I work in what can be a fairly stressful environment, mostly because of the pace of change and nature of the business. I love my job though, and the people I get to work with everyday. When things get especially challenging, I try to remind myself of the lighter aspects of what I do, and the funny things I’m privy to each week. I should write them down more often, and then
use them as blackmail save them for my memoirs.
I’m acutely aware that if my work life was recorded on video it could quite easily be cut and spliced together to create a fantastic reality show. My job is neither glamorous nor wildly exciting, but without fail, one or two hysterical, awkward and ridiculous things happen on a weekly basis. Things that usually make me, at later points in the day, collapse into solitary fits of laughter.
Sometimes, it’s little moments or interactions that make me wonder, what on earth am I doing, and how did I get here? Take this afternoon for instance, I was walking out of the building with an enormous computer monitor in an even more enormous cardboard box. It’s another story altogether why I was was taking it with me, but the better part was watching various people on my floor try to help me carry it, while I stubbornly insisted I was fine.
Let’s be clear – I was not fine. It was a box the size of a Mini Cooper and I was also shlepping a laptop bag and my purse. One particularly intrigued executive insisted somewhat forcefully that he should help me carry it to my car, yet instead of graciously accepting his help, I repeatedly rejected it. Looking back, perhaps it would have been ok to let the person who controls the majority of the corporation do me a solid. You know, out of common courtesy and SANITY. Nah, I’ll just awkwardly assure him that I’m fine and lug my mammoth carton along side me with an idiotic facade of confidence.
There was the day I got scolded by a leader I work with because the temperature in a room where he was presenting was too warm. I don’t respond well when yelled at, and at this moment, I was so taken by the absurdity of the situation that I just went silent – muted by an invisible remote control and unable to speak or yell back. I just stood there thinking about how comical the entire moment was, how badly I wanted to laugh uncontrollably, and that no part of my my MBA program prepared me to handle temperature control issues in conference rooms.
The time a female leader called me “Babe,” and I was incapable of making eye contact with her for the rest of the conversation because I would laugh…The evening I had an hour-long email exchange with a leader about chia seeds…The day a leader mispronounced the name of the organization on a podcast recording so that it sounded like an inappropriate part of the anatomy.
There are so many entertaining times, days, weeks and months that it’s impossible to ignore the levity that undoubtedly permeates the stress. And it reaches a while new extreme when travel is involved.
Last year, I spent a few weeks traveling with some of our execs while they presented to groups of employees across the country. So many awesome moments. Like, when we travelled across Colorado at night and I sat in the back middle seat, surrounded by three executives on three separate conference calls. I felt somewhat like a schizophrenic because I could hear only one side of three discussions and had absolutely no idea what was going on. It was also tremendously difficult to not ram onto the others because we were in some sort of car with a bench seat and I had no seat-traction or apparatus to keep myself grounded on sharp turns. It was very difficult not to yell, “Sandwich” with my hands in the air as I flew violently into those next to me. Oh, and they all fly business class, and I fly coach. So walking off the jetway to meet them always became an amusing reunion. “What took you so long? Welcome back! What, were you in the last seat on the plane?”
In Chicago, I forgot to order airport transportation for me and the leader I was accompanying to a media taping, so we walked through the snow together until we could flag a taxi. In San Francisco, my boss and I came face to face with an Occupy-Something-or-Other parade that blocked us from our hotel for a solid hour. In Philadelphia, I convinced a colleague I’d just met to walk three miles with me in pouring rain to see the Liberty Bell. And in Tulsa…wait, nothing happened in Tulsa.
The personal and family stories I get are some of the best moments. Watching leaders with oodles of money and power pause in the middle of a one-on-one meeting to Skype their kids or rave about their pets (whose names and snack of choice I know, of course). The banter about sports teams, the vacation photos that subject you to shirtless images of those you really should only see in suits, and the debates about whether to attend shul for the high holidays.
There are so many different experiences that have made me laugh, learn and reflect. They aren’t all good, but the good ones are what seem to stick in my head over time as the less favorable ones are filtered out. I’d never be able to remember or record all of them, but the feeling I get just remembering these few is a trip.