TIL #7:  Danny Glover Was Right

A few months ago, I ran into a former employee of mine from the airport.

At.

The.

Airport.

What was initially awkward about it was that she had quit me with no notice because her doctor told her her legs couldn’t handle it.  She told me she’d really only worked sit down style jobs before.

“You were a bartender!”, I had corrected her at the time, incredulously.  

“Yeah, but that was only part time.  And at The Elks”, she had replied, like The Elks was a stand-alone explanation.

I’d written it off as relative at the time.  I really liked Kim, she reminded me simultaneously not to judge a book by its cover and that stereotypes exist for a reason.  That was Kim.

Mrs. Magoo glasses.

Bowl style haircut.

She was a middle aged transplant to Portland from Spokane.

SpoVegas.

SpoCompton.

Spokanistan.

Take your pick.

She moved away from Spokane for her internet fiancé.  Fuck my life…should this boost my romantic optimism?

Anyway, I run into her in the roadway under the airport at about 5 am.  She was just getting off work, I was just starting.

Innocently, I ask how she’s doing and express my surprise at seeing her.  Instead of the conversational default response one expects to off the cuff, reflexive social niceties, Kim gives me a longform response.

I guess that I – particularly – had that coming.

She was back to work, ground crew for one of the airlines.  Nights, it was hard, but it worked with her and her fiancés parenting schedule.

“Wait, your doctor wouldn’t let you work in a newsstand but now you’re working ground crew?”

I had both knees replaced!

“Wait, wait, wait.  Parenting?!?  Knees replaced?!?  It’s only been 6 months!”

She and her also middle aged fiancé had adopted or were in the process of adopting a 6 year old relative of his.  They had also moved out of his parents house.  I mean, mid-50s is probably the right time to venture out of the nest, if ever there was one.

She was going on about how she was looking forward to getting onto the day shift, but not until school started and she was going to have either her hips or ankles done.

I get distracted by imagining her as Jaime Sommers.

…and tune back in as she says, “but now my doctor wants me to wait to do that until after they take out the brain tumor” like it’s y’know, somehow an elective surgery.

I had to get away from this surreal conversation.

I walked away thinking, “How does she not put a gun in her mouth?!?”  It was really inspiring to think on.  Kim took over as my workday inspiration.

Shitty joints.

Late in life love and parenting.

Entry-entry level physical grunt work.

Oh, and a brain tumor.

If she can do it, I can do it!

Bad news for my former inspiration/mantra:

For the moment, “If Britney can make it through 2007, I can make it through today” took a backseat to my new battlecry of “Tim Kimke!” which was a mash up of her actual name.

It was really kind of the motivational push that I needed.  Britney’s breakdown was only getting me so far.  I was also reaching back to when I worked with a peer that was a real B-word in my mid 20s-30s.  

I was stubborn.

That stubbornness was manifesting itself in longevity in a job that didn’t deserve my efforts.  But I was learning a lot, while simultaneously refusing to walk away from a bad company where I had a boss I liked.

But he was weak and didn’t reign in my counterpart.

Ooh, foreshadowing.

Nonetheless, I stayed, refusing to leave before she did because to me it sent the message that she won.  

It was kinda fucked up.

My payback was that I was learning how to really manage.  Succeeding through my people, versus calling what I could accomplish with my own two hands success.  That kept me motivated whenever I crossed paths with my backstabbing peer.

But, I was recruited away by a former peer and I took a leap.  It’s actually where I met my current boss, even though we only worked together tangentially at the time.

Flash forward 15 or so years.

I’m doing good work, feeling like I make an impact everyday…of course, there’s a but coming.  

My boss is weak, but I like him.  But that’s not enough.  He’s afraid of being the bad guy.

Since last summer, I’ve been stringing up carrots to get me through the bullshit that weakness has manifested:

Make it to your year anniversary.

Make it to bonus payout.

Make it to review time.

Well, the other day, I found myself thinking, “Only 11 more months til bonus payout” and that was a wake up call.

 I’d doubled my tenure since work got shitty, I’d spent as much time dreading my job as I’d spent loving it.  The writing was on the wall, too.  Things weren’t going to change…just like my boss’ poor people management skills created the dysfunctional environment I was spending my time in, his boss was further enabling it by refusing to take action when measureable company policies were broken or violated.

You just need to learn to get along…maybe I heard that one too many times.

Looking back, once turned out to be too many.  The writing was on the wall, but I had to hear that damn phrase a few more times before I saw it.

Then I turned in my notice and basically fired my employer.

Time to reset.

Me time.

Heal wounds.

Because I stuck with it as long as I did, I’ve got the foreseeable future covered in cash:

Forgoing vacations allowed me to bank some PTO to ice the bonus cake I’d waited out.  Believe me, I’m gonna make every penny scream.  If you wanna enjoy my therapeutic free time with me, of course, you can treat!

I’m gonna write again.  No more of these weeks without content or publishing.  That bullshit ends.

Starting here.

And tomorrow, I’m going to brunch and then a hike like a normal Portlander does on a weekend.

TIL #7:  Danny Glover Was Right

Eat This NOW

Someone asked me last night for a recipe I use.  That never happens, and it felt nice.  To me, cooking is a great way to indulge creativity, do fun things and demonstrate you care for the people you cook for.

It’s so core.

Nurturing.

<glossing over the fact that I don’t cook much for myself>

Of course, it was my carbonara recipe, something I’ve never made the same was twice in my life.

I made it for my Monday Night Supper Club peeps a few months back and it was met with rave reviews.  

My response, “C’mon, guys…it’s just carbonara!”  I was amazed to hear that no one had had it.  Not even the Silver Fox, who I consider quite a cook and rather world-wise.  Secretly, I thought he was messing with me.  But then again, I made it for my family and they’d never had it before, either.

At this point, I began thinking that maybe they had had it and I was just making it wrong.  Hehe.

Then again, before 2006, I couldn’t say that I’d had it.

I walked into my kitchen classroom at the Sur la Table I was working at in Kirkland, WA and my store’s Resident Chef was creating.

He’s this guy, for context.

And he’s made quite a name for himself, just like I knew he would.  I’ve largely held a static level of accomplishment…but carbonara helps.

He slides me this plate and tells me to dig in.  I had a foodgasm.

“I figured you for a carbonara guy, Galby” he tells me, smiling.  “Pasta, bacon, eggs, cheese…what’s not to like?  It’s like breakfast in pasta”, he continues.

No shit.

I couldn’t respond, I was inhaling.

A few years later, I started playing around with it.  I tried googling a recipe and realized that there’s no one way to make this dish.

The core argument seems to be around whether you add frozen peas or if that’s a bastardization too far.

I like peas.  And I like a hint of color.

So I usually include them because I think it makes for a more appealing plate.  You’ll have to decide for yourself…it’s obviously both a deeply personal choice and a hornet’s nest.

So, aside from frozen peas, maybe, the shopping list is pretty simple:

One 1 lb box of spaghetti style pasta

Three large eggs – the yolks are another debate-slash-variable.

One third cup each of grated pecorino and reggiano cheese.

8 oz (or more!) of bacon or pancetta.

One shallot.

A few cloves of garlic…just a hint.

One third cup of heavy whipping cream – depending on the yolk situation.

I’m a big fan of the mis en place method of cooking, so that everything is ready to go when I start.  So, I’ll slice the bacon into 1/4″ strips, mince the garlic, dice the shallot, grate the cheeses and let my eggs come to room temp before I even boil my water.

But once everything is prepped and I put the water on?  The meal is basically done, so be ready to eat!

I think with the MNSC, I got to this point and then waited for everyone to arrive before continuing.

And, by “waited”, I mean, “opened a bottle of wine”.  Basically, I made this while I was buzzed.

So, the water’s on to boil.

I brown the bacon and then when it’s almost done, start spooning off the fat, then throw in the garlic and shallot to soften.

At some point while the bacon has been going, I’ve thrown in the pasta – and possibly the peas – and it should be about done as the bacon concoction finishes up.

While those two things were happening, I’ve cracked my eggs and either whisked the yolks (I’ve used anywhere from 0 to all 3 in my experiments) into them or taken just the whites and whisked the cream into them and added the cheese.  

Hold some cheese back for topping the dish, for God’s sake!

I recommend holding back about a third of a cup of pasta water, just in case you need to goose the sauce along.  More on that in a second.

Drain the pasta and then do one of three things:

Return it to the pot, add in the bacon/garlic/shallot situation, pour on the egg/cheese sauce and then stir!  You will hear people talk about the terror of ending up with pasta and scrambled eggs at this point…but it’s never happened to me.

Obviously, I recommend cooking with the wine technique.

My biggest stress is usually just getting the cheese evenly distributed.  It does tend to clump together.  

No, Dori…just keep stirring!

If you need help loosening this sauce up, add in some of that pasta water.  I find that the egg and yolk route tends to need this little trick more that the egg and cream method.  Nevertheless, it’s good to have on hand

Once you’ve got a good coating, transfer the finished dish to your serving bowl.

The second option is to dump everything into your serving bowl and mix there, ya cocky bastards.  One less step.

Or…if you’re a real pro, like Joel is – seriously, watch his show Scraps or his YouTube channel – you add the strained pasta to the fry pan your bacon is in.
Scandal!

Mix the pasta and bacon around before adding in the egg and cheese mixture.  This allows the wet pasta to kinda deglaze the bacon fond adding a lot of flavor to the situation.  And some cool color to the pasta.

I usually make a double batch, so I don’t do this since my fry pan is too small for 2 lbs of pasta.

And I’m not a pro, like Joel.

Now, a single batch allegedly serves 4.  I think it serves one Xtopher, so if I have company, I double up.

Make this now.  You won’t be sorry, and 

You.

Are.

Welcome.

Eat This NOW

Merry Christmas!

And Feliz Navidad!

My Christmas – low key as it usually is in my family, just mainly together-time and food! – was kind of crap this year due to circumstances I couldn’t really control.

Well…I could control them somewhat.  And I did.

But I still ended up working today instead of being off with my family.

What happened is that I had a couple of new associates scheduled to work today that called out sick yesterday, probably a pretty good indicator that not even paying them double time for working the holiday was going to motivate them in to work today.

So…I motivated them in to quitting.

Manipulate is such a negative sounding word and I really feel like my implied ultimatum was effective in getting these two off my team.  That’s important to me, because when people abuse our attendance policy, the rest of the team pays the price.  

Hard.

I was able and lucky enough to find an associate to volunteer to come in to replace one of their shifts.  But for the other shift I had to push our scheduled Manager On Duty into a store, which meant I got to be the MOD.

It’s fine.

Really.

Hold on, while I mop up the mess that sarcasm made.

Christmas plans scuttled, but it didn’t really break my holiday spirit.  I thought I’d try and put together a few of the Christmas memories that came into mind while I worked among the holiday travelers at PDX.

Christmasisms, if you will.

In no particular order…I really just hope to remember the thoughts I enjoyed today on my MAX ride home.

I’ll start with an easy one.

Ever since I took Spanish and Algebra in Junior High, I’ve amused myself by making a little equation out of the word Christmas.

Chris + mas (the Spanish word for “more”) = More Chris!

My staff today might disagree…hey, it’s double time!  I’ve seen enough war movies – both GI Jane and A Few Good Men! – to know double time means “fucking move faster, grunt!”.  

Yeah, that’s inside humor, Chris…

There was the Christmas that my grandfather gave us kids a foosball table.  Man, that was the shit.  I think we were so excited to see that sitting in the back of the El Camino that we collectively wet ourselves.  I didn’t even know gifts could be that cool.

But I did know that gifts could be the exact opposite.  When I was maybe ten, probably younger.  I got a gift that was basically this

As an adult, I’m ashamed of my ten year old self’s (maybe) behavior (definitely).  My paternal grandmother had bought me a suit.  I dare say it was my first suit.

It was very…brown.

Mom made me go into the bathroom and try it on.  I went.  I went and I stared at it, sitting there in its box.

I didn’t think of how little money my grandmother had, and that she’d chosen this while thinking of me.  Yeah, grandma totally knew ten year old me (maybe) was a Future Homo of America (definitely).

No, I didn’t think of that.  I thought of how brown it was.  I was apparently also hardwired to be a bitchy gay, too, since I waited an appropriate amount of time, rustled some paper and then went back out declaring it was, “Fine”.

I also learned at Christmas that gifts could be a rite of passage marker, too.  Like the Christmas Mom and Dad got us three older kids bikes for Christmas.  

Banana seats.

Handle bar streamers.

The whole shebang.

Wait…is shebang a sexist word?  Oh, well…if you’re easily offended you should probably be reading The Bible and not this drivel, so you really only have your delicate self to blame.

You know…the more I think about it, the more I wonder whether those bikes were Christmas gifts or just Awesome Parent gifts.  Well, it’s a good memory, either way.  I remember the three of us taking our bikes out for an inaugural ride, so if it was Christmas, it was temperate.  Riding around our cul-de-sac on La Cour, streamers flying.

Speaking of La Cour, the street I grew up on and fun little equations…my first pets name was Butch, making my porn name Butch La Cour.  <adult toy drop>

Ok…walking home on icy sidewalks now.  Just a couple more quick memories from today’s Christmas Snowmageddon.

I told you about my least favorite clothing gift of all time, how about my favorite clothing gift of all time?

Silk boxers.

Not for me, per se.  I agree with Kramer.

But I remember working a post-Christmas sale at Meier & Frank when I was managing Men’s Sportswear.  Alison, the Men’s Furnishings manager gives me a “Psst!  Hey, hey!” From across the aisle.  When I look up at her, she gives me directions via some crazy eyes that I correctly interpret as “Look over there!”.

Subtle, Alison.

I played it cool and was rewarded with a couple of barely college aged bros walking through the department in sweatpants.

Enjoyable – anytime – for me, probably excruciating for them on this instance since they both appeared to be learning that silk boxers are not practical attire until after you can no longer ejaculate over your own head.

I felt bad for them, but that wasn’t the only thing I was feeling, figuratively.

Gotta love silk boxer season.

Last one, swearsies.

Sacha and I – y’know what?  It’s Christmas.  I don’t want to think of Sacha anymore today.  

Plus, I’m home.  Let’s end this on silk boxers.

I’m gonna go inside, take off my pants, peel off my tights – proper Snowmageddon attire, bad walking ten miles at work attire – and sit on my couch with a pamplemousse La Croix and let my boys air out for a while.

Enjoy that Christmas visual.

Merry Christmas!

I’m No Bob Hope, Obviously.

Something really touching happened at work the other day.  And it just kept getting better and better as I observed.

Which is nice, on a shit day at work.  This was Monday number 4 in my work week, in case you were curious.

I was in our D concourse store, ringing.

See? That’s pretty shitty right there, since my job description isn’t heavy on the cashiering responsibilities.

I’d received an urgent text from Giggles about an emergency potty break, groaned and headed out to the D store – go ahead and make that dirty, you reprobates- which is conveniently located as far away from my then current position as possible.  Actually, it might be a toss up for fartherst, but it was still damned not where I wanted to be when Giggles’ Aunt Flo hit town – sometimes I know too much about my co-workers.  I was grumbling to myself along the near quarter mile trip to the store when I realized it was actually minutes past the end of her shift and checked my grumble because she had officially entered the realm of “beyond” in what she does for us.  Hard to be mad at that.  Plus, apparently her body was well enough trained to not drop an egg until the end of her shift.  That’s pretty impressive.

Or at least an impressive coincidence.

So, I get into the store, chuck a thumb over my shoulder to let her know to GTFO and handle her business.

Of course, in typical smart assed Galby-style as I’m moving the customer in her line to my register, I crack wise to her current customer who returns my sass with a bit of his own…even addressing me by name as he does so.  This all has the effect of both confusing and intriguing Giggles, distracting her from the natural phenomenon trying to occur within her enough for her to ask whether we know each other.

We both continue to chuckle it off as I say something along the lines of, “We go back minutes, literally.  Get out of here!” and start helping my line of customers.

None of that was my feel good moment.

I’m often wont to notice men in team sweats and military uniforms moving about the airport.  It’s my own little pervy-ESP.  I was vaguely aware of a guy in the store wearing his desert camo fatigues as I was helping a customer…

Here’s my aaaaw moment.

He’s over by the wall of magazines and a little old lady walks into the store and – slowly – bee lines it for him.  Walking up, gently extending her hand and saying something I couldn’t quite hear.  He takes her hand in his, replies and she quietly turns to leave.

I’m aware of this out of the corner of my eye and also realizing what a lil cutie this GI is at the same time.  Giggles distracts me by walking in and demanding an explanation as to the customer I was cracking wise with earlier.

Girl, go!  It’s your Friday!

But she persists and counters her presence with the fact that she had an emergency but didn’t want to bail without completing her end of shift responsibilities.  Another aaaw moment, albeit it a boss versus human aaaaw moment.  Especially since she was being considerate of an associate who was now 15 minutes late to relieve her.

I had basically walked into the store to kick her out as she was soliciting a customer donation to our airport’s USO lounge.  It’s my driving focus at work, so it was enjoyable as a leader to walk in and catch one of my team in the act of doing something right.

Especially right before one of our servicemen happened into the store.

“Was he a friend of yours?!?”, Giggles is probing.  “You seemed to know each other!  Was he from corporate?”

“I’m sure I don’t know”, I reply wondering if this was actually someone I did know and had forgotten about versus just someone who read my name badge, “But if he was, aren’t you glad you asked him to support our Troops lounge?”, I taunted.

Speaking of troops, our handsome GI was now in my line, ready to check out.

Three back.

I’m not the best at soliciting Troops donations, I probably ring an hour or less per week.  Still, I’ve got about $550 in snack and travel items donations for the year.  I think that’s pretty good for about 50 hours of jockeying a register.

I give some pretty good side eye to Sales associates who work 40 hours a week and haven’t managed to surpass my results…thinking that I’m on a team at work and in their world, they are the team.

Boo.

But I’m conflicted asking the two customers in front of our cute GI, “Woild you like to send a snack or a travel kit to our USO lounge?” while making furtive glances at a sorta grinning GI in my line.

Aaaaw.

I’m sure a negative response is uncomfortable in this scenario and that’s not my goal…but let’s call it a fringe-y type benefit.

When our cute GI reaches me, he drops a razor, shaving cream and toothpaste on the counter.

“Have you been to the USO lounge here? They probably have this stuff.” 

“I actually haven’t, but there’s no time”, he tells me, “my family is picking me up!”

He tells me about a journey of delayed and rerouted flights, but finally making it home to Portland.

I wish him a happy holiday and he’s gone.

The Mulligan is kicking around my brain as I watch him leave and keep running that register until my Tardy Boy employee finally arrives.

This coincides nicely with Giggles’ departure, and while we leave a few minutes apart, I catch her with my long-legged gait handily.

So, here’s Giggles and I, walking through PDX.  She’s trying to determine the veracity of my ignorance claim regarding her last customer.  I’m just chatting.  She’s fun to shoot the breeze with.

Suddenly, I realize that we’re standing outside one of the bathrooms and I find myself looking for a way to let her out of the conversation thinking there’s some ovary pong issues still to be resolved.  Then I realize that we’re outside a men’s room.  I get all neurotic thinking that this is an area rife with distraction for me but also cognizant of how tacky it is to hang out outside a men’s restroom.

It’s an airport, not a rest area.

I suggest we move.

We head toward the exit, still chattering away.

We get through the exit lanes – which are new to a PDX and apparently the most up to date and secure in the country…they just remind me of the final scenes of Love, Actually – and there’s a group of people waiting to meet their loved ones as they arrive.  One group in particular is holding a homemade sign saying “Welcome Home!” With a picture of our cute GI on one side and a second picture of him as a boy on the other.

Little sister is standing in front of the sign, Dad is flanking and Mom is holding the sign.  They are excitedly speculating what could be the hold up.  

Anticipation.

Anxiety.

Nerves…

I casually pull up alongside Mom and whisper to her that her son will be along shortly, he’s shaving and brushing his teeth before coming out to meet them.  She beams back at me briefly with a mixture of relief and what I assume is pride and love that only a mother fully understands.

I move on with Giggles, wishing I could stop and lurk to see the homecoming scene but completely in love with this family’s Christmas Present.

I hit my pre-security store and as I’m heading down to my office on the baggage claim level, I see our GI and his family boarding the escalator.  Our GI lifts his shirt casually to huck up his fatigues, exposing a rather fit soldier physique and I can’t help but think what a nice package this guy is.  Wherever he lands, his chosen family will be getting a guy with roots, a sense of duty and a darned nice looking patooty, to…boot.

Regardless of any fleeting lurid thoughts, I was happy to know that someone so naturally good was out there representing our country and I mentally thanked him for his service.

I’m No Bob Hope, Obviously.

Why I’m Single #98

The locals aren’t amused by my schtick?

Maybe that’s it.

I mean, not that I have a schtick or anything.  I’m basically a big goof ball.  Sure, I’ve got my serious side that admittedly comes across as grumpy, but that’s not my default setting.

That’s 100% class clown.

Case in point, I’m killing it with the travelers passing through PDX.  Not just the cute ones, either, so you can’t call my goof ball setting a product of my flirting…although, it’s certainly present then, too!

A couple of weeks back the Oregon State University played Boise State in some sportsbally thing.  The game was in Boise – I assume that’s where the college is, Penn State be damned – and that had a lot of Beavers fans flying out of PDX to attend.

Seems like a lot of scratch just to watch young men scramble around in snug britche…oh, wait…I’m starting to see the allure.

Be right back.

Phew.  Ok.  Where was I?

Oh, yes.  

Originally, I had seen a flash of bright orange and mistaken a customer for a traveling Beavers fan.  Turns out, she was also wearing the cobalt-ish blue that made her a Boise State fan.  We chatted about how her flight was gonna be pretty awkward with all the Beavers, but at least it was short.  I chided her by asking if she’d actually flown to PDX just to mess with the Beavers on their flight over.

Laughingly, she told me that while that sounds fun, she was actually living in Portland for work these days.  She said that she tried to get back a couple times a season for games, and this was just the luck of the draw.

While she spoke, I was being served some pretty serious eyelash flutters and behind the ear hair tucking.  My homojo was misfiring, but I don’t care.  We’re never gonna see each other again, let kitty sharpen her claws.

She went on to say it was worth it, just to see the blue grass of the stadium.

I was corn-fused (ok, that’s only gonna be funny to Duck fans who call OSU’s hometown of Corvallis Corn Valley…) and asked if they were using bluegrass in their stadium.  She laughed, tucked her hair and fluttered her lashes and said, “Noooo!  They paint the grass blue!”

Like I was just the silliest of geese.

“Come to think of it, the Ducks do the same thing in their stadium with green grass!”

Moment over.

Then she took off for her gate.

After saying hi to some cute lil nugget of a man that walked in as we were wrapping up our conversation, I made an off hand comment to a co-worker about how Boise could really mess with the Beavs by painting their grass orange.  “It works for both teams, so maybe the Beavs would think they were at home…and they always lose at home!”

The Nugget was on the other side of the store looking at magnets and guffawed.

I looked over at him, thinking, “That’s what you get for eavesdropping, buddy!”  But he was looking down in shame for getting busted listening in and without moving his head, he raised his eyes and looked at me, giving me the cutest lil shy smile.

Why can’t he live in Portland?

Life is so hard.

Why I’m Single #98

Commitment

Last month, at my company’s annual leadership seminar, I got to see Eric Boles talk.  

My peers in the audience were impressed to see this former Jets football player speaking.  I was thinking, “This guy lives outside of fucking Seattle.”  I don’t think it’s funny to drag me all the way to Atlanta just to see someone from the PNW speak.

But that’s just my EOG default.

Anyway, he talked about change:  what prevents it, why we fear it, how we convince ourselves that we’re fine just how we are.  That reminded me of a saying from my early retail days working at South Coast Plaza in SoCal.  Whenever they would do work in a store, instead of just slapping up a MallWall to hide the vacant storefront, they would print a thematic and inspirational saying about change on it.

“There’s no such thing as staying the same.  You are either constantly improving or allowing yourself to get worse.”

That phrase has stuck with me over the <gulp> decades since, during which sometimes I experienced improvement and others I “stayed the same”…

He told the story of his relationship.  How he’s been married 23 years and his wife will tell you it’s been 3-4 of the best years of her life.

Yuck-yuck-yuck.

You could hear the love and admiration in his voice when he talked about his wife and their daughters.  I was touched because that’s not something you hear much these days.  That raw reverence for one’s partner in life.

Too often these days, it’s less “all for one and one for all” and more “everyman for himself”.

How do you sustain a relationship over time – a lifelong commitment – with that insular mindset?

This was a leadership conference for a billion dollar retailer, so a guy telling stories about his wife might not have been the obvious choice.  But the thing is, I got it right away.  Maybe many of us did, perhaps not.  But for me it was an easy corollary because it’s one I’ve used quite often in my career.

Spoiler Alert:  I stole it.

A while back, I was interviewing with Sur la Table for a Store Manager job in Shittatle and the VP of HR was one of the three people I met with that day.  She talked about interviews like a first date.  If the first one goes well, maybe we’ll go for a second one and see how that goes.  If it goes well, maybe we’ll go steady.

“Is that really the type of analogy someone in HR should use in an interview?” 

I still got the job.

I better have, since it went from there and careened onto sushi body shots.  What the hell was I getting myself into?

Sidebar: 

When I arrived at the HQ for my interview, I rode the elevator up with a woman who walked in just as I was hitting my floor.  I asked what floor she needed and she said she was going to the same floor.

“Are you interviewing for the Store Manager job, too?”, I asked, making small talk.

“No, I work here, but I have an interview in a little while, too”, she said smirking.

“Well, I hope it goes well!”, I said as we both exited.

She said something about how everyone was excited about the new store I was interviewing for and wished me luck.

I thought that was nice and was super excited to talk to my hopefully new VP group, the final round of which was with my smirky elevator companion.  That was a fun moment.  Plus, as snarky as I am, I deserve shit like that happening to me.

Anyway, since that interview I’ve considered my job and co-workers a little differently.  Evaluated them as the relationships they are, particularly considering the amount of time the situation of work mandates that we spend with our co-workers.

Is my relationship with your job or co-workers a good one or a bad one?  Do I want to commit to this for the long run?

It was an eye opening change of perspective at the time and I was glad to see this topic pursued by a public speaker some ten years later.

We’ve all heard our employers talk about the team or how the work unit is a family.  When was the last time you heard it in a way that wasn’t slightly manipulative?  It shouldn’t be something that you hear once in a while – usually at an inopportune moment for you – it should be something you see in practice frequently.

One of the other analogies I’ve heard is how managers are bus drivers.  You only have so many seats available, fill them with the people who want to go to the same place your bus is heading, yada-yada-yada.

But families and buses are different than relationships.

There’s something more potent about the word relationship.  To me, anyway.  More serious.  Weighty.

Plus, it covers a gamut of interpersonal labels.  Takes it away from genetic bonds and into a territory I like to contemplate often:  Chosen Family.

Talk about weighty.  Now you’re into the arena of people you choose to be bonded to, versus the bonds you’re born into.

So, 30 seconds later, after all this has flooded through my mind and I’ve glanced over at my Seminar Boyfriend a couple times <sigh> he’s moved on to talking about our tendency to chase our own happiness instead of invest in someone else’s and how that in turn leads to inability sustain a relationship.

Right?

I like this guy.  If you’ve never heard him speak – or of him, as was my case – I suggest you look him up.

I bring this all up, not because of my work family, but rather because it so broadly encapsulates behaviors you can see in everyday interactions…and I love being able to understand someone’s motivations.  Looking at them through these relationship filters really helps to clarify a lot of what I experience and observe.

Newsflash:  people are scared and selfish.

The French have a word for the type of statement I just made:  duh.  I’m not sure exactly how it’s pronounced.

But just because it’s a simple statement doesn’t mean there’s a simple solution.  Tryst me, I’ve been banging my head on that wall for quite a while, before I even knew what that figurative wall was made of.

People don’t think of how their actions impact others, they consider what they want.

When we get feedback, most often it’s rejected if it doesn’t align with our perception of self.  Hell, if we accepted it, then we’d have to accept that we need to change something about our favorite person.

And none of that points toward an investment in another person’s happiness…just ours.  

A lot of big thinking talk that should hopefully point us toward an internal examination of the motivations behind our actions, but something tells me it was just entertainment for too many of us.

Otherwise, it’s kind of feedback, right?  And we can’t have that, because then we might have to change something.

Commitment

The Fiendly Skies

It’s a bad start to any trip when you wake up two and a half hours before your alarm the morning of your departure.

Yet, there I was, wide awake at 2:00 after almost four – count ‘em! – glorious hours of sleep.

Me: I could go in early and get some work done before takeoff.

Working at the airport is convenient in this scenario.

Myrtle: You move, you die.

It’s like that beast can selectively read my mind.  But, the Mistress has been sleeping with me nightly the last six months, usually pinning me to one spot by nestiling into my crotch after I’m asleep.  That and using her litter box consistently last week for the first time in a year – damn feline UTIs – and I’m inclined to lay there and let her purr for a while longer.

Well, those two things and my own natural laziness and finely honed sense of procrastination.

I finally rip myself from my sheets at 4:15, as if I’m made of Velcro.

I’d spent my two hour non-nap thinking.

Ruminating.

Reflecting.

Bouncing back and forth between personal thoughts and work.

Did I pack everything?

I should just go in, this is ridiculous…I could knock out payroll and give a few breaks before I board.

I’ll bet I never hear from The Wallpaper again.

I should start going to the gym again.

I wonder whether Linda Belcher will snoop when she’s checking in on Myrtle.  Meh.  Nothing crazy in my nightstand.  But I do have The Silver Fox’s Pleasure Chest in my closet…I wonder what he’s got in there.

If I go to work, it’ll take away a development opportunity I assigned to one of the junior managers.  It’s good I’m staying in bed.

I wonder if Jeo and I will reform our friendship.  It was nice running into him the other day.  He gives great hugs.

I’d really like to have sex again with The Wallpaper when we’re not half drunk.

Do I need to leave a note for Linda Belcher?  Taking care of Myrtle can’t be too big a mystery…

I should wait on the gym.  If running is back on the radar, I want to focus on accomplishing that and not risk reinjuring my shoulder.

Should I put a disclaimer on the Pleasure Chest saying it’s not mine.   Nah…nothing bad will happen.  What could possibly go wrong?

God, I hate flying.

Y’know, that type of productive mind vomit.

Once I finally start stumbling around, my procrastination kicks into high gear.  I turn on my Sonos, it’s still on the station I’d created for The Wallpaper and a Rita Ora song starts playing.  I’d never heard of her before the other night and really like her music.

I play laser tag with The World’s Most Dangerous Feline, re-check my bag (ok, I guess this is semi-productive), clean the toilet, shower, dress, pack my Dopp kit, feed Myrtle, change my clothes and then realize that I probably should have given myself a few extra minutes to get to the MAX stop with my suitcase.

I call an Uber.  God bless my parents and their insistence on giving me some “walking around” money for my trip.  The Uber is on them!

My driver is pretty chatty, his name is Van according to the Uber app – talk about name predermination, an Uber driver named Van?  This guy never stood a chance.  I notice that his car’s onboard system refers to him as Jay and Jay’s playlist is pretty solid.  As I’m appreciating it, the display changes to the next song, Anywhere by…Rita-fucking-Ora.  

So, that’s how it’s gonna be, eh?

I get to the airport and check in with minimal fuss…thank goodness there was a retiree stationed at the kiosk to help me.  I really did need it this morning.  Despite the way being stymied by technology usually makes me feel, I cut myself a break this morning and refuse to chide my imminent old-age.

While check-in was breezy, I soon discovered that it was looking like that would be the last non-frustrating part of my day.  From here on out, it’s frenzy and frustration.

Checking my bag was an odyssey.  A line that snaked through every switchback in the stanchions.

Ugh.

I started kinda freaking out at the fact that I hadn’t seen my counterpart or The Boss yet, we are all on the same flight and I’d gotten to the airport 15 minutes before the boss said he planned to arrive.

Maybe they were carrying on.  Who knows with straight guys?  Me?  I had to pack a couple bottles of wine for me and my Boise counterpart to share over the coming week of meetings.

Why is this idiot kid taking so long?  What’s he checking…is that a bike?  

C’mon, universe!

Pairing the unwieldy parcel with the most challenged check-in agent seems a little excessive.

I finally complete this level of Hell and head to our pre-security store to touch base after a tough day yesterday and make sure my early morning associate, PLoop, got her break.

I recognize The Boss’ cotton-topped head from behind and am simultaneously glad he’s made it and chafed that he got ahead of me because he didn’t have a bag to check.

He’s grabbing a bagel and as PLoop is ringing him up, she’s making small talk with me.  She has an omnidirectional attention span that I usually find amusing.  Not this morning, though…The Boss is antsy to get through security since our flight leaves in an hour.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

I interrupt her chatter to ask about the break, she declares she snuck a potty break and I tell her that I’ll hold the fort while she grabs a snack.  I tell her to finish with The Boss, who has begun an antsy side to side dance.

You know what PLoop does?

Persists.

And I find it endearing.

The Boss takes off in the vague direction of the employee line through security.  Neither of us knows its precise location, since our badges allow us access to the secure parts of the airport without going through that line every time.  He told me on my first day that he’d show me how the routine worked but never did, so I never have done it.  On his way out, he tossed a little dagger my direction about everyone showing up today, three associates had called out the day before and it was a shit show.

But I could chuckle at his dig.  Thanks to some great teamwork, I survived the day.

Sidebar: dear gawd, the woman across the aisle from me is triggering my mysophonia.  She’s sniffing like Trump during a presidential debate.  It started five minutes after we pushed back, went on every 30 seconds for about 15 minutes and has been repeating ever since.  I think it’s a tic, there’s no thickness to it…just an incessant wet sniffle.

I take off my jacket and assume the position behind the register so PLoop can take her break.  It’s about 5:40 in the morning, we should board around 6 and I still want to get my own snacks and drink for the plane after going through security.  PLoop talks herself out onto her break and while responding when needed, my inner countdown clock is speeding up.

When she comes back, we exchange goodbyes – it really is nuts how much I’ve missed my team, dysfunction and all, when I’ve gone away for meetings or vacation – and head for security.  It’s not quite 6, but definitely past 5:55, so I gotta take some cuts to get ahead in line.  I wave my badge at the TSA agent and express my question by waggling my finger between three entry points.  He directs me to the middle, cutting out all of the switchbacks and queuing me up for the scanners.

I strip off my shoes as I approach, even though I’m fifth back on line, I’m the only one preparing.  

Belt off.

Fourth back.

The people ahead of me all grab totes simultaneously and start piling their accessories into their tubs.  Once the first guy has shoved his totes toward the rollers and made for the scanner, there’s enough room for me to grab a tote of my own.

I’m ready about the same time as the lady two up and the guy right in front of me.

The TSA guy feeding the rollers points s floral backpack my way and asks if there are any laptops or tablets in it.

“I don’t know, it’s hers”, I respond pointing to where the owner was moments ago…but she’s now suddenly in the scanner.

I give the guy a palms up gesture.

He moves on.

“Who’s kicks are these?”, he asks.

Those would be mine”, I say.

“Sick”

Cool.  Props from one of the fit TSA agents.  My day is looking up.

I randomly wonder what my junk looks like on the scanner as it rotates around me, then step out when invited and await the inevitable.

Expecting a pat down, I’m given a casual borderline #metoo caress as the agent is telling me he just needs to check my backside.

This happens every time I fly – something on my back triggers a pat down, but usually I get the whole enchilada.

This time, it’s just a little stroke.

Of course, there’s nothing there.  There’s so little there there, that I really think the agents are confirming the total absence of any ass on me.

Whatevs.  I heard someone say recently about TSA screenings, “I never turn down foreplay” and have adopted that same attitude.

I get redressed, trying hard to keep by Dunlap covered while putting my belt back on, and head off to get my flight snacks.  It’s about 6:05.  The plane is boarding, but I need s Monster and something to read.  Plus, the store is right by the gate.

The line is around the store.  

Ugh.  It’s the luggage check-in people all over again.

In an unusual twist, instead of running along the edge of the cash wrap around the Store which is how this usually goes – some brainiac had somehow convinced the line to form from the cash wrap straight back to the wall and then around the perimeter of the store, thus blocking all of the books and magazines as well as the coolers.

I wanted a book and a Monster.

Idiots.

I decide that instead of fighting and then joining the throng, I’d help my associate bust her line and make some other travelers happy.  I go to take off my coat and start ringing.

No coat.

Fuuuuuuuck.

I start ringing anyway.

Where did I leave it?  

Must have been security.

No.  No…that can’t be right, I’d never put my shoes on top of my jacket – germs – and my sneakers got complimented, so they weren’t covered by my jacket.

The pre-security store!

Fuuuuuck, again!

No time to go back through or have someone bring it to me, I decide as I’m ringing.  I can do without, it was mid 70s in Atlanta last week.  

I get my book – Ready Player One – and my Monster, pay, say goodbye to my associate and head across the concourse to the gate…where people are standing in no particular order.

“Nice line”, I say to my counterpart, because we’re talking agin now that I realized that I was responsible for my behavior, regardless of whether I think he should be fired for his.  I can only hold myself accountable to maintaining my professional demeanor.

“They just started boarding”, he says as I notice an unmoving line coming from the jetway.

It’s 6:15.

“This is excruciating”, I complain, “You look like shit.  Are you hungover?”  Professionalism can still be passive-aggressive, right?

We chat while the line goes nowhere.  The gate agent makes an announcement that is unintelligible and The Boss comes over to stand by us just as Capt Can’t decides to join his boarding group in line for the plane.

I call our pre-security store and ask PLoop to get my jacket to my office for me.  Luckily, there’s nothing in it I need.

At about 6:30 – our scheduled departure time – the gate agent makes another announcement about gate checking carry ons and The Boss goes to check his…his plan all along.  Not paying the $25 bag fee.

We’re still on boarding group one.  Capt Can’t – who is in group one – has finally been swallowed up by the jetway, so I guess that’s progress.

The Boss comes back with his carry on in tow.

His response to my raised eyebrows is, “He’s gonna make an announcement and then take it at the gate”.

The announcement comes toward the end of boarding for the enormous group one.

Almost everyone left in the holding room rushes the gate with their carry on.

Cheap ass bastards.

I’m standing there with a book in one hand and Monster in the other alone with two ladies and a (pretty cute) guy…all that’s left of groups two and three.

“Well, now I’m going to be the last one on this plane just out of principle”, I say to the straggling lot.

At 6:41, I take my seat and by 6:43 we are pushing back.

Good god, I’ve never seen a less organized boarding gate process…and I’ve flown Southwest!  I’m literally thinking this during the safety talk, that has to be in person versus video because the in flight entertainment system is down.  

My conclusion?

That retiree at the check-in kiosks was the only airline associate worth a damn this morning.

No wonder the airline’s acronym is

Doesn’t 

Ever

Leave

The

Airport

But I’m not naming names.

The next thought I have?

That I’m gonna have to listen to Trump Sniffler for four damn hours because y’know what?  There was something in my jacket I needed…my headphones!

Oh well, the way this is going my music would have somehow managed to be all Rita Oro the whole way.

The Fiendly Skies