Category Archives: The Job

Living Below the Radar


This is my 27th year at my job and I have done an incredible job living below the radar. I work hard, keep my nose to the grindstone and fade into the background. I am happy.

Recently, I shared some workplace stories with our company PR representative. Evidently, this brought me and what I do for the organization to her attention. Thus, she wanted to interview me for a company newsletter which is emailed to hundreds of people in our community.

I really, really wanted to decline this ‘honor’. But, I can’t say no. So, I said, “Okay.” Begrudgingly.

I thought the interview went well. I was not happy to learn the article required my photo. So, I posed for a ‘selfie’ and emailed this to our PR Lady. She did not like my selfie and asked if she could come to my office and take my picture.

My office is my haven. In other words, it is a mess. But I cleaned my office and when she arrived, I posed for my picture and sent her on her way. Check that off my list.

That was Friday.

At 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning, I sat bolt upright in bed. I had just remembered that while I had straightened my office, I neglected to remove an incriminating picture from my pegboard. This picture would be clearly seen in my newsletter photo.

What was the picture? Well, I answer a lot of questions for people at work. All kinds of questions. No matter the question, I try to answer patiently.

As a joke, a friend sent me a quote that tickled my funny bone. Usually this quote sits in my desk drawer, to be viewed occasionally when I need a pick-me-up. But, recently, I’ve had a lot of silly questions. So, I took this quote out of my desk drawer and posted it on my pegboard.

It’s a joke. I don’t know why, but it makes me smile.

But, having this quote featured prominently in the company newsletter featuring the staff member of the month was quite honestly horrifying.

stupid_jpgSo much for living below the radar….



A Picture is Practically Impossible to Get Out of My Mind

I am a visual person. Don’t tell me directions, draw me a map. Don’t tell me your name, show me your name tag.

Some people remember verbal information with extreme clarity. I cannot. But I do remember experiences like a vivid slideshow in my mind. Some of these images are worth remembering and some I wish I could forget.

One such visual memory has pestered me for many years (19 1/2 to be exact). It happened when a coworker organized a party to commemorate the finalization of his divorce. Instead of weeping, he decided to throw a bash and invite all his friends and coworkers. I don’t usually do well in social situations, but I decided to attend this party even though I am a ‘foot in the mouth’ kind of gal.

I am not kidding when I say this. I have once, and only once, felt socially superior at a party. This divorce party was that time.

I arrived late with a girlfriend of mine. I immediately hit the food table because then I would not have to converse with anyone. You know, my mouth is full, I can’t talk. It works well if you are only staying for a short time and on this night, I wouldn’t be staying long because it was the night before Thanksgiving and I had yet to purchase the turkey.

Anyway, I did feel superior this night because while I was standing in the kitchen surveying the assortment of appetizers, someone walked up to an acquaintance and depantsed her right before my eyes. Yes, that is correct. Yanked down her pants.

At that moment, I thought a number of things simultaneously. One, I didn’t realize anyone still wore big white cotton briefs. Two, I hoped I had a belt on and yes, I did. Three, I never imagined anyone thought depantsing was a good idea…ever. And four, I finally met someone who had less social skills than me. As the room erupted in screams, I turned to the perpetrator and said, “Might I suggest the bean dip?”

I was the calm in the eye of this storm. I had witnessed a truly, outrageously, embarrassing event that far out-shined any of my social gaffes, past or present. As the depantser exited the room, we all turned to console our friend and assure her we had not seen a thing. Ya, right.

Is it Art or Design?

As I traveled this week, I spotted a garage that caught my attention.

Serendipity! A new discovery.

I don’t know why this image was so pleasing to my eyes. It certainly was unexpected. It spoke of a creative mind at work. It begs a good story.

Imagine a woman asking her husband to help mount a bike on the front of their garage.
Woman: “Honey? Could you help me outside?”
Husband: “What? Right now?”
Woman: “Yes, now.”
Husband: “What do you need?”
Woman: “I just need a little help.”
Husband: “Doing what?”
Woman: “Ummm. Mounting something.”
Husband: “Mounting what?”
Woman: “One of our bikes.”
Husband: “Oh, alright. Where are we mounting it?”
Woman: “Well…”

I wonder…and maybe that is what made this so interesting to me. Pondering how it came to be.

I am amazed with human imagination. So, what do you think? Is it art or design?

It’s art if it can’t be explained.
It’s fashion if no one asks for an explanation.
It’s design if it doesn’t need explanation.
— Wouter Stokkel

Let’s Have More Dog and Cat Socialization, Please!

I am privileged because I work with children. Children are curious. They are brave. They tickle my funny bone. There is one aspect of my job I do not like. Dogs and cats. My job takes me into homes each week where I come in contact with family dogs and cats. Dogs I tolerate. Cats I can’t tolerate because even though they may be lovable I am seriously allergic to cats.

Before a visit this week we were told to enter the home through the front gate because if we came through the back gate we would encounter a dog that might bite us. No problem. I can go through the front gate. As my coworker and I parked our vehicle, two dogs in the back yard growled … ferociously. Since we had been warned they might jump the fence this caused me a moments pause. I wish I were brave. We backed up our car and parked farther down the road and approached the front of the house from a different angle. The vicious growling in the back continued.

Upon entering the home we were greeted by a third dog. Lovely! This dog gave me a cursory glance but was fascinated with my coworker. He shoved his nose into her backside until his nose disappeared where the sun don’t shine. She squealed. I quickly found a seat on the floor. I really should have gone to her rescue but she is new at this and will learn in due time.

I surrounded myself with animal barriers. Couch behind. Large briefcase on my left. Placement of large toy on my right. Sharp pen in hand and slippery notebook paper on the floor in front of me. Secure!

The dog looked at me after disengaging from my coworkers rear and dismissed me as a pro. That’s right buster! The dog was finally removed and placed behind a baby gate in the next room.

While we met with the family the dog growled and whined. Unable to contain himself he leapt over the gate and went right back to my coworker. She never had the inservice on ways to discourage inappropriate sniffing. After quite a production the dog was finally let out the front door. Thank you!

I was just settling down to a great home visit when the cat entered the room. Duh, duh, duh. Cats love me. The cat ignored my coworker and headed right for me. I picked up my notepad using it as a barrier as it leapt over my head, flicking my hair with one paw and landed on the couch behind me. Drat. My fleece jacket became a comfortable bed for a kitty snooze. Ahh…ahh…choo!

Take Your Hands off That Mouse!

At work, one of my ‘other duties as assigned’ is to train new software applications to staff. I have learned a lot about teaching adults over the past 25 years.

  1. Technology is something you either get or you don’t and there is a learning curve. Some people are advanced users, some intermediate, and some beginners.  Then there is the group who aren’t even on the curve. I usually make them sit by me.
  2. Whenever possible, limit the training to a one-hour block. After one hour, their eyes roll back in their head and you lose them. This is usually when I begin talking faster and louder and they begin to groan as if in pain.
  3. You need extreme patience. With everyone sitting in front of a computer, the impulsivity kicks in and you are surrounded by a group of ‘mad’ clickers. Some people are more click happy than others, you know who you are.

Yesterday, I had a training session for five staff after work. The first thing I wanted to teach them was to turn off a video tutorial that launches each time the software is opened. The tutorial is wonderful the first time around, but it stalls out the program, is loud and obnoxious and I am sick of hearing it. Since everyone had already seen the tutorial it was time they learned how to shut this feature off.  It is really quite easy. Once the video tutorial window opens just deselect a check box in the lower left corner of the window and click close. Simple enough. Not so. As the software launched the mad clicking began.

Me:  “When you open this program you will see the video tutorial. To turn off the video tutorial feature…
The woman on my right clicked the X in the upper right corner closing the tutorial window. Since she did not deselect the checkbox in the lower left corner, she did not deactivate this feature but I was not discouraged. I still had four staff to train.

Me: “Look in the lower left corner of the tutorial window…”
The woman on my left clicked the X in the upper right and closed the tutorial. Now I had only three chances to get someone to actually deactivate the tutorial feature.

Me: “In the lower left corner of the tutorial window is a check box.”
Staff three and four clicked the X in the upper right corner and closed their tutorial windows. Now I am desperate, I only have one more chance to actually teach this skill. I leaned across my computer toward my last remaining hope for success and spoke loudly and clearly.

Me: “Look at the lower left corner of the window. Lower left. The lower left! Deselect the check in that checkbox…”
The fifth person ignored my words and clicked the X in the upper right corner of the window.

I am not one of those people who hides their emotions well. I slapped a hand to my head, sat down in my chair and peered at the clock. We had been in class for 2 minutes. I was doomed.

How to recover? They all looked at me expectantly. I rejected the first thought that came to mind but couldn’t contain my second thought, “Okay, we need to get one thing clear here. When I am talking you all need to take your hands off that mouse!” I actually shouted that last sentence and then felt pretty bad. I don’t know why, but my response made them laugh and they assured me that I hadn’t really yelled. So we continued. And didn’t the good times just roll.