Answers? Maybe.

Things I’ve learned in the last 48 hours:

  1. All but two of you people can not follow instructions (and one of those two kind of cheats.)
  2. More people feel similarly to how I feel than I realized.
  3. Those questions were deeper and more stirring than I imagined them to be.

I read my last two blog posts to my therapist yesterday.  Part of what prompted me writing them was thinking about how I feel about my life at this point and what may or may not be the point of continuing to go to therapy.  I felt like, at least in part, those posts answered some of the questions that I’ve been considering and that I imagine Deb might be considering, as well.

When I read her the questions her eyes got really big and she said, “Wow!  Those are some big questions.  Have you gotten any responses?”

“Yes,” I told her, “One person responded right before I left to come here.  Which is disappointing because at this point, I know the post has been read ten times.”

The truth is I thought, however naively, that those questions would be easy for people to answer.  I thought most of the people who read that post would be able to whip out a few sentences and explain the meaning of their lives to me.  I don’t honestly know if I thought everyone would have a wonderful, beautiful, meaningful story to tell that would confirm my suspicion that my life doesn’t mean anything, or if I thought everyone would have a story similar to mine that would help me find some sort of comfort in this meaningless, day to day grind.  Whatever I thought, I expected to have my comments section filled up with replies to my questions and my pleas for assistance.

The truth is Jody, my first respondent, nearly took the words out of my mouth.  Jody says:

“I get up because I have to. I get up because I am awake. I have nothing that makes me bound from my bed in happiness or joy or fear or desire. I get up because that is what we do.”

“You know these questions make me feel like I have nothing going for me.”

“Hell, I don’t know. Sometimes I feel like a waste of space. That I will be one of those people when gone no one misses.”

Terri’s answers leaned a little more in the other direction, relating that what gets her out of bed in the morning is a job she enjoys, with people she likes and feeling valued in her work.  I envy that for sure.

Terri cheated a little.  I specifically asked that you not answer with “my kids” and that’s what she did, but after reading her answer, I understand why:

“I don’t know yet. I really don’t know. The easy answer is my kids. My kids are the focus right now. Raise them. Help them be successful. Help them take flight and hopefully help them not to make the same mistakes I made. What scares the hell out of me is who I am and what is my purpose when they’re grown and on their own. I was barely old enough to start wondering about my purpose before they came along, so I had to put those thoughts off for the past 21 years. A couple more years and I’ll have to face that question for real.”

I’m surprised really that only two people responded to my little “interview” and even more surprised that I didn’t get even one uber-peppy, my-life-is-all-rainbows-and-butterflies-wonderful responses.

My answers, which I did not want to share in that post, are far more doom and gloom:

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Fear.  I get out of bed because I’m afraid not to.  I’m afraid to lose my job and not have a pay check.  I’m afraid to lose my income and not be able to pay my rent and my car payment and my bills and have my life be turned upside down to suck even more than it already does because I’m homeless and broke.  I don’t get out of bed because I can’t wait to get to work.  I don’t get out of bed because there are such great things and wonderful people waiting for me outside my front door that I can hardly wait to get going.  I get out of bed – late – because if I don’t, things are going to go from bad to worse.  And that’s a really sucky reason.

What do you believe is your purpose in life?  What is your reason for living?

I haven’t got the slightest inkling what my purpose is.  There really isn’t even anything more to say about that.  I have no idea what may be my reason for living.

What do you live for?  What keeps you going?

My answer is the same.  It isn’t for any kind of fulfillment or personal satisfaction.  I don’t have any of that.  I don’t get any satisfaction, whatsoever, from my job.  Aside from the paycheck every other week, which never seems to go far enough, my job gives me nothing.  I don’t like the people I work with; I don’t like the customers I serve; I don’t even like the field I’m in and yet, I have no inkling of what I could do instead that would provide any of that satisfaction.

I don’t have children, nor do I want them.  I really thought, though, that being a Big Brother would be something that would give me some of that sense of accomplishment or fulfillment; I thought it would give me some satisfaction.  It doesn’t.  I like Lil’B a lot and for the most part we have fun when we hang out, but if something happened and I couldn’t be his Big Brother any more, I really wouldn’t be bothered by it.  In fact, it would be a bit of a relief.

So while it does seem to be somewhat of a cop-out answer, what keeps me going is the fact that I am alive.  I do wake up every morning, like it or not, and therefore, I have to keep going… like it or not.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this except to say that clearly I’m not the only person in my world who struggles with these questions.  I suppose that’s comforting in a way, although, knowing how very much it sucks, I do feel badly for the other people in the same boat.

While the questions were intended to be for my edification, I can’t help feeling badly for asking them now that I realize how tough they are.  I hope no one was harmed by reading those questions and being forced to consider them.  I don’t know why I didn’t realize how tough they would be.

I don’t really know where to go from here.  I am reaching for a conclusion, both for my state of mind, and for this post.  It seems, however, like the truth is there is no conclusion… yet.

Interview

The song says, “Gotta put it all behind you, ‘cause life goes on.”  My response was, “’Life goes on?’  What life?  I struggle a lot with this one and it’s actually prompted what will probably be tomorrow’s post if I can get it together in time,” and then I mulled it over for a while.  Obviously, it wasn’t “tomorrow’s” post, but it is next so close enough.  I decided to conduct a little interview with you, the reader.  There were a few questions I wanted to ask in an effort to gain a better understanding, to try and change my own perspective about this thought, “Life goes on.”

Five specific questions came to mind.  What gets you out of bed in the morning?  What do you believe is your purpose in life?  What is your reason for living?  What do you live for?  What keeps you going?  I wanted to ask these questions of my readers, but I wanted to ask them without having to answer them myself.  So I mulled some more.

I realized that if I posted this list of questions without delving into it myself, people would make some assumptions about what’s behind the questions.  People would, perhaps not so much answer the questions as try to offer me encouragement, or solutions, or hope against whatever they presumed my motivation for asking might have been.  But here’s the thing.  I’m not sure I know the answers to the questions for myself and that’s the reason I’m asking.

Yes, I want to compare myself to your answers, but I don’t want to compare myself to your answers.  That sentence, of course, makes no sense to anyone but me.  See, a very stereotypical depressive behavior is comparing oneself:  Oh, he’s better looking than I am.  She makes more money than I do.  I wish my hair looked like his. And all that does is lead to a more and more harmful image of oneself and reinforce the negativity in their already troubled mind.  That is not what I’m trying to do here.

I thought about these questions and what my own answers might be and perhaps I’ll share them later.  I don’t want to share them now, because I don’t want my answers to influence yours and I don’t want to reinforce your potential need to “encourage” me.  That’s not what I’m looking for here.

The truth is I’ve been feeling a little better in some respects the last few days and I realized, sometime last night or this morning, what I believe is the reason why.  It is difficult to explain.  See, depression, among many other ugly little problems, is the lack of hope – wait… No it’s not.  Depression is a sense of hopelessness… It doesn’t seem like there is much of a difference, but there must be…  I’ve lived most of my life with a sense of hopelessness, and yet, I always had hope.  I always hoped for more, for something better.  I always believed that things had to get better.  The thing is that all that hope and all that believing there is something better, has just let me down over and over again.  And now, I don’t really have any hope for things to get better.  I don’t really believe that it will get any better than this and I don’t really feel hopeless exactly.

What I realized last night or this morning is that I’ve stopped “planning” and, I suppose on some level, started “accepting”.  I’ve stopped thinking about what life is going to be like “when such and such happens”.  I suppose in a way that kind of planning is the same as comparing; comparing my life now, to this vision of what my life could be if… It seems like that is a good thing, and yet, without planning, I’m not sure what I’m aiming for.

Anyway, I decided to ask these questions of you because I wanted to get another perspective, to get out of my own head a little, and maybe get a better glimpse at reality.

And I’ll admit that there is another, ulterior motive that plays a small part, a very small part.  There are still a lot more people reading this blog than ever actually comment on it.  And that’s fine.  I don’t comment on every single blog post I read.  Sometimes I think I should, but I don’t always have anything to say, or feel like I have anything to say that really adds value to what I’ve just read.

But I’m asking, if you’re reading this post, if you’ve gotten this far, please answer the questions, even if you never have and never will again comment on my blog.  If you don’t feel comfortable answering the questions in a comment, then please, send them to me in an e-mail to Riggledo at gmail dot com.  I promise to keep it confidential.

So the questions are:

What gets you out of bed in the morning?  (Not your alarm, but your motivation.)

What do you believe is your purpose in life?  What is your reason for living?

What do you live for?  What keeps you going?

I know that many of you would answer “My kids” to at least one of those questions and I’m not suggesting that kids aren’t a valid answer, but kids are secondary.  Kids come later in life, by choice (usually) and, well…  “Kids” is just too easy an answer.  I’m asking you to dig deeper than that.  I want to know what it is about your life that makes life worthwhile for you, not for someone else.

I also know that these questions kind of point to each other so don’t feel like you have to give me a hundred word essay under each of those questions (though you’re welcome to), just tell me your story.  Tell me what makes your life worth living each and every day.  I hope you’ll all do my little interview.  I’m looking forward to your answers…

Please?  I’ll be your best friend… 😉

But I Think It’s About Forgiveness

I thought writing this would be easy.  I listened to the song for hours and hours and when I realized I just wasn’t fully getting the lyrics I looked them up so I could read along and then I listened to it for hours and hours more.  I really felt something while I listened.  I was ready to write about it but I needed (or at least I thought I did) to give some back story first.  So I wrote.  I wrote and wrote and wrote and when I was “finished”, I hadn’t written about my feelings at all, but instead wrote about a concert I didn’t enjoy and an artist I had no interest in and then I copied and pasted the lyrics to a song you’ve probably all heard for yourselves before, and I left you with a promise to get to the real point in another post… soon… because I chose to believe that you really wanted to know.

But time has not been on my side and while I enjoyed listening to the song, how many days can you listen to the same song over and over again without going bat-shit crazy?  I moved on and listened to other music, and did my actual job, and wrote brief, relatively meaningless posts about head and pianos… Or something like that… Now I’m sitting at my computer and I’m ready to write this post and I played the song again and I’ve got the lyrics in front of me and—Nothing!

Wait.  I’ll listen a few more times.

Something is happening…

I thought this was worth writing because the feelings were pretty strong and yet not easy to identify.  Now, two days later, that feeling is starting to come back, but it’s slow.

What follows is bound to be more of a stream of consciousness thing than I had intended and if you’re bored already, I won’t be offended if you stop reading here.  I make no promises about the quality of the rest of this post.  For those of you who are gluttons for punishment…

I listen to the song while doing other things and it seeps into my sub-conscious, but the lyrics aren’t readily thought about, and I notice a bit of a melancholy comes over me.  The music is soothing and the singing voice is almost comforting.  Maybe consoling is a better word.  I can feel the emotion of the song.  I do feel the emotion of the song.  A sort of… mournful hope, painful optimism and to be honest it’s not entirely comfortable to feel.  Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of the spectrum of feelings mashing up against one another or maybe it’s because I don’t know how to handle my feelings in the first place and so feeling anything is at once exciting and horrifying.

As the feeling starts to wash over me I become more aware of the lyrics.  A word here: forgiveness, happiness, self-assurance; a phrase there: “The more I learn, the less I understand and all the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again”, “gotta put it all behind you, ‘cause life goes on.  You keep carrying that anger, it’ll eat you up inside.”

And then, the song in its entirety:

“I got the call today I didn’t want to hear, but I knew that it would come.  An old true friend of ours was talkin’ on the phone.  She said you found someone.”

I can imagine the heartbreak of that moment.  I’ve experienced the heartbreak of that moment.  I hear that line and I think of the day a mutual friend of my ex-fiancé and mine wandered into the store in the mall where I worked and told me that my ex and her new guy were getting married later on that evening.  I knew she had a new guy and I knew they were engaged so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise and yet, it felt more like a kick to the gut.

Then again, that was a lifetime ago and I’m a completely different person than I was then.  I’m over that hurt.  I can relate to and imagine the heartbreak of that moment, but I don’t feel it now.

“And I thought of all the bad luck and all the struggles we went through; how I lost me and you lost you.  What are all these voices outside love’s open door, make us throw off our contentment and beg for something more?

I’ve been learning to live without you now, but I miss you sometimes. The more I know, the less I understand.  All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning them again.”

The last line strikes a chord these days because I feel exactly that way.  I thought I had made such progress in my life.  I felt like I had learned so much from therapy and experience and time, and now, I feel like everything I thought I knew has been a lie, like I’m back at square one.  The more I know about me, about whom I am and the life I’ve lived, the less I understand… pretty much anything.  I’m not even sure anymore what I’ve learned.

“I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter, but my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter.”

It has been a recurring phenomenon for me, in life and particularly in therapy, that when things get tough, my brain shuts down.  Quite literally, when things become too hard to face, or information becomes too complicated and overwhelming, my brain just stops processing.  It’s difficult to even articulate the experience.  I lose the ability to focus on the task or the issue at hand and it’s almost like the mental imagery breaks apart and scatters in all directions like oil on water.  I’ve always felt like I was the only one who felt that so this lyric of the song, in a way, is comforting.

“But I think it’s about forgiveness.  Forgiveness.  Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore.”

It almost seems like this is goes without saying.  Forgiveness is difficult.  It shouldn’t be.  It should be the easiest thing in the world but it just isn’t.  I can’t speak for other people and I’m sure I’m not really the only person to feel the way I do, but I am the only one I have to worry about and the fact is, very few days have gone by in my life where I wasn’t hurt or degraded or let down in some way, by some one.  I’ve had a considerable amount of hurt in my life and have every reason to expect a considerable amount more.  It’s hard to get over.  It’s tough to put behind you and I think no matter how much you wish you could, you don’t forget the hurts in your life.

For me, and thousands if not millions of people like me, the possibility that someone incredibly important in my life might not love me anymore if they knew everything there was to know, is too great to be ignored.  The part that’s so confusing and difficult about all this is they’re some of the same people who have caused the most pain and sadness in my life.

“These times are so uncertain.  There’s a yearning undefined, and people filled with rage.  We all need a little tenderness.  How can love survive in such a graceless age?”

Uncertainty is such a huge part of life and it sucks.  I’ve lived most of my life feeling like I have little or no control over anything.  And it’s not that I’m a “control freak” exactly, although, really isn’t everyone to some extent?  It’s just that, so much of the time, I feel like circumstances just happen to me.  That sounds like a cop-out, I know, but it’s true.  It makes me sound like a victim, and maybe in some ways I am, but it makes me angry… one might say, “filled with rage.”

And it seems like we live in an age of me-ness.  “Graceless”?  That’s just putting it nicely.  I’ve been so disturbed and frustrated over the last several years by the general attitude of selfishness and self-importance in the world around me.  Once upon a time, you could go to a store and the employees would speak to you.  “Excuse me,” they would say before walking in front of you as you examine the products on the shelf.  “May I help you find anything?” they would ask, simply because you walked near them.  (I worked at a store once that had a “four square” policy.  If a customer walked with-in four floor tiles of you in any direction you were supposed to greet them and offer assistance.)

And what about your fellow man?  There was a time when people paid attention to where they were going, when it wasn’t more important for them to get where they wanted to be, than it was to be courteous enough to wait until you got by when there was no one behind you. Now, people turn their carts out in front of you and make you stop short, or cut you off on the freeway, just to get out from behind the slow guy in front of them, even though they’re going slower than you.  I think this sums it up pretty well.

“And the trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness are the very things we kill, I guess.  Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms.  And the wall they put between us, you know it doesn’t keep us warm.”

I wouldn’t presume to say that I know what leads to happiness.  Most of the time I think that people are either born happy or they’re not; and while everyone has bummer days, tragic moments that temporarily sour their moods, those of us who weren’t fortunate enough to be born happy, probably never will be.

Trust and self-assurance are things that have very rarely, if ever, served me well so I’m not so sure those lead to happiness.  These last few years have been filled with self-assurance and it has only proved to set me up for a huge fall.  Lead to happiness?  I’m not so sure.  “The very things we kill, I guess”?  It evokes a sense of loss in me.  However artificial that trust and self-assurance I had been experiencing might have been, it was still significant and now it’s gone.

I don’t know about “pride and competition” but the image of empty arms and “doesn’t keep us warm” conjures plenty of feeling.  One I’m all too familiar with.  It’s called loneliness.  I’m used to it; one might even say I’m comfortable with it.  Which is not to say that I like it, but when it’s all you’ve known, it’s pretty easy to settle in for the long haul.

“I’ve been trying to live without you now, but I miss you, baby.  The more I know, the less I understand, and all the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again.  I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter, but my will gets weak and my heart is so shattered.”

All the things I thought I figured out.  It’s just a change in the wording, but it’s so much more accurate.  Clearly everything I thought I knew turned out to be wrong.  Deceiving myself into believing things would be different when they clearly won’t.  All the hope I allowed myself to feel, all the optimism that proved to be groundless…  My heart is so shattered

“But I think it’s about forgiveness.  Forgiveness.  Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore.”

Now check out the bridge:

“All the people in your life who’ve come and gone, they let you down, you know they hurt your pride.  Gotta put it all behind you ‘cause life goes on.  You keep carryin’ that anger, it’ll eat you up inside.

I wanted happily ever after, and my heart is so shattered and I know it’s about…”

At the end of the day, this, right here, is what I think this song is about for me.  I could make lists.  Lists of people who’ve gone, lists of people who’ve let me down and lists of people who’ve hurt me.  Lists of people who’ve made me angry, made me resentful, made me doubt myself and my life and the world around me.  I try everyday to put it behind me, though I’m generally not very successful.  “Life goes on?”  What life?  I struggle a lot with this one and it’s actually prompted what will probably be tomorrow’s post if I can get it together in time.

“You keep carrying that anger, it’ll eat you up inside.”  This evokes thoughts of my mother and to be honest, it makes me angry.  My whole life when I would get mad about something, she would say, “Oh honey, just be quiet.  Don’t be like that.  You’re not hurting anyone but yourself.”  Maybe it wasn’t her intention, but I think it was.  What I got from that is.  “Don’t feel.  It’s not OK to get angry.  You’re not allowed to have negative emotions.”  It’s kind of ironic if you think about it.  “You keep carrying that anger, it’ll eat you up inside,” is true.  It’s so much better to vent your frustrations, to let it out of your system and yet, the words make me think of my mother telling me not to do just that.

My mother and I had a bit of a falling out several years ago and I’m not going to get into it here, but in that conversation she told me “You’ve obviously been holding some grudges you need to forgive and forget.”  Naturally, that just pissed me off more, but what I told her is, “I’m not holding any grudges.  I suppose I can understand why you would say that, but that’s not the case.  When I gave the examples I gave, it was simply that, giving examples.  I learned a long time ago not to make sweeping generalizations (especially within this family) without supporting data.  As far as ‘forgive and forget’ goes, I don’t even know what that means.  Forgiveness is a choice and I’ve made that choice over and over again with a lot of people in my life for as long as I can remember.  Forgetting on the other hand doesn’t make any sense to me.  One can’t control what they can and can’t (or do and don’t) remember.”

I believed that when I said it.  I believed that forgiveness was a conscious decision you make.  I guess the truth is I still believe that and yet this song struck a chord with me.

Maybe forgiveness is a process.  Maybe forgiveness is a decision and a process.  Maybe forgiveness is a process that takes time and you make the decision over and over until – well, until your done.

I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter, but my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter.  But I think it’s about forgiveness…

Forgiveness.

Mark Your Calendars

This is by no means the first time it has happened, but it never ceases to surprise me how when there’s a specific topic, one that deals with emotional aspects, that I want to write about, I manage to be too busy to write and yet, so much of the time, I have all the time in the world to screw around and play games and write blog posts while at work.

Today is no different.  I’ve been quite busy as I’m putting the finishing touches on a survey that a team of people I “lead” and I have been working on.  Before I knew it, it was 4:00 in the afternoon and I hadn’t even thought about, or started a blog post.  I knew this subject was going to take more than a few minutes to write about and clearly today was not the day.  Maybe tomorrow, but with another round of fire drills in the morning, I make no promises.

~~~

I do have a totally different story to tell you however.

Yesterday, while we were conducting the first half of our semi-annual fire drills and I made my worthless 18 block trek to the other end of the world, K, our Department Secretary, was out of the office presumably sick.  I don’t know or care.  I just know she wasn’t in the office, which means that while Bertha, the other front office worker was gone to lunch, it fell on me, yet again, to cover the phones and the front office.

At one point I had to go into K’s cubicle at the front of the suite to help a customer and while I was there, I noticed a poster and packet of flyers that were left for her to have posted.  The poster was advertising the “2010 Compliance and Ethics Week” for my company.

I have no doubt that, in the age of Enron and WorldCom and the Sarbanes Oxley act, most larger companies have a Compliance department whose purpose for existing is to ensure that the company and its employees are, well, complying with policies and regulations.  My company is no different.  In fact we’re so concerned about making sure that our employees are being compliant with any number of rules that we have fourteen different Compliance groups.  I was going to say that “fourteen” is a joke, but honestly, there are probably a lot more than that.    There are entire departments that have a sub-group dedicated strictly to compliance.  There are multiple legs of this organization and within each one there is a compliance department and then as if that weren’t sufficient enough, there is a specific department whose soul purpose is to promote and enforce compliance within the entire company.

I suppose to some extent I can understand the need for such a group.  The Sarbanes Oxley act (SOX) is somewhat confusing and some people may need help understanding what it says and how it applies to them.  Oh but wait, we have a SOX department dedicated to that task.

Certainly there is a need for a small group of people to investigate allegations of non-compliance but I can’t understand why there would be that many allegations or the need for too many people.  But a “Compliance and Ethics Week”?  Really?  I mean what purpose is this supposed to serve?  I guess it just struck me as somewhat amusing that we have a single week in which Compliance and Ethics matter and the other fifty-one weeks just don’t matter and we can do whatever the hell we want.

I find the whole thing disturbing and somewhat offensive as it’s something that’s come up more than few times recently for me.  I believe myself to be a mostly compliant and ethical person.  I know that may sound a little hypocritical coming from the guy who routinely writes his blog posts at work and makes no secret of it.  But the thing is, I do put work first.  A big part of the reason I do these things at work is because I don’t have enough to do most of the time.

Aside from that I’m a very ethical person.  I don’t cheat on my taxes.  I don’t steal.  If a cashier undercharges me for something or gives me too much change back, I tell them and have them correct it.  I don’t even jay walk unless it’s raining and then I make an exception because I’m getting wet and no one gets hurt, because even when it’s raining, I don’t cross if there are cars around.  I believe in doing the right thing, following the rules and complying with policies, no matter how stupid I may believe them to be.  So the idea that there is a department whose job it is to remind me to be a good, ethical person offends me, especially since I’m routinely told, though not in so many words, that I need to be more flexible and break more rules, BY MY BOSS.

I won’t go too far into the details but I’ve been experiencing a conflict lately with a woman in the building who has a chip on her shoulder toward me.  I’ve been asking her to provide me with approved volunteer agreements for the people on her floor who want to be part of the Building Emergency Response Team, for which I am the coordinator.  She has responded that she’s already provided the documents.  I’ve had this conversation with a number of people in the building.  I don’t doubt that they’ve already provided the documents but I just took the program over in the latter part of 2009 and I can’t account for what happened before that.  They may have submitted the documents but the fact remains I don’t have them and I need them in order for the individuals to participate in the program.  Most people simply acknowledge my statement and provide the forms, but this woman has flat out refused to provide them.  Finally she went to my manager, John, because I wasn’t updating my records with the names she had provided via e-mail but has not submitted the volunteer agreements.  I wasn’t privy to this conversation or even the fact that it was happening until after the fact and I have no idea if, or to what extent, my manager supported me, but I can guess: NOT MUCH.

The next day I received an e-mail from her.  I was actually cc’d on the e-mail that was addressed to my manager.  She said:

“Thanks for meeting with Chris and I [sic] today and glad we could all be solution focused.  We’re excited to continue with our efforts in the BERT Program.

“Here is our current list of 16 floor[sic] BERT MEMBERS.  I will commit to getting Kevin the volunteer agreements for our newest members Jeff and Jenny.  The others were submitted last year.”

After a heated discussion with my boss in which he told me I was wrong for an insignificant detail and disregarded all the rest of the issue, I sent her a reply:

“I apologize for any confusion surrounding this issue.  However, as the roster I gave you during the Floor Warden Meeting showed, I only have/had volunteer agreements for you, Chris, Alan and Andrea.  I now know that Alan and Andrea are no longer part of your team and I have removed them from the roster, however, I still do not have Volunteer Agreements for any of the rest of your team as you have them listed below.  I must have those in order to validate their management approval for them to participate in the program.

“While you are submitting the volunteer agreements for Jeff and Jenny, please submit the remaining five agreements as well.”

Simple, polite and straight forward, right?  I apologized, even though at this point I have nothing to apologize for and then explained why it’s necessary for me to be a pain in the ass about this issue.  Then I asked her to please comply with the requirements.

Here’s her response:

“There’s no confusion on our part regarding this issue.  Per the discussion Chris and I had with John yesterday, we’ve submitted forms for these folks two and three times since last October of 2009 and the roster remains outdated.  We’re not going to spend anymore time filling out forms for them to only be lost or misplaced.  Per Johns verbal agreement with Chris and I, you can use this e-mail as approval for those folks you don’t have a form for.

“I will submit the other two forms for the new members shortly.”

Naturally, John says he never made that agreement, but it wouldn’t matter if he had.  Neither John, nor this woman are the immediate supervisor of the employees in question, therefore, neither of them has the authority to authorize the employees participation and I will not include them in the program until I have the appropriate documents.

Honestly?  I can understand her frustration if she feels like she’s submitted the documents before and nothing has come of it, but there are other, better ways to handle this.  She could get the documents completed and approved and hand deliver them to me so that she knows I have them.  She could recognize that this is the first that I am asking for them and do as I ask with the hope that I will handle it better than my predecessor did.  But most importantly, she could get the chip off her shoulder and recognize that all I’m doing is trying to be conscientious at my job I detest and follow the policies and procedures that I have laid out before me.  Trying to be compliant.

It really doesn’t take much in this life to just live right, and do the right thing.  Obey rules and laws.  Respect authority.  Just be courteous for crying out loud.  If you believe a rule or a law is wrong, do your part to get it changed, but until it does, continue to follow it.  That’s what makes people successful.  That’s what makes companies thrive.  It’s what theoretically makes Government work and people, in general, satisfied with it.  Nothing and no one is ever perfect, but if we all made an effort to be more cooperative and compliant with the rules and policies in life, we’d all be better off.

By the way, the woman in my story?  She works for the Compliance and Ethics department.

Rhaps-head-y In Blue

I may try and get down to the heart of the matter (heh) tomorrow, but for today, I’m too tired and too short on time.

We had the first day of our semi-annual fire drills today and as you may recall from last October, this keeps me pretty busy all morning.  You may recall from last time that it has been unusual for us to get the same fire fighters here twice.  You might also recall that I had a little bit of a melt down last time when much to my surprise, not only did I recognize the fire fighters that were here, but one of them was of particular relevance and I’m not going to go into all that here and now, I’m just going to say that if you don’t know what I’m talking about and you care, click on that little drop down over there –> and click on October, 2009.  Then check out, I don’t know… say, the middle of the month.  The week where, apparently, I had a lot to say.  And then come back here.  Don’t worry, I’ll still be here when you get done.

~~~

You back?  OK.

Anyway, today we had the same familiar faces.  Yes “he” was here again.  It was fine though.  My boss actually assigned a different fire fighter to work with me this time so I barely saw Jesse anyway.  And even if Jesse had been with me, I’m over it.  I’m through being so childish and worked up over the whole thing.

Still there was a moment when I became self conscious.  Jesse came ambling down a hallway after one of the segments and approached where I was standing with a crowd of relocated employees and the Fire Fighter that was working with me.  Along the way he dropped his copy of the drill schedule.  He picked it up right away and jokingly, I said, “No littering!”  He responded that he picked it up right away and that he wasn’t littering.  He wasn’t mean about it, but he didn’t sound like he was playing along (at least not to me) and naturally, I read all kinds of not very friendly meaning into it.  Whatever.

But then, he walked on past me to the Fire Fighter I was working with and they stood there having a hushed conversation that I couldn’t hear any of.  I made a deliberate point of not paying attention and as a result I don’t know if there were any glances my way or any gesturing but, naturally, I started imagining what he might have had to say.  I let it go and went on about my business and when Jesse left us in search of my boss, the Fire Fighter I was working with didn’t behave any differently than he had before.  Whatever.

Later, after another segment of the drills, we were on the sidewalk outside and Jesse asked me a question about the building systems and the door to our loading dock.  He commented that last time they were here (last October for those who’ve already lost track) the loading dock door was open and now it’s not.  I commented that either he had a really good memory or they don’t do this observation thing very often.  He smiled and gestured in such a way as to say, “Hey, this is me we’re talking about.  I’m the best!” because I’ve come to see that he has that kind of personality.  I said, “Wait what was I thinking? Of course you have a great memory.”  (Let’s hope not.) And I smiled back.  This time he was being playful and that suggests that he was being playful earlier and I just didn’t see it.

Whatever.  It doesn’t matter.  I’m done worrying about such things.

The fire drills were not particularly eventful, just tiring.  Unfortunately, once they were over, I had another tiring walk ahead of me.

When I started shaving my head, I started using a product line called Head Blade, which I love.  The name, not the product.  Well the product too, but the name is great because it reminds me of one of my favorite random movie quotes:  When a Man Loves a Woman.  Andy Garcia, stopping at his daughter’s school to talk to her about him moving to Colorado, she holds something up to him and he asks her what it is as he delicately takes it from her and puts it down behind him, out of sight.  She tells him it’s a bug box and he says, “I like a name that tells you what it is.”

Head Blade is definitely a name that tells you what it is.  They’re just a bit risqué too.  The products all play with the word head.  Head Wash, a product for washing your head.  Head Scrub, an exfoliating product for, well, scrubbing your head.  Head Slick, a shaving lotion… ya know, for your head.  Two varieties of Head Lube, matte and glossy, a moisturizer for, you guessed it, your head.  There’s also Clear Head, Head Shade and Head Wipes and I’m just going to quit now while I’m, ahem, ahead.

You can buy all this stuff on their website, but then you have to pay shipping and handling and wait several days for your loot.  There are a very few stores that sell a very limited amount of their product line and that leads us back around to my long walk today.  One of the few places I know that sell any of the Head Blade product line is a Rite-Aid on Broadway, here in Downtown Oakland.  It’s nine blocks away and close to an alley of sorts with a whole mess of restaurants with pretty decent offerings.

I have been postponing a journey down that direction for a while and as a result, my dwindling bottle of Head Wash made that “hey lunk head you should’ve bought some more by now” farting noise this morning when I squeezed some of the slimy green goo into the palm of my hand.  I decided that I would take the long hike down to “civic center” to buy more Head Wash and get lunch.  I was craving nachos and there is a La Salsa at that end of the world so I figured what the heck.

I hoofed it all that way and actually accidentally bi-passed the Rite-Aid so I went to get my food first and then,  as I was heading back to the drug store, I heard some not very pretty music coming from across the street.  In my usual 20/20 hind-sight I realize, I should have taken a picture with my iPhone because what I saw, actually caused me to double take.  There was a street performer playing a piano.

Let that sink in for a minute.

This guy was playing A PIANO.  A full on, not-electric, standard, upright piano.  I can’t even begin to imagine how you make a piano a street performing instrument.  But sure enough, there he was, with an upright piano.  I’m not positive but it sounded to me like he was playing Rhapsody In Blue… badly!

Anyway, I walked into the Rite-Aid to the aisle where they sell the Head Blade stuff and—WHAT!?!?!  There it was.  A row of Head Blade Razors, a row of Head Slick and a row of Head Lube, Matte finish…  No Head Wash.

I walked all that way, already tired from multiple trips up and down multiple flights of stairs, dodging irate, cursing homeless people, and random piano playing street performers, just to come back with a plate of soggy nachos and no Head Wash.  And now I still have to buy it on-line and pay the shipping and handling and wait ten days for it to arrive.  Meanwhile, that bottle is only going to fart at me one or two more times before it just becomes ridiculous to even try.

But on the plus side, I got plenty of cardio in today and now I don’t have to go to the gym tonight.

And I get to do it all again on Thursday.  Well not the walking 18 blocks for no good reason part, but the fire drill stair climbing part.

So I have work to do before I go home which is why I couldn’t get into a long post today (whoops!) and why you’re getting this brief report of odds and ends instead.  Please wait till you’ve turned away from this page to roll your eyes, thanks.

Right now, I would pay good money to take a nap, except I can’t because I have to save my money to pay for shipping and handling.

* Just to keep everything on the up and up, none of the products
or companies or products mentioned here has paid or otherwise
compensated me for these comments.