Tag: Angst

No Sense of Proportion

“I don’t see how an article of clothing can be indecent.  A person, yes.”
– Robert A. Heinlein

Alright, ladies, am I completely alone in this or are there other proportion victims out there?

I’m barely five feet tall, with an exactly one inch space between my ribs and my hips.  Those same ribs are rather wide but my shoulders are rather narrow, and my hips are rather rounded.  My legs are short (duh) and taper downward, long and lanky we are not!

I need normal size pants to fit around what Casanova calls “birthin’ hips” (he’s from Georgia, we’ll excuse it), but those pants usually hang past my feet by a good six inches.  I routinely by Ankle Length trousers from the Gap and Banana Republic, but that’s a misnomer for a short girl if ever there was one.  I still have to wear three inch heels to keep them from dragging.  Also, because of my high hips, low cut jeans or pants of any kind are unflattering in the extreme…so why do almost all trousers winkingly advertise “our lowest cut ever!”

Really, Victoria Secret models don't look good in bad pants, how much less we mere mortals?

Medium size shirts fit around my ribs, but I’d need the 80’s-est of 80’s shoulder pads to fill those gaping shoulders, and they always manage to make me look pregnant.  However, size small shirts fit shoulders and stomach perfectly while straining to cover, not my breasts, but my lower rib cage (which, unlike my legs, tapers not at all).

So, apart from having to work extra hard on exercising my abs to create the illusion of a waist, shopping for clothes on a good day is rough.  And let’s face it, most of what’s in the petite sections are not made for 24 year old, fashion conscious career girls!

Also, I admit, I’ve put on 10 pounds since I got married.  Hence my fab exercise bike, Harley.  It’s working.  Slowly.

Yesterday I finally replaced my torn trousers, it took nearly 2 hours.  I also tried on my bridesmaids dress for Marie’s upcoming nuptials and wilted a bit in front of the mirror.  It’s an adorable dress, I absolutely love it, but the cut of it does nothing for my figure.  Sort of like this:

Pretty dress, pretty woman (pun!), not so happy together

However, I am happy to report that, even though it took a while, I found trousers that are three-inch heel friendly, hit at the waist, and make my bum look good.  I also scored two new work shirts that don’t strain across my breasts/ribs (is there anything more tacky than a too tight shirt?  Yikes, everyone gets a view!)  And with that, my Fall/Winter work wardrobe is complete.  Which means that, if I’m lucky, I won’t have to buy new trousers – and take the requisite shopping aspirin – for another year.

That Time Again

“No supervisor becomes the quarterback in this situation.”
– Richard Hirsch

About this time last year, we organized a meeting in which to hold student supervisor’s feet to the fire about their negligent hiring practices.  The Great Uprising of the Secretaries had some effect since the University complimented our department on having no hiring errors since then.  HA!

However, seeing as it’s been a whole year, and what with some people being raised to the position of student without being trained how to do the job, the fact that some supervisors don’t like to read forms, and that the same supervisors have developed the habit of letting the University auto-terminate their students instead of doing the work themselves (actually, telling us to do the work) and not telling us students have quit…we must again go over the same information we did last year.  And none of the information has changed.

I am imagining throwing this phone at you.

I long to be able to shake a stack of paperwork, uniforms, and gear in their faces and say, “We do all of this.  We get them hired, outfitted, in compliance with state and federal laws, and keep them that way.  We keep track of the last time you, their supervisor, with whom they have contact every day, gave them a raise.  We get them access to all secured areas, programs, and even sometimes personally hand them pepper spray (at great personal risk).  We do this, for 150 of them a year.  Literally all we ask of you is to have this form filled out so we know what timetable to do all this on…please explain to me, WHY IS THAT SO HARD?”

Making a Cake of Myself

“If you wait a few minutes you can have a piece of cake.  Baked it chock-full of love, actually chock-full of unrelenting, all-consuming rage and hostility.  But still tasty.”
-Grey’s Anatomy

I made light of it but yesterday’s brush off (you know, when I delivered fifty years of an otherwise undocumented perspective on the growth of the university, state, and country through some of the most turbulent social decades of the previous century…nothing big) was a crushing blow.  I’ve been coasting along blissfully at work ever since my rage stroke without caring too much about the administrative snafus that I seem to see everywhere.

But then this happened and my entire academic life flashed before my eyes.  I wondered if all my education even mattered, if I’d ever be able to use it again, what would become of me, blah blah blah.  It was rough.  To make it worse it was compounded with hormones and J. wanting to talk about our future (grad school, loans, working now, internships).  The overwhelming sense of uncertainty blended nicely into the tempest already brewing in my teapot.

Cue minor meltdown.  I started baking immediately.  I hate cooking of all forms so for me it’s the ultimate cathartic experience: I can take out my emotions by beating eggs, shredding carrots, and pummeling dough into submission, and come out with something sugary at the end.  Perfect.  Luckily Venice and I met somewhere in the middle – she needed butter, I needed Midol – and I got a nice heaping dose of perspective, as she’d had a pretty wretched day too.

She’s been suffering at work for years now.  And unlike me, she doesn’t have lots of really great co-workers and supervisors to make the stupidity and drudgery less irksome.  (Don’t go, Venice!  Er…ahem…)  Twenty minutes complaining about work, mutual resolve to learn to cope better, and I was ready to talk grad school with J.

Summary: Friends and muffins make everything, even the occasional crisis of faith, better.

Office Worker: n. resident of Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell

“Is it just me, or is this whole thing going to Hell in a hand basket?”
“Just wave your magic wand and make it all better.”
“How about a stapler?  I have one of those and I think it packs more of a punch when it hits.”
-C. and Officer Lampost

One upon a time, the parking office, which is not controlled by the police department, had a novel idea.  “Why don’t we,” they said to one another, “do away with this medieval notion of parking permits that you stick on your window or hang from your mirror and instead invest millions of dollars in a new digital license plate reader system that will simply take a picture of the plate, compare the info to a database, and automatically write tickets!”
“Brilliant!” said University Administration.  “But hey, folks, we are in the middle of a recession.  Is this a good idea?”
“Sure,” said the Parking Powers, “it will only cost XXX amount of money, require fewer man hours to run, and reduce costs all around.”
“How economical!” exclaimed the University, “Go for it!”

futilitySix months later…the Office of IT had not even started writing the program, the bare bones equipment was costing three times more than projected, we had to hire even more people to keep the office running, supervisors were not listening to the traffic and parking clerks when they explained what they needed in the new system, no one had thought that perhaps students/faculty coming to this university might be coming from out of state/country and so the program would need a way to account for that, and days away from the new system going live, the office hadn’t even received a prototype of the program to run.

Ergo, this whole week the entire office has been overrun with techie-types (and everyone of them with the stereotypical thick glasses, receding hairlines, and nasally voices…it’s been weird) scampering about frantically trying to patch a program they didn’t know they had to write, written in a matter of a couple of weeks, and left with enough holes in it that it might legally qualify as a sieve. 

Sorry, IT guys, e-card just aren't going to cut it...
Sorry, IT guys, e-card just aren't going to cut it...

The funny bit in this mess is how the IT guys seem to be trying to apologize for their blunders.  The office has spent the week overrun with flowers, balloons, sugary treats, and take out meals.  I would just like to have been a fly on the wall while they were working this out…
“Crap, guys, we’ve screwed it up royally and now we have an office full of women all barking mad to get this thing online and absolutely furious with us.  Brainstorm, quick!  Best way to make it up?”
“They’re women!  Flowers and chocolate all the way, dude!”

I don’t even work for the parking division, but I would hazard a guess that as much as the girls are enjoying the perks of having a dozen erring husbands groveling for forgiveness…they might prefer the new system working instead.

Can you exorcise this stuff? Fingers crossed!

And in continuing office news, after the Rising of the Secretaries  (spearheaded by yours truly) and ample warning, I am wheeling out the guillotine!  Today all unclaimed lockers and uniforms will be confiscated, gear will be redistributed to kids who are actually working, all paperwork will be filed and discrepancies will be punished.  At noon we attack!

Pantsgate 2009

“Mws. Venice, I can’t find my pants anywah!”
-one of her students who can’t pronounce his R’s

Having finally let go of (most of) my rage about the incident I am about to relate, let me share the tale of The Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants.

No couture involved!  The Devil wears police uniforms!
No couture involved! The Devil wears police uniforms!

One of my less enviable jobs is doing the laundry for the department.  When I first started we were with a company that picked up and delivered our stuff as part of their service, which we loved.  However over time we found their service also included the smashing of zippers, losing of uniforms, discoloration of the same (most memorably turning some silver patches a most ungentlemanly shade of pink), and dishonesty about accounts…all of which served to outweigh the convenience of delivery.  After various warnings, cajoling, and threats, we switched to a new dry cleaner.

With tolerance for laundry mistakes at an all time low, I honestly expected some officers to be annoyed with longer-than-usual turnarounds, etc., during the switch.  I did not expect that Lt. South would come to me about clothing that was missing almost immediately.  This happened three weeks ago…and instantly the scandal took over my work life!

Without fail, three times a week South lectured me about locating their clothes before we staggered out the door burdened with laundry baskets.  Then off to the cleaners with Hennessy where we were lectured on how they are a model of integrity, business acumen, whatever…but still unable to find the missing items.  Back to the office  to be subjected to scorn for failing to find four shirts and three pants (because the loss of those items by the individuals or the cleaners is clearly my fault).  Cue the Chief and Lt. Figaro both taking me diplomatically aside to urge me towards “better efforts” in finding the articles.  Week 2 rolled around and we escalated to South going down to the cleaners, to bully them into finding his pants I suppose, and the cleaners immediately seeing this as antagonistic (no idea why) chose to punish me and Hennessy with ever louder defenses.  We were ordered to carry increasingly vicious responses back and forth and adequately punished by both sides for thm…a double case of Shoot the Messenger.  According to their records, South’s pants had been signed, sealed, and delivered.

Honestly, I believed the cleaners.  I’m convinced that half of the lost/misplaced problems we had with our last cleaners were purely officer operator error.  The guys wouldn’t label their things, or just do it improperly, find items that didn’t belong to them but neglect to turn them in, and never failed to whine to their lowly secretaries when a problem arose that us girls literally had no control over. 

By week three I was so sick of the heckling, whining, and lecturing that I yanked Lt. Colossus head out from where it was buried in the sand and flat out ordered him to get us a master key to go through all the lockers in case any of the missing clothes had managed to find their way into them.  Sure enough, one pair of pants had meandered into Lt. Citrus’ shirts…the which he entirely neglected to mention even though Wise sent out two emails asking any unclaimed or unknown stuff to be turned into us.

That left two.  I spent nearly twenty minutes talking the cleaners off their Righteous Anger ledge with Hennessy before we trudged back to the office emptyhanded again yesterday. 
“Well?” demanded South as we stumbled into the office laden with laundry not belonging to him.
“No luck,” I said, “They’ve asked you to call them so they can work out restitution–”
“They can call one of you, that’s what you girls are for,” he rolled his eyes.
I could have gleefully disemboweled him with a hanger!

AND THEN!  This morning, Susie came up to me as I was giving a pants update to Aims and Sport.
“You’ll never guess,” she breathed almost maliciously.
“You’ve found them!” I gasped.
“South did…in his home closet.”

Small Dog wants to lay some HURT on!!!!!!
Small Dog wants to lay some HURT on!!!!!!

I felt my face drain in anger.  I’d spent three weeks getting abused by my supervisor, lectured by my boss, barked at by our dry cleaner, dragging my friends an co-workers into it, being slapped in the face with my own lowly station as a secretary maliciously and repeatedly, and forced into the roll of Resident Wench On Behalf of the Entire Department.  I’d spent several hours delivering laundry, trying to ameliorate irrationally angry people, and leading a witch hunt for pants thieves…only to find that the man who had started it had FAILED TO LOOK IN HIS OWN CLOSET?  Moreover had failed at any point in the last month to check and see if he already had the items, convienently marked “Delivered?”

Apparently my wrath has an effect.  After trying to joke once about how the last three weeks “gave me something to do” and being met with my evilest of vicious stares, he hasn’t been seen in the front office all day.  In fact he’s been using the back hall to get around instead.  Good.