I think I saw you smile

“Sure is a strange weekend, Minnie. Sometimes I wonder if it is good to get a storm warning so far in advance. It feels like we have lived through this beast for several days and it hasn’t hit yet.”

“Try not to think about it.”

“I am trying. But you know how it is: If you try not to think about something, you can’t stop thinking about it.”

“Think about Wednesday, Halloween. By then, the wicked witch of Mother Nature will be out to sea, and you can take her place.”

“Not funny Minnie.”

“When nothing is funny, Wolf, it means you are taking this too seriously. After all, what can you do about it?”

“I know, Minnie. That’s what is so frustrating. Nothing.”

“So, live through it. And deal with it. And then go back to being a witch.”

“You make it sound so easy.”

“It is. This thing is out of your control. What will be will be. And if you make it out alive…..”

“What? See what I mean? I might not be around for Halloween.”

“Well, at least there will be one less witch hanging around.”

“You are not helping me one bit.”

“Oh? I think I saw a smile on your face. Now, let’s talk about if you don’t make it. Can I have your pink robe?”

Wolf

Panic in Pennsylvania

“Geez, Minnie. The panic, the horror, the humanity!”

“Where did you go? To a freak show?”

“Sort of. I went to the grocery store. While I was driving there, I almost got hit by several cars. People were acting like maniacs. And then, at the grocery store, there was no water left, no D batteries and hardly any tortilla chips.”

“What the hell?”

“It was a mad house. The people were rushing around like lunatics, wild eyed and bushy tailed. There weren’t any smiles, no politeness, only fear and anxiety.”

“So how did you manage to get through it all?”

“I went to the liquor store first. That calmed my nerves considerably. When I got to the grocery store, I was the only one who sauntered through the aisles, tasting the samples and humming my favorite song, “Just spit me out.”

“Well, it looks like you are still slightly off kilter from your experience. You look pale and dehydrated.”

“Exactly. Let’s have a few beers and celebrate today. The storm isn’t here yet, and we can’t do a thing about it when it does blow in, so why not enjoy this evening?”

“I don’t know Wolf. I am nervous about all this hype. I can’t do anything but worry. It is frightening. Haven’t you been listening to the news? We are going to be slammed.”

“Yup. That’s what they say. I think it will be Monday, right?”

“Yes, Monday.”

“Figures. Nothing good happens on Monday. But isn’t today Saturday?”

“What’s your point?”

“Worrying about Mondays is like never getting a weekend. It ain’t here yet, and when it is, we can’t change a thing about that. Life goes on, and if you want to spend your time worrying, then that is your choice.”

“But what if we lose power and….and…..we get flooded?”

“What if we don’t?”

“What? How can you think like that? Are you crazy or what?”

“Totally. Now, let’s have another beer.”

Wolf

Don’t tempt fate, get a cooler

“That storm, Minnie, that is on its way, where do the birds go when the rains are pouring and the winds are roaring? And what about the deer? Do they hunker down somewhere and ride out the storm?”

“Geez, Wolf. I don’t know. A better question is where do the people go when the heavens open up and the winds howl? Mother Nature is at it again, another Halloween horror story. And what about the grocery stores? They always run out of bread and milk.”

“Well, the weather folks have us all in a tizzy. I think I will get up early tomorrow and stock up on essentials.”

“Like what?”

“Non-perishables. Wine, beer, booze and tuna.”

“Great idea. When you go shopping, can you get me some root beer?”

“How can you be so shallow? To think only about root beer? Don’t you know you should stock up on the important things in life? It’s all about survival, girl.”

“Yeah. Ok. So can you pick up some cream soda? I love cream soda.”

“That isn’t essential, Minnie. Why don’t you think about the things that you will need to survive? Like water and…..and….stuff like that.”

“Ok. I would really like to have a few bags of chitos and a package of chocolate chip cookies. And don’t forget to get some gas.”

“Gas?”

“Yeah. In case we have to evacuate.”

“And just where would we go?”

“Somewhere where it isn’t storming.”

“Oh, you mean, drive to Florida, right? The storm has passed that area. We could drive through the hurricane and make it to Miami just in time for the next hurricane to hit.”

“All right, Wolf, whatever. You always have the answers, don’t you? I bet you don’t have a contingency plan.”

“Sure I do. I am a girl scout, first and foremost. I am always prepared.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. It’s called over kill. I plan to fortify myself with essentials and ride out the storm, in a foggy haze.”

“I knew it. You are going to the store tomorrow, to buy up all the bread.”

“Huh?”

“You are going to go on a carbohydrate binge. By the time the storm subsides, you will be a bloated blimp and a diabetic, not to mention, you will have denied the right to buy bread to the thousands who will be fighting you for the last loaf.”

“Not exactly, Minnie. I have a more impressive plan. I will wipe out the liquor store and not give a damn if the storm hits or not.”

“Ok, but what if we lose power, then there is no ice.”

“Oh ye of little faith. Haven’t you heard of coolers? Even the bible mentions it.”

“I don’t get it.”

“A direct quote: In the times of great distress, get a cooler. And buy a bag of ice. If you don’t, you will be wishy washy and go to hell.”

“Oh for crazy.”

“No, Minnie. The truth is: If you want to go to heaven, let there be ice. For many are cold, but few are frozen.”

Wolf

Controlling the uncontrollable

“Is there anything that makes you feel helpless, Minnie?”

“Oh boy, what now? What’s eating you Wolf?”

“I think it has to do with control. Not that I am a control freak, but when I have absolutely no control over what happens, I feel helpless.”

“Like?”

“Well, for one thing, on a working basis, I have to answer my customers’ questions. They ask things like, ‘Hey are you gonna ship my order tonight or what?’ Or ‘This is a hot order. Can you get it done by Friday?’”

“And?”

“I have to answer them. So if I say, ‘yes, of course’ and it doesn’t happen, then I have to answer for that. If I say ‘no, your order has been delayed’, then I have to wait until the boom lowers. I get an email from the boss, asking me what the problem is and why isn’t the order shipping. Do you know how frustrating that can be?”

“I guess you are supposed to make it happen. Isn’t that what your job is all about?”

“I never knew it would be like that. I mean, if it was something I was supposed to do, then I could honestly answer. But when I have no control over the circumstances, then I am helpless.”

“Isn’t that why most people pass the buck? And never commit to deadlines? You should get smarter, Wolf. Never commit to anything, unless you are absolutely sure it will happen.”

“Look Minnie, what you say makes sense, but not in the real world. People want answers, guarantees, and commitments. And once you give your word, you are a target. I guess that is why customer service is so stressful. You try to appease the customer, while competing with everyone else to get the work done. Maybe it takes a bitch to really do the job.”

“Ok. So let’s do a little role playing. You need a job done. You have limited resources. You want your job to take priority. You demand, rant, rave and tick everyone off, but the job gets done. The customer is happy. Success!”

“Yeah, well, I can’t do that. I have too much empathy for those who have to produce. I work in a different way. I work with the team.”

“I am surprised you have made it this long in Customer Service. You really are a push over.”

“Yeah, you may be right, but I am what I am. And you know what? To gain control, you have to give up control and trust that your coworkers will get it done.”

“You are really a Pollyanna and Mary Poppins rolled up into a sponge. No wonder you feel out of control.”

“Oh well, control is not all it’s cracked up to be. I always call the customers to let them know what happened, and tell them the truth. And you know what? I have found that telling the truth is almost as good as delivering. As long as I am communicating, they feel that someone cares.”

“So, if that works for you, why do you feel so helpless?”

“Hell, I don’t know Minnie. Why did you bring this subject up anyway?”

“Huh? You brought it up, you idiot. What the hell is wrong with you? Are you losing control of your mind? You told me that you feel helpless. Was that the truth?”

“Yes, Minnie. I did mention that, but unfortunately, circumstances obliterated my mind, and your order did not ship. However, you can be assured that I deeply care about you.”

Wolf

Start boiling the water

“It was a surprisingly warm and sunny day today, Minnie. But no baby.”

“No baby?”

“Annie. She is ready to pop. E told me I am the designated catcher, but nothing happened. So, if nothing happens by Friday, she is being seduced.”

“What? Seduced? By whom?”

“The doctor, I guess. They are planning to seduce her on Friday. So the little guy can show up for his birthday.”

“Wait a minute. I think you have your terminology goofed up. Don’t you mean induced?”

“What’s the difference? Induced, seduced, deduced? It’s all about life, isn’t it? And having babies?”

“Wolf, you obviously never had a child. You don’t get seduced at the end of your term. You get induced. The seducing comes way before that.”

“Whatever. I just know that on Friday, Annie is deducing that she will be induced as a consequence of being seduced.”

“Seems a lot of your co-workers have had babies the past few years. Any of them expecting again?”

“Sure. Mandy is. Or if she isn’t, she will be soon. She wants at least 3 or 4 more. And Missy wants triplets. Of course, Jasmine wants at least one child who will look like her instead of Jose, so she will be next. And Oscar is way too happy lately. I think she might be with child now.”

“There is nothing more beautiful than a pregnant woman.”

“Yeah. Those pumpkin bellies do a lot for women.”

“Don’t you wish you had had children Wolf?”

“Yeah. I think I should really consider having one, before it’s too late.”

“Do you believe in miracles Wolf? Or are you a complete and total moron?”

“It’s never too late, Minnie. That’s my motto.”

“Well, then, you are defying logic and the human cycle. Your deduction is flawed. It is impossible for you to have a child at your age. You couldn’t even be induced, you idiot.”

“Maybe so. But I could be seduced.”

Wolf

Nighty night, and all that jazz

“Well, Minnie, it is Tuesday night. And I must say, a lovely night indeed.”

“Huh? What’s this all about?”

“I have decided to be a greeter. Oh, not one that welcomes people as they enter the workplace, but a de-greeter, one who wishes everyone a great evening.”

“What the heck?”

“I take my afternoon break at 3pm. That is the time when a lot of people leave work. I hang out by the door, and say ‘nightie night’ and ‘have a great night’ and all that kind of jazz to everyone who opens that door.”

“Why? What does that really mean to anyone? An old goof sitting there, wishing everyone a fabulous evening?”

“It means a lot. Most of these people leave work, without anyone saying anything to them. They have worked for 8 hours, they are tired, unappreciated, overworked, and then, they have the Wolf, smiling and wishing them a lovely evening. It is a great motivator.”

“What makes you think that your comments mean a damn thing to these people? They just want to get out and go home.”

“Sure they do. But have you ever put in a trying day, giving it your best and when you leave, no one says a word to you? Do you feel connected? Appreciated? Loved?”

“Heck, Wolf. It’s only a job.”

“Only a job? Oh Minnie. You don’t get it, do you? We put in more time with the people we work with, than we do with our families. And to be acknowledged as you leave for the day, may be just what we all need.”

“Seems naïve to me Wolf, that your smiling face and good night greetings are significant. You really need to get a grip.”

“Say what you like. I am not going to stop. After a brutal day, I love to see if I can get a smile out of my co-workers.”

“So, it is not for them, that you do this. It is for you, isn’t it? You think you hold the key to happiness. And you thrive on it.”

“Look Minnie. I can’t change a thing about my co-workers’ jobs. I am not in charge of anything. Hell, I can’t even manage myself most days, but I really do believe we all need to be appreciated.”

“I bet if you asked them, they would say that your de-greetings do not affect them in any way.”

“Maybe. But I see them smile. And that is enough for me.”

Wolf

Is the grass greener? Is so, who cares?

“The grass is always greener on the other side.”

“Yeah, ok, Wolf. What’s that supposed to mean?’’

“Oscar, Babs and E, they had today off. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”

“And?”

“They enjoyed their time off. Meanwhile, Beaver and I struggled to get through the day.”

“Oscar, Babs and E win, hands down.”

“See what I mean? Beavo and I had a very trying day. We should have gone with the popular belief that today, Monday, October 22 was the day to take off. But we didn’t. We opted, instead to go the course, to bite the bullet, and to suffer through the mire.”

“Mire? What’s that?”

“Oh who cares, Minnie. Let it be said that today was the mother of all Mondays, the ultimate let down. We were the targets in the cross hairs. We were stalked by the animals, who ate us for lunch. And when it was 5 o’clock, we slinked out of the office like wounded owls.”

“What the hell? Do you think you might be exaggerating again? What’s a wounded owl got to do with anything?”

“Owls, Minnie. The majestic bird of the century, wise, endangered and very fluffy. However, a target of the vultures.”

“You said the grass is greener on the other side, right? What’s your point?”

“The wounded owl knows that grass can mean many things. In the wise words of the chief of the owls, Old 4 eyes, ‘karma is a bitch.’”

“Huh?”

“Beavo and I are taking next Monday off. And we plan to smoke the green grass of the owl.”

“Oh for dumb. You mean weed?”

“You say tomato, I say weed. Only the owl knows for sure.”

“Ok Wolf. I can see this conversation is going nowhere. I think you just might be insane.”

“I am, Minnie. And you know what? I really don’t care whose grass is greener. I just want some.”

Wolf

Dream job

“Will you do me a favor, Wolf? My granddaughter needs to interview someone who is working, for a school project.”

“Why me? Can’t you find anyone more interesting than a broken down old customer service bag?”

“Come on. You don’t have anything better to do.”

“All right. But you owe me big time, Minnie.”

“Katy, meet Wolf. She has graciously agreed to help you with your project.”

“Oh, ok. How old are you, anyway, Wolf?”

“Old enough to know better than to do this interview. Good bye.”

“Hold your horses Wolf. Now be nice Katy. Go ahead. Ask another question.”

“How long have you been working?”

“Since I was a kid your age. By the way, why don’t you have a job yet?”

“Huh? I go to school.”

“Yeah, ok. Next.”

“Do you enjoy your job? And if so, why?”

“What if I said ‘No.’ Then what?”

“Well, why not, then?”

“I didn’t say yes or no. I just asked what my options are.”

“Huh? I don’t get it. Let’s skip that one. What do you do on your job?”

“Talk on the phone, run around like a goof, and eat lunch.”

“What kind of job is that?”

“A dream job.”

“Do you work alone or with others?”

“Yes.”

“Well, which one is it?”

“That is a stupid question. Why don’t you ask me if I make a difference at work?”

“Do you?”

“No.”

“Does your job fulfill you and if so, in what way?”

“Yes, it gives me a reason to do drugs.”

“Why are you working?”

“I am a boozer. I need to buy wine.”

“My final question: What advice do you have for young people who want to get into your line of work?”

“I don’t have any. I hate kids. Are we through?”

“Yes. You sure are a strange one.”

“Thanks. Can I ask you a question now?”

“Huh? I guess.”

“What did you learn from this interview?”

“That’s easy.”

“What?”

“You old folks are lunatics, druggies, and nothing but left over hippies.”

“Right on! That’s how we all land these dream jobs.”

Wolf

Button pushing

“Hey Minnie. Love that new hair color. What shade is it? Blueberry?”

“Shut up, Wolf. If I want blue hair, what’s it to you?”

“Touchy, touchy. I love to see you get all ruffled up. It’s funny, isn’t it, how certain things can set people off?”

“You should know. You are the master of pushing the wrong buttons. I bet you do it all the time at work.”

“Of course I do. It’s the evil twin coming out. Oscar is the easiest one to get riled up. She has deadlines up the kazoo this time of year. She works so hard to get everything done, so I gently remind her, each morning, that she is way behind on her work, and time is running out.”

“You mean old thing.”

“Me? No, it’s Oscar who is the mean one. She has tried to strangle me at least 10 times last week.”

“It’s too bad she didn’t succeed.”

“I’ve started to work on Beaver’s nerves, too. She is so overloaded with her new account, that she is stressed beyond belief. Now there are several new accounts that will be doled out, and I told her I recommended her for most of them.”

“Did she strangle you?”

“Naw. She just cried like a baby and then went out and smoked a pack of cigs.”

“Hmmmm.”

“Now E is a little more difficult than those two. She is way too happy these days, so I have to be more creative. I usually wait until she has a call from Chuckles. She is so polite and demure while she is on the call, and then, when she hangs up, it is Tourette’s to the max. While she is on her rant, I answer my phone, and say, ‘Oh Hi Chuckles…. What? You can’t get E back on the phone? You forgot to tell her you are driving over to the office tomorrow to meet with her? No problem, I will let her know.”

“That is not one bit funny.”

“To me it is. Babs doesn’t sit by me, so I use instant message to get her going. I tell her stuff like: ‘I hear there is a secret meeting in Finance. And you weren’t invited.’”

“What does Babs do?”

“She walks over to Donna’s desk and takes a swig or two.”

“Huh?”

“Donna gets mad as hell when someone drinks her stash, so this is a double whammy.”

“I bet Pat doesn’t let you push her button.”

“I don’t have to. Mcat does it for me.”

“How?”

“Just by being herself.”

“Are you successful in pushing JC’s buttons?”

“Her buttons are always pushed in. There is no need to. I just have to look at her and say, ‘Good Morning’ and she goes wild.”

“And what about your buttons? Who pushes those?”

“Nothing gets me ruffled, Minnie. I am the coolest cat around.”

“Good. Then I guess you won’t mind when I tell you that Babs, Donna, Pat, E, Oscar, Beaver and JC are having dinner tonight and you aren’t invited.”

“What!!!! Of all the low down, sneaky assed acts! I am pissed. What in the hell possessed them to do this? This is gratitude? Who do they think I am? A peon? Just wait til I see them next week.”

“Well, they may be right about one thing.”

“What?”

“Being a peon. Your cat just peed on you.”

Wolf

Logic

“Oh boy, Minnie. I think I made a promise I can’t keep.”

“That was stupid. What did you do that for?”

“Customer A needs X by Monday. X needs to be printed. The print center is backed up. Customer A doesn’t care about that. X has to be ready by Monday. Customer A asks me to promise that X will be ready for delivery on Monday. I promise.”

“What the hell? Are you responsible for printing X? How can you make a promise that is not only doubtful, but down right next to impossible?”

“I waffled and cajoled. I procrastinated and escalated. I sympathized and even gave an attempt at compromise, but in the end, I bit the bullet. I promised.”

“What happens if X is not delivered?”

“My ass is grass.”

“You are taking the bullet? You are the sacrificial lamb? You are the village idiot?”

“Correct, on all 3 counts. I am toast, Minnie. Road kill. History.”

“Well, let’s put it this way: You put your reputation and credibility on the line. If you don’t deliver, customer A will never trust you again.”

“Yeah. I guess I will be like the cable company or the phone company.”

“Huh?”

“You know, you call them. Your cable is out. They say they will send someone out to fix it. They don’t. Then you call the phone company. Your phone is out. They say they will send someone out. They don’t. But several days later, when the cable and phone work again, you jump for joy. You don’t trust them, but you continue your service. It’s the American way. Don’t expect too much. Service is not what it used to be.”

“Well, Wolf, it could be a very painful Monday. If A – X, then Y= S.”

“I don’t get it. What’s that mean?”

“If you don’t keep your promise, you are screwed.”

Wolf