Vacation from Hell – Part 2

On Tuesday Dixie Dog was sick and I spent the entire day taking her outside to pee and poop and throw up. I was running out of the napkins left from carryout food and was using up the box of Kleenex quickly. Thank goodness I remembered to bring litter bags.

I soon realized that if I didn’t want to starve, I better figure out how to use GrubHub food delivery services. Soup and salad from a local eatery cost me a fortune by the time fees, service charges, and tip was added. But at least I had food.

The next morning, I was awakened by the sound of grass mowers from the motel next door. As soon as that was done, motel maintenance knocked on the door wanting me to move the car so they could pressure wash the sidewalk. (They keep the sidewalks cleaner than the rooms.) So, I got to enjoy two additional hours of noise from the pressure washer.

Now that I knew how to order online, I decided to order breakfast. Cracker Barrel was miles away in Pigeon Forge, but they delivered — for a fee. I order the largest breakfast I could find as who knows when I will eat again. It was way overpriced, half for food and half for services charges. The only reason it wasn’t even more is I received a discount of $25 as a first-time customer of UberEats.

I wanted to take a shower, but when I turned on the shower, the water temperature went back and forth between freezing and scalding, probably water pressure changes from elsewhere in this fleabag motel. I finally managed to lean over the tub and wash my hair and bathe as best I could, the only time the entire week.

By Thursday Dixie was sick again. She asked to go out, but I wasn’t fast enough, so she went on the floor, and I got to clean that up. Next time she wanted out I ran to take her quickly. There was a small grassy dog area off the edge of the asphalt and down a small embankment. She could reach it if I let out the full length of the leash. So, she went down there then wound her leash around a light pole. I had no choice but to risk falling to climb down and get her unwound.

I thought I would order some snacks online from Walgreens as there didn’t seem to be a local grocery, only restaurants and gift shops. After I put a bunch of stuff in my cart, a notice came up that DealDash did not deliver to my area. Swell. I took Dixie for another walk and then tried ordering with Instacart. Hooray! It went through.

The good news in addition to having snacks is that I managed to tackle the maid cleaning next door and got some more coffee and trash bags. Life is good. They said on TV that the mountains are really pretty this time of year, and the wildflowers are blooming. I guess I will never know.

Mo is playing cards 12+ hours a day and I’m stuck in the motel room with a sick dog. I had forgotten how he goes wild when he goes somewhere and forgets about me. He called and said he was not coming back for dinner. I ate a cold leftover sandwich and kicked myself for thinking this would be fun. If he goes to Peddlers’ or Calhoun’s and eats a steak, I may have to kill him.

(To be continued… Stay tuned if you can stand it.)

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Vacation from Hell – Part 1

“Why don’t you go with me?” he asked.

“I would rather stay home, there won’t be anything for me to do,” I replied.

“It will be a chance to get away from home. You can stay around the hotel, eat at the restaurant, swim or use the hot tub.” I thought he was feeling guilty about going without me.

I was weakening, “Can I take my computer? Can the dog go too?“

“Sure, she can go and keep you company. You can take her for walks.”

And so, the vacation from hell began. Mo loves to play cards and this was a big bridge tournament at a conference center in Gatlinburg, a tourist town near Great Smoky Mountain National Park. People from all over the US would be there — hundreds of people playing cards. He was so excited. I figured they would play cards part of the day and part would be free for us to do things. I should have known better.

We arrived at the Mountain Lodge, which was a mountain lodge in name only. It was actually just a motel. Our room was on the “Courtyard,” which was a courtyard in name only. It actually was an asphalt parking lot. The “Courtyard” was an old crummy motel (two stars) taken over by the “Mountain Lodge.” The restaurant was fast food, and the hot tub was on the other side of the busy street. Our room was at the back of an annex. Even if I could walk that far, I would probably be killed trying to cross the street.

It is not unusual for pet rooms to be the worst a hotel has to offer, so it was not a great surprise. This was the only motel near the conference center that took dogs.  All the courtyard rooms had dogs — dogs that barked a lot. Next door to us were some very loud people who argued and fought with noise coming through the thin walls. We had flashbacks of apartment living. I about to die for a coke but didn’t see any vending machines. Mo walked to the end of the row and found one but no snack machine.  

Traffic is bumper to bumper, and sidewalks are crawling with tourists in Gatlinburg. On the first day Mo left to play cards. He walked down a big hill to the convention center as this town is one street between two mountains and has very limited parking. Parking lots gouge tourists for parking fees.

I was starving, and normally would call room service. Guess again. Of course, no room service or free breakfast buffet. Why am I not surprised? I gave Mo a list for snacks, but he could not shop until his dinner break and all he found was a soda and bag of chips at a mini mart.

For some reason the maid never came to clean the room. I guess she missed us. Wrong! Apparently, conference rate rooms do not include maid service, or they do not clean rooms with dogs. I really didn’t care — until the second day when I ran out of free coffee and trash bags.

Mo was eating breakfast after leaving. Some days he didn’t have time to come back during dinner break. If he did, he would get me a sandwich from the coffee shop or at the one restaurant close enough for him to walk to. They played cards from 9 am until 11 pm. I don’t know how anyone can like cards that much.

[This is a continuing series, so stay tuned for Part 2. It’s all downhill from here.]

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It’s May! It’s May! – The Renaissance of May

“What do the simple folk do to help them escape when they’re blue?” Lady Guinevere asked King Arthur. All they could come with was that simple folk sit around and wonder what royal folk do. To avoid becoming blue, I decided to find out what the royal folk do by going to the local Renaissance Festival.

It is a mere few miles through the enchanted forest to the local Renaissance Faire where simple folk and royalty alike celebrate the merry month of May in some most unusual ways. With Renaissance Festivals commonplace across the county, anyone inclined to explore the out-of-the-ordinary can probably find a place to do so. Besides, I hadn’t had a close encounter with royalty since the time I saw the changing of the guard in London.

According to my information, festivals are a combination of period reenactment, craft fair, food festival, and artistic performance. As legend would have it, the festivals first started as reenactments of the Elizabethan era but morphed into a somewhat bizarre celebration of mythology and times of yore. I supposed that somewhat explains those characters running around in the woods.

The fair seems to attract an odd assortment of people, to say the least. Some dress up and talk in Shakespearean language because they belong to guilds involved in historical recreation. Some simply love what the British call “fancy dress” and enjoy the fun of wearing unusual costumes. A few, I suspect, are merely weird and probably should be locked up somewhere in a stone tower.

If you are among the curious spectators, there is certainly plenty to amuse you. There are shows with musicians, folk dancers, magicians, fire-eaters, and improv comedians. There are games and competitive jousting with knights in shining armor riding real horses. I felt certain that Lancelot was waiting to scoop me up and carry me away, but apparently, he was too busy dueling to seek my favor that day.

Spectators as well as staff are encouraged to wear period costumes. Visitors tend to come up with some pretty outlandish costumes and not to worry too much about authenticity. If you ever need an excuse to dress or act strangely, this is the perfect opportunity. Personally, I’ve never felt the need to dress up like a wench or damsel, but to each his or her own.

You could probably come up with a somewhat realistic costume from your own closet if you favor billowy sleeves, tights, and tall boots. As luck would have it, my hoop skirt and tiara were at the cleaners. Fortunately, most spectators do not wear costumes or try to talk in Old English so I was not alone..

In case you are wondering, Renaissance festivals are rooted in ancient seasonal festivals that celebrated spring. The old traditions come from an ancient pagan period when folks believed in magic and that spirits lived in trees. The coming of spring was the rebirth of nature celebrated with revelry. In other words, they had spring fever.

On the day I was at the fair, the mud left from the previous day’s showers provided an extra bit of authenticity. I could only imagine the soggy spirits that probably came out of the woodwork that day as actors and spectators sloshed about in the rain. Have these people never heard of cobblestones?

I watched the performers while munching on a huge fried turkey drumstick, also known as feasting on fowl, I believe. In addition to food, I found a somewhat better level of crafts this year than in past festivals. I especially liked the amber jewelry with tiny bugs entrapped in the stone, like spirits from the past.

I know what you are thinking. I’ve spent way too much time at the Renaissance Faire, and am starting to babble nonsense. Knock on wood, and maybe I won’t need therapy.

Copyright 2007 Sheila Moss
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The Great Ceiling Scrape

Do you get tired of asking people to do things and end up doing it yourself? I often do. But last week my honey made the mistake of asking if he could help me do anything.

All my blood drained to my feet, and I felt dizzy. Was he volunteering — actually volunteering — to work? I must be having a hot flash, I thought, fanning myself.

“You can scrape the bathroom ceiling,” I ventured.

Let me explain. The bathroom ceiling has been a point of contention around our house for some time now. It all started when the roof leaked and caused a patch of the ceiling to peel.

After the roof was repaired, we hired a handyman to fix it. He not only didn’t fix it, he made it worse. He was supposed to patch the damaged spot and paint the entire ceiling. I don’t know what he painted it with, possibly paint remover. He was barely out the door when it started peeling again, this time in a dozen places instead of only one.

“Make him come back and fix it,” said honey. I didn’t want him coming back. I was not giving him my other arm and leg to finish turning my house into a compost pile.

With every steamy shower, the ceiling became worse and worse, popcorn flakes fell like dry leaves in the wind.

I didn’t know what to do.

Then I read a do-it-yourself article on the Internet. The guy who wrote the article hated popcorn ceilings and had scraped the entire ceiling in his house. “It’s easy,” he said. “Why pay someone hundreds when you can do it yourself for nothing?”

I went to Walmart and bought the biggest paint scraper I could find.

My honey is a smart man. He graduated from a Big Ten college and is a computer analyst. But he is not handy around the house.

“What do I cover the floor with?” he asked.

“Go upstairs and get a plastic drop cloth.” (This man is a college graduate.)

He got the ladder out of the garage all on his own, and the sounds of paint being scraped floated down the hallway.

In a while he came down the hall in a cloud of dust, filthy as a salt miner. I didn’t say a word.

“My arms are not long enough,” he whined, “I can’t reach it in the shower.”

There are times in a relationship when it is best to keep your opinions to yourself. This was one of those times.

He tried to pass the job off to my son, but my son, thinking as fast as a deer in hunting season, went to the garage and found a stool that would fit in the shower.

Maybe I should have called the handyman from hell after all. A few more minutes of digging popcorn like a gopher on espresso and he was done.

“I didn’t get the edges good,” he said. “My shoulder hurts.”

I might have known I would have to get involved eventually. I climbed the ladder and finished it while he cured the shoulder with a big dose of football on TV. But I was still proud of him for doing most of it.

The worst part was cleaning up the mess. Being a man, he didn’t bother to remove the curtains, towels, pictures or anything else except a few of his own toiletries. Everything was covered in a dust storm of crumbled paint. I think it took longer to clean up the mess than to make it. I wore out a dust buster and two brooms. Finally, I got all the ceiling remains off the floor.

The ceiling isn’t painted now. I don’t care. Right now, I need to collapse for about three days. When I wake up, I will look on the Internet and see if I can find an article on how to paint a ceiling.

It is probably easy. We can do it ourselves.

Copyright 2012 Sheila Moss

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Chariot of Fire

It started out to be a commute home from work like any other day. Rush hour is never a pleasant experience. Everybody wants to get home as fast as they can, it seems, and they don’t really want anything getting in their way. 

Suddenly there was a strange noise like the tail pipe was hitting the bottom of the car. “Is that our car making that noise?” I asked. I was hoping it was another car and not ours at all, but no such luck. It was our car all right, our only-a-year-old almost new car. There was nothing to do but get off the road as soon as possible before the entire bottom fell out.

Unable to get to the right side due to traffic, we had to pull off on the left. Drivers have little patience when they are on the Interstate highway traveling at high speed. “We are going to be killed,” I thought. One of these cars is going to slam into us and smash us to smithereens.

Honey got out to check. “Well, it isn’t the tail pipe,” he said. “We have a flat tire.” Honey is a smart man. He works in computer security, speaks a foreign language and graduated from a major eastern university. But when it comes to fixing things, he is worthless. 

“Do we have On Star?” I asked hopefully, remembering the time he locked the dog inside and himself outside and totally forgot about having roadside assistance. Unfortunately, he had decided not to renew it after the free year. 

“AAA, we can call them to come rescue us.” So we scrambled around until we came up with the plastic membership card. Cars were rushing by so fast that our car rocked in the wind. “We are going to die,” I thought.

Honey proceeded to place a call to AAA, trying to explain where we were so they could send road service to help us.

“Tell them we are going to die, so hurry,” I said, remembering the last time we had a flat years ago. We had waited and waited for AAA until finally a Good Samaritan stopped and changed the tire for us.

I saw a truck pull off the road on the other side. The state has vehicles that patrol the busiest sections of the Interstate to help people with car problems — people like us. They do it to keep the roads open, traffic moving, and to prevent secondary accidents. 

That yellow truck with the flashing light looked a like a golden chariot to me. But it couldn’t get across the speeding lanes of traffic. Cars were rushing by so fast they almost melted. I still don’t know how it happened, but when they turned on their flashing light, the traffic miraculously parted. The truck crossed the rushing automotive sea and pulled up behind us.

Honey got out to explain the problem to Moses. Okay, maybe it wasn’t Moses, but he sure seemed like Moses to me.

“He wants me to get further off the road,” Honey said. Well, if Moses commands it, we better do it. It’s no time to be breaking commandments right before you die.

 Moses jacked up the car and did mysterious things with the tire that I didn’t understand. I later found out he had pulled out a large metal spike that we had hit and plugged the hole. Then he told us to go forth to a tire store and buy a new tire.

While he said he worked for the Department of Transportation, I’m still not so sure. After all, he was driving a golden chariot that flashed like fire.

Copyright 2012 Sheila Moss

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Barbecue Joint

We were going to an anniversary party in a nearby town. My aunt and uncle have been married 70 years. Imagine that! Seventy years of marriage and they haven’t killed each other yet, a rare occasion.

It was getting close to lunch time. “Should we eat first or should we find the party place first and then eat?” We decided it would probably be better to find where we were going first and then eat real food or fast food depending on how much time was left.

With modern technology like GPS, it didn’t take long to find the hall, but we didn’t see any restaurants nearby. Once again, modern technology came to the rescue. My sister pulled her Android out of her purse and as luck would have it, she found a barbecue restaurant just down the road.

I’ve heard of this place,” said my sister.”They are supposed to have really good barbecue.”

So, off we went to the really-good-barbecue place. It looked more like a gas station than a restaurant — an old, run-down, country-looking gas station at that.

But my stomach was grumbling and we could smell the smoke from an open pit barbecue out back. The Android didn’t find anything else in the area, so we went in. As my eyes adjusted to the dimness, I didn’t see anything inside but a convenience mart.

“Are you folks wanting to sit down and eat?” the clerk asked, noticing we were a bit over-dressed for a mini-mart.

She pointed us toward the back where there was an add-on room with tables and chairs. Mel’s diner was a gourmet establishment compared to this joint. But good barbecue places are often a bit “rustic.”

Alice the waitress came to our table and asked what we wanted to eat. We didn’t see a menu anywhere. Apparently, they had gone paperless before going paperless was even cool.

“We have pulled-pork barbecue or barbecue chicken,” she said, “and two sides come with that.”

I thought honey would pass out when she mentioned pork, but it wasn’t the sort of place he could expect to be Kosher. He quickly ordered chicken, and the rest of us wavered between pork, chicken, potato salad, baked beans, coleslaw, and fries.

Alice didn’t write anything down. Apparently, when there are only two selections on the menu, it isn’t that hard to remember. Shortly afterwards the food came and the pulled-pork was a mountain of meat served southern-style with a thin barbecue sauce on the side.

Our taste buds were throbbing as we chomped down food, suddenly forgetting to notice our surroundings.

Eventually, the waitress returned to tell us about the fresh pie, home-made only that morning. I couldn’t possibly eat another bite, but when she mentioned chocolate-meringue pie, Honey’s eyes lit up. Chocolate is his weakness.

My sister decided to find the ladies room before we left, which was also the men’s room, a unisex facility before unisex was even cool. She returned to tell us that it was dirty and there were bugs in the bathtub. We couldn’t figure out why a gas station had a bathtub but were afraid to speculate too much.

If there were bugs in the restroom, I didn’t want to think about what might be in the kitchen. I remembered a TV episode of Hill Street Blues where an undercover cop worked as a short-order cook and whacked bugs with the spatula while frying hamburgers.

Thank goodness, the paperless check arrived — that is, the waitress said to tell the cashier four dinners and a dessert. I guess being paperless is easier if everything is the same price.

Pit barbecue slow-smoked for hours is a soul food that everyone should eat at least once before they die, regardless of the sort of joint that you have to go to eat it.

I hope there was no extra protein in anything. But if there was, it hasn’t killed us yet.

Copyright 2012 Sheila Moss – All rights reserved

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What to Wear?

Here we are at that silly time of the year again when it is impossible to know what to wear. Spring is wonderful, but for the fashion-conscious woman, it presents untold problems. While men only worry about how fast the grass is growing and when it will need to be mowed, women worry about whether to wear a sweater or a blouse.

Granted there are much bigger problems in the world, but it is the nagging little day-to-day decisions that can make us crazy.

“I wore a sweater this morning and now I’m sweltering,” said one friend while she fanned herself with the papers she was reading.

I know the feeling. Mornings are cool, so the turtleneck top seems perfectly fine, but later in the day, you wonder what in the world you were thinking and whether you were fully awake when you dressed that morning.

So, you try to find clothes that are “in between”, neither hot nor cold. The little summer tees don’t seem warm enough and the snug sweaters are pushed to the back of the closet. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have many in between clothes; they are all either summer or winter.

“Layer” advised one of my sensible friends.

So, I pile on the clothes until my arms cannot bend and I am barely able to walk. Then I spend the day taking off garment after garment as the temperature goes higher during the day. By the end of the day, I need a wheelbarrow to carry my clothes home. I am just not the layering kind of person. I want to get dressed once.

When working, the heat situation at the office didn’t help much either. In a large building, they never seem to get the temperature quite right. After a cold snap when the thermostat was high, we smothered while waiting for a maintenance man to come adjust it.

And about the time that it was down to a comfortable level, what happened? You guessed it. It became cold again and we shivered and cursed the weatherman while waiting for maintenance to come turn the heat back on.  The way the sun hit the windows of the building seemed to make temperatures vary a lot as well. Mornings were shady and cool, afternoons sunny and hot.

Meanwhile, we still have the original problem of what in the world to wear without looking like a rag woman or a teddy bear.

I think I have finally figured it out, more or less.  Medium weight pants, neither my light summer ones with the stripes, nor the thick ones like my corduroy favorites. Let’s see, that leaves about three pairs that I can rotate. Then there are the shirts with long sleeves that seem to work pretty well. Top it off with a cardigan sweater and I can pass until the sun starts doing its thing with the windows.

Coats are impossible. While it is cold enough for a coat in the morning, I find myself carrying it on my arm in the afternoon. Time to dig out those fleece jackets and “all weather” coats. All weather? Now that’s a term invented by the fashion industry, well aware of the changing seasons. Nothing is “all weather.” I think it means that it will shed water as long as it isn’t pouring rain and will cut the wind, but not actually keep you warm.

Anyhow, by the time I get this between seasons thing all figured out, it will be summer and time to get rid of jackets and sweaters and go for light-weight bottoms and short-sleeve tops. I’m ready. I’m so tired of dealing with the “what to wear” problem every day.

Now, if I can just figure out something to put on for today, I’ll be good to go.

Copyright 2011 Sheila Moss

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Git ‘er Done

Git ‘er done Larry the Cable Guy advises. I need to clean my closet in the worse way. Perfect, I think as I look out the window. It is pouring rain outside. Spring is here and my closet is stuffed with corduroy, suede, and wool things I will not wear until next winter.

I’m not one of those persons blessed with a walk-in closet. My closet must change with the seasons, which means twice a year I remove all the things that I can’t wear for a while and take them upstairs to the attic, a chore I despise.

Since so many of the clothes are being moved, it is the perfect time to rearrange everything. If I can’t do anything outside, I might as well accomplish something inside. I arrange everything according to color and weed out the not-fit-to-wear for the reject pile. Then I trudge up the stairs with the winter load and back down with the summer load.

At last, I have summer clothes to wear.

To appreciate this you must understand that I am the world’s biggest procrastinator when it comes to getting things done that I don’t like to do. “Why don’t you just do it and get it over with?” my honey always asks. I want to get ‘er done, but I don’t want to do ‘er.  And the longer I put it off, the harder it is to persuade myself to git ‘er done.

Needless to say, it feels really good to get rid of things on my long-term to do list. In fact, it feels so good I decide to do some of the other tasks that I dislike, like organizing my important papers. I hate this one so much that I sometimes put it off for an entire year. Then tax season comes and I hate myself because I can’t find anything I need. It is really wonderful when the task is done and no longer looming before me.

I am on a roll now.

Might as well do another one I’ve been putting off, updating the virus protection on my laptop. That should be easy, why have I put it off? Because, my program downloads never work out. There is always a problem of some sort and I get frustrated and angry with technology. But, I download the stupid update, which seems to go okay. The installation goes okay too, but the program won’t activate. Checking FAQ’s, I find that I have to wait 12 to 24 hours first.

What a crock! I want to git ‘er done!

It has stopped raining now and I decide that maybe I can get those dandelions sprayed after all. I ran out of weed spray while doing this chore a few weeks ago and have not been able to get myself motivated to finish the job. Well, no time like the present. So, I grab the weed spray and am soon outside squirting the little yellow heads that are jumping up everywhere. The only good thing about this task is that it is cool outside after this morning’s rain.

I am marking things off my to-do list like the energizer bunny now. Each item that I mark off gives me a little ting of accomplishment. I don’t know why I keep putting these things off. I have really accomplished a lot for one day.

I decide go to the grocery store only to get cat food, but end up with a shopping cart full of things to bring home and put away. Where did all this energy come from? I don’t know but once I got started, I could not seem to stop.

I had a “Me Day” a few weeks ago, so maybe I’m now catching up. With due respect to the Cable Guy, I guess I will have to call this a Get ‘er Done Day. 

Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss

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What’s a Clavicle?

You have to go to a doctor periodically for a checkup – whether there is anything wrong or not. I try to conveniently forget about my appointment, as I did this past week. However, the doctor’s office called and inconveniently reminded me that I was due there at 8:00 AM.

What was I thinking, an appointment at 8:00 AM? I couldn’t even remember why I was supposed to go back. I dutifully showed up at the crack of dawn and had to wait outside in the hall for the office to open. I was the first appointment. I was checked in, only to find myself waiting again. The doctor had not arrived yet.

When I was finally called, the doctor told me “I don’t have your chart yet. They are bringing it.” Don’t have my chart? It is not as if they have not been expecting me for six months.

So, what do you shoot the breeze about with a doctor while waiting around?

“My back has really been bothering me lately,” I ventured, hoping I could get a steroid shot since I was there anyhow. I could save myself a trip to the orthopedic doctor.

“What medications are you on?” asked the doctor.

Sneaky! Tell him my meds and he will know everything wrong with me. By the time I listed them all, though, the chart arrived. I didn’t remember it being so large. It looked like an unabridged dictionary –probably had as many words as one too.

While he refreshed his memory on my ailments, I told him again about my back. “Doesn’t the Celebrex help that?” he asked.

“Not enough.” I was sure then that he was going to make me go to the orthopedic doctor.

“Well, I can give you a steroid pack,” he said. “It does the same thing. Let’s see, you had blood drawn last time and you are not due for a bone density test” and so on down the list. I guess he didn’t know why I was there either.

“I have had a colonoscopy since last time,” I offered.

The trouble is when there is nothing wrong with you, they find something. He listened to my heart and checked my throat. “I feel a lump,” he said. “Have you noticed it?”

“No.” A lump? I have cancer. I have throat cancer and I don’t even smoke. They will remove my larynx and I’ll have to talk through a hole in my neck.”

“We better have that X-rayed.”

So, I was off to the first floor to wait around some more and get my lump X-rayed.

“How long have you had this problem?” asked the X-ray technician.”

“One hour,” I replied. I did the put-on-a-gown-with-no-back, stand-in-front-of-a-machine-and-don’t-breathe routine while they took photos of my cancer. Then it was back to the doctor for my results.

“You can wait in the doctor’s office.”

His office? I knew it! Cancer! I planned my funeral while the doctor pulled up my X-rays and looked at them.

“Look at this,” he said.

He is going to show me the malignant tumor and tell me how long I have left.

“See,” he said pointing to a white spot on my X-ray film. “You have a displaced clavicle,” he said.

What’s a clavicle? I wondered. “Does anything have to be done about it?” I asked.

“No, not if it doesn’t bother you. I just had to be sure it wasn’t anything else.”

Dear God, I don’t have cancer! Thank you, Jesus! Guess I won’t need that undertaker for a while after all.

“Come back in six months,” he said. Anything else?”

“Er, the prescription for my back?”

I got out of there as fast as I could before he decided to operate.

Going to the doctor can make you sick.

Copyright 2012 Sheila Moss

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Extreme Densification

I was tired. I had been densifying all day. Densifying? Is that a word? Well, maybe I coined the word. It is what happens when an office is being densified. I looked up densification at and it said, “An increase in the density of something.” That was not a big help.

Actually, the word can be applied to a number of different things, but in this case it means to put more people in a smaller amount of space in an office building. It seems that someone in higher management decided that cubicles with high walls were no longer the way to go. When you densify, you put people closer together with low walls in work groups or “pods.”

You probably are not old enough to remember old-style offices where everyone was in the same room and desks were end to end. Your “office” was the top of your desk and the carpet where your chair sat. Phones rang, people chatted, typewriters clacked. I don’t remember if it was efficient. I do remember having to see George pick his nose all day.

Workers, of course, prefer walls and a private space. They don’t give a whit about whether being able to see each other improves communication or efficiency. Somehow, workers suspect that management is more interested in packing people in a small space to improve the bottom line rather than to improve efficiency.

Thing is, they were already remodeling the building floor by floor when they decided to do things a different way. So the remodeled floors had to be redone. Too bad they didn’t think of it sooner. I guess they planned on saving enough money by packing us in like sardines to make up the difference. Perhaps they should call it sardinification instead of densification.

We would not have as much open space after we densified, and we would have to move while the space was being remodeled. We didn’t know where or when, other than soon. All the files had to be cleaned and all extra paper had to go.

Of course, we really needed to clean out the files anyhow. We found paper that went back to the 80’s. Apparently, we had a few hoarders in the past that left for greener pastures and didn’t have an opportunity to clear their offices. New workers came and didn’t know what to throw away and what to keep, so they took the low road and kept it all.

We cleaned, threw out, shredded, recycled and densified until the trash bins regurgitated. I hauled so many loads of unwanted office items to our supply unit that I wore out the cart. I don’t know what we did with our time when we only had to do our job. I had never been so dense in my life.

I still remember when I transferred to my first tiny semi-private office cubicle with four walls (three and a half, actually) years ago. I was able to hang a few pictures and felt very important, like a real person. But no one got a walled office except the big cheeses. Hopefully, they would at least not block the windows this time and we could actually get some natural light.

As far as privacy, my calls were recorded, and my email and Internet usage monitored. My documents were backed up on the mainframe computer, and I was evaluated monthly to be sure I was meeting my goals. There was no such thing as privacy, walls or no walls. Sometimes I wonder what they thought we were doing, secretly cooking meth in our coffeepot?

Densify became the new office buzz word. I couldn’t help but wonder if they would actually complete the project or decide that something else was better and we were dense enough already.

Copyright 2012 Sheila Moss

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