First day of spring and we were treated to yet more snow here in New England… this after being teased by the first warm day of the year that brought us outdoors for lunch last Friday. Today’s snow-rain mixture is helping mothernature attain expletive status…at least that’s something I was trying to start today as I was struggling to make tea at the water cooler/hot water dispenser in my hallway’s kitchenette… “Aw, mothernature!” I said shaking scalding water off my wrist, “That smarts.” I’ve got my first performance review coming up, so I’m trying to appear too busy to be careful whilst making tea. And also creative in my choice of expletives.

Yes, last week I found myself the victim of one of the band of merry pranksters I’ve fallen in with at work — basically a bunch of 20-somethings who are only slowly learning that I’m like 10-15 years older than them. What a bunch of rubes!! Can’t even figure that out… wait… why am I hanging out with them, you’re wondering? Well, they were the ones who jumped at my idea of office-chair basketball, for one thing, which now boasts four legitimate teams, official standings and plenty of controversy fueled by my erratic rulings and point system as Commissioner. Mainly it’s a vehicle for me to write yet another set of email updates to yet another group of semi-captive readers — although I must point out that others have written league notes and updates as well, easily meeting or surpassing my own standards for such. And they have also quickly engaged in a series of pranks that keep our relatively cloistered office existence more social than it could very easily be. Almost everyone has their own little offices at my company, so talking to anyone outside of a meeting on a given day involves a bit more effort, planning or creativity.

So first, after I complained about a series of posters that someone in IT spent way too much money on and plastered all about our hallways, I have now twice been staring off into mid-space at my desk only to eventually find myself focusing on one of these posters, which someone has stolen from its original spot and taped up on my wall. Funny? Not if you loathe “AbtKnowledge” as much as I do (I mistakenly attended one of their training sessions when I first started at the company and didn’t know which meeting requests I could ignore/decline and which were mandatory, only to find myself being told for an hour how to fill in a search field on the company’s intranet if I wanted to look for something… oh really, is that how it works? Just like on the rest of the internet and known world?!). And then the pranks escalated when I found the one book on my office bookshelf missing — Dilbert’s Top Secret Guide to Management. I only noticed because we received a blast email from HR sharing the new “internal transfer” policy, which was full of superfluous HR news and actions that the “Staffing Hot Team” (no joke) had taken. I immediately started penning an email rebuttal or commentary really to my underlings, I mean, coworker friends, and wanted to see what from the email came directly out of the Dilbert management book only to find it gone. I quickly tracked down the perpetrator, retrieved the book from his backpack (where he claimed he had put it to take to his student mentee that he reads to once per week — “Your good deeds can’t help you now!”) and then beat him about the head and face with it, as suggested on page 53 of the Dilbert Guide to Management. I’d say I studied the text well, but honestly I knew it all before I read it.

How all of this will translate during the performance review process remains to be seen. I’ll have to wait and see if I should claim responsibility for our April Fool’s Day plans. Every now and then our company’s one receptionist will come over an old loudspeaker system and relate in disinterested tones, sort of like a less vigorous version of the Ghostbusters’ secretary that someone’s lights are on, or the owner of a black Mazda needs to move his car for a delivery truck. One of my coworkers has become friendly with her, so we think we can convince her to read a bunch of nonsensical announcements over the loudspeaker on April 1st. “Attention everyone, there will be jell-o wrestling in Ramp Room #3 at 5:00pm today.” or “Pants are optional for the rest of the day today. Repeat: pants are optional.”

Ah, but unfortunately it’s not all fun and games in the rest of the world. Japan’s events are reminding us about that one little issue I was researching on my very first journalistic assignment working one college summer for the Baltimore Chronicle: how to mitigate the dangers of nuclear waste. Nuclear power is “clean” until you think about where and how to store the waste that needs to be stored and monitored for something like 500 years (or is it 5,000)? And then there’s the little news story over the weekend that the U.S. seems to have gotten itself involved in a third war?!?! Come on now… what in the first two wars we’re embroiled in would give us the confidence to take any sort of active part in a third? I know it’s more complicated than that… but after Iraq and Afghanistan I think we have every right to ask and ask again what our exact reasons are for intervening… our exact interests, might be the better question. Of course, starting wars is becoming a bit old hat in the past decade, no? Not sure people really noticed this one yet… who was the last President who didn’t start a war? Carter? He was booted after 4 years and yet went on to become one of our most respected leaders… a seeker of peace…

just going to let those thoughts trail off there as it’s late and I have quickly vacillated from lighthearted humor to a suddenly heavy heart thinking about war, politics, nuclear meltdowns… tricky world to navigate here, that’s for sure. I find it easier to break up the impending doom with a little nerf hoops.




About ericf73

A modern-day combination of Noah, Godot and Clark W. Griswold.
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