Thursday, January 10, 2013

Particularly Loud Executive

At work, I wear a pair of Naot ankle boots, each of which has two zippers, so there is quite a jingling sound, which has started to make me feel self-conscious in that supremely silent place. I went online to find out what to do and saw that one clever fellow had applied heat shrink tubing to his loud zippers (that is, to the tabs, not the entire zippers) to good effect.

I gave Tom a call. “Don’t lie to me, T. Do you or don’t you have a heat gun?” He claimed not to, so I went to the hardware store and described my problem. The guy there said his first suggestion would be that I simply walk with an increased swagger at work and consider the jingling sound to be a sign of my own elevated status, but if I didn’t want to do that, he liked the heat shrink tubing idea, but said a hair dryer would suffice and that a heat gun might damage my shoes.

I gave Tom another call. “Don’t lie to me, T. Do you or don’t you have a blow dryer?”

He didn’t, so I borrowed one from the couple that has the baby, but it actually didn’t do the trick. I think I’ll just buy another pair of shoes for work. Then I’ll have a nice pair of shoes for both home and work, which doesn’t seem excessive.

I moved on to thinking about bikes. Sometimes lately when I swing my leg over the saddle to mount my bike, my leg barely clears it, leading to worrisome visions of falling down with the bike on top of me: embarrassing! This morning, I called Tom, who is Mr. Buy and Sell Bicycles, to see what he thinks of Public Image bikes. I think they’re beautiful, but are they any good?

“Don’t lie to me, T.,” I began in my new standard greeting, which seems to be an effective deterrent against blatant mendacity, at least in Tom. He said he’s also had that near-inability to swing his leg over his bike a time or two lately, which made me feel better.

“Maybe it’s time to get a girl’s bike,” I said.

“Step-through,” he corrected, and said he has heard the Public Image bikes are good, solid city transportation. There’s a big store full of them a few blocks from here. I might go there.

I’ve gotten a better sense of what my job is lately: helping applications with business continuity planning (BCP—how operations are restored after a disaster) and quality assurance testing. When this sank in, I felt a little gloomy: will I learn anything in this job? Maybe my more purely technical job was a lot more fun; maybe I’ve made a mistake here.

But then I remembered how much I love to nitpick over the accuracy of information of no interest to virtually anyone on earth. Besides my QA background, I think my version control skills will come in handy, plus liking to do documentation and training. Plus there’s what my boss, Takworth, said about learning Visual Basic. The job will be technical to some extent, and in general, I plan to learn absolutely anything I have a chance to.

Whereas I immediately deleted all corporate communications received in the past and attended no conference call held by anyone above my own boss—I mean, like, never—I now am poring over every email carefully and looking up people and groups on the company website. People here are obsessed with hierarchy. As soon as you meet someone, he or she says, “I work for so-and-so, in so-and-so’s organization.” What does that even mean? I never had any idea, including not having any idea what organization I myself was in. Now, for the first time in 14 years, I actually understand where my group fits into the larger scheme of things, and have some sense of how the various pieces go together. These names I’ve heard invoked with reverence or respect (or fear or irritation) all these years now mean something to me.

Since I haven’t been given any particular assignment, it’s been easy for me to keep my mouth shut at team meetings, which is just as well. There is nothing more annoying than a new person who tries to take over immediately or leaps in with a lot of uninformed suggestions. I’ve just been biding my time, taking classes, getting a sense of things.

I asked C. this morning if he went to Sacred Grounds last night for an evening of poetry, but no—he’d had quite an adventure. He changed pants before leaving for an appointment, and forgot he’d already put his keys in the pocket of the first pants. When he arrived home to find he didn’t have his keys, having forgotten about the change of pants, he retraced his entire route looking for the keys, and even visited some places he hadn’t gone to, ending up at his roommate’s parents’ place, where he certainly hadn’t been. The roommate’s father gave him a ride home and there he lay down outside his apartment door and waited until 10:30 p.m. for his roommate to come home. I felt bad for him.
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