Monday, November 12, 2012


I'm a bit of a lookyloo, so it shouldn't be a surprise that my curiosity is uncontrollably piqued when someone tries to recall an email. I thought this blog post title would help you determine if you suffer from the same curiosity. :)

In any event, today at work, I felt rewarded for that curiosity.  I'm on a few local professional listserves where members can post questions to the collective for discussion. Depending on the day and how busy I am, I don't monitor the listserve posts too closely. And, today was no different, I hadn't paid any attention to the posts until I received the email titled "FW: PLEASE DISREGARD EARLIER MESSAGE NEED TO RECALL MY MESSAGE, UNINTENDED RECIPIENTS."
So, of course, I had to investigate further to figure out what had been said that warranted such an email. The first portion of the email chain was meaningless drivel about some topic of marginal interest to the group. Then, Mister "Please Disregard" responded to a message sent by an apparent acquaintance and instead of simply replying to the message, hit "reply all." My favorite parts of his "reply all" email was his admission that his career is "not a pleasurable experience at times" with the specifics being that it "feels like you are putting parts of your anatomy in a vice grip and if it is not your own client pulling down its your colleagues." Whoopsy!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Woman vs. Vending Machine

I make no bones about the fact that I'm a cheapskate frugal.  I don't leave pennies in the "leave a penny/take a penny" cup at the convenience store.  I pick up nickels off the street, and I prefer to shop at stores like Ross, Kohl's, and TJ Maxx.  So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I would fight with a high-tech vending machine to the bitter end to make sure it didn't cheat me out of my hard-earned cash.

As part of my company's initiative to be more healthy, it shipped out our typical vending machines packed with chips, candy bars, and soda pop, and contracted with a high class snack food vending machine company to provide food in our break room.  This meant we got a freezer full of frozen burritos and other frozen meals, a refrigerator full of packaged salads and sandwiches, milk, and yogurt, and a shelf full of instant oatmeal, fresh fruit, dried fruit, and beef jerky.

To entice us to use the new vending system, each member of my company was given a vending card with a $5 credit on it to use at the "market."  I easily used up $4.95 on the card but was dismayed to learn that the remaining $0.05 couldn't be used towards a partial payment, but if the $0.05 remaining on the card was to be used, I needed to add more money to the card (which could only be done in whole dollar increments) and try to strategically purchase items to zero out the card.  This is where my war with the machine began, to ensure the $0.05 didn't go to waste.

I plotted.  I schemed.  I added money to the card.  I purchased food.  Yet I could never win.  After about six months of effort and $100 later, our company told us that the "market" would be discontinued due to lack of use.  The "market" would not be restocked and we had two months to use the remaining balances on our cards.

Panic set in.  And the earnest scheming began.  I immediately rushed to the "market," sure that if I was to win this little game, I needed to get to the "market" before the supplies were depleted.  I scanned my card.  $0.44 left.  I picked up item after item, scanning each to determine the price.  $0.99.  $0.99.  $1.69. $1.59. $0.99.  $0.99.  How as this going to work?  Then, Eureka!  An ice cream bar cost $1.49.  If I used cash to add $1 to my card (rather than using a credit card), I would get a 5 cent bonus.  This would make the total balance on my card $1.49.  I hurriedly added my cash to the card, got the bonus and purchased the ice cream bar.  My card balance then read $0.00.  Sweet victory was mine!  Mwuhahahahaha!

I headed back to my office, closed the door, and ate my Blue Bonnet vanilla ice cream bar.  A generic-brand ice cream at 9:30 a.m. never tasted so good as did this one, washing down my morning coffee.  Mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm!

Am I ashamed to admit I wasted so much time and money to ensure that initial $0.05 did not go to waste?  A little.  And, although I could have asked for a refund of my $0.44 in connection with the closing of the "market," I couldn't really stomach the idea of tracking down the right person to say (in my best Office Space voice) , "Yeah, I'm gonna have to ask you to cut me a check for the balance on my card."  So, in the end, I claim victory!

Saturday, October 6, 2012


I was at a business social this week.  In addition to the regular too-fancy-to eat typical hor d' oeuvres, there was a pie station!  A pie station!  And, not any pie station, but a pie station with little tiny homemade handpies.  Not only was there to-die-for triple berry pie but there was also a savory little tomato herb number, with the flakiest of crusts.

The only problem was that the table was way off to the side of the main thoroughfare and there wasn't much traffic or people standing around the table (for reasons I don't understand), plus the pie lady was standing behind the table all night though she was keeping track of how many pies each person consumed.  Now, this set-up isn't so bad if you're a person with a little self control and can limit yourself to one or two little pies, but if you're a pie addict with limited impulse control, this creates a little bit of an awkward situation.  Especially, if every time you go to grab pie you feel compelled to justify why you've come back to get more pie, certain that the pie lady recognizes you and is judging you for being so greedy.

My compulsion to talk with the pie lady stems from this philosophy I have that if the stinky kid in class self declares himself to be stinky, no one can tease him about.  Similarly, if the pie piggy calls herself out, no one else will think anything of it.  I admit, it might be a flawed philosophy. 

So, all evening, not only did I pig out on handpies, I also made a bigger deal of the situation than was needed.  As a greedily snatched another pie off the platter, I asked rhetorical questions like, "whose the little piggy back for more pie?" and "what do you put in these things to make them so addictive?"  On other visits to the pie counter, I'd say things like "You'd think I hadn't eaten for a week the way I'm downing this little guys" or "Mmmm...pie."  All the while knowing that my presence at the table would be far less noticeable (and embarrassing) if I could just shut up, grab a pie, and go.

It ended up that I was one of the last few people at the event (not just because of the pies, mind you).  At this point, the pie lady left her stand unmanned for a few minutes (so I took my opportunity to grab a few more pies without being judged.  Score!) and as she was walking back to her table to start packing up, one of my friends engaged her on the topic of her delicious pies.  That brought the pie lady into our group and we talked a little bit about her shop and her pies.  Then, I felt compelled to make one final comment about the sheer number of pies I consumed that evening.  Instead of responding, "Oh I didn't notice," she said, "Oh, it wasn't that many."  Ah ha!  She had been counting! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Art of Not Botching an Interview

For a few years, I've been involved in interviewing college students for positions at our company.  So, each spring I trudge off to a local college and spend a day conducting interviews.  Most of the interviews are quite routine, but there are the occasional odd balls (such as, a student who spent the entire interview ragging on her fellow classmate or the student who asked at the end of the interview, "is this a paid position?"  Really!?!  You know so much about this position that you have to ask whether it's a paid position? ).

Last school year, I interviewed  a student who knew so much about me, I was incredibly uncomfortable.  By the end of the interview, I halfway expected her to say, "By the way, I like the new paint color you chose for your kitchen" or mention something about my upcoming menstrual cycle.  Needless to say, she didn't get a job offer.

A week or two after the interview, I was at the college for an evening event and caught a glimpse of the student lurking across the courtyard as I attempted to enter the gymnasium.  I tried to stay out of her line of sight until I could safely navigate my way inside the building.  I was not successful.  All of a sudden, all 200 pounds of her 5-foot 3-inch frame came hurdling towards me with her arms outstretched for a bear hug.  I panicked.  Uhhhh.  I'm not even a person who likes exchanging hugs with my close friends, let alone creepy stalkers who only know because I interviewed them.  Plus, I had no idea whether she had received her rejection letter yet or if she thought she was still in the running for a position.

Not wanting to be rude, I begrudgingly hugged her back.  After exchanging "hello"s and "how are you?"s she got right to the heart of the matter and started badgering me about where the company was at on making a hiring decision.  I didn't have the heart to tell her that she would not be receiving a job offer and would, instead, receive her rejection notice soon.  So I made excuses about still having more candidates to interview and tried to break free from the conversation as quickly as I could.

Yesterday, I was at the school again.  It never crossed my mind that I'd run into stalker chick on my visit (hadn't she graduated?).  Imagine my surprise when out of the corner of my eye, here she comes sprinting towards me.  My cat-like reflexes kicked in and I quickly extended by hand as far as possible.  Fortunately, stalker chick took the hint and shook my hand rather than trying to go in for a hug (although perhaps the rejection letter was a bit of an indication that we weren't best friends).  After rushing through a few pleasantries, she told me that she had an interview at another company later that week, and then she went straight for the jugular.  "I still don't know why I didn't get a job with your company?  I mean, did I do something wrong?  Well, I guess you interviewed a lot of qualified candidates and I guess some of them might be better than me.  I just don't get it."

"Oh boy," I thought to myself, and gave some flat answers about it being a competitive market and us only have two available spots for the large number of applicants we received.  I left it at that and tried to gracefully excuse myself from the conversation as soon as possible, but not before she said, "Well, I guess I got to know you guys for nothing!" (apparently referring to others in my office she had met throughout the interview process).  "Not for nothing," I thought.  "You'll know go down in history as one of my craziest interviewees.  And, I thank you for that!"

So, the take away messages?  If you don't want to botch your interview, don't be a creeper.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Just Another Typical Three-Day Alaska

My husband and I have a bit of a travel itch, but limited vacation days.  This means we have to be a little creative to fit in as much travelling as possible.  We usually use the majority of our vacation time each year on an international trip and take weekend trips to closer destinations.  This year, we decided to use the Labor Day weekend to take our first trip to Alaska.  We spent a good portion of the weekend flying, hanging out in airports, and driving, but had an amazing, totally worth it, weekend.

On Friday after work, we caught a flight to Anchorage.  We arrived in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, picked up our rental car, and headed for our hotel.  After a great (if not a bit too short) night's sleep, we hit the road for the four-ish-hour drive to Denali National Park.  It was an overcast and rainy day, and I'm typically one who instantly falls asleep on any car ride of 30 minutes or more, but even then, the scenery and colors were too amazing to catch any shut-eye on the drive.  They stay a picture is worth a thousand words, so consider this me saving 1,000 words.

We arrived at Denali National Park mid-afternoon, in time to tour the visitor center and then visit the sled dogs (because the park has portions designated as Federal Wilderness, in the winter, motorized machinery is not allowed in the park and the park rangers patrol the park by sled dog).  The dogs were adorable, if not a bit preoccupied by the squirrel hanging out in a nearby tree.

Our time with the sled dogs culminated with a demonstration of the dogs being harnessed and pulling a park ranger around a gravel circular road.

On Sunday, we got up at 5 a.m., grabbed a sack lunch at Subway, and boarded a shuttle bus for a 12-hour ride into and back out of the the park (personal vehicles are not allowed farther than 15 miles into the park except by special permit).  The day started out a little bit overcast and deary, but turned out to be a beautiful day complete with views of Mt McKinley, sightings of 10 grizzly bears, and five moose (now I just need to get myself a telephoto lens for my camera).

On Monday, we drove back to Anchorage to catch our flight home.  On the way, we happened across three moose crossing the road (I only got my camera out in time to catch the last one).

We had such a fantastic time.  We highly recommend Denali National Park, especially in the fall.  It was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.  Now we just need to find time to visit the rest of Alaska!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Elevator Serenade

It is fairly common for me to be the last person in the office in the evenings.  Our floor is locked after business hours and only people with passkeys can get off on our floor so it's really not creepy being alone on the floor at night (except for as a result of certain creeper janitors, but that's a story for another day).  I do have to walk outside to a deserted parking garage to get to my car when I leave work, but even that isn't usually creepy and I do remain alert to my surroundings and try to avoid potentially dangerous situations when I walk to my car.

One evening when I was leaving work I summoned the elevator in our office.  The elevator arrived and as I stepped inside, I was surprised to see someone already in the elevator.  Because our office is at the top of the building, it is unusual for someone to already be in the elevator.  But, there is a restaurant and bar in the building and it's not uncommon to find a tipsy restaurant patron riding up and down the elevator having  trouble getting out of the building after an evening "out on the town."  So I didn't think too much of the situation.

As soon as I stepped on the elevator, the man craned his neck to read the company sign on the office wall before the elevator doors closed.  While he was doing this, I noticed that the elevator was permeated with the smell of body odor and that he looked quite unkempt and homeless. Then he proclaimed, "Oh, so this is where the ABC, LLC offices are located!" As though he had just discovered the location of the buried treasure.  I thought to myself "Oh sure, like he's ever heard of us before."  Then he turned to me and said, "Do you know Matt Paul."  I was dumbfounded.  Matt is one of the owners of ABC, apparently this guy was somewhat legit.

We chatted for a few seconds about Matt, and then the man  informed me that Kenny Rogers was his dad.  The fact that he wasn't bluffing about knowing of ABC made me think he might be credible on this count as well, especially since he had white hair and a white fluffy beard, a la Kenny Rogers.  I commented to him that I could see the family resemblance.

Then he said, "What's your favorite Kenny Rogers song."   I froze with a deer-in-the-headlights expression on my face, and said to myself, "think, think, think, can't you come up with at least one Kenny Rogers song?"  Apparently, the answer was "no."  The only reason I even know who Kenny Rogers is (he's a little before my time) is because I remember my grandmother watching the Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton specials on TV (borrrrring!).  So I responded to him, "Oh boy, that's a tough one," trying to imply that I like all the Kenny Rogers songs so well it's hard to pick just one.  At this point, the elevator doors opened.  There was no way I was going to let those elevator doors shut with me and this guy still on the elevator (despite the fact the he appeared to know Matt, I still got a creeper vibe from him).  So I hopped off the elevator and he followed me. 

I wasn't sure what to do next, but was certain that I wasn't going to head over to the deserted parking garage with this guy following me.  So I decided to stop in the  middle of the elevator banks to complete my conversation with Son-of-Kenny in a well-lit, fairly populated area. 

Him:  Okay then, just name one Kenny Rogers song.

Me:  Oh boy, let's see.  (awkward pause)

Him:  How about "Buy Me a Rose?"

Me:  Ohhhh, yes.  That's a very good song. (I lie.  If I've ever heard that song, I certainly don't remember it).

And then, standing in the elevator lobby, he begins belting out at the top of his lungs (even though I'm only standing three fee away) "He works hard to give her all he thinks she wants, three car garage, her own credit cards" as people heading to the restaurant pour in and out of the elevators.  He's not phased, eyes fixated on me, singing, singing, singing.  And, I stand there, awkwardly suffling my feet, trying not to make too much eye contact, as my gets hotter and hotter and redder and redder.  When is this going to end??  Why is this the longest song in all of earth's history.

When he got to the end of the chorus after the first verse, he paused for a breath, so I took the opportunity to try to short circuit the performance.  I clap as loud and as fast as I could and exclaimed "Wow, that was really great.  You are a wonder--" but that's as far as I got as he began again with " He pulls in late to wake her up with a kiss good night, if he could only read her mind, she'd say..." and he continues on and on.  After what seems like 30 minutes and 100 awkward stares from passersby, he finishes with "'Cause, I'm gonna make things right, for the rest of your life, and I'm gonna hold you tonight, do all those little things, for the rest of your life."  I repeat my proclamations of praise and thanks and awe of his singing talents (he really was quite good), and quickly head away, making sure he wasn't following me.  I arrived home without incident.  The next morning I was excited to tell my coworkers about the experience because I knew I had just firmly and irrevocably established myself as the winner of the "weird elevator story contest." (For more about this contest, see here.)

The next morning, I called Matt to get the scoop on my elevator singer.

Me:  Hi Matt.  I met a guy on the elevator last night who said he knows you.  I can't recall his name, but he told me that he is a Capricorn just like you and that his dad is Kenny Rogers and he sang me a Kenny Rogers song.

Matt:  (nervous laugh) Oh yeah, he lived in Las Vegas for awhile and was a Kenny Rogers impersonator. 

Me:  So is Kenny Rogers really his dad?

Matt:  No. 

Me:  Oh, okay. (Pause)  Sooo, how do you know him?

Matt:  He was a client of mine for a little while.  Be careful of him though, he was convicted of a violent crime and only recently got out of jail.

Me:  Got it. Thanks.
Now, I not only one the "weird elevator story consent," I now won the "creepest elevator story contest" too.

Am I Passable?

I work in a high rise that has an upscale restaurant and bar a few floors below our office. This results in a number of directionally challenged and tipsy restaurant patrons getting lost on elevators in the building and the parking garage.  A few of my work friends and I have started an unofficial ongoing contest that we call the "weird elevator story contest."
Our typical stories are people overly interested in engaging in conversation with us on the elevator; people who insist that the restaurant is on the top floor of the building; and loud drunk people practically yelling to each other in the elevator.  Some of the more unusual stories are of people with poor elevator etiquette who face the wrong way in the elevator or don't move out of the way to let people on or off the elevator.

One evening, I went out to grab dinner before coming back to work for awhile longer.  After I got on the elevator to go back up to the office, another person got on the elevator.  I didn't pay much attention to the person.  About one second after the elevator doors closed, I hear a deep man's voice ask, "Am I Passable?"  I look over for the first time and see a manly look short stout woman wearing a fitted sparkly black tank top, capri khakis, and a long blond wig.  My mind started racing, "Is he actually asking if he's passable as a woman or does he mean something else?  He must mean something else!  But, what else could it be?  If I answer that he is passable, doesn't that mean I've admitted I know he is a man?  But, if I answer no, that's not good either.  I believe this is what you would call a catch 22." I then mustered my most cheerleaderish voice and say "Oh yeah, definitely!" 

Then the elevator doors opened at the restaurant.  As he stepped out of the elevator, he looked back and said "Oh good, I haven't done this in a long time."  Again, in my most cheerleader voice, "Oh, don't worry, you look great!"  The doors close and I continue on back to work.

I was elated the next morning to share the story with my friends and officially be granted the title of winner of the weird elevator story contest.