Thursday, June 28, 2007

I Heart Electricity

So, as some know, I'm on vacation in sunny Florida this week. Also known as "land where I will never, ever be able to set foot outside, as I've developed an allergy to SPF". But that's neither here nor there.

This morning, for the 5th morning in a row, I awakened before 6:30 AM. Why, you inquire? First it was the fact that our bedroom (our being me & my 18 year old cousin. Yes, I'm sharing a room) is outside the kitchen. And my father & uncle make coffee at approximately 3 AM every morning by making as MUCH NOISE AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. This morning, however, things were to be different. We had placed a ban on sitting in the chairs of doom-the ones that are too heavy to pick up & scrape across the floor at roughly 10 decibels...everytime someone so much as looks at them. So, hopefully we would be able to sleep in.

Alas, I awakened to an annoying beeping sound. It was somewhat sporadic, but very insistant. As I lay in bed, stewing, I noticed that the fan was lazily coming to a halt. Odd, I thought. Wonder who turned it off? My cousin lurched out of bed to brush her teeth, as it was futile to sleep through the robotic beeping. That's when we realized-the POWER WAS OUT. Yes, no electricity. Which means not only no A/C, but NO COFFEE.

My parents & uncle come stumbling out of their rooms, wondering about the lack of power. That's when it hits Dad-the coffee machine is DEAD. There is no FRENCH ROAST to be had in the house. Panic ensues. We hurriedly stumble into clothes & dash out the door to the land yacht to take us to Starbucks. As we're driving along, my mother notes that none of the houses have lights. The hysteria begins to mount. The Starbucks, 5 minutes down the island, is of course, shuttered-no power there, either. In desperation, we tumble back into the car, and start off towards Sanibel-the next island up. Another 10 minutes go by, and we notice that the windows are still dark.

Cranky from lack of coffee, we grumble about making the hour drive onto the mainland. Coffee is a serious issue here. Mutiny is about to occur when we spy a lone Hess gas station. People are walking out with...yes, can it be? COFFEE CUPS. The day may be saved! We rush out of the car, nearly pushing each other down in our haste to get our ambrosia. Which, as it turns out, was brewed over an hour ago, and is both lukewarm and stale. Sadly, it is pointed out that this may be the ONLY COFFEE ON SANIBEL OR CAPTIVA. Armed with our styrofoam cups, we trudge back, cradling our lukewarm, weak coffee like it is precious treasure.

Heading back to Captiva, we have the brilliant idea to make instant coffee. Mmm..Taster's Choice for all! Sadly, we cannot ignite the stove. Stupid electricity. Curses, foiled again! Until we remember the grill. Yes, we lit the grill to boil water for INSTANT COFFEE. How sad is that?

And boy, is that junk ever repugnant. Damn you lack of electricity, for making me drink crap coffee. I'll get you back, I swear, if it's the last thing I do.

Oh, and the power did come back on, at about 12:3o PM. So now I have my Starbucks to console myself with.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Why travel in America sucks

So, I have to admit that I shouldn't kvetch much here, as I'm not PAYING for any of this vacation. That being said, this trip through National Airport (it will NEVER be Reagan to me) has left me exhausted, cranky, and well, ready for a good kvetch.

Normally National is a fairly painless experience for me-it usually has decent TSA staffing, efficient lines, and is actually not that busy at the hours I'm flying. This time, however, we were flying the dreaded US Air. We arrived at the airport 2 hours in advance of our flight-usually more than enough time for a domestic flight. Upon arrived, we see a sea of teeming humanity, all schlepping multiple pieces of luggage. Not a promising sign. Walking into the airport, we glance to our left, towards the check-in kiosks. Lines stretching back down to the escalators. After investigation, we place ourselves in the shorter line, the one to talk to the actual agents. We had "Codeshare" tickets-my parents had booked through United, but we were flying US Air as United had no flights to Fort Meyer, apparently. Therefore, no kiosk to check in for us.

We began the interminable wait, and as we're kvetching about the wait, and worrying about making our impending flight, a short, rotund little lady comes & asks us if we're checking in. Of, course, we tell Tweedledee. She proceeds to tell us to vacate the short line & get into the line with no end, in the land that time forgot, that we need the self-check in. My mother snaps at her that we have a Codeshare, to which Tweedledum replies "I've never heard of that, get out of this line!" My parents, being who they are, flat out refuse, pointing out that the line that time forgot is A: not moving, and B: like 200 people longer. Again, the trogolodyte yells at us to move. We do not, of course, for we'd lose our precious place in line. After what seems like an hour, we near the front of our line, where my father runs into a woman from work, who waited for an hour in the other line, only to be told she was in the wrong one. And, this is the best part-she had to go to the END of our line, was not allowed to go to the front, her long wait had been for naught.

At this point, the line stops moving as US Retardair has decided to start line jumping people from other lines into ours, with no explanation. My father makes an attempt at the open magic self-check kiosk without any luck....which I know may be due to his hatred of the machines. Oh, the computers, they irritate him to no end. As we're standing in line, watching the goons pull people from other queues into ours, and getting screamed at for encroaching on their space (mainly to block line jumpers), I make a last, feeble attempt at the self-check in. Success! We're through.

With barely enough time to make it to our flight before the lame 30 minute rule where you go through "special" security (read: practically a cavity search). We sprint down the airport (well, mom & I run, Pokey McSlowsun ambles behind us) & get into the lines. I start stripping down-shoes, off. belt, off. laptop out. Wii....hmm, leave that in the case. The Wii makes it through with no issue, though it is nothing but wires & microchips. My suitcase, full of foundation garments and like 3 shirts, well that apparently is full of terrorist contraband & gets searched. Why? because I have a tiny, quart sized bag with contact lens solution, a tiny thing of shampoo & TOOTHPASTE. The TSA lady pulls out my contraband, eyes it suspisciously, and hands it back to me. That's it. I'm clear. Of course, my mother had taken this opportunity to loudly annouce that this was my first time flying, like I'm some kind of back country rube.

Yeah, people who don't fly clearly would have been traveling with a game system, laptop, properly packed supplies & clothes in ziploc bags for an easy TSA examination. The TSA woman says, as she hands me my HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS shampoo, "For a first time flyer, you sure did a good packing job". Great, they all think I'm some savant flyer now. Excellent.

Of course, due to my horribly long wait, I have had but one tiny cup of coffee since my awakening at 4 AM, and am growing cranky. But no, my longing glances at the coffee kiosks are met with disdain. No coffee for me, it's time to board.

Anyone who's flown recently knows that rich people can board first-it's not done by rows any longer. All of us have zones to board in. My dad is zone 1, but for some reason I am 7. Yes, 7. Also known as "Zone LAST". I have a suitcase with a laptop in it, and a carrying case with a Wii. Either suitcase gets checked, and I will lose something of value. Luckily, though I had to wait to board with the other peasants, there was still room in the overhead to force my suitcase into, so I was safe. Just this once.

As I settle in, my head spinning from lack of coffee, I wonder why we're festering on the tarmac. Oh yes, that's right, NO PLANE EVER LEAVES ON TIME. EVER. After a 20 minute wait where the last 2 people finally board, we take off. And wait for beverage service. And wait. And wait. When I've finally given up hope, and have taken to reading Sky Mall to avoid gouging my own eyes out from boredom, the glorious beverage cart comes along. And offers me my ambrosia, delicious caffeine. In the form of THE MOST DISGUSTING COFFEE IN ALL THE LAND. I swear, it's worse than that Flavia crap in my office (blog post impending). And it has floaties in it. I hope to god they're just grounds, and not, say, roach parts (yeah, had that happen to me once, too). The coffee is burnt, full of floaties, and grody to the max, but it's all I'll get on this two hour flight from HELL. Full of crying babies, and NO ROOM AT ALL. My mom & I kept elbowing each other as we tried to consume our swill. Fabulous.

Finally, the flight ends as I attempt to avoid regurgitating my coffee, for AIRSICKNESS, and turbulence, and I have a window seat & can see them turning the plane every which way BUT up. We land, and go running down to the rental car, to meet my brother & sister-in-law, who have flown in from Tokyo.

We gather up our monstrous amounts of luggage, and attempt to fit it into the rental car, a land yacht of a car-a Navigator. After some luggage Tetris, we fold ourselves into the car (me in the jumpseat in the back, for lo, I am the shortest one. And the A/C isn't working. I rapidly become a screechy mess, and demand the opening of a window before I HURL ALL OVER THE BACK OF THIS CAR RIGHT NOW. Which of course, results in the wrath of Fred (my father), who is now becoming irate & rapidly pushing every button on the A/C panel, turning the heat on my mom's zone of the car. My brother attempts to step in & work the technology for dad, but he is having NONE OF IT. and won't pull over, and we're all going to DIE RIGHT HERE IN THE AIRPORT PARKING LOT. Finally, Matt unbuckles, forces his way up front, and fixes the A/C. And all is well. For now....

Monday, June 18, 2007

In the spirit...

OK, this isn't about work and overtime, because we all know I can't talk about it. Though I'd deeply love to unload here about any number of work issues. But this kvetch is about another one of our favorite topics: assholes.

Though most of you were at my house this weekend, I will explain the setup a bit. I live two doors down from an elementary school in Richer than God Fairfax County. Apparently, parents in this county do not let their kids walk home from school or take the bus. They must be picked up and dropped off every day.

So I live two doors from an elementary school, and a line forms in front of my house each day at 8 am and 3 pm. No big deal, though with all the cars it's hard to see around them to get out of the driveway. However, frequently, some asshole will stop his car in front of our driveway, completely blocking us in. This happened last Friday, while Sharon and I were going out to get all the tasty morsels everyone scarfed down here on Saturday. I looked out the window and saw a guy with a greasy ponytail on his cell phone sitting in his black Hummer in front of our driveway. So I said to Sharon, "let's go. I want to force him off." So I walked up to his car, and he rolled down the window. Here is the gist of the conversation:

Me: "We need to get out of our driveway. Can you move your car?"

Ass Ponytail: "Fuck you."

OK, he wasn't quite that rude, but he did say "I can't back up." My response: "But you're blocking my driveway and we need to leave."

Ass Pony "But I can't back up." (a sharp one, Mr. Ass Pony is)

Me: "well then move up the street."

Ass Hat Pony: I'm picking up my kids. (again, this is just too stupid. I really had NO IDEA why you were sitting there) Can't you just wait a few minutes?

I don't remember what I said here, but it was clear he wasn't moving. I finally slunk away saying "well the next time can you not block my driveway?" Totally lame.

But now I'm on a mission. I'm going to galvanize the block. I have found my passion, and I'm sure we all could have guessed it. I'm 29 years old and I'm going to become the old crank on the block. I'm going to get in touch with the school, and I'm going to contact my county supervisor. Because this is what America is all about: complaining.

But seriously, these people do this every day, and it wouldn't hurt them in the slightest to not pull up one car length. Assholes, all of them.

And on a related note, I described this to one of my coworkers today. Ass Pony, my neighbor who works at the school told me, is a karate instructor who picks kids up from school for his classes. My coworker's kid goes to his studio. He told the story to his wife, only getting to the point where he said someone had blocked my story. Her exact words:

"wait, let me guess. It was a black hummer."

She followed that up with:

"well we've already discussed that the guy is a huge dick." HA! Apparently when my coworker's kid was testing for his black belt, this jackass charged the parents and guests money. $2 to $4 to WATCH THE TEST, after paying him to teach their kids in the first place.


Lack of overtime can suck it

Okay, to follow-up on the previous post, Overtime. And lack of recognition/reward for working it, or not.

Like my compadrettes, I also work in a job where OT is part of the equation. And we get thanked by getting paid extra. Like one generally does when you're basically hourly. The rub of it is, that basically, our overtime is dependent on the needs of the client, and when the client doesn't want us to do OT, we can't do it. This is, generally, a fair proposition. No running up the bills on the client. I get that.

But, if I don't get OT, then I don't get paid for it. And I'm used to getting paid OT. It enables me to use money for things, like food, and debt payment. Not having extra money makes me a sad panda. But that's not the real problem. For the past couple weeks, due to the client no longer having a "hurry-up" mode, I have been cut back and capped to a maximum amount of billable hours in a day (8, the standard no-OT workday).

Working in the type of place where I do, your evaluations and your bonuses, and most indicia of your performance are based, subtly, on the amount of hours that you bill. that, and your evaluations. But mostly, your hours. There is an unspoken minimum of billable hours that you, as a person in my job, would be expected to hit. And working only the bare minimum amount of hours that I am currently allowed to, I won't be able to hit that annual number. I'll fall short by something like 20%.

We are assured that hours are not factored into our evaluations. But that is not true. Last year, I got castigated for failing to hit this unstated number, in my evaluations. Not because id didn't bill enough hours, but for the stated reason that I "wasn't a team player" because I didn't volunteer for extra work when the call went out. (I did, but whenever there were opportunities, I was usually busy on a big case. Bad timing). But in this case, I don't even have the chance to do that. I'm cut back with no recourse. And I can't get a different assignment, because I am the most experienced person (within my particular job) on this case. So, what am I supposed to do? I've been cut back for a month. If I get cutback for the duration of this case, I'll be doing this for a couple more months. How am I supposed to do what my bosses expect me to do, when our clients don't allow me to work any more than I am, and my bosses don't seem to have any work?

At this point, it's only partially about the money. It's more that I would fall short of hitting an implicitly required target, because they won't let me put in enough hours. Makes me look like Lazyassy McGee. If you never work OT, you can never hit this target. and it makes you seem like a lazy ass to anyone who doesn't know you, and is simply reading your numbers cold (read: the committee that does evaluations). So, what's an Optimistical Cynic to do?

Corporate America Can Kiss My Fat Ass

Maybe I am premenstrual. And I am anti-work. But I still think this is a valid complaint.

So my boss took me into her office to tell me that I shouldn't take so much overtime. OK, I get that. It messes with the budget. I am taking on more work because I am bored with the work I had and wanted added challenges. But this pushes me into overtime because I also have my regular work. But if you don't want me to do extra work, then I guess I won't. But it pisses me off - I am actually trying to work harder and take on more responsiblity. Apparently a work ethic like that isn't appreciated - so I guess I will just work below my capacity, just do what is assigned, not be proactive and put more on my coworkers (who are salaried).

So last week I work just 40 hours. And she rejects my timesheet because she says I didn't record an absence. I had a dr. appt., so I had to leave the office at 3:30. But I came in at 7:30 so that I would get the full 8 hours in. How is that an absence? I guess I can put sick time in for the time from 3:30 to 6:00, but guess what? Then I will be in overtime. What do they want from me?

So I guess I will just do my job and leave. No more taking extra responsibility, no more trying to help out and take on more projects. I get the same review whether I do or don't. And I get the same review result whether I work at 70% or 100% or 110%. So why should I bother? Where is the incentive? It will relieve my boredom, but I guess in corporate America, boredom is par for the course.

Of course, I will probably keep working hard because I am a sucker. There is no incentive and I am just going to keep plowing on for the elusive reward of being paid enough to afford cable television (which I have anyway, I just can't afford). One day I will be rewarded, right? Right? Probably not, but I can hope.

So basically I am one with the Mexicans - hard working, taken for granted and underpaid. Viva Mexicanas!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Full-Figured" can suck it.

So, I decided that thanks to my friends, the horomones, I needed a new bra fitting. Because, you know, they GREW. Like, overnight (ok, like 3 days, but still). Thanks to Sy-lene, the fabulously old-school lingerie shop up the street from me, I found my new size (also, please note, the sales clerks open the door to hand you new bras while your boobs are HANGING OUT. for all the land to view. 'tis awesome). My new size, you ask? Why, I'm now a 32 D.

Yes, I know. A DEEEEE cup. Which, in other words, means the TRIPLE ROW of hooks. Which I am incapable of connecting properly thus far. Also, the DEEEE cup? Means that you are relegated to looking at minimizing bras when you do a search. See, even the models look sad:

And note: the Grandma panties off to the right. Sadness. Ladies, please. I am 29. I want support, and perhaps some coverage, since my boobs seems to be enjoying making sneaky escapes from my beloved C cups. I do not want bras that flatten & cover EVERY INCH OF SKIN ON MY TORSO.

So, with this in mind, I set out for the land of milk and honey, also known as Tyson's Corner. Where, I thought, perhaps I might have some luck finding DEEE cups on sale. Nordstroms did not let me down in person, though the website was frightening. I found myself ONE bra. In black. With matching underpantses, in a flattering "shorty" style. Bolstered by my success, I ventured into the inner circle of hell known as "tyson's corner 1 on a Sunday". Fighting my way through masses of window shoppers, stroller-pushing soccer moms & teeny boppers, I ventured down to Victoria's Secret. Where, I thought, perhaps, they would have my size. I asked a clerk about DEEE cups, and she said they did have them. At least, she thought they did. Maybe? So I wandered aimlessly around, checking racks & drawers. No DEEE cups in a 32. I asked a girl who looked as if she' never needed a bra in her life. Her eyes widened, and she inquired if perhaps I could use a 34 C instead? Because, they're like the same? Like right?

NO, they are not, little miss. CEEE cups cause the "divide & conquer", as I explained-where the bra cuts the boob down the middle, and one half spills over in a hideous, tacky, X-rated mess. She replied that really, since I was like, FULL FIGURED, they do not carry my size really.

Um. Full Figured? DUDE. My rack is glorious. But not FULL FIGURED, thanks much. 32 is the SMALLEST band size you can find in a store. Also, WHY WOULDN'T a store devoted ENTIRELY to lingerie not stock the sizes that need the bra MOST? Isn't that illegal? Or perhaps just bad marketing?

Defeated, I went to H&M. Which was just plain retarded. Because the Ikea of clothing does not like boobs, apparently. At this point, clutching my ONE BRA to my chest, I was about ready to admit defeat. But a little voice in my head reminded me that Needless Markup never lets me down. In my darkest moments, it festoons me with festive jackets, chewbacca boots, and yes, expensive lingerie.

Renewed, I dashed back to the trusty Aztek, and sped over to Neiman's. And then scoured the sale rack for like an HOUR, because, holy gazongas, batman, are bras ever expensive.

And found ONE bra in my size. In pale blue. With matching "shortys" again, because dammit, I will not spend hundreds of dollars on bras if I can't have matching undies.

Total time spent on bra excursion 3: 3 hours, 30 minutes. Total bras acquired: 2.

Total money spent on bras & "shortys" this weekend: $529.94 (including a full price set from Nordstrom's that I will be returning).

Yeah, my big rack can suck it. That's like half my rent. FOR FOUNDATION GARMENTS. Awesome.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Offices with no A/C can suck it.

So, my delightfully crusty office has yet again remained open despite the lack of A/C. This is a fairly frequent occurance, actually. At least once every few weeks it randomly shuts down, or refuses to turn on in the morning. It's bad enough when this occurs during the winter, but during the summer months? TORTURE. Seriously, it's like being trapped in a gigantic fishbowl. We're on the top floor, the windows won't open, there's no ventilation and it's about 100 degrees in there. Why won't they just shut down the office? I finally gave up & just went home to finish working-I'm not sitting in the sweltering sauna just because some executives are in from HQ.

Hmm...maybe the execs can get the friggin' AC fixed once & for all. I think 5 years is a little long to allow your office to function without proper ventilation & cooling.