Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Happy Place

Alex worked on performance reviews all weekend. He was talking about employees who were top level engineers, but they had no interest in mentoring, no interest in interacting with customers, and very limited social skills. These employees just wanted to put their heads down and write code. The problem is, the company wanted more from them than their software skills.

When I was about 35, I left a job at Chevron because things got "complicated". I had married and divorced a man who was a manager and I kept running into him in the elevator. After 12 years at Chevron, I decided to cash out and go do something else.

I went to work with a small "high tech" firm that manufactured computer keyboards and terminals. I started out as a "secretary" for the Director of Sales, but when he got fired, the Director of Marketing asked for me. I worked for this marketing guy for about a year. It was safe, boring, and just not "all that", but it was a job.

Everything changed when the company hired a new Vice President of Engineering named Jon. As part of his employment agreement, Jon wanted an "assistant". To my surprise, he asked for me. Jon had zero requirements for administrative help. (He was better as a word processor than I was.) My job included sitting in on all meetings and interviews and giving Jon my opinions of the proceedings. Jon also took me everywhere with him, including to purchase random electronic parts.

When it came time for my first "performance review" from Jon, he asked me about my job satisfaction. I told him honestly that I felt like I wasn't "doing" anything. When he asked me what I wanted to do, I told him I wanted to work in the hardware area and learn to wire stuff and solder eproms and such. Jon agreed that I would be working in the lab whenever it didn't interfere with me being his "assistant".

I was thrilled. I had a little counter space, equipment, and a high stool. A couple of the hardware guys taught me how to read schematics, wire a keyboard and do basic soldering. I was in heaven. I didn't have to interact with anybody. I could just put my head down and do my job. (I would have probably been wonderful on an assembly line too.) I think that may have been the first time I realized that my intellect was probably a "dull -normal". I loved doing this stuff. It fulfilled me. Unfortunately, Jon went the way of many other honcho's at the firm. Yeah, he got replaced. The new VP of Engineering wanted me to take transcription and word process morning till night.

I moved on to another company where I entered the wonderful world of Marketing and Sales. I did pretty well at it for the next decade, working first for engineers, next for architects, and then back to engineers. I was okay putting my hand out to shake a potential client's hand and handing them my "Director of Marketing" business card. But I never liked doing it. In fact, I hated it. I made cold calls and set up meetings. I solved client problems. I wrote proposals and prepared presentations. I did it well, but all that "people contact" made me a little sick.

I would much rather sit on a lab stool and do wiring or something else dull-normal. I am not an extrovert. I am an introvert.

So I understand Alex's engineers better than he does.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It Was "Justified"

Now, I've done a lot of bad things in my days. Yes, I did sleep with the Tennis Pro.

On January 31st, I had lunch with Cynthia, one of my oldest friends. (She's not as old as me though.) I have known Cyn since she was about 7 and I was about 8 and 1/2. In fact, I knew her when we used to call her Cindy.

One of our rituals that we attempt to keep up is the annual "Birthday Luncheon". On Tuesday, January 31, we met for my birthday lunch. We discussed different places and since it was my "birthday lunch", I selected the Rotunda at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco.

We had a marvelous lunch and shared a wonderful pear tart with house made vanilla ice cream for dessert. Both of us felt fat and happy!

Since I got the gorgeous pale pink cashmere robe from Alex at Christmas, I was sort of interested in finding a pair of pale pink silk pajamas to wear with it. So we wandered over to the lingerie department. For a mere $150.00 dollars, I found a perfect pair of pale pink silk pj's. Cynthia found a wonderful pair of silk silver animal print pajamas as well. (I have to say, I was rather pleased. Cyn in the past has usually chosen "somewhat trampy" lingerie.) (Yes, we have done this before.) While I can appreciate the "crotchless panties" and so on, they are just a bit pedestrian for me. I could cut the crotch out of my panties if I wanted to, but to what avail? You can always just push them over to the side, if you are that kind of a girl, that is.

Now understand, I did not make that purchase lightly or with a feeling of jubilation. I was concerned over the frivolous nature of a pair of $150 dollar pajamas. But they were very pretty. And I felt like "what the hell, it is my birthday month". We settled on our purchases and went down to the next level. I saw a number of pairs of shoes that would have been wonderful, but give me a break, $700 shoes are hard to justify unless you find your partner cheating on you. $900 shoes are even harder to justify unless your partner is cheating on you with a boy. I used self-restraint.

We went to the street level and a young woman said "Please give me two minutes and I'll show you something amazing." Well, what the hey! "Amazing" is worth a quick look see. The young woman (all of 25) took me and my girl Cynthia over to her station at Christian Dior. Since Cynthia and I met in approximately 1954, do the math! We are both women "of a certain age". Well, blow me down, this stuff was pretty damn good at making "mature skin" look more "youthful". Both Cynthia and I were impressed.

When the young lady who worked for Christian Dior was finished with her demo, I was sort of hooked. I mean, give me a break. I am 66 and I now looked 46. Actually, I am 66 and many people have told me, I look 46 anyway. But never mind that. I bought the package. And I spent roughly $700 on it. Cynthia also bought the "package" and spent about $1200 on it.

If we are not looking 35 by Valentines Day, we are going back for a refund.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was really dreading telling Alex what I had spent. I was so relieved when he laughed and said the following words.

"It was justified."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Is There Life After Cable?

"We are paying HOW MUCH for our cable television?"

Somehow, I thought I was hearing Alex wrong when he said $260.00 a month. What? That cannot be right! Okay, he allowed that charge included our internet service. "Fine. Keep the internet service and cancel the cable."

We had started off with a little "promo" deal that gave us basic cable, a couple of movie channels and the "premium channel" of Showtime. (We need Showtime so we can watch "Dexter" and "Weeds" and a couple of other programs we like. I also watched the show "Gigolos" while Alex was traveling, but it really wasn't my favorite no matter what you may think.)

We may have been paying about $50 or $60 dollars a month for a time. Then the charges started creeping upward. A couple of years passed. When I really realized how much we were paying, I started nagging Alex to cancel the service.

This weekend, Alex finally complied. He walked into the Comcast offices and canceled our Cable service. They said fine and told him to bring in the equipment. He came home and boxed it all up (including the remote controls that our dog, Zoe, had eaten). He was told that he could not sign up for Cable under one of the "promotional" pricing schemes for a minimum of one month. Now, we not only do not have Cable, we do not have remotes, chewed on or not. The reality set in on me this morning when I flipped on the tv in the kitchen to catch some news. The local station programming had switched from news to "infomercials" by that time. I think we get a total of 5 television channels.

No longer will I be able to watch VHI for the videos. No longer can I turn on "ANTM" and watch the whole season in one long afternoon. I cannot watch CNN. I cannot watch much of anything. Well, that's fine of course. It gives me so much more time to do worthwhile things. Today I realized that my dogs Harry and Zoe are playing inappropriately. Harry has begun the very impolite practice of trying to mount Zoe's head. Where did he get that idea? Was it from a Cable show I had watched.

I can listen to music instead of watching Cable television. I can eat cookies and make artsy craftsy things and sell them on "Itsy" or whatever that site is. All right, I will probably just eat the cookies and watch my perverted dog because I don't have an artsy / craftsy bone in my entire body.

One channel I may get is the "Home Shopping Network". I can order very special things at very special prices just by picking up my phone with my credit card handy. I can also order the stuff that is advertised on the infomercials I guess.

I really had not planned on feeling deprived, but I do. I think I'm actually suffering from withdrawals. Still, we will not go back to the stupid Cable people and say "Go ahead and charge us whatever you want! Just turn our cable back on!" That's not happening.

At least it's not happening for the next 30 days.