Thursday, May 30, 2013

Just say thank you

I felt some major gratitute for the permits guy at the city who totally saved my ass from impending doom on our event last week. As a thank you for essentially preventing a big, for-profit corporation from locking our small, nonprofit advocacy group out of the site of our own event earlier this month, I took him to lunch today.

And go ahead and laugh, but I had a small epiphany over my falafel plate.

Backtrack to a week and a half ago. He moved heaven and earth to ensure that we could have smooth (enough) sailing after a traffic engineer made a major snafu and ran a half-marathon route right over the access to our event site. Meetings involving two dozen people were had. They ironed out a new traffic route in one day, which is no small feat for city government (or any government), IMHO.

So I did something simple, that I didn't think about: after thanking him profusely for his help, I asked who I could contact to let them know he had really saved my bacon, and how much our organization appreciated it. And then I emailed his boss and his boss's boss.

Back to today. He said, "I really want to thank you for sending that email. We work things out for so many people, but most of the time, all we get are complaints."

That's true of most of us, I think, so why not go out of the way to say thank you to the powers that be when someone does something special? My dad taught me to do that, and I'm glad he did. I never stopped to think that it made an impression on anyone, but clearly, it can.

So, Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go now. That kind person at the coffee shop, the post office, the gift shop, in your company's payroll or human resources department has a boss that would probably love to hear from you.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Of drill sergeants and baby squirrels

Mr. RK never fails to surprise me with trivia. And I love trivia, in the same, guilty pleasure kind of way that I love pigging out on popcorn at a movie: it's not something I'm embarrassed about, but the subject doesn't come up that often.

Anyhow. When I was little, one of the many careers I was sure I was destined to have was that of an artist, specifically a painter. I took my inspiration from Bob Ross. (Mind you, I also wanted to be a ballerina, a superhero, a nurse, and an actress, all by the age of 5.)

Around the age of 8, I realized that not being able to draw a circle round, and getting more paint on the floor than I got on the canvas, that this probably wasn't a good career choice. But that was after many years of Bob.

So, back to the trivia. No doubt if you watched PBS re-runs in the early 1980s you know about Bob Ross and his amazing hair and his happy trees. (You might even say "happy accident"without even knowing that he coined the phrase.)

But did you know that he had been a drill sergeant for 20 years? Mr. RK informed me of this today, right after showing me this video. Somehow, he became an afro-wearing, vegetarian painter who fed baby squirrels on his TV show.

Wouldn't you like to have been inside his head for that one?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Even my phone has a foul mouth

My phone has a mind of its own, and apparently, a mouth worse than mine.

When it does predictive texting, it has come up with some rude stuff that I swear I have never typed.

I type "stupid," it adds "bitch." I type "tight," it adds "ass." As my friend put it, "I had to program my phone to do that!"

For some reason, it won't let me add the word "fuck" to the dictionary, but I suppose Google has to draw the line somewhere.

Today, for the first time, I tried voice to text. What a joke!

I tried to invite a friend to dinner and say, "There is no charge, but they do an ask. The next one is June 5."

My phone wrote: "There is no charge, but they do an ass. The next one is due today."

What do you do when your technology is technologically challenged? Or maybe my phone is more of a pervert than I am?

Pardon the short post. I'm a bit under the weather. At least I can say the word "fuck" here and have it stick.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I hate to say it, but it's probably me.

Bonus points if you catch that line. Really. I might have a giveaway.

So, pardon the absence but as you and everyone who knows me knows, event week was even more hell than usual this year.

Thursday, in a meeting with people from the city and county, I found out why.

A bit of backstory: the City of Portland, Oregon - where my event is held - used to be called "the City of Roses." Really. That was its official branded tagline. Which is sweet. Sappy, maybe. But in the past decade or so, Portland has changed from a kind of dull, former logging-economy town to one invaded by Prius-driving hipsters. (No offense if you are a Prius-driving hipster, unless you're one of the ones who is constantly cutting me off in traffic and refusing to let me merge. In which case, fuck off!)

Portland's tag line is now "The City that Works."

Well, let me tell you, many times, it doesn't. Back to Thursday. After nearly running us out of our own event, the huge, for-profit company that puts on a half marathon that invades the east side of our city had to sit down with city and county people, fire, public transport, traffic engineers (that is how many peoples' lives they fuck up for their event - our tax dollars at work) - and me!

And I found out that - I am not making this up - THERE IS NO one central location/person/bureau/department/database that has all of the construction and event permit information in one place.





And it was all I could do not to blurt out, "Are you fucking kidding me?" That was my first thought. Immediately followed by, "Of course. That is SO PORTLAND."

This is the city that chose streets that were under construction as the detour route for a major, separate construction project. Fuckety fuck fuck.

And on that note, now that our event is done, the relief is such that this must be what valium feels like. Thank you to all who have donated (I hit my goal and raised $2,500, and my team has raised almost $7,000 - more on that later) and cheered me on - we had the biggest number of walkers ever.

But of course I couldn't keep my language to myself, apparently even when I accidentally called my dad, who, by the way, was my biggest donor and has always been my biggest champion, and doesn't mind when I say fuck! Thanks, Pop!

So in talking to him this afternoon, he said, "You know, when you butt-dialed me, I saw I had a voicemail from you. Then I started to listen and I didn't hear anything but background noise, and then I heard someone say, 'Fuck! They've closed off the roads too early!' and I knew that was my daughter!"

Yep, that's family pride.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What he (Mike D) has done for me lately

Bonus points to you if you catch the cheesy 80s song reference!

The backstory: as you all know, I recently published a children's ebook on Amazon (insert shameless plug here) that my brother Nik illustrated. And thank you to those of you who were kind enough to buy and review it (and future thanks for those of you who still plan to.)

Now, for those five more sales we hope to generate, I thought we'd get a website. My brother, who is generally less tech savvy than I am (or so I thought),  assured me that a certain company had a do-it-yourself website builder that was pretty simple. I've done simple design and, in the past, simple code, and so I thought, no problem. I won't name names, but let's say this company sounds like Mo Maddy, which is exactly what I found myself feeling when I tried to design my site with this "simple" program.

Either pain in the ass is the new simple, or I am less savvy than I thought I am. (Stop snickering.)

So I reached out for a few pointers from one of my best friends, fellow blogger Mike D, who blew me away by offering to design the entire site for me.

Check it out here!!

Is he an awesome web designer or what?

He has been super patient with me and I asked him to think of some suitable (albeit way, way not good enough) favor I could do him as a small token of my big appreciation.

That, my friends, is what Mike D has done for me lately.

And that is why he gets his own homemade lolcat. That, I can do.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Thoughts for Friday

I still have (barely) all of my hairs in place, but there are still 9 days to go before the event is done.
Mind you, there was a serious snafu yesterday because until we did some major wrangling, due to a morning event the same day as my afternoon event changing their run course and not telling us, we almost didn't have access (except on foot) to our site.

And believe it or not, I was told that the $1,500 permit we spent a lot of time and money getting doesn't guarantee that we can park anywhere near our site, let alone have delivery trucks bringing equipment, water, etc., come in and out. Even though we are renting the site and are supposed to have access to it.

Um. Access means access by ... foot? Pogo stick? We worked out a compromise and everyone from the competing event bent over backwards to kiss my ass, and because I get to meet them all next week, they get to do it in person!

Same day, meeting at the state's largest paper with a volunteer who I normally want to throttle on a good day. Walking out, the editor apologized for something, and said, "It's just been crazy."

Then she froze. "Sorry! I didn't mean..."

And I just smiled and said, "Don't worry! I OWN that word!"

Speaking of things being nuts (and not just me), it is starting to feel like there just literally aren't enough hours in the day. I don't know why this is. I only have one job, one spouse, and two cats. No kids or extra husbands running around in the background.

I texted a friend tonight, "Why is there always so much more shit to do? Bank, groceries, cook, laundry, workout."

He is about my dad's age and wrote back, "Wait until you're older and everything takes twice as long. Why do you think I want to fuck all the time?"

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Me and the ice cream guy: soulmates.

Do you ever have one of those days where you wish you could convincingly pass yourself off as someone who couldn't speak English (or whatever your native tongue may be?)

I spent the bulk of the day putting out fires. DUMB fires. As my board president put it, "Did you remember to douse (volunteer x)?"

Failing that, I could also have a t-shirt custom designed (or an automatic office message, even better) with all of this text:

Before you ask anything, please keep the following in mind:
- Yes, I may be obsessive about getting back to people, but no, I do not work 24/7. 
- If you think you know all about getting stories on the front page, you probably don't.
- Yes, it is offensive to name your event group "Fucking Crazy People," especially seeing as how none of you has a diagnosis and unlike those of us you do, it's not funny for you to try to own that word. (OK, I exaggerate, but it was pretty close. Just remove the word "fucking.")
- No, you should not insist on signing up online when you do not know how to turn on the computer. Or spell your name.
- Yes, my time is more important than yours.

What's interesting is that while my boss is out of town, I have a volunteer running amok (the one who needs dousing) and believe it or not, the best part of my day was finding out that we are going to get ice  cream donated.

The ice cream guy said he wasn't going to bring as many flavors this year, because people had - ahem - a hard time choosing.

So I got him talking - luckily he had a sense of humor - and found out that the same type of people who cause me to want to pull out my hair also show up when he donates things to nonprofit groups.

Case in point: selling pizza to support the American Cancer Society. He donates the pizza and proceeds from the sales - it's literally only $1 per pizza -  go to the organization.

Complaints: "I don't want that kind! I want another kind! I want a bigger one! Why do I have to pay for this?"

Ice cream: "I want the one that's in the picture on the side of your truck. What do you mean you don't have that kind? You don't have all 50 of the kinds pictured? What kind of free ice cream service are you, anyway??

Yes, ice cream man, you and I are soul mates.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Go offline yourself! Please.

Now, I need to start this post with the note that the overwhelming majority of people who sign up for our events are awesome, low-maintenance (or reasonably low-maintenance) individuals who want to help. That is my disclaimer. But I can't really find a lot of humor about that, so today I write about the remaining 1% who are probably going to cause me to go bald.

I am coming to the conclusion that our website for the event coming up at work makes people a) blind and b) forgetful, and c) removes any trace of diplomacy they may have had previous to contacting me.

As in, "HELP!! No one can find my team when they search for it on the site!!!" This from the same people who select the box that says "do not allow my team name to be searchable on the website."

As in, "I just tried to post a link on Facebook and it says the page's privacy restrictions won't let me!! How are we going to do fundraising if we can't post the link?!" This from the person who did not check the box that says "allow my name to be searchable on my page in connection with a fundraising page for this event."

My favorite are the people who email you and start out with, "Now, I know this isn't your fault, and you have no control over it, but..." And then unleash a torrent of abuse on you.

To me, that introduction, if you plan to be rude,  is complete MERDE. I mean, come on. That means, "I'm going to bitch anyway just because I can!" Right?

Over and over, we tell people that if they aren't computer-savvy, they can sign up for the event on a piece of paper. It's called a registration form. Not too high tech.

But the same people who say, "No! I absolutely want to sign up online!" Then they can't figure anything out and think that our job for the next several weeks is dedicated to helping walk them through turning on their PC.

My favorite complaint to date, though, is this one: "It's really annoying that I can only post three pictures on the webpage I create!" A bit of background: these are temporary pages people create for a couple of months to do fundraising and post about why they are participating. Not a permanent site or page.

Don't you wish you had that much free time?

Of course, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE PEOPLE ends their email or voicemail with, "Call me ASAP!"

Because with a tiny staff running an entire state organization, we have nothing else going on and nowhere else to be. There was one person who kept emailing me on my vacation (she always emails at night and on the weekends and expects an immediate response) and, despite the out of office messages, wrote back, "WHERE ARE YOU?!"

To which I would have loved to write, "Staying home to annoy you!"

I wish people came with buttons that said "take me offline," for all kinds of reasons.