Thursday, August 26, 2010


As my 7 year old nephew shared with me last week (in defending why he does NOT care for this particular artist), Justin Bieber is afraid of elevators. Now, feel how you want about Justin Bieber, but I agree with Chelsea Handler that Justin did single handedly take down the Jonas Brothers, and for this we should thank him.

Anyway, I digress, but unlike Justin, I love elevators. Especially when in one by myself. It is a tiny capsule of time just to yourself. If it's metallic, you can check your reflection. There's all kinds of things you can do in an elevator, but mostly I just slump against the wall, relieved to have a moment to myself. I do not have to smile, make small talk, feign interest in mundane topics, etc. If I'm really exhausted and am headed to a pretty high floor, sometimes I will even squat or sit down. Of course you then run the risk of the elevator stopping, someone getting on and looking at you like you are crazy. Worry not, just say something clever like, "I was just tying my shoe". Even though you have on high heels.

We have a saying about elevators on my team at work, "Don't celebrate until you get on the elevator". Which means if a customer meeting is going particularly well, do not look at your colleague and smile. Do not give them a look that says "hee hee, we are going to make all kinds of money on this!". Now this sounds like common sense but at the end of a long fight for business, it is tempting. So anyway, you want to keep your poker face on until a safe distance from the customer.

I have always observed this rule because I want other people to observe it with me. I do not want to be at Verizon buying a phone, and when I agree to sign up for a texting plan, the sales guy starts high fiving people. That just doesn't seem right.

So, I was with one of my colleagues when one particularly hard fought deal finally closed. It took forever and at this point I didn't even think it would happen, but there it was, actually happening.

We walked slowly to the elevator (and this is one of those offices where the elevator opens right up to the lobby, no hallway), excitement exuding from us, but we are observing the rule. We get in the elevator, he presses the button, and the door closes. Once it does, we both start dancing. Now, let me say this, I'm not much of a dancer. I might do a little jig if I find a $5 bill in my coat pocket or something, but it's rare.

I wouldn't have really pegged my coworker for one either, but he broke into something right out of the soul train line. It was really impressive. I don't know if I can really describe it, but every time I think about it, I hear the Sanford & Son theme song. It was really funky for a white guy.

I, on the other hand, did more a kung-fu robot sort of thing. I'm not proud of it.

Well, we are way into our celebratory dance, and the door prematurely re-opens. Someone at our customer's office has hit the "down" button before we get the chance to take off. What ensued was great improvisation on our part. I put my arms up over my head and landed in some sort of yoga stretch, saying "wow, are my shoulders tight" (of course I said it in my dishonest-3 octaves too high-voice). My coworker fell mid-groove quite nonchalantly up against the wall, like he was just hanging out, leaning sideways.

All we got was a really strange look, thankfully. So beware, elevator celebrators!

Friday, August 20, 2010


In my life as a corporate gypsy, I am often called upon to give presentations to large groups of people. Now, I don't mind it so much, but I would rather work with folks individually, as I feel my strength is getting to know them one on one. I don't so much hate public speaking to large groups, it's more that I can sense how ineffective it is. Especially while they are eating lunch or something like that. It's not fun to stand up at a podium while people are eating salads and avoiding eye contact with you.

I had to present to about 100 people (while they were eating lunch) a few months ago. A couple of my colleagues were there, not to help or anything, just to cause confusion mostly. We got there ridiculously early to set up my equipment and make sure everything was working. After using all of my jedi like concentration to get my laptop & projector hooked up and working, I was standing at the podium (I have total mixed emotions about the podium, on the one hand, it's weird, on the other it is at least a place to perch your stuff), getting myself in order. My co-worker steps back and says "you need to test the microphone".

I also have mixed feelings about the microphone. I have never learned how to project my voice, so when I talk loudly, I do strain my voice and that is hard to sustain for an entire hour's presentation. Also when you are competing with the clanging of forks and such, it's pretty much necessary. The only downside to the mic is that I feel like a total televangelist or Phil Donahue with it. It also only compounds my southern accent, making me probably need subtitles to those non-native North Carolinians.

So I turn it on and we start testing it. It appears to be working, but it is attached to the podium and far away from my mouth, so I have to lean in a little. We start fiddling with it and get it a little closer. My co-worker takes this opportunity to tell me (and at this point we are about to start, people are starting to file into the room), "I can hear you okay, but you look really awkward". Great, thanks. 100 people and you are going to tell me this right now? So supportive.

Anyway, by this time yet another co-worker has joined us and we all decide this microphone situation must be solved (with all of 3 minutes until our start time). We are fiddling around w/ cords and plugs, and we start making casual conversation. This is a transcript of our earth shattering conversation:

One of them says, "I went hunting last weekend, got some great deer meat".
"Wow", I say, "did you cook any yet?".
"Yes, my wife put some in the crock pot".
My other co-worker, "Did she make stew?
Me: "OH, I love a stew".
Other co-worker: "Me too, did it have those tiny carrots".
And so on.

Our yankee manager at the time walks in and says, "Hey rednecks, your mic is on".

So we talked about deer stew in front of our audience, making my awkward-ness the least of our worries. I still will say, that could have been much worse. I mean we could have been discussing something much more embarrassing than tiny carrots.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Could we all just start wearing uniforms? Please? In my world, where any given client any given day could wear jeans or suits, it is a challenge. I try to dress somewhere in between casual & formal to accommodate the multiple customers and dress codes that I encounter in a day.

I often feel under dressed or over dressed and most of the time there's not much to be done about it. In my "prissier" north carolina cities (like Charlotte), I always feel inadequate. I try to glance at my purse a lot. Subliminally saying "I know, I know these pants aren't right, but get a load of this pocket book!".

I think I'd like to work in the medical field, simply based on scrubs. I could do scrubs. I would even jazz it up with fanciful hats and accessories. Maybe I'd wear crocs w/ those doo-dad things in them for personality.

In my on-going quest for easy, comfortable clothes, I recently had a humorous mis-hap. I have a co-worker in Charlotte and I adore his wife. Now, keep in mind, she's probably around 60. I have lunch with the two of them often while I'm in Charlotte, and she is one of those people who always looks just right. Mind you, she's gorgeous, and could wear a paper sack and still be gorgeous.

Last time I met up with her, I noticed her outfit. It was kind of like a mono-chromatic "set", if you will. It reminded me of "garanimals", but for adults. And not in a bad way, it looked great on her, and come to think of it, she wears this sort of thing all the time. So I asked her where she got these outfits. She tells me she gets them from one of the home shopping channels, tells me the brand, the reasonable prices, etc. I file that away.

Well, guess what I flipped by at 2 am in the hotel (not sleeping of course)? One of the home shopping channels. Guess what was on? That brand of clothes. Well, you know what happened. I ordered an outfit. Now, just as a general rule of thumb, don't shop at 2 am. No good can come from it.

Much like "sleep eating" while taking my sleeping pills, I completely forget this entire incident. I go on about my trip, and honestly do not give it a second thought. Four days later, I'm back at home, my husband comes up to my office w/ a package. Hmmm...oh right, my new clothes.

Oh my, this sort of thing should not be worn by anyone under 50. It's so "matchy matchy", it's all wrong. It looks utterly ridiculous on me. It's very sad, because these could be the most comfortable clothes I have ever put on. I'm going to admit to you, I did keep it. My husband and I decided that if I wore them separately, and never to anything important, it would be okay.

He did say, "I bet once you hit about 45, you'll wear that all the time". He's so right.