Thursday, February 23, 2012

Who peed in my cornflakes?

I have worked for the same company for ten and a half years. My job is so completely boring and technical that I never bother to even explain it to anyone who asks what I do for a living.  A portion of my responsibility is coordinating training for employees both local and in our branch plants.  (Are you snoozing yet?) Each month we have a class that lasts three days, which means hungry people needing something good to eat to take their minds off the fact that they're sitting in uncomfortable chairs for eight hours straight, their heads being stuffed with information that sounds like some strange, foreign language to industry outsiders. It's not uncommon for me to call in catering companies to provide lunch for the students since we usually have large groups from out of town.  Today was one of those days, and little did I know that our delivery guy was planning on leaving more than just food in our conference room.

My phone rang at 11:45am, and the receptionist let me know that my order had arrived.  Our department and the training center are on the second floor of the building, so I quickly ran downstairs to guide the guy with lunch in the right direction.  The man was older, probably in his sixties, and he had a dolly full of food for fifteen - baked potatoes, chili, salad and all the trimmings to go along with it.  He took one look at the intimidating set of steep stairs leading to the room and said, "I can't get this food up there." Ugh.  I knew he was right.  Usually our delivery guys are strapping young men who don't even blink at carrying such a heavy load, so I ran upstairs and assembled a team to do the job for him.

The food came from one of our favorite caterers. Not only do they have good grub, they also go out of their way to make the presentation memorable for even take-out orders like mine.  They carefully wrap the wicker baskets in cellophane and tie them up with ribbons.  The hot items in chafing dishes are shrink wrapped to keep them from spilling.  For a germophobe like me, this extra effort is comforting. 

Once we got the food on the buffet table, my manager Krissy and I left the room while the delivery guy fought with the Sterno, trying to get it lit. We figured he would unwrap the food, put out plates, and prepare the meal to be served, as is customary for this caterer. Time was of the essence today.  It was the final day of training and the students needed to be tested and on their way to the airport.  We peeked into the room and the food was still on the table, wrapped like Christmas presents.  What the heck was Old Guy doing?  Quickly, the two of us went back in to get the food ready ourselves, a little frustrated that we were doing his job.

I noticed that one of my co-workers, Mandy, was having a private conversation with one of our out-of-town students.  They were talking in hushed tones and looking at the delivery guy.  It didn't register at the time as being strange, so Krissy and I finished preparing the meal and left the room.  Mandy followed quickly behind us, and she rushed Krissy into her office. THAT was strange. 

A few minutes later, I walked over to our sink to wash my hands before eating, and Krissy, Mandy, and the student, Justin, came out of the training room together.  Krissy said, "You really need to tell Lynda what happened.  She'll freak."  (Apparently, I have a reputation, huh?) Justin, it seemed, had witnessed something that left us all with our jaws hanging open in shock.  He then proceeded to tell me a story I simply could not believe.

The students were out of the room when we brought in the food.  If you'll remember, we left Old Guy to himself for a few minutes to get lunch ready.  What we didn't know was that while he was in the room alone WITH THE DOOR PROPPED OPEN AND PEOPLE MILLING ABOUT OUTSIDE,  Justin walked in and saw him standing in the corner.  He said that he did a double-take because he couldn't believe what he was seeing.  The delivery guy was by the food table peeing into an empty jug!  Justin cleared his throat and made noise to let the man know he wasn't alone.  He heard the "zip" of Old Guy's zipper going back up, and then he quickly put the pee-filled container into a nearby box. 


Justin was stunned but casually walked over to the box to see if there actually was a pee-filled jug in there because really...who pees in a public place?  Oh, was there.  He told Mandy about what he had just seen, but luckily, the Old Guy was so pre-occupied with lighting the Sterno that he didn't even touch any of the food.  Krissy and I did it instead.  It doesn't really matter though because THE OLD GUY HAD HIS WEENIE OUT IN OUR TRAINING ROOM AND PEED IN A FREAKIN' WATER JUG!

Mandy was so completely grossed out that she passed on the lunch.  What could we do?  By the time Justin told me the story, Old Guy was gone.  We had a room full of people to feed, and we certainly didn't want to announce to the class that the catering dude just took a piss beside the buffet table.  Completely confident that the safety of the food was not in jeopardy, lunch was served.  

Yes, we planned to report this man to the owner that afternoon.  Honestly, I feel a little sorry for the Old Guy.  What normal, sane human being whips out his privates and pees in the middle of a conference room?  

So...I guess you're probably wondering what I ate for lunch?  I had a tuna sandwich that I brought from home.  Seriously??  You thought I'd eat that contaminated crap?  Come know me better than that... 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Does this pink slip clash with my hair?

For the last three years or so, my husband and I have had a running "joke" every time he calls me from work.  I always say, "What?  Did you get fired?"  Maybe it was our way of making light of (and dealing with) the fact that on any given day, it could really come true.  We would frequently have conversations revolving around the likelihood of his being given the proverbial ax and what he thought his chances were each week.  I always knew we were teetering on the edge of being a one income family, my income.  So, when he called last Monday afternoon to say that he was on his way home a little earlier than usual, of course I asked, "Did you get fired today?"  His answer..."Well, they're calling it a layoff, not a firing."

BAM! The ax just fell.

There were no dramatic tears or pacing the floor or cries over the horror of it all.  I simply said, "Well, hurry home so that you can change your clothes before taking H to gymnastics practice."  And that was it.  He unceremoniously joined the Between Jobs Club.

My husband has been gainfully employed since he graduated from college in 1989. (That was one of my pre-nuptial requirements - a steady paycheck.)  Never once in those twenty-three years has he been without a job.  I know, I know... he's lucky.  We're both lucky that we've never had to sweat over how we're going to pay our bills or provide for our kids.  I realize now what a gift it has been that we weathered the economic hard times with our heads above the water.

Until now.

The last week has been a firestorm of emotions.  In the beginning, I was almost relieved.  It happened.  Fine.  Move on to something new.  There are millions of people who are waking up each day without a job.  Our situation isn't special...except it is to me.  MY family is the one who has to cut corners until something new comes along.  MY family is the one who is holding off on any and all spending until further notice.  MY family is the one who is now a statistic, a scary, this-isn't-happening-to-us statistic.

Even though "optimistic" and "hopeful" have never been words that anyone would use to describe me, I thought I would take a few minutes to explore the positive aspects of being unemployed.  Mainly because if I didn't laugh at our predicament, I just might cry.  So, here goes...

1. I finally have a valid argument for getting rid of cable.  Do we really need RFDTV?  Is it the end of the world if we don't have seven different versions of ESPN, HBO and Cinemax? What do I hate more than having twelve hundred channels that keep my family glued to the television?  Having twelve hundred channels and not a dang thing worth watching on any of them.

2. We get to live like we're in college again.  Ah, the golden days of ramen noodles, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and those giant bags of cereal that weigh seven pounds but only cost a buck fifty.  Heck, I even remember the time we drank swill beer out of soot-covered cans because they were free from a bar that burned to the ground.  We sure knew how to stretch a dollar back then.

3. NO CARPOOL LINE FOR ME.  Okay, folks, this is huge.  If you hang out with me on Facebook, then you know that the afternoon school pick-up line is the bane of my daily existence. My husband now gets to enjoy thirty minutes trapped in a car as the mom in front of him leans out of her door every sixty seconds or so to spit her tobacco juice onto the pavement.  I will not miss those Dads cranking "Feel Like Makin' Love" from their car stereos while I try to avoid eye contact with the PTO ladies in line beside me.  I just hope there isn't another Mom laughing at my husband because he's fist pumping every time he gets a strike playing the Ten Pin bowling game on his phone.

4. I will not be doing laundry or emptying the dishwasher until further notice.  Period.

5. My kids get to hang out with my husband.  They're riding bikes.  They're going for walks.  They're playing in the mild, winter sunshine in the middle of a February afternoon.  Yes, he needs a job, you know, ummm...NOW, but my second grader said to me this week, "I really like having Daddy home."  He won't be out of work forever (PLEASE don't let it be forever), but they are enjoying living in this moment with him while it lasts.

We're going to be fine.  What else is there to be?  There is no giving up or throwing in the towel.  Whatever comes our way, we'll deal with it and make it our own. (I have lots of experience with that.) It may not be in the house we live in now or the town that I have called home for forty-three years, but I've come to realize that money isn't what matters to me any more.  I'm just looking for peace and happiness, and you can find that anywhere. It won't even cost you a penny.