Thursday, March 16, 2017

Playing at Work

A couple of years ago, when we still lived in Maryland, I experimented with doing some freelance editing, using online job aggregating sites to find and sign up for the tasks. But...several months of correcting other people’s overuse, or misuse, or lack of punctuation; creative (and not-in-a-good-way) spelling; unclear expression of ideas, and…crazy-ass…sentence structure, led me to several self-awareness breakthroughs.

First, I realized that, while I have a strong, innate love and respect for grammar and language, I have an equally low tolerance for seeing it butchered day in and day out. If I were to stick with this gig, in other words, I would surely--and not slowly--lose my ever-loving mind. Next, it became clear to me that I’m simply not cut out for the whole “work-at-home” paradigm. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the allure of sitting around in one’s pjs, makeup-less, taking cookie breaks when the mood hits, …for some people.

But for me? Part of the intrinsic reward of being employed is donning an professional-ish outfit, getting presentable, leaving the house, and showing up someplace that I can interact with other adults while performing my job. Therefore when I was between paying gigs for a while after the move to North Carolina, combing Monster and Indeed and the like for viable possibilities, I quickly scrolled past any position that promised telecommuting as a so-called perk, without stopping to read the details. Just…No. Thank. You.

Fortunately I ended up at a small non-profit, where my duties require me to be physically present in the building, and to commune with my office-mates face-to-face. (Yay!) There are only 10 of us (all women!), but, having been there over a year now, I can tell you that not only are they fabulous people, but I’m discovering more and more all the time that we’re….shall I say…cut from the same…. (delightfully) nerdy…cloth.

The latest example of this occurred on Tuesday, when the Internet--which is apparently much more on top of things than I am...not surprisingly--informed me that it was, in fact, Pi Day. I’d somehow forgotten this very important fact, and was already at my desk, with no immediate means to obtain a baked treat to properly observe the occasion. I had to satisfy myself for the moment with wishing everyone a Happy Pi Day, using the whiteboard in the kitchen (which happens to be right across from my office). A short time later a colleague strolled by--probably on her way to get some hot tea, knowing her--and the next thing I knew, I heard a loud groan as she spotted my message.

Apparently others also were alerted to the minor commotion (sound carries extremely well in a suite as compact as ours) and joined us for an impromptu Hallway Meeting, all lamenting that we’d collectively forgotten to mark this excuse-for-pie-eating event. However, our regret quickly turned to scheming, as we discussed the fact that we ARE located right down the street from a Whole Foods….where we would certainly be able to procure a delicious pie to share amongst ourselves. In an impressive display of Women Getting Things Done, we quickly passed the motion…settled on a flavor preferred by the group (although most people simply said “YUM, pie! I’m not picky, whatever’s there will be great!”)…and accepted  a volunteer to make the purchase.

Then we were free to move on to other conversational topics—and I’m warning you: here’s where it takes a turn for the…uber geeky. I didn’t mention yet that the majority of the ladies I work with are highly-educated scientists, did I? Well…our little Pi Day adventure led to someone admitting that, while in college, she also celebrated…Mole Day. No, not the small, nearsighted, underground rodent…the scientific term that can be summarized in its short form as 6.022x1023

Yeeeaaaahhh…I was waaaay out of my element, but from the deepest recesses of my brain, where my high school chemistry class is apparently buried, biding its time and waiting for an opportunity like this to rear up and scare the bejeesus out of me, came the question that popped from my mouth, “Does that have something to do with…Avogadro’s number?” (For a moment I felt stunned, and looked around like, "Who said that? Is anyone else hearing things?" But no one else seemed concerned, so I just went with it...) The answer, in case you’re wondering (and haven’t run screaming from the room in horror) is yes…yes, it does. Therefore on October 23rd, we’ll be enjoying some…guaca-mole. Ha!

Ohh...kay, I admit that things might have begun to veer toward the…slightly silly…but were we done? Nooooo, we were absolutely NOT. I swear, at the exact same time everyone’s expressions became thoughtful and one woman spoke up to articulate what we were all apparently thinking, “Hmm…what other days can we do?” Tentatively I offered, “The only thing that springs to mind is May the Fourth (Be with You), aka Star Wars Day. Faces brightened at once, and the wheels began turning as to how we could fulfill this theme. “Um…Death Star?” I suggested. Someone instantly enthused, “Yes! A cheese ball Death Star!” (Oh…my…goodness. That is some...goofy brilliance, yeah?) But wait, it gets even better: another lady exclaimed, “And I’ll make a model of BB8 out of marshmallow-rice-cereal treats, covered in fondant!” (Mwahhahahahaha!)

With these crucial agenda items having been resolved to the satisfaction of all, for our Grand Finale someone proposed that we honor Harry Potter as well (because, you know, if you’re gonna be a dork, might as well go all-in…) “Great idea!” I agreed, “We can do it on his birthday, July 31st!” This carried by a unanimous vote, and our conference ended on a very high note, with all of us looking forward to the awesome upcoming excuses we’d created, to socialize…and EAT. (Oh, yeah, and bask in our shared love for…academia’s lighter side? Or what have you…)

My amusement hadn’t worn off in the slightest when I relayed all this to the Male Trio later that evening—and their reactions were exactly as I expected. Disbelief, such as when Husband asked, “How do you remember when Harry Potter was born?” (Um, seriously, dude? How do you NOT? It’s only mentioned in Every. Single. Book! Sheesh…) And a certain degree of scorn, from Derek, who sputtered, “No one celebrates MOLE day…no one! You guys are soooo weird!” Looooots of head shaking. And in the midst of all this mocking, one very helpful bit of input, again from Husband, who in response to the Star Wars plan, interjected, “Why don’t you just make Wookie Cookies and be done with it?” 

YESSSSS! Thank you, dear—I will make that happen. And maybe, just maybe, if you’re nice to me and the Nerd Girl Squad, we’ll let you taste one. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to do some research…to see if there are any MORE cool numbers we can translate into party dates and exploit for our office shenanigans! (Peanut Gallery comments welcome, in this case!)

No comments: