Posts tagged ‘Business’

Okay. Fine. I Admit It. I Do Know Everyone.

A photograph of the Dobie Center near the Univ...

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I have a young coworker at my workplace who is always remarking, “I swear. You know everyone.”

And I always say, “Well, I started out on the other end of the building in sales, but it’s not true that I know everyone.”

Really, I can see why she might think that I know everyone because a lot of people do stop and talk to me in the halls or the breakroom. I’m just friendly that way. I like people. Also, coincidences happen a lot with me. Strange serendipitous moments seem to be attracted to me the way that flies are attracted to shit. It’s probably why I love the TV show Lost so much. It’s also why, if I ever write a memoir of my life, I’m going to title it The Accidental Stalker.

My young coworker…let’s call her Princess Celestia (after the My Little Pony character, not whacked out Anne Heche, just to clarify). I decided to take Princess Celestia downtown with me two weekends ago on a downtown adventure. This is because Princess Celestia has lived here for less than a year. She’s never seen downtown, and I thought it would be something fun to do.

So, I told her to meet me at the North Lamar Transit Center with $2 in bus fare. And we went downtown and had our little adventure. We went to the State Capital. I made her stand on the center star and talk so she could hear the echo. We went to The Driskill Hotel and walked around. We went to the flagship Whole Foods Market and ate lunch. I took her to Book People. On the way back we stopped at Terra Toys and Buffalo Exchange. The outing was a huge success!

Now the funny thing about our outing was that after we got done window shopping at Buffalo Exchange we sat down at a bus stop outside Wheatsville Co-op. Who comes along? One of the women from my crochet meet-up at Central Market is waiting on the bus after having finished her laundry at a nearby laundromat.

We got on our bus to take us back to the bus stop. Who was sitting right in front of me? A couple that I had met at the North Lamar Transit Center right before Princess Celestia showed up for our little adventure. They didn’t take the same bus downtown with us, but they were on the same bus that we took to get back to the bus stop. I tapped the woman on the shoulder and started a conversation. You know how some people roll their eyes? Princess Celestia rolled her entire head in amazement.

Still. I swear by all that is Holy, I do not know everyone.

Then today at work one of my coworkers asked me to make a phone call to a customer. It was no one that I had ever heard of, a perfectly generic name at a phone number whose area code was unrecognizable to me. Let’s call this guy Jamie.

I make a call to Jamie, and he rattles off his company name. His company’s name is Nowhereville Hospital Authority. And where is Nowhereville Hospital Authority located you might ask? Nowhereville, Oklahoma. To learn all about Nowhereville, click on the links here:’s-sake/

and here:

Immediately, I start to laugh. Oh, my gosh! I used to live in Nowhereville! I went to junior high school there. I was a candy striper at the Fake Name Nursing Home run by the Nowhereville Hospital Authority. Yes, 28 years ago I was passing out ice water to the old people in the building that Jamie works in. That’s at least 2 years before Princess Celestia was a twinkle in her daddy’s eye.

So, Jamie and I start talking to try to ascertain if we know any of the same people. I rattle off names.

Gooseberry Bush: Well, there’s Tammy…her mom owned the clothing store on the square.

Jamie: Watson.

Gooseberry Bush: Yes, that’s it. And Jason Cage and Paul Long and Darren Heffner. They were a grade ahead of me. Then there’s Pinky Kiriakis and Violet Binoche and Jason, um, his granddad owned the trailer park.

Jamie: Kelso.

Gooseberry Bush: Kelso, right.

In the meantime, the coworker who sits next to me, who asked me to make the phone call and who knows that Princess Celestia thinks that I know everyone, she starts to laugh. She says, “It’s old home week.”

And then, the pies de resistance. I start rattling off some more names of people I went to school with, and just for grins and giggles, I throw in Little Shit’s name. I did go to school with him, after all.

Jamie: Little Shit. I went to school with his younger brother.

Gooseberry Bush: Which one? Littler Shit or Littlest Shit?

Jamie: Littlest Shit. You know where he went to college?

Gooseberry Bush: No. Where?

Jamie: The University of Texas at Austin.

Gooseberry Bush: It’s a small world.

I admit it. I do know everyone.

May 25, 2011 at 11:17 pm 1 comment

What Happened? First Reality, Then My Alternative Universe

Waiting for a Girl Like You

Image via Wikipedia


Sunday afternoon was spent writing the most fantastically awesome business blog post ever. I sent it with my cover letter and resume. I actually created a new blog just to send a writing sample to the head of the editorial department. I was so proud of myself. And then I posted THE BLOG to beat ALL BLOGS.

It was exactly the right length at just under 500 words. It had a nice picture of Bill and Melinda Gates with Warren Buffett, and it included an original business proposal for my current company, a way they could maybe expand their market share. And I included links for articles on how I came to my conclusion. I shortened all those links with that site, and then I tested every single one of the links to make sure they worked right. I even created a blogroll for my fake job audition blog. It was totally freakin’ awesome, if I do say so myself.

I mean, if I were him, then I would have been impressed with me, and maybe he was. He read it right away, practically first thing this morning, and the article was hit on twice. He didn’t click any of the links. Bummer.

Then he sent me an email thanking me for my resume, telling me they didn’t currently have any writing jobs available but that he would keep my resume on file. I think the email said something about “initiative.” That was cool. And then he said that if I wanted to ask him more about the jobs in his department some time that he would be happy to meet with me.

I saw him in the hall afterward, and he made a point out of talking to me in person. No wan smile this time. I looked him right in the eye. He said we could meet for coffee some time, and he’d be happy to answer any questions I had. I thanked him. I’ll email him back and take him up on it.

Alternative Universe


January 10, 2011 at 11:58 pm 6 comments


I think I’ve mentioned that there is an entire editorial department at the company where I now work. Through a series of coincidences, I ended up having an informational interview with a woman who has worked as an editor for the company for many years. We both have the same first name. Imagine the chances of another woman named Gooseberry! The other Gooseberry said there was a good chance of some new editor positions opening after the first of the year.

She then mentioned me to the head of the editorial department, and one day shortly before Christmas, I introduced myself to him. To say that I was intimidated doesn’t begin to cover it. Why? I’m not so sure. He’s just a seemingly sweet and quiet, thin bald man of average height. He was friendly enough. But when I approached him I totally sold myself short.

The moment I opened my mouth, I said I had an English degree and I wrote a blog, which, of course, I realized didn’t mean anything since anyone can write a blog. No kidding. I mean, I insulted myself like that. But I write a good blog. I write a blog that actually gets some traffic, not big traffic, but still…I won Freshly Pressed. That ought to count for something.

I have no professional writing experience, and the writing in the job would be writing about business, something I know perfectly well that I could do. My experience in the business world would absolutely qualify me to do the research and editing and, later, any writing required. I can do this.

The problem is that I have nothing on my resume that would indicate that I can do this. I write an anonymous blog that includes many very personal details about my life that I wouldn’t want to broadcast by megaphone to a future boss, so I can’t exactly use my blog as evidence that I can write.

Well, I could send a writing sample. That’s what any sane woman in the same circumstances would do. Get off your ass and send your resume and a writing sample and a cover letter. But I was literally paralyzed with fear. Here was my chance to work at the kind of job at the very company where I’ve wanted to be for a decade now, and I cannot make myself even apply. Every day I would pass the head editor in the halls and give a wan smile because I still hadn’t sent him anything.

So, I thought about what this disabling fear was really all about. I’m afraid that I won’t get the job if I send my resume, and then I’ll know for sure that I’m not worthy. Or maybe I’m afraid that I will get the job and then what if I’m not successful? Or what if I am successful? What will I want next then? What happens when you actually get what you want? Well, it makes one wonder what I would have done if the man of my dreams had ever returned my affections? Run the other way, screaming?

What is this all about? Is it all about that old, old feeling of not being good enough? The one that began in kindergarten when I found out the other little kids didn’t like me and my tiny adult ways and my big, big words? Does it go back to junior high school and the ridicule I took for being poor? Is it the way I was daily psychologically beaten down by a boy for my inability to conform to societal norms for girls my age?

Is it, instead, the way my parents made me feel as if my dreams weren’t important or the way they made me feel that they weren’t realistic? Is it the way they unknowingly made me feel unworthy by saying that they had no confidence in my ability to achieve?

Am I going to continue to listen to these tapes in my head? Or, perhaps, the better question is, how much longer am I going to keep playing myself these messages? I’m hitting the play button now. Nobody’s strapped me to a chair and made me listen.

This is up to me now. I’ve long since become the sort of person who can make friends easily. The boy from junior high school lives in London now and works for a large non-profit run by a high profile Muslim cleric. He’d probably cheer me on. My parents would want me to have a good job and to be happy.

Today, for better or for worse, I am sending my resume and a cover letter. I’m going to work on a writing sample as well. If it sucks, then it sucks. But one thing’s for sure: I’m going nowhere fast if I don’t at least try.

January 9, 2011 at 5:37 pm 7 comments

The Kool-Aid of Personality

A typical North American office

Image via Wikipedia

If you read this regularly, you’ll notice (or not) that I don’t write about my day job. Yes, I have one. Again, this blog doesn’t make me one penny.

I recently started working for a new company. I still socialize with people from my old company, a great company where I worked for three years. Let’s call my old company ABC Company. ABC Company is a multi-billion dollar company with division offices here in Austin.

Because I don’t want to lose my job or be sued for releasing proprietary information or any nonsense like that, I don’t usually write about my job. I just don’t even want to be tempted to write something that’s going to get me in trouble. Even now I’m not giving much away.

Suffice it to say that ABC Company was a great company to work for with good benefits and a top-notch, pleasant working environment. It is considered the premiere company in its field, and its stock is favorably rated. It’s a tech forward company run by a charismatic CEO, a sort of cult of personality if you will. People greatly admire ABC Company, and the corporate culture refers to this admiration as “drinking the Kool-Aid.” You could guess as to the identity of ABC Company, and you just might be right.

Now I work at XYZ Corporation. XYZ Corporation has a division office in Austin. They bought a wholly owned subsidiary that started in Austin, and they office some of their people out of this office. They also still operate the subsidiary under its original name with its original purpose.

So, like the other company, they are not headquartered here. XYZ Corporation is also a pleasant working environment. It’s very technologically adept. It’s publicly traded. They have comparable benefits and just as much free food and free concerts and other unusual perks as ABC Company did. You might even say that XYZ Corporation is the premiere company in its field. It has been around forever, and it has a stellar reputation.

Now if I mentioned the actual names of either of these companies you would know exactly what I am talking about because both of these corporations are multi-billion dollar household names with global presences. So, why is it that everyone that I used to work with at ABC Company looks at me at parties, wrinkles their foreheads, puts on an air of pity and tells me, “You know, you can always go back to work for ABC Company,” as if ABC Company were the only company in the world?

Is it because I no longer have to work on weekends or in the evenings or work in a call center? Or is it because it’s a smaller environment where my contributions are more likely to stand out in the crowd? Or is it because I really will have an actual shot at a writing job at XYZ Corporation, where they not only employ procedural and technical writers but have an entire editorial department that offices here in Austin? I’m confused.


December 17, 2010 at 12:06 am 4 comments

The Tiny Barn

It’s that time of year again. The Mr. Brewsters usually have a cookie baking party soon. There is lots of cooking and baking going on. Mr. Brewster the Younger wanted me to show him how to make a pie crust from scratch to take to Thanksgiving dinner. And I was so pleased that I was able to do that.

My grandmother taught me how, and I’m glad she did ‘cause it is one of those things that is not as easy as simply following the directions, like baking bread from scratch. You have to get the moisture content just right.

First, you cut in the fat with the flour mixture until it looks like hundreds of little pale yellow peas. It’s like making streusel for the top of a coffee cake. You add the cold water a little bit at a time. Then you pick up the dough and shape it into two balls, and then patties, with your hands. Wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate it. After the dough has chilled, flour the rolling pin and the waxed paper on the kitchen counter, and roll the dough into an ever-widening circle. It looks and sounds deceptively easy. It’s worth the trouble, though. The recipe I use is nothing fancy. You can find it on a box of Crisco.

(As an aside: I can also bake bread from scratch and make homemade cinnamon rolls. I will consider marriage proposals if you email me with your geographical location, make and model of your car, annual salary, and net worth of your stock portfolio. Maybe I’ll get back with you.)

This time of year always makes me think of trouble, well, and Jesus’ birth, which wasn’t anywhere near this time of year, but accuracy be damned! The trouble I’m thinking of is the rush to Christmas. Our Christmas trees are up in stores as soon as the Back to School season is over, and people crush each other in the rush for the latest, greatest and newest toy.

Yesterday, on Black Friday, Mr. Brewster the Younger and I were out doing a little running of errands at Wal-Mart and Garden Ridge, and some ass cut in front of us and almost swiped us. His bumper sticker said, “I Love BYU.” I can’t make this stuff up.

Our commercialism and materialism as a culture really kills me the rest of the year as well but especially at Christmas time. It seems like the message that we’re taught is not that Christmas is the birth of the baby who was the Savior of the world who taught us to practice love to all our fellow human beings. Instead, the message of Christmas is gluttony and greed.

Last year I was out with the Shy Guy. I don’t think it was this time of year. I think it was warmer. He needed to get something at Home Depot. I don’t recall what it was now. We got it and came out of the store, and in the parking lot there were a bunch of those storage sheds that people use to store their gardening tools and stuff in their yards. There was one that looked like a little red barn with a loft. There were windows and counter space. You could have easily fit a love seat and a television in there and put a mattress on the loft. All I really need is high-speed internet access, my MacBook Pro, and a cardboard box.

I told him I could very happily live there, in the storage shed. He looked at me in horror. I will attempt to “recreate” our conversation, if the conversation had lasted longer and were much funnier than it actually was and assuming that I could remember exact dialogue from a conversation I had with someone over a year ago. Just run with it. It’s called verisimilitude.

Gooseberry: We could live together in the tiny barn, and we could buy a Smart car.

Shy Guy: WE are not living anywhere together. But if you want to live in a storage shed, be my guest.

Gooseberry: I don’t think of it as a storage shed. It’s a tiny barn. Look at it. It’s so cute. There’s enough space in here to live comfortably.

Shy Guy: What would you do for air conditioning?

Gooseberry: A little window unit.

Shy Guy: How would you cook?

Gooseberry: There’s counter space. I could use a Crock Pot, one of those little ones that are made for one, and buy one of those tiny refrigerators, you know, the ones that people put in their cubicles at work. And maybe a microwave and a rotisserie oven, an electric skillet and an electric griddle. I bet I could even get all the tiny appliances in red to match my tiny barn.

Shy Guy: Where would you go to the bathroom?

Gooseberry: Oh. That is a tough one. Porta-pottie?

Shy Guy: Shower?

Gooseberry: I could use a garden hose. Of course, I’d probably have to buy my own plot of land with a little fence for privacy.

Shy Guy: The barbed wire wouldn’t provide you with much privacy.

Gooseberry: Why barbed wire?

Shy Guy: In keeping with your back to the land philosophy and the Tiny Barn architectural design, I think that you have to use a barbed wire fence. Aren’t you planning to keep livestock? Where will you put the chicken coop?

Well, obviously, the idea is still in its infancy and needs a lot of tweaking. I also thought about towing the Tiny Barn to a trailer park. Then you really have the bathroom issue because you definitely don’t have any privacy in a trailer park. You could shower in a health club, but what would you do when you needed to use the bathroom? The trailer park probably wouldn’t allow you to have a porta pottie.

Suddenly, it hit me. Yesterday, while I was shopping with Mr. Brewster the Younger, the solution suddenly came upon me. You know how you ALWAYS see RVs parked outside the Super Wal-Marts? Seriously, it’s like the Wal-Mart parking lot is the new KOA Campround. The old folks park in the parking lot, pop out the dining room and extend the awning and take out the folding canvas chairs and setup camp for the night. And obviously, no one at Wal-Mart cares.

If I get the tiny barn pulled to the Wal-Mart with a trailer, then I could park it outside the Home & Garden Center. I could use the public restrooms at the Wal-Mart and maybe shower and wash dishes and utensils using a garden hose. There’s the privacy issue again.  What was the name of that movie where Natalie Portman had her baby in a Wal-Mart? If Natalie Portman can have a baby in a Wal-Mart, then I can shack up in the tiny barn in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

Postscript: I am on the cusp of the tiny house movement. I am positively prescient.

November 27, 2010 at 7:28 pm 6 comments


A homeless man in Paris

Image via Wikipedia

Work. It’s how we make money. We live on money. Almost nothing can be accomplished without it.

Work. It’s important. For most people, it’s how we spend eight hours a day, five days a week. It should, hopefully, be pleasant. But it’s not so for everyone. Some people don’t have a choice. They have to work to make money. People must be clothed and fed and sheltered. Well, you could become a homeless bum and beg on the streets, but let’s face it. That’s also work. A different kind of work, but it’s still work.

I’ve only had one job that I thought wasn’t just a job but also a vocation. The work itself was fulfilling. That was my job as a youth minister. I felt that fulfilled a calling and that I was doing important work. However, in the end, working for a church is very stressful, and I felt that my temperament was perhaps not well suited to that profession. You see, contrary to the way that you would think that Christians would be, Christians are hypercritical, and it’s actually much easier to work in the corporate world.

I’ve had lots of jobs, and some have been better than others. At some, I’ve really had the chance to grow and learn and use my intelligence. At some, I’ve had the opportunity to use my people skills. At some jobs, I’ve used both. I very rarely use my writing skills, so I might as well not have any. At some jobs I’ve flourished and been happy. At other jobs I’ve been miserable and abused, keeping my nose to the proverbial grindstone.

Regardless of how I felt about the job, I’ve always done my best to act with integrity and do the best job that I can do. I’ve always done that in every job, regardless of how I was treated or whether or not I had given notice or even if I thought I was going to get fired. And for me, that’s important. After all, a job is not a right; it’s a privilege that you earn. It’s a blessing. No matter where you are working, I guarantee you that someone else out there would give his right arm to have your job.

Regardless of what Dale Carnegie says about the matter, you can’t actually make people like you. You can do your best, but not every job is going to be a good fit. Now, you can choose to be bitter about that. Lord knows I have on occasion. You can also choose to beat yourself up. I’ve done more of that, frankly. I always assumed that if some employer didn’t want me that I was lacking something. But I’m not lacking anything. Sometimes a square peg tries to fit itself into a round hole. That doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with the square peg. It just needs to find a square hole.

A job is just a job. Another one always comes along. Maybe someday I’ll find another vocation, but until then someone will always pay me to be underemployed. I have to find other ways to be fulfilled. Work is work. It’s not a life.

September 9, 2010 at 3:31 pm Leave a comment


I have this innocent habit of looking up people in my past that I haven’t seen in a long time, via googling. Some of my friends who are harsh critics like to call this cyberstalking. Not so. And I know that I’m not the only person who enjoys this activity. I just do it out of idle curiosity.  No one gets hurt. Usually, no one even gets contacted. It’s just fun to see where people end up and what they do with their lives. All the examples listed below are men, but I look up women friends, too.

As a for instance, I recently googled The Rat Bastard to find that, if you can believe his own website (which I don’t), he now owns his own fabulously successful information technology consulting and services firm. Sure, now he’s rolling in the dough!

Facebook is a great place to do this,  too. I’ve found lots of people I haven’t seen in a while. Sometimes I actually befriend them. Sometimes they find me. For instance, a guy that I once briefly dated in college is now my friend on Facebook. He’s a total asshole, but I have no backbone about this sort of thing. If someone asks to be my friend on Facebook I’ll probably befriend them anyway. He’s still an asshole. He at least admits to being married on Facebook, but there are no pictures of his wife and kids on his Facebook. It’s mostly pictures of him with famous liberal politicians that he’s met and pictures from his childhood.

I’ve cyberstalked my main heckler from my junior high school for years now. No kidding, this boy made my life nothing short of a living hell with his constant ridicule from the time I was twelve to the time I was fourteen when I finally moved in the middle of my freshman year. Yet I love to look him up on the internet from time to time. I think I’m secretly hoping that his life is miserable.

The fact is that said young man grew up and graduated with honors with a bachelors degree in English from a state university, then went on to get a masters and even a Ph.D. from a private university in California. Some of those years were spent studying abroad in France. He headed some institute thingy in Austria and then came back to the U.S. to work for a huge, fancy and very famous non-profit foundation in Chicago. Then back to the university where he earned his Ph.D. to work for another non profit. And most recently off to London to work for another type of non-profit, again headed by someone very famous and wealthy who’s concerned with improving conditions for all people in the heavily populated areas of the Muslim world, regardless of their religion, national origin or sex.

When I knew this same young man who is now so concerned with saving the world’s poor and downtrodden, just buying your clothes at Wal-Mart and living in a trailer park were enough to make you the scum of the earth. Being poor was something he believed you should have the good sense to be ashamed of. If you didn’t realize it, then he would do the shaming for you. And I wasn’t poor like the poverty stricken of the third world. I just only owned two pairs of jeans and ate a lot of macaroni and cheese. It wasn’t truly a great hardship. He hit me on the head with a fly swatter once to demonstrate his contempt. I’m imagining just what kind of punishment would befall a poor Muslim woman from the ghettos of Calcutta in his care. Would she get hit with a cane?

Eh. People change. I should probably be glad that he actually seems to have evolved into a decent human being. But I’m happier that he’s going bald, and he’s  probably still short.

August 12, 2009 at 11:38 pm Leave a comment

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