So one of my friends has been pushing me to post more regularly. And I love her for it. My last post was on a Tuesday. By Thursday, I got an email from her asking me when I was going to put up new material. I didn’t get around to it until Saturday. Now, I’m gonna tell you… I had that post written for days. But my laptop is having technical difficulties. It no longer connects to the internet! I am going to have to do something about this as soon as possible. I am like a lost soul without the internet. It’s really pathetic. But, without the internet, I have been so creative! It’s really been amazing how much writing I can do when I’m not interrupting my flow to check my Facebook account every five minutes. That damn Facebook… it’s an addiction, I tell ya!
Friday was one of the most uneventful days I’ve ever had at work. My office and my boss’s office are separated by a super-long hallway. But that doesn’t mean that it keeps us from being in touch. Oh no! If she wants me, she’ll shoot me an email about this or that, she’ll stomp (because even though she’s small and thin, she stomps everywhere) her way down to my office, or she’ll call me. About random shit. Okay, I deal with it because that’s my job. But on Friday, I didn’t get any of that from her. In fact, I barely heard a peep from her all day. I wasn’t complaining, that’s for sure.
I did my work, went to lunch with some coworkers, and caught up on what some of my favorite bloggers were saying. It wasn’t until the end of the day that something out of the ordinary occurred.
Now, I leave everyday at 5:30pm. During my busy season, sometimes I don’t leave the office until well after 6:30. But recently, things have been slow and overtime is no longer approved. So, you know what that means… I start gathering my things at about 5:25pm, then I sit in my chair until the clock reads 5:30pm – on the dot – and then I clock out. (Yes, I punch a clock. Yes, it is bullshit. Don’t ask.) They won’t get a minute more out of me if I’m not getting paid for it!
Anyway, Friday, I was working on a spreadsheet up until 5:30pm and that’s when The Boss called. Now, The Boss, is not to be confused with my boss. The Boss is actually my boss’s boss. Okay, so you all know that the Brown Girl doesn’t take any shit off of ANYBODY. But, for some reason, The Boss really intimidates me. And, I’m not easily intimidated, so you know she must be a ballbuster. First of all, she’s HUGE. Both tall and heavy. She was born and raised in NYC, so she has a thick accent and a very direct way of talking to people. She wears many hats, so she doesn’t have a lot of time to play around and she lets that be known. Whereas my boss is warm and fuzzy, this woman is cold and distant. But, hey, I’m not here to be her friend. I work for her. That’s it.
My boss does a very good job of shielding me and my assistant from The Boss. We rarely deal with her directly. But, every once in a while, we will have to field a phone call from her or respond to an email from her. Now, I, for one, have NEVER had a good experience with her. For some reason, whenever she’s around, I get flustered, I never have anything worthwhile to contribute to a conversation that she’s a part of, and I always seem to be incapable of doing the smallest things. Friday was no exception to this general rule.
So, The Boss calls me at 5:31pm. Ordinarily, I would’ve been out the door and in the elevator bank by this time… especially on a Friday during the non-busy season. But this particular Friday, I happened to be sitting at my desk at 5:31. And immediately when I see her name on my caller ID, I feel a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I have no clue why she has this effect… I’ve never felt like this about a “superior” before.
I don’t know why I answered the phone. I could’ve just pretended I had left for the evening. It would’ve been perfectly acceptable. But, I did. And, boy did I regret it.
“I can’t find your boss,” she says. “She just sent me this email with a spreadsheet and I need to know what it represents. I just sent you the email she sent me. Can you look at it and tell me what this is supposed to mean.”
I fumble my way through opening my email and I see that it’s a spreadsheet that our assistant has created, not me. I breathe a sigh of relief. I am not the culprit here. “Um… it looks like…” I stammer.
“Oh. Your boss is calling now on my other line. Do you want to conference her in?”
“Sure,” I say.
“Do you know how to conference?” she asks.
“Of course,” I say, clicking over to connect the calls.
So, I hit the second line on my desk phone and dial my boss’s number. But nothing happens. So, I dial it again. Still nothing. I end that call. I press the button for my second line again and all I hear is silence. There is no dial tone. Shit. The Boss is on the first line. I think I might have to end that call in order to conference. No, it can’t be that complicated. I’ve done this a million times before. Why can’t I get a fucking dial tone!
Now, I consider myself to be a pretty smart chick. My teachers wanted me to skip first and second grade, but my mom declined for fear that I’d miss out on important “socialization skills” that children learn in early childhood education (whatever that means). I was in gifted and talented programs all throughout elementary school. I graduated high school with honors. I was in an honors living/learning community in college. I was educated at one of the top 15 law schools in the nation, where I made pretty decent grades. I passed the Maryland bar exam on my first try and scored high enough to waive into the DC bar. I can write. I am a damn good presenter. I can do wonders with a PowerPoint presentation. I can work an Excel spreadsheet like it’s nobody’s business. And now I can’t figure out how to connect two calls on a fucking land-line phone?? I felt like I was trapped in a very un-funny episode of “The Office” or maybe even “Candid Camera” (do they even still make that show?).
It seemed like minutes had gone by (but looking back on it, I’m sure it was only seconds) and I still couldn’t get a fucking dial tone! I click back to the line where The Boss had been not-so-patiently waiting for me to play operator.
“Um, I can’t seem to connect the calls. My phone won’t let me conference her in,” I say weakly.
Now that I’m looking back on it, I wonder why I didn’t just say that my boss didn’t pick up the phone… or make up some other excuse that didn’t leave me looking like a complete retard. But, unfortunately, I was honest.
The Boss let’s out a loud impatient sigh.
“You should really get that fixed,” she said, clicking over to connect the calls herself.
I wasn’t sure if she was talking about my phone or my brain. I’m figuring she was referring to both.
In these economic times when people being laid off for the most basic shit… or, really, for no reason at all, this was not the opportunity for me to demonstrate my ineptitude to The Boss. It was definitely NOT my most shining moment. I am good at my job. I am. That’s just a fact. But, for some reason, The Boss rarely gets to see that.
In the grand scheme of things, I guess my little conference call mishap doesn’t really mean much. I produce results and, in a business sense, that’s all that I really need to define me. What I don’t want to happen, however, is that The Boss hears my name is mentioned and the first thing that comes to her mind is not my Excel and PowerPoint abilities, not my effective communication skills, not my management prowess, but rather “Oh, Brown Girl? Yes, that’s the young lady who doesn’t know how to operate the telephone.”