Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Potty Mouth

Call me conservative and color me red, but I often feel that good old-fashioned manners and consideration is well on its way to being the same kind of dinosaur VHS tapes are: obsolete and rarely utilized. Much of the decline of what I consider polite can be traced back to an item I hold near and dear: the cell phone. Now don't take this the wrong way -- I love my cell phone. Can't live without it; can't even leave the house without BlackBerry in hand. But it seems that in our constant need to be connected and the fast-changing abilities and functions of our handheld devices, people are forgetting that there are still some common rules of behavior that should be adhered to. Just because technology is changing at a lightning speed doesn't mean that manners become a moot point.

Photo from a related post from Marie Clare
My cell phone pet peeve of today is their use in public restrooms. I mean, whatever, it's cool if you want to talk on the pot at home, but I'm sorry, there is no conversation so urgent that you can't wait, in a public space, until after you wipe, flush, and wash to continue. If you say to your friend/family member/associate that you will have to call them back since you're headed to the bathroom, it's more than likely that they will understand and actually appreciate the fact that you aren't relieving yourself in their ears.

What blows my mind even more is when an individual will go to the bathroom, pull their pants down, sit on the toilet, and settle down for a discussion, dialing as waste exits their bodies. How is this even appropriate?

Now, I understand that some people cannot use their cell phones in their offices, and/or have no privacy to make personal calls during the workday. The bathroom is a somewhat safe place ... but really, how safe is it when offices are co-ed? It's not as if someone else from your office could not walk in on you in the john, yapping away at the sink or in a stall. And for that matter, why take up a perfectly good, clean stall if not to use it?

To the people that think this type of behavior is acceptable, I just want to address a few things from my perspective, just for the sake of courtesy and consideration for your fellow wo/man. I'm not necessarily saying that all of these points aggravate me in particular or make me feel weird, but I know many people who have these particular quirks that maybe, just maybe, toilet-talkers should think about.
  1. An individual may be okay with talking on his/her cell phone while excreting matter, but the person on the other line may not be. Grunts and tinkles are just uncomfortable to ignore, and it seems very rude to force someone who cannot control their conversation's environment (since they aren't physically there) to be in such an intimate setting. No one in your building needs to know you well enough to know what you sound like when you eliminate waste.
  2. In a public bathroom, things tend to echo that much louder due to the cheap commercial tile and sparseness that is pretty much the norm. Some people are shy. Some people have difficulties just peeing in public, not to mention pooing. When the sound is that much more amplified, it could be that much more mortifying. They may not like these already loud, primitive noises to be broadcast to strangers, to say the least.
  3. What if someone has a stomach problem and needs to emit gas? A fart in public is awkward and embarrassing, and it's even more awkward and embarrassing, I would think, to have to explain out loud to the person on the phone that it was actually not you, in fact, that had the bean burrito for lunch and is sorry for it.
  4. This goes back to my basic cell phone etiquette post: no one cares. Seriously. No one gives a crap about whatever mundane or mediocre thing happens to be your internal gossip for the day. They are outsiders to your life, and don't understand why your story is funny, don't get your point, and have no idea what you're going on about. So save it.
Now, I'm aware that this all comes off really harsh and bitchy, but I just wish that people would think about others every once in a while, even when it comes to something as simple as going to the bathroom. Like I said, it's not that all of the above applies to me, but the fact that I think of these things and not everyone else does that really bothers me. The world would really be a much better place if we bring back the concept of "putting oneself in someone else's shoes."

Friday, February 27, 2009

When Anticlimactic is a Great Thing

It's amazing how sometimes the buildup to asking for a favor can be so excruciatingly worse than asking for the favor. For instance, it seems that each of the times I ask for anything at work, my agonizing over the how and why and wherefore to is never worth the aggravation.

I should have realized that it's not worth stressing over approaching my boss when over a year ago, I had to ask for a raise. I had been under the impression that I wouldn't be stuck with a salary that was less than my last hourly rate for very long, and after seven months, was unhappy enough about it to try to do something about it. Well, after speaking to my supervisor about it, I went to my boss and, turning redder and stammering more than I ever have, attempted to tell him that I'd been working really hard and had been there for over half a year and wanted him to consider giving me a raise. Before I could progress into a deeper shade of red-violet and before my tongue swelled up to fill my entire mouth (what was coming out already sounded like 'bneah, bneah, nya'), my boss said, "You want a raise, right?" I nodded wordlessly. And that was it.

The second time I had to talk to my boss about doing something for me was something I will owe him forever for: my knee surgery. Again, this was simplicity itself. He asked me how long I'd be out for, who I was going to see, and what the proposed plan of action was to take the screw that's been plaguing me for almost a decade out of my knee. Showing that he really does care about his employees, he went out and found me not necessarily a "better" doctor, but the best doctor for the job, a traumatologist, who was an orthopedic surgeon that specialized in rods and screws. Even better, he trained under the guy that invented the procedure that got the rod in my femur in the first place. Then, to go even further, he gave me a week's paid medical leave to recover. Hurricane Gustav cut into that quite a bit, but it was great to have the support of my boss and my supervisor, who has knee problems of her own as a former athlete.

The last and most recent thing was this: I'm getting married in May, and I was very concerned about time off. My wedding date was pushed up from October of 2010 due to
  1. the rapidly declining health of Boy's grandparents, who shouldn't be traveling but are already doing so for his graduation
  2. the fact that everyone from Boy's side would already be here, again, due to his graduation
  3. we weren't sure where we were going to be in 2010
  4. and that he really wanted to do something huge for graduation and I already wanted to go to China
So now the big date is May, Tulane's graduation weekend (eep!). With the encouragement of my parents, we decided that our first choice in honeymoons would be a fantastic extravaganza of a trip, and what more exotic and once-in-a-lifetime destination than China? With the help of good ol' Mom and Dad, who found us a few options in tours and tour companies, we put ourselves on the list. And since it was a 24-hour flight, we figured we'd want to make it worth it, and make our honeymoon the vacation of our lives.

Now, in a recession like this, it's scary even thinking about a) spending that much money and b) asking for a huge amount of time off, paid or unpaid. I had broached the subject to my supervisor, who seemed very uncertain that it would be possible. Since the trip is not yet set in stone (these tour companies operate in a way that a certain amount of reservations need to be made in order for the trip to even occur; personalized city-by-city tours like this need a minimum to be met to even be profitable, and we certainly didn't want to go by ourselves!), I put off and put off speaking to my bosses about it, getting more and more nervous as I waited for a confirmation and thought of ways to make my case and the very real possibility of getting canned for having the audacity to request a 20-day honeymoon.

Well, all of it was for naught. My supervisor, as promised, spoke to my boss about it, and he, as a hopeless romantic and a bit of a self-proclaimed yenta, let me know when I bumped into him at the gym, that sure, I could have the unpaid time off and to have fun--I hopefully will only get married that once. Although this could all be a moot point if the two trips I'm on the list for don't become guaranteed, it still is great to know that if we get to do this, I have health insurance overseas and a job when I come back.


What an anticlimax to all that anxious buildup! And it's things like this that make me appreciate a whole lot that even if the job itself kind of sucks, sometimes the most important thing is to be working for someone who doesn't suck. So cheers to that.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Boy's Best Moment

It's been quite a while since I posted, long enough to deserve a slap on the wrist. But on the upside, I've been keeping up pretty well with, which is more career-building than this, which, as I say often, is more for cathartic purposes, just to purge my mind of unpleasantness and such.

What's my excuse? Two words: Mardi Gras.

This year's Carnival festivities were really awesome. One of my closest girl friends, the first friend I made on my own in New Orleans, who ended up being one of my sorority sisters, stayed with us and brought her new boyfriend with her. Hooray for that. Friends were in from out of town, which was also fun, and for a very long weekend, I felt like I was on vacation. Double huzzah.

However, this year's Mardi Gras was still a far cry from the Mardi Gras of my college days, which was especially sad since I was with my college friends. I was the least drunk of any group I was with, considering I wasn't at all drunk during the entire weekend. Shameful. However, I was determined to make this Mardi Gras a memorable one for The Boy, since last year's was a whole lot of fun, but not as fun as it could be considering that it was basically just him and me for the season. With all these people in town, I forced him to socialize, and the fact that he'd made some friends helped, too. So when he was invited to a balcony party on Bourbon Street, he went with my blessing.

I was not to know that he was going to be returned to me a hilarious but pathetic disaster.

Parties at the Royal Sonesta tend to be pretty raucous and swank. Open bars, luxurious trappings, and high quality accommodations, from what I remember of the party I'd gone to several years back with some random Sigma Chi alumni. The Boy was good for a while, drinking, flinging beads, ogling tourist boobs (also with my blessing ... he's so tame, devoted, and generally well-behaved most of the time that it seems almost unfair to veto any non-physical contact good times that may come his way), and being the frat boy he never was. And more power to him. I wanted him to enjoy himself.

Well, enjoy himself he did. He started off on a good note, with our bartender friend fixing all the drinks. Exceptionally talented, everything she makes is light, well-mixed, and delicious. This was all good, since he knows how much he can drink and it doesn't hit like a Mack truck. Unfortunately, the drinks he makes do.

I've known him for eight long years, and in that time, I have never seen him so sloppy and utterly sloshed. He'd ridden his bike downtown with his friends (to avoid traffic and driving drunk, both of which are wise choices) and by the time he called me for a ride, he was sad and confused. When I asked where he was, he asked me to hold on, then promptly hung up.

Now I was getting ready to mock him when I got to him at this point, since I've never known him to get irresponsibly drunk. How many times have I heard his lecturing on "safety" and warnings against getting totally wasted? More times than I can count. I couldn't wait to throw this in his face. It was going to be fun.

I finally found him and our friends in the Central Business District of downtown New Orleans, after much instruction and aid of Patrick, collapsed over his bike, not even able to sit on it, and barely able to keep his eyes open. This was not nearly as funny as I thought it was going to be at the present time.

He was able to sleep it all off, though, and we had a lovely Mardi Gras day relaxing and doing random-Tuesday-off things. And through all of that, it did end up actually being laughable, with the extreme role reversal and the fact that I've never, ever known him to be so blatheringly incoherent and incapacitated. And now, I'm telling everyone. :)