Sunday, July 31, 2011

For those of you who still believe in happy endings.......

Check out the first four pages of a my friend's soon-to-be-released book, "The Last Blind Date."  Click here to read.

If you like what you read then please pre-order it at this link.  (It makes her look really good and that makes me happy.)

Great job Linda!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chapter 7 - HELP WANTED: Tales of a Free-Spirit Professional

A warm welcome to visitors - old and new! Please click on the right side of the page in the archives to follow this post from the beginning. It ALL starts in June, so take a look and follow along. As always, thanks for reading and enjoy.

The merger was swift and steady. In just three months, I was without a boss and relegated to the 20th floor. The important people were housed on the 21st floor and for the last four years, I was one of them.

I still had a job and technically, a boss. The new owners of the company had shipped George off to run the London office. The plan was that he’d come to New York once a month, but I’d only seen him once since everything went down. Thrilled with his new role, he’d even asked if I wanted to join him, but I declined, mostly because of the quarantine laws that meant my dog would have to live in a kennel for several months.

Being relegated to the 20th floor and away from the endless closed-door meetings where the fate of Madsen Group partners were decided, afforded me the privilege of operating mostly off the map. George rarely called and with London being five hours ahead, I had most afternoons free to wander around the office trying to appear busy.

No one really understood what the new company was about, though once the announcement was made, we all got fancy t-shirts and key chains with the new logo. The idea was to create a super power of consultants and internet specialists all under one roof. At least that’s what they told us over coffee and bagels one gray morning in March. From where I was sitting or shall I say, sat – it looked like a bunch of new faces pushing out the old faces.

Those who remained scrambled around like eager children trying to impress the popular kids on the playground. In the end, George’s non-ivy league attitude secured his future whereas Tim left quietly the Friday before the merger and never returned.

Scott was a different story. He’d always been the logistics guy and with Tim’s departure and my lack of anything to do, we forged a strange friendship. The office, from which I fought so hard to depart, became a regular stop on my daily rounds of time wasting.

I noticed a gradual change in Scott. Without Tim beckoning him to do his grunt work, Scott seemed, well, lighter. The new powers that be relied heavily on Scott’s knowledge and for the first time in all the years I’d known him, I smelled confidence on his breath.

He and his office stayed put and Claire, my replacement, was the only assistant who remained. Gina had finally been blessed with a baby as we were equally blessed with her departure. I hadn’t bothered to introduce myself to the new assistants. To them, I was just another leftover from the Madsen Group.

“How goes it on the 20th floor?” Scott asked during one of my frequent visits.

“Eh, ya know,” I said, flopping into one of the comfy, leather chairs opposite his desk.  "How ‘bout you?”

“Good, good. Things are moving along nicely.”

In spite of the noticeable changes in Scott, I still found it hard not to do a double take when I’d hear him answer with such a positive slant.

“I asked to be the one to tell you this,” he said, getting up from his desk and shutting the door.

Oh shit. There it was. I was getting the, “In light of the current circumstances, we feel your services are no longer needed” speech.

I wasn’t prepared for this. I had no savings. What was I going to do?

My mind was racing so fast that I barely heard a word Scott said until, “putting Bikram on your desk.”

I scooched forward in the chair and sat up straight. “I’m sorry. What did you say?”

“They want to put Bikram on your desk.”

I don’t know which was worse – being fired or having to assist Bikram - a once, very junior partner, whose transparent, kiss-ass ways bought him a brief seat at the big boys table when Tim was still around.

“Bikram?” I gulped. “But, Scott…….” I didn’t even finish. Scott’s face said it all. There was really no choice in the matter, unless, of course, I wanted to add my name to the termination file.

And so it was done. I was going to be Bikram’s assistant. Apparently, he was being groomed to be the CEO which made no sense to me as I thought the new head guy who handed out shirts and pumped his fist with enthusiasm at the merger announcement was the CEO.

“He’s the Managing Partner,” Scott informed me. “He’s in charge of everything. Bikram will lead the consulting side of the business.”

It’s funny how things turn out because in that moment, I was surprisingly tempted to plead with Scott to take me back on his desk. But, I didn’t want to go back. In fact, I’d spent the last three months thinking my time on the 20th floor had made me an outsider. The truth was that I’d made me an outsider. I didn’t want to do this anymore and it was time to start planning my exit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chapter 6 - HELP WANTED: Tales of a Free-Spirit Professional

A warm welcome to visitors - old and new! Please click on the right side of the page in the archives to follow this post from the beginning. It ALL starts in June, so take a look and follow along. As always, thanks for reading and enjoy.

Getting off of Scott’s desk was a done deal except he insisted that I hire his new assistant. It was ridiculous and a little cruel on his part. How was I to hire an assistant for someone who didn’t need one? What would I tell her? “Um, yeah, your days will mostly consist of listening to Scott talk about how busy he is and could you order him a tuna fish sandwich; which, by the way, will sit on his desk untouched for hours, along with all of his supposed work.”

The strongest contender was an English woman who seemed competent, even-keeled and unfazed by the notion she’d be working in the CEO’s corner. I felt compelled to explain Gina and the intricacies of working with her, but I didn’t know where to start. I considered asking if she could do a cartwheel, but instead I told her the truth.

“Gina isn’t easy,” I said, closing the door to Scott’s office. “She can be really nice and really mean all in the course of five minutes. I tell you this because it would be unfair not to. She’s manageable, but you’ll save yourself a lot of grief knowing this in advance.”

The woman, Claire, nodded and told me she was used to working with difficult people and that she could handle Gina just fine. I wasn’t sure she was the best fit for Scott, but I was so desperate to get out of there, I lied and told him she was perfect.

Life on the other side of the office was much better for me. I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of working around the lesser partners and their assistants. It was like moving from a pressure cooker to a toaster oven where you either made toast or small things, like English Muffin Pizza’s. George was great and always in a good mood which strangely took some getting used to. I loved that he had a life outside the office with a wife and grandchildren whom he adored.

His thick skin made him an easy target for my sarcastic sense of humor. One time, he’d left me a voice mail in between chews of a ham and cheese sandwich. “Liz,” he’d said, smacking his lips. “Can you,” lip smack, lip smack, “make a reservation for, swallow, chew, lip smack. “London, next week?”

I hated when people ate and talked on the phone. It was disgusting.

I saved his voicemail and forwarded it back to him adding a sharp little preamble.

“Hey George. Attached to this message is your earlier voicemail. I just wanted you to hear what I had to hear. In the future, would you mind not eating and talking into my ear? Thanks. Oh, and your tickets to London are on your desk.”

George could take it and in fact, he took it further, always calling me into his office with his mouth full of food just to annoy me.

The good times didn’t last very long, though. Six months after the move, rumors were flying around that The Madsen Group was being bought out. It was the only time I’d missed being on Scott’s desk. Sitting in that corner, I was always privy to information long before the others. Gina liked to talk or more accurately, she liked to throw in my face how in-the-know she really was and I’d play along doing my best to make her feel important. I didn’t care as long as I found out the important stuff.

I had distanced myself from the corner and going back now to sniff around for information was too transparent. Plus, I couldn’t stomach the idea of Gina lording her “power” over me as I’d seen her do with others. I would just have to wait it out with the rest of the non-essential players.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chapter 5 - HELP WANTED: Tales of a Free Spirit Professional

A warm welcome to visitors - old and new!  Please click on the right side of the page in the archives to follow this post from the beginning.  It ALL starts in June, so take a look and follow along.  As always, thanks for reading and enjoy.

By the time I hit my four year mark, I was miserable.  Scott refused to let me go and work for George arguing that George didn’t generate enough work to warrant having me all to himself.  And since Scott had Tim’s ear on everything, nobody ever messed with him.  It was frustrating to watch that little man assert his power when I knew he really didn’t have any.  At the end of the day, he was Tim’s lackey.  We all knew it; yet no one could do a damn thing about it.

It was no secret that I wanted to get out of that corner altogether.  This didn’t help my relationship with Gina who had cooled toward me considerably.  I knew it was jealousy.  She too, was miserable but didn’t have the balls to ask for a transfer.  Plus, she was too tied to being Queen Bee of the office and as much as she despised working for Tim, she loved being the one whose butt everyone had to kiss.

My misery put me in a different vibe and I no longer cared about pleasing her.  There were no more cartwheels or dramatic imitations.  It was business as usual and as each day passed, I tried hard to keep my mouth shut and do my job.

The upside of being so unhappy at work was I had more interest in life outside of the office.  When we were kids, my sister and I used to play “pretend.”  She always opted for being someone glamorous where I was strangely attracted to playing a bank teller.  It seemed so adult and I longed to wear a blue suit and high heels.  Working in an office, I suppose, fed that fantasy, though my suits weren’t blue and we’d thankfully gone business casual after my first year.

Taking a job as an assistant made me feel like an adult and as I was actually becoming one, the novelty had started to wear off.  As a kid, being a bank teller fascinated me, but it was singing I felt most passionate about.  Another long held dream of mine, music was where everything made sense.  Working in an office was where I got the paycheck.

During that time, I spent a lot of time dreaming about leaving the corporate world to pursue my music.  The tension between me and Gina encouraged me not to stay a minute past five leaving time to focus on singing.  I frequented open mic’s around the East Village singing Sarah MacLachlin and Sheryl Crow covers which eventually led to some shows of my own.

When Scott finally decided to let me go, I could barely hide my excitement as he beckoned me to his office to share the news.

“I’ve decided to let you work for Walker,” he sniffed.  “I’m just too busy to share an assistant and I think it would be better to get someone in here who….” he paused, pretending to choose his words carefully.  “….actually likes being an assistant.”

In the three and a half years I worked for Scott, I’d hung up on him – lying that his cell phone was breaking up when I just didn’t want to deal anymore; made fun of him and I’d even been a downright bitch.  But, never, until now, did I laugh in his face.

I couldn’t help it.  I wanted to but his arrogance and prick-like behavior was downright comical.  My laughter was inappropriate and Scott’s pomp turned into discomfort as he quickly adjourned the meeting.

I stumbled out of his office, dizzy from my outburst and giddy with excitement. 

I was finally free.