Friday, November 4, 2016

Snowball 3 - Moving Man.

During my confession the other day mentioned getting my contract at work renewed. This means, barring any monumental screw-ups on my part (or an apocalypse or something), I'll be steadily employed for at least another three years. I'm happy for this, of course, especially since my country's economy's driven by our oil and natural gas reserves and the plummet in oil prices last year has forced a lot of belt tightening and even some downsizing here and there. So, no complaining from me. Besides, I mentioned what happens when I complain. The last thing I want is to end up getting transferred to another division.

So why am I not only sitting at a new desk, once again, but also in a new building..?

It all started when I got the call from HR to inform me that all the "i"s were dotted and "t"s were crossed and I was officially reemployed.

HR: How soon can you start?
Me: Is Monday okay? (It was already Tuesday afternoon so I figured I'd give myself three more days of freedom.)
HR: No problem... By the way, you should know there are seating issues to sort out.
Me: Hmm?
HR: Yeah, the new Executive (*lightning flashes, thunder rumbles, building shakes slightly*) brought some new staff in with her. You know we have a new boss right?
Me: Yeah, I heard (Even if I hadn't it wouldn't surprise me. We've changed five Executives (*lightning flashes, thunder rumbles, building shakes slightly*) in the three years I've been there).
HR: Anyway, we're short a desk in that unit now so you'll be another department until we sort out the logistics.
Me: (Probably would have been nice if they had figured that out before) Okay...
HR: Don't worry, it's just for a week.

All things aside, I wasn't going to complain. The main thing was I was not returning to the ranks of unemployed and for that alone, I was grateful. I refused to sweat the small stuff.

That week finished quickly and before I knew it I was once again fastening my polyester shackle around my neck. The shiny, purple one!

My temporary place of abode was a department I knew a little about but never had much to do with. One thing I did know was that they deal with major projects and had a lot of work. The Director introduced me to the team and let them know I'd be squatting on their land for a few days. I was given some busy work and mostly left to my one devices.

One week later, I went back up to the executive floor. As luck would have it, one of the new people brought on by the Executive (*lightning flashes, thunder rumbles, building shakes slightly*) had to go off on maternity leave so a desk was made temporarily available. The plan was to rearrange the floor space and add an extra cubicle (just for lil' ol' me) so by the time she got back, there'd be no more seating issues.

IT had put my PC in storage while I was away so I spent that morning arranging for them to bring it back up to my old desk (after I had them remove the interloper who was there out, that is). True the desk was only temporarily being returned to me but it was mine until the new cube was built. MINE! Soon the computer was set up and IT went on their merry way. I sat down, adjusted my chair back to its original settings, put the all my stuff back where I'd left them, hung my reflective safety vest on the chair-back (did I ever mention I'm also a safety warden?), sat down, booted up and prepared to get back to work...

Then the phone rang.

HR (different person): Hi, Vinny.
Me: Hey! 'Sup?
HR2: Um... What are you doing now?
Me: Nothing. IT just set me up so I'm about to start.
HR2: Oh, okay. Here's the thing... We need you to go across to another division and fill in for a few days.
Me: Huh?
HR2: Just for two days. That's it! There's another drone going on training and they need someone to man the desk.
Me: Well, I guess that's okay but what about my supervisor?
HR2: We'll call her and let her know. Can you leave now?
Me: Now? As in now now?
HR2: Yeah... Her training started this morning.
Me: Hmm...
HR2: Sorry...

I didn't make a big deal out of it since it was just for two days. The other division was one I'd never been to. It was in another building just down the street and was a result of another Ministry being merged with ours after the Prime Minister did some portfolio reshuffling. I got there and reported to the HR Manager. She said I had to talk to the Director but she was out until after lunch. The HR Manager then suggested that, since it was only 11 am, I could go have lunch myself an extra long until the Director returned. Hey, if the HR Manager cleared it, I'm not going to argue.

I got back at 1 pm. The Director's office was still locked. I went over to the HR Manager again. That's when she broke the news.

HRMg: Sooo... as it turns out, the training the person you're supposed to replace is only a half day long each day. She's already back.
Me: Oh... Okay...
HRMg: Yeah, it doesn't really make sense for anyone to come and hold on for only half a day so I guess you can go back.
Me: Huh...
HRMg: I honestly didn't know-

At the same time a young lady, who, as it turned out, was the one I was supposed to fill in for came bolting in. She told the HR Manager to wait and not to let me leave yet. They quietly discussed something then the HR Manager looked up at me.

HRMg: Well, it looks like you may have to stay after all. I didn't realize she was supposed to start her three month rotation to another division uptown. I guess, so you'll be assigned here until she gets back.

(Did she say three months?)

Me: Um... I was only told it was supposed for two days. I'm pretty sure head office might want to say in something like this, since I'm from there.
HRMg: You're right... Hold on. Let me make a call and find out what they want to do.

After a few minutes...

HRMg: Well, I spoke to the HR Director, who spoke to the Executive's  (*lightning flashes, thunder rumbles, building shakes slightly*) senior minion and he confirmed it. You're staying. Why don't you go with the young lady here so she can hand over? After you meet with the Director we'll set you up on the system and issue you a keycard.
Me: *blinks* Huh..?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Some Things We Can Never Understand.

A long, long time ago, I once held certain beliefs. Beliefs I was certain were true and – yes, I admit it – I even looked down on others for not being as enlightened as myself. However, as I grew older and experienced more of life, I began to have doubts about these beliefs. I started to question whether these things I believed in were really the “truth”.

Now after years of having those beliefs tested and disproved, I realized I didn't actually know more than the next guy after all and I was just as blind and ignorant as everyone else.

You see, right up until my late teens, I firmly and foolishly believed I understood women.

It's true! I honestly thought, naively, that I had women figured out. STOP LAUGHING!!! It took actually getting personally involved with a woman to dispel the illusion. Before that, I thought observation was enough to come up with viable explanations for their behavior.

I'll give you a moment to regain your composure,..

You see, I'm the first of three children to my parents. My two younger siblings are both girls. To me, my sisters' behavior as well as their day-to-day activities proved invaluable research material. Added to this is the fact that I started noticing girls from an early age. Actually, if I had to be accurate, I didn't notice "girls" per se but "women". When I was a child, girls my own age didn't interest me. I was more fixated on curious about more... developed members of the female gender.

I think it was as a result of how "developed" they were.

As advanced as I was, though, it this was nothing compared to my nephew. My earliest memory of him was taking him out for a walk. I had to carry him since he was even too young to crawl, let alone walk, at the time. During our outing I noticed that every time we passed an attractive woman his attention was immediately captured and he would stare at her intently until she was no longer in sight or another one had caught his eye. I noticed he only did this for attractive women. He was completely oblivious to everyone else who passed by.

That’s when I knew, of all the children I may even be an uncle to, he would always be my favorite.

I digress, however. Between the belief that I understood my sisters and my "thorough observation" of women outside the contained environment of my home, I eventually came to believe that I had figured out the mysterious entity known as woman.

Of course, I was yet to actually get involved in a romantic relationship with one. I believed as on outside observer I had gathered enough information.

Then I met Mrs C.

After that I realized just how misinformed I was. No amount of observation could have helped me. Even after years of close, personal contact, I can safely say I still don't ‘get’ women. In fact, I dare say the more time a man spends in a relationship with a woman, the less he understands the gender as a whole.
Case in point: You get chewed out for not doing something – for example, let’s say your crime was not opening a door for her. There are tears, you hear things like, "You don’t value me!" and you are made to feel like you’re possibly the worst boyfriend/husband in the history of boyfriends/husbands to ever blight the Earth. To correct this, the very next day, you look for the next opportunity to right your wrong. However, upon opening that door for your lady-friend, instead of being praised for your efforts at be a better man and show how valuable she is to you, you are instead met with a bewildered stare as she wonders why you would think she wants you to open a door for her. This is the twenty-first century after all. Women are more than capable of opening their own doors, driving, voting, running major corporations and still bringing life into the world!

You chauvinistic pig!
How can a man ever be prepared for this?

Even the way women interact with each other can throw us men off. Recently, Mrs C bought a new bra. It’s not something she does often as the cost of bras is ridiculous. I mean, seriously! Why is it I can eight pairs of boxers, some t-shirts, make a down payment on a new car and still have enough left over to buy lunch for the same price as one of my wife’s bras?! Anyway, the salesgirl convinced her her current breast support system was inefficient and she needed to invest in an upgrade. A few days later she was in another store trying on a blouse and the salesgirl there complemented her new bra (I guess salesgirl number one was right on the money). Mrs C thanked her, tried on a few more things and life went on.

This was normal! Women can be changing in a locker-room and, if one is wearing cute underwear, it’s okay for the others to notice and pay her compliments on them. In the men’s locker-room no one compliments anyone on anything he sees. I can’t imagine any scenario where one guy can complement another on his underwear and things would not get weird after that. Not even once has anyone ever told me they thought my underwear was cute. But that’s just how it is, I guess.

*pouts*

If you've ever wondered why so many men seem to be fixated with the idea of girl-on-girl action it’s probably in part due to how women can openly flirt with each other... That and the fact that a lot of us guys are just perverts.

Second case in point: Mrs C made a friend recently. A very good friend. They met in the gospel group where they both sing backup and they’ve been in the lovey-dovey - sometimes flirty - stage of their relationship. They send each other cute messages and call each other cutesy names like “babes” and “honey”. When they talk on the phone Mrs C looks so happy and they can go on like that for hours. They even went out on a date the one time.  I've come to refer to her as the other woman. Still, this behavior too was apparently normal and completely non-perverted from a "girlfriends" perspective.

So, in conclusion, I can only surmise that women are...odd. I mean this with no offense intended whatsoever. They’re odd in a fascinating way that keeps men on their toes so it's "odd" in a good way really. And, yes, men are odd too, of course. We're all odd. It's what's connects us as a species. Of this much, at least, I'm sure.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I Confess...

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. It's been around seven months since my last post. During that time I haven't conducted myself in a manner befitting a proper blogger. No, not in the least.

I must also confess that I not only failed to post, but I've failed to show bloggy charity as well. My call to visit the blogs of others and leave gifts of commentary has been severely neglected but for a few crumpled contributions. Added to this, I've also been negligent of my social (networking) responsibilities.

I believe my current backslidden state came as a result of the blatant hubris in declaring - with much fanfare (and monkeys) - that I had "figured out" the reason for my sporadic posting and allowed myself to believe that simply knowing the source of my problem was enough to get me back on the straight and narrow path. Without even realizing it I allowed myself to commit one of the greatest sins a blogger can commit by alluding that, as a result, "I was back".

Life is a jealous god and not very forgiving of a blogger's pride. Even hinting that one might have gotten the upper hand against it earns swift and severe punishment. And punished I was as, month after month, I faced endless emergencies, distractions and frustrations.

First came a chaotically assignment-packed school semester back in the end of April (which saw me pulling more all-nighters in one month than I normally would in a year) followed closely by Mrs C's contracting of dengue fever in May (don't worry, she's fine now). June's a blur but I'm sure bad stuff happened then too. July and August had me frantically searching for a new job on the off chance my contract wasn't going to be renewed after it ended at the end of September  (it was renewed, by the way). All during this time there was also the non-stop saga of my father's diminishing health (not something I mentioned before). Life's hits just kept on coming.

All the while there was the constant nagging from within to return to the fold. Living a life steeped in real-life issues only added to my guilt and shame, and served to drive me deeper into my backslidden state.

The irony!

Will I be able to walk the path from here on in? I don't know. I dare not incur life's wrath any further by saying I will. For now, I ask that I only be absolved of my past transgressions and allowed to go on in peace.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

When You...

That moment...

Friday, March 4, 2016

Smells Like Monkeys In Here.

As I mentioned the other day, I was sick. I'm mostly better now (not factoring-in the residual mucus.. Sorry). I also mentioned something about hipster monkeys in that post too (I don't know... I think my brain was overheating or something).
No, wait! There was a point to the monkeys! The monkeys had meaning. They were a symbol to represent my writing (I submit my entire blogging history as "Exhibit A") or, at least, my return to writing. See? Makes more sense now, right?

Know what? Forget the monkeys! You can't expect to understand what's going on when there are monkeys in the room. That just never works out. What I mean by all this is, I think getting sick made me figure out why I haven't felt motivated to write these days.

You know when people say "life happened" and I couldn't keep up with this or that anymore? That's exactly right! And it's not always because you're so busy. That can happen but that wasn't the case for me. For me, I got stuck in a rut. Between bills, night school, boring office job, etc. I subconsciously began to wall myself off so as not to feel overwhelmed by what felt like the sheer meaningless in my existence. The problem with that was I made myself literally numb to everything going on around me. It's really hard to be creative when you go about your everyday routine just letting everything bounce off you and letting nothing stick. Know what I mean?

Now that I realized that, I think I can keep myself from falling into that trap again. Or not. I get distracted easily.

Speaking of distracted, I got my sense of smell back!

(Yeah, complete and abrupt change of topic. No warning. No clever segueing. Nothing! Blame the monkeys.)

While the cold helped me regain my sense of blogginess (I think), I lost my sense of smell. That was new. I've never had anything like that happen over a cold - or any other reason - before. At first, I was a little worried that it was going to be permanent (and possibly the lamest superhero origin story ever) but Dr. Google assured me it would be alright. Actually, it seemed this wasn't not all that uncommon when you got a cold so I just had to wait it out. Sure, everything I ate tasted bland without a functioning olfactory sense but, on the plus side, I kind of liked being able to walk through the city and not be suddenly have my nose bombarded with scent human waste (sorry again) - usually strategically scattered throughout the city by members of our homeless community.

That being said, I am now of the opinion that the tongue is woefully undeserving of its position as the representative of taste. All that guy can basically do is tell what's sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Without your olfactory sense, you might as well just give up on life enjoying your food.

At first, my sense of smell came back in bits and pieces. The first time I noticed anything had a scent was one day, when I was returning from lunch about two days into it. A coworker was waiting to get on the elevator and the scent of her coffee hit my olfactory senses hard. The best way I can describe it was like being colorblind and suddenly seeing a woman in a red dress move across the room. And the fact that it was coffee that ended up being the first thing I could smell in two days turned that woman in a red dress into a curvy bikini model in a skimpy, red two-piece.
Of course I meant a Japanese bikini model!
I really love coffee.

After that, it was gone again until something else got through. Fortunately, none of it was poop. After about five or six days, I'm happy to report that things are back to normal and coffee tastes great once again.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Conversation With Mrs C - My Hot Body.

Mrs C walks into the bedroom. She looks at me intently as I lie on the bed, her eyes run across my shirtless frame. After a few seconds, she walks over and puts her hand on my chest. After a few seconds, she looks int my eyes and says: Mrs C: Oh my GOD! Your body is so hot! Me: I know, right? Those hours in the gym are really paying off. Mrs C: *stares* Me: *wiggles eyebrows* Mrs C: *walks away* I meant your fever... ASS!!! Me: That's right, baby! You know I gots da fevah. You know you wants somma dis fevah! Mrs C: *stops in doorway and looks around* What does that even mean? Me: I dunno. There's a fairly good chance I got high off the cold meds. Mrs C: *continues on her way* Just be sure to take a cold shower tonight to cool your self down. Looks like you need it in more ways than one. So, yes, I'm sick and, yes, it sucks... royally! But, on the plus side, I'm starting to feel write-y again. Seems the pain and fever woke up those 100 monkeys in my brain have started tapping away at their little typewriters (don't even ask how those hipster monkeys got the typewriters in there to begin with). I'm not promising Shakespeare, though. Actually, I'm not making any promises whatsoever. A good blogger in a slump knows better that to promise that they're back for good. And since I've never been ashamed of copying said good bloggers, this won't be an exception. So... for now let's just leave things at: "We'll see."

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Always Remember - Boundary Issues.

When it comes family...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

On The Outside, Looking In.

Remember back when I posted about how things always seem to change when I complain about my situation and they didn't usually change for the better? Well... it happened again. The complaining and things changing part, anyway. Surprisingly enough, things are actually a lot better now.

Halfway through September, I was transferred again and, no, it wasn't back to my original desk. I've been moved to a completely new desk in yet another division altogether. And, yes, this came as a result of me complaining. Not to myself or into the vast open spaces of the internet but to what appears to be a more effective audience: HR.

Yeah. Now, I'm normally the kind of guy who tries to make the best of things. You know the type: the guy who quietly sits and mutters to himself instead of proactively initiating change until one day he finally reaches his breaking point and thoughts of property damage start playing around inside his head.
S-stapler...
Yeah, that guy. Or, at least, I thought I was. When things actually got to the point with my supervisor where I couldn't take it anymore I ended up going to HR and lodging a complaint. I even surprised myself. One thing led to another and here I am, working on the executive offices. Please note: my job title and salary remain the same level (the bottom). I'm just doing the job I was hired to do in a different setting.

I guess this is the point where I go into the ups and downs I had with the supervisor in question and talk about how things at my new station are working out. But... no. That's enough of that. Instead, let's talk about the time I locked myself outside my office... and, by extension, the entire building... on the top floor. That's way more interesting, right?

AHEM! The government office that employs me takes up the top three floors of a seven-story building. The executive floors are, of course, on the top floor of those three floors. On each floor there are two emergency exits and each of those exits also grants staff access to the balconies where staff is free to go to think, focus on a difficult task/assignment, view a passing parade in the streets below, have a private conversation or weep mournfully as they contemplate the meaninglessness to their existence (it's cathartic). As such there are no alarms to go off when these doors are opened.

Most of the time, though, people just go outside whenever the air-conditioning starts acting up. On rare occasions a unit will break down but, more often than not, they work too well and it gets super-cold in the office. Not many of us are built to take it but I don't mind. I just throw on my jacket and I'm good so, with only a few exceptions, I pretty much ignore those balcony entrances, even though I'm now seated right in front of one of them (naturally, this means, if shit goes down, I'm the guaranteed to be one of the first ones out).

That was until yesterday...

It had been raining all week. The air was colder than usual and even I was feeling the chill in the air. Then, from the window behind me, I happened to notice the sun had finally decided to check in on us. The sky was so bright I just knew it would be nice and warm outside already. I imagined the feeling of the warm sunlight on my skin and I could feel myself being pulled to the outside. That's when I decided to just go out and thaw off for a bit.

Now, as I said earlier, I hardly availed myself of the privilege before but the few times I did, I got in and out with no problems. However, what I didn't know was that, unlike the other balcony entrances, the door behind my desk does not open from the outside. So when a gust of wind eagerly finished closing the door for me I barely paid it any mind. I soaked in some sun, looked around a little at the nearby streets and buildings and headed back for the inside. Only... When I got the the door... Yeah...

"Of course..." was my first thought because, obviously if anyone's going to get themselves locked out it's me.

This was when I looked around and realized the balconies aren't connected around the corners and there was a seven-floor-deep gap between me and the only other entrance on the floor. Outstanding! My next thought was to discretely call one of my coworkers on their cells so they could come over and let me back in. This was unfortunately hampered by the fact that I had earlier put my phone to charge and it was at that moment sitting on my desk, evilly smirking at me (IT SMIRKED! I SAW IT!) through the locked window.

"Naturally!" I sighed.

At this point I was left with three options:
  1. Climb up the roof-access ladder and get to either the other balcony entrance or the door to the main stairwell.
  2. Go across to the emergency stairwell, make my way down to the floor just below and get in from an entrance there.
  3. Knock until someone heard me and came to my rescue.
Each option, however, comes with it's own set of problems. Like I said, it was windy. Climbing up to the roof and walking across seemed risky, especially since the entire center of the building is hollow all the way to the ground floor and all that covered that section was a huge glass dome so yeah... No! I considered the emergency stairwell option for a quite a bit but I wasn't sure if opening those doors triggered any alarms or if any other doors opened from the inside besides the one on the ground floor. Common sense told me I should be fine. The fear of sending the building into a panic if I trip off an emergency alarm told me back off that idea a bit.
See? Some of them do trigger alarms. I wasn't letting the lack of a label lull me into a false sense security.
source
While I was considering trying to get to the floor below, it also occurred to me that there was an Option 4: Since the building had a sort of Mayan pyramid thing going on, I could just ignore the stairs and jump down to the balcony below.
source
But I decided against it.

This left me with knocking and calling at the offending door until someone came to my rescue. While this may seem like the most viable solution to sum, to me it was the least desirable option. My new supervisor, who happens to be the one who sits closest to me was on lunch at the time so this meant I had to really make myself heard. Not only did I leave myself open to ridicule from whoever came to let me back in but I ran the risk of attracting the attention of the executive staff since their offices were all around my area. Being on the floor only a few months, I felt that somehow this wouldn't help me make a good impression.

Still, of all the available options this was the only one that could count as "sane" so I figured I'd play it safe. So I knocked... and waited... and knocked again... and waited some more. Then I realized there was no one within earshot. I looked at the emergency stairwell door again. I began to wonder if they'd fired me if I set off the fire alarm and sent hundreds of people scampering.

I knocked again, slightly louder. Nothing.

I decided to enjoy the view for a bit more until someone noticed I was missing. I figured, worst-case scenario, I had at least half an hour until my supervisor got back from her lunch break. Roughly ten seconds later I was back at the door, knocking and trying (and failing) to not look overly pathetic. I realized if someone did pass by, I'd only look like I was getting some fresh air rather than trapped outside. This time, though, my efforts paid off and a few minutes later I heard a 'click' as the knob turned and the door opened.

"What's the password?" It was the personal assistant to the third-highest ranking guy there. She was just returning to her desk and heard me knocking.

"Thanks," I smiled and started to pull the door open.

She held firm on her end, "Noooooo. That's not the password." She smiled back with a sing-songy reply.

I joked it off and made a few guesses (all of the wrong) but she insisted on making me squirm for a minute before letting me pass. FYI: It was "open sesame", apparently. Go figure.

"You now this door doesn't open from the outside, right?" she said as I walked in, "We normally block it open when we go outside."

"No... No I did not."

All-in-all I endured only minimal embarrassment and, as a bonus, the rain held up the entire time. That counts as a good a day, in my book.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Reality Hits Home.

NOVEMBER 16, 2015 - Evening: My wife are sitting in bed, indulging in whatever distraction our respective mobile devices have to offer. Suddenly I see a headline on my stream...

Me: I'm going to tell you something... but... please don't overreact.
Mrs C: ...
Me: The movie, Home Alone, is 25 years old today.

She straightens up, eyes slowly lifting from her phone's screen. They widen as she turns towards me. Her jaw slackens as if to say something but words fail to form. I reach over and gently pat her on the shoulder.

Me: There, there...
Mrs C: I... But I-
Me: I know... I know...
Mrs C: I'm done! I'm not paying attention to these types of stories anymore!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Conversations With Mrs C - Keeping Her Grounded.

Mrs C (after 20 minute call with a friend who's now an insurance agent, trying to drum up some business): So, he was saying, right, if we get this annuity and make lumpsum payments from the start we can still claim on it on our income tax return next year.

Me: Okay...
Mrs C: Then we could add that to the refund I get from my law school fees.

Me: Cool.

Mrs C: Plus, it looks like the housing people may finally get their act together with the paperwork so the mortgage could become official before the end of the year*. Right?

Me: That's right.

Mrs C: So that means we can claim a deduction as homeowners too. Sweet! Our income tax deductions next year are. going. to be... EPIC!!!

Me: ...

Are you hearing yourself? When did you turn into a boring adult? "Epic income tax deductions"?

Mrs C: *blank stare*

Me: *stares back*

Mrs C: Oh. my. God... BAH-HAHAHAHAHA!!! "Epic deductions!" I can't believe I said tha- HAHAHAHA!!!

Me: I know, right? You had me worried.

Mrs C: Ohmygosh, I can't breathe... Thanks for catching that one.

Me: You almost went over the deep-end there.

Mrs C: *exhales* I smell a blog post coming.

Me: You know it.


*Technically, the house is ours but since the government's involved with the construction & distribution, there are still a few i's to dot & t's to cross before it's official... ALMOST A YEAR LATER!