We Don’t Play That Game Here

I’ve had several jobs in my life along with the role of mommy and wife. Ironically, the last two I’ve had were because of my husbands’ gregarious personality.

The job before the job I have now came to me at a perfect time in my life. I was working in a place where it was obvious I’d hit the ‘glass ceiling’ and there was no way I was getting past it.

The moon was in the right house or the planets were aligned correctly or something because my husbands’ class reunion had gotten moved that year to a local hotel due to massive flooding. He has a very small class and most of them have never moved away, so it was more like a small cocktail party in the hotel lounge.

At one point in the evening, Hubby went to the bar to get a refill and a man standing there started up a conversation. He found out this group was a class reunion and asked if anyone knew their class song. Nope. After a round of laughter, he and Hubby just continued chatting away. Hubby has that gift. He can talk to anyone.

Little did I know this man had recently aquired a new business in town and was here looking for housing and for employees – techno nerds like myself. Hubby offered him some good information on housing prospects and mentioned his wife. Me.

The man’s company that he’d co-founded had bought out a small division of an existing company here and another on the East coast. The home office was in California. Because he hired me the way he did I became one of the ‘outsiders’ to the older employees- and he and I got along so well that rumors ran rampant. He was odd. I was odd. He had a quirky sense of humor. I have a … you get the idea. He loves his wife and family. I love my husband and family. We were completely platonic friends and work associates.

Could I help it I was a good – no – excellent employee? I anticipated problems and nipped them in the bud. I did my job with speed and accuracy and was never called on to re-process work. I had flexible hours and would usually go in early at 6:30 or 7:00 and work until 3 p.m.so I could get home to my family. I would eat lunch at my desk, and I just don’t ‘do’ breaks. I never have. I find they distract me and I lose my momentum. I had my own cubby, good pay, and a good boss. What more could I want?

A different co-worker for a start. Across the hall from me (the very narrow cubby-hall) was the Queen Bee. I call her this for many reasons. ‘Bee’ being short for – well, use your imagination. Rhymes with witch. She was the matron of the office – the mother figure to all us young ‘uns. She’d been with the original company for twenty-some years and it was her home away from home. Sometimes I got the feeling it was more her home than her home, if you get my drift.

When she came into work each morning (around 8-ish) she would take the time to get her coffee, flit around the office – and maybe get started on her work by 8:30. By 10 o’clock she’d be on coffee break, an hour lunch, and at 2 or 3 o’clock she’d be back on coffee break. After that she would work until 5 or 6 or 7 – until her husband would call from the bar to tell her she could come pick him up. He’d lost his license for drinking and had one of those handy starters in the car you had to breath into that wouldn’t start if you had been drinking. So, he’d have her come to the bar, breath into the starter, then follow him home so she could breath into it again when or if it stopped. (They tried to avoid people having others start their vehicle for them by having them randomly quit and needing a re-start in the middle of god-knows-where.)

I felt for her, I really did. But she’d been married to him for a very long time and it was her life and she seemed perfectly content with the situation.

This went on for a couple of years. Gradually the company was switching from mainframe to PC and the QB was more of a mainframe kind of gal. Frequently I had to help her out on projects or bail her out when she was stuck dealing with a PC problem. I didn’t mind at first. She’d be all ‘sweetness and light’ and I chalked it up to ‘she’s getting used to me – finally‘.

Boy, was I dumb.

After several confrontations with his partner about the way the company was being run and the long-going promise that this company was going public any day now (heard over and over weekly), my friend and boss left the company to go start another one in the south. He felt they’d bitten off more than they could chew with the buying up of these other companies, and he’d been proved right in at least one case because they’d sold one of the new aquisitions shortly after they’d purchased it. The final blow was when they hired a CEO that insisted everyone call him Thumper (name as been changed but was equally as ridiculous for a 40-year-old man). Thumper only worked for the company for 6 months, but took it tits up and cornered himself a nice golden parachute in the process.

When my boss left I was numb. The home office sent out a big mucky-muck to assess the situation. He had meetings for several days, finally calling people into his office on Friday one-by-one to have a chat. Can you say, “I don’t want to chat?”.

Some people were let go. Some promoted. Me? I got a compliment on my work, then an order. I was to start putting in a ‘full day’. I was to stay at the office until QB left the office, and I was to help her with her projects when mine were done.

Huh?

I tried to explain how I’d worked just as many hours and how my record stood for itself – without getting all vindictive and brining up QB’s husband or why she stayed so late. I’m nothing if not the model of discretion.

It fell on deaf ears.

I don’t know what that woman had been feeding him, but there wasn’t a grain of truth in it. I’ll always remember the smile she gave me as she left his office and passed me in the hall. A shark has more warmth in their grin.

I’ve said it before, but I have the most wonderful hubby on earth. I called him to meet me for lunch and he came, no questions asked. I sat in his pickup in the parking lot, trembling with such shock and anger – my voice cracking as I tried to keep it under control – re-telling the horror of my morning. He asked me what I wanted to do. Short of getting a gun and taking out some people. I said I wanted to quit. I would find another job, I was sure, because this job had built a lot of confidence in me and in my skills. I knew we needed the money, but I needed my sanity.

Hubby said, “Do it”.

Never one to quit a job unfinished, I went back into the office on Saturday and finished my project. I cleaned out my cubby alongside the others who had been ‘let go’ – all of us wondering ‘what next?’. The big boss had gone back to California after doing all the damage he could, so I took the cowards’ way and quit with an e-mail. I never felt such a sense of relief and I never heard from them again.

Ironically, here we are 10 years later and my eldest daughter is working in the same office as QB. She doesn’t know who my daughter is – she’s married and has a different last name – and I’ve warned my daughter to stay away from her. She knows the whole story and luckily doesn’t work in the same department. Daughter says she’s observed from afar, however, and QB seems just the same as I’ve described her…

All I’ve got to say is, you messed with me once, Bitch – never again. I could have titled this piece, “Why I Don’t Like Working With Women”. Give me a room full of men any day!

Doin’ the Happy Dance!

Youngest son WON again!!! Whoooo hoooo! He started in 12th place and won in the last turn…! Hubby just called. Said he was a crowd pleaser – the fair is still there and they had a big crowd – all cheering for son! I’m so tickled for him. Will have to watch the CD when they get it!

It’s going to be a late night of celebrating…

Welcome to My Phobia

Have I mentioned that I hate bugs? I. Hate. Bugs. They hate me – or love me, depending on your perspective. Hubby and I can be outside standing right next to each other and the flies and mosquitos will start eating me alive. I’ll say, “Aren’t the bugs biting you?”… and I’ll get back, “What bugs?”.

I love the outdoors, nature, mhy garden yeard and timber. But from the first warm days of spring until the first hard frost I am mostly held captive in my house. Each bite, be it from the littlest ‘no-see-um’ (yep, there is such a thing) to the biggest horsefly swells to the size of a quarter and brings with it endless nights of tossing and turning, trying not to scratch. This goes on for a few days. Nothing seems to help. All the perscription creams, otc exra-strength-by-god-we-swear-this-is-gonna-work-or-we’ll-come-to-your-house-and-cut-off-your-leg creams are all just money down the drain. The “old wives tales” and homemade remedies aren’t much better – ice, fingernail polish – do nothing but leave a shell I have to scratch through as well.

Don’t even get me started on ‘Deep Woods Off’ or anything that pretends to repel a bug. Ha! Do you hear me? HA! When I drench myself with any of those products in preparation for a lengthy amount of time outside, I may as well be advertising ‘free lunch! bring your friends!’ I can be bit before I’ve even gotten to the other end of the yard! ‘Avon Skin-So-Soft’ – DOUBLE HA! Not only am I lunch, but I smell like a sexy lunch!

Then there are the bugs I’m afraid of. Spiders. I hate spiders. Especially ones with hair. Fur? Daddy-long-legs don’t count. Don’t ask me why, but they just look like some E.T. that got left behind on the planet and just want to ‘go home’. Any other spider freaks me out.

In the old house we used to have the laundry in the basement. The cold, musty, unfinished, dungeon – I used to call it. At least once a week I’d find a big brown wolf spider in the laundry…and that was with an extermintor coming once a month to take care of bugs and mice!

There were the usual cast of characters throughout the rest of the house, too. The tiny fuzzy spiders that lived in the window screens, the black and yellow garden spiders, the ones that were as big as my thumb, very furry, and would jump long distances if you missed them the first time. Don’t forget the ones I would never see, but would bite me in my sleep.

Despite my childhood love of “Charlotte’s Web” I cannot get past my dislike of spiders – except Charlotte, of course.

Add to my list the ticks. In our part of the country there is a very small chance you can run into the itty bitty ones called deer ticks that bring Lymes disease, however my mother did get bit and contracted it in Arkansas. Thank goodness they found it early and treated it – knowing what it was. I’ve known people who it took years to figure out what the trouble was and it left them with permanent neurological damage. My kind is the ones that are a little larger and are just creepy. If you’ve ever had to take one off your dog or cat and seen how those little bodies can swell with blood – nevermind the thought that if you don’t get the head it’ll just grow back. Oh, ick. I had one in my hair once and it left me psychologically scarred for life. Just seeing one walking up my leg thinking about a place to attach itself is enough to give me the heebie-jeebies.

Finally in my cast of “bugs I hate” would be the beetles. This covers it all from June bugs to ladybugs. Now before everyone gets all sappy about the harmless, cute little ladybugs, I’m here to tell you they bite. It hurts. Enough said.

I hate the June bugs hard-shelled bodies and how they feel when they fly into your face or land on your bare summer leg and you can feel their little pincer feet walking up you. Ugh. I get a tremor at the thought. They buzz loudly as they fly around you and try and tangle in your hair – practically impossible to get out no matter how many ways you shake your head, wap yourself or shimmy. They are an excellent reason to stay in the house on a warm summer eve.

I know these are necessary to the ‘big picture’ – but I just wish they’d hang around someone else. So ends our lecture for today.

Dreaming

Remembering when I was invisible brought to mind a reaccuring dream I have. I get it about once a year and there doesn’t seem to be a particular incident that brings it on or any special time of year that links to it.

I can breath underwater. Yep. As in a fish. But I’m not a fish, I’m me. I go into this warm, deep aquamarine sea with the sunlight shining through it’s clearness and realize that I am having tightness in my lungs and I really should go up top now because I’m not a fish and I need to breathe air and I have no air tank or miraculous sci-fi re-breather, but it’s just me and the fishes. I try to get to the sunlight, but I’m too deep, the fire in my lungs is screaming to be put out…so…I…breathe. I expect the pain of the water sucking into my body to be unbearable. I expect to gag, to try and cough. To expell the water I’ve just taken into an area of my flesh that it isn’t supposed to get water. I’ve had enough experiences of choking on my own spit (yeah, you heard me right – and it’s not pretty!) to know what having fluid in a place it’s not supposed to be is usually not a good thing.

I don’t choke. I don’t feel like gagging. I don’t feel anything, except the relief that I am no longer trying to hold my breath. The tension is gone and the movement of taking water in and letting water out feels very natural. I look around, figureing I must be dreaming and there is an air hose hooked up where I can’t see it – or this water has been super-oxygenated somehow. I am a human breathing water. No way!

I never want to come out.

I’ve always liked the water, even though I live about as far from a coastline as you can get in this country. I’ve always felt at ease when I swim. I’ve never felt like a fish, though, or wanted to try the breathing water trick. I’ll leave that for my dreams.

Once I Was Invisible

I remember the time I found out I could be invisible. It was truly a wonder! I was five-years-old and I figured out if I stood on my stepstool next to the bathroom sink, I could look in the mirror and spy on my parents and they couldn’t see me! I mean, how cool is that!

Of course, as an adult we know that if I could see them obviously they could see me… but at the time I thought I was pretty darn invisible.

Fair Results

He WON!

These races are a bit different, as you don’t go by track points leader (which he is) to decide where you start the main race (he starts in the back since he’s the leader). This race they draw straws – and he ended up in the front, so he just had to keep it in the front. Not to minimize what he’s doing, mind you, it still takes skill and a good-running car.

The men are happy.

It’s Sure Getting Quiet In Here

Oldest son informed me today that he’s to graduate from college in a week. He’ll be done. Nine hard years of work (nine years of hard work?)… he claims he wanted to get the “full-four-year-college-experience”. Have I mentioned all of my children are smart-asses? Yeah. It’s like that.

OS also informed me he’ll be moving out of the house that weekend. He’s moving to another town – not too far away physically, but a long friggin’ way in a mother’s heart. He’s rather an independent spirit. He comes and goes and often times stays overnight at a friends’ place (he refuses to drink and drive after some bad decisions in high school). There may be days when I only know he’s alive because the leftovers in the refrigerator have vanished or his mail I left on the kitchen counter is gone.

Still, I know he’s here in spirit and I see him at least every couple of days.

I fear once he moves, that won’t be the case any longer. He’s going to full-time hours at his job. He’s got a steady girlfriend now that lives a little further away yet, and he’s still got a very active social life with lots of close friends he’s had since high school. He’s a little bit of a loner in some ways, too. He can be a very open and honest communicator – but you’ve got to open the door. Sometimes that’s hard to do when you see someone for 20 minute bursts at a time. It takes more – like a road trip to visit his sister – to open him up and get into some deeper thoughts.

I know that my kids will always keep in touch. If not, I’ll reach out to touch them… But it’s as my daughter said the other day, you miss out on all the day-to-day stuff. The informal, the casual conversations. You may get together for a holiday or a weekend, but that’s when you hit the high-lights, not the everyday living parts. Guess that’s one of the reasons I encouraged her to blog – figured we’d get to see those inside parts that we used to see every day.

It’s going to be awfully quiet around here… Just knowing he’s gone. I don’t see me falling apart in tears like I did when she left, as she and I were are closer than most moms and kids, but just having his smile, his quick wit, his cologne wafting through the house as he left… those are things I’ll miss.

Hope he stops by. Often.