Archive for the ‘9 to 5’ Category

07
Aug

To Pee or Not to Pee?

Toilet phobiaI know I’m not alone when I say this, but I truly hate public restrooms. I’m not sure when I began to feel this way or why, but suffice it to say that my aversion to public restrooms is borderline phobic. I am convinced that each visit puts me at high risk of contracting some type of itchy-scratchy disease that lurks within those urine-stained disease chambers. For the most part, I’ve been able to strategically plan how I deal with Mother Nature’s call, but having kids – who insist on holding it until we are away from home – has forced me to get downright religious with how I handle this phobia. Most days, my mind goes a little something like this:

Flowchart graphic

So, now that you’ve got a visual on how I really feel about public restrooms, imagine my horror when just the other day after psyching myself up to visiting my office’s bathroom, cautiously selecting the least nastiest stall, and carefully mummifying a public toilet, the auto flush feature on the toilet kicked in shooting water from the back of the toilet, hitting the stall walls, the floor, and anything within reach! I screamed bloody murder, kicked the stall door open, and ran out of there as if a crime was being committed!

Knowing that I narrowly escaped death by way of tidy bowl baptism, I felt an overwhelming need to leave early and go home for a glass of wine and a long soak in a bath of rubbing alcohol mixed with hand sanitizer.

18
Jun

School Daze

school busRemember back in the day when the last day of school felt like a national holiday? As children, we couldn’t wait to walk through the school doors to laugh with our friends about all of the things we would (or wished we could) do over the summer.

Lazy mornings

Summer camp

Cannonballs into the local pool

Scratching out chalk outlines of hopscotch squares and baseball diamonds on the streets and sidewalks

Climbing trees

Catching lightning bugs in clear, glass jars

Hide and seek

Tag!…You’re it!

Simon says…

No bedtime curfew

Late night tv

Forbidden peeks at The Benny Hill Show

Dozing off as the national anthem played

Soothed by the static white noise as the broadcast went off

Those really were the good ol’ days.

This morning, as my 12-year old son headed out the door for his last day of school, he casually commented that he couldn’t take his backpack because the students had been told that they would be “patted down” if they bought in any kind of bag on the last day.

Something is so wrong with this. It’s such a shame that the innocence of our children’s childhood will be marred by thoughts of gun violence in schools. Just makes you wonder what they will remember years from now about their own last days.

07
Jun

Robin DaHood

FoodDriveSometimes I can’t help but laugh at some of the crazy things that I encounter in life, but this one…I’m caught between laughing, crying, and just being speechless beyond both.

Recently some colleagues and I were brainstorming about ways to give back to the local community throughout the year. We already had seasonal events that we collectively supported like Lawyers Have Heart charitable marathon and Angel Tree, but we wanted to figure out how we could make more of an impact on our local community throughout the year. We knew that folks tended to be most charitable around the holidays spanning from Thanksgiving to Christmas when all of the ‘tis the season holiday cheer makes everyone more conscious of others less fortunate. But, the reality is that folks are in need of help all year long, and we needed to expand our efforts. So, we decided that we’d support our community by pairing with an organization to do a mid-year food drive.

A few of us gathered during our lunch hour to artfully decorate five donation bins with clever slogans like “Can up! Let’s End Hunger Together” and “Always Thanksgiving, because people are hungry all year.” It was a proud moment seeing folks come together for such a worthy common cause. Almost made me want to hold hands and start singing Kumbaya. So, filled with optimism about all of the good we’d accomplish, we placed the bins strategically throughout the firm in the kitchenette areas on each floor and waited for the cup to runneth over. Little did we know that somewhere lurking in the halls of the firm was some straight foolishness waiting to to feed off of our efforts.

A week later, I sat down with a colleague to lament over what appeared to be a lack of donations in our bins and learned something so unbelievable that all I could do was sit there with my mouth wide open. My colleague shared with me that there was one amongst us, another employee, that has taken to doing her grocery shopping from the collection bins.

First, I tried to rationalize what might make a person do such a thing. Remember the episode on Good Times when the Evans Family thought their poor neighbor had offered them a meatloaf made from dog food? Well, perhaps this was the same kind of situation. Maybe she herself was struggling and in need…maybe she was hungry…maybe she….no, no, no.

My colleague belabored my ears with tale after tale of this employee and her antics throughout the firm. Apparently, this woman has a reputation of

04
Feb

Unemployment Blues

work

I’ve heard stories of people who die once they retire. When I’d hear these stories, I would simply shake my head at the mystery behind this while regaling about how I’d travel the world footloose and fancy-free once I was no longer working. But, now, I think I have a better perspective on how a new retiree might feel. Of course, I’m nowhere near retirement age; last I checked, not many folks retire at age 25 (hush, I’ve stopped counting), but I am now one week into being unemployed and quite frankly I feel a little lost.

For a woman who once claimed to never have a dull moment, I seem to now have eight hours a day of just that. Of course, everyone around me is encouraging me to “take advantage” of the time I have off. Get a massage. Write. Do a little traveling. Even I am cheering myself along to do all of the things that I’ve complained I never had time to do. But, who am I fooling?

While I’m thrilled to spend extra time with my family, I want to work.

And, yes, I’ll admit that I’m happy (damn near ecstatic) to no longer be with my last firm, but I want to work.

I’m even more excited that I have free time to write, yet I’ve struggled with putting pen to paper and finger to keyboard this week. As a matter of fact, I had to force myself to sit down to write this. I simply want to work.

Maybe my husband is right. Perhaps I will look back upon this time when I’m working again and wish that I’d gotten that massage, wrote a little more, or took that much needed trip, but how can I do any of that if my mind is so consumed with work?

25
Jul

Beware: Food Bandits

We’ve all heard the office tales about the coworker who placed their lunch in the communal refrigerator only to return hours later to find their food missing.

Imagine how you watched the clock all morning waiting for the internal clang of that lunch bell; your mouth watering in anticipation of those leftovers from the night before. You even might have bragged to another colleague about how you “put your foot” in that curry chicken dinner last night. Mmmmm, mmmmmm…you could’t wait until lunchtime!

Then came that magical hour. You could barely keep yourself from doing the Electric Slide into the kitchen area to retrieve your food. You opened the ‘fridge, scanned the contents, and pushed aside the unclaimed leftover sandwich and the decorative lunch tote. Then it hit you.

Where the hell is my food?!

You, my friend, have likely been hit by the food bandit. This is that person in the office who, though lacking proper home training, has instead mastered the art of scoring a meal without dropping a dime. This person has taken food-napping to the level of a competitive sport in which he or she is able to sniff, assess, remove, and consume (or dispose of) a meal all before being detected by the original food owner.

Though somewhat impressive, this “sport” will not earn this person an Olympic gold medal for his or her efforts. Instead, they may win a complimentary mass email to the entire office publicly shaming him/her for their thievery, the runner up’s prize of a red dye explosion on their shirt branding him/her as a thief, or the grand prize of tomorrow’s special dish, specially seasoned with a generous amount of Ex-Lax.

Whatever the prize may be, let’s just say…Game on!

28
Jun

The Negro Whisperer

Why is it that some folks think that all Black people speak the same language, or that we all relate to one another? I recall an incident years ago when I was up for a well-deserved promotion on my job. I was confident that my years of “superb & exemplary performance” were the keys to progression within that company. I was loyal, hardworking, and climbing one rung closer to that glass ceiling. Or, so I thought.

Then one day I received an odd invitation from the Chief Operating Officer of the company asking me to join her for lunch. Instinctively I knew that something was amiss. I mean, she and I had never worked together. We’d never had a reason to interact on anything over the years. She was not in my chain of supervision, either upward or downward. Yet, there she was over lunch telling me that the firm was “fully invested in me, but…” No promotion.

Then it clicked. She was the “Negro Whisperer.”

The powers-that-be believed that she had the magical power to communicate with me in a manner that they would be unable to. After all, we looked alike, right? We were both Black women.

Recently, I found myself in a similar situation in which I was invited to participate in a meeting that I traditionally had been excluded from in the past. I was being asked to deliver negative feedback to a colleague with the hope that perhaps she would be more accepting of the feedback since we “got along so well.” Plus, we speak the same language, right? We are both Black women.

I had a flashback to that incident years ago. My gut was telling me that something was amiss, so I asked – “Am I being invited because I am a Black woman who you want to talk to another Black woman?” A collision of silence and shock. Then one vehemently denied any mal-intent behind the invitation, while the other remained uncommonly quiet. If I’ve learned one thing in life, it would be to honor my gut instinct on things. It’s just too bad that they don’t understand that I will never be a black pawn in this game of theirs.

Plus, I only whisper words of revolution.

23
Jun

Privilege

For some, it’s that magical word that opens doors. Silver spoon-fed. Gold-paved opportunities. Acceptance.

Privilege.

In my skin, privilege simply means:

• Walking through the store without eyes on me until I exit the doors

• Not worrying about the color of my skin being an invisible bullet on my resume

• Wearing my natural hair, kinky, proud, anytime, anywhere

• Not “fitting the description”

• Speaking eloquently without being called “articulate”

• Not bearing the weight of a race on my shoulders

• Having a second chance

They’ve got the whole world in their hands, and they know it. Privilege.

23
May

Not a Gang!

Just the other day, a white colleague walked past a small group of three professional Black women (of which I was a part) and said cheerily “uh oh, looks like trouble.”

(Screeeeeeeeeech….music stops.)

Ok, let me just be the one to rip the Band-Aid off of this issue. I’m going to operate under the assumption that perhaps she (I’ll call her “the offender”) didn’t know that she was committing a serious wrong when she uttered those words. News flash — comments of this nature are generally offensive to many African Americans.

Why? Well, for one, I honestly cannot recall one single time during my professional career when this same comment has been made to a group of white colleagues congregating. We are not a gang. We are simply a group of professionals who have paused for a few moments from our rigorous schedules to catch up on life, work, or the latest episode of The Braxton’s. Whatever.

The point is that we should not feel as if we need to low crawl through the office or speak in code just to engage in the same conversations that are being shared by other non-minority employees. I can only hope that our Caucasian colleagues will peer through our darkened lenses to gain perspective on how this makes us feel. But, until then I recommend that we try some new tactics to turn the tide on issues like this.

When a fellow employee makes some non-filtered comment about more than two African Americans chatting, respond as follows:

  1. Look “the offender” dead in the eye, raise your closed fist in the air, and yell “Revolution!”;
  2. Start chanting in unison “Give us free!”; or
  3. Take a more peaceful approach and silently hum an old negro hymnal

 

Ideally, either of these actions might give him or her reason to pause the next time before stating aloud something that clearly should be kept under the white cloak in his or her head.