Archive | Being an Idiot RSS feed for this section

Just stretching my voice…

3 Jul

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 9.53.31 AM

The other week, Alan and I were driving home from somewhere when I started to yawn, then – because it felt good – made some sort of gurgling noise with my throat. When I finished, Alan was looking wildly around the car.

“What the hell was that?” He looked panicked.

“My yawn?” I asked.

He turned to look at me. “That was YOU?”

I nodded. “I was stretching my voice.”

“You were doing what?” he asked.

“I don’t know – stretching my voice. It felt good.”

“It sounded like a mechanical noise,” he still looked dubious. “I thought something was wrong with my car.”

“Nope, just me.” I smiled. “Did I sound like Chewbacca? Because I kind of felt like there were a few different pitches coming out.”

He just shook his head and continued driving.

I tried to recreate the noise.

“Please stop,” he said, his eyes on the road.

I obliged, but continued to silently contort my mouth, thinking about how I might be able to make that sound on command.

Alan raised his eyebrows and cast a sideways glance at me. “Seriously?”

“You need to be more supportive of my hobbies.”

Long silence.

“Are you trying to tell me that ‘stretching your voice’ is a hobby?”

“Yes.”

“Since when?”

“Since I just discovered it.”

I don’t know how Alan can drive straight when shaking his head that hard.

Advertisements

Say, what’s your number?

25 Apr

I have blood drawn regularly so my doctor can confirm that my medicine is working and not frying my liver. I usually go at 7am when the lab opens so I can knock it out before my work day, but my schedule was a bit twisted after traveling, so last week I went after work instead. I’m going to blame my day-end fatigue and recent jet-lag for what ensued.

The lab has a kiosk where you check-in electronically using your birthdate and last name. Once you’ve entered those, it flashes a number on the screen and tells you to wait until your number is called. Every time this happens, I think, “Why doesn’t it spit out a ticket like at the DMV so you don’t have to memorize your number?”

After receiving  my number – 286 – I took a seat.

A few minutes later, the receptionist called, “280? 280?” and no one came forward. Everyone in the waiting area (all women for some reason), started looking around at each other suspiciously. Had someone forgotten their number? Had 280 gotten impatient and left?

All of a sudden the receptionist shifted tactics and called MY name, sounding exasperated.

“Oh my gosh!” I said, running over as the other women looked at me like I was a moron. “I’m so sorry. I thought I was 286.” The receptionist laughed, then tried to discreetly ask me  if I was supposed to get a take-home specimen kit for fecal analysis. “Um, no. Just bloodwork, thanks.”

Mystery temporarily solved, I sat back down. A few minutes later, the receptionist called “280?” again as one of the phlebotemists stood by with paperwork to collect his next patient. This time, freshly rebuked, I was on my game. I jumped up and started walking toward the back with him.

“Last name?” he asked as we walked. I told him. “Nope. This isn’t you.” I started to protest, confident that I was 280, but he shook his head and called the last name that was on his form and another patient popped up to join him. Confused, I returned to the front desk. “Sorry,” I said. “I thought you were calling me for him. Did you need me again?”

The receptionist looked at me like I was crazy. “You called 280?” I prompted.

She laughed. “Your number isn’t 280. Remind me – what was your last name?” I told her and she looked at my paperwork. “You’re 276.”

“Wait. I originally thought I was 286. But then you called me over to check my paperwork using 280?” I was royally confused.

She just started laughing. “Honey, you’re 276. Go have a seat.”

I sat down and started laughing at myself. Why the hell wouldn’t they just use NAMES? As I sat there, I felt a bit less crazy as I listened to other patients’ interactions after checking in.

One woman got called over to the receptionist because she somehow managed to have TWO numbers. “Sorry,” she explained. “The number flashed so quickly I missed it, so I checked in twice.”

Another woman cruised straight to the reception desk after checking in. “Can you tell me what my number is? It flashed by so fast I didn’t see it.”

Finally a man arrived and – after a few minutes fumbling with the kiosk – walked over to the receptionist. I didn’t hear his half of the conversation, but I heard the receptionist say, “You don’t speak English?” before accompanying him back to the kiosk to help.

While I’ve never been the receptionist in a medical lab, I think I have a pretty clear idea of what drives that woman nuts about her job.

At last, 276 was called. We confirmed my name and Terrence did his business, sliding the needle in like a professional. “Smooth,” I told him. “You’re pretty good at this.”

“I should be – we’ve done almost 300 today alone.”

“276,” I told him.

“What?” he asked, looking confused.

“You’ve done 276. But you WILL do at least 280 before you leave.”

He looked at me like I was nuts. And perhaps I am, but two can play at that game.

Hair past a freckle

24 Apr

IMG_3836When we arrived in London, Kelly asked if I wanted any specific souvenirs from the trip. “I don’t have room in my suitcase,” I told her, nodding to the small carry-on I was hoping would get me through two weeks. “But I DO need a watch, so maybe if I find one I like, that could be a good keepsake.”

A few days later, I’m sure she agreed that it would not only be a good keepsake, but an essential item for the rest of the trip, as I asked her to check her watch for what felt like the fiftieth time.

I didn’t buy a watch, however, and instead used my iPhone as my timepiece when I wasn’t bugging Kelly for the time.

That was fine until we arrived in Paris, where we entered a bit of a time-warp. We arrived Friday night and made plans to meet the next morning at 9am for breakfast. I woke early the next day (as I tend to do every day) and spent the wee hours reading and planning the agenda for the day.

At about 8:30, I received a text from Kelly. “Have you eaten already?”

“No!” I wrote back. (I’m not sure why I was excited enough to use an exclamation point.)

“Want to meet downstairs in 30 minutes?” She wrote.

“Perfect.” I responded, thinking, “Isn’t that what we decided last night??”

Half an hour later, I was seated a table enjoying a croissant. “I’m here,” I wrote to her. “Got a table for two near the back. No rush.”

She wrote back, “I ate already. Want to let me know when you’re done?”

Confused, I thought maybe she decided she was tired of me and needed a bit more down-time. I plowed through my meal and met her in the lobby 30 minutes later.

“Sorry for the confusion this morning,” I said.

“Yeah, I think I must’ve been tired when we made plans last night,” she offered.

“No biggie!” I dismissed it, excited to get our day started. “I found a walking tour for us over in Montmartre – if we head out now, we should have perfect timing!”

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 7.31.28 AMWe popped up at the Metro station near the Moulin Rouge about five minutes before the tour was slated to leave. “I don’t remember what they said they would be wearing,” I told her. “Let’s check both sides of the street to see if there is a group forming.”

We spent the next ten minutes looking everywhere that seemed plausible for a tour to meet, without any luck. Then Kelly said, “Wait. What time was the tour supposed to leave?”

“Eleven,” I told her, pointing to my phone. “Basically, right now. Maybe they’re being very French about it and it doesn’t start on time?”

“Alison,” she said, pointing to her watch, “It’s noon.”

I looked at my phone again. “No, it’s 11.”

She shook her head and showed me her watch. “Noon.”

Suddenly, our confused dining plans earlier in the morning made perfect sense. The clock on my phone hadn’t automatically gained an hour when we arrived in Paris, so I was still operating on London time with an hour delay. No wonder we had missed each other in the dining room. As I paged back through our texts, the mistake was obvious.

Realizing a tour guide was never going to meet us, we started up the hill toward Sacré Coeur on our own. And I never DID find a watch I liked. Next time…

IMG_3837

Sacré Coeur, which inexplicably smelled like cheese and manure.

You’re getting very, very sleepy. (Or not.)

3 Apr
Not me.

Not me.

I’m in London for work this week. I flew out of DC Friday night after work and arrived Saturday at the crack of dawn.

Every time I travel internationally, I am reminded of how bad I am at sleeping on planes. Who ARE those people who are so knocked out they’re snoring? Aside from the times I’ve traveled in First Class in a seat that reclines to a create a fully flat bed, or the time I took a Xanax on my way to Australia, I’ve only gotten – at most – 30 minutes of uninterrupted sleep on a plane.

This trip was no exception, despite my luck in seating. I was lucky because a) I had checked in online early enough to secure myself a window seat with only one companion (as opposed to being in the center row, which sticks five people together), and b) I was in one of only a few rows where my seatmate never arrived. Theoretically, with two seats to myself, I should’ve been able to sleep. But try as I might – and I DID try, using every inch of those two seats to full advantage – I was never able to make it work.

I passed two hours watching the movie, “Sisters,” starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. It’s definitely on the low-end of the intellectual spectrum, but I found myself laughing out loud at lines from time to time. (“You’re so full of shit, I’m going to buy you pull-ups.”) It was a perfect distraction as our plane bounced around for what amounted to 90 minutes of on-again/off-again turbulence while we left the DC area.

When the movie ended, I found that the cabin was dark and around me – with few exceptions – people were sleeping. Glad I didn’t have a slumbering seatmate to awkwardly crawl over, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth.

Other than knowing my row was empty, I hadn’t really paid attention to WHICH row it was. I thought the emptiness would make it easy to spot, so when I returned to the bathroom, I found an empty row and set about tidying up the loose blankets strewn across the seats. Except I learned that it wasn’t ACTUALLY my row when my hands connected with a BODY under the blankets. Um, oops?

The person I’d groped was either a sleeping zombie or paralyzed by fear of imminent sexual assault, because he/she didn’t move or say anything after I patted him/her in various places. Mortified, I continued on my way without an apology for fear of waking him/her. I walked down the entire aisle to rule out other “false positives” before confirming my row was really mine.

The rest of my evening unfolded without any drama (or further trauma), aside from the lights cutting back on with a harsh brightness, JUST after I’d finally zonked out for about 20 minutes. One fruit cup and a cup of tea later, I saw the city of London out my window, it’s landmarks obvious even from the distance. The Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Big Ben: I was immediately oriented and – despite my nighttime challenges – wide awake.

Here’s hoping I manage to sneak in some rest before I show up in the office. It’s one thing to have accidentally pat-down a stranger on a plane; it’s another thing entirely if it happens in an office. While Europeans DO tend to think Americans are overly-friendly, I think our HR team might have a problem with it.

Totally dropped that ball…

10 Mar

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 6.55.33 AM.png

Imagine you’re planning a trip to Europe with a colleague. You’ve put together to do lists and have reminded your colleague to authorize her bank card for overseas use and make sure her passport is still valid. “Check the date,” you tell her, “because you technically can’t travel on a passport that is set to expire in the next six months.”

You continue on your merry way, booking arrangements and finalizing your agenda. Then, four weeks before your trip, you wake up at 3am on a Saturday, staring at the ceiling, haunted by a question. “When does MY passport expire?” you ask yourself, a question you should’ve considered months ago with the trip was an initial glimmer in the back of your brain.

You calmly rise from bed and approach your safe, reassuring yourself. “I’d never let my passport expire. I’m sure it’s fine,” you repeat as you tap in the code. The door springs open and you retrieve your passport. You open it and see the date of expiration: January 2016.

 

NO. WAY.

What then unfolds is a scramble. You’re grateful for the internet because you quickly learn that you can rush a passport renewal for a small fee. You call the passport agency to see if you can get an appointment to do a same-week passport. You learn that unfortunately (fortunately?) you must be traveling within two weeks to warrant the kind of desperate service that results in an in-person interview and passport replacement.

Instead, you’re told you need to go the “expedited processing by mail” route. It makes you nervous to entrust your passport to the USPS and a post office box. You imagine all the scenarios in which you could be worse off than you currently are: your application could get lost en route to Philadelphia; it could fall into a crevice in the processing center and never get renewed; your new passport could get lost in the mail on its way back to your; it could get stolen from the lobby of your apartment building if the envelope doesn’t fit in your mailbox.

All the scenarios you imagine end with you not having a passport, unable to go on the trip you’ve been meticulously planning. You imagine telling your colleague that she’s flying solo. You imagine her eyes widening like saucers as she realizes she will be single-handedly leading ten days of training for 60 people.

You decide not to tell anyone about your predicament until you have your new passport safely in-hand.

You sit back and wait for your passport to arrive, so you start writing a blog post to bide your time…

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 6.52.34 AM

I suppose it could be worse…