Sunday, October 28, 2012

Four Birds, One Stone

Everyone I know complains that there isn't enough time in the day to get important things done. I'm no exception. In the future however, I think I will be a little more selective with things I combine to save time.

I brilliantly arranged for two medical exams to be done on the same day. It was my perfect time-saving plan. I would get my eyes examined, including pupil dilation, in the morning and my annual mammogram in the afternoon. Believe me, as usual, I tried every which way to get out of the latter, reasoning with Dr. Rodriguez that an ultrasound would reveal every bit as much as the procedure of using hydraulic pressure to painlessly compress objects from four inches to five centimeters. Of course, my lack of medical knowledge revealed itself, and he won out. Quesadillas again!

The eye exam went well. Do you know they have a tool that's made specifically for covering one eye? It's a circle on a stick. Wish I'd thought of it. You just hold it in front of one eye and ta da, you can only see out of the unobstructed eye! It's even better than placing one hand over your eye. The doctor gave me a funny look when I told him it would come in handy when drunk driving. Instant relief from double vision. Anyway, I read the chart and endured the bright light. He explained that my iris is like the shutter on a camera, the pupil becomes smaller when the light shines in it. After the dilating drops took effect, I resembled one of those characters in a horror flick where their eyes are just one big, black, pupil.

Naturally, I forgot to bring my sunglasses so after trying to pay for my exam with my Starbucks gift card, the receptionist gave me a pair of disposable sun glasses...the ones that resemble 3D glasses that you use in the theater. Little good they did. I'm sure everyone in the waiting room heard me scream when I stepped out the door into the sunlight.

I looked at my watch, but only saw the vague outline of it encircling my wrist. I judged by the position of the sun, directly over head, that it must be close to noon and I would have time to return a book to the library and have lunch before my next appointment. I guess I will have to go back to the library tomorrow, to claim my organizer, and pay the late fee for the book still sitting on my back seat.

The waitress at the coffee shop was nice. She read the whole menu to me. Twice. It didn't occur to me that after my appointment I wouldn't be able to do anything that required crisp vision. Blinking didn't help, it was frustrating, but I was thankful that I was wearing my temporary sunglasses so as not to scare the other customers.

I remember wondering if it was taking an unusually long time for my eyes to return to normal as I blindly turned the pages of a magazine at the imaging center. I groped my way to the dressing room after my name was called, and put on the brittle paper vest that opens in the front. The technician led me to the x-ray room and prepared to take the slides. She seemed to be very amused when I told her the reason I was wearing the paper sunglasses. She asked me if I could fit a bit of shopping in my day to save even more time. I told her I actually was going to stop at the mall before going home. Her laugh was contagious.

I really shouldn't have been driving but I'm proof that God really does look after drunks and fools. I made it to the mall safely, bought a skirt for work (I had to ask another customer to read the price tag to me) and even found the courage to go into Victoria's Secret for a new bra. After all they had been through, they deserved to be swaddled in silk. The salesgirl was very helpful, bringing me several different styles, sizes and colors and even helped me try them on. She didn't say a word about the strange looking sun glasses I was still wearing.

It wasn't until later that night, while in the tub, and my vision had returned, that I reviewed my day. I had learned a lot. Mostly, what not to do, no matter how much time you save. Informative though, how your eyes work, what technicians do to provide reference points on x-rays. I looked down and saw that the metal Bb's the technician had scotch taped to my nipples were still there.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Art of Delagation

I’m so very excited to have discovered some new opportunities for managers to design programs for unique ways to motivate employees to step up and take on more responsibility. I have to say, I believe this will be fabulous trend-setting methods and have no doubt they will earn me an award. 

I think other managers will begin to see the merit of my new procedures and follow suit. Of course, having an award-winning team will possibly cause team envy within the company. I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

I have wrestled with delegating duties for quite some time now. Often, the decision to delegate certain duties can have a company-wide impact on morale. To eliminate conflict, I thought I would get employees in sync with my ideas by starting each morning with a group chant, “Every day in every way, I think I’m such a prize. And that is why I’m here to work or at least to improvise.” I made that up myself and I have to say, it has done wonders for team spirit.

I needed to find someone within my department who is optimistic by nature, would anticipate when something unexpected could happen, and accept the fact that just because you are in charge doesn’t necessarily mean you are…in charge that is. Resilience is crucial and the best candidate must have a knack for setting realistic goals. In order to make the best selection, I had to create a robust testing procedure to choose the right person who would assume additional duties freeing me up to focus on the bigger picture.

I began with a simple ‘Facial Feedback’ study. I had my department line up, and one by one, I stood in front of each employee and smiled, then frowned, and finally produced the most hideous grimace I could. I have to say almost all employees mirrored the smiles and frowns. However, there were two that ran away screaming at the sight of the grimace. I shouted a threat that the boogeyman would be waiting for them by their car at the end of the day. Not only did they run faster but they were also eliminated from the pool of hopefuls.

The narrowing down process had begun. Next, during the work day, I snuck up behind each of the employees and surprised them by blowing an air horn behind their head. There were only three who did not jump high enough to have both feet off the ground at the same time. I decided I would be able to delegate duties to one of these three employees, two women and one man... my finalists.

The last thing I did with a magic marker is draw a six foot by six foot box on the floor of the lunch room and request that the three competitors stand in it. I asked them mathematical questions such as what is twelve, minus one? And what is eight divided by two? History questions included when was the war of 1812? And who was the Lincoln memorial named after? Clearly, they all were equally qualified. Their answers were correct, that is, until I asked them to step across the line. They gave me blank stares when I asked them to explain the corpuscular theory of light. They were stumped when I inquired about their knowledge of the origins of Greek mathematics. I felt frustration begin to set in. Clearly, none of them could think outside of the box.

I have decided to abstain from delegating any of my duties for the time being. At least until I find a more suitable aspirant.  Until then, we will continue our morning chant, “Every day in every way, I think I’m such a prize. And that is why I’m here to work or at least to improvise.”

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Writing on The Edge of the Bed

With prices soaring for the mere necessities, I realize there are more and more people who are turning to second jobs to make ends meet. It used to be called moonlighting, working in the evening in addition to one’s full time job, but more and more it requires more than a second job…it demands starlighting (my own word for more than two jobs).

A job for a technical writer was recently posted at one of the major starlighting agencies. Since I am a writer, I thought I would apply. I sent my resume and quickly received a reply. They requested a sample of my work in the form of bed assembly instructions. It seemed simple enough, how hard could it be?  I began to write.

Things you will need.

Old blanket (optional) Please don’t use the dog’s bed, they don’t like it and you run the risk of them swallowing essential washers.

Philips head screwdriver. (2 jiggers of Smirnoff and 6 oz. of orange juice is not a substitute but will make the project more fun)

Box spring or slatted bed base. You can usually find one of these tossed along the side of a road by people who are too lazy to dispose of them properly.

Mattress. You may see one of these on the side of the road as well but it is best to buy a new one if you want to avoid bed bugs.

Box of bed assembly tools.

1. Open the box and take out the pieces. Place them on a carpeted surface or cover a hard floor with a blanket. Carefully open the bag that contains the screws and other tools.  I say carefully because if it is anything like opening a bag of potato chips, the bag may burst apart and kablooey, pieces go everywhere. Sometimes a small screw will wiggle its way deep into the carpet. While on your knees, firmly skim the surface of the carpet with the palm of your hand in the area you believe it went.  Sometimes this takes a lot of patience. Always keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide handy for those nasty punctures that occur when you discover the screw pointy end up.

2. Use the small wrench included. By the way, I have never found the tools described in instructions to be included. It usually requires a trip or two to the hardware store but at least you will own the tool for the next time you are assembling something where it is required.

3. Use the wrench you just spent the last hour driving to the hardware store and back to screw the double-sided metal fasteners into the second hole down on each side of the headboard. I guess the headboard is something that should have been listed in things you will need.

4. Turn the headboard and foot board so that the bottom faces up. Oops, the foot board should have been in the list as well.

5. Attach the rails to the head and foot boards. Position the rails so that the flat side is inside the bed. Slide the metal threaded fastener on the head and foot boards into the hole in the middle of the dowels on both sides of the rail.  

Now my husband is reading this over my shoulder. He says number 5 is cryptic and I should include a sketch. He is also wondering where my nipple washers are. In the beds he has assembled, nipple washers were included in the assembly pouch.

“I don’t have a pouch, I have a bag of assembly parts, and nipple washers are not required,” I replied tersely.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah.

His entire body jolted and he turned to take her in his arms. He kissed her hard and pulled her across his chest to feel her nipple washers flatten against him.

His hands trembled with anticipation as he undressed. He paid no attention to the blanket, the tools or the screws poking into his back, just the two of them and a craving neither one ever felt before.

6. Balance the thin, expandable metal rails on the two lower holes on the metal plate. Screw into place using the too tiny to hold screws included in the assembly pouch.

7. Screw a teensy weensy screw into the hole in the center of each expandable rail to hold it in place.

8. Place box springs and mattress on frame and, Voila!  Your bed is made. Now lie in it.

I just know I will get this job. It’s in the bag.