Daily Prompt: Green-Eyed Monster (A Letter to My Hairdresser)

I’m making my hairdresser rich, but I’m not jealous.

In response to today’s Daily PromptWrite an anonymous letter to someone you’re jealous of.

To my Hairdresser,

It is with great sadness that I write to cancel our next appointment. I have no excuse. I simply cannot afford you. I know our relationship is new, but already I sense a great lopsidedness to it. At our last session, I feigned interest while you considered aloud what questions you should ask applicants for a nanny position.

A nanny? Really?!  I wanted to shout at you. Who can afford a nanny?

I pretended to commiserate, even as you told me the hourly rate you planned to pay your nanny – a wage only slightly less than what I make. If you can afford to pay someone that kind of money, you must be rolling in the dough. At the mercy of your undeniable artistic ability, I held my tongue. Anyone who can restyle my thick, unruly mess of hair into something sleek and sexy deserves millions of dollars. I wish I could pay you to come live with me and make me pretty every day. Instead, it sounds like you could pay me to wipe your children’s noses.

I admit, I was jealous when last I sat in your chair. Petite and stylish, you flaunted eye makeup that perfectly matched the not-quite-teal feather adornment in your dark hair, so striking against your alabaster skin. Sneaking glances in the mirror while you snipped at my hair, I saw myself as too tall and broad-shouldered. My complexion was too ruddy. You continued your soliloquy about an expensive fence you planned to have installed in your yard, and the nanny, of course.

I realize you did not intend to make me feel so meager. Maybe I should be flattered that you seem to think I, too, earn the big bucks. That you don’t realize how many hours I have to work at my job to pay for less than sixty minutes of your services should come as a compliment. How much of that money does the salon keep, and how much is yours? I wondered as I listened to you. It doesn’t matter. No matter how I do the math, I know that you make more money than I do. With all my book learning and hard work, I covet something you have – a trade, a real skill. You have gifted hands and they bring you a profitable income. I should be happy for you.

Jealousy is an ugly thing, and I really should work on overcoming it. But just as unattractive is your running commentary on the cost of landscaping and your wish to find a handyman desperate to make a buck. Oh, and those fine, dark hairs on your upper lip. Until we meet again, I can work on my jealousy issues, and you can bleach your mustache.

Help Wanted: Royals Need Not Apply

People fancy a royal baby now and then.

People fancy a royal baby every now and then.

Poor Harry. Every time I left my little work space today, I found myself drawn to the television footage of Prince William and his fresh-faced wife holding the prized baby and smiling for the public before delivering him to his nannies at Nottingham Cottage.

While Capt. Harry is busy qualifying as an Apache Aircraft Commander and generally trying to prove himself useful, the world seems more interested in his nephew, who has done nothing but soil some monogrammed nappies.

Some people just don’t appreciate the value of hard work. I, for one, would make a scandalous addition to any royal family.

“Your majesty, I notice that you signed a royal decree to dismiss a dozen gardeners today. Where might I find a job application? I dare say I’d make a splendid addition to the gardening staff,” I’d ask my own grandmother, with a curtsy.

Appalled, she would order me to practice my royal wave until teatime.

It’s not like Harry needs the money. He could spend his days lounging about the palace, playing Call of Duty with his mates, and nobody would dare tell him to get his royal arse off the couch and find a job. He must be afflicted with the same malady that makes me feel a compulsion to earn my keep, to fill my days with productivity.

Good for you, Harry old chap! The world may love Kate and William, but it needs people like us. Someone has to scrub Her Majesty’s loo. What’s that, Harry? Oh, you don’t do that kind of work. I see. Well then, cheerio!

Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?


Maybe my outlook is too literal, but when I hear the phrase team player, I think of people who enjoy playing baseball and basketball, games I loathed in high school P.E. class. Because I prefer more solitary activities like golf and archery, I’ve always thought I’m just not a team player.

Having such little baseball awareness, it took watching the movie 42 last night to realize that being on a team does not always mean being a team player. When Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, some of his new teammates placed their own selfish prejudices before teamwork, and they petitioned to have him removed. It turns out that people who choose volleyball or soccer are not inherently better team players than those who choose fishing or the rodeo.  Or the fishing rodeo.

Like a baseball to the head, it hit me why I’ve had the recurring compliment at work of being such a great team player. I used to wonder if my managers had me confused with someone else, or if they were showing signs of dementia. The more likely explanation is that although it’s in my nature to want to do things alone, I am capable of pushing myself outside my comfort zone and working very well with others. When the occasion calls for teamwork, I am flexible enough to tell the hermit in me to put on her big girl pants and play with the other kids.

How often do we pass up projects, jobs, or even entire career paths because we think, That doesn’t sound like me? The job market is not run by Burger King, and you can’t always have it your way. Sometimes, you have to dig deep inside and consider what you might be capable of achieving if you stop labeling yourself and start discovering you.

And You Thought Your Job was Hard!


If you read my last post, you’ll be spared the disappointment right now of learning I don’t frequent restaurants that employ sommeliers. It’s true. When the occasion calls for something a little classier than a Coke or margarita, I keep my drink order to two tried-and-true syllables.

“White zin,” I say, my fingers and toes all crossed under the table or bar as I hope there will be no follow-up questioning or discussion.

The documentary Somm follows four men hoping to earn the title of Master Sommelier. Why? So they can work in elegant restaurants and recommend wines to people slightly more cultured than me, of course. Blindfolded, a Master Sommelier can identify a wine’s year and region and provide some really startling and bizarre descriptions of the tastes. I couldn’t pick my stapler out of a lineup if they blindfolded me at my office.

I just completed my Master’s Degree while working a full-time job, a feat that seems like a stroll in a botanical garden compared to what these hopefuls endure. The obsessive studying, tasting, and spitting is unlike anything I’ve ever known anyone to put himself through, all for a job title. The worst thing I had to do to get my current job was to pee in a cup at a staffing agency.

These guys can take the test only once a year, so failure means back to the notecards and the spit cups. Their wives and girlfriends continue to live their lives in the wings, waiting for their men to pass the lousy test already and start living. And yet, earning the M.S. title does not mean a return to any sort of normalcy. A Master Sommelier, it seems, is somewhat of a celebrity in the wine world. He takes on the massive responsibility of keeping up with the latest wine trends. His colleagues revere him and expect him not only to know the whole wine kit and caboodle but to train new candidates as well.

No wonder they don’t offer that job option at the staffing agency.

Despicable Desk


A cluttered desk is despicable.

Mother Nature and Heredity conspired long ago, to give me the lifelong ability to entertain headaches. I can always attribute my headaches to sinus trouble, migraine, or a medley of the two. Yet, this past Tuesday, I was convinced my discomfort was a symptom of vacation withdrawal. I had linked two vacation days to the July 4th holiday, for a grand total of five days away from the office. Obviously, the distressing pressure in my forehead was a manifestation of brain trauma, caused by an abrupt re-entry into the work atmosphere.

In my weary, muddled state of mind, I decided the best treatment was a trip to the Golden Arches. I tend to self-medicate with saturated fats. As I walked into the fast food joint, I started to question my choice in grub. I nearly turned around. But then, I saw a plastic case, displaying Minions from the movie DESPICABLE ME2. I was tired, hungry, and mourning my dearly departed vacation when I rushed to the counter and breathlessly ordered a Happy Meal. I could barely wait to return to the office and exhibit my new objet d’art.

Normally, I keep my workspace uncluttered and free of personal souvenirs. Life – and work – can be messy enough without extra junk all over the place. Geniuses, of course, are allowed to cultivate all manner of rubbish to aid the creative process, but I am an average employee working in an average office.

Unless you are a genius, I have some suggestions for a productive workplace:

  • Leave the birthday cards at home. Your mother sends them to your home address, not to your work, for a reason other than the fact that you refuse to tell her where you work. There’s no reason to pretend that every day until retirement is your 30th birthday.
  • The same goes for obituaries and those saintly-looking cards you collect at funerals. We’ve all suffered losses, so please leave the morbidity at home. I trust you are capable of acting appropriately somber at work, without the constant reminder that your favorite neighbor croaked five years ago.
  • When a coworker returns from maternity leave and distributes wallet-sized photographs of her new bundle of joy to even the newest temp, it’s ok to display your copy, temporarily. When she leaves the company to be a real housewife of Chattanooga, you can retire the memento. You needn’t find a new place in your cubicle every time your department moves.
  • On the topic of photographs, let’s keep it to a bare minimum. A touching reminder of your spouse or children, who you miss dearly while at the office is fine, but that picture of you and Father Whats-His-Name at your First Communion is just weird.
  • Even if you live in your car or a gas station bathroom, there must be a better place than your desk to keep spare shoes and clothing.
  • Most places of employment allow people to leave at the end of the day, so there really is no need to have a month’s worth of groceries in your desk drawer. Dispose of the stale crackers immediately.

I practice what I preach, and I do solemnly swear that my cute, plastic minion will only reside on my desk for a short while. He’s not there to stay, and I am not rummaging around my house for Noids or California Raisins to keep him company.

Smells Like Work Spirit

Gentlemen Smoking and Playing Backgammon in an...

Gentlemen, you’ll need to refrain from smoking in the office. You’re free to stay inside and bite your fingernails, though.  Painting by Dirck Hals, 1627. 

If you’re trying to choose a nasty habit, might I make a suggestion? Biting my fingernails has served me well over the years, and it might be just what you’re looking for. I realize that smoking cigarettes is popularly touted as a more glamorous activity, but hear me out.

I can bite my fingernails at work. The office is ripe with germs from all those dirty employees and customers, making it the perfect place for me to strengthen my immune system by voluntarily placing my hands in my mouth. Disgusted? Quit reading, and take up trichotillomania. It’s an even nastier vice; look it up.

Being able to nurture my filthy addiction in the workplace gives me a certain advantage over all those smokers who routinely step outside to maintain theirs. How much time are smokers wasting each workweek? By how many dollars are they increasing company health insurance costs? Really, I deserve a raise for my productivity and ingenuity, if not for my willpower.

While smoking cigarettes can cost an arm and a lung, fingernail biting is free. If I lose my job, I can go on biting while I fill out job applications. Not to mention the money I’m saving by not indulging in a weekly manicure like all the other women at work. On Mondays, when they compare polish colors and swap stories about the quality of work at different salons, I can keep plugging numbers into Excel with one hand, while gnawing on a cuticle of the other.

With so many companies extending their tobacco-free policies beyond the building and to the entire property, there soon will be no more stepping outside for a quick smoke. To indulge in that particular depravity, working guys and gals will have to wait until lunch and leave the premises.

Reader, if you’re still with me, I’m impressed. I can only imagine how nauseated you must be feeling, with all this talk of smoking, biting fingernails, and compulsively pulling one’s hair. If you didn’t bother to look it up, that’s what trichotillomania is.  For a little relief, why not head over to Midwest Beauty Review for a little therapy?


Friending Superman

Superman and his alter ego, Clark Kent

Superman and his alter ego, Clark Kent (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Did you hear they’re making another Superman movie?” a woman at work recently asked me.

Yes, I plan to see “Man of Steel.” As a former newspaperwoman, I can relate to Clark Kent. I, too, have hoodwinked everyone around the office into thinking I’m docile and meek. But unlike Clark, I don’t ditch my glasses and business clothes in a phone booth and emerge as a caped crusader. I wear contact lenses most days.

I’m not a comic book fan, and when it comes to Superman, my only real frame of reference is the movie from 1978, a time when phone booths still existed. Now that social media has replaced phone booths, I am curious to see how Clark Kent fares in modern Metropolis. Does he join Facebook?

It would be tempting to Facebook-friend those high school bullies, who’ve hopefully lost their hair and developed beer bellies. Does Clark put on his spandex uniform and stand in front of the mirror to take a self-portrait for his profile?

He might tag himself in articles about the hero’s amazing deeds, commenting, “I had a pretty super day!”

What if he bumped into Lois Lane, iPhone in hand at the water cooler, and she shared the wisecrack her friend just posted, and added, as an afterthought, “Hey Clark, are you on Facebook?”

How would he react? Bragging about his superhero status to former classmates he never sees in person is one thing, but letting his coworkers into that world is another. What self-respecting employee really wants everyone at the office to know what he’s doing after 5 o’clock?

He’d have to take down all his cool photos and change his occupation back from “Superman” to “reporter” and carefully consider everything he shares online. And yet, even an upstanding man of such moral conviction as Clark might stay home one day, even if the aspirin worked and he feels fine by 9:30 a.m. Getting lost in the freedom and monotony of a day spent in his bathrobe, he might turn to that online drug and forget, momentarily, that his audience now includes his boss.

“So Clark was too sick to come in today, but not too sick to lift weights for 45 minutes and “fly” – whatever he means by that – to Sonic for Happy Hour. I told you that man has an incomparable immune system. It’s almost like he’s not of this planet. Is he even human?”

I liked the days of phone booths better.

My Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal

LionessWhat shape do your career aspirations take? Mine probably most resemble a puppy. At a job interview, you’ll see me shaking hands, rolling over, and performing any other trick I think will impress my potential caregiver/employer. Feed me! Love me!

I try to maintain my dignity like an aloof cat, pretending the man behind the mahogany desk would be really lucky if I would join his company. Like he’s the one being interviewed. But I blow it when he asks, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Five years? Are you kidding me? I’ve never worked anywhere that long! Really, I just want you to pay me enough money so I can keep up with my bills and have some sort of answer when my friends and family ask where I’m working these days. I don’t do manual labor and I don’t work late nights. Also, I can’t type, but I hunt and peck so well, you’ll barely know the difference. So, please, when can I start?

James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras have found that visionary companies often use Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals to stimulate progress. A BHAG is not your run-of-the-mill goal. It’s so big and hairy, so audacious, it positively reaches out and grabs people  and drives them to do amazing things. Aiming to put a man on the moon, now that was a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal.

If it works for organizations, I figure it must work for individuals as well. I’m not job-hunting right now, so I have time to prepare my Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. When the time comes, I will firmly answer the man behind the mahogany desk with a deafening roar:

I’ll have the filet mignon!

I Interrupt this Regularly Scheduled Blog

veryinspiringblogaward-1As a blogger, I don’t want to bore any innocent readers who may have stumbled over here and decided to keep reading. Therefore, I’ll spare you the details of my oh-so-busy life and the multitude of excuses for why I haven’t posted in more than a month.

This blog is my creative outlet, and I am always surprised and excited when someone comments on a post or follows me. Especially when I consider that someone a “real writer,” like the talented lady over at writemybrainsout.wordpress.com who found my blog and actually said I made her laugh. Though we’ve never met, her kind words about my writing encouraged me. She recently nominated me for this award, and I thank her.

Now, there are some strict rules about receiving this nomination, and they involve writing seven things about myself and nominating 15 other bloggers and not eating meat on Fridays or something.  Anyway, I promised I’d spare you the excuses, so I’ll just apologize for not following the rules.

But, many thanks to writemybrainsout.wordpress.com for the nomination. And a quick shout out to a few other “real writers” who deserve recognition:

The Midwest League Traveler – I don’t even follow sports, but he’s writing a book and I can’t wait to read it!

Paige Kellerman – A formerly-battered employee who managed to escape and become an author. Watch for her book in June!

Erin Wright – Her encouragement of my writing means so much. Check out her fun spin on the world of editing. Seriously, it’s cool.

Spring Fever All Through the Week

Sick Dog

The bug that disrupted my stomach last week was merciful (or clueless) enough to do so on a Thursday, which is one of three acceptable weekdays to call in sick. As excruciating as retching over the toilet can be, there’s something even more uncomfortable, and it’s the task of telling your boss about it and redeeming one of your precious sick days. Even more unthinkable is to do so on a Monday or a Friday.

But the ultimate transgression is to call in sick on the first warm, sunny, gloriously spring-like day of the year. No matter how vividly you describe your gruesome symptoms, nobody believes you’re having anything but a Ferris Bueller kind of day.

So, I am thankful the bug attacked in the wee hours of a Thursday morning. By Friday, when the birds were really belting out their praise of spring and the sun was shining in full force, I was well enough to make a brave appearance at the office, weak and subdued but displaying a valiant effort to catch up on the paperwork that had done its own vomiting on my desk. It’s common practice, after all, to toss any confusing or unwanted paperwork on the desk of the one person greedy enough to stay home while everyone else is holding down the fort. Serves her right.

Not that I’m complaining. My employer is kind enough to grant five paid sick days a year, and I repay that kindness by never using more than two.  In fact, I always arrive early the morning after a sick day, and I take an abbreviated lunch to compensate for having been paid to spend a day in bed.  Guilt aside, the extra effort is necessary just so I can catch up. Sick or not, I must complete my work, which is patiently waiting for my return. Tapping its foot in passive-aggressive irritation, but patient nonetheless.

Some of the other people in my department have more time-sensitive tasks. Lucky dogs. When they take their sick days, my employer can rest assured that the rest of us will step up and make sure everything gets done. Again, my own obligations are detained until the party in question recovers from her own variety of spring fever. Recuperating from others’ illnesses takes its toll on me. No wonder my immune system is vulnerable to such nasty viruses as the one that so recently visited me.

It makes me wonder, who’s really paying for these sick days?