Busy is good.

Not much tonight. I have a long slog at the keys tonight, part of tomorrow and maybe into Thursday, but after that, sunshine should break over the land and all will be good once again.

“It’s all good.” There’s an expression that would sound stupid coming from my mouth. Yours too, prolly.

I have a blanket policy toward all telemarketers — please put us on your no-call list — but I make an occasional exception for market researchers, if I have time. How can I complain about the market if I don’t make myself part of the solution, I figure. Just enough time passes between market-research surveys that I forget how horrible the last one was. Tonight they were seeking my thoughts on food shopping, something I am well-stocked with. And so it began, after a promise it would take no longer than 8-12 minutes:

First, there were some who’s-on-first moments when I tried to explain that I didn’t patronize one store exclusively: “I go to Costco for non-perishable staples, Nino Salvaggio for specialty meats, cheeses and vegetables and Meijer for everything else.”

“That’s Cosso, C-O-S-O?” he asked. Hoo-boy. I should have just hung up. After I finally hung up, having rated all three stores in approximately 2,936 different areas (and yes, “deli prices” and “deli service” were two different ones, and “friendly checkout experience” was included), I checked the timer on the phone: 13 minutes, 5 seconds. Liar!

Once one of these clowns asked me if a particular brand of cheese led to good feelings in general or good feelings about my family. I asked if I could choose “give me a break, it’s Monterey jack, not single-malt Scotch” as a response. Alas, no.

Then, as if to mock me, came the robot call for Deadbeat Michelle, who used to have my phone number. It comes at least twice a week. It is entirely automated, and appears as “out of area” on the caller ID. I cannot ignore it because a) the editors at my best-paying client and b) my dear friend John, also have “out of area” displays (it seems to be related to VOIP). There is no key to press for “you have the wrong number.” And so we endure.

A bit of bloggage: When I was an adult who worked in an office with smart, witty people, I loved going to lunch with them. Joel Achenbach says lunch ain’t what it used to be. Noted.

Once more into the breach, then.

Posted at 8:04 pm in Uncategorized |

8 responses to “Busy is good.”

  1. brian stouder said on October 18, 2005 at 9:47 pm

    Re the Lunch article by Joel Achenbach –

    passages like

    “A human body is a life-support system for skull meat, the gray stuff that somehow allows you to not only write sentences but also mangle them. Ideally I would be a brain in a vat, kept alive like a sponge in a fish tank. It might get dull at times, but there’d be no luncheon dilemma.?


    “So, finally, you get your food, and you hunch over it and stuff it into your mouth, and do various things with your teeth and tongue and gullet that in only the most technical sense could be described as eating.”

    make me think that this guy aspires to write for CSI (and I mean that in the most uncomplimentary way!).

    The name Achenbach seems Dickensonian – since the guy seems determined to wallow wring the very last bit of pity out of us (augmenting a full measure of the Self-Serve sort) – which would be entertaining if he had some Rodney Dangerfield going on….but instead he sounds like the Office Martyr – the Guy Upon Whom the Weight of the World Rests.


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  2. alex said on October 18, 2005 at 10:05 pm

    Lost my appetite for “Lunch” when I saw in the sidebar “The Abortion Debate Nobody Wants to Have.”

    Heard a discussion on NPR last week along the same lines. And as a believer in liberty of conscience when it comes to reproductive freedom, I must say the ethicists and activists for the disabled are giving me pause and making me reflect on my beliefs.

    Not to get too far off subject. The Indiana legislature did us the biggest favor ever when it enacted the most stringent no-call list in the nation. Numerous industries have lobbied the state intensely to make exceptions for them while also bringing suit using the losing free speech argument, as if bugging people in the privacy of their homes is somehow a constitutional right. The statehouse has been steadfast. Wish it had the same courage when dealing with those who want to make incursions on our privacy in other ways.

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  3. Pam said on October 19, 2005 at 9:38 am

    Joel Achenbach is absolutely right about LUNCH in the new corporate America. I remember when lunch was relaxing. I could ask a few of my closest associates to go to lunch, select a nice place, and recharge for the afternoon’s work. Then in the last couple of years, mostly due to downsizing or whatever, the lunch companion choices consisted largely of people I didn’t care to be around. The evil pointy headed boss always wanted to tag along. He talked mostly about his dog and how in his opinion most people were not as smart as his dog! No one spoke about anything interesting. So yes, I became a person who resented my body for needing food, at least until I could get home. I ate vending machine crap just to quiet my stomach for a few hours. So if Joel Achenbach sounded like an episode of CSI, well….that’s what it really felt like, only not as interesting. I’m so glad I’m retired!!

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  4. brian stouder said on October 19, 2005 at 10:08 am

    Point taken!

    I guess I was in no mood – the Office Martyr tone was the bee in my bonnet.

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  5. Dorothy said on October 19, 2005 at 10:35 am

    Lunch hour used to be the time when I could go out and laugh with my favorite co-workers (i.e. girlfriends), and we’d get to know each other away from the office. Now, even though I’m fond of many ladies in my office, someone always has to “cover the phones” or finish a project. I thought that’s what voice mail was for – covering the phones. No one has time anymore to sit back and relax and laugh a little. It’s a damn shame. Instead I usually drive home (4.2 miles) and take my dog for a quick walk and eat leftovers. What I save in lunch money I spend on gas.

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  6. colz said on October 19, 2005 at 1:27 pm

    Not eating at my desk feels like playing hooky. I think I go “out” to lunch (where I sit and someone brings me food) four or five times a year, and it’s usually work related. (as in, let’s have lunch and talk about blah de blah)

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  7. Nance said on October 19, 2005 at 2:17 pm

    Interesting to hear so many people reporting the Death of Lunch. I didn’t lunch in my latest full-time incarnation because I left work at 1 p.m.; I didn’t think that many people don’t go because the boss pressures them to work through.

    Years ago, the metro reporters would go as a big, noisy bunch, have a big, noisy lunch and come back feeling genuinely refreshed and ready for the day’s second half. The last time I was in a newsroom, I noticed how many folks were eating warmed-up leftovers out of Tupperware at their desks, which isn’t lunch so much as it is a stop at a gas pump.

    It’s not just bosses, I know. Lots of office districts have lost the cheap restaurants that sustain a walk-in lunch trade, or have seem them replaced by fast-food joints, which most adults with a working brain and a slowing metabolism try not to make a habit of. But I can’t help but think something of real value’s been lost. People are nourished in more than one way by taking a break and talking to other human beings, co-workers or not, OUTSIDE the building where they work.

    Everybody likes to beat up on the French, but they take long lunches and long vacations, and there’s a reason we call that civilized.

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  8. mary said on October 19, 2005 at 2:49 pm

    The last time I worked in a real office, I ate at my desk all the time. There was a large male clique who would go out together, and once, when I was new to the office, I made the error of asking them if I could join them. I saw them in the same restaurant I had walked into. They begrudgingly said yes, and treated me like I was either invisible or highly contagious through the whole meal. These are macho guys. Lots of sports talk. Car talk. Screwing around on their wives talk.

    After that I decided leftovers at my desk were preferable. There were only overpriced chain restaurants or fast food joints in the neighborhood, and reheated homemade chowder beats both those options. I also got all the orders that came in while the guys were being all manly at lunch.

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