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Friday, December 15, 2000

What's the last thing I needed, now that I've managed to get the worst of the stress from the last two weeks behind me? Tim, the Boss's ne'er-do-well son, calls me up at five o'clock last night and asks me if I can print up Christmas cards for the Company to send out. Something with a logo, a picture of the product, and a cheery message.

I gave him a cheery message. I told him that not only have I never learned desktop publishing, but we also don't have the software for it, and even if we had everything we needed, there's only a week left and I have other things to do. Besides, I'm not sure how to get my hands on a photo of something I've never seen in person. And, as I've proven over and over, I don't have what you'd call "design sense." Or maybe you'd call it something else, but I still don't have it.

So he wants to know if I can learn how to do it by the fourth of July. Oh, sure, I tell him. No problem. Goodbye.

Wait a minute, though, he has another request. He wants all the cost reports for the jobs we've completed, and projections for the jobs in progress, and an estimate of how much we're making on them. In other words, all the information I'm going to be spending the whole month of January accumulating and collating and tabulating.

Another No, and now I'm getting a little hot, trying to explain to him what my job is, and what it isn't. I'm not an accountant or a financial planner. The Boss consults with the CPA, and they decide how we're going to manipulate the incoming and outgoing funds, and then they tell me what to do. And I do it without asking questions, because (a) I don't really want to know, and (b) I have enough to think about without trying to understand things that (a) I don't really want to know and (b) I don't care about.

I raised my voice. I kept talking, babbling really, so that he couldn't get another word in or ask me for something else, and so that he would get the message that he's charging into areas that I'm not comfortable talking about with him. He fancies himself a big time mover, and idea guy with plans for marketing the company and maximizing income.

He already takes home the biggest share of our income. That's fair, because he's the superintendent on all the projects we take on. He gets the work done, and the company keeps moving forward. I scan the lists of projects out to bid, looking for new work. The Boss does the estimating and bidding. It's a symbiotic relationship that produces income for all of us, but Tim gets the most.

In fact, it's Tim's income that keeps the rest of us from getting raises and bonuses. So I'm sometimes a little touchy when he grills me about what I'm doing for the company, and implies that it's not enough.

Anyway, for all of these reasons and also just because I didn't feel like weighing myself down with new assignments the night before the audit and with barely over two weeks left in the year, fiscal and otherwise, I humbled him. I really like that, when he gets all quiet and starts using soothing language. My favorite is when I can get him to say something like, "Oh, I didn't realize that."

I threw him a bone and promised a few things that I knew I could get done. What I really wanted to throw was the phone, across the room, but I didn't. Instead I got out the junior college course schedule for spring and checked out desktop publishing classes. It might be too late to get into one, and naturally I have to talk myself into it before I'll actually do it, so it might not happen. But the company will buy the software and pay the course fees (and parking, very important), so I'll spend the next few days thinking about it. In my spare time. (Right.)

I'm not going to keep complaining about the drizzly weather we're having, even though they told us it wouldn't rain today and it did, but I walked through the swamp from my house to the road four times today. Once I saved the UPS guy a trip, because the brown truck was driving up just as I was getting to the mailbox. The other three times were to take the trash cans and recycling containers out for pickup tomorrow morning.

It's been a couple of months since the landlords promised to do something about the major puddling in front of my garage door. It could be worse, I guess. At least it's not snow, so I don't have to shovel it before I can drive away.

mud puddle

And all I really need is a pair of boots to keep in the garage, somewhere that the spiders and snails won't get to them, and then it won't matter if I'm walking ankle- or knee-deep in muck and mire four times in one day.

But as I said, I'm not complaining. This soft, gentle rain would be a peaceful backdrop for my day, if only I didn't have to go out in it and get sopping wet all the way through my clothes.

This is the top two-thirds of my tree, with decorations.


Not a lot of decorations, but it's kind of festive in its own understated way. There's nothing at all on the lower third, and I still don't have a skirt or anything for the top. So you can probably count on another picture soon.

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