Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Existential Road Signs

It was late when Boss and I got back from our business trip. In fact, the plane didn’t even land until two hours after the time I usually go to bed. (It was on time, by the way.) My friends from college will recall that I often would say the oddest things when they kept me up late. (I think they rather enjoyed it.) Having said that, you will understand that my brain was not functioning normally when this happened.

We were on the interstate, still in El Paso, when I saw a road sign that said, "Right two lanes must exist."

I read the sign out loud and asked Boss [cleaning up my language for public viewing], "What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks does that mean?"

I then started a rant about poorly worded signs (along roads and elsewhere). I hadn’t gotten far when I saw the next road sign. "Right lane must exit."

Oh. Um. Er. Oops. I guess I misread the earlier sign. Hey, I’m not responsible for what I say after my bedtime, okay?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Quickie

I was perusing this week’s ad from one of those stores that sells discontinued/imperfect merchandise below retail prices. Sure to appeal to potty-training parents (including ones I know) is a "Talking Potty" for just $10. It even allows you to, "Record your own message."

I’m sure this is a great way to encourage or praise your children (depending on when the recording plays, I suppose), but I’m not too keen on the thought of my tiny toilet talking to me -- or even my offspring, as it were. Then, you want me to listen to my own voice telling me what a good boy I’ve been? No thank you, very much.

Hypocrisy Is a Gas

That’s my hypothesis, at any rate. I base it on my experiences at work.

Ob, for example, once told me that I don’t need to worry about anyone’s else’s job. (See also 7/27/06 post.) However, he phoned me twice on Tuesday to have the groundskeepers address issues that he thought were urgent. He points out things like this quite frequently, and I want to smack him and say, "Don’t you see what you’re doing?!"

My boss (hereafter called "Boss") got upset with me yesterday because I gave him a message in front of our new District Manager (DM), who was visiting. Well, it’s not the circumstances in which I relayed the message but the content of said message. Someone (a crazy sounding woman) called to say that the granite countertops had arrived at the house he is building, but he didn’t leave the door unlocked, so they couldn’t get in. That’s it; that’s all I said to him. Plus, the DM probably didn’t even hear, as he was talking to our office manager at the time. Where’s the reason to be upset? Where’s the hypocrisy? I’ll explain.

Boss was upset because, a while back, the previous DM and our client received anonymous letters alleging, among other things, that Boss was spending work time to build houses (his side business). Boss sweet-talked his way out of any trouble (although I believe that all of the allegations, not just the house-building one, were true) and says he hasn’t done anything wrong. Then, pray tell, why did he get so upset when I gave him the message in front of new DM, if he’s not doing anything wrong? The kicker (and source of hypocrisy) is that, today, just as he arrived at the office, his cell phone (paid for by the company) rang. He spoke in Spanish (clue #1 that it wasn’t work-related), but I could understand that he was telling someone that they haven’t arrived yet ("no he llegado"). He followed that with a phone call (in English) to someone else, whom he told that he "just spoke with the painter" (clue #2) and that "the granite countertops haven’t arrived from El Paso yet" (superfluous clue #3). What should I learn from this, Boss: that I imagine hearing you conduct personal business during work hours, or that it’s okay for you to do it, as long as your superiors don’t know about it?

Why do I think hypocrisy is a gas? Because, every time someone says or does something directly opposite of what s/he has previously asserted, I can’t breathe. My lungs crave oxygen, as if it were displaced by noxious fumes. Plus, I get a really bad taste in my mouth. Though I can’t yet think of a way to test this hypothesis scientifically, I have informal, personal observations that this gas has been generated, so far, only when the hypocrisy is expressed verbally, and only when I am in the immediate vicinity. (Maybe I’m just the canary in the mine shaft and everyone else is more tolerant.)

One more example: on our business trip last week, I was present when Boss told someone that he should treat every employee equally and not show favoritism. (Another of the anonymous letter’s allegations, which is patently true, was that Boss does exactly the opposite). Unfortunately, falling to the ground, gasping and hacking for pure, life-giving air, might have been construed as grounds for termination in this case, so I stoically wavered on my feet and breathed shallowly through my nose.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Come Fly with Me

... or not.

I went to southern California with my boss this week. We were scheduled to leave on Sunday afternoon. We didn’t get out of El Paso until Monday morning.

First, the gate agent told us that the plane had mechanical difficulty in Phoenix, so it would be late arriving in El Paso. A while later, we were told that the plane had taken off but returned to Phoenix because of "mechanical difficulty" again. (I overheard the gate agent tell her coworker that a fire extinguisher had gone off in the cargo cabin.) However, we were assured that the delay would not cause any of us to miss connecting flights.

At 4:35 p.m., the notice board was changed to list our departure time as 5:30 p.m. (nearly 2.5 hours after the scheduled time). We were asked to line up, and they would start changing our connections. Rest assured, though, that the plane was in the air and on its way. (We weren’t told exactly when the plane took off, though.)

When the following plane arrived at our gate, we were switched to the gate next door. As the plane loaded, we found out that it, too, was going to Phoenix. Why couldn’t we have been booked on that plane? Because there were only four seats available for about a hundred of us.

Our plane then arrived and unloaded its passengers. We boarded. The door was closed. The steward made the obligatory safety warnings. ("In the unlikely event of a water landing...." Between El Paso and Phoenix? Very unlikely.) He shut the pilots’ cabin door and sat down in his chair, ready for departure. Then, the cabin door bumped against his seat. One of the pilots needed to get off the plane. After a couple of minutes, I overheard the steward reply to the pilot, "I can’t make an announcement unless they connect us to ground power."


The steward then shouted to us that we had to get off the plane because there was no power. The plane literally could not start.

Back in the terminal, we watched the other plane pull away from their (our) gate and depart. We were told to line up to change our flights yet again, but it would be better for most of us to go to the ticket counter downstairs because, "there are only two computers up here". Guess how many were downstairs? If you guessed two as well, you’re right!

An hour later, we were still in line. There was only one other flight out of El Paso that night, to Las Vegas, but it was already oversold by 25 seats. Did we want the 6 o’clock flight or the 8 o’clock flight the next morning? (Oh, wait. It doesn’t matter what I want; my boss is with me.) Also, my boss decided he didn’t want to drive back to Las Cruces, so he got us hotel and meal vouchers in El Paso. Of course, the rental car and hotel had to be rescheduled (now that we finally knew when we’d arrive in California), and the coworkers we were scheduled to meet had to be notified that we wouldn’t get to the site until the afternoon. Naturally, I had to do all that, too. (Someone needs to teach my boss that delegating doesn’t mean making your underlings do everything for you while you put up your feet in a hotel room.) At 9 o’clock, I was finally going to eat dinner -- three hours after we should have landed in California.

In my next post, I’ll continue on the saga of my trip. (Note that I safely returned.)