Friday, September 14, 2007

Not My Kid

A friend of mine called and asked if I would mind helping the son of a friend of hers. Apparently, the son was having trouble finding a job in his chosen field, despite graduating this past Spring with honors. It was just my luck that Unemployed College Graduate’s chosen field was the same field I work in. Anyway, I agreed to meet with the young man and asked that he forward a resume to me.

Yellow Flag #1
Unemployed College Graduate’s resume arrived via email and looked like something he had knocked out in 5 minutes. There was decent content, but horrible presentation. This was a graduate of the Honors College? Did he skip the composition courses? Daughter #1 had a better looking resume when she was 16 and applying for a sales position.

Yellow Flag #2
I called the number on his resume, got his voice mail, and left a message introducing myself and asking him to call me so we could touch base. It took him several days to call me back.

Reddish-Yellow Flag #3
I offered to pull several associates from my office into a meeting with Unemployed College Graduate and we would brain storm about networking and possible openings in the market. The meeting was set for this past Monday at 10 am at my office. At 9:50 am, Unemployed College Graduate called and said he was going to be late.

Red Flag #4
My associates and I, dressed in suits and business dress, filed into the conference room to meet Unemployed College Graduate and confronted the following sight. There he sat, in a rumpled polo that couldn’t decide if it was clean or dirty. His hair was disheveled and in desperate need of a haircut. His pseudo beard had either thrown in the towel and quit trying to grow, or he had just started growing it a few days ago. Either way it was a good thing because the few straggly hairs helped to cover up the wide expanse of acne. (Why would ANYONE put up with acne in this day and age of great dermatologists and meds?!) In front of Unemployed College Graduate sat a solitary copy of his resume. No paper to take notes, no pen.

Really Red Flag #5
We decided to surge ahead, closed our gaping mouths, and sat down at the conference table. I opened the meeting by introducing Unemployed College Graduate and asked him to bring everyone up to date about his job search. There was total silence for a full minute. I finally jumped in and uttered a few summarizing sentences based on our telephone conversation and what I remembered from his resume. My associates took pity on me and started rattling off suggestions, good contact names, and great questions about what he had done or not done in his job search.

Solidly Red Flag #6
Not having a pen or paper with him, Unemployed College Graduate simply nodded or mumbled “yes” or “no”, and took no notes.
After a few minutes of this, I practically threw my pen across the table to him and said, “Wouldn’t you like to take some notes?!”
He turned over his resume and scribbled something on the back shooting me a furtive look.

Mercifully the meeting finally ended, and muttering “Thank you” to my associates, I slunk away to my office. As I sat stewing about the debacle, I decided share the debacle with the friend that recruited me to meet with Unemployed College Graduate. She was, predictably, shocked and resolved to educate the young man’s mom about why he might be having trouble finding a job.

So here’s the punchline. The next day as I was about to leave work, I received the following postcard by email:

I’m feeling a little guilty.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Is Anybody There?

I started calling MoM as soon as our car left the airport garage to tell her we had landed safely and were on our way home. I usually do this because she will talk nonstop for a good half hour pausing only long enough for me to mutter, “uh huh” here and there.
But the line was busy.
I kept calling.
For 25 minutes.
About 2 blocks from our house, I finally got through.
“Helloooooo”, she answered tentatively.
“Hi, MoM”, I replied cheerily. “Just wanted to tell you we’re back!”
“Back from where?”, she asked.
“Back from Las Vegas–remember we went up there this weekend for my niece’s baby shower and to visit my mother-in-law?”
“What do you mean, no?! I stopped by your house on Thursday and reminded you we were leaving the next day. And I called Friday night from the airport and left a goodbye message on your answering machine!”
“Nope, didn’t know anything about it.”

Then MoM started recounting in infinitesimal detail the weekend Diamondback baseball games. She does this the entire baseball season despite the numerous times I remind her I would rather watch paint dry than watch baseball. Desperate to get off the phone, I told her we were pulling into our driveway, and that I would talk to her tomorrow.
“Okayyy” she happily responded.

I wonder if she’ll remember this conversation?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Lost and Found

I lost my old Polaroid camera. I didn’t know it was lost until one of my staff at work came around asking if anyone had a Polaroid camera she could borrow. “I do!”, I exclaimed, and offered to bring it in tomorrow morning.

Except I can’t find it.

I checked the old standby, the hall closet, aka the coat closet except for the fact that no one wears a lot of coats here in the desert. Instead we pile up the travel umbrellas (don’t generally need those here), the afghan scarves (we use when we venture East during the winter), the “tv” tables (now those we use!), and a motley assortment of odds and ends that have no home anywhere else in the house.

I did find the cables and manual for the digital camera that was stolen, my Dad’s old SLR Nikon camera that no one knows how to use, a solar radio that once entertained us all for a day at the beach 15 years ago, and all the boxes from the various mobile phone systems I kept buying until I found one my mother could hear on.

I’ve lost more important stuff than the Polaroid camera. The earliest thing I can remember losing was my lovey blanket. MoM says she offered to paint my nails in exchange for the ratty blanket, and I agreed, thinking I would go retrieve it after I got my nails painted. (Not a bad strategy for a 4 year old, don’t you think?) I obviously didn’t factor in my devious MoM, and when I went to retrieve lovey blanket, it was gone.

When I was 15 and visiting my dad’s cousin, this wonderful lady of many warm smiles and beautiful songs disappeared into her room and reappeared with a little silver ring in her hand. “Would you like this ring, because I have no little girls to pass it on to?” she asked. Wow, a gift for no reason, and a pretty gift besides! I wore that ring every day after that.

Until I lost it at a hay ride not a year later. Remember the old saying about finding a needle in a haystack? I still cringe every time I hear that expression.

As I got older, the losses chronicled the changes in my life. I lost my room at home, coming home from college to find a billard table squarely in the middle of my former bedroom. I deliberately “lost” my car in the middle of Manhattan one day--frustrated with parking in the city and the petty theft of any movable parts on the car, I called up a salvage company, told them where the car was, and had them mail me a check for the car. After I got married and tried a double last name, I found that most companies were losing my original last name but keeping my husband’s last name. That didn’t work for me, so I “lost” my husband’s last name and kept my original last name. (Husband and Daughters #1 & 2 have been so understanding about it.)

The people losses are the toughest losses. There’s a scene in the movie, “Peggy Sue Got Married” that always makes me cry. Through movie magic, Peggy Sue is able to go back in time before she got married and her marriage soured. She experiences being a teen again, and part of that experience is seeing her grandparents again. She kneels next to them, and revels in their touch and being able to hear their voices again. Ah, it’s the best part of the movie–go to one of the rental places that carry old movies and rent it.

But back to the Polaroid. I’ve combed through every closet in the house, and even peeked in the garage (it’s like a giant warehouse in there). I’m thinking that I also lost my memory because I have this vague feeling that I lent it out to someone. . . I just lost the WHO part.

I found stuff too. So much that I could easily have the mother of all rummage sales. After spending so much time tonight searching for something lost, I think I’m going to concentrate on things found tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

From Here to There and Back Again

I love to travel. But I hate the journey. There’s that mind-numbing waste of time sitting in the airport waiting to find out if your plane will make an expected appearance or keep you waiting like a hopeful old maid. And you can’t beat a coach seat for spawning creative ways to cross your legs in less than 3 inches. But mostly I hate the journey because, no matter how great a place I’m traveling to, inevitably, I end up packing until 2 am and getting up earlier than mankind was made to get up in order to catch a plane that doesn’t puddle jump across the country.

So I arrive exhausted.
And achy.
And cranky.
Husband, on the other hand, thrives on no sleep, and arrives at our latest destination ready and willing to talk dinner reservations.

Vacation Day #1 - 6:15 am
Me: aaaaaah, what is that? What is that?
Husband: Sunrise.
Me: I’m melting......I’m melting.....
Husband: The cab to the airport is here.
Me: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The past few years, Husband and I have repeated this dance every Labor Day weekend, flying across the country to go play in New York City. At home, it’s still 300 degrees and you move from one air conditioned sealed environment to another. In Manhattan, the weather is starting to change, it’s a balmy 78 degrees, and half the population has left the city for the beaches so there are only a few million left on the sidewalks. We checked into our usual hotel, The Helmsley Park Lane, just across the street from Central Park. I was tempted to ask the concierge what he thought about Leona Helmsley leaving $12 million to her dog, but Husband said to leave it alone.

We had a great time doing things we never do at home; buying junk food from street vendors (there are none in Arizona because it’s 300 degrees outside), shopping in stores twice the size of their branches at home (they actually carry my size in NYC), going to Broadway shows (the theatres in NYC are old, gorgeous and full of top rate theatre productions--the theatres in Arizona are modern anticeptic blocks filled with “B” road companies), strolling through Central Park (if there are any trees in Arizona parks, they’re usually mesquite trees, and again, it’s 300 degrees outside), dining at one fabulous restaurant after another (restaurants at home fall into one of two categories–Mexican or Hunk-of-Meat), and exploring the wonders of one great museum after another (most Arizona museums are about 3,000 year old indigenous Indian tribes).

Daughter #2 and Boyfriend even came down from College Town and met us for a couple of days. On Sunday, we put them into a cab to go to the train station, and we got into another one for the airport. Thanks to all the bills we put on our credit card, we had earned enough frequent flyer miles to snag first-class seats on the way home. I love flying first class. Our plane even got in 20 minutes early. All in all, it was a wonderful vacation.

Until we went to claim our luggage.

The terminal was nearly empty with only one flight listed ahead of us on the baggage board. The Chicago luggage came and the people left. The Las Vegas luggage came and those people left. When the Atlanta luggage came, and their owners left too, the crowd from our flight started getting ugly. Husband was pacing and muttering, and as the baggage board flashed a new message that the St. Louis baggage was now arriving, Husband bolted for the nearest service desk. It was now almost 50 minutes after we landed, and the sheen from our wonderful trip was wearing thin. Husband returned with the encouraging message that somehow the luggage handlers had forgotten to off load an entire plane of luggage! Really? We hadn’t noticed. I should probably mention at this point that if you have the opportunity to fly US Air, don’t. I’d go into details, but that would take another blog to describe it all.

At home now, I think about the journey from here to there and back again. It’s not unlike the little journeys we take every day, full of unexpected joys and stumbles. Sometimes our trips are uneventful, and sometimes (if you take US Air) it takes us longer to complete our odyssey. Wonderful Mother-in-Law (really) thought her journey with chemo and radiation was over, but this week she travels again to the Cancer Center for treatments to knock down the latest re-occurrence. We’re hoping it’s an easier journey than the last one.

We’ll travel again this weekend, along with Daughter #1, to visit Wonderful Mother-in-Law and Wonderful Father-in-Law (really, him too), to attend Niece’s First Baby shower, and to visit recently widowed Aunt S. We’ll be carrying a lot of baggage, but most of it will be in our hearts and minds.