Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Just A Dab'll Do...

I'm not really good at cliches.

I blame the English professor my first year of community college. He took one glance at my writing - once highly regarded by the teachers in my small-town high school, where I took high honors courses and finished my entire high school curriculum by the time I completed my junior year - and declared that I wouldn't have an ounce of substance in my essay if it weren't for the cliches.

(I'm not sure what the hell his problem was. For a writing professor, he was a creative nobody with a serious case of self importance. Which was totally ironic.)

Anyway... I try not to use cliches. (I still use them constantly, but I try not to.)

But today, one sprang readily to mind as I was accosted on the street for money.

"You'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

My Fair City is full of people who've fallen on hard times. The sidewalks are cluttered with the styrofoam cups that the local soup kitchen uses to dole out morning coffee. Street corners are jam-packed with panhandlers, each trying to make their living with their cardboard signs. Some are cliched ("Homeless Vet, please help, God bless..."), some are less so ("Not homeless, just a daddy trying to make ends meet...") and some are the judgemental crap that you expect ("God is watching."). They're all there. Sometimes even competing on the same corners. It's a mess.

After their shift during the morning commute and their stop at the food pantry, the huddled masses are left to stroll the streets until people start coming outside for lunch.

And today being a balmy day here in the Frozen North, they were out in droves.

I watched a few picking through trash cans as I walked to the local soupery for my lunch.

I saw a couple hanging out at a corner, fighting misery by making company.

But one woman was trolling.

These are the individuals who walk up to passersby and request assistance.

Now I have my little rant that I launch into when I think about homelessness. Product of a broken system, where's the real help when you need it, blah-blah-blah. I won't bore you with that here.

The point is, I'm not thriving myself. I'm scraping by. Boyfriend of Amazingness and I have our little system that keeps us afloat without anyone sinking into the abyss of financial despair, but there isn't a whole lot to smear around for anything else. A couple bucks to the food pantry, some dollars to a local kids group... but not much.

So when I'm faced with situations like this, I'm not typically able to help.

In fact, most of the time I don't even have cash. I just have my little debit card with a few bucks to get me by.

Which means that, when I'm accosted, the best I can do is tell the truth:

"I'm sorry honey. I don't have anything."

Today was just like that.

The Troller walked up to me, hand brazenly outstretched as she said "You got anything for me?" I squared my shoulders as proudly as I could, feeling like spineless scum**1 as I said "I'm sorry, honey. I don't ha..."

It was at this point when the woman jutted her hand forward more firmly and interrupted me with a beligerent "I'm hungry."

And she said it with a glare.

The woman was trying to bully me into financial assistance.

It was so much easier to walk away, knowing that she couldn't catch this particular fly with the vinegar she was putting out there. I still hope she found her lunch... but she wasn't going to get it that way. Not from me.

**1 One of the difficulties of trying to be a kindhearted person is that you cannot always be kind. Sometimes you have to be selfish, or you'll end up spending your lunch money on someone else's lunch, and then you'll go home hungry. You cannot help others before you help yourself.

Friday, February 8, 2013


I've not been the picture of health this week.

Fortunately, for today, I'm feeling much better. I still have a nasty cough, but my spirits are back up and the flow of viscous fluids is way down.

(Not that I wouldn't have loved a snowday today, that is. It appears that we're being walloped by Winter Storm Nemo, which - up to now - has just been the meteorological equivalent of a hearty sneeze. Lots of floofy white powder that's super-easy to shovel? Bring it on!)

But still... it's not really peak health season here in the office. The cold weather forces the nasty, germ-ridden air to stay inside and get circulated - over and over and over again - by the nasty air circulator machines which just cycle viruses around and around and around. It's kind of like being in soup. Nasty, disgusting, phlegmy soup.

(That made me gag a little. Let's move on.)

Today I arrived at the office to find an e-mail from my supervisor to All Employees. It's prudent, so I thought I'd share it here. If even one of the points she made helps to keep one person from falling into the clammy grips of the plague, then this public service announcement wasn't made in vain.

Stay well, my friends.

Subject: Cold and Flu Season Etiquette

All, as you may have noticed or even experienced, we are in the throes of cold and flu season.  Below are some tips to help you and/or your co-workers stay healthy:

Sunny's Note: I think it's clever that she addresses the issue of Those Who Are Already Sick, And Therefore Will Feel That This Isn't Intended For Them. I love her subtext: "I don't care if you're already snotty. Try to give a damn about the other people around you, and perhaps save them from snot of their own."
Stay Clean
Wash your hands frequently throughout the day. Even if you don’t think your hands are dirty, you may have picked up some germs from touching doorknobs, computer keyboards, telephones, and other office equipment. Lather your hands and wrists with soap and rinse for at least 20 seconds.
Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket or purse or use the ones on the walls inside the doors on each floor. If you can’t get to a sink as frequently as you like, use the sanitizer according to directions. This doesn’t mean that every time you shake someone’s hand, you should whip it out in front of the person. Be discreet and do it a few minutes later. You don’t want to insult anyone. Hand sanitizers are made in a variety of sizes and scents, so pick one that fits your needs but doesn’t offend others with strong smells. Remember that some people are allergic to fragrance.
Sunny's Note: I also think it's clever that she points out how not to insult others. It's always important, as you may have noticed that local sensitivity to individual insulting tendencies can be low.
Baby wipes can also help prevent the spread of germs. Keep a travel size pack in your pocket or purse and use them to wipe off grocery carts and hand baskets. If you touch a doorknob after coughing or sneezing, use the baby wipe to clean it.
Stash Tissues
Have a stash of tissues in your home, your office, and your car. Keep a travel pack in your handbag or pocket for emergencies. When you feel a sneeze or coughing attack about to happen, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. As soon as possible, find a sink and wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, bend your elbow and cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm.
When Others Are Sick
Be generous with your tissues when others around you don’t feel well. This will provide comfort for them and protection for you. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer on the edge of your desk to make it convenient for coworkers to use. The small expense of refills is worth not having the germs lingering and making everyone else sick.
Be Honest
If you are still dealing with the residual effects of a cold or flu, let others know. They will appreciate your honesty when you don’t accept their handshake. Rather than be rude and ignore their extended hand, you should offer an explanation. You may say something like, “I’m sorry, but I’ve been sick recently, and I don’t want to spread germs. I would feel terrible if you caught my cold.” The other person will appreciate your gesture and consideration.
Sunny's Note: I'm doing just that, as we speak. I'm making up a little flier to post in my doorway saying "Don't worry, friends. My bark is worse than my bite. But to save you from a bark of your own, please sanitize your hands upon departing from these premises."
General Good Manners
There will be times when you cough or sneeze in public, but you should still follow some basic etiquette rules. Turn away from people to prevent spraying them with germs, again,  cover your mouth and nose or bend your elbow and cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm. When you are finished, say, “Excuse me,” or “I am sorry.”
Sunny's Note: This is hugely important. So many people forget the follow-up to the cough and/or sneeze. It's not just up to the receiver to say "Bless you" or "Gezeundheit" or "Snurfle snompdom." It's up to the giver to acknowledge their expulsion and apologize for any residual splatter that may get them. It's manners.
Thanks for your consideration.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sniffles and Snorts and Giggles, Oh My!

I... am sick as a dog. Remember how I thought they were allergies?

I was wrong.

I haven't been this miserable in years.

In fact... even Boyfriend of Amazingness is admitting that I'm in pretty sorry shape.

So, today, I dragged myself into the office... but not for long. If I can make it through lunchtime, I'll take myself home and put me back to bed.

But I'm not feeling stellar.

Which made it all the more exciting when a caller got me to burst into peals of laughter:

*Phone Rings*

Sunny: Good morning. This is Sunny - How can I help you?

Caller: Sunny, I need [employee], please.

Sunny: Of course. Hang on just a moment, let me see if...

Caller: Actually, I don't need him. I just need to talk to him.

Sunny: Oh! Of course.

Caller: You can keep him.

Sunny: *laughing* Well, that's very kind of you. Let me see if I can get him on the phone.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Speaking of Snot...

I have the weirdest head-yuck ever.

At first I thought it was the hell-cough that was circulating around the office. Which made sense, because this nonsense started as a cough. Just a little mild tickle at first, but it turned into a hacking mess that makes Boyfriend of Amazingness wake up, sit up in bed and rub my back with a request that I not die in his presence.

So, okay. Hell-cough. Whatever.

I stocked up on cough drops (of the cinnamon candy variety, since regular cough drops tend to make me feel nauseated) and settled in for the duration.

Except then I started to sneeze.

And ooze.

And be otherwise disgustingly viscous.

"Alright," I thought to myself. "Not a hell-cough. I've obviously got the plague."

So I started trying to drown myself in fluids. I introduced myself to curry, which I've heard has remarkable plague-killing powers. And I started blowing my nose like a crazy person.

Until this morning, when I was came to my Startling Realization.

(Actually... I came to two. The first was that if I blew my nose One More Time, the damned thing was likely to fall off altogether.)

But the more important realization was that my plague went away when I stood up and moved around.

Or if I drank water.

Or if I chewed on one of my candies.

(Or anything else, for that matter. I've eaten more in the past 18 hours than in the former three days.)

So... this isn't a plague.

Plagues don't do that.

Also of note: When I get sick, I get sick all over. My joints ache. My face oozes. My stomach churns. And my head ceases purposeful activity. I can't think... I can't be witty... most of the time, I can't even make real sentences.**1 So the fact that I'm cogent enough to put together a comical-enough-that-I-feel-comfortable-posting-it blog post makes me realize (again) that this isn't a real sickness.

So now I'm on to thinking that it's allergies.

Except... I've never had allergies before. SO I don't know what the hell I'm doing.

I stopped at the local grocery store this morning to get some anti-histamines and chocolate (because nothing is okay without chocolate). I drank all of my effervesced water (because nothing soothes a troubled nose like tiny bubbles) before 9:00 in the morning. And now it's just before 1:00 in the afternoon... and I'd like to go home. I'm starting to ache ever so slightly. I haven't taken ten minutes off from blowing my nose since I arrived at work at half-past seven.

What would be best, right now, is if I were to go take up residence on my couch.

I could stuff a couple of tampons up my nose and drift off in peace.

**1 I refer you now to my NaNoWriMo reflection upon the Fever From Hell. Yes - this part of my novel was autobiographical.

Monday, February 4, 2013

One of the Perks

I don't consider myself to be a terribly fabulous specimen of female-ness.

(There are others who disagree... mostly they're Boyfriend of Amazingness and my Mom. But their opinions are to be 110% trusted.)

Anyway - I do try to get my humble on and not flaunt my astounding sexuality all over the place.

That tends to get sticky.

Instead, I try to understand that I'm simply not God's Gift to the Male Species, and just get on with things.

But on occasion, something does puff up my cranium.

And it tends to be something inane.

For instance... today.

In working for an engineering company, one must expect to work with some government agencies. And because government agencies tend to frown upon convicts frolicking (or, in my case, making photocopies and otherwise fiddling with papers) in their midst, one must be subjected to regular tests of identity.

One such test is the Taking of Fingerprints, which I had to undergo today.

Now, public servants are really my idea of a good time.

(No, not that kind of good time. The whole uniform stereotype just boggles me - they have so many more buttons and buckles to look after. What a mess.)

No, public servants are just full of win. They protect the huddled masses. They take care of scummy snot-suckers that threaten the huddled masses. And they have cars with extra blinky lights on them.

But most of all, they're pretty pleasant to you if you're pleasant to them. And I'm a fan of that.

Today was no exception. As the officer was looking after my identity, he regarded the prints he was taking. He made some smalltalk about how the process worked and why which fingers were taken which way, but mostly we were in a slightly awkward silence.

I've rarely experienced a feeling as strange as having someone else in total control of of most favored phalanges. I was only there as the life support system for my hand. All purposeful movement was generated outside of my body... which isn't something I subject myself to often.**1

So we drifted lazily through our encounter with minimal chit-chat and maximum awkward.

Until he looked down at the prints and said "You know, you have really nice ridges."

I smiled brightly and said "Thanks! I do what I can."

The exchange ended when he sent me off to the restroom to wash my hands, and then wished me well as I left the building. I'll never know if he compliments all the girls like that, or if I'm just a lucky one. It was still a flattering start to my Monday.**2

**1 Seriously. It's even a big deal when Boyfriend of Amazingness leads a dance.

**2 Sorry, ladies. This doesn't mean that I'm any less enthralled with Mister Amazingness. He is not for you. In the timeless words of the Finding Nemo seagulls - "Mine."