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sick days my name is al
Our new Acting Manager, Carlita Paonessa, informed me that I’m being sent to the new Vancouver office for three weeks to train sales staff.

Carlita wears power very well.   

The truth is, I get a little weak at the knees when she orders me around…    

Anyway, I’m at the airport and I just overheard a very strange conversation…


Airport Chat

Man – Delays, delays. Planes are always late.

Woman – I guess…

Man – Hi. I’m a professional bowler. Ever heard of me?

Woman – Um, what’s your name?

Man – Pete.

Woman – Pete, what?

Man – Pete Fressner. Professional bowler.

Woman – I don’t follow bowling much.

Man – So, you’ve never heard of me?

Woman – No. Sorry.

Man – Well, I’m not one of the biggies… yet. But someday.

Woman – I’m sure… It must be an interesting career… Bowling.

Man – Well, it keeps me in spare change… That’s a bowler’s joke.

Woman – Yes. Very funny.

Man – So, you’re going Vancouver?

Woman – Uh huh.

Man – Me too. Guess what for.

Woman – To bowl…?

Man – No, to visit my father. He’s sick.

Woman – Oh, I’m sorry.

Man – Ever heard of him?

Woman – Who?

Man – My father, he was a curler.

Woman – And his name is…?

Man – James Fressner. Professional curler.

Woman – I don’t follow curling much.

Man – Well, he wasn’t what you’d call one of the biggies. Still, he had a following.

Woman – I’m sure he did.

Man – So, are you married?

Woman – What?

Man – You married?

Woman – Uh, no actually I’m not.

Man – Great! Wanna bowl a few games in Vancouver?

Woman – I’m engaged.

Man – To who? Maybe I heard of him.

Woman – I doubt it.

Man – Let me guess, his name is Roger, right?

Woman – No. Do you know if there’s a washroom nearby?

Man – No. So, are you gonna marry this guy, Roger, or whatever his name is?

Woman – I think I just heard my name over the P.A. I should check.

Man – Your fiancé… Does he bowl?

Woman – No. He plays tennis.

Man – Really? He’s not Roger Federer is he? I’ve heard of him.

Woman – No. He does it in his spare time. He’s a doctor.

Man – Dr. Phil? I heard of him.

Woman – Look, I really don’t like you asking me all these personal questions.

Man – Fair enough… So, you ever bowl?

Woman – No. Never.

Man – Never?

Woman – Well… 5 pin. Years ago.

Man – 5 pin? What alley? Maybe I know it.

Woman – I don’t remember.

Man – Oh. So, what do you do?

Woman – I’m a realtor.

Man – Really? I got a house. Maybe you know it.

Woman – Maybe I do. Where the fuck is it?

Man – Donlands and Curlew.

Woman – Never heard of it. Never want to hear of it!

Man – Gotcha. You got a house?

Woman – Yeah, I got a house. A big house. An expensive house.

Man – What? About two million?

Woman – Easily.

Man – Nice. Wanna go out some time?

Woman – Not in a million years!

Man – Oh… It’s because I’m a bowler, isn’t it?

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sick days vacationx 1
I’ll be taking the next month off.

Given the recent events, I asked Trudy from HR if I could get a bit of an extended vacation.

She said “Whatever you want Alpo, just don’t strangle me.”

Then she burst out laughing…

Oh, and I have a new nickname – The Hamish Strangler.

It could have been worse…

It could have been… The Nutless Choker.

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sick-days-three-things
Three Little Things…

Number One

I accidentally ran into Clark in the building’s coffee shop. I hadn’t spoken to him since my performance review. I’m sure he appreciates that.

We started talking. I was surprised by how friendly he was. Funny even.

I told him I was enjoying working for him.

He went pale, said he was busy and walked away.

Guess he didn’t realize I was one of his staff.

Number Two

Today all staff received a “Management Memo.”

I won’t bore you with the details (and, yeah, they were boring) but check out the memo’s final sentence…

We continue to be committed to finding ways to improve cummunication between senior management and staff.

Cummunication…

Cummunication between senior management and staff

The Senior Management at Hamish Industries are old white men. Really old white men.

I’m glad to have a job but I don’t want to get to know the old boy’s club that well.

Naline CC’d back saying she thought “additional social intercourse would be welcomed.”

Number Three

Mary Margaret and I will be analyzing customer service trends tomorrow. We’ll be spending the day together.

This is unfortunate because Mary Margaret is a notorious crier.

She cries if she’s late for work. She cries if her computer crashes. She cries if someone forgets to say good morning.

Jack from Accounting told me that he and Mary Margaret have worked together before.

He said that if I don’t want her to cry, I must never talk about:

Last year’s Christmas party
Cats
John Cougar Mellencamp
Orange juice
Jellyfish
Ergonomic mouse pads
Career momentum
Dust bunnies
The photocopier
Persons
Places
Things

My plan? I’m going to break into tears before she does and throw her off her game.

It’s pathetic, but I’m sure it’ll work.

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sick-days-hamish-industry-hats
I’m on the Hamish Industries Softball Team.

We’re called The Window Pains.

Our captain is Farook from Accounting. He asked me what position I wanted to play. I laughed and said “towel boy.”

He said I could be towel boy and outfield.

It’s gonna be a long season…

We played our first game last night against Bob Jones’ Revolving Doors.

It was everything I expected. Hot beer and cold chicken wings; sweaty co-workers slapping each other’s rumps, and Otto’s nonstop trumpeting of Gary Glitter’s “Rock N’ Roll.”

“Ba na na na… Hey! Ba na na…”

The first time I went up to bat, my Hamish teammates and pals were all shouting “You’re the man, Alpo.”

By the 7th inning it was “Oh great, here comes the strikeout king.”

Mike compared my striking out at the plate with my success rate with the ladies. The “limp bat” jokes quickly followed. Everyone found them very funny.

It was a long dark night of softball.

Everytime I said “Is it over yet?” drunk Mary Margaret would respond with “You’re such a turd, Alpo.”

But things got interesting in the bottom of the 9th

We were winning.

They were up at bat.

Two out, bases loaded, full count, and me in the outfield checking my blackberry. (I know; a typical baseball cliché.)

That’s when I heard the sound of a crack and people yelling.

I looked up. The field lights were in my face. I stuck up my hand to block them out. I accidentally caught the ball.

Next thing I knew the members of The Window Pains were carrying me across the field and cheering my name.

I kept asking them to put me down and let me go home, but they didn’t hear me.

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sick days summer students
Today, Hamish Industries welcomed three “summer students” to the customer service department.

Their names are largely interchangeable but I believe they are Kathy, Cathy and KC.

The idea, I suppose, is to introduce keen young people to the world of work while, at the same time, providing us with some much needed help during the summer vacation season.

The reality, though, is rather depressing.

Nothing bumps up employee morale more than introducing a bunch of fit, young and optimistic young people into a moribund workplace.

Just having them here serves as a great reminder of how horribly our own lives have gone off the rails.

Somehow we just seem fatter, older and pastier-looking when sitting next to them.

It’s also depressing to note that someone can walk in out of high school and learn your job in the same time it takes you to find them a chair.

It’s a reminder that we all had dreams once – and that’s not something we like to be reminded of.

I heard one girl say to Naline. “You’ve been here 20 years? Oh my god, you’ve been doing this job since before I was born.”

Naline went home early. She looked like she’d been crying.

The only upside is that they seem genuinely afraid of us. Horrified, really.

But even then I suspect that has more to do with the fact that they’re getting their first glimpse of what might be waiting for them.

In some ways, I suppose we’re providing a valuable lesson. It’s almost like a “scared straight” exercise. Stay in school, kids, or you too could end up being 40 and having Otto ask you to “sniff” his lunch.

It should be a “bitchin” summer.

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sick days super 8
We just got back from the “Windows and Doors” convention.

I drove all night just to get us to the office. Me, Otto and Clark.

Yes, Clark.

I hadn’t seen Clark all week. Until he showed up at my motel at 1am, last night.

He was completely drunk. His pants were ripped and he told me needed 20 dollars to pay the “cab” in the parking lot. I believe the cab’s name was Shantel.

He told me the “assholes at the Hilton” threw him out.

I asked him where his luggage was. He said “Luggage is for losers.”

He stumbled into our room and shouted “Party!!!” Otto continued to snore.

Then he said “Let’s drink, Alpo.”

He opened our mini fridge and pulled out two bottles of beer. He opened one with his teeth and handed it to me.

I said “There’s an opener on the table.”

He said “Openers are for losers.”

He stuck the bottle in his mouth and popped it open.

Then he screamed. Then his mouth started bleeding. And then Clark threw up on Otto.

That woke Otto up.

Otto sprang up out of a dead sleep, screaming and swinging.

He punched Clark in the face.

Clark crashed into the TV.

By now Otto was awake enough to realize he’d just slugged his boss in the nose. He started shouting “Punch me. Please. Punch me in the face. Then we’ll be even!”

Clark, bleeding from the nose and mouth, and covered in TV screen shards was too busy moaning in agony to return the favor.

About two minutes later Security arrived. Everyone agreed it was time we left.

We hit the road and started for home. Once you’ve been thrown out of a Super 8, there’s really nowhere left to go.

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sick days omaha. 450JPG
I’m in Omaha with Clark and Otto at a “Windows and Doors” trade show.

Yes, it’s as exciting as it sounds.

My 12 hour drive here with Otto was informative. I learned that he’s one of those people that likes to read aloud the names of every street sign and billboard you pass on the road.

That never gets tiring.

I also learned that Otto gets carsick and can’t read a map. And that he likes to drum his fingers on the dashboard and hum along to talk radio. I learned his license has expired and I’ll be doing the entire drive here and back.

We’re sharing a room at a Super 8 Motel while Clark bunks down at a real hotel.

Otto snores. Oh, he also likes to leave the lights on while he sleeps. And the television.

Did I mention that I’m considering killing Otto?

We’ve seen our boss, Clark, once.

He took us to our booth at the convention centre, handed us each a stack of promotional material and then disappeared into the crowd.

So, for now, I smile, nod, and hand out fliers to conventioneers that seem more interested in finding a bar and a local prostitute than in reading product information about Hamish Industries.

But then again, that could just be the fatigue setting in.

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