Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pre-Holiday Day at the Desk

Today was the last day of work before a four day holiday weekend. Clients were coming in, so the attire was “normal” business wear instead of jeans for “business casual.” For me this meant a charcoal gray pinstripe skirt, heather-gray tights, tall boots, a long sleeve shirt and a selection from my extensive (impressive, I daresay) cardigan collection. There are 18 or 20 cardigans in my drawer. The cotton and silk sweaters are suitable for year-round wear at the desk under the air vent in the cubicle that is not unlike a horse stall and is slightly smaller than a federal penitentiary cell. Then there are the rotated, seasonal fall/winter cashmere or fine merino wool little pretties, delightfully non-bulky and perfect for layering. Yesterday, I actually layered two cardigans! What a wild woman.

After the latest trip to a thrift store on a hunt for more cardigans, I realized there may be a bit of an addiction. It’s an easy one to ignore until I wrestle open the drawer each morning and sweaters start exploding out of it. A couple were justified as upgrades -- swapping a silk one for a cotton version from the Walmart 2008 fall collection in nearly the same color which can now complete the cycle of recycle by being donated to Goodwill. Upon further reflection, that may have been the only legitimate replacement. Oops. But I wear a cardigan nearly every day, so it's not like they are languishing in a museum.

Traffic was light, so the trip to work was easy. Grab some coffee, read the news and emails and online trade publications, check the to-do list for the day and week, and the day was starting off nicely. On the trip to the kitchenette for a coffee refill, there was a sign of a problem -- a long string hanging from the skirt hem. Investigation revealed that half the hem in the back was unstitched. No biggie, there is a sewing kit in my drawer.

The emergency sewing kit is rarely used, but then again, I rarely find my clothes to be falling apart at work. I pulled out the black thread and noticed the spool of white thread was missing, along with the needle. It looked like it would be a Scotch tape repair if I didn’t find a needle. Luckily, the kitchen drawer held three different kits and ten needles.

Now to secure a suitable location for the repair job. I could tie up a bathroom for however long it took, or spin my skirt around backwards so I could see the section needing stitches and wing it in my cubicle. I chose the cubicle for the better seating and removal of time pressure, and scooted my chair out of the line of sight of the giant picture window to the parking lot. Three times the needle came unthreaded but I managed to keep my cool and not spit out the swears that would be forthcoming had I been at home. Once, a coworker used the restroom, so I was really glad I had ruled out that route. I kept hoping the big boss wouldn’t show up like he sometimes does to say good morning. I got lucky.

After the unusual wardrobe malfunction, which was by no means the worst ever, the slightly unusual day had another unusual twist. For the first time in a while, I got my nerd on and crunched numbers. I looked at a data table, sorted it by frequency, inserted a couple summation functions. For about thirty minutes it felt a tiny bit like the good old days of heavy number crunchiness in corporate finance. But just a tiny bit. Nowhere near my old stomping ground 43-page workbook tracking cash flows for subsidiaries. This was two pages, and only because I copied the table to another page so I could sort it. But it was fun. And as soon as I consciously decided it was fun, I felt like such a geek. But in a good way. Like I actually still possess a few functioning brain cells.

After that, the day was normal. A meeting. Preparing for the meeting by reviewing notes from the last meeting. Then reviewing the notes from today’s meeting and highlighting the stuff that is super important and will need follow-up. Review a budget estimate and send it to the client. Enter billable time into the system. Blah, blah blahbitty blah.

And then it was that glorious, magnificent time to leave! It was that kid out of school for a few days feeling. The traffic home was not even annoying. Set up the Thanksgiving turkey to brine in mere minutes. And now it’s time to play. Grownup drinks. Might even talk to strangers. Never going to meet new people staying home, right?

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