Monday, August 22, 2011

Diving Into the Work Week

Princess Pissant’s father – notwithstanding his degree from MIT – reports being “unable to access” Another Day at the Office.  Princess Pissant finds this claim dubious, especially considering her 102-year-old grandmother was able to read the blog (and declare it “interesting, but in poor taste.”)

Princess Pissant will be writing about herself in the third person today, BTW, in the manner of Bob Dole . . . or a lunatic.  In the case of her father, Princess Pissant reads “unable to access” to mean “has no interest in.”

But let Princess Pissant start off by reassuring readers that Former Secret Government Agency (FSGA) guy is back, in full force, at the office, having returned from his mission – which must have been a huge success – with a certain spring to his step.

Let Princess Pissant also report on two rather distressing incidents that occurred since we last spoke. 

First: This morning.

Okay, the third person thing is exhausting.  Forget that.

This morning, I dropped off my younger son – henceforth to be referred to as Kid Number 2 (KN2) – at school, and was just about to depart when the Headmistress of “Little Darlings Learning Center” rushed out and handed me an envelope with 15 dollars in it.  Turns out, I had overpaid the yearly field trip fee by 15 bucks.


Coincidentally, I was out of cash, and had left my credit card next to the home computer, after a huge buying spree over the weekend.  (Since starting at the new office last week, I haven’t had nearly as much time to shop online.) 

I’d been planning to hit the ATM on the way, which was going to make me late to work.  Now, with this unexpected windfall, I would be on time and thus able to get my usual optimum cubicle.

For those of you new to Another Day at the Office, wondering why on earth someone would have to fight for her own cubicle space, you should know that my office is located at Starbucks.

Another inconvenience, incidentally, of working out of a coffee shop is that every time you need to use the restroom – for me, several times a day – you’ve got to ask someone, anyone, to keep an eye on your laptop so no one runs off with it.  Crazy, I know.

So I head into the office, take stock of the usual suspects – FSGA guy, Mommy-blogger, Failed Writers, etc. – and note that my favorite office space is still free.  Excellent.

But I have to use the restroom, and herein lies the daily dilemma: do I set up shop and then dart to the bathroom?  But, it’s kind of frowned upon to ask someone to watch your stuff as soon as you come in.  Violates coffee shop co-worker etiquette. 

Or do I take all my stuff to the bathroom with me, and risk the optimal spot being occupied when I come out?

I decide to risk it, and so with: my laptop; and a bunch of medical forms from KN2’s school that I’m supposed to fill out and have various doctors sign; and some other handouts regarding the “academic” calendar; and a stack of Athleta catalogs (for the lunch break); and another stack of loose-leaf papers related to that contract I’ve got hanging over my head; and let’s not forget the envelope with 15 dollars in it, I head to the lavatory, which – dagnabbit! – is locked. 

At least at this particular Starbucks, you don’t have to ask for one of those toilet keys with a 2-by-4 attached to it.

Anyway, I stand there – one eye on the lavatory door, the other on my still vacant optimal workspace – wondering if I’ve made the wrong calculation today.  From inside the ladies’ room, I can hear the hand drier whirring into action.  Good.  They’re almost done.

But then a few seconds later, I hear the toilet flush again . . . and then the faucet running and then the drier whirring into action again.  And then the faucet goes back on!  On, off, on, off, flush, drier, faucet, drier, flush again.

It’s then that I realize it must be my office-mate in there:  Homeless Lady, with the shopping cart full of newspapers, undertaking her daily hygiene ritual.

By this time, I really have to use the bathroom and, goddammit!, someone is taking my seat!  Some kid no less.  Dressed like a hippie.  No laptop, no books, no stack of papers.  Just a cup of herbal tea.  What the F. does he think he’s doing?

I am totally outta sorts now, and there is no sign of a break in the action inside the ladies’ room, and I already feel the work day slipping away, and I’ve still got that G.D. contract that I absolutely have to finish, or at least start, working on this week.

It’s in this flustered state that I scan the area to make sure no one is watching and then head into the men’s room, which naturally stinks to high heaven.  I try to use the bathroom without my skin touching anything – not like KN2 who has to caress every surface of every public toilet he uses, and would probably lick pubic hairs off the seat if I weren’t there to intervene.  I use my elbow to turn on the faucet and try to use my hip to open the door, but when that doesn’t work, I wrap my hand in three brown paper towels before touching the handle.

I exit to find none other than FSGA guy outside.  Waiting.

We’ve never met, or even spoken.  FSGA raises an eyebrow.

Me:  Someone was in the ladies room.
FSGA fiddles with his badge, then wordlessly steps past me into the men’s room.

In a thoroughly bad humor at this point, I throw out the tainted paper towels, find another seat – one from which I can give Hippie the evil eye – and then quickly set up shop.

Today, I am NOT going to waste time.

I’m not going to blog, or surf, or read discarded newspapers, or anything like that.  I’m not even going to open those Athleta catalogs.  And I’m certainly not going to squander away several hours trying to figure out how to add a “Like” button to my Facebook page, like I did over the weekend.

I am just going to work.  I spread out the various periodicals, graphs and charts related to that contract on my new desk, which I have to say is of extremely limited space.  I open my laptop and double click on the draft of my power point presentation.  So far, it consists of the title slide. 

The title slide looks really good though.

But maybe I’ll change the color scheme.  Okay yes, grey text on blue background looks much better.  Totally gives the impression that I know what I’m talking about now.

I’m about to fiddle with the layout of the title slide when one of those little alert windows pops up: “You are now running on reserve battery power.”

Oh, for chrissake.  There’s not an electrical outlet in sight.  Well there is one . . . over there by Hippie, who is really nursing that herbal tea.

I feel my blood pressure starting to rise.

As I commence counting slowly and silently to ten – the way that they teach you in Anger Management classes (or so I’ve been told) – I suddenly realize what I need to do.

I need to get a cup of coffee.  Yes, that will calm my nerves and maybe give Hippie enough time to finish his herbal tea and skedaddle.

I order a grande coffee with room for cream and – heck, I’ll splurge today – one of those breakfast sandwiches with sausage, egg and cheese.  Maybe it’s low blood sugar that’s got me all in a funk.

Cashier: That will be 5 dollars and sixteen cents.
Me (reaching into computer case for cash-filled envelope): Okay, here we go.

Shoot, I cannot find that envelope.  It must be in here somewhere.  Let me check all these pockets.  Not here.  No, not here either. 

Eww, gross, what’s that slimy stuff?  Shampoo?  Why did I put a little thing of shampoo in my computer bag?  Goddamit.

Somehow, there’s a huge line of people behind me now.  I dump the contents of my bag onto the counter.  A tampon lands in the tray of cranberry scone samples. 

The cashier is visibly irritated, as are the people in line behind me. 

Me: Can you hold on one second?  I think I left my money over there.

I gesture toward my desk.

The cashier gives me a blank stare, and then calls to the guy operating the espresso machine: Alex can you help me void a transaction over here?

Alex, who’s occupied in various stages of about four or five different kinds of “chino” drinks, abandons his post.  This prompts a collective groan from the crowd.

I exit stage left, and run to my desk where I begin rifling frantically through my belongings.  The envelope has gotta be here somewhere. 

But somehow it’s not.  I mentally retrace my steps since leaving the “Little Darlings Learning Center.”  Suddenly, I have a Eureka moment.  (What other people – smarter, more successful people – might call an epiphany.)

I must have thrown it away!  Yes, with the paper towels I used to safeguard my hand from urinal germs.  I can picture it now: I remember with clarity just sort of hurling a wad of paper product into the trash.

And so, with little to no other recourse available, I head over to the trash bin.  It’s one of those metal dome-topped ones that looks like R2-D2 and has a small hole in the top, so you really have to reach your arm all the way in and begin digging around like you’re going to pull out winning lottery numbers or something.

And so that’s how I’ve started out the workweek.  Under the collective gaze of all my new office-mates, including: FSGA guy, his brow now permanently fixed in a raised position; and the Failed Writers, all taking appreciative note; and Mommy-blogger’s eyes bulging halfway out of their sockets; and Hippie sputtering the dregs of his herbal tea (all over my rightful desk); and the cashier with her pursed lips; and Alex, who’s completely distracted from his duties at the “chino” machine; and all the other patrons gaping in revulsion; and only the Homeless Lady flashing me a look of what can only be interpreted as solidarity, I calmly go about digging in the trash.

The interior equivalent of Dumpster Diving.

But you know what?  I did find that envelope.  It was right there, under some coffee cups and half-eaten pastries.  It was a little soggy and I had to brush off the crumbs, but inside was the fifteen dollars.  Which I used to pay for my grande coffee with room for cream.  (The breakfast sandwiches were all gone by the time I returned.)  I was able to grab a handful of cranberry scone samples, which for some reason had remained untouched.

Anyway, I am going to sit for a few minutes and enjoy this cup of coffee before I get to work.  I’ll save the other distressing event to tell you about some other time.

It’s only 9:45 am, but for Princess Pissant, it’s already been a long day.

1 comment:

  1. You should try Tryst. Mucho bettero than this office of yours!