Archive for June, 2006

The Runaround

// June 25th, 2006 // No Comments » // writing

Each day has been a new Corporate Hoop, which has given me a chance to “bond” with co-workers. Some of the bonding is actual, some of it is the same bonding you might get while you experience a disaster together. Today was one of the “best” and when I say “best”, I mean it’s fun to rant about it later. And in actuality, compared to freelancing and begging for work, this is a piece of cake.

I was finally given an access card to allow me to enter in the building. Prior to this, a co-worker and myself “shared” one. By share, I mean that every time I left the office to get a snack, something to drink, lunch, etc., I had to bother them to borrow the card… or call them from my phone to tell them I was locked out. So today, nearly a week and a half later, I get an access card to allow me to get into the secure areas of the building.

When I went out for some coffee, I tried the card. It didn’t work! Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought clearly and I was now locked out…. and the bathrooms were on the other side of the door. There are bathrooms on the locked side, but they require a secret code.

When I finally buzzed back in the office, my supervisor told me to call an 800 number to have them activate the card. The logic of this had escaped me. Why had I been given a card if it hadn’t been made active? Anyone can give me an inactive card! Heck, I could have made one with some paper, some markers and some scissors (which I proudly had in my desk, behind the secure access door).

I called the access # and listened to the entire menu (because their menu options may have changed) and got a recording from Lisa. This is a different Lisa than my wife. But she wasn’t in and I was told in a very clear and detailed message that if I was an employee to leave my user id and if I was a contractor to leave four digits of my social security number. I fully intended to leave all my pertinent info on the message, even my passport number, if that would help. Except that her message mailbox was, ha-aha. FULL. Yep! It was FULL. Either Lisa is one popular person, she never clears her messages or (I’m betting) a lot of people have this problem. Maybe it’s all three. So I called back, listened to all the messages again (in all that time, the menu very well could have changed) again and this time I got her directly. When I read the # of the card, she said, “It has to be activated.” Shrewdly, I said, “Ah!” So she activated it and said that it would be 24 to 48 hours before it would be active.

In the meantime, I’ve been told by others in this group that a week and 1/2 is a FAST turnaround for a card. Because they still have their old “pre-merger” IDs. “What’s a long time?” I asked. 3-4 weeks is the usual time! I smartly told them that I hoped that my photo ID would still look like me when I got it!

The Bear

// June 14th, 2006 // No Comments » // writing

One summer, we toured the Smoky Mountains in Kentucky. We toured with one of my Dad’s good friends Lou and his family. On his own, my Dad is a lot of fun, but combined with his good friend, the two of them are hysterical together, at times even dangerous.

Despite the amusement of seeing our good friends and their own three children, on long car rides, there isn’t a whole lot to do. We even brought our dog with us, but the novelty of having a schnauzer leap up and down off of the seats of the van grows old after the 47th time, even for the dog. No amount of toys in the back seat, scenery out the windows or 1970s rock tunes can ease the boredom, however comic books are a godsend.

Many a comic took me away to an adventure of my own, whether it was having super powers and battling the enemies of the universe, laughing at the antics of Mickey, Goofy, Donald Duck and his nephews or even the (eventually) forbidden horror comics. These gruesome tales (of which Tales From The Crypt are based on) gave me more nightmares in dark rooms than anything I could dream up, yet I had to read on. They dealt with gruesome subject matter and the cover always showed something lurking in the depths of a basement that had me reading until I finished or the pages shook with terror.

I was either reading a superhero comic or a horror comic when the family van made an unauthorized stop. Lou’s station wagon was not far behind and also stopped. My father and Lou left the safety of the vehicle to see what was going on. Apparently there was some commotion up ahead that had cars stopped in both directions. Dad and Lou decided to check out the situation.

Fearless, curious and headstrong, they walked ahead, their wives staying With The Children. Most of the other drivers stayed in their vehicles, confident that the state troopers had things under control and they could continue driving. Of course, The Men knew that this was only the start of the adventure. Instead of driving to the adventure, the adventure had come to us!

The adventure in this case was a huge monstrous black bear. He was nine feet tall and probably was just as bored as I was. He emerged from the trees to stake out the picnic sites by the side of the road, perhaps lured by the smell from the trash cans. He looked deceptively gentle and sweet, with huge furry paws that could have taken off the side of the van in an accidental brush. His huge teeth gleamed in the July sun, his jowls and moist nose quivering, torn between a free meal and the shiny cars making a continual racket. The ground seemed to shake when he lumbered in our direction and his growl shook the windows as if he were confused at this new audience.

My father decided to capture his photo. With our mothers yelling both for the men to come back and for the kids to stay in the vehicle, they probably were disturbing the bear more than my father. Heedless of the danger, perhaps emboldened by the fact that this was free, they continued on. All the time, the other cars were honking, mothers were screaming and the bear was growling and roaring. I’m sure that this display wasn’t what the bear wanted and eventually he yawned, scratched himself and barreled back into the trees.

This whole process delayed us by no more than thirty or forty minutes, even though it took some time to get everyone back into their vehicles. Eventually the cars ahead of us moved ahead and my father climbed back into the van. Sweating a little from the excitement, he had a huge smile on his face and he handed the camera to my quivering mother. He leaned back to make sure that the whole family was in the vehicle and he glanced over to me.

“How about that bear, Dan?!”

I looked down from my Adventure comic book and blinked at him from behind my glasses. “What bear, Dad?”

I had missed it all! I blame it on my poor hearing, which has never been very good, or perhaps it was my devotion to reading. I have always been able to Tune Out The World when reading. Whatever the reason, in my search for something exciting, I had missed the best adventure of all. To this day, “What bear, Dad?” remains one of the family’s favorite phrases when one of us (usually me) has missed something unique that can never be repeated.