Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Conversational Pungi Sticks

Itsbeginningtolookalotlikechristmas (see prior post) practices the art of ambush conversation. As a receptionist, she’s stationed next to the hallway to the men’s room and directly next to the only water fountain at the dealership. Thus, walking past her 3-5 times a day is unavoidable. Her tactic is to start talking, whether eye contact has been made or not, as if we are picking up where we left off in a previous conversation. The fact that I always respond with either:
A. a forced laugh
B. a smile and nod
C. a smile and raised eyebrows, meant to convey interest

D. “Oh, really?”
E. some combination of A, B, C and D

doesn’t phase her in the least.

Here’s the one-sided “conversation” we had early Wednesday morning:

Me: (refilling water bottle, avoiding eye contact)

“That was weird.”

(no response) (I guess this would be choice F. - pretending that I don’t realize that she’s
addressing me.)

“I just had a call from Michigan.”

(thinking: Fuck, she’s continuing to address me.)
Me: choice C. - a smile and raised eyebrows, meant to convey interest

“That was weird.”

(thinking: That’s weird? You’re the phone operator. This is a car dealership. We sell cars made by a company headquartered in Michigan.)
Me: choice D. - “Oh, really?”

Itsbeginningtolookalotlikechristmas: “She wanted to know what to get my mother for Christmas.”

Me: (
thinking: Huh? Great, a teaser to try to get me to engage. I’m not taking the bait. I don’t care.)
Me: (finish filling water bottle, screwing on cap, no response, I figure my last “Oh, really?” is still in force)

(as usual, completely unfazed by the lack of response) “Yeah, we met her on our trip to Hawaii in 1994. It’s a mother and son we met. That was the mother. She wanted to know what to get my mother for Christmas. I wasn’t expecting that call…”

(drifting out of earshot, looking slightly back to convey at least one ounce of attention)
Me: choice E. – “Oh.” slight smile, eyebrows still raised

So now I have more insight into Itsbeginningtolookalotlikechristmas. Just what I wanted. In addition to postcards from such exotic locales as Ft. Lauderdale, Phoenix and Pittsburgh, IBLLC’s desk is festooned with photos (her and her mother), trinkets and tschotskes from the Hawaii trip, now 11+ years in the past. Obviously, that trip was the pinnacle of her adult life. I’m guessing she and her mother live together in a house full of
Precious Moments figurines. Our little “exchange” has put me in the position of feeling sorry for her (slightly). That quickly becomes annoyance, for being put in that position.

One additional creepy tidbit about Itsbeginningtolookalotlikechristmas:
IBLLC, and in fact, all the older, back-office fatty, fat fattersons, love “Little Heather”. Little Heather, a 4’11” coworker of mine in the finance department, is not to be confused with Big Heather (a.k.a. Bitchy Heather, a.k.a. Heather). Big Heather is a personal assistant to the GM and the owners, which apparently involves occasionally driving their demo vehicles to pick up their laundry and stationary.
Big Heather side note:
BH just had a baby out of wedlock. While she was pregnant last summer, I overheard one of our salesmen say, “She’s just hopin’ that the baby comes out the right color.”

Little Heather is the whiniest, most passive-aggressive non-thirteen year old I’ve ever met. Everything in her life, work related or not, is a Sisyphean ordeal for her. She sighs so often, it’s a wonder she doesn’t hyperventilate. She was recently demoted (though she probably doesn’t realize it) to a less stressful, less demanding job, yet her sighing and whining have continued at their previous levels.

But though Little Heather is almost always unfriendly and unhappy, Itsbeginningtolookalotlikechristmas clearly has a Lennie-Small-and-the-rabbits-type crush on her. Whenever one of the receptionists has to use the restroom, they generally call us to let us know that they will be forwarding the calls back to us, temporarily. However, when LH is in the office, then Itsbeingtolookalotlikechristmas will call and ask, “Is Little Heather back there? Can she come up here and cover for me?”

I think that IBLLC fantasizes about braiding Little Heather’s hair and dressing her in doll’s clothes and squeezing her and never, ever, ever letting her go.

25 Days until Christmas

I ♥ Food Day

Our back-office, fatty, fat, fattersons had a Food Day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I was not invited to participate. Though I am unfailingly polite to everyone in the office, I am not personal or friendly with the non-sales staff. Also, rumor has it that I am "educated" and thus, arrogant. At least that is how I perceive the back-office workers' perception of me. It's a whole Gordian knot of misperception.

Regardless, I'm not eager to share in an impromptu buffet with our accounts receivable, accounts payable or human resources staff. Their portion of the office is a crowded warren of file cabinets, decaying cubicles (one decorated with a collage of Dale Earnhardt Jr. photos, some of him, some of his car) and boxes of supplies. They have no natural light whatsoever and the ceiling can't be more than seven feet tall. It smells like a combination of old lady perfume, car exhaust and gasoline (they share a wall with the service garage), Windex and feet. Occasionally, a hint of diarrhea makes its way into the mix.

At no time is there a clean, clear surface area on any desk or table in the back-office. The buffet has been placed on the "ice tea table". The ice tea table is wedged between a stack of boxes and a supply cabinet. At any given time, the ice tea table has one and half
pitchers of ice tea, sans lids, sitting on it. I've never seen anyone drink the tea. Occasionally, I notice ice in the tea and the levels change minutely, so I know it’s not the same tea left unattended. However, whether I'm at the office after 9 pm or before 8 am, I can guarantee that tea is available, often, with a thin film/skin floating on the surface. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the eternal pitchers of tea is that this building has no kitchenette of any sort. That means that any rinsing or washing of the tea pitchers (if performed) must occur in the restrooms. Refer here to the restroom habits of my coworkers.

The Food Day spread was impressive, by Food Day standards. It looked like a full Thanksgiving meal. Turkey, potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce (the jelly kind), gravy, rolls…all present, though I’m not sure why my coworkers felt compelled to eat this meal in office the day before eating it again with their families.

But where were the traditional items, not of Thanksgiving, but of office Food Day? No cocktail wienies in homemade “barbecue” sauce (homemade by combining grape jelly and yellow mustard). No tiny meatballs with toothpicks in the same sauce. No spinach dip that goes rancid in the first 15 minutes. No queso (a.k.a. – queso sauce at my company in Atlanta) made from Velveeta and the mildest Pace salsa (“ooooh, too spicy” – Atlanta again).

Some Food Day traditions were observed however, probably by the emasculated, utterly defeated sad-sack handful of “men” that work in the back. Clearly, they were the ones that ensured that the buffet table had more three-liter bottles of soda than participants. One of them probably brought the grocery store deli meat and cheese tray or the grocery store cupcakes.

Man, I hope they ask me, next time.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Holidays Natch

Everyday since Halloween, one of the dingbat receptionists writes, with a black Sir Marks-A-Lot on a note card, the number of days until Christmas and tacks it to her Norman Rockwell calendar (her Adorable Kittens calendar must be at home).

47 days until Christmas

Kill me.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Turd Polishing

My apartment quadplex is being "remodelled".

Someone failed to get the proper permit. This was supposed to be done by ACL Fest (2005). New ETA, SxSW 2006? Hopefully, I won't be around to know.