This week, beginning Monday, June 24th, would have been a good one for a Valium prescription.
On Monday, I got the word that the biopsy I had was benign. Note: that isn’t the same thing as “negative”. It was something, that something just wasn’t cancer. As one of my friends said, champagne all around!
Tuesday, in the context of the rest of the week, was a snoozer.
Wednesday, the City Commission made it official: my company has been awarded the contract for the next five years with five one-year options to keep doing what we’re doing. I get to keep my job for 5-10 years, well, assuming I don’t do something to screw it up in the meantime.
The next morning, an article came out in the newspaper headlined “First company to benefit from City’s local preference program is not local”. Or something to that effect. Here’s the deal: in a bid process, local companies get extra points. So to win, other companies must obtain higher scores in other areas to compensate. I learned only through the article that this is a “pilot” program for one year, enacted by the City Commission. (Aren’t we lucky that our contract came up for bid during this particular year?) I understand the rationale, and their hearts are in the right place, but there’s an extent to which they didn’t think it through. Nevertheless, I’m not complaining.
The article went on to say that my company is a national one headquartered elsewhere, with only a “branch” office located here. They interviewed the City’s Director of Management and Administration (translation: a demi-god. The Mayor, the Commissioners, and the City Manager are the Olympians. Below them are only a few people whose word is essentially law: the City Attorney, the Treasurer, and the Director of DMA.) In other words, if an issue reaches them and they make a decision, you can fight City Hall all you want, but you will lose. Actually if you want to fight City Hall, your best bet is with the Commissioners and the Mayor, because they’re elected. You may not think this is fair, or right, but it’s the way it is. If you choose to ignore the way it is, then you will become Sisyphus, perpetually pushing that rock up the hill. You should go sit down somewhere and have a beer, which you can cry into.
So the Director of DMA said, we don’t care if they’re a national company. We asked that they have a local office which has been established for at least six months prior to the bid; that they have a business license; and that they have full-time local employees. They qualify. Any more questions? (Time to have that beer.)
My assistant manager asked, “Why is this news?” It was on the “consent” agenda. There was no discussion of it in the Commission meeting. No dispute. The Commission essentially rubber-stamped it. So why would the newspaper waste space on it? I said, You poor, deluded, naive, baby soul. No, I did not say that really. What I said was, items in the newspaper are generated by complaints; it’s similar to the way Animal Control works. They aren’t out there cruising to find violations–they rely on citizens reporting violations. There is no doubt in my mind that the company which came closest to us generated this. They were smart enough to know they didn’t have a leg to stand on with the City, but thought they would get a little jab in on the way out. You can’t really blame them. (But it’s time for THEM to go have a beer.)
When I came home that same day, there had been an enormous deadfall in the back yard (there had been a thunderstorm during the day). Oh no. Yard Guy will not be able to simply hook this one to the back of his truck and haul it off.
It ends just short of the birdfeeder. Nature made a handy stepladder for the squirrels.
BUT…that same evening, just before dark, I looked out the kitchen window and there was an enormous owl sitting on the birdfeeder pole. It’s only the second time in my life I’ve ever seen an owl in the wild. It turned out to be a barred owl.
I tried to creep out so I could see it better without the window in between, but of course as soon as it saw me it flew away. Majestic does not begin to describe it. It looked like an airplane flying away. They have wing spans of three to four feet. I was in awe.
So that’s what I mean about the Valium prescription. In the space of four days, I went from euphoria to profound anxiety to great relief to Oh No! to awe. Theoretically speaking, it seems like it would have been a great idea to mute the highs and cushion the lows. But, I believe this is what we call “life”. You don’t get to choose when it happens to you–it’s happening all the time.
Ouch! I Broke A Nail!
It’s possible that you thought Fakename had run out of trivial subjects to discuss, but you would be very, very wrong.
So today’s topic is: long fingernails.
I come from a long line of short-fingernailed women. My grandmothers were both country women who had to, well, do stuff with their hands. My mother was a nurse. When I was quite a small child, I asked her why she didn’t have long beautiful fingernails like I saw on TV, and she said, “Because I’m a nurse”. That made perfect sense to me. She had working hands. To this day, long fingernails scream to me “IDLE RICH”. Or today, it’s more properly “emulating the idle rich”.
When I was five, I started taking piano lessons. When I was nine, we moved to North Carolina and I got a new piano teacher who was a fanatic about nails. But she didn’t have anything to worry about with me. I had already internalized the importance of short nails, because I’d found that I couldn’t “feel” the keys if my nails were too long. Your sense of touch is in your finger TIPS, not in your finger pads. Go ahead, give it a test. Touch your knee with a fingertip. Now touch it with the fingerpad of the same finger. I’ll wait. (Cue “Jeopardy!” theme.) See what I mean?
When I was fifteen, I started playing guitar (badly), and you most certainly cannot play a guitar with long fingernails.
Now let us fast forward to me being in college. I had stopped playing piano and rarely played guitar either, so I thought I would give growing long fingernails a shot. I was delighted to learn that I had very strong nails that were not prone to the expected maladies, especially, splitting.
Nevertheless, the first thing I discovered was that nails took an awful lot of time. I just couldn’t get used to the concept of focusing an inordinate amount of attention on something dead that was constantly getting in your way. Of course I continued to do it anyway, since as we all know, individualism is critical as long as you do it the same way everyone else does.
Then when I was in my early twenties, I broke a nail while reaching into the washing machine for a load of wet laundry. YEEOWW! I said, along with other unprintable things. Because in spite of breaking a nail being a sort of metaphor for “idle rich”, in real life it hurts like a (fill in the blank). Because nails don’t break at the tip. They break all the way down to the quick. And it looks really stupid to have three long, polished, perfectly manicured nails next to a bloody, bandaged stump.
That was IT for me. I cut off all my nails and have never gone there since.
So fast forward again to the early ’90’s: We used to have a type of cash register (which in my biz we call “fee computers”) which required an overlay. I was never quite clear about how they worked, but I do know this: the fee computer would not work without the overlay. All our cashiers were in a contest to see who could grow the longest fingernails. Since they couldn’t use their fingertips to operate the fee computer, they would use their fingernails. Over time, or with one particularly sharp jab, the nail would sever the wires in the overlay, and each one was $300. I also was never quite clear about why we couldn’t regulate the length of an employee’s nails. We told them what they had to wear, how long their hair could be, and what kind of jewelry they could wear (if any). Human Resources–who understands it? In the end, we solved this in a low-tech manner. We provided them all with (unsharpened) pencils, and they would punch the keys with the eraser end.
This year, when I went to the Tax Collector’s office to pay my property taxes, I was looking forward to seeing Talon Woman, whom I’ve seen every year for the last ten years. These days, it’s very hard to tell if people’s nails are real or fake, but in her case, there was no doubt they were real. Her nails were so long they started curving under, like they were lost and seeking to reconnect with her hand. But she wasn’t there. She probably had to retire after putting out an eye, or both, while trying to apply makeup.
She of course was completely incapable of operating her computer with her hands. So guess what? She used a pencil eraser.
All this is to say that state-of-the-art technology is not always the answer. Sometimes an easel, a paper pad, and a Magic Marker work better than a laptop, especially when the laptop unexpectedly balks and refuses to open PowerPoint. My rule is: always have short nails, and carry a pencil eraser.
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Posted in Business, Humor, Social Commentary, Work
Tagged grooming, individualism, long fingernails, peer pressure, personal appearance