Thursday, December 13, 2007

My Life in the Looney Bin

There are white chocolate caramel clusters sitting about ten feet away from me. Do you have any idea what this does to a girl's diet? Seriously. I don't even LIKE chocolate all that much. But when you put a bunch of caramel on....well....anything really, it's pretty much a given that I'll eat it, and I'll like it....a LOT.

Yippie Christmas, right? The time of year when all vendors, even the ones I hate, send us Christmas presents. This is my third Christmas here, so I already know which vendors will send pens, which ones will send chocolate, and which ones can be counted on to send the really good stuff.

One vendor sends us a box of butter toffee every year. Blech. But my boss LOVES the stuff. Works for me! A treat in the office that doesn't tempt me at all, but that he can eat to his heart's content.... Another vendor sends us one of those chocolate candy samplers that has chocolate covered graham crackers, caramel clusters, mint toffee bites, etc etc. That stuff is the devil. Yum. We also get an assortment of pens that no one really wants or uses, and usually end up in my pen holder. Oh yes. And more calendars than we can use. I currently have one on the wall, one on my desk, and three more that need homes. So if you get a calendar from me this year...

But there's one vendor that sends the good stuff. I mean, nice gifts that are really useful. A couple of years ago, they sent one of those folding cloth chairs with their logo on the back. You know - the camping chairs? The nice ones that people use for outdoor concerts? My boss laid claim to it immediately....but then left it in the office, and during one of her cleaning sprees, his wife was going to toss it. It went home with me.

The year after, they sent one of those blankets that folds in on itself to a little pack with a strap. The blanket also has a hole (with a zipper) in the middle so it doubles as a poncho. This, too, had the vendor's name on it. One side was nylon, the other side was fleece. I have a boyfriend who loves the outdoors, so it would have been perfect....but as per the year before, my boss immediately claimed it. And then, as per the year before, it came home with me a couple of months later courtesy of his wife.

Let me explain my boss's wife. She's a strong woman. A STRONG woman. What she wants, she usually gets. It's not that she's mean, per se. She's just....strong. We share a lot of the same characteristics, but she's a tad more ruthless than I am. I am careful to stay out of her way because I'm afraid that if there were ever a throw down...well, my temper would get the best of me, and I would have one less job. It's not wise to fight with the boss's wife. Even if you're right. In the end, the boss will always side with her. (That's an Emily truism :-)

Luckily, most of the time, we get along well. We have a lot of the same views, and she's actually the one who got me involved with a lot of the volunteering I do now. We can talk about girl stuff, and discuss the simliarities in our men (I swear the boss and the boyfriend were separated at birth somehow. They're practically the same person.) However, when her temper is short, or mine is short, she stays in her office and I stay out of her way. Those days are usually difficult for my boss who gets it from both sides. He doesn't like those days much. But since she only works about 10 - 15 hours per week (she handles the finances) those days are rare.

(But when they do She's one of those people who "can't handle" details. She would rather just tell someone else to do something for her that she doesn't feel like doing. When she's in the office, guess who that lucky person is? And she's completely computer illiterate. I can't TELL you how many times I've had to go to her office to explain how to attach files to an email. Honest to God. I mean, it's gotten better over the years. I'm not quite the doormat to her that I once was... (I typed out laminated instructions about the attachments) but still. Dealing with her on some days is...difficult. You have to watch yourself. She'll ask for favors all the time, but getting favors from her? Hmmm....)

Back to the matter at hand, this year the fabulous vendor sent a thermos as the Christmas gift. I don't know what is special about this thermos, it's not that big (I put a ruler so you could see), it's not that I drink coffee from home every day....I just know that I want it. It's a very good thermos from Stanley. (You would recognize the logo if you saw it. Trust me.) It's heavy. It has the lid that's a perfectly sized drinking cup. You can just tell it's a good quality thermos. What am I going to use it for? I have no idea. Nevermind that there has never been one day in my life when I thought, "Gee. I wish I had a good thermos. You know. One of the expensive kinds." But I want it. For some reason, I feel like I absolutely can not live without this thermos.

So my boss thought about it, remembered that he had recently purchased a thermos for himself, and decided that I could have it. (He got the swiss army knife, keychain, and the tin of mints. I don't care. I'm happy with my thermos.)

Unfortunately, whatever it is that makes the thermos appealing to me, also made it appealing to the boss's wife when she arrived at the office at 10:30am. Uh oh.

I refused to relinquish the thermos.

There was that whole "kidding but really I'm being serious" fight where she talked about how she ran the finances and supported the organization. I responded with how MY name actually appeared on the gift along with my boss's. She was at a distinct disadvantage because I already had possession of the thermos. After all, I had been there since 8:00am....all the deliveries had happened by 10:00. At this point, things were all still fun and games, and my boss even contributed to the discussion, "Yeah, Emily's been here since eight o'clock. Maybe if you got here earlier, you would have a shot at the good stuff too." (Her hours are a notorious subject of hilarity with my boss and I.) She questioned me on what I was going to use it for, what a good thermos it was, and noted how cute it is. I responded with "It IS cute, isn't it?"

Another vendor came to take us out to lunch, and he actually had to witness a scene where my boss's wife picked up the thermos to show it to him and comment on how she wanted it, and I went to her, took the thermos out of her arms, commented that it was mine, and went ahead and put it in my car for safekeeping.

This actually happened. All with that jovial air that's very "I'm kidding, but deep down, I'm very very serious." It was around this point that my boss stopped making comments to fuel the fire. I think even he realized that there was more at stake than the thermos.

This is dangerous territory. I'm well aware. Especially since the boss's wife is...well, the boss's wife. Not to mention hormonal. But I'll be damned if I'm giving up the stupid thermos. I know. You don't understand. But there's more than the thermos at stake. Nine times out of ten, I will roll over if there's something that the boss's wife wants. That's just the way the heirarchy is. I get that. But in this this singular case, I have a few intangibles that are in my favor. First - the boss gave me the thermos. Unless I relinquish it, there's no way he can take it back to give it to his wife. Second - I actually have possession of the thermos. Third - I am extraordinarily immune to peer pressure when I want something. And I want this thermos.

Did I mention that?

There have been some joking comments about the worth of the thermos and how it's coming out of my bonus. Those comments are no fun, and I make sure to mention that the thermos wasn't really hers to give....after all, HER name wasn't on the shipping label. You bet your butt I'm going to count every cent of that bonus this year. Kenny Rogers and his advice be damned. I wouldn't put it past her to short me because of this dumb thermos.

I know, why not just give it to her. Well, would you? Aren't there some things that for whatever reason, you just won't give on? Not even an inch?

The final resolution is that she's going to send a message to the vendor, in a joking lighthearted tone of course, and request a second thermos.

I can't wait until the vendor responds to the message with "Who are you again?"


Kat(i)e "how did this become my nickname" said...

Hold onto the thermos with a grip of death. That's what I would do (Who am I kidding, I'm a weenie. I would have given it up, but I would have preferred your strategy. Stick with it)

Oh, and nice title :)

ems said...

See? Anyone who's ever had a boss can understand why I'm risking life and limb to take this thermos home.

I'm going to start brewing tea in it and bringing it to work every morning. Just to drive her nuts. Because that's the kind of nice person I am. :-)

AnnD said...

I literally laughed out loud as I read this. Several times. I understand though, at some point, it is more abuot the principal than the actual item/idea/etc...I think you should use it to hold pens and stuff. That would really tick her off!