Last night at 9:30, I was lying on my back under an ice machine, scrubbing the floor. I looked like an intense mechanic, or maybe a dead guy, cleaning the filth that seems to build up in dark places at night when nobody is there. I scraped away with a strong cleaning solution that would likely shred my hands into meat, and a towel, and then another towel, and yet another towel. I spent about 10 minutes down there. This is a normal thing.
Today’s the day. In around three hours, actually, I’ll be yanking the steam wand handle on the ol’ espresso machine. Here are a few things I’m looking forward to.
There’s not much to tell you about my work. The Ketchup Spice Latte hasn’t been embraced by my adoring public so, until then, I’m not exactly working at a gold mine for the blogging slagpile.
That said, I’ve met some interesting people.
Thirty years later, I’m not quite certain what a sump does. Dolores Speare called my mother one day, and asked if I could dig it out. The sump pump had sunk. Really. That’s what she said. She told Mom it was filled with leaves, probably, and was beginning to stink, and she could hardly get any water into the house. It is ironic, being in a rain forest, and Frank’s and Dolores’s home being about 20 yards from Pistol River, that they couldn’t get water to their house. This was a continual battle for every family I knew, who lived out in the country. Water would go out, and we’d be fiddling around in the pouring rain, in the dark, with a flashlight and a screwdriver, cleaning out muck-filled hoses up on a crumbling mountainside.
Wednesday and Thursday of this week I was at Microsoft. I sat in on some of their PAC meetings – Partner Advisory Council meetings. No, not as a guest. I was the recorder of all that went on. Every statement, bit of feedback and question was captured by my typing fingers.
My old co-worker from ancient IDC days got this contract to provide this service for Microsoft. She herself took notes, grueling 8-hour days, for 10 years when these bi-annual conferences came up. She friended me on Facebook last year and asked me if I’d like to take a conference. I couldn’t then, though the idea intrigued me. Could I do it? What would it be like?
It pays ridiculously well. In fact, this 2-day gig is equivalent to what I made working 4 months in my old job as part-time church secretary. Hard to pass that up, especially with Jonathon unemployed.
It was very posh. Hundreds of people, mostly men, from around the world. Amazing food and coffee everywhere. The conference rooms were sort of built into the walls and the rooms had what we used to call “boat” tables. Part of my job was to record everyone’s names and companies and make note of their comments. I coded them all and tried to make mental notes as well. In my meeting alone, there were 7 nationalities represented. At least.
It was very difficult. I had to be “on” all the time. I sat in the front, just under the screen, able to view most everyone and hear them. Not everyone knew who I was. One presenter asked another, “Who is that? What is she doing?” like I was some kind of spy from Apple. Some of the presenters, well, just about all, had another language as their mother tongue. The guy from Sweden was exceptionally hard to understand. He kept saying “surfaces” and I was typing “surfaces”. I thought, Cool! Another Microsoft term that means something different inhouse than outside. Then I realized he meant “services”. And acronyms! EAS sounded like EIS when the guy from Moscow said it. They put the government to shame with all the acronyms. Even some of the other PAC participants didn’t know what they were.
The most fascinating thing was that the partners were very transparent. When the presenter said they needed to be selling this software or that software, the reception was definitely blase. They didn’t like it. Didn’t see the purpose for it. The honesty was…surprising and made the atmosphere contentious at times. Microsoft listened and empathized but didn’t back down on their positions.
The atmosphere was not all that different from IDC, especially when HP or Intel came to visit and confab about possible projects. IDC itself was international, with engineers from as far away as Lebanon and Egypt, and all parts of Asia. And a part of me longed for that mix again. Shelton, and my life there, is very homogenous. I love the people I interact with, but we’re pretty much all whitey. We have a similar background and context. I am a team player ( not self-promoting here, just stating a fact). I like to collaborate, work with others. I love feeling like I’m part of something bigger than myself, and we’re all working together towards a common goal. I miss that. I saw some of the female presenters and I wondered, If I had stayed the course at IDC or even Aspen, would I be doing this? Would I be in business development or marketing? What if I’d been more career-focused?
Then I remember the sacrifices I saw my colleagues making. Staying late, working holidays and weekends, even Christmas, to meet deadlines.They were, and are, amazing in their dedication and focus. I wasn’t ready to do that. I’m still not. I enjoyed my time there at Microsoft and a little dabble of a more glamorous, cosmopolitan lifestyle. But I like my life. It suits me and I don’t need a career or salary to give me worth anymore, my long-time Achilles’ heel. That was my take-away.
It’s gonna be a good, good morning, folks, and then a good, good week. I know this because I’m on my first cup of really lousy office coffee, and it can only get better from thirty minutes of Folger’s, right?
I’m suffering from a Case of the Attitudes at work. Or at least, that’s how I perceive it. I barely get by. I wish I could quit this job sometimes. It’s not the people, or the place really.
Okay, it’s a person.
I won’t go into the details here, as much as I’d like to, because this is a public forum, and I really don’t want to offend anyone, or hurt them, at work. That’s the game I play. I hate confrontation. A few months ago, I wrote the very controversial “Our Gay Neighbors” post. It tore me up inside to read the posts–even the ones I agreed with–because of the ad hominem attacks on people. It required an inordinate amount of Tums to survive the two weeks worth of challenges to my manhood, and credibility, and Christianity, and sanity. I nearly quit blogging. Instead, I went quiet. I didn’t fan flames; I stopped arguing, and allowed people to say their piece. I had my chance to make a difference; I blew it. I caused a controversy using caustic words, and I paid the price for it. Lesson learned.
How tightly do you identify yourself with your job? I’m not a workaholic; this I can freely admit. I’d much rather be sitting in traffic listening to the radio on the way to work, than sitting at work, working. It may not be quite as heart-healthy, but the stress is somehow quite a bit less life-consuming than my job.