Today we had the pleasure of having our eldest granddaughter with us for the day. As Monday is our “take Nonna to Northampton day” Ellie got to come along for the 1 1/2 hour ride. Ellie was rattling through the various subjects of conversation (as defined by a 5 year old), such as school, friends, little sister updates and then we got…”when we were with my mummy’s nanny last week, she cooked dinner and she poisoned me! ” At which point Pam and I exchange curious glances wondering where it’s “story” came from. She went on to say that she woke up in the night and was sick. “It’s okay to be sick in a bucket because the bucket will catch it.” By now Pam and I are in stitches! Ellie was still going on about the intricacies of being sick in the top bunk while your little sister is asleep in the bottom bunk. All said with her very serious tone. Ellie then realised that neither of us could speak because we were laughing so hard. “Being sick is no fun you know, I don’t know why you are laughing.” There you go sorted out by a 5 year old.
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Another Chapter of Life in an Open Plan Office
Today’s story line is; what people do when they are waiting for their printing to complete. This may seem like a very benign subject but I think you will be surprised at some of the behaviours I’ve witnessed. My desk position (for the time being) is at the end of a row facing one of the two printers that service 80+ people on this project. So when someone is standing there waiting for their print job to finish they are in my eye line, which is why I notice what they are doing. (Didn’t want you to think I was just nosy!) Here are a few good ones.
We have the traditional toe tapper. I didn’t actually think this was something people did other than when “acting” like they are waiting but no people do tap their toes while waiting.
Then there is the individual that always uses their printing time to do some stretching exercises, which is a very sensible thing to do if you are stuck in front of a computer all day. However, if the print job is a bit longer than normal our stretching turns into a full on fitness session with deep knee bends, calf stretches (using the wall next to the printer) and yesterday I saw him do a couple of vertical jumps. Now that is going a bit far as by then he had the attention of most of the room.
We have those folks who use their time for deep thinking. They stand their in front of the printer and you can see that their body is present but there is definitely no one at home. Their minds are somewhere else entirely and you can usually see from their body language if it is a good place or not. Yesterday I had the two extremes between the lady who had the biggest pout on her face I’ve ever seen on someone older than 4. About 15 minutes later we had the person who was obviously thinking about a very good dream or something else equally lovely because the look on their face was such that when they saw me look up at them they turned bright red!
Finally my favourite for this week is the man who I think was practicing his Karaoke routine for Friday night. He was literally doing various dance moves and singing to himself. No, I am not making this up. I couldn’t make out the words of the tune but the dance moves said someone who did most of their dancing int he 80’s and 90’s trying to adapt to something more Street. I have to say I could not help myself and I had to clap when he was finished. Keep your eyes open for funny office stories.
How Things Change…
I have had several similar conversations over the last few days about at what point in our lives do the rules change? For example when you are a child and the adults are all sitting in the sitting room after lunch and someone starts to doze off, as a child you cannot understand this behaviour you think, “it is the middle of the day why are you sleeping?” Kids on the other hand won’t go to bed then as teens they won’t get out of bed and as an adult all you want is your bed. In a similar vain, at what point in your life do bodily functions such as wind (passing gas for our American friends) become revolting and how confusing is this. When a child burps or does something related to burping people say “oh, good boy, better out than in…” When you are a bit older and you do the exact same thing you hear “oh, you filthy pig!” Amazing that any of us grow up completely sane.
Open Plan Offices
It this age of open plan offices there are several things you cannot avoid. I wrote a post previously regarding the do’s and don’ts when working in this kind of environment. Today’s post is more about the other aspects of working in the same space along with 80 other people. Firstly, it is important to note that your immune system is going to take a beating. The way germs move through an open plan office can only be compared to that of a wild fire in California during a dry summer. Once the first person comes down with symptoms you can see how it then rolls through the office taking your colleagues out one row of desks at a time. The sound of sneezing, wheezing and coughing tells you that it is now only a matter of time before you too will succumb to the bug that grips the office. It does not matter that you just got over the last round of crud that hit…oh no you will once again be caught up in the tidal wave of this latest viral or bacterial attacker. The open plan office is really a large petri dish! It is the closest thing to a nursery school for passing nasty stuff back and forth.
Secondly, the other things you cannot avoid are cakes, sweets, chocolates and other culinary delights that your office mates bring in. In a large team it is always someone’s birthday or some other occasion that is traditionally marked by bringing food to the office. If you are trying to watch your weight this is especially difficult. Here you are preparing to eat your salad but in order to get your extra light dressing you must enter the Room of Temptation! The fridge shares space in this room full of tempting treats. How are you supposed to ignore and even have to move these items to get to your healthy option dressing? You feel you should partake and share the happy occasion by eating one of the sweet offerings. If you can resist this temptation and forge ahead to the fridge, get your extra low fat dressing and turn a blind eye to the selection of goodies, you are truly a hero!
To summarize; Working in an open plan office is dangerous to your immune system and your weight. I think those of us who work in this kind of environment should get hazard pay or at least extra sick days as well as hazardous duty pay!
I am starting my second week in my new job and that means the second week in the pub that I will call home Sunday-Thursday for the next 2 years. Tonight when I checked in I was expecting the aged piano player that was here last Sunday. However, he made way tonight for a “Soul Group”. They were 3 Irish guys ranging from their 50’s to 70’s. Guitar, keyboards and drums. I walked in to an enthusiastic,Elivis type, rendition of Amazing Grace. Sucked further into this time warp, they played some Art Garfunkel, followed by Purple Rain. After 5 songs I still could not find the “soul” part of the music. Oh well, they were enjoying themselves and it was better than sitting in my room. They asked for requests so I figured “what the Hell” and requested Piano Man. They did a half descent job on it and it was the first real applause of the evening. I did give up when they shifted to Doris Day followed by Judy Garland’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I moved to the Sports bar section of the pub and played a game of pool by myself. What a difference 30 years and much larger breasts has on one’s ability to play the game. I’ll keep you updated on the upcoming events at the pub…oh tomorrow night is homemade burger night!
Not Your Ordinary Commute
I have been very lucky when it comes to commuting to work. Before I moved to the UK I was lucky enough to to drive to and from work with views of the Pacific Ocean. I always made sure I never took that commute for granted. Fourteen years later and I still have the privilege to enjoy views that not many Americans can claim. This morning, for example, I arrived in Paddington Station, got in the taxi and within five minutes I was skirting the edges of Hyde Park, next came the Wellington Arch, quickly followed by Green Park on the left and Buckingham Palace on the right and the expanse of The Mall in front of me. Another 3 minutes and we pass Horse Guards Parade on the left heading straight ahead to cross Bridge Street passing Westminster Palace on the right. On the left as we cross the bridge The London Eye was reaching up into the sky as we near my destination at Waterloo Station. Wow, was that a commute or a grand tour of one of the most incredible cities in the world? I told you I was lucky.
What an Incredible Summer
It is just past 6:00 A.M. and I’m on the train heading into London, the sun is shining and there is not a cloud in the sky. Even the most traditional Brits will have a hard time complaining about this summer. We have had fantastic weather and it is true when people say “if the weather was like this every summer no one would go abroad.” The temps are set to rise even more by Friday giving us our hottest day yet of 30C or 86F! We will be hotter here than in Grand Canaria! The only downside to today is the fact that I am working and having to wear a suit. No worries, at this time of year we will have sun until nearly 10:00 so there will be time to still enjoy the evening in our garden.
This past Sunday I celebrated the 14th anniversary of arriving in the UK and I still love it! I hope the sun is shining for you today.
Taking Travel Congestion to an All New Level Weak Stomach Advisory!
In the past I have travelled long haul next to Mr Stinky, Miss Stinky, Toddler From Hell, the Silent Flatulence Assassin and the Sneezing, Coughing and Blowing Group. However, last night’s trip across the Atlantic I had the Snort, Swallow and Gag Couple. It worked like this; he would snort like bull then swallow loudly. Now I understand why at check in, the female part of this duo tried to get her seat changed so she was not sitting near her husband! This is because she provided the gag in the trio of bodily noises that stretched across the 6 hours, 55 minutes and 22 seconds of the flight. Headset on full volume did not work, ear plugs did not work, even a whiskey did not work, my imagination and personal gag reflex worked overtime! Needless to say I was not very interested in the food on this leg of my journey. I must admit the Toddler From Hell doesn’t really seem so bad now.
I grew up as the only girl between two boys, wonderful boys but boys. I often wondered what it would be like to have a sister. It was not the usual girly stuff I would think about, not the fixing each other’s hair or picking out shoes. I was a Tom boy through and through so my placement between two boys was perfect for me. Although sometimes I would think it would be nice to have a sister to share those precious secrets with or to have someone who knew me as well as I knew myself. I was lucky to have a few good friends but I knew it was not the same. One friend in particular through high school then as high school ended and real life began we took different paths and then were in different parts of the country and eventually we were an ocean apart. Over the intervening 20 years I tried to find my friend so many times with no success, then the technology that is FaceBook came along and we finally reconnected.
That was almost 5 years ago and I vowed we would never lose touch again. Durning those long years apart I realised that I did indeed have a sister, she is as special to me as any sister could be. Tonight I had the pleasure to be in her home, among her amazing friends and saw the girl I used to know as the incredible woman she has become. She is loved by these people and I know that she is in good hands when I am not here.
Angela, my friend my sister, I love you!
One of “those” business trips…
Yesterday afternoon I flew into one of the worlds great cities. This morning I am preparing for a 9:00 a.m. meeting, then it will be back to the airport and home. Meaning, another one of those business trips where you get to see absolutely nothing of the place you are visiting. This has happened numerous times in my 20 years of business travel however this is probably the only time that I did not even see anything on the way from the airport to the hotel. Reason, the customer that I am seeing this morning has their offices on a business park just off the airport so I am staying at a hotel also just off the airport, hence a 3 minute shuttle ride to the hotel and never actually entering the city of Geneva! Plus it is a Friday, prime opportunity to make a personal weekend of it but did Pam travel with me? No. Why? Because Donna has an afternoon of meetings once I get home this afternoon. Very sad huh? Not what I would like to be doing but it is “business travel” after all not a holiday.
Keep an eye out for further travel updates as I am embarking on a month of both personal and business trips from Texas to Oslo and 2-3 destinations in between. There is bound to be some travel stories coming out of that group of trips!