Thursday, 28 March 2013

A Rescuer of Things

There's a quote I came across last October. It goes:

“You know what getting married is? It's agreeing to taking this person who right now is at the top of his form, full of hopes and ideas, feeling good, looking good, wildly interested in you because you're the same way, and sticking by him while he slowly disintegrates. And he does the same for you. You're his responsibility now and he's yours. If no one else will take care of him, you will. If everyone else rejects you, he won't. What do you think love is? Going to bed all the time?”
- Jane Smiley

I loved it the moment I read it. Shared it in a few consecutive tweets, too. When I got to the end, I kinda wanted to answer, "So, ummm, wait...what?" Lol! As a friend of mine said to me sometime last year, love alone isn't enough [for marriage]. And, whaddya know? Turns out that the make-up of the love itself might be different than what you had long envisioned.

All these things. (As a sis would say.) My thoughts turned to "these things" as I pored over almost two decades of writing the other night. Like, seriously. I'm gonna have to stop writing! ....... Hahahahahahahaha! I crack me up! Too funny! Okay. By that I mean... Actually, nothing comes to mind. Here's the thing. Perhaps I could just keep doing what I'm doing and, after a while, see what needs to go. Fast. And, unceremoniously. Because, well, I tend to keep it all. I'm gonna resist the temptation to list some of the things I've kept since nineteen long time.

I'm not a hoarder, per se. Hmm. Reminds me of a preview of "Hoarders" that was being shown repeatedly in the run-up to the broadcast date. As the woman in the clip cast a glance at the mountain of stuff in her house, she summed up her life's philosophy in this memorable piece: "I wouldn't say I'm a hoarder. I'm a rescuer of things."  Uh-huh.

My defence? I hold on to, and take care of, the things that mean a lot to me. Those "things" would include the pages and pages of thoughts on my friendships and relationships and interactions and passing fancies... When I came across the ones spanning about four months in 1996, I just knew that their retention period was up. And, it's not as if I had ever planned to have a retention period for these reams and wads and stacks of paper and books. I just figured I'd keep writing until I could no longer hold a pen or pencil to paper (including napkins, restaurant receipts...). What would family I'd have left behind do with the lot? No idea. I imagine, my life being spared, that it might be a good idea to put some instructions down somewhere. I mean, I still dream of becoming a world-renowned writer. In years to come, perhaps long after I'm gone, those pieces may very well become highly sought-after relics.

So, what caused me to ditch that batch? Quite simply, it was ugly. I felt like I was fingering a scar that I had somehow discovered a new fascination for. And, as I passed my finger over it, I couldn't resist picking at it then digging away at it. Like I was trying to figure out why and how I got that mark in the first place. And, for those twenty or so minutes that I dug and read - after a while I skimmed - I began to feel sickish. I no longer held it dear and it meant nothing to me now. There was no answer coming to complete the "I need to hold on to this because...". I did have a very ready answer for why it needed to go. There was no longer a place for such ugly in the beauty of the now.

There were no second thoughts. It was one of those things that, when you're doing it, or about to do it, you just know it's right. It's even beyond the realm of knowing to just being right. No long prayer, just time to act. So, I rolled up the papers, put 'em in my bag and took them to my workplace the following day. (Felt I needed to use the shredder that minces paper.) And, quite unceremoniously, I pulverized them!

After all, there are new things that are springing forth; new things for me to hold dear and take care of.  The beauty of the now shall be clutter-free. I gotta make room for the new things to grow. For, apparently, love is more than "going to bed all the time."


Monday, 18 March 2013

Being "the best by a tiny bit"

Several years ago while living in Rochester, New York, I took the decision to leave my then current job and go on the hunt for another. For one of my interviews, wanting to impress the recruiters, I went all out in creating a few samples of communications products. The message was consistent across the products and, as I spoke to the brochure in particular, I was quite excited as I tried to sell the company on my new and original slogan: "It just makes sense!" Well, I didn't get the job.

What I did get was one of the shocks of my life. About three months later, a new insurance company opened offices, and started offering their service, in Rochester. Their slogan? "It just makes sense." They had a few commercials that created scenarios of people/situations with a dearth of common sense. They built 'em up to that final scene where everything inevitably came crashing down. Had they chosen the insurance company...blah blah blah. But, I was stuck at the slogan! To this day, it would be difficult for anyone to convince me that my idea didn't make it out of that interview and into the ear of some marketing/ad person responsible for the insurance company's ad campaign.

The fact that this has happened to me means that it has happened to others. I took no action. I mean, how would I even begin to prove that my intellectual property (didn't call it that, then) and creativity had been encroached upon? Nay, stolen. By that time, anyway, I had already found a new job and, well, was simply not interested in pursuing it.

That experience left me in a funny place. Not haha funny but funny peculiar, as my sisters and I used to say growing up. How would I, from that moment, demonstrate my capabilities in satisfying recruiting requirements, while not furnishing my would-be employers with valuable insight/material for themselves or those within their network, if they end up not hiring me? It also made me feel that, were I to take that route, I would not be carrying out my full potential; I would be marring the integrity of my work through deliberate short-changing. Doing so would mean not being true to myself.

Over the years, I've changed jobs a few times - relocating to different countries will do that. Whenever I've had to attend an interview that asks for evidence of my work, that episode jumps out at me. In a few cases, the requirement is in reference to something they've already worked on. And, that's fine; that's the way it should be. In one or two cases, they go the "what if" route for a situation yet to be realized. With those, it's really a hard call. The last time I was faced with that, I did go all out, but, I introduced no new idea in the comms material - everything was already theirs. I created the materials and did the writing - to show them I could. My uniqueness was in my speed; the way I captured the voice and sound of the head of the company in the proposed speech and the way I showed that I totally got what the organization was about.

I'm not saying that is the way to go.  Kinda reminiscent of Dash in The Incredibles: "I'll only be the best by a tiny bit." Most of us want to be the best by more than a tiny bit. And, after learning that we didn't get  x or y job, we certainly don't want to be thinking, "Man! If I had just put that little extra in it!" It might come down to: "Do your best but be wise as well." I would like to think that organizations are more mindful nowadays of the kinds of projects they have candidates work on as they vie for certain positions; whether these projects leave the company with little to no wiggle room to benefit in any way from what a candidate brings to the table if that candidate ends up not being hired. At the very least, it's a matter of ethics, really.


Friday, 8 March 2013

EA and GM of the Universe

"This is God's Executive Assistant and General Manager of the Universe, may I help you?"

"I'd like to speak with God, please?"

"I'm sorry? And you are?"

"Jeff. The guy from 123 Main Street, last house on the right."

"Jeff, there are hundreds of thousands of Main Street on earth. You will have to be more specific."

"But...but I thought He would know exactly which one..."

"Yes, He knows, but, I don't. And I'm the one scheduling the appointment. So, I'd like to know."

"Appointment? Am I not going to get to talk to Him right away?"

"Hahahahahahahaha! You're funny, Jeff. Are you a comedian by profession?

"No, I'm a doct - "

"OK. Really? I'm not interested. I'll file that for another day. In the meantime, no. You won't get to speak with Him right away. There are 574, 671,789 people ahead of you. So, I hope it's not urgent."

"Well, it kinda is. Can't you get me ahead, given the urgency? It's a matter of life and death."

"Yeeeah, that's what they all say - "

"But, it's true!"

"And, they all say that too. And, Jeff? Please don't raise your voice at me. As it is, your prospects aren't looking too good right now. Try not to make it worse. How is the 26th of September?

"Twenty sixth? Are you insane? That's months away! Didn't you hear me? I said it's urgent!"

"Ahhh, of course you did. We'll make that the 30th. Give you a little extra time to cool off..."

"What the...!"


"Hello, this is Rita."

"Hi, Rita. May I speak with God please?"

"And you are?"

"I'm Michael; Michael with the gambling problem?"

"That doesn't help me much, Michael."

"It's me. Michael. The Michael that lost everything to this awful habit and I can't seem to get it under control..."

"Say... what now? Are you crying, Michael?"

"No, no I'm not crying. Just a bit down again, that's all."

"Mhmm! Sure. I can get you in for September 26. How much time will you need?"

"Nothing sooner?"

"Well, you said you've lost everything. Do you have anything left to gamble with, Michael?"

"Umm, no?"

"So, you're good then.  Just wait it out. Time also flies when you're not having fun."

"Okay. Alright. Thank you. I think..."

"What was that?"


"It better be nothing. And, by the way?"


"God's last name isn't dammit. Says right here on your file on page number 897, 347 that you yelled that out the other day when you lost a game."

"Yes, I umm. I admit that - "

"Sorry. I don't take confessions. I was only reminding you."

"Oh, okay. Umm, thanks."


"Hello, this is Rita."

"Hi Rita. This is Thoya."

"How may I help you?"

"I'd like to have a talk with God, please?"

"Hmmm, Thoya?"


"I hate to tell you this but, nothing until October 1."

"Wow. After the last time we spoke, I realized I didn't tell Him some things I really wanted to tell Him."

"And whose fault would that be?  Since we started speaking, 798, 290, 375 people have joined the line. I can't waste time booking a make-up appointment you know. You have to use your time with Him well!"

"But, He enjoys when we talk together!"

"And I take it you think that means He wants to talk to you every day."

"Well, yeah."

"Don't kid yourself, Thoya. You're clearly of the opinion that you mean a lot to Him."

"But, I do."

"Hahaha. Another comedian."


"Not you, dear. Call back on October 1. In the meantime, just make sure you practice your prayer. Don't want to be leaving out anything now, k?"


"Hello this is Rita."

"Salut Rita, c'est François."

"Oh, c'est vous."

"Ahh, vous souvenez de moi!"

"Comment pourrais-je oublier? Vous le problème inhabituel."

"Oui, eh bien, puis-je parler avec Dieu, s'il vous plaît?"

"François, n'est-ce pas un peu fatigué de ce péché avouer cycle?"

"Oui, je le suis. C'est ce que je veux lui parler de."

"Hmm. Bien sûr que si. Encore une fois."**


"Hello, this is Rita."

"Rita, a me man!"

"Me who?"

"A me, Donavan from Jamaica, man!"

"What a gwan Papcaan?"

"Deh ya. Hear wha, mi waa talk to God bout sopm. Tink yuh can gi mi a bligh?"

"Zas Kri...My yute! Yuh nuh deh pon di phone ten second good yet and yuh a beg bligh? Mi have bout 2, 187, 649 people from Jamaica inna di line. A whaa gwan down deh so?"

"Rita my girl, is a long story, zi mi. Dem a tax out wi daylight; a tax patty; a tax church; a tax phone card; a tax tax...hundred dollar phone card a cost bout one sixty or one eighty now... Crime gone up; hopes gone dung..."

"But dis serious!"

"Den nuh dat mi a try tell yuh! Whe yuh can do fi mi?"

"Mi a bump smaddy. Hol di line."

"Respec my girl."

"Easy my yute."


And so it goes in this hypothetical scenario. People the world over wanting to talk to God but having to pass through an Executive Assistant. Of course, as this scenario goes, He would approach Rita's desk and lovingly tell her to put everybody's call through. 


"Everybody. I'll take them all at once. I got this."

I'm particularly happy that God, the Creator and Sustainer of Heaven and Earth takes time to hear me when I call; to commune with me; to love me as if I were the only person on earth to be loved.

As I thought about the end to that scenario, I remembered a funny and true story from long ago. One of my co-workers was telling us what happened during her cab ride home the night before. She said calls kept coming in from base (dispatch) for the cabbie to pick up folks at one address then another then another. He was a great cabbie and customers were asking for him by name. At about the third or fourth request, he answered, "Base? Tell di whole a dem seh mi a come!" Lol! 

Yes, at any time, He has time for all who turn to Him. And, (thankfully) there's no EA. He's got this.

(**via Google Translate.)