Friday Five

1. Dear Colleague:

This is the twelfth time this week and the 9,532 time during my exciting career at X that you have interrupted me with a “quick question.” I have come to the conclusion, my fellow employee, that there is no such thing. May I be frank? You’re lying. I know it. You know it. You are really coming to my office to

Select one or more of the following:

A. Regale me with your impression of The Dude from The Big Lebowski.

B. Show me how many grapes you can fit in your mouth at one time. (8)

C. Compare and contrast cheese fries to cheez kurls.

D. Tell me about the hy-lar-ee-us time your aunt’s uncle’s cousin’s son-in-law almost got arrested at the Paris airport.

E. Crack yourself up when, instead of saying that you have a “quickie question for me,” you say that this will just be a “quickie.”

I promise not to hate your guts if you promise to never ask to MMWC (Meet Me at the Water Cooler) again.

Thank you.

Signed,

Office Drone # 4.

2. Joy Southard is the director of a non-profit called Healing Species of Texas. I wrote an article about her and the organization for the Best Friends Animal Society web site. As an interviewer I’m supposed to be impartial and keep my personal feelings to myself, but I loved, loved, loved speaking with Joy. Her soft-spoken, Texas twang belies a toughness that earned my admiration. Their mission:

The Healing Species is an 11-week violence intervention / character and compassion education outreach. Through the assistance of rescued dogs, dogs nobody else wanted, we teach children a process from which to understand and overcome abuse, neglect, and grief while teaching life skills in self-esteem, conflict resolution, anger management, respect for the feelings of others, and in gaining success through acts of compassion and responsibility instead of returning “violence for violence.”

How they reach the students is what is most remarkable about the program. Healing Species uses rescue dogs to impart life lessons – Dogs who have come from situations where they have had to show courage, perseverance, integrity and non-violent responses. Each class begins with a different dog’s story of abuse or neglect to which the children can often relate. Through the story, there is hope and possibility for a brighter future. Despite the dogs’ bleak past, they are still trusting and wagging their tails. “They are teaching by example,” Joy says.  One girl, who lived in a neighborhood where dog fighting is common, took the message to heart and called the state’s hotline and became instrumental in putting an end to it.

If you have any any opportunities/suggestions to help get the word out about Healing Species, let me know.

3. Riding on the Q train, four teenagers enter the car with a boombox (ok, these days it’s an iPad attached to a big-ass speaker). You know what you’re in for: a performance. As soon as the doors close, the point person presses play while the others take turns doing various acrobatics that would make the Cirque du Soleil proud. Keep in mind the train is moving. Also keep in mind  there are passengers seated along both sides of the car, so the performers only have about 4 feet of space before giving someone a black eye. Their moves make you sad that, after dozens of yoga classes, you still can’t get anywhere close.

One does something like a crane pose and then walks forward on his hands.

When he’s done the next kid goes into a wheel pose, crabs along for a bit, and then into a handstand, splits his legs in the air, then back into a handstand, then glides gently to the floor into the worm.

After they’re done they pass the hat around and collect spare change, reminding everyone that they’re not begging. They’re working.

4. One of my essays was chosen as a contest finalist by Scinti.com which publishes online. The top 20 essays are culled from all of the submissions by the editor. It’s quite possible that only 20 were submitted. I wrote my essay, titled Solidify, after I met a stranger on a crowded 2 train who gave me a lot to think about. Three winners are selected by you, the reader. Voting opens on August 9. All you have to do is log on Facebook, go to Scinti, and “Like” my essay. (So vote for me!) It’s a little like American Idol that way. (So vote for me!) There’s even a cash prize, rather than a you-should-just-be-thankful-and-kiss-the-ground-we-walk-on prize. (So vote for me!)

5. Riding the elevator to my office, dangerously close to beginning another soul-crushing corporate day, half comatose, half mesmerized by the little tv screens they’ve installed in there, I’m not fit to hold a conversation with anyone. Most people seem to feel the same way so we just sip our coffees from the cart, waiting for the caffeine to kick in. I was jolted out of my daily reverie of owning the little place right between Oprah and Spielberg in Montecito by a woman who introduced herself.

“Hi, I’m Amy.” She held out her hand. She had an eager look on her face.

“Wha? Uh. Okay.”

“I just want to get to know everyone in the building.” She must not have noticed there are 17 floors in this building with 8 different companies, including divisions of CBS and MTV. “Where do you work? What do you do?”

I tell her.

“That is so cool! I’m in… (Let’s pause for a moment. What do you think Amy does for a living? Let’s see…Perky. Chatty. Eager.)…sales!”

“All right. I’m buying.” That was lame, but hey, it’s the best I could muster before coffee.

“I get it! That’s funny. Today is my first day.”

Then instead of wanting to  strangle her with my iPod headphones, I felt a surge of jealousy. To be excited about work! To have a fresh slate! Everything is new! Maybe poor Amy had been out of work for a long time and after dozens of interviews with bosses asking her to list her worst qualities, she finally scored this job. Maybe she’s just happy to have a place to go again. Maybe she’s not scared one bit about having to prove herself, about people judging her, about not knowing where the copy machine is. She’s just happy to be here.

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