How (not) to leave a tip for your office cleaning staff!

May 24, 2010

I used to laugh at those stories about girls in the 1970s needing pliers to do up their jeans – not anymore! Turns out there’s a reason why fashion’s perennial pariah, pleats, were welcomed back as the prodigal pants of the 80s. The hippies thought they’d put an end to war too, but then along came 9/11 and the skinny jean trend, and we’re right back in the dark ages.

There I was, wedged into a cramped stall in our office washroom, enmeshed in an epic struggle with two stonewashed denim sausage casings – the kind of jeans you have to peel rather than pull. They’d been almost bearable when I’d ratcheted them on in the morning, but by our 4:27pm duel, my thighs had set stiff like a couple of cement filled foundation tubes. Ever been so claustrophobic you started fantasizing about jerry-rigging some primitive form of culotte out of old recycling bags and packing tape?

I’d just flushed (sorry TMI), and was jumping up and down, heaving on the waistband, when an odd thing happened. One quarter, one dime, and two pennies, popped free of my front pocket and dropped into the – still flushing – toilet. I watched the water swirl, then settle, leaving my small collection of coins adrift in the bottom of the bowl. I ask you this… What, pray tell, is the etiquette in this sort of situation?

I made an executive decision; I left a tip. I thought of sticking a post-it on the seat to explain, but what would I really say? That I my pants were too tight? That I think another woman’s dignity can be bought for a measly 37 cents? The office cleaning woman and I wear the clothes of different cultures, and now my jeans have driven another wedge between us. It’s no wonder the hippies were wrong about war – just think of all those stems and seeds they left for the rest of the world to clean up.

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‘Kinky’ morning bus rides

April 22, 2010

Scene One: He was sitting a few rows ahead of me, legs splayed, owning his corner of the bus seat with the unchallenged authority of a business suit among jeans. The man fairly oozed masculine pride. His newspaper was spread as wide as his knees on the packed rush-hour bus. He turned the page, and I watched him try to shake a kink out of the main article. But in such a tight space, he only worsened the puckering.

Then it happened… Right in front of everyone, the man abandoned all pride (masculine or otherwise), ducked down his head, and poked out the kink with the tip of his nose. What can I say? My day was made~

Scene Two: The jam-packed bus pulled away from the curb. I grabbed hold of the only support within reach, a dangling, flimsy rubber hand-loop. As the blocks lurched by, I did my best to stay vertical. Putting the ol’ brain to work, I improved my stability by twisting/tangling my wrist up into the strap to limit slack, thereby reducing the egregious strains on my musculature. In theory, quite logical. In practice? Nothing like starting the day off hanging like some half-frozen pig carcass in an overloaded butcher’s trailer, swaying gently back and forth…

All well and good till you have to untangle yourself. “Excuse me,” I called out at my stop. The crowd pushed back to let me pass. Or rather, they pushed back to clear a stage for me to completely mortify myself! It took a full five agonizing seconds for me to extricate my arm. Go ahead, count five Mississippis. It’s a loooooong time. And you can bet it’s an infinity to any poor girl caught in an inadvertent S&M scene before breakfast! What can I say? Their day was made~


For the first time on my walk home from work… the gate by the tracks was open

March 4, 2010

.
So I went through…

7.2 minutes later: There I am, inching along a narrow mud-slicked ledge, fenced suburbia to my right, a perilous 20′ icy-cliff drop on my left – with only a paved off-ramp to catch me! One slip and I’m rush-hour roadkill. Clinging to the sparest of twigs, I creep forward, only one thought in my mind…

“This is so cool!”

There’s something ridiculously wonderful about getting lost in your own city, especially on your most familiar route. When was the last time you allowed yourself to explore? It’s spring isn’t it? What better time to dive sneaker-first down a rabbit hole?


Quick & Easy Chickpea Salad – Guaranteed to brighten any* Monday

February 22, 2010

Because pre-emptive-meal-prepping is your absolute favourite way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon… because there’s nothing more relaxing than hacking away at veggies and scrubbing cutting boards while your hubby’s splayed out watching golf in the next room… because if you can’t cut a Monday with sarcasm, what do we have left?

Because nothing says sunshine like watered down apple juice...

Quick & Easy Chickpea Salad
2 cans chickpeas (rinsed)
1 can corn niblets (drained)
1 whole celery (roughly chopped)
1 handful parsley (roughly chopped)
1/2 red onion (finely chopped)
Lemon juice (generous squirt)
+Your fave Italian dressing
+1 head chopped iceberg lettuce

Toss everything together except Italian dressing and lettuce. To serve salad, line bowl with chopped lettuce (invaluable dressing drainage lesson gleaned from potted plants) and drizzle with Italian (or another favourite) dressing. Enjoy.

Ol’ golf watcher declined above deliciousness. “I don’t like chickpeas,” he reminded me, “except in hummus.”

“But hummus IS chickpeas,” I reminded him.

“Then why don’t you just make hummus?”

Thus, round and round we went…

*Discaimer: Some Mondays are beyond redemption. For these, one word… chocolate.


OK, so it was a bit of a rough morning…

February 18, 2010

When was the last time you had one of these mornings? You know, the kind where someone else sets the alarm for 5:30am when this is the one morning you don’t have to be up till 7:00am – the kind where that someone sleeps through 6 snooze alarms, then somehow expects to be cajoled gently into wakefulness by a sweetly saccharine wife.

Yes, t’was the kind of morning where you take the bus – rather than walking – to work because you know it would be cruel and inhumane to force anyone to spend 45 minutes trapped alone with such unabashed hostility, let alone your own self! T’was the kind where you make yourself even later by waiting in the lobby for the coast to clear, so you don’t have to share an elevator and risk an awful reaction to some poor hapless coworker’s “Good Morning.”

I thought I was doing quite a good job handling the situation in a mature and dignified manner. We all get into Grumps sometimes – no need to spread the toxicity. On the crowded bus, I kept my Klingon Death Stare fixed on a piece of black lint stuck to the fellow in front of me’s jacket, rather than on the twerp beside me – one of those lovely souls bereft of any concept of personal space. I didn’t avert my eyes from the (exactly 3.4mm diameter) fluff even when the bus lurched round a corner and I (lacking any extra footspace) had the uniquely excruciating experience of feeling my wrist bruising in real-time as one square inch of skin was crushed between my full weight and a metal pole.

I covered the few short blocks between the bus stop and my office with my brim pulled low down over my eyes. It was a public service, really, preventing my Medusa glare from laying waste to any number of unsuspecting commuters on the streets of downtown Calgary. But, on the last street corner, my conscientiousness backfired.

Out of nowhere, a trio of thin blue ribbons caught me around the neck. I was doing so well too, but when something tries to strangle you on the way to work (with or without warning!), some fine line of universal decency is crossed. I broke – my stride, my composure, at least one of the ribbons…

There I was, at 8am on a busy Calgary street corner, thrashing madly at three innocent helium balloons tethered to a “don’t you wish you lived here” folding sign. “AAAAAAARGH!” I let it all out. It was a brief, all too public, display of what it really means to be human. That, or just some crazy chick going psycho on modern marketing. I’m not proud of my little spectacle, and I can assure you there isn’t the least bit of satisfaction in railing on anything that’s essentially lighter than air, but I don’t regret it. Better three balloons than one alarm clock setter’s nose~wink.


Dear Fellow Writers: Has this ever happened to you?

December 22, 2009

I decided to sneak in a few more paragraphs of my current writing project while I was up at the front desk covering our receptionist’s lunch break today. Without intending to, I found myself slipping into THE ZONE. Even more unexpectedly, a full-on, entirely involuntary, facial meltdown hit me when I ran into the last few sentences of Chapter Four. The emotional drama of the scene was just too much – and this is someone who held out through almost the entire end-credits of Titanic. 

Tears weren’t just brimming, they were streaming down my cheeks. I blew my nose in tissue after tissue, to no avail. Even the briefest peek at the screen renewed the reaction, but I wasn’t about to back down – never when grammar’s at stake! Pretty soon my eyes were bloodshot and my face was unmistakably blotched and puffy. I was, inescapably, inexcusably, a girl crying at work.


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…

November 17, 2009
click through for a closer look

The tome in all its glory ~click through for a closer look~

Which would you choose? This tome was waiting for me in the middle of my desk one recent Monday morning. I’d already been offered the promotion, but the spiral bound beast of a book made it suddenly real. Robert Frost’s poem – along with my life – flashed before my eyes. Was I really going to become a geophysical technician?

Almost everyone I surveyed pushed for “Yes!” Huge pay increase, new skill-set, broader career options… how could I say no? Not to mention give up the unprecedented honour of being the first Printing Supervisor (aka Paper Roller) to ever be given the opportunity to start training up the geophysical food chain. Flattered? Yes. Tempted? Sure.

But…

There’s a reason why people say they “fell” into their jobs. Do I want a passive, accidental future? Do you? We live in an incredible era of choice. While it’s true that such freedom can be crippling – the studies have been done –  we may as well take advantage of our post-modern culture while we can. For the first time in human history, there is enough flexibility, in terms of our basic survival, for us to pursue our passions. There is a cost, of course. Once one takes an active roll in one’s future, there is that heavy, inescapable pressure of having to back up words with work – hard work. What to choose?

I said no.

What now? All I can do is keep listing to that little voice, the one that wants so badly. What’s yours whispering in your ear? Mine wants to write, to challenge, to design, to explore. I don’t know what happens from here, but I have faith in the future. And as long as I keep writing towards it, I’ll know I’m on the right road.

Note: Yes, that is Will Wheaton – aka Wesley Crusher from Star Trek TNG – straddling my office moisturizer. How does that intro go again? To boldly go where no one has gone before…  how apropos.