn't have to turn the fan on, and that particular fan was pretty strong, even on its lowest setting. She insisted that I could turn on the fan, which I did, telling her that if at any point she got too cold she should feel free to turn it off. I don't know who could possibly have a chill in 85° heat, but you never know, some people have low body fat. I caught New Friend casting me a wry smile, since we both can't stand the heat in the office and always turn on the fans first thing in the morning. She instant messaged me on the intra-office instant messenger, called ichat, telling me that the girl next to me had just started the day before.

My day went on as usual, I was working away, happily listening to one radio host or another rip a British politician a new intimate orifice in an interview (I think UK broadcasting schools must teach their students to never, under any circumstances, allow politicians to complete a sentence on the air), when suddenly, Super New Girl next to me leans over and says, "My friend is giving me a hard time on ichat." I had no idea what she was talking about, so I smiled and said, "What?" "My friend, he's teasing me on ichat." I still didn't understand what that had to do with me, but didn't want to be rude. "Um, okay?" She gestured toward my screen, "Oh, you didn't see that? I, um-- I accidentally sent those messages to everyone instead of my friend. He was giving me a hard time because I'm always cold. Just wanted to let you know."

Here's the thing. Everyone in that office has had to learn the hard way that when you're talking to someone on ichat, you have to remember to click on their name before typing anything, otherwise the message you write will be sent to every single person in the office, supervisors and all. We've all done it. One guy famously complained to his friend about how sick he felt, and how he was going to leave soon to "Go home, put on my pajamas, and lay around all night shooting vitamin C up my butt." That one was hilarious. I saw that she had made the same mistake, so I took a closer look to see what the hell she was talking about.

Apparently she had been complaining about me to her friend! She had written, "She spends more time out of her chair walking around than in it working. When she is sitting down she's sitting around texting, looking at her ipod, and cracking every bone in her body. And of course the moment she walks in she immediately turns on the fan." I turned to her and said, "You could have turned the fan off if you wanted to." She laughed nervously and back-pedaled, repeating her lame story about her friend teasing her about being cold all the time. I smiled and turned back to my screen.

Now, most of what she said is completely true. I was out of my chair for a while, making my breakfast and trying to get a signal for my ipod to download things. I also haven't been doing yoga lately, and that combined with sitting at a desk all day typing things has me very achy, and I'm constantly cracking my back, my neck, my knuckles and my wrists to alleviate the discomfort and because I don't want to take ibuprofen every single day. And I stood up from my desk twice more because I was summoned by a team leader via instant message on ichat, which Super New Girl had no way of knowing. And yes, I wanted the fan turned on. What kind of a human being is cold in a room that is at least 85° Fahrenheit??? One who needs to get her blood sugar checked, I'll tell you that much! However, I repeatedly asked her permission to do so, and made sure she knew she could turn it off at any time if it got too cold for her. Plus, what does she know about what my job is or what it is I do during the day? It's her second day! We have more people than just the data entry drones in there. In short: What a bitch!

I pointed out the messages to New Friend, who cracked up and agreed that there is certainly something wrong with her if she thinks it's cold in there, and way to make a good first impression. Yes, Alisha and I regularly instant message each other about how annoying people are in there, but that's only when they're loudly talking about inane things, forcing their opinions on innocent standers-by (or sitters-by, in this case), and doing untold damage to our hearing because we have to turn up the volume on our headphones to drown out their grating voices. But I was just sitting there, and only occasionally cracking a knuckle or other joint.

So I waited. I worked on for a couple more hours, knowing she was probably mortified, letting her marinate in that feeling for a while. Then, when it was time for me to go to lunch, I sent her a private instant message on ichat, which said, "I'm going on break now, which will involve getting up out of my chair, so don't be alarmed. Feel free to turn off the fan while I'm gone." She leaned forward to read the message, realized who it was, and then typed back, "hehehe" just as I was getting up to go.

Zing! It may not seem like much, but it felt good to sting her back a little. I'm not a woman to sit back and be spat upon, even if I wasn't supposed to know it was happening. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Cold as a new girl at work shivering in the Arctic blast of the fan from one side and my dislike on the other.

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