Wednesday, November 19, 2014
LIFE IMITATES A 'SEINFELD' EPISODE
Life is not a bowl of cherries and can often feel like a "Seinfeld" episode. The show
about nothing had a way of making the innocuous, irrelevant, and insignificant things we
experience so very funny. We often watched "Seinfeld" and said, "OMG, that happened to
me. That could've been a day in my life."
My life became an episode of "Seinfeld" several years ago when I was working for a large
and powerful media company. My boss, Cheryl Baker, who was shorter than Costanza and
had a bigger complex than Napoleon, e-mailed me saying she wanted to see me in her
office. I thought for sure I was going to get called on the carpet for something I did that
wasn't up to the standards of Baker, a micro-manager and obsessive control freak.
I felt like Constanza going into the office of his boss, George Steinbrenner, walking
on egg shells while waiting for the hammer to drop.
In a deadly serious tone, Baker said to me, "You are in charge of getting the food for
the Christmas party tomorrow." I thought for sure she was going to bring up something
about the ratings or you know, something really important. I stared off in the distance
and said to myself, "She brought me in to tell me I have to get the food for the Christmas
party? Good, grief."
I remembered the great line Costanza had when he interviewed with Steinbrenner about
a job with the Yankees: "I must say, with all due respect, I find it very hard to see the
logic behind some of the moves you have made with this fine organization." It was on
the tip of my tongue, but I kept my cool and refrained from showing any disrespect to
Baker told me to order a couple of pizzas, a large Greek salad, and some soda. Check.
Check. Check. No problem. She told me to contact her the next day to get the credit card
information to make the payment for the food.
So, the next day I e-mailed her to get the credit card number and didn't get a response
from her right away. I figured she was in a meeting and wasn't able to see it. However,
if she sent you an e-mail and it wasn't returned in 1.4 seconds, Baker would have a
hissy fit of epic proportions, which had all the makings for more 'Seinfeld' episodes.
Anyway, I made the order and paid with my personal credit card. I had some Christmas
shopping to do before work and I didn't want to sit around and wait for her to give me
the credit card information. The bill was $37.43 which I could handle.
As I said, I had Christmas shopping to do and so little time to do it. I e-mailed Baker
that I ordered the pizzas, put it on my credit card, and went on my merry way. There
was no way I was going to let down my co-workers who were expecting to have some
serious food for the party.
I try not to have my cell on when I drive so I put it in my console to avoid any distractions.
I went to several different stores to buy a few gifts, which ironically were for my boss and
co-workers. Nothing big, just a few gag gifts to liven up the Christmas party.
When I was done with my shopping, I went back to my car and immediately checked
my cell phone. It was buzzing and buzzing and buzzing some more as a fleet of messages
came across the screen with the name, "Baker". Ooooooooh, boy. I knew this wasn't
"You can't pay for the pizza!"
"Call me ASAP!"
"That CANNOT go on your credit card!"
"This is UNACCEPTABLE!!!"
"I cancelled the order. Put on company card!"
I'm sitting in my car of the Wal-Mart parking lot a week from Christmas and feel like
I'm smack-dab in the middle of a 'Seinfeld' episode or the comical Allen Iverson
press conference several years ago when he complained out loud about having to
work hard in practice.
I injected the former NBA's stars tone and started imitating him, "We're talking about pizza,
man. Not a 60-inch plasma television, but pizza! No, not an iPad, iPhone, or I-Maxx
theatre that I put on my credit card, but pizza!"
Was she serious? It was my OWN credit card and I bought two pizzas! What was
the big deal. Aren't there more important things in life than worrying about somebody
putting $37 worth of pizza on their own credit card.
I understand where Baker was coming from. She writes every e-mail and makes sure
to cover and protect herself from everything. Every word was carefully written so
not to incriminate herself. That's cool. Some people are like that. Baker didn't want her
boss to think she made a co-worker put the cost of the food on a personal credit card,
perhaps thinking it could be a violation of company policy or something. That's
how some people roll, I don't.
I called Baker and it went straight to voicemail as I drove off to make it to work
and the company Christmas party on time. Unfortunately, that didn't happen as I hit
heavy traffic which caused me to be 10 minutes later to the party.
When I arrived with a bundle of Christmas gifts for my co-workers, Baker gave me
a dirty look and said, "Where are the pizza's? Everybody's waiting for them. You
didn't finish the job!" I wanted to say, "Um, you texted that you cancelled my
credit card payment and put it on yours. What's the big deal?"
But knowing Baker's propensity for hissy fits, I refrained. I wasn't in the mood to get
dressed down in front of my co-workers who were waiting oh so patiently for their
pizza. So, I walked the thirty yards down to the front desk to pick up the pizzas.
Whew! What a workout! That was far tougher than completing an Ironman.
I picked up the pizzas then made sure all my co-workers were served before I
started passing out gifts to them. The day before, a manager was yelling at an
employee just outside of Cheryl's office. She made a big stink about and went to
human resources to throw her co-worker under the bus and complained that all
the yelling hurt her ears. I bought her ear plugs, which I surely could've used
since I was on the receiving end of many of her verbal assaults.
Maybe, I'll buy a puffy shirt for her this year. It'd be more fitting.