Friday, August 26, 2011

The search for a new job.

After twenty-two years at the same job, I have decided to look for another job. Twenty-two years ago, this would have been a monumental undertaking, reading through page upon page of small print newspaper ads, filling out reams of applications by hand, and driving all over the country side to drop them off. Today, with the advent of computers and the internet, applying for jobs is a snap--or to be precise a click of the mouse.

I began my search fairly open-ended. I really do not want to move so my only filter was I wanted a job in the area. This immediately ruled out the vacant position at Apple as the CEO. I have an apple tree in my back yard, why would I want to move to the other coast to deal with another apple tree?

The first posting that I found interesting was for a Pediatric Dentist. “Established Pediatric Dentistry practice is looking for a new dentist.” Wow, that sounded impressive, however my grasp of medical terminology is lacking. Thankfully, I have three brilliant daughters, each one is proficient in a different language. Eldest speaks Spanish, in case she ever travels to Spain. Littlest speaks French, because mom did when she was in school. Middlest is an expert in Latin, in case Latvia ever invades the USA. It was to Middlest I went for help.
“What does the latin word “pedis” mean?” I asked.

“Foot, in the genitive case.” was her quick reply.

Excellent! That made it clear. A “Foot” dentist. I considered that for a brief moment, when it dawned on me. The human hand is a wasteland of germs and disease. This creative practice, in trying to reduce the spread of germs from dentists’ hands to the mouths of their patients, was practicing dentistry with their feet. Amazing, incredible, creative and thoughtful idea--reducing the amount of yucky germs a patient is exposed to from the human hand, by using feet instead!

I decided not to apply for that position for a variety of reasons; first, I did not think I could contort my body well enough to get my feet up to someone’s mouth. Second, the thought of someone slobbering on my toes made my stomach queasy. Lastly, although I have feet, I am not a dentist, which means I am only half qualified for the job.

The next posting to catch my attention was one for a branch manager. This brings us back to the apple tree in the back yard. Last week a branch fell off the tree, and I still have not managed to cut it up and get rid of it. I think I would make a poor branch manager. Not only can I not manage the dead branch, I cannot manage the living branches on the tree. Someone once told me I had to prune the tree in order for the branches to be healthy and produce more apples. I bought a bunch of prunes and tied them to all the branches. It did not help.

Then I saw THE job posting. The headline read, “Are you ready for an EXCITING career!”  I was hooked, since the grammar was worse than my grammar. They asked a question without using the proper punctuation. This had to be the job for me. The entire posting used words and phrases like, “Execute a strategic recruitment plan”, “build a talent data base”, “source, recruit, assess, and interview”, “drive profitable growth by maximizing order fill ratio”. Nice big juicy words; phrases that made the mind swirl with possibilities. I was excited. No, I was more than excited; I was euphoric. I have no idea what I would be doing, but I want this job. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

All I wanted to do was renew my driver's license

                I just renewed my driver’s license. I decided to upgrade to the enhanced version, in case I ever wanted to cross the border into Canada. Although, as I understand it, getting into Canada is not a problem, it is the returning to the United States that is troublesome. As Littlest states, “Canadians are such friendly people.” This sentiment shows maturation from our summer camping trip a few years ago where Eldest insisted that Canada was invading the US. 

                I went to the local Department of Motor Vehicles office with a huge stack of papers. The very kind woman at the counter pointed out that my certificate of live birth did not have a raised seal. I was dumbfounded and aghast. “A raised seal? why do I need a seal? What is the porpoise of that?” I inquired. She replied, “Without the seal the document is fishy, you need to go to the Office of Vital Records and get a certified copy, with the raised seal.”

                Off I went to the Office of Vital Records. Where I was greeted at the counter by yet another kind person. I told her I needed a copy of my birth certificate, with a raised seal. She replied, “Do you have your driver’s license?”

                “Yes, I am renewing it and I want the enhanced license, so I need a copy of my Birth Certificate. What do you need to prove I was born?”

                “Just your license.” She replied cheerily.

                Talk about fishy. I could not get the enhanced license without a copy of my birth certificate (with the seal) and to get that copy, all I had to do was produce my license.

                That is a perfect example of Governmental Notion. When the government gets a notion, it can only cause trouble. My father-in-law’s cousin was a victim of Governmental Notion. She served this country in the military as a nurse. When she did not receive her Veteran’s Benefits check, she called to look into the matter and was told she was dead. This came as quite a shock to her, especially with her medical training. She was told it was the Social Security Administration (SSA) that told the Veteran’s Administration that she was dead. A call to the SSA verified her death and that the SSA does not make mistakes.

                It would seem logical that the easiest way to prove she was alive would be to go to her local SSA office and have them take her pulse and temperature. This, however, is not how the Government operates. They needed paperwork. Lots of it. Preferably with raised seals.

                A major political theorist, yours truly, postulates that if everyone on earth instantaneously and mysteriously vanished, government would continue for x number of years due to the amount of paperwork already in queue; where x would be directly proportional to the number of seals raised by that particular government.

                I call this the theory of Governmental Motion, not to be confused with Governmental Notion.

                My father-in-law’s cousin has sent her pile of papers to SSA and I am waiting for my enhanced license to arrive in the mail. By the way, I found out while waiting at the Department of Motor Vehicles, that you can have anything enhanced for $42.50. I am working on collecting a stack of papers with raise seals to submit to the Government as an application for a grant for $42.50, so I can enhance my theory of Governmental Motion.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I have a zit. Or tales of my present youth.

It was a day like any other day, ordinary in every way. After my shower, I glanced in the mirror. I say glanced, because looking in the mirror, for me, is an excellent way to ruin an otherwise wonderful day. What I saw was horrifying. I had a zit, a pimple, acne, a breakout, a blemish; the scourge of teenage skin everywhere. Dead center in the middle of my forehead was an eruption. Well, not dead center; apparently my blemish could not even be perfect. It was off center to the left a little bit.

I tried to adjust the thick locks of hair that cover my head like a lion’s mane in order to obscure the blemish, to no avail. Outbreaks like this are not supposed to happen at my age. In a few days, I will be celebrating my 25th birthday. My children roll their eyes and protest when I tell them how old I am; therefore, to be precise, I will be celebrating it for the 22nd time. I am too old to be plagued with these unsightly blemishes.

To make matters worse, later there was a commercial for some anti-acne creams and potions. The commercial featured a young pop star that I will not identify; I will only say that her name rhymed with Katy Perry. She complained about how her acne would break out, right where she held the microphone. I misquote her describing her acne attack, “All over my chin, boom, boom, boom, brighter than the moon. I would say to myself, Baby, you look like a firework, look at the colors burst, all my friends are gonna fall down.”

I could only groan. Acne is for teenagers. Not for fine, mature men like myself. I am old. Do the math, 25 years multiplied by 22 times is 550. That is old! Maybe even older than classical music.  

Then realization settled in. Acne is the bane of young people. I have an outbreak on my forehead. I am not old. I am a young person. Therefore, with great pride, and enormous swagger I greet the day. Wearing my zit like a badge of youth; sticking my forehead in people’s faces, silently bragging, “I am young and don’t you forget it.”

Thursday, August 4, 2011

There was a wedding...

Hans Christian Andersen wrote in The Puppet-Show Man, “The whole world is a series of miracles, but we're so used to them we call them ordinary things.” Sometimes that is how scripture is read. The miracles have become so commonplace that any sense of wonder, excitement, and joy has disappeared.

I was struck by this thought while talking with a few teens about the seven miracles found in the Gospel according to John. By the way, the resurrection of Christ, although miraculous is not included in those seven miracles. When I investigated why the resurrection was not included, I was told that theologians do not count it as one of the seven. Go figure.

So we have a gospel where we count the miracles, stand when it is read, and have become dull to the wonder of the stories—the miracles. I wanted to try and recapture some of that joyful excitement and wonder for myself, so I retold the first miracle contained in John to myself and would like to share it with you. I have been told that to enjoy fiction a reader needs to suspend reality.  In order to enjoy this retelling I invite you to suspend memory. Pretend you have never heard this story before  and immerse yourself in it anew.

There was in a little town in the back country of Galilee, a wedding. The ceremony went off without a hitch, for which Hazaliel, the wedding coordinator was thankful. Now the reception was in full swing. The happy couple was happy. The guests were happy. And Hazaliel was happy.

The mood in the kitchen was not so happy. There was no more wine. This was not just an inconvenience; it was catastrophic. There were furtive whispers, “I am not gonna tell Haz, you tell him.” “No way, he is gonna pop like an over ripe fig.” Servants scurried, whispered, and cast accusing glances at one another. In the midst of this, a woman walked in. The servants thought to themselves, “This woman is no help. We need a man. Someone who can take charge; someone who can go buy more wine!” She heard the muffled whispers, she saw the looks, she knew they thought she was just in the way. But, she knew something they didn’t.

She slipped quietly from the kitchen and returned a few moments later with her son. Twelve of his friends tagged along. She cleared her throat and in a stage whisper spoke to her son, “They have run out of wine.”

Every eye turned to look at the pair. The servants began to hope that perhaps this strong young man was a vintner, someone who makes wine and could get them out of the pickle they were in.

The man scratched his head and looked at the woman. “Ma, this isn’t our concern, this is their party, they can cry if they want to, but it isn’t time for me to do my thing yet.”

She looked at him, with that look. You know the look. The look only a mother can give her son, the look that says, “I know all about you and you better do something about this because I am your MOTHER!”

The son knew that look too. The servants in the room watched his expression change. They knew that finally someone was going to do something. A man, someone who could do something, someone with authority.  

“Fill those jugs with water.” He directed. Everyone looked at him blankly for a moment. They were jars for ceremonial cleansing. They were to hold water for people to clean the dirt from their bodies. They were…bathtubs.

One of the servants started to bring in water. He thought to himself, “This guy is a lunatic, but at least when Haz finds out we are out of wine and hears what is going on he will yell at him and his mother, and not us.”

Another joined carrying water thinking to himself, “Oh this is rich, I wonder what kind of shenanigans this guy is up to.”

When the jars were full, the man told the servants to dip some up and take it to Haz for approval. The servants just stared. Gawked. Until finally, one of them worked up the courage to take a sample of the bathwater to the coordinator.

Everyone crowded in the doorway, watching with great, gleeful anticipation at the wrath that poor servant would incur when Haz tasted the bathwater. They held their breaths and watched him taste it. Then they watched him as he hurried to the groom. They overheard his excited words. “The best wine I ever tasted.”

Wait…What? “Best wine?”
They ran back into the kitchen and dipped some up. It was the best wine they had ever tasted and in the corner stood the woman, a scarf over her face as she suppressed her laughter.