Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Get Me Out of Here! I Am Not an Animal! Or a Felon! Or Dead! Yet!

(post copyright 2012, Dawn Weber)

They come from the Dark Side.

They kill the mind and steal the spirit. Metal box, fabric walls, suspicious smells, inches from the neighbor - just the place to spend eternity. And there is no escape from...

Pig pens? Prison cells? Caskets?

Hell to the no.

We're talking about All-American, life-blood-draining, soul-sucking cubicles.

That's right, folks. Tired of sunlight, warm air and plant life? Bored of basic human respect? Grown weary of visual stimulation? Feel like dying a little inside, every day?

Well, then. Your local place of employment has just the square for you. And you and you and you...

It's true. You've sat in the cube. Probably, you're sitting there now, doin' your time. Workin' for The Man. Checkin' the Facebook.

Because almost everyone works in the cubicle, The Box these days.

  • Customer service representative? Box with phone.
  • Architect? Box with slanty table.
  • Writer? Box with coffee and empty wallet.
  • Car salesman? Box with lies.

It doesn't matter what you do for a living. The Box experience is the same.

Watch as precious minutes, hours, days of your life tick slowly, slowly, SLOWLY away. Look longingly out the window at the beautiful day. You'll never see it.

Steal glances at photos of your children. Those little cash-mongers. They're the reason you're there, stuck in The Box.

Know way more than you ever wanted to about people you don't like, and spend far more time with these jokers than your own family.

Listen as your neighbor Richard loudly discusses his colonoscopy over the phone with his wife - in great detail. Listen again as Dick discusses it with his mom. In great detail.

Smell the lunch of your other neighbor, Mary McFishbreath. She's having  reheated cod and stuffed cabbage. Again. No need to pack your own food. Simply open your mouth to taste Mary's. It's Cubicle Cuisine!

Overhear Mary and Dick's loud conversation:

Mary: "Hey, can I borrow your crank?"
Dick: "Yeah. Are you sure mine is the right size?"
Mary: "Well, it looks too big for the hole, but it might work..."

Blush beet red. Then realize the only "tool" they're discussing is the one that adjusts desk height.

Sigh. Whatever happened to offices? I watched The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I thought that if I got an education, gained experience and worked hard, by now I'd have my own office like Lou Grant  - with real wooden walls and liquor in my desk drawer.

A nice, private room, where one could nap, check personal e-mails and Facebook in peace, without pesky bosses walking in unannounced. A room with an actual door that slammed loudly, in case of anger. Or termination for e-mailing, Facebooking and napping.

But here I am, with all the other dummies, stuffed into a Box like an egg in a carton, a pig in a pen, a corpse in a casket.

Please. If I'm going to spend my days in a Box, make mine a jail cell. Much roomier. And at least I'd get meals, a bed and some free time.

Not to mention that handy toilet.

(One from the archives. I am still over here, trying to think of something funny. Send help. Or boxed wine.)

Friday, May 18, 2012

The 80s: Decade of Unfortunate Hair. And So Much More!

(post copyright 2012, Dawn Weber. Image from epic

Nothing shouts "Possible Porn Star!" like a man’s mullet.

In fact, this hairstyle says many things, such as:

-"Dude. Where's my car?"
-"You ordered two large pizzas, ma'am?"
-"Hey, babe. I won you this bitchin' Motley Crue mirror over at the street fair."
-"How many kegs?"
-"Yeah, I'm here to clean your pool with my long . . . vacuum."
-"Aw, man! Give me a hit of that!"
-"So. What time will your mom be home?"
-"Don't tell my heart. My achy-breaky heart."

Yes, the mullet: Bad enough on a man.

A freak of nature on a woman.

That's right. If you think this hairstyle was just for guys, you didn't live through the Reagan administration. Case in point:

That's my mulleted senior picture up there, 25 years and 25 lbs. ago. I'd kill for that chin - although I have several chins now, so really, I'd kill for just one chin. But that hair? Was totally for sure business-in-the-front, party-in-the-back.

You youngsters out there, laughing at the mullet. "Ha Ha Ha!" say you.

Shut up. It was the 80s - everybody mullet. Pretty much a federal law. And some of us had more success than others. Just like, this, um, girl:
Trust me. This is a female.
Epic chick-mullet. I bet she's glad someone saved her mullet mug-shot. I sure am happy my mother saved mine. She really treasured it, too, I can tell because for the past couple of decades, she's had it stored on the top of a dusty open box in her garage.

Nice. I am feelin' the love, there, Mom.

She pulled it from the pile at Christmas, swept off most of the dirt, slapped on some gift-wrap and gave it to my husband. That's the general gift-giving procedure of a 68-year-old woman on Social Security: Dust something off, wrap it up.

And now this thing hangs in our house, where everyone can admire my mullet, and I have to see it all the damn time.

I don't look much like the mullet-girl in my senior picture anymore, but I remember her. She majored in flammable, piece-of-shit cars, classic rock and minor acts of spray-paint vandalism. She worked at McDonald's and lived for Saturday night. She was probably supposed to work AT McDonald's ON Saturday night. But if there was a party somewhere, that did not happen.

There are things I'd like to tell this girl, things she should know. Such as purple and blue work great in crayons, but eyeliner and mascara? Not so much. Also, the main food groups are dairy, meat, grains and fruits and vegetables. Not sugar, grease, salt and cheap beer.

That boy you like? The one who never calls or asks you out? Yeah - that's a sign! He isn't interested at all. But admiring him keeps you mostly out of trouble with the boys who do like you. So carry on with that. Additionally, you should know that red traffic lights are not just a suggestion, and rainy roads can be slicker than snot. Remember this in 1988. And 1989. Also shut up 1991.

Sit down and talk to your grandparents more often. Pretty soon, they'll be gone, and then you'll only see them in dreams.

Start your AP English senior term paper. Start it now. Do not wait until the day before it's due. It's 1987. Teachers can (and will) throw heavy objects at you.

You were warned.

Yes sir, judging by my poor choices, hairstyle and purple eyeliner, I was a teen of the 80s. Were you?

Here at Lighten Up!, we are all about the BS hard-hitting, investigative journalism, so let's find out:

You were a kid of the 80s if you remember:

-Growing concerned about your palm-sweat output during the Couples' Skate.
-Spending Saturday morning hunched in front of a boom-box for the countdown, fingers poised on 'record' and 'play.'
-"Oh, Mickey you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind! Hey, Mickey! Hey, Mickey!" (Kill me, please. Kill me now.)
-Wishing you had Jessie's Girl.
-Wishing you WERE Jessie's Girl.
-Furtively disassembling and reassembling your Rubik's cube, then showing your mom, because you "solved" it.
-"Look for the purple banana 'til they put us in the truck . . . " (Prince. WTF were you smoking?)
-Never watching the 'Very Special' episode of "Family Ties" or any of your other favorite sitcoms. 'Very Special' was code for pregnancy, drugs and/or alcohol. Parental discretion was advised.
-Singing along to "Rock Me, Amadeus." Smacking the shit out of yourself for doing so, but still - singing along.
-Stabbing a Stretch Armstrong to see what's inside.
-"I only wanted to see you bathing in the Purple Rain . . ." (Again, I say - Prince: What the purple f*ck were you smoking?)
-Rocking the middle-school fashion world in your sweet new "Members Only" jacket.
-"We don't have to take our clothes off . . . to have a good time" (No, but it sure helps.)
-Calling 867-5309, hoping Jenny would answer. She never did. Dammit.

Well, I hope I have provided some vital insight into your past. As you can see, I am full of bullshit valuable information.

Really. Who needs Google when you got me?

And with that, from the decade that brought you such important contributions as the single glove, the Tammy Faye Bakker, and the almighty mullet, I leave you with one epic, final, definitive thought:

"Oh, Mickey, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind. Hey, Mickey! Hey, Mickey!"

You're welcome.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Day of Three Burritos

(post copyright 2012, Dawn Weber. Image from

My buddy Al. Annoying Pestering Amusing me since 2005.

Just like the other day at lunch-time, when he burst into my cubicle.

For shit's sake, he didn't even give me time to look up from the Pinterest important work research I was examining. Normally he approaches my pod in a shuffling manner, groaning all the way across the 25th floor, from his space to mine. On this particular day, he just barged in on me. No shuffles, no groans. Apparently, he had big news.

"I can't believe I did that."

"What, Al, what did you do?" I said, annoyed. I wanted to get back to my important lunch-break Pinterest work research. That is just the kind of dedicated employee I am.

He held up three fingers. "I ate three burritos yesterday. Three."

Whoa. I closed out of Pinterest my important work research. This was going to be gassy good. I could tell.

"What do you mean three burritos? Are you crazy?"

"I ate one here, from the cafeteria. Then we went to Chipotle last night, waiting to pick my daughter up from practice, bought a burrito, ate that one in the car," he said.

But he wasn't finished. No sir, he wasn't.

Do not underestimate Al's burrito consumption skills.

"Then I got ANOTHER one from Chipotle, was going to save it for lunch today. But I ate it, too. Last night. Couldn't wait."

"Al. Three burritos? You know, those things have, like, eleven-hundred calories each," I told him. "You're going to explode. Get out of my cubicle."

"Mmph." Rubbing his distended belly, he ambled back to his desk and threw himself into the chair.

"I'm just so TIRED," he said.

There are some things you should know about my buddy Al:

1. He likes burritos. A lot.
2. He enjoys mocking me. All the time.
3. He is tired. Always.

But that's O.K., because:

1. I like burritos. A lot.
2. I enjoy mocking him. All the time.
3. I am tired. Always.

Al is a 6'4" African-American guy. I am a 5'2" pasty white girl.

We're practically twins.

We've worked together for more than five years now, on the 25th floor of a high-rise in downtown Columbus. But we both originally come from the greater Youngstown, Ohio area which - we think - makes us mobsters savvier than most folks. Yes, we have decided that we are wise and cool. According to us.

I generally greet him, my Y-town pain-in-the-ass partner in crime, each morning. He lurches into the office, shuffling and groaning, and throws himself into his chair. Maybe I'll say:

"Good morning, Al."

"I'm just. . .so. . .TIRED," he'll say.

Walking by him later in the day, sometimes I ask:

"Hey, Al, how you doing?"

"I'm TIRED," says Al.

Leaving for the evening, 5:30 p.m., I might yell over his pod wall:

"Have a good night, Al!"

"Gawd, I am SO TIRED," he says.

Feeling tired gives Al time to think of ways to mock me, and also to develop his theories. Because he has lots of theories. About life. About burritos. About my clothing. Yes, I have the great good fortune of receiving my buddy Al's thoughts on everything, up to and including my wardrobe. He's thoughtful like that.

For instance, my red gingham shirt.

"What is that? Some kind of...some kind of picnic blanket? Ha ha ha!"

And my green vinyl snow boots.

"What are those? Some kind of...some kind of leprechaun ass-kickers? Ha ha HAA!"

Now isn't he rude generous? He just gives and gives me shit.

Later on Al's Day of Three Burritos, I bravely went to visit him in his cubicle as he deflated recovered. We discussed his theory of "The Dummies."

The Dummies lurk everywhere: the grocery store, the Interstate, Chipotle. They're easy to see, though, because they're always in line. This irks Al. Al has a life motto:

"Don't wait in the line with the rest of The Dummies!"

Al told me how to skillfully avoid Dummies. I'll share these skills with you, though you may be a Dummy yourself.

You're welcome.

Involving oneself with Dummies means waiting, elevated blood pressure and wasted time, says Al. Why hang with Dummies when you can cruise away from Dummies?

Al stared out the window at a line of cars. They stood stock-still during evening rush hour, along Spring and High Streets. Dummies in Gridlock.
"Just look at all those Dummies," said Al, shaking his head.

He then gave me a detailed scheme to avoid this situation. He said that one should work out an "alley plan" before pulling into such a mess. One could zip down side streets, avoiding Dummy traffic.

"Bye-bye, you Dummies!" says Al.

But that wasn't the only traffic advice he had. No sir, it wasn't.

Do not underestimate Al's Dummy Avoidance skills.

Al said that - when approaching a traffic jam near an interstate exit - one should get in the far right-hand lane, and pass all The Dummies on the right.

Next, look for a semi-truck on the left, and then merge in front of it. He said to leave plenty of space, avoid cutting the trucker off. One should also thank a trucker with a wave or flick of taillights.

"You got to respect the truck! Respect the truck!" says Al.

As we turned away from the window, gathered our belongings and walked to the lobby, I thought about my buddy Al's Respect the Truck/Dummy Passing method. I told him that this tactic will not please the drivers of the cars lined up and waiting in the left lane. He was not concerned.

"Who cares?" he said.

He pushed the elevator button, looked over at me and shrugged.

"They're Dummies."

He rubbed his burrito-bloated belly as the elevator doors opened. "You coming?"

Looking up at him, I smiled.

"Nah. Thanks Al. You go on ahead. I think I'll just wait for the next one."

Clearly, I am not a Dummy.

(This is a re-worked post from a while back. I was inspired by my friend Vapid Vixen's genius post, about her co-worker Toph. Go. Read it now. One day, I shall exact a similar revenge on my buddy Al, who surely deserves it. You wait. You'll see.)