Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I Had A Great Title For This Post, But I Forgot What It Was

I woke up sometime shortly after 8 this morning and thought, “Okay, I’ll get up.”
50 minutes later I finally followed through on that thought.
As I had the 10:20 dentist appointment I didn’t have as much sitting around doing nothing time, so I had a bowl of cereal, took a shower, got dressed, and was on my way.
I was about five minutes early and ended up having to wait an additional ten minutes.  As I was reading a book on my PDA (On the Road by Jack Kerouac; I figured it was about time I got around to reading it), or rather, attempting to read, as I was distracted by a woman reading Highlights magazine to her (I’m guessing) three year-old daughter.
I have to say that the little girl was extremely cute, particularly as she laughed her head off as her mother said the word “peach,” as it was just one of those words that kids inexplicably find funny.  For example, when he was six my nephew Jeremy would collapse into a fit of laughter every time he heard the word “groin,” which he naturally ended up hearing a lot once we discovered his reaction to it.
Once I was in the chair the actual work took only a matter of minutes, and soon I was out of the chair, the inside of mouth tasting like rubber cement, and on my way to pay what I owed.
The cute girl with the big boobs looked at me, sighed, and said, “You’re going to be my problem child today.”
I responded with a pithy, “I see.”
I’m assuming her issue had to with the fact that my insurance is maxed out for the year and that somehow that was complicating the determination of my bill.
After doing some math semi-aloud, she finally said, “Oh, that’s more like it,” and told me that I owed $23 even.
As she took my card over to the card reader I saw just how perfectly her very tight sweater was following the shape of her breasts and sighed and shook my head sadly, and was soon on my way.
I’d e-mailed Kathleen earlier in the week to tell her that I’d be in the area today if she wanted to meet for lunch but hadn’t received a response either way so I gave her a call at work.
I got her voicemail and left a message, saying that I guessed I would just go home, but as I was waiting at a light to make the trip home my cell phone rang, and we made plans to meet in about 40 minutes.
Needing a way to kill some time, I headed to where we were meeting and gave my mother a call.  I’d had a voicemail from her saying that they were still home and I could call her if I wanted.
She and my dad were supposed to have left for Tucson this morning, but there was a problem with the water pump on the trailer they rent out, so my dad had to work on getting that fixed, as they couldn’t just leave for the winter while their renter had no water.
Eventually Kathleen arrived and we went inside, with Kathleen complaining about the sheer idiocy of people everywhere.
The place we’d chosen to meet for lunch is a big, upscale grocery store with a large food court.  It’s located directly across the street from our company’s HQ, and is therefore a popular lunch destination.
In deference to this, I noted that there was a sign listing some menu items that are actually named after some of our company’s products.
(As an aside, years ago I lived near a sub shop that I frequented regularly, generally getting the same thing.  I’ve been told that internally the sandwich had come to be referred to as the Jon-Paul Maki by the employees.)
Kathleen suggested that I take a picture of it, so I broke out the PDA and did so, at which point one of the employees said, “Sir, you can’t take pictures.”
I immediately went into smart-ass mode (though that’s pretty much my default mode anyway) and said, “Well, it’s a little late to point that out now,” then noted that it hadn’t turned out anyway, and, putting away my PDA, I said, “Okay, I’ll let you keep your state secrets.”
Kathleen described the policy as “gay” and said that it was only adding fuel to the fire of her existing bad mood.
When I said I didn’t know what I wanted for lunch, she said, “You want the same thing I do, but you can’t have it either:  some kind of big, frosty glass of something with lots of alcohol in it.”
She had a point, but that didn’t really help me to decide what to eat.
I ended up hitting the Chinese buffet.  Food is sold by weight, and what I bought was heavy enough to cost me $12 with my drink.
While we were eating I noticed an attractive women in a skirt and boots walking by (there were a lot of attractive women there; I always feel so rude in those situations as I’m talking to Kathleen and find my eyes wandering as if independent of my control to take in all of the scenery), and after she was past, Kathleen pointed out that she works with said attractive woman and that she had a story about her, though she had to finish her current story about a different co-worker first.
Once she finished her bitching….err, talking about her co-worker, she went on to tell me the story about the attractive woman.
Said story involved the woman borrowing a quarter from Kathleen, Kathleen later seeing her and, in an effort at initiating some friendly small talk, asking her if she got her snack or whatever she needed the quarter for, only to learn that the woman needed the quarter for a different kind of vending machine, and said revelation, being totally unexpected, left Kathleen feeling awkward and as though she had received too much information, too much information that she felt the need to pass on to others.
After lunch, having nothing else to do in the world, I came home.
My company requires that every employee undergo training in our standards for ethical and legal business conduct annually.  This is done through an interactive Web site and we can take time at work to do it, though not having speakers at my desk I would have to go to a different workstation to do so, so I decided to just do it from home and get it over with and claim the hour and a half it took me as OT, which is both ethical and legal.  How do I know?  I took the training.
Actually, the topics covered in the training had absolutely no bearing on me whatsoever, having to do with document retention and destruction, financial policies, and interacting with foreign officials.
It just boggles my mind that a company in which a good portion of the employees works in strictly technical fields, making no decisions involving any of the things covered in the training, there is no specifically applicable training for non-managers, instead requiring that everyone receive the same kind of training as everyone else.
I’m not a fucking accountant, I don’t make financial decisions, and I don’t have any access to financial records of any kind whatsoever.  I don’t make purchasing decisions, I’m not involved in sales, and I don’t work on contracts.
I monitor networks, period.  My interaction with other people is essentially limited to my counterparts employed by our vendors, technicians, and SAs.  I don’t need to know what’s considered a bribe in Uganda, okay?
Oh well.
As I get older I’m increasingly struck – and distressed – by the unreliability of my memory.  It’s often easier for me to remember things that happened 20 years ago than things that happened 20 minutes ago.
When reading, I frequently need to go back and reread a passage I’d read just minutes before.
One of the biggest problems, though, is my inability to simply recall something without requiring some sort of prodding.  I can’t just remember something on my own without having some kind of reminder.
This happens a lot with Scott and I as we discuss comics that we’ve read.  He might ask, “What’s going on in Nightwing?”  My response is usually something along the lines of, “Umm….you know….stuff.”
Scott will then say, “Wait, wasn’t that the one with the guy with the thing…?” which will spark my memory – however fuzzy it may be – enough for us to agree on at leas the broadest strokes of what’s happening.
That’s the problem, though; even with reminders, my memory still sucks.
In my case I’m not sure it’s entirely the result of age, as the period of heavy drinking that happened back some time or other (Who can remember when?) may have had some impact.
Even making a concerted effort to memorize things can be yield results that are spotty at best.
But as I said, events and facts that occurred sufficiently long ago – without being too long ago – I can often recall with crystal clarity.
A while back I was listening to the album Tribute, which features live recordings of Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads in concert.
A song finished and Ozzy was speaking to the crowd and I knew exactly what he was saying, spouting out, “Okay!  That’s what rock-n-roll’s about!  And the track we’re going to for you now is a number called Believer,” in perfect sync with him, even going so far as to extend the word “Believer” the exact way Ozzy did it.
Something similar happened the other night as I was flipping through the channels.  Apart from catching the tail-end of an episode the other night, it’s probably been like 20 years since I last watched an episode of Tales From the Dark Side.
And yet, as the opening sequence played the other night on Sci-Fi Channel the other night, I found myself, about a half a second ahead of the voiceover guy, saying, “Man lives in the sunlit world of what he believes to be reality.  BUT (with appropriate spooky emphasis), there is, unseen by most, an underworld.  A place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit.  A dark side.”
Now to be fair, in my early metalhead years I listened to Tribute so often that at this point it’s probably encoded in my DNA, but Tales from the Dark Side?  I was a casual viewer at best.
I mean, if I can pull the opening dialogue for Tales from the Dark Side out of my ass after 20 years why can’t I remember to buy eggs when I go to the store?
Or remember what my point was when I started writing this.

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