Sunday, February 15, 2009

New Office Noises and Valentine's Gestures Gone Wrong


Nearly six years have passed since I last worked in a crowded office environment,  so I've had to take a little time to get used to the presence of co-workers over the course of the last few weeks.  Don't get me wrong, everyone is REALLY nice and very pleasant to work with.  There is hardly an ego in the place and company politics has yet to rear its ugly head.  

The issue at hand is, for lack of a better term, bodily noises.  You'd think after so many years in isolation, I would be the person who forgets herself and lets fly with unapologetic flatulence or practices indiscrete nose picking.  But it's not me who can be heard unblocking my sinuses with a cacophonous intake of air that sounds like it is rattling my eye sockets.  No do I talk to myself nearly constantly, or vigorously and loudly clear my throat once every 15 minutes.  It is not me, but a mystery co-worker (I have yet to catch this person in the act), who appears to have been born and raised in a barn.  I'm all for letting fly with a good belch when one is among close family or friends, especially when excessive beer is involved, but loud burps in the work place take a little getting used to.

Is every workplace filled with people who fail to temper their unfortunate noises throughout the course of the day? Perhaps after working in an office setting for years, these noises will become like the hum of the refrigerator turning on or the whoosh of a passing car, noises I heard but never acknowledged when I was working from home.  


My husband is very sweet and romantic.  It is commonplace for him to leave me little love notes, buy me random flowers, or bring home some small gift just because.  I really appreciate these gestures.  I always feel loved and appreciated, and who doesn't like a little gift or treat every now and then.  But, sometimes the best laid plans go awry.  A couple of days ago, before anyone else was up, I was hurrying to get out the door.  I had let the dogs back in from their morning pee and was looking in the cupboard for bones for them to gnaw on when I saw Bo drop a small foil-wrapped chocolate heart on the floor.  Annoyed, I went to retrieve it, wondering who the heck had been careless enough to leave chocolate where the dogs could get to it.  Planning to have a strict chat with children when I got home, I headed for the back door to grab my laptop case from the floor where it was propped.  Sitting on top of it was another foil-wrapped chocolate heart with a single letter U carefully colored on it with a black Sharpie.  Then it all made sense.  Steve must have left me a couple of pieces of chocolate on my laptop case spelling out the message "heart U".  Returning to the great room to get my shoes on I found a third foil heart with the letter I.  Ah ha, I must have gotten the whole message then.  Three hearts that together said "I heart U".    I hopped in my car, having tossed all the pieces of chocolate into my purse.  Then it hit me.  Oh no, what if Steve had left the message that he loved me very, very, very, very much?  There could be a major mess of dog sick to clean up by the time he got out of bed to ready the kids for school.  Fortunately Steve doesn't love me that much.  

Friday, February 06, 2009

Diarrhrea of the Mouth, Constipation of of the Brain

I consider myself a pretty easy-going person. I get along fine with the majority of people, and if I find myself annoyed by somebody I make it a policy to keep things to a polite and respectful level and simply interact with them as little as possible. Typically that works out great, and I can count on one hand with fingers to spare, the number of confrontations I have had with co-workers or other people I have to associate with.

This week proved to be a horrible exception to this general trend. Fortunately it never came to blows or even an unpleasant exchange of words, but if this person could have heard the internal monologue going on inside my brain cage he would have slunk off with his tail tucked firmly between his legs. He wasn't a bad, or even a mean person, and in a general sense I could be around him without continuously suppressing the urge to slug him. The problem was that he just wouldn't shut up! The sound of his own voice droning on about a vast array of horrifically boring topics seemed to be a balm to his psyche without which he could not function. Once he had latched onto a conversational topic, he hung onto it with the tenacity of a pack of wild dogs that have treed a three-legged cat. No facet of a particular subject was left unexplored, including every excruciating reference and sub-reference. His favorite topic was, of course, himself.

This individual was not more experienced or at a higher level on the corporate food chain than I. He was simply on the job site to fill in for some hours at the end of the day that I could not cover. Among his many charms was the annoying habit of telling me how to do things I had already done, already knew how to do, or had no need to ever accomplish. Add to that his tendency to call my bosses and suggest new ways for me to do my job, additional tasks that I should be engaged in, as well as a laundry list of problems I had not attended to on the job site, and by the end of this week this particular individual was fortunate not to be using his anal sphincter as a speaking device.

Violence is not an option, so instead of pinching his head off between my thumb and forefinger or yelling at him, I took to avoiding him whenever possible. This was not an easy task as all construction sites require personnel to wear Safety Orange or Dayglo Yellow as a safety measure. Fortunately some of the equipment on the site is similarly colored so on occasion I could avoid detection by fading into the contours of a front loader, or sidling up to a crane.

I am grateful to report that today was the last day I had to work with this conversational Olympian. As I left my office this evening, backing slowly away and continuously trying to terminate his stream of consciousness, he excitedly filled me in on the recent exorcism of his new home. Apparently the spirits left because they had been informed that he was "a good guy". I didn't have the heart to tell him they probably vacated to get a little peace and quiet.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Portapotty Hell

My first three weeks on the job site at my new position were in a very simple setting. Personnel on the site consisted of myself, two engineers, a security guy, and the biologist that I was replacing. There were no buildings associated with the project, save a single turquoise blue portable toilet. A toilet that I shared with all of these burly men, along with several burly fence-builders, a host of burly truckers, and the occasional burly backhoe operator.

Each day before I left for work I attempted to empty myself of all bodily excretions so as not to have to use that portable toilet any more than necessary. Not to put too fine of a point on it, but there are certain acts that are not easily achieved with earth moving equipment rumbling less than twenty feet from your personal refuge. Inevitably, the water with which I had washed down my lunch would come back to haunt me, and I would be forced to use the johnny-on-the-spot.

My greatest fear, was that my cellphone or keys would tumble out of my pocket and down the dark hole into the mess below. This fear, however unreasonable, became so overwhelming that I began leaving my phone and keys in my car while relieving myself. Entering little blue building, I'd take a deep breath in attempt to avoid breathing the foul air therein. Inside, I would flip up the lid, trying in vain to avert my eyes from the contents already lurking underneath. Not looking inside a pit toilet is much like trying to tear your eyes from a train wreck. Try as you might, you just can't avoid a quick peek.

My second greatest fear was that somehow the portable toilet would become upended by some large piece of equipment working nearby while I was using it. Perhaps it was just this fear at work, but the structure seemed to begin to vibrate and rumble ominously as soon as my efforts had reached critical mass. There I would sit, totally vulnerable, waiting for the shack to tumble. With Murphy's law at work, it would land on it's door, and I would be trapped under a foetid wave of human excrement. My coworkers must have scratched their heads in confusion upon seeing me burst from the Portapotty, wild-eyed in fear, hastily buckling up my jeans.

Now that trailers are in place, lots of new people have arrived on the job site and things are not as simple as they once were. A complicated chain of command is in place and it's much more difficult to get things done. You'll here no complaints from me though. I'm just thrilled to have an indoor toilet that flushes, and hot water and soap with which to wash my hands. I for one will not miss a daily update on what recently exited the entails of my co-workers.