Aug 27, 2010

my inbox is empty

So, I got to the bottom of my inbox.

I had been working on this for weeks. Even though my job is designed so that a person will never get to the bottom of their inbox, I just had to do it.

You understand. I wanted to to show them. I mean really show them. I was going to do what no other person in my current position had ever done: I was going to get to the bottom of my inbox.

I even put together a folder for my supervisor:

Things Ignored for Three Months by Victoria

This folder contained what other assistants might have hid or secretly shred. I even said, I don't want to become the crazy secretary that starts hiding files!

This to the uproarious laughter of my supervisor. She laughed a little too hard at that, actually.

So, I handed her the file which contained those things which kept sifting to the bottom of my inbox over the last three months.

I said: help.

And, though no one ever did help me, I believe it was this act alone that began to turn things around for me. Because, at 3:00 pm on Wednesday I got to the bottom of my inbox.

That's when I saw a stray staple in the upper left corner of my now empty inbox. Mangled, with one of its tines broken off, it was clear that it couldn't be saved.

I placed it quietly into the recycling bin, and said a few words:

You know, you'll probably come back as a another staple. But maybe as a steel girder! There's no telling what's in store for you.

Really. Just no telling.

It was then that I took the paper weight that had always been there (atop the precarious stack) and polished it on my sleeve as though it were an apple or a diamond or something.

I then (as I'm sure you can imagine) put the paper weight back into the in box. Right there, in the very center. It made a glass-on-wood clunking sound that I don't think anyone in the office had ever heard before, because a few curious heads did pop up over their screens and look in my direction when I did this:

Just what is she trying to imply with all of that clunking over there?

And, then, just like that, everything improved.

I became more professional in my bearing.

I sat up straight and heard every bone in my vertebrae click audibly back into place as though a finger had gone skating across a keyboard.


I was a cog.

A hard metal cog with a hairdo that could now not only stand the test of time but maybe even humidity.

The very next day I wore red.

Then, the day after that, I completely ignored the doughnuts. Not as an exercise in discipline, mind you, but because I simply didn't register things like doughnuts anymore.

No, now I went for little cut up vegetables and fresh fruit. I mean all the way down six flights of spider-y stairs and out the crumbling entrance of this ancient building (pieces of chandeliers and plaster falling on me every step of the way) past security (by then, fast asleep) down the street, into a cab and directly to the farmer's market three towns over.

Waving my fist full of petty cash like a money pom-pom the entire way (because, as you may have heard, my inbox was finally empty).

I'll take one peck of apples for the office, please!

Yes. I was immune to all distractions, now.

Because I had gotten to the bottom of my inbox.

And at a juncture when others in my position (we'll call them Person X) had either given up or gotten fired. This usually preceded by weeks of nonsensical office chitter-chatter on the part of Person X, that then gives way to Person X's utter, sullen silence (nobody wants to talk to Person X) that leaves Person X with no recourse but to constantly surf for shoes on Zappos (the resultant spike in shoe deliveries for Person X a well known red flag signaling the end of employment for Person X).

But that wasn't going to be me.

Me? I ran the place.

Forget that. I was the place. I was the whole place.

I turned around (during what I sensed was a lull in the big important meeting) put down my watering can, and (without so much as thinking about it) presented a forty-five minute dissertation on curtain walls and steel case windows that, though it was shocking and uncalled for, brought down the house.
And when I say that there wasn't a dry eye in the conference room that morning, I mean that they were all crying.

For joy, people, sheer joy.

It wasn't ten minutes later that everyone gathered around my desk (some still nibbling on their organic, locally grown apples) to watch amazed as I clicked on the buy now button and purchased New York.

Yes, I do mean the city.

Aug 12, 2010

some of them wearing sweaters

I get all ready. I shower, I dress, I do my hair. I put on SPF. I make myself toast and maybe some yogurt.

I have a vitamin.

I play with my cats for a few minutes. I bring my sleeping boyfriend some coffee in a purely symbolic gesture meant to convey my love. Though he'll never be up in time to drink it while it's still warm. Still, these are the things I do every morning.

Then I walk out the door. Into the unrelenting heat.

And within three blocks everything is ruined. All of my makeup. All of my SPF. My hair. My clothes.

I get to the train station.

I am completley disgusting.

People, some of them wearing sweaters (in 70 % humidity with a heat index of 115) look at me as though maybe they should call an ambulance or something.

Sweat is running down me like rain.

I want to ask, Why are all of you wearing sweaters?!

And also,

Why aren't any of you sweating?

But, of course, I never do.

I get on the refrigerator-level cold train and all of my sweat dries back onto my skin. Ten minutes all told. This is the first such drying of the day. We'll call it Phase One.

The relief of the train puts me nearly into a coma, but I wake just in time to catch my stop.

Again, I hike to my office building. It's only six blocks, but in this heat it means I will sweat all over again (though this time less profusely). Phase Two is different only because there is no deodorant left on my person to maintain things as before.

I get inside my office building. A blast of cold air that continues even via the elevator dries Phase Two before I'm at my desk. Not that I'm not damp and sticky. I am. Phases One and Two are making themselves known to me. I smell not homeless, but something akin to the modern day hippy (willingly dirty, the modern day hippy wants to smell bad).

So, even as I pretend that all of this is okay, and place it safely somewhere under an imaginary umbrella of hippy-leanings (that might be understood by the people I work with: might), I still quietly rue the fact that I ate garlic every single meal last week.

My plan (the whole time) is to finally get to the ladies room to do what I can at a public sink with pump-soap to clean my face and possibly my torso and reapply my deodorant. But when I walk into the office there is some emergency already in progress or the phone is ringing (and it's someone telling me that flights for five people are needed to somewhere in the next hour).

So, I never get to the ladies room.

Instead I work and when I look up it's a quarter to twelve and I have to run something down to some nearby office. Because messegering might be too slow.

And when I return, full-on Phase Three has been established. It too, dries, but this time there is a salt residue left on my skin. Sweat rings and deodorant marks on one's clothing is one thing; salt rings on my black chemise, quite another. This, I'm afraid, is the lowest. Much lower than lint. Possibly only a couple levels higher than smelling like whiskey.

It's the damned humanness of it all!

Why do I have to be so fricking human all of the time?

So, concerned by the salt (but only a little bit thirsty), I drink copious amounts of water. And, though I mean the entire time to bathe in the ladies room, I, again, never get there.

For that matter, I don't need to get there. You see, I no longer need to pee due to all the sweating (and I'm sure this isn't good).

And on and on it goes.

No. I smell terrible. Still, someone tells me that the guy who shreds all of our files in going to be at the office in an hour. Could I please move twenty boxes down from the shelf for him?

Yes. So Phase Four, though happening within the heat-neutral conditions of the office itself, doesn't change anything in this dynamic.

I leave work for the day. Phases Five and Six happen without fanfare.

I get home, turn on the shower, sit down on my bed for a minute to wait for the water pressure to finally build (stupid water pressure) and fall immediately into a deep sleep.

Hours later my boyfriend gets home, turns off the shower, and tucks me in with a kiss.

I sleep. Six phases of sweat stuck to my skin.

The end.