Tag: Snark

Apart From Monday Evening, I Disavow This Week

“We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.”
— Douglas Adams

Holy mother of pain, kittens!

Yesterday’s post was drafted in advance of a Series of Events, when all was well and the washing machine and I were having a delightful domestic fling. Quite suddenly and without warning all went spectacularly upside down. Like all great tragic love affairs, ours did a lot of damage on the way out.

But first let me go back!

Over the weekend it became clear that our washing machine would need to be replaced. It had had a few funny spells where its various lights would flash or the whole thing would turn on (or alternatively refuse to turn off) without instruction, but these had all be cured with a period of rest from duties. But as of Sunday we knew it was no good. It had given up the ghost and refused to work any more. We had to walk the whole thing out of its niche to inspect it, avoiding scraping up the linoleum to the best of our ability – revealing of course a degree of filth that had to be cleaned up. Several reviews online and investigations into the make and model confirmed that the behavior it was displaying meant it had gone the way of all the earth. With our landlady’s permission we ordered a new one, to be delivered on Tuesday.

Monday morning started out just fine. Jeff went to the office and I was just getting up and about when suddenly my phone rang and it was Jeff, sounding irritated and out of breath.
“Apparently I’m supposed to be in Gloucester right now and they didn’t tell me. Can you start packing?”

That’s a bit of a way to kick off the week. Being of profound packing experience I began rounding up necessities and waited for him to get home to tell me the story. As it turns out, multiple of his colleagues had been assigned to various spots around the country over the weekend without being told or told incorrectly, so come that morning a number of people were not where they were officially supposed to be. By the time he got home he had been told to sit tight and await further instructions – which of course meant that after an hour or so he was asked to come straight back into the London office to work there for the day.

I remained suspicious and refused to unpack. A good thing it turned out, since that night he was assigned to go to Peterborough for three days. He headed out early Tuesday morning.

That same morning, our brand shiny new machine arrived and was installed by two very helpful workmen, and it appeared that all was well in test runs. The first time I attempted to use it, however, the sink (through which it connects) filled straight up…and refused to drain. Which is to say, of course, it overfilled. Emphatically. Luckily I was in the kitchen for the rinse cycle because water began pouring down the sides of the cupboard and onto the floor – I was afraid that a hose hadn’t been connected properly at first, though latter evidence revealed this was not the case.

Necessity being the mother of invention, I grabbed a couple of pots and began frantically ferrying  the sink water to the bathroom (slipping and sliding all over the now wet and slick floor) until the cycle finished which luckily put a stop to the flood. After which I spent a couple hours mopping up the mess (more filth discovered) before marching grimly to the nearest bodega for drain cleaner, and the bakery for a fortifying pain au chocolat.

Both the trip-to-Gloucester-that-wasn’t and this adventure have put me pretty badly behind this week. I’m doubly grateful for a nice night out on Monday because everything since then has been a bit dire. The manageable side of dire, but dire nonetheless.

On the other hand, we have successfully proved that in extremis, I’m capable of feats of strength that are pretty impressive. Such as dragging a machine across the kitchen floor in mere seconds sans injury.

Behold my panic induced prowess.
Behold my panic induced prowess.

Pray the drain un-clogger works permanently, ducklings, the next step is professional help. Which I may or may not currently stand in need of myself.

People. Problems.

“As a connoisseur of human folly, I would have thought you impatient to be savoring these delights.”
“Of some delights, sir, I believe a little goes a long way.”
– Pride and Prejudice, 1995

You may not believe it, ducklings, from all of my snarkiness and eyebrow lifting, but I really do like people.  I enjoy meeting people and making friends.  And I’m often deeply impressed at the heights human nature can climb to.  Alternatively, I’m often deeply annoyed by how low some people can sink.

My trouble is (as per usual) that I work at a police department, the nature of which means that at least 50% of the people coming through our doors are in some sort of trouble.  The other 50% have caused some sort of trouble, and so don’t help my attitude.

Believe it or not, this sort of excellence isn't required. Although laudable.

Here’s my beef.  I have discovered, through 2+ years of observation of this sort of thing, that it is extremely easy to be a fairly good person.  No, really.  It’s a piece of cake!  Don’t take what’s yours, don’t say what isn’t true, don’t go out of your way to be obnoxious, and have some sort of basic theoretical understanding that your actions affect others.  It really is that simple.  You may still get a little moody, you may still tell the occasional exaggerated story, you may still have a no-good-very-bad-day when the universe conspires against you and you lash out, but to all intents and purposes you will be a Decent Human Being.

And yet, in spite of the simplicity of this solution, there seems to be whole hordes of people incapable of being Decent Human Beings.  They are determined to be jerks.

Take for instance the late incident of a man whose daughter got into a minor car accident with a foreigner.  The daughter gave false/faulty insurance information and when the foreigner, who assumed the error was his, asked politely for the correct information, Daddy told him a series of lies about insurance in America, and ordered him not to contact his daughter again.  All to keep from reporting his daughter at fault in the accident, apparently.

Or the various attempts to hit others with their cars recently.

Or the Lothario-like attempts of seduction by married coworkers.

All entirely avoidable!  See?  Jerks.

The Annual Anti-Harassment Seminar, As Told by C.

“Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other.  Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.”
~ Katharine Hepburn

Yesterday, under orders from the University, the entire department attended an anti-harassment seminar.  It didn’t go as well as could have been desired.

The officers, muttering something about cooties, grudgingly trotted off and about an hour later office personnel followed.  When the secretaries entered, a collective groan went up as the men were forced to put away their Vargas posters and NSFW magazines.

The presenter stood up, closing her ears when an unnamed person muttered something about “having to listen to this broad for an hour,” and put on a cheerful face.
“I’m here to talk to you all today about unacceptable behaviors at work.  Luckily there are no [censored slur] here, so this should be easy.”

Things rapidly devolved from there.

“The protected categories of personal traits are sex, gender, religious affinity, color, genetic information, age, and -”
“What’s the difference between sex and gender?” yelled out someone.  “I mean, besides who you’re allowed to hit on?”

Musical Theatre, as seen by some seminar attendees.

“One is your actual sex, male or female.  The other refers to expectations or traits of your sex.  For example, ridiculing a woman for trying to tackle something obviously beyond her scope, like chemistry.  Or a man for studying something that we can use to determine his sexual orientation, like musical theatre.”

“I’m a musical theatre major,” injected one student from the back of the conference room.
“Oooh, look at him,” cooed some of his compatriots flapping their wrists at him and beginning to make obscene personal remarks.
“Then why don’t you put on a skirt and wash something,” yelled a sergeant, diminutive in size anxious to fit in the Boys Club.

You're a girl!

C., enraged at the slur on A) skirts and B) laundry duties, leaped to her feet, climbed up over the seats and delivered a long and inventoried tirade abusing the sergeant’s personal hygiene and evolutionary history.  Hennessy, attempting to restrain her friend, tried to mitigate matters until a student officer told her to “shut up, quit working, and stay at home like she was supposed to.”  Whereupon both Hennessy and C. launched themselves at the student and his companions and frightful blows were exchanged.

“Women can work,” Chief hurried to scream into the fray, trying to calm everyone down, “unless they become pregnant!”
Excuse me?” bellowed Wise planting her hands on her growing stomach to brace for impact before she barreled him over.  Rounding on the company she roared, “Who’s next, you bunch of communists?!”
Susie demanded, “Who’s the commie pig?” whipped off her heels and began stabbing anyone in her way with stilettos

I'll save you, helpless maiden! (or) I'll kill you, helpless maiden!

While this was going on, both a male and female officer had taken refuge under the stage.  “Good thing we’re staying out of it,” said the male officer to a female, nudging her arm conspiratorially.
“Molester!” she screamed and dragged her surprised, hapless victim out where he was quickly devoured by a herd of bloodthirsty traffic clerks.

From the podium, the presenter tried to beat off a student officer with a propensity to stalking with a chair, yelling “Fire!” to make someone pay attention to her plight.
“I thought,” shouted Chief from where he was wrestling with a young female worker who was trying to get him in a compromising position in order to sue the university, “you had to tell someone who – ow! – was annoying or offending you – let go of my leg! – to stop before you could take legal action.”
“Oh no!” responding the presenter, getting her assailant into a headlock, “A behavior doesn’t have to be acknowledged to be unwelcome.”
“Yeah!”  shouted Lt. Colossus, emerging from the brawl bloody but unbowed.  “Watch!”
He reached out to where Lauper was punching an officer and ridiculing him for impotence, slapped her on the bum and collapsed on the ground when she promptly kneed him in the groin.  She was then set upon by a small horde of police officers who beat her senseless, calling her (alternatively) Hindu, Sheik, Protestant, and a variation of African spiritualism  that the editors are not sure how to correctly spell.

Pictured: the seminar room, post seminar.

The brawl was not broken up until both dogs and firehoses were turned on the rampaging attendees.  At which time it was ascertained that four were dead, seven concussed, one was bleeding out, three had lost the ability to walk, and two the ability to reproduce.  Other casualties include a missing eye, several knocked out teeth and, to date, one marriage.  After mopping up the entrails, the mob was deposited at the university’s Equal Opportunity office where the presenter, ashamed that she let the meeting get so out of hand, apologized but was fired anyway because in the future, “keeping track of these [censored slur] would clearly be a man’s job.”

After a strict talking to, the rest of us were sent home with copies of “Men are from Neptune, Women are from Saturn’s Sixth Moon, Titan.”

Mother. Nature.

“Nature’s all well in her place, but she mustn’t be allowed to make things untidy.”
– Cold Comfort Farm

Pictured: Summer, after a particularly impressive bender.

Of course, summer is moving towards its inevitable end.  Though not quite in her death throes, she’s sensing that they’re not far off and so is  looking to have a last fling with a boy a third of her age, wear skirts that are far too short, and spend all her money rather than let her grasping nephew Fall get a penny of it.  In other words, generally behaving badly.

The other day J. called me up.
“Are you coming home for lunch?” he asked.
“Wasn’t planning on it.  Why?”
“Because you need to go to the store.”
“Again, why?”
“Because you need to pick up ant traps and spray.”

Summer's attack German Shepherd. And although I didn't catch a glimpse of this guy, I am sure he was lurking back behind the suitcases.

Augh!  Apparently ants had descended on our flat.  They were crawling in from a closet runner, bent on global domination (For the record, Mum, our flat is in no way in a state to attract the wildlife, please don’t wring your hands and bemoan anything).  Anyway, I dashed home armed with chemicals, J. vacuumed everything, sprayed and booby-trapped our closet to the point that those famed nuclear-resistant cockroaches of lore couldn’t survive, and we waited with baited breath to see if it had worked.  So far, nary a six-legged fiend has been sighted.

However, marshalling the ants to send them indoors was only Old Lady Summer getting drunk at her granddaughter’s wedding.  She finished the night by climbing up on the buffet table, shaking her bon-bon, and collapsing spectacularly into the punch.

That night we had a massive lightning storm.  I read later that in a half hour period we had nearly 150 lightning strikes in the area.  And unlike normal storms, where the flashes and rumbles are spaced out a bit, this was explosion after explosion for hours.  Neither J. nor I slept because every few seconds our whole room would light up and it would sound like someone had cracked a whip right next to our heads.  And this sort of weather has continued, with varying degrees of intensity, for the last three days now.  The power was knocked out yesterday, making getting home from work a nightmare.

Small Dog gets Summered-out.

Summer and I have a middling relationship.  Round about February of each year I whine and long for sunlight, but as soon as we’ve made it through July, I start glaring at bank signs along the road with their publicly displayed roasting temperatures and start mumbling things like, “October sounds good.  I could do October right now.”

*Photo of cracked old biddy, from mygutinstinct.wordpress.com
*Photo of the vile insect invader, still from the 1954 film Them!
*Photo of my approximate face come mi-August from: findavet.us/blog/2010/04/how-to-keep-your-dog-safe-in-the-heat/

Thwack!

“I’d have you  lot up in front of the University authorities first thing in the morning, if it wasn’t for the fact that you are the University authorities…”
– Terry Prachett

We are moving into one of the worst months of year at work: June is the month building up to the annual July 4th celebration.  This usually involves celebrity VIPs, nearly 100,000 additional people on campus, parades, hiring up to 100 more students for less than a week, and other assorted headaches.  Last year I got lucky and got married instead so I was out of town for the final crisis.

This year I may not get as lucky unless J. and I can come up with a cheap vacation idea.  And then there’s the guilt.  I’d be leaving some of the other girls in an awful lurch skiving off like that.  Plus Hennessy is getting married mere days before and it would rather shabby for both of us to disappear.

However, this nobility of purpose doesn’t make the impending event any less irksome.  It’s my job to get those darling student employees outfitted and, more importantly, in fear of the personal Hell that will await them if they don’t return every last piece of gear to me.  At the end of football season this past year, I was somehow seconded to be responsible for collecting and minding this stuff permanently even though I hadn’t been in charge of distributing it, recording who got what, or when it should be returned at the beginning of the year.  You may imagine the resulting confusion.  And my attitude about it.

Die.

This year will run much smoother since Hennessy and I have teamed up to tackle it, but problems are already creeping up.  Such as the fact that the Special Events department hasn’t given us a time to distribute stuff, and has decided that these students need only three hours of training (to take place three days before this nearly 100,000 people plus pyrotechnics rolls into town).

It’s fortified my bewilderment.  Ever since my personal equivalent of the burning of the Library of Alexandria, I’ve been thinking (again) about some of the glitches of working where I do.

The real problem with this university is, as I see it, is that it’s a combination of a business, a school district with too many children and not enough teachers, and (due to the religious background and funding) a monastery.  Which doesn’t combine too well, professionally speaking.  As a bureaucracy, resources are not always well-managed.  Administration errors are overlooked in the spirit of Brotherly Kindness, but minor problems lower down on the chain of command are punished with all the fervor of an inquisition.  And, completely at odds with religious teaching, good work is not rewarded while bad work is not scrutinized or punished.  It’s baffling.

Sun, Sand, and Lava

“It is better to travel well than to arrive.”
– The Buddha

Eyjafjallajokull Volcano (say it three times fast!)

You know your family’s lifestyle is a bit unusual when you get an email from your father saying that they are stuck in Sicily and can’t fly home to England because of a volcanic explosion in Iceland.  And that to get home they will have to go through Rome to get to Paris to get to London.  Oh that’s just Mum and Snickers, by the way.  Dad is going to Germany.

Now, although I’m grateful enough to know that they won’t get lost flying through a volcanic ash cloud and crash into the Matterhorn, or get hit by a fossilized coelacanth flung high into the atmosphere, or get a chunk of igneous rock sucked into a jet engine…I’m still having some trouble dredging up any sympathy for them being stuck in the Mediterranean. 

Punks...