So, Davey, what did you learn in school today?
Oh. Wait. I’m 26. Never mind. What’d I learn at work today?
My employer has four locations. I split time between the biggest and the second-smallest. I like the second-smallest, partly because at the big location, my group is segregated, and we’re a boys’ club. We’re all male, we act male–for example, my boss is the only one of us who knows what fabric softener is for (and that’s because he’s 43–he’s had more time to have that kind of knowledge shoved into his brain than the rest of us).
At the other place, there are eight of us in IT. Five of us are male. Three are women. Apparently I provide some of the comic relief. When I’m really torqued off, apparently I’m bloody hysterical. This morning, I was greeted first thing with voice mail from a remote user in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, whose hobby appears to be breaking NEC computers. Yes, I know NECs are junk (they should stick to monitors) but we’ve got 50 of the things and he’s the only one who has recurring problems with them, and we’ve sent him four different ones. And the laptops he’s been through have been just fine once we got them in the shop, re-imaged them, and sent them back into the field. So as I listened to his message, I just yelled, “No!” to every question he asked–never mind that he can’t hear me–and struggled with the voice mail system. I didn’t want to waste any time deleting the message but my voicemail didn’t want to cooperate. (I put the right person in touch with him later–the best way to get on my nerves is to call me direct when your problem is something that’s handled by another group. That’s why we have a helpdesk to route calls to the proper support person.)
Meanwhile, five or six other people were laughing until it hurt. I’m pretty sure they found what I was saying funny, but they probably also find it funny that this guy who can disassemble and reassemble a computer when he’s literally too tired to properly tie his shoes can’t figure out his voicemail.
But one of the women provides a lot more comic relief than I do. She has this old pickup that started off really nice, until one night when someone drove up and down the block with a shotgun, randomly firing in different directions. The shotgun blast holes started to rust, of course, and it was all downhill from there. Well, this truck now needs $900 worth of work to pass inspection, and I’d be surprised if it was worth 900 bucks, seeing as my 1992 Dodge Spirit, in working order, was only worth $950. I can’t remember if her name for the truck is Garbage Scout or Garbage Cow, but whatever its name is, it’s history. Too bad. Whenever someone has car trouble, she offers to loan them this truck, and then we get to hear all these great stories about it. I’ll miss that.
Her 16-year-old daughter is lobbying for its replacement to be a 1998 Ford Mustang.
“Tell her she can have one when she’s 26,” I said. “Wait. I’m 26, and I can’t have one.”
“Wait a minute. I’m 46 and I can’t have one,” she said.
“Oh, it’s easy then. Tell her she can have one when she’s older. Then she’ll go, ‘But mom, that’s what you always say. How much older?’ And then you can say, ‘I don’t know. Older than me, because I’m 46 and I don’t have one.'”
She saved the voicemail message her daughter left and played it for us. It started off with about 30-45 seconds’ worth of stammering. At least. And once she did finally start spitting it out, she still stammered some.
“Now if you’re going to ask me for something, what good does it do to irritate me for five minutes before you finally ask?” she asked. “She doesn’t get it and my husband doesn’t get it either.”
“Dave, remember that when you get married,” one of the other women said.
“Hey, Linda!” I said.
“Umm, umm, hmm, well, uh, umm, umm…”
“So that’s what I need to remember not to do?”
So that’s why I like working in that building. I learn useful stuff there. I need to get a notebook, write “For Future Reference” on the front cover, and take notes.