The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Month: January 2008

Not on my time, but on yours…

OK… So I go to the doctor today and get in there about ten minutes early.  You would think that they like this kind of thing, especially since they, seemingly, have more important things to do than to wait around for you to show up late.  Add to that that I try and be courteous about things like that.  I know that I would be a little upset if I work my schedule around for someone, then they do not show up, or if they show up late.

Anyway… I get there, and fill out the little form letting them know who I am, and who I am there to see.  She takes the form, and hands me a sheet explaining their policy on late or canceled appointments without twenty-four hours notice.  I ask her, politely, “Was I late?”  she tells me no, and that I need to sign this form stating that I understand.  I told her I would, then found the nearest circular file to allow a clear understanding of how I felt about that.  Unfortunately when I turned to see what her response was, she was not there… she had not seen my desperate act of rebellion.  I had to fight the urge to start chanting “AT-TIC-A  AT-TIC-A” over and over (That reference is lost on anyone who has never seen Dog Day Afternoon.)

So… I sat.  My 8:05 appointment, which, according to the previously mentioned paper, I was supposed to be “Prompt” for and no more than “Fifteen minutes” late for, passed with no call to see the doctor.  I understand… they must have been very busy, I mean the lobby was empty, so all the exam rooms must have been filled with sick patients in need of care.  It must have been something serious too… because all the doctors and a couple of the nurses were gathered and talking.  Yeah… they seemed to be laughing a lot, but maybe there was a patient that had something really amusing.  Maybe an ulcerated and infected scrotum that left him with elephantine, basketball sized testicles.  Maybe a politician with a severe case of “Head up Ass” disease.

At promptly 8:35am, the door opened and the nurse looked around the empty room, almost as though a little confused.  Then, as if I suddenly appeared from behind the magazine table, she looked at me, then at her clip board, and asked “Are you Mr. Wright” I looked around the room and replied… “Last time my wife woke up with me, she did not scream, so I suppose I am.”

Nurse Napalm was not amused.

I was led to exam 8.  This is the eighth room in a row of ten.  All were dark, so the people that must have been in those rooms, taking up all that time, must have all been suffering from a severe case of Photophobia.  I entered the room where I was seated, and then Nurse Napalm proceeded to take my temp and blood pressure.  She asked what I was in for today, and the only thing I could come up with was; “A double cheeseburger and large diet coke.”  She looked at me, then at the chart and said I see you are here for a follow-up.

She was brilliant, truly a credit to her profession, and psychic to boot.

I agreed that that was what I was there for, then mentioned that since my being late for an appointment would have required me to pay a $25 fee, did that mean they owed ME $25 for them being late?

Again, not amused.

It was now 8:49.  I was told that the doctor would be in shortly.  So I proceeded to look through the collection of year old magazines and health brochures, learning why I do not smoke, why I should not place sharp metal objects in my bodily orifices, and saw some pretty interesting pictures of what happens when you are careless with a pruning knife, in a doctors magazine of some sort.

At 8:55 a nice man entered the room.  Not my doctor.  He was too busy to keep our appointment. I figured that it must have been one of the photophobic introverts in the other rooms that I had passed that had his attention.  This was an assistant, I forget the title, but which is almost as good, except that they cannot do all of the things a doctor can, but they know the language and get the keys to the medicine cabinet.  He told me I was fine, gave me another prescription that I probably will not take all of, and told me to come back in a month.

It was now 9:03.

I spent almost an hour for an eight minute appointment.  And what do you want to bet that when the Insurance company gets that bill… it will be for the entire time I was there.  Heck… I wish I could work on that kind of schedule.

Oh well…  This just goes down as one of those things.

As I was leaving, I heard the receptionist/nurse/forms nazi ask me: “Sir… did you sign the form I gave you?”

“Yeah…  I filed it for you.”

She smiled… but I do not think she got it.  It will probably dawn on her tonight at dinner, just as she is getting that second helping of potatoes.

Laid Off, Laid up and thrown out.

There was a time, and it was not really all that long ago, when a career meant something.  If you went to work for a company, and you showed the dedication and commitment to your employer, then you could count on keeping your job for just about as long as you wanted to work.  OK, Trust me, I am not completely naive, I know that there was a lot of the same problems that we see today, the biggest problem is that there is also not nearly the same level of dedication to the employer or BY the employer that there once was.
The problem is that as we have moved towards what I like to call a disposable society, so too have our jobs.  People are not encouraged to take their jobs as seriously today as they were in times past and with all the mergers, acquisitions, break-ups and bankruptcies… they ask; who knows where my job will be in a year or two or three.

I do speak from some experience here.  I was once a member of the Telecommunications industry working for a little known company called Brooks Fiber Communications.  I should not say they were little known, we were actually pretty well known, but only if you were familiar with the industry, which I was not when I went to work for them.  I would like to take a moment to thank a great woman named Holly Clark, should she ever stumble upon this site, for being a great mentor to me and giving me a chance that not many were willing to at the time, but I digress…

The Brooks Fiber Communications location in Bakersfield was a great place to work, and the job was really fun and I liked everyone I worked with, with the definite exception of the General Manager for that location… no… no names.  Over time I guess the company was doing too well, and someone showed interest in us.  We were bought out by MCI, then later by WorldCom, becoming MCI WorldCom.  The problem with these mergers is that the people that are organizing them and putting the details together are not thinking of the people that it will affect, they are only thinking of the money that THEY, the owners, executives and shareholders are making in the deal.  Many of these mergers are deals made of greed, nothing else.

Not taking into account the effect that Bernard Ebbers and his personal greed may or may not have caused to the company, shortly after the mergers took place, we started to hear rumors of cutbacks, lay-offs and reorganizations within the company.  It took a while, but after my newly appointed manager took over and advised several of us that our jobs were safe, the axe fell.  In fact it was not more than a week after that little speech of his, when I was taken into his office and advised that I was part of the “Reduction of redundant positions within the company.”

This type of thing seems to be happening a lot these days.  In fact so much so that you often hear people say things like, “I will stick around until the next merger.”  People are now affraid to be too secure in their jobs, and I really cannot blame them.  I do consider myself lucky, in that the company that I work for is privately held, and there does not appear to be anyone vying for our attention or looking to buy us out.  As I am writing this, I am using my feet to knock on the wood of my desk.  But I also understand that like the wind, your and my fortunes can change with little or no warning at all.

The fact is that you see things like this happening all the time now.  In my present job I used to be the primary person that would order land line (Telephone) service for my remote employees.  A little more than a year ago, when SBC “became” AT&T, I watched as several people that had become good friends were “Packaged Out” of their jobs.  One of them told me that while she was lucky and that the package was nice, and she would get to spend more time with her grand kids, she would still like to keep working, and that AT&T had made her feel a little like an old suitcase that someone found in the closet.  They had gotten a lot of use out of it, but they just could not justify keeping it anymore.

Now I open the news… ok… so I read it online, but I still like the “old school” way of saying that I open the paper.  And I read that Sprint/Nextel is laying off 4,000 people from their ranks, (also see this link) using words like “streamline” and other pleasantries that are supposed to give us the big warm and fuzzy feeling and make it sound OH SO GOOD for all those involved.  While I have friends in Sprint/Nextel, I will not press them for any details, other than to make sure that they are alright and that they are not leaving.

What is interesting in this is that they need to close all these locations, and lay off all these employees, right?  But they were still able to pay their new CEO a signing bonus and a very nice compensation package.

As I learned myself, I was not aware I was leaving MCI WorldCom, so you never know.  If my experience with WorldCom was any example, and I am sorry if this worries my friends within Sprint/Nextel, this is not the end.  There will probably be others.

This is the biggest problem that these mergers and downsizing events create.  It puts all the employees into a perpetual state of what I can only call “Anal Spasms”.  You get to the point where every time you hear anything about the company you work for on the news, you immediately start trying to remember where you left your hemorrhoid creme.  You could almost take this as far as to be similar to a Jeff Foxworthy joke… “If you jump and clinch your butt-cheeks every time your company it mentioned on the news… You might be a TeleCom employee.”

All humor aside…  If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of ex-telecom employees out there… I feel for you and I hope that you got out with some dignity.  If you are still a Telecom employee, I also feel for you.  It is a GREAT business to be in.  But with all the shifting, merging, acquiring and stuff going on, I have to think many of you are living a little like a soldier in a foxhole.  You are never quite sure on when the next shell is going to land close or on top of you.

If you are reading this, and have had an experience with something like this, please tell me your stories.  I make it a practice to not edit or omit someone’s comments.  Even if you say something that I do not like, I will still put it up… as long as it has something to do with the topic and is not spam.

The Culligan Man Cometh

This morning I have happened upon a theory.

I think the Culligan Man is stalking me.

This morning, as I went through my usual morning ritual of getting my coffee and reading my email, I heard a loud bang and crash in front of my house.  I looked out in time to see the Culligan truck and the man himself unloading things from the truck and into the house across the street.  Almost as if on queue, he looked across the street at me and waved.  This was a little disturbing to me, not so much that somehow he knew I was watching, but that he waved and acknowledged my nosiness.  I dismissed the incident and finished getting ready for work.

About thirty minutes later, I am making the tortuous seven minute drive to the office where I work, when, seemingly, out of nowhere a truck almost hits me.  To my surprise it is, once again, a Culligan truck.  To make matters worse, it is the same truck and driver that was so willing to give me a good morning wave not a full forty minutes earlier.  I tooted my horn and he, once again, shared with me a smile and a wave.  I had to take a moment to compose myself soas not to share a friendly “one-fingered wave” with him… he was, of course, driving a much larger vehicle that was I.

Upon getting to work, and settling into my daily routine, I pretty much put both incidents out of my mind.  Then, about an hour after getting to work, I was rebuilding one of my employee’s BlackBerries, when I noticed a large truck stop in front of the building in which I work.  It was, once again, the dreaded Culligan man.  He was making a delivery to the office next to mine… or so I am being lead to believe.

I opened the door and stuck my head out to look around, and he smiled and waved at me, again.

Friends… I am under the scrutiny of a faction of some faction of either the FBI, CIA, NSA, TWA, IRA, IRS, PMS, BYOB or something that is operating a super-secret observation unit within the Culligan corporation.


The preceding was written in the spirit of jest.  While based on real events, there is no known connection between Culligan or any government organization that the writer is aware of.  If you are a Culligan employee and read this, please do so with the understanding that the truck in question was in the right place at the right time to be the victim of my humor.   

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