wwcitizen: (workplace)
This Sunday, Jaguar is running a newly developed ad campaign called "#GoodToBeBad".  The commercials (the 30-sec ad and the 60-second advert) are very well done.  The actors are excellent: Sir Ben Kingsley (in everything!), Tom Hiddleston (Thor) and Mark Strong (Green Lantern!), directed by Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech).

There's an opportunity to vote for the best ad run during the Super Bowl, which should be good fun.  If you'd like to get involved and vote for the ads (many people only watch the ads anyway and wait for the game results later), you'll have to register (for free) online by 31-Jan (tomorrow).

You can see more info about the commercials and Jaguars at the following site:
http://www.jaguarusa.com/british-villains.html

ENJOY!!
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
This last weekend was stupendous. Stupendous because my company allowed me to spend a weekend driving a Fire Sand 2013 F-Type Jaguar (V6 Supercharged) convertible. Driving that car was an amazing experience. What’s even more exciting is that when this project contract began for me working at Jaguar Land Rover North America, that particular F-Type completely captured me.

One day after I parked my Passat to go into work, I noticed that F-Type for the first time. Why? Because it was a Fire Sand F-Type convertible. "Fire Sand" is a cool term for "burnt orange" or "pumpkin". The color is totally intriguing and the body of the car captivated me completely - it looks like an animal. I took 5 or 6 pictures of the car as if it was parked on some side street in Chelsea (something I’ve done, btw).  On my way home that same evening, I mentioned to Matthew, “I just wanna drive that car for a day. Just one day. Is that too much to ask?”

Well, this past weekend, I did just that!  I had won a raffle at a company meeting a couple of months ago; 12 winners of the raffle would be able to drive a company car (a Jag or a Land Rover/Range Rover) for a weekend. I was one of the winners!

Over those three weekend days, I drove at least 500 miles.  Plus, I drove at least a total of 26 hours – just over a day’s worth of driving. Apparently, “Just one day,” isn’t too much to ask! I got my full day of driving just as I had wished and I got to see the car parked in my space for the weekend (I had to leave my Passat parked in the company parking lot for the weekend. More on that on a later, different post…).

At the initial button push, the Jag growled at me when he started up; his grin was tangible. He had me before the first growl. He had been waiting for me to get inside and push his buttons since my eyes squinted at the sun sparkling off his curves the first time. He wanted to be driven. He clearly didn’t want to sit still or be parked.  I brought his top down and pulled out of the parking space, When I rounded the first corner, he seemed to want more of that curve, so I gunned the engine a bit, He smiled and ate that curve in one bite. And then the next one: CHOMP! He was looking forward to the weekend as much as I was.

I pulled up to get Matthew from work (who now works about 5 miles from my office).  Matthew told me later that EVERYONE walking out of that office building was staring at the car. I didn’t notice them because I was looking at everything in the car – the controls, the lights, windows, the mirrors, and the radio.  Matthew was beaming because he knew I was excited for the weekend.  He got in and put on his seat belt. I asked him one simple question: “Are you ready?”

“For what?” he countered.
I asked him again: “Are you ready?”
“Uh. Yes?” he said apprehensively.

Making sure no one was in front of me, I took off toward the edge of the parking lot. Fire Sand snapped our heads back against our head rests.

“OH JESUS!” Matthew exclaimed. “SLOW DOWN!”
“I’m only going 15 miles an hour, grandpa.”
(^^ That exchange repeated itself quite frequently over the course of the weekend…)

When we were leaving the office park, getting onto Interstate 287 South for a bit and back onto 17 South to go home, there’s a very fun curve and Matthew almost shit a couple of bricks as we rounded it.  The suggested speed around the curve was a measly 25… my boy wanted to take it at about 35 MPH. So, I gave it to him and then some.

All the cars on 287S saw me coming onto the road and slowed down (or was I going faster than them?).  I got across the four lanes to the left quite safely, but quickly because 17S comes up right after that curve. 

BOOM! We were on 17S heading home.  All the way down 17S and eventually onto I-80E (another Interstate highway), so many people could not keep their eyes off the car. A couple of handsome guys in fun cars (not sports cars, though) raced up to meet my car. They safely kept their eye on the road in front of them, but checked out the car, me, Matthew, the car, me, and then gave me the thumbs up or an “OK” sign with BIG smiles.

We pulled into our building about 30 minutes later and I was able to dash in, change clothes, and head back out to drive down to visit my buddy Joey for dinner. The drive down, with the top down, was almost fully on the NJ Turnpike all the way down. I picked up Joey and we raced off to Princeton.

The best part about all of those routes was that I could drive at least 65. I positioned myself with traffic, so that I didn’t stand out. I also used my cruise control quite a lot, so that I didn’t inadvertently go over the speed limit.  At 65 MPH, it felt as though he was plodding along at about 30 MPH – he even yawned a couple of times when I sped up to pass someone. 

Cops didn’t seem interested in the car at all, which was just fine with me.  Someone at work told me that cops “respect” Jaguars due to the owners/drivers of Jaguars or something, but I noticed that cops – the entire weekend – were uninterested in the car.  I had always heard that if you drive a sports car, beware of cops. So, I was paying attention. I mean, I wasn’t driving erratically, recklessly, or exceptionally fast (except for that one time…). So, there was no real reason for them to approach me as it was. Still, that warning was playing in my head all weekend, which was probably a good thing – given my history with speeding tickets from when I was in high school (different story for a different post…).

Saturday was the friends tour. I drove to four different friends’ houses to show them the car and give them a ride. A couple of them live close to highways, so I was able to show them a little of what the car could do. One of them had never been in a convertible, much less and actual sports car. Two friends weren’t home, so I took a picture of the car in front of their house; at least their house got to see the car!

By Sunday, Matthew had plotted out a route for us to drive up to New Paltz and Kingston, NY, that included highways and country roads. He found a marina for us to visit, a resort (that we might want to return to for dinner, at least), and in the end, I chose for us to return home a different route than how we got to our destination; I-87 (the NY Thruway) was really backed up close to the NJ/NY border and we would have been stuck in tons of traffic. 

Along the way up there and back, there were lots and lots of twists and turns, hairpin curves, mountains, big hills, river vistas, and plenty of onlookers. We had a great time driving all over the place! Here’s a snippet of some of the roads and terrain we traversed along our road trip on Sunday.

Mountain Curves
Hairpin CurvesPalisades Pkwy
Monday morning came a little too quickly when I had to turn him back into the company. He’s been sitting in the same place since I parked him there. Feels like he’s looking at me, winking, and saying, “Ask for another weekend. C’mon! Let’s go!” 

Over the weekend, I took a ton of photos. Here’s a smaller collection of the best of the best from all that driving. We unfortunately had to stop from time to time, of course.

Part of me wishes that hot, fast Fire Sand cat was mine. The other, more practical part of me sat back with a sigh into my 2004 Passat, who’s paid for and running just fine, and drove to pick up Matthew after work. I didn’t really try to push my old guy too far, but from his brakes, I could tell he wasn’t too happy I left him for a hotter, younger, faster guy for a weekend fling.  He’ll get over it.
wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
This is now my fourth week starting off at the North America Corporate Headquarters for Jaguar Land Rover. It's interesting work being a Senior Project Manager and Business Analyst for them. There's lots of work to be done, that's for certain.
It's also interesting working for a company where most of its employees can't seem to afford one of their products. But, there are plenty of opportunities to drive the cars, whether as part of the corporate fleet for work-related travel or as a demo run for a new car that's coming out.

I just missed the opportunity to drive an F Series, which they allowed employees to test drive the week before I joined up. Here's a video of the car traveling around France. VERY HOT!!
wwcitizen: (Photo Avatar)
Here are pictures of Matt and my experience in Burbank, CA, in July for a quick trip to appear on the Red Carpet for Bear City 2. It was such a fantastic experience that generated a LOT of memories (and photos) very quickly.  Check them out and enjoy!  I only ask that if you re-use or re-post any of the photos, please give me credit for the photos.  Thank so much!  
wwcitizen: (Default)
Matt got a Ladders.com job description today. He read it to me and I just had to share it:
Fullscreen capture 8102012 45743 PM.bmp

Doesn't this equate to ANYONE who is on the Romney campaign?  Also, I find it really strange that they want someone who's got a strong desire to influence Christian entrepreneurs.  Just seems kinda cultish, doesn't it?    
wwcitizen: (workplace)
The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time - Tony Schwartz - Harvard Business Review

Good points in this article. How many times do we get overwhelmed by our work, technology, and interests that we lose sight of the big picture or get bogged down in the details.

Oh, and BTW, HAPPY HUMP DAY!!

I've extracted some highlights from the article.  If you're a manager, here are 3 policies worth promoting (which you can still emulate in your own professional life, even if you're not a manager, but that others will notice and possibly imitate):
1. Maintain meeting discipline.

2. Stop demanding or expecting instant responsiveness at every moment of the day.

3. Encourage renewal.

Consider these 3 individual, boundary-setting behaviors for yourself:
1. Do the most important thing first in the morning, preferably without interruption, for 60 to 90 minutes, with a clear start and stop time.

2. Establish regular, scheduled times to think more long term, creatively, or strategically.

3. Take real and regular vacations.

wwcitizen: (Which Way To Go)
Don't these blurbs apply to any one or all individuals who would apply to a job? I wanted to keep this, so that one day when I'm a manager, I could include it in a job description. Then to be a full-blown dick, I'd ask candidates to respond to each one. Then I'd gauge my assessment on their reaction to the question as well as the description lines.

I picked these lines straight out of a job description at the bottom where the requirements are usually listed pertaining to the actual job. This whole section is FULL of corporate jargon and non-committal phrases.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Experience Required:
Ideal candidate is someone who is detail-oriented, can thrive in a deadline-driven environment, and has strong interpersonal skills. The person be comfortable coordinating efforts across multiple divisions.

Key Behavioral Requirements:

Respect in the Workplace
• Demonstrates integrity and authenticity
• Encourages and facilitates the exchange of ideas
• Fosters an inclusive work environment


Connection & Collaboration
• Communicates and relates effectively
• Promotes and encourages teamwork
• Manages relationships and expectations
• Thinks and solves problems creatively


Makes a Difference
• Takes personal accountability for actions and results
• Is action-oriented rather than reactive
• Takes initiative and goes beyond what is required


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Example questions:
1) How do you encourage and facilitate the exchange of ideas?
2) Share 2-3 examples of when you have taken personal accountability for actions and results.
3) Describe 2 problems you had in the work place and the creativity you used to solve each problems.
4) Define your expectation of "going beyond what is required."

How would those questions go over with you in an interview?

I had some similar questions last week during a phone interview. While getting the questions, I realized where the questions originated: Their experience with other candidates and people on their projects. It's really necessary to think well and quickly on your feet. It's also important to dredge up instances from your past whilst reading through a job description that would address each point because you never know: These things might just come up during an interview - if you get the call for one.

I have to say, though, this particular job description really irritated me. There is no element of job function in this "Experience Required" section. I suppose when not much is required, you'll get candidates who've not given much anyway. They're most likely looking for people right out of college or high school.
wwcitizen: (Which Way To Go)
Yesterday, at long, long last, I had my first in-person interview for a real, full time job since March of 2009. Yes, folks, it's been 18 months since a company has brought me in for an interview. Mind you, I've gotten LOTS of email notifications about jobs out there, but none of them really fit.

This job fits about 1/5 of my experience. It's interesting and would provide good focus on one of my skill sets: Instructional Design. Focus might be good for me. Plus, given that with software I am used to running the gamut of Project Management, Validation, Vendor Management, Quality Assurance, Testing, User Acceptance Test coordination, Implementation, Training Development (classroom and online courses), Training Facilitation, Technical Support, Technical Documentation, and Change Control, focusing on Instructional Design might be a good way to ease me back into the full time workplace after 2+ years.




The company is located south of the Flatiron District and north of Union Square on 5th Ave. in NYC. It's not the most convenient spot in the city for public transport, but one of the big pluses is the dress code is casual. Granted, I wore a suit for my interview (and got the flop sweats from the 85 degree temps and the 95% humidity).



Not complaining, but it costs money to get into and out of the city for an interview, if you're not driving: In total, I spent about $30! If I had driven, it might have cost me the same because it's $8 to get into the city across the bridge, then about $20+ to park. It's all part of the excitement, though, to take public transport into the city, hop in a taxi on 7th Ave. and say, "5th & 19th, please!" Then at the end of the interview, pop into a coffee shop to call my recruiter and another cab for the ferry to NJ, where Matt picked me up.



Fun day out. Hopefully, something will come of this. There are other prospects in the till, still, so this isn't the only thing out there. Just seems like the most promising right now. Plus, as Matt pointed out, this could be the return of The Daily Commuter!

wwcitizen: (BIG SMILE)
Last weekend, the weekend before summer officially kicks off, Matt and I went into the city on Friday for a bead show. Yep, a "BEAD" show. What's a "BEAD" show, you ask? It's where vendors and jewelry design artists come together to show their wares, their talents, and their products. The last one I attended was outside of Philadelphia in 2002 or so. This one was in NYC.

We had a good time. Matt was VERY patient. He's not as into beads (at all) as I am. He doesn't understand how I am able to sit for hours, pouring over beads and supplies to come up with some beautiful things. Most of my stuff is semi-precious stone bead placement in linear fashion, but I'm starting to get really bored with that and want to branch out into other things. Hence, the bead show (BTW, I also make bracelets, anklets, and earrings on consignment and for general sale).

I'll be posting some of my stuff on eBay and will provide links and pictures when I do in the next week or so. I just want to make sure that I've gotten a good collection of things to post so that people can "shop" a little at my store.

One of the most interesting things about bead shows is that they typically draw out vendors who invest 1000s of dollars on HUGE lots of beads and materials - wholesale - in order to give us really good, still much less than retail prices on supplies.

Another type of vendor that shows up is kind of like me - investing in specialized and sometimes ancient beads. Venetian, African, Indian, Persian, and even Philistinian trade beads are some of the examples. I bought two sets of 300-yr-old African glass bottle beads as well as two sets of 2000-yr-old Roman glass beads. Yes, I said 2000 (two thousand) years old!! The Roman glass is on display at a NYC museum - I believe the MET - and the guy who excavates ancient Roman trash dumps sells lesser quality glass objects to this distributor that I met. I was VERY excited.

Here's a link to the show pictures - we only took a few. These are on Flickr (hate Flickr...).
wwcitizen: (Photo Avatar)
Camera - check. Tripod - check. Flood lamps - check. Packed bags - check. New business cards - check!

We're heading to Atlantic City today to perform my first-ever paid freelance photography gig! It's so cool and I can't wait to get in there. It'll be a small party venue for portrait shooting for a friend.

A friend of mine was coordinating a party at a casino for his company and he thought of me, knowing that I was unemployed. I felt so honored that he'd think of me! He asked if I could "take some shots" of the party he and his company is hosting tomorrow, Mar. 25, at a casino. What's interesting is that this was serendipity-do! This friend of mine didn't really know that I was setting up to do professional portraits for friends, family, and possibly full-on clients.

I said, "YES!" immediately before I checked what I was doing that day. I had nothing else planned other than doing my taxes (ugh!) and Gayme Night with the boys over here, but we have worked around Gayme Night - taxes will have to wait.

Wouldn't this be fun if it turned into something long-term and profitable? I have created a business card that we'll put on the table where we log the folks with their photos. Check it out - my own Photoshop creation!



I don't think I'll be posting any pictures of the actual gig online, but I will of Matt and me and my friend who's coordinating the party, as well as some pictures of AC while we're there - supposed to be beautiful days! This should be fun, eye-opening, and hopefully something for the future! Wish me luck!
wwcitizen: (Which Way To Go)
This is the beginning of a work-related set of posts I plan to do. The purpose of these posts will be to explore what elements of my past careers I've really enjoyed, why I enjoyed them, and what aspects will be useful or marketable to new employers or useful in going into business for myself. These work-related posts might end up being four posts. I'm not sure, but this will be fun and useful for me, I think.

Up to about 6 years ago, I was living a happy professional life in Trenton, NJ, and working in Princeton at a software company. It was wonderfully fun to work there. Just about everyone I worked directly with was in their 30s or 40s; our founder at the time was in his early 50s. I worked at the company twice over 6 years and loved it. The company's founder hired me back within my Client Services department in late 2000 as manager of the department.

Even with all the organizational and company culture changes over the years, the account management position was for certain one of my most favorite jobs. I dealt with software, the internet, and all production groups within the company to make sure that the clients were getting what they paid for. As an Account Manager, my main focus was clients in regards to training, implementation, up-sell, technical support, innovation, documentation, and software QA & testing. Marketing and I worked together closely on Requests for Proposal (RFPs) - responses to prospective clients.

I also worked closely with sales in many capacities from pre & post-sales calls, product training for the sales staff, and client transition from sales and contracting to account management. In fact, I came up with the idea and implemented it initially for a Sales Support Group to begin. Once I worked out the processes of elements of Sales Support, my involvement within that capacity was given to someone else who took the position. I then returned fully to Client Services. While I worked with the sales staff as Sales Support, I traveled extensively (which I loved!) and helped reduce the typical 9-18 month sales cycle down to 6-9 months!

My Sales Support concept was for the Sales Support person to be the more technical and customer-focused voice championing the clients' needs within our company together with sales negotiating and writing up the contracts. The sales staff used their company contacts to get in the door of prospective clients. Once we were in and sales was ready for demonstrations and consultative services, Sales Support would work beside sales and help guide the prospective client into a contract. Of course, with the technical and client-focused background of Sales Support people, they were also be heavily involved with Marketing in the RFP process. After I went back to Client Services, the Sales Support became more of an administrative function rather than the active, consultative role I had initially envision and implemented.

Even though my primary focus at the company was account management, I used my education background in web-based instructional design, training design & development, training coordination & facilitation & results assessment. I always used elements of project management in Client Services. In the PM capacity, I was charged with creating the implementation process, which included transitioning clients from sales and contract signing into account management. I helped clients develop methods of marketing the new software in their organizations. I worked closely with my clients to make sure that their implementation went smoothly and people began using our system.

The most exciting aspects of this job were 1) the diverse requirements of the job, 2) the many hats I was able to wear, 3) the clients I had (mostly all Fortune 500 and 1000 companies), and 4) my colleagues. I imagine it'll be hard to find a new job that will help me remain a jack-of-all-trades within their organization. Maybe that will come with time once I'm there, if I get a new job. That "IF" remains out there because Matt and I have been talking about working together and we have begun working together on some projects.
wwcitizen: (Which Way To Go)
Today, I have a phone interview (in about 30 minutes actually) for a contracting job and I'm pretty excited about it. It would be a 2-3 month assignment working from home for a Canada-based reinsurance company (yeah, I know - boring), but I would be training technology. And traveling some around the globe - maybe to Cyprus, Geneva, and South Africa. It would definitely be fun and interesting.

Prepping for this interview has taken more time than most others I've had recently. I've got notes, I have screens open, and I've tweaked my resume - again - and created a new version for myself.

Hoping this comes through - it would be a nice set up for the summer.
wwcitizen: (Court Jester)
A congress of fools passed a bill into law that will help to kill small businesses all across America. After you're done reading this article, read the comments from the readership. It's really sad.

People are already losing their jobs across our great nation, banks are imploring us to buy stocks in companies to "keep the faith in America", yet, we allow such legislation to pass without confrontation?? This bill will harm volunteer work, low-income families afford CLOTHING and TOYS(!!!!), and not only kill the small businesses supplying local goods to local consumers.

With the global horrible economy, people should consider gravely and think twice about possible grassroots-level impact such laws would have on the individual American - that person who put you into office (Senators and Representatives), who "brings home the bacon" or carries donations off to the Salvation Army for distribution.

http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/16/cpsia-safety-toys-oped-cx_wo_0116olson.html

Simply the costs of the test are business-prohibitive. Hear that?? BUSINESS-PROHIBITIVE!! Meaning that this time last year a business that had a $5,000 start up cost would cost easily 6 (six) times that amount as of February 10th solely based on the amount of testing the business owner must fork out to prove that their products are safe for children under 12. That's sick, and possibly also kills my prospect for starting up a new boss-free career.
wwcitizen: (Which Way To Go)
Today's job search ended on a strange note. Looking through the ads, I noticed at the top of one of my lists a reference to Talent6, a firm that places extras in films, commercials, and TV shows. I thought it might be fun to get into that - just for the fun of it. Clicking on the job posting sent me to a website, which was very unusual indeed!! The website showed a woman talking about the opportunities for people interested, willing, and able to become an extra. Sounded interesting and (if my memory serves me correctly) there was no mention of a service fee. There was a toll free number shown on the website, so I called it.

The guy on the phone was really nice and a great salesman on the idea. He answered all my questions except for the "service fee of $45" for the introductory packet of information. I thought that sounded strange, so I kept answering his questions about my address and phone number, spelling my name, etc. All the while I was simultaneously looking up the company on Google and the first available option that popped down in the search field was "Talent6 scam". Next was "Talent6 a legit company" or something along those lines.

Clicking on the search took me to a whole long list of people complaining about the company and its practices. Their complaints ranged from not sending out the promised information and not providing good enough information in their area for job opportunities to not canceling people's "subscription" to Talent6's opportunities. The Better Business Bureau website search on the company name and address revealed:

BBB Reliability Report for Talent6
Rating = F


Our opinion of what this rating means:
We strongly question the company’s reliability for reasons such as that they have failed to respond to complaints, their advertising is grossly misleading, they are not in compliance with the law’s licensing or registration requirements, their complaints contain especially serious allegations, or the company’s industry is known for its fraudulent business practices.


Having read through all that information, I thanked the Talent6 guy for the information and told him I had another call. I researched some more and read the blog posts and Yahoo company information requests more thoroughly. A little later in the afternoon, I called the company to remove my name from their database. On the first call, the girl hung up on me or I got disconnected somehow, but when I called back, the same girl answered the phone (not a good sign) and had my information pulled up. She said she deleted my information. We'll see. I didn't give them my credit card information, but I hate to think - now - that they could possibly sell my address to another marketing firm. But, alas, that's the price I pay for getting stooped a little.
wwcitizen: (Which Way To Go)
In the throes of my "start-my-own-business" thoughts (and insomniac nights), mouse guided me to a book: 'Where's My Fifteen Minutes?'. Has anyone read this book? From the excerpts on the home page, it looks like a pretty interesting and informative read. I was thinking about getting it.
wwcitizen: (workplace)
Much to many people's surprise, mornings often find me clicking on job postings on Monster and CareerBuilder, and even sometimes going to other job posting sites, LinkedIn, Craig's List, and others. The thing that irritates me the most about job postings is that companies posting the jobs don't realize the outside impact of their verbiage and title choices.

"Project Manager" should not be used as a catch-all phrase to describe what you want for a candidate. If you are looking for a Civil Engineer, Construction Design Specialist, Senior Engineering Architect all of whom have project management experience, THEN SAY THAT.

"Account Manager - non-commissioned" should not include things like Accountants, Sales Manager, Audit Specialist, etc.

One of the biggest issues I have with job posting sites, which allow you to save your searches and turn the saved searches into email alerts is that the search agents don't allow you to save the advanced searches. The advanced searches always allow you to exclude certain words, such as "accountant," "audit," "sales," and "specialist." So, each time I get the email alerts from searches that I have saved, I have to go into the site and "re-search" each time. That wastes my time and might actually cause me to miss an opportunity that would be perfect for me and the interested company. But we'll never know.
wwcitizen: (Which Way To Go)
I was looking through a job description on Monster for a job in mid-town. There was a link to the company's website, so I clicked on it to read up on the company, its history, focus, etc. On the site, I noticed a link to "See our View from our floor!", so I clicked on that, too. Here are the unappealing views I saw:







It's kind of tragic when technology and aesthetics collide - I wouldn't wanna be in an office that looked out on a gray, rainy world through gray, water-logged windows. I still applied for the job because it interested me, but I couldn't help but giggle cynically just a little bit.
wwcitizen: (At Puter)
Tomorrow morning might have a wake-up call for an interview. The company is based in Germany and has US outposts in Atlanta and Boston. I believe the travel I would do might send me to Paris and all over Germany. How cool would that be? Plus, the company's products (not releasing company names yet...) are sold globally. There are possibly three positions for which I would be qualified, and one lesser position that might be contract for a while (translator/interpreter). Either way, I would really like to get back with a company that's web-based and more fast-track. I liked the security of Pfizer and the potential longevity of a Manhattan-based law firm. But, neither one of those companies had the spunk I think I need for myself and personality.

Here's hoping!
wwcitizen: (workplace)
Today was interesting. I got a mandatory invitation to the Unemployment Office at 75 Varick St. in lower Manhattan (TriBeCa) for last Friday, which I couldn't make. The follow up to that date was sent to me as the "FINAL NOTICE!!" for next Friday, which I cannot make, either. The next date I could have made would be Oct. 10; however, I found out this morning last minute that I could go today or Monday at certain times. So, I went today.

The first practically unintelligible lady collecting our information (who was excited to meet me, the guy who called her about missing the ferry!!) said the whole orientation process would take no less than 2 hours. TWO HOURS!!! I didn't know that! But, I figured, the only thing I had to do today, really, was look for birthday presents for my godson and his dad, and others for his sister and mom. So, I sat patiently and made small talk with Angie across from me who kept smiling at me apologetically when I scoffed at something in the automated presentation under my breath.

The most unpleasant lady imaginable finally entered the room and led the session. She rattled off her information to us with inexplicable speed and close to her so that the people in the back of the room (who cared) had to ask her repeatedly to "please repeat that". She could not stop talking about the economic woes of our country and the current influx of "so many people from the financial sector who need jobs because of Morgan Stanley and WaMu and Lehman Brothers, and AIG - can you believe that they're still posting jobs for Lehman and AIG? Why would they do that?" And on and on and on, droning like we had nothing better to do.

And who calls me to be my personal counselor for the next 35 1/2 minutes? Mrs. "economic woes" herself (joy of joys), who told me that she would get me out of there quickly. (Yes, I kind of watched...) I sat and pleasantly acted as though every word she spoke was eloquent, necessary, interesting, worthwhile, and wonderful morsels of information - almost to the point of "taking notes" - to move along the process more quickly so I could get back onto the NJ-bound ferry. This whole experience left me feeling like I spent the afternoon in a Kafka-esque novelette.

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Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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