September 27, 2007

Because Sometimes, “My Bad” Just Doesn’t Cut It

Posted in Office Hijinks at 8:34 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

It’s not as if I have never screwed up before.  But I guess my mistakes were either not that catastrophic or, more likely, I just didn’t care about the results. 

However, when I screwed up at the new job recently, I cared. 

There I was, sitting back, enjoying the fact that I had just completed a brand new task recently assigned to me.  Something I have never done before.  Okay, maybe I was gloating a bit, when an e-mail popped up in the corner of my screen indicating that I had made a mistake and now someone was mad. 

Mind you, it wasn’t a big mistake.  I sent something to someone that didn’t necessarily need to see it and that someone let me know it in a not very nice manner. 

What made the minor mishap snowball into a major catastrophe was that there was no one around to tell me that it was okay.  New Boss was in an important meeting and Imelda was out to lunch.  

I dialed Mentor’s number. Mentor, who would want me to tell you that she is tall and skinny and blonde, had helped me with the project.  I was sure she would have comforting words of wisdom for me and everything would be all right.

“Devil, it really isn’t that big a deal.  Just print out the e-mail, leave it for New Boss and he will probably call the guy to apologize.  You won’t be fired.  Trust me.”

And at first I believed her. 

But then my brain started working up possible worst-case scenarios.  What if This Guy was a really important contact for the firm and my one nuisance e-mail has sent him over the edge, and right now he was drafting a letter saying he never wanted to do business with us again?  Or maybe he was on the phone with the partner in charge and they were trying to figure out why the heck they hired me in the first place?  Maybe This Guy is the same guy that writes all the nasty comments about me on this blog and he has been waiting for me to screw up so he could expose me to the world as a big, dumb fraud. 

By the time Imelda got back from wherever the heck she was, I had settled upon the fact that This Guy and New Boss served in the Vietnam War together and once, in the middle of the jungle, with the enemy all around them and shrapnel in his leg, This Guy carried an unconscious New Boss to safety and New Boss has “owed him once since” and now This Guy was going to cash in that chip by asking that I be fired for inconveniencing him with my nonsense e-mail.

Mind you, I don’t think New Boss is old enough to have served in Vietnam, but it doesn’t matter.  See how sometimes having a great imagination works against me?

Imelda stopped in to see if I was okay, and I told her the whole awful story. 

She laughed and said it would take a lot more than that to get fired from here.  She started to walk away.

I have really big blue eyes and when I am terrified, they are even bigger, which makes people want to help me. 

Imelda sat back down.  “Okay, I’ll e-mail him and tell him he needs to put out a small fire.  He will respond to me. “

I blinked a couple of times

“It’s going to be okay.”

After several e-mails back and forth, New Boss was fully apprised of the situation and confirmed that it really wasn’t a big deal.  The big jerk even laughed at my anxiety over the whole affair.  As a punishment he told me I had to go to confession. 

Since I am only pretty sure that any church I stepped foot into would immediately be set on fire, I met up at a neighborhood bar with Lauren instead.  Bartenders are like confessors, sort of.


September 24, 2007

Sick Day

Posted in Office Hijinks at 9:42 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

I hate being sick.  And I’m not talking about hangover sick.  I’m talking about being physically sick – you don’t know what it is you have because you aren’t going to bother going to the doctor’s, all you know is that you hurt all over and it is difficult to do anything but lay on your couch and watch really bad TV – sick.   

And I think it is worse for me because on top of all of that, I’m a recovering hypochondriac. 

I once had a primary care physician refuse to take any more blood from me.  You know how recovering alcoholics receive a coin for being six months clean, and they tell the story of their personal rock bottom?  That was mine – when my doctor that I loved and trusted and needed refused to take any more of my blood.  I threatened to never see him again. You can imagine this would be a significant blow to his business, but still he refused.   

At the time, I was quite convinced I was dying from the bird flu, because I was home sick and Channel 10 news had just reported that a flamingo at the Philadelphia Zoo had been diagnosed. Since I was living in the Art Museum area at the time, which isn’t far from the zoo … well, you can see where I am going with this.   

That was a turning point for me. I still never saw that physician again, but it was more out of embarrassment; as it turns out, he was right, I didn’t have the avian flu.     

Part of my hypochondria comes from my mother.  She’s a nurse, and before me, she was pretty lackadaisical when it came to her children’s (and by “children” I really just mean Big Sis) health.  I won’t embarrass the ol’ girl too much here, but just know that when my sister was 7, she walked around with a broken arm for more than two days because my mother was convinced she was fine.   

And then I came along.  And in kindergarten, as 5 year olds sometimes do, I got chicken pox.  Except my crazy body and immune system landed me in the hospital for nine days, I had to have surgery to remove lymph nodes and had my picture taken for a medical journal.  After that, my mom was pretty careful never to dismiss anything I got as just a cold. 

As a recovering hypochondriac, I now avoid getting sick.  Whenever anyone near me starts to cough or sneeze or even sniffle, I reach for the Airborne and zinc lozenges and then chase it all down with Echinacea tea.   

And when I do get sick, I like to pretend I am not.  I get really dressed up for work and I put on lots of make up and I smile and when anyone asks me what is wrong I shake my head and say, “Nothing.  I feel great.”     

I was so good at faking well that earlier in the week, New Boss didn’t even know anything was wrong.  He asked me if I had a fun weekend and I responded, kind of truthfully, “Oh, I was sick.”   

He smiled and said, “What?  Did you have meningitis like that girl at Penn?” 

And that is when I decided to go home.  Not because I needed to make an appointment to have my spine tapped.  I mean, a lot of Penn students take the subway; she could have been one of them.  But, no, I went home because I gave up.  I was sick, and the only thing that would make me better was time on my couch, in my sweats, watching Maury Povich. 

I’m not really sure what the 12 steps to recovering from hypochondria are, but I certainly felt like admitting that I just had a cold and needed to be home was an important one.   

Plus, if it was meningitis, it really wasn’t fair exposing my co-workers to it. 

September 6, 2007

About New Boss

Posted in Office Hijinks at 4:52 pm by devilwearsbrooksbrothers

I feel really bad for New Boss.  Actually, I feel pretty terrible for any guy that has to work with mostly women, but since I know New Boss and I like New Boss, he gets most of my sympathy.  Oh, word of warning, I am about to be kind of unkind to my sex. 

Women (and yes, I am generalizing here, sue me.  Oh, no, wait, don’t.  But feel free to write any nasty little comment your heart desires below) tend to be more emotional than men.  This is often a good thing, but can also be a really bad thing; especially in an office.  Being a woman and working around a lot of women, I never really noticed how our temper tantrums and gossiping and mood swings and our general want of everyone else to be able to read our minds affected men until the one day New Boss had another man working with us. 

He clung to this guy like Kate clinging to that wooden door at the end of Titanic.  Unfortunately, Part- Time Friend is only in our office once a week.  So, New Boss was once again left tired and outnumbered. 

I saw this same exasperation in my coach in college.  He had to deal with 14 girls every morning and afternoon and after only a year or so, he was physically and emotionally drained.  Not to mention completely unsure of what was right or wrong anymore and so he left it up to us to pretty much control everything.

Fortunately, New Boss isn’t there yet.   

There we were, sitting in New Boss’s office, his head was down as he reviewed some of my work, I was listening intently to his comments and criticisms.  Then he looked up and registered a look of fear and dread so complete, he actually shuddered.  It was a look of absolute horror.  Not the oh-my-god-I-didn’t-expect-the-axe-murderer-was-hiding-in-the-closet horror.  No, this was much worse.  This was guy horror.  This was oh-my-god-are-you-gonna-cry horror.

In the third grade, I accompanied my mom for a portion of a parent-teacher conference.  I took her on the tour of the classroom and listened as Miss Newhart told her that I was a joy to have in class, although I did have a tough time accepting constructive criticism.   

Now, I had a little school girl crush on Miss Newhart.  I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.  The fact that I was doing anything she disapproved of broke my little, eight-year-old heart.  So I immediately set out to take criticism better; that is once I looked up criticism in the dictionary. 

So I know I am good at taking criticism. I have been practicing for more than 20 years.  However, my stupid face still gets in the way.  I really want to be good at what I do but, as I sat there listening to how much improving I have ahead of me, my face must have been contorting into a look of shock, or alarm, or disappointment or dread; maybe a combination of all three.  

But to New Boss it was a look that said,  “I think I am going to cry now.”   

He dropped the page, complete with proofreader’s marks all across it, started shaking his head and tried to justify his critical comments.

And, no matter how emphatically I shook my head, he wasn’t buying that I really was okay with all that he was saying.

I know New Boss reads the blog, but I don’t think his fanaticism goes back so far as to know about my affliction.  Still, I need his feedback to get better at what I am doing.  So I have resolved that the next time he is away, I will install a mirror behind his desk, just to the right of his head.   

Not only will this keep my face in check, but it will give me something to look at when I get bored or tired of listening to him.