Tag Archives: work

Do You Get Colder Than Other People?

Or warmer, as the case may be.
Many years ago I went for a consultation with an endocrinologist, and had to answer a very lengthy questionnaire, which he read to me. This was one of the questions. I answered, “I don’t know. How cold do other people get?”
I wasn’t even trying to be a smartass, although that’s how he took it. I just thought it was a dumb question. He looked at me, sighed, and said, “If most people want the window to be open, do you want the window to be closed?” That made sense to me, and the answer at the time was no. There wasn’t any difference, as far as I could tell, between my sense of temperature and that of other people. But that has changed.
At the time, what they were looking for was a disorder of the pituitary gland or maybe a pituitary tumor, because somehow the pituitary plays a role in how you sense temperature.
But now, yes, I get colder than other people. When they want the window open, I want it closed. When they want the air conditioning on, I want it off. And it causes a problem at work, because when I’m comfortable, other people are hot. What to do?
It turns out the owners have a rule about where thermostats have to be set. 74 degrees plus or minus 2 degrees in the summer; 68 degrees plus or minus 2 degrees in the winter. Those temps in the winter will probably kill me, but…I’ll cross that bridge.
I already wear sweaters and jackets in my office, and always in restaurants and stores.
I will live with it.
How about you? Do you get colder (or warmer) than other people?

To Work or Not To Work?

That is the question.
I have to start thinking about it, whether I like it or not. Even writing this makes me anxious. Of course, a lot of things make me anxious, so what’s new?
For the non-U.S. readers here, here’s how it works: people who work pay into a government fund called “Social Security”. The law establishing it took effect in 1935. When you work, a certain amount of each paycheck goes into the fund. When you reach a certain age (currently, 62), you become eligible to start getting that money back in monthly installments.
That’s the simplistic explanation. Age 62 is the earliest you can begin receiving retirement benefits (earlier if you are disabled, but that’s a whole other topic), but you only get a percentage at that age, currently 75%, Depending on when you were born, your “full” retirement age, at which you get 100% of your benefits, is later. In my case, age 66. And I’m almost there. And I don’t want to retire.
I know a couple of people who are recently retired, others who have been retired for a while, and many others who haven’t yet retired but are greatly looking forward to it. But I wonder, what would I do with myself? And I like the validation that work brings.
Last week I met with a bunch of contractors and a developer regarding an operation I’m about to be in charge of. It was about eight guys and me…not uncommon in my business. The contractor guys were like a bunch of chained pit bulls. Teeth bared, waiting for signs of weakness from the other guys, lots of testosterone flying around. Once the growls and the posturing died down, developer guy would turn to me and say, “Do you think this idea will work?” That was very cool. Where else would I get that?
Later, in the elevator, developer guy said he wanted to thank me because he so appreciated my advice and counsel. As long as I can continue to get that sort of reaction, and form those sorts of relationships, I’m safe.
But the reality is…I am getting older. My company can’t fire me for being old, but they can fire me for failure to perform. I’m a manager. I know how this works. And I fear that will happen at some point, but I don’t want it to.

Sometimes You’re the Windshield…

…sometimes you’re the bug, in the immortal words of Mark Knopfler. 

Nowhere is this truer than in the world of work.  Unless you truly work for yourself, and even then, you’re never completely free of control by others. 

Long, long ago, I contemplated dropping out of college due to a battle of wills between me and one of my professors.  I deemed him to be a scumbag of the first order (which he was) and was in full this-isn’t-worth-it mode.  My boyfriend at the time, himself a college professor and much older than I, gave me two pieces of advice that, looking back, I now realize were completely formative of my life to come. 

Piece of Advice #1:  You don’t do well with people telling you what to do.  There will always be people who tell you what to do, but having a college degree considerably narrows the list of who can. 

Piece of Advice #2:  You quit, he wins. 

The occasion for this post is that for the past year, now that I trace it back, I’ve had serious issues with an employee.  Six months ago it escalated, and approximately three months ago it escalated further into “locked in mortal combat” status.  I wanted to fire her that second.  Enter Human Resources Department.  (See:  Dilbert.)

Again, looking back, I suppose it was a good idea to proceed in a cautious fashion.  She is certain to sue us…for something or the other.  (My take three months ago was:  if she’s going to sue us anyway, why not get rid of her now?) But even I will have to admit that the past three months have given her time to make a complete fool of herself.  Her easily disprovable accusations have reached epic proportions.  (“Grasping at straws”, as Human Resources put it.)

So the past three months have been, to understate the case, hell for me.  Because the focus of her discontent is strictly:  me.  Not to put too fine a point on it, she hates me.  I can truthfully state that this has never happened to me before.  As bosses go, I’m pretty good at it.  But she thinks that she would be better.  And she is delusional.  It’s been like being stalked.  It’s all well and good for the Ivory Tower people (See: Human Resources Department)  to say they need documentation of this or that…knowing where we were headed.  It’s another to leave me locked in a room with a cobra.  But I guess that’s what it took. 

I started to regress into isn’t-worth-it mode.  My boss said, Hold on.  We are smarter than she is.  I heard an echo:  You quit, she wins. 

Yesterday, I got the word from the Ivory Tower.  You can fire her now.  Except you have to wait until next week.  You kidding?  I’ve been waiting for months now, you think I can’t wait until next week?    Happy New Year and Happy Birthday (December 29th), Fakename. 

Certainly it will not be over even then.  Since we are all fairly certain she will sue us (we are also fairly certain she will lose, but it’s a free country and you can sue whomever you choose), I will be in the position of defending my every action and statement, but what’s new?  Thanks to her, I’ve gotten a lot of practice at that in the last year. 

The good part is that I will have to do that without her continued presence.  The cage door has opened.  The cobra has left the room.  Today, I’m the windshield. 

Sometimes You’re the Windshield…

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

Do you ever have those days when everything just seems perfect?  Of course you don’t.  I mean between global warming and the U.S. financial meltdown and the fact that you might come down with swine flu and the fact that you ran out of AA batteries and your TV remote control won’t work, life totally sucks. 

No wait.  Of course you do.  Some days you wake up and all those things are still happening, but you’re like, What the hell!  What pretty leaves that tree has!  Oh look–there’s a frog!  That cloud up in the sky looks like a fuzzy little lamb!  Is that cute or what? 

Okay, that might be exaggerating but I am pretty much having a fuzzy-lamb kind of day.  First of all—no, let’s start with second of all–I didn’t have to go to work today.  I took an officially approved day off.  Don’t get me wrong, I like my job, which some people find completely incomprehensible, but who cares?  I get to use my brain, I have a lot of freedom, I get to meet a lot of people, I get to learn things.  But sometimes you just need a break. 

So third of all, it rained.  Which considerably cooled off the spot on Earth I inhabit, and after two weeks of enduring a record heat wave with air conditioning in my office that is limping and on life support, that is nothing but net.  Not to mention that however hot it remains, I’m not there.  I’ve soldiered bravely, and given more breaks to the people who work for me than I’ve taken myself, but you know, sometimes you just have to take a break yourself.  You’re no good to them or yourself if you collapse.

So the combination of all the above has put me in a this-is-a-great-day-to-be-alive sort of mood.  And I came up with the perfect song to express it.  Try not to focus on the details!  This video is 33 years old.  I didn’t even know they had video in 1976.  Okay, just kidding.  Kind of.  ( I refer you back to my previous posts regarding being digitally challenged.) Let’s dance!