Tag Archives: work

Strike a pose!

30 Mar

Image Source: http://professorqb.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/ProfessorQB-Headshot-with-highlights1.jpg

I received an email from my company’s marketing team, telling me I needed to provide a headshot for the website. Some people might enjoy the thrill of a photo shoot, but I don’t.

Among other things, I’m never sure where to put my hands. Part of me wants to constantly give two cheesy thumbs-up to the photographer, just so they have something to do. Or make jazz hands.

Anyway, I submitted myself to the horror of headshots this week, and I shared the proofs with Alan after, hoping he would help me make a selection. Here’s how our conversation went…

Me: Will you let me know which of these is your favorite?

Alan: Whichever one you choose, you should use it for your LinkedIn photo.

Me: Why? Do you not like my current photo?

Alan: It could just stand to be updated.

Me: That was diplomatic. What don’t you like about it?

Alan: Well, it looks a bit clown-y.

Me (once I finished laughing): Could you be more specific?

Alan: The filter on it makes your lips look really bright and your eyes look crazy.

Me: Oh. Yeah, well, the plan is to use this for LinkedIn, too.

Alan: Good.

Me: So which one do you like?

Alan: Not the one in the jacket.

Me: Why not?

Alan: The jacket doesn’t fit you.

Me: Yes it does.

Alan: Well, I can’t really see where the jacket ends.

Me: So what?

Alan: So I can’t really see where YOU end. For all I know, that could be a velvet mumu.

Me: So it makes me look fat?

Alan (warming to the idea): I’m just saying, it could be a velvet sack.

Me: Thanks for your help.

Sigh.

 

 

Lunch Break Overload

16 Nov

I usually eat lunch at my desk, hunched over my keyboard. Bad habit, I know, but my days often don’t even hold time for bathroom breaks, so the idea of having 30 minutes of solitude to dine seems rather far-fetched. (Maybe there’s a new year’s resolution in there?) 

Friday, however, I was forced to venture outside my building to pick up food because I hadn’t brought anything from home. I was in a hurry (ten minutes between calls) so the best option was Pret-A-Manger, since they are located right below my building and have pre-made soups/sandwiches that allow me to just grab and go.

While my break to pick up food was only ten minutes, it still provided enough space to switch gears, make some observations and think about something other than work for a brief spell. Here’s where my head went…

As I walked through our building’s lobby, I saw that our concierge, Frank, had a vase of flowers bearing a sign that said, “Happy World Kindness Day, Cecil!” I stopped briefly to compliment them on the flowers. “Those are beautiful, Frank. But why do they say Cecil?”

Frank – who seems to be eternally cheerful, despite his chronic limp that makes me imagine he was mangled in an industrial accident of some sort before moving to the US – smiled and said, “Cecil is my name.”

“Then why do we call you Frank?” I asked, puzzled.

“That I do not know. Frank is my last name,” he told me.

Hmmm. For almost three years, we’ve been greeting him by his last name? And he’s cheerfully wished us – “his cherished tenants” – a wonderful day anyway? Yeesh. “I’m sorry, Cecil! From here on out, we’ll use your first name, OK?”

“That does sound like a splendid plan,” he answered, smiling.

I was still scratching my head as I walked out and saw a homeless man rattling his cup for change. I looked around and noticed that most people walked past wearing earbuds, not even hearing the coins he shook. I found myself wondering how iPhones and earbuds have changed pandhandling.

And because I’d been working on sales training at work, my mind jumped to the increasing challenge salespeople face in connecting with buyers via the phone. “Interesting,” I thought. “As technology becomes more advanced, it’s harder for both salespeople and beggars to reach their prospects. Hmmmm…”

Before leaping to the conclusion that many salespeople could be classified as salaried beggars, I found myself in Pret-A-Manger, where I grabbed a small tomato-feta soup and was out the door two minutes later. This prompted me to create a quick list of what I love about Pret-A-Manger:

  • The packaging (it’s minimal and recyclable)
  • The efficiency of the purchase (just grab and go)
  • The convenience of the location near my office
  • The fact that they control the napkin distribution and don’t offer them automatically (which I assume significantly reduces waste since most people grab fistfuls of napkins that they subsequently throw away, unused, when left to their own devices)

Do you notice what’s missing from that list of what I love about Pret-A-Manger? Um, yeah – the FOOD. Whoever determines their menu has a love affair with mayonnaise, thus ruining everything but the tomato-feta soup for me.

I momentarily got excited last year when they introduced bacon mac and cheese – until I tried it and realized it contained cauliflower lumps. WHAT? I’m not a pre-schooler who hates vegetables – please don’t sneak them into my food, screwing with the texture and ruining my go-to comfort food.

Actually, on second thought, maybe their menu planner is a mom from Ohio. I’ll keep my eyes out for new casserole options that feature CheezWhiz and condensed cream of mushroom soup as ingredients.

Without realizing it, I was back at my desk, hunched over my tomato soup, answering the phone for my next call, and amazed by how much ground my mind covered in such a short walk. Maybe there’s something to be said for stepping away from your desk…

Hey Girl: That’s Not Pretty

30 Apr

Image Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4yDNWlvK6s

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, then I apologize in advance: You’ve already had to weather this rant. And yet, it is worth repeating. To make it somewhat more bearable, I’ll try to channel Ryan Gosling. Indulge me.

Hey Girl,

I see you there with your super-firm thighs. Thighs that say “thank you” for attending pilates throughout the week. Thighs that could make Gallagher cry because they can split watermelons like a cashew in a nutcracker.

Those thighs? They got my attention.

But not just because they’re attractive. No.

Girl, I know you’re asking those thighs to do double-duty. That in addition to looking fine stacked up on a pair of Manolo Blahniks, they’re punching the clock doing overtime. Know how I know?

Because of that fine spray of pee all over the toilet seat in your office building’s communal bathroom. That’s right.

I can picture you there, standing like crane ready for construction, feeling the burn as you unburden yourself. 

And Girl, you must be exhausted from that effort. I mean, it is WORK to perch there like a hovercraft.  So no wonder you can’t find the strength to grab a tissue and clean that toilet seat off. Honestly, how could you?

I can’t fault you for that. But Girl, think of all the other ladies whose thighs aren’t as strong, who must sit on that toilet seat to relieve themselves. They end up sitting in a puddle of your pee. And I don’t know if you’ve seen these women, but their reaction to that isn’t one of loving kindness. No, Girl: It’s fury.

They make water cooler jokes about how they’re going to stalk you and hug you and pee on your legs. And these women? They’re a bit off-balance, so I’m concerned they might try. They’ve even gone so far as to use the office printer to make a note to hang in the bathroom, though they got distracted by a box of Girl Scout cookies before locating the tape to hang it. I’m telling you, they’re one step away from psychotic. I’m concerned for you.

But I don’t want to weaken your resolve or your thighs. I’m not proposing something dramatic, like expecting you to – God forbid – wipe the toilet seat after yourself. No, Girl. You’re too precious for that.

I have a better plan: Girl, we gotta work on your aim.

Kisses,

Ryan

Unwanted Perspective

16 Apr
From our office window...

From our office window…

Like most Americans, I’ve spent much of the last 24 hours trying to process the Boston Marathon bombings. When there is so much to love about living, it is truly mind-boggling to realize there are other humans in this world – structurally built from the same materials as the rest of us – who not only can’t feel humbled before it, but feel entitled to strip others of that gift.

I’ve felt this way before. After Columbine. After 9/11. After the DC sniper. After Newtown…

What is new to me is how personal this attack feels. Even though the scale is smaller (at least from a fatality standpoint), this event has rocked me in ways that the others haven’t.

Maybe it’s because my company’s headquarters is smack-dab between the two explosions.

Or because I have more than a hundred colleagues (dozens of whom I consider friends) working in that building.

Or because I’ve mindlessly walked past the two bomb sites countless times in the last few years on my way to pick up lunch.

Or because my  friends were posting photos of the finish line from the office window that morning, celebrating how lucky they were to have such prime seats.

Or because it’s all too real to imagine my co-workers cowering under their desks, waiting for the third blast.

Or because I’d tried to fly in that morning but the hotel costs were prohibitively high – so I pushed my arrival back a day.

Or maybe it’s because all the news coverage shows my hotel and my office building… landmarks that previously made me think “home away from home,” when I saw them pulling into view.

I really don’t know.

Regardless of why this events hits me square in the gut, there are a few things I am certain of:

Those runners won’t stop running because a coward tried to steal their glory.

We should stop using the term “mastermind” when referring to a terrorist. Masterminds are people who find elegant solutions to difficult problems. Killing innocent people? Pretty much the opposite.

The bravery of the first responders – the people who turned to run into the smoke instead of away from it – only serves to underscore the cowardice of the person (or persons) who set those bombs.

The goodness of humanity far outweighs the few random assholes behind events like this. 

Just watch the news or check out your social media channels and you’ll see that last point affirmed over and over again:

The Bostonians who coordinated a directory of private homes where homeless runners could stay.

The outpouring of blood donations at Mass General and the Red Cross.

The stranger who gave his race medal to a first-time marathoner who was unable to finish because of the blast. 

The spectators who rose to the occasion and found themselves pushing wheelchairs and tearing away fencing to get to victims.

The locals who – walking home from their evacuated office buildings – took runners home with them and gave them warm clothes and helped them reconnect with their families. 

Life is good. People are good.

Those beliefs are fundamental differences that separate us from the people behind attacks like this.

Cling to it. Celebrate it. Embody it.

© 2013 Aaron Tango Tang

© 2013 Aaron Tango Tang

Making friends in confined spaces.

30 Jan

Last week I committed two faux pas while riding the rails from Boston to DC. The first occurred on the Boston to NYC leg. The timing worked out so that I needed to eat dinner on the train, so before sitting down, I went to the Café Car. If you’ve never taken the train, let me assure you: the Café Car on Acela is not like what you see in movies.

NOT the Acela.

There’s no white tablecloth, and definitely no silver. While it’s not fine dining, there are still some decent options, which is how I came to order Legal Seafoods’ Clam Chowder. Since we were departing Boston, it seemed fitting.

That’s about as much thought as I gave it – until I sat down back on the Quiet Car and removed the lid. At which point, the seafood smell of it rose up like a fist and punched me in the face. Yes, I was that person. The one who buys a tuna sandwich and opens it up on a plane right after take-off, ensuring the entire cabin smells like fish.

Horrified, I channeled my embarrassment back at Amtrak in the form of outrage: Why on Earth would they offer this on their menu? This should only be served at establishments with open-air patios! Fortunately, since I was on the Quiet Car, I knew no one would actually confront me, so I just kept my eyes on the bowl so I wouldn’t have to endure any angry glances.

Not wanting to make the same mistake on the NYC to DC leg the next day, I picked up a quesadilla at Penn Station for the ride. Once I was settled into my seat on the train, I began producing the items for my meal: quesadilla, salsa, napkins, soft drink, fork, Purell.

That’s right: Purell. Have I mentioned that I’m slightly OCD? And that I get sick almost every time I travel? Those two factors have combined to make me a religious user of  liquid hand sanitizer. I have a refillable dispenser that looks like a highlighter and sprays the Purell almost like a squirt gun.

So as I tucked into my meal, I pulled out my Purell highlighter, gave it a few pumps and rubbed my hands together. And — nothing. There was no Purell on my hands. I looked at the dispenser to see if it had run dry, and then I realized: the spray hole hadn’t been lined up with my hands.

No. It had sprayed out fine. Just not on my hands. With a sense of dread, I started looking around to see where it might have landed. And that’s when I saw two quarter-sized blobs running down the laptop screen of the man seated next to me. Gah!

Fortunately, he was standing up at the time, placing his coat in the overhead bin, so he hadn’t seen me spray down his MacBook Pro. Hoping to eliminate the evidence, I leaned over with my napkin and started trying to wipe his screen discreetly. About this time, I noticed the man across the aisle scowling at me, clearly thinking I was tampering with a stranger’s laptop. Which, in fairness, I suppose I was.

I gave him my most disarming smile (which, I believe, looks I’m channeling Amelie from the French movie, but actually probably more accurately looks like a baby filling its diaper) and abandoned Operation Wipedown, turning to stare out the window. At just this moment, my seatmate sat back down and began typing.

I continued to face the window, my shoulders shaking as I silently giggled, praying that he wouldn’t ask me why his laptop had a clear schmear across the screen. And I could not stop laughing. To say it tickled my funny bone would be an understatement. I sat there, silently shaking, until I had tears running down my cheeks.

At one point, I thought I had composed myself well enough to apologize, but I turned around saw the schmeary outline of the gel on his screen and just lost it. He gave me an odd look and returned to his work, no doubt wondering what kind of nutjob he was sharing a seat with.

Ultimately, I wasn’t busted. But I can’t exactly say I got away with it. Because I’m pretty sure he was sitting there writing a blog about the freakshow next to him who alternately sprayed Purell and convulsed for the duration of the ride.

Actually, now that I think about it, he probably should’ve thanked me for the material. Or at least for disinfecting his screen. You’re welcome, Amtrak Stranger! Now pay it forward…