The Peering Eyes See All

As I revealed in my previous post, I’m the proverbial guard on the watchtower. Well, there's more to my sordid little tale than just so whistleblowing tendencies. See, my eyes are regularly searching around, which probably bothers people when they are talking to me. I’m a people-watcher who enjoys it too much to give it up.

Of course this has obvious problems in interpersonal communication, as eye contact is a critical part. For some reason when I’m listening, I am distracted by people or things in the environment. I’m still covertly listening to my chatting partner, but they probably think I’m some flighty flake with adult ADHD.

When I walk down the street, I like to look at everyone walking the other direction. But then when they look at me, I immediately look elsewhere. That’s partially me being paranoid and me being a Midwesterner. We don’t like our direct eye contact with passing strangers here. You should try an experiment someday in a Midwestern town. It’s a social norm to not look! We’re weird.

And of course my greatest offense is hard-targeted, generous scanning of young men. Mostly I zoom in on their arms, face, sideburns (if he has them). But I’m all about the elevator look, too. The trick is to do it in moderation and to be strategic about it. As Seinfeld said, it’s like looking at the sun. You get a sense of it, then you look away.

Which brings me to the confession portion of today’s program. I have new neighbors. And the young man’s window faces the front of my house. On happenstance one evening, I was walking past the front bedroom window and saw him dancing around in his room. I stopped to watch him, like some lecherous homo. He’s probably in high school, tall, and thin. And I found out later he’s a skateboarder. If I had to say there’s one “type” out there that gives me a case of the vapors, it’s the skateboarder guy. The T-shirt that just fits, exposed boxer shorts, and thinly muscular.

Sigh. It’s all true. I feel creepy watching him, but it’s not like I’m going to do anything to him. I’m sure that’s what all the gross old men hanging out at the schoolyard say, too. I could never do anything with someone that young… but I can appreciate their appearance. And appreciate, I shall!

Anyway, I’m sure I could tease out some meaning for people who are constantly looking elsewhere, searching, seeking, wanting more. Maybe I’m not happy with what I have. Or perhaps I’m keeping an eye peeled for an opportunity to strike.

Nope, I think I’m just horny.

I Spy With My Little Eye...

Dear Little Miss Hit-n-Run,

Member that parked car you backed into today? Member how you didn't even have the decency to check the damage, sat there in your car for twenty seconds wondering what to
do, and then drove off around the corner?

Having total recall yet? Me too!

Guess what? Time to fess up. Because the sheriff's coming, deputy's got you running, and they've been sent by the Army to getcha. That's right, love. You shouldn't have done it in front of my office window. And on a day I was feeling like a good Samaritan and harbored the notion that justice would prevail in a world of fairness.


I got your license plate number, color and make of car, and time of incident. And the car you hit belongs to a co-worker of mine. Tsk-tsk, for shame, know your name. Daddy gonna take the T-bird away. Did you have fun fun fun?

And guess what else? The officer gonna hunt you down is named Armstrong. Yes'm, you crossed Armies on two fronts, which is so bad news bears.

Ready or not, here we come. Come out, come out, where ever you are...

Bad girls, bad girls/
Whatcha gonna do?/
Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

From the panopticon,

A Golden Age?

In many ways, I believe my workplace is in the middle of a Golden Age. It’s a time on the precipice of exciting changes: a new building, a new name, our own offices, additions to our staff, a chance to make our own template for helping (truly helping) our students, and creating an environment where students can get the services they need and not feel like they are in the realm of the forgotten.

We have been recognized officially by the university for what we do so well, and we are being rewarded for that. It all started with sweeping change on our campus: a new president, chancellor, provost, and college dean within a year’s time. It was an unprecedented opportunity and the new state of things was – let’s shake things up and do it right. The old ways of budgets and priorities won’t fly; unless you can prove what you do is crucial to the strategic plan. It was our time to be noticed. And that is what we did. Our years of profound impact on student success with the meager resources we had at our disposal had a payoff.

There is a kinetic energy about the place. With three wonderful people joining our staff, our veterans became rejuvenated. Old factions broke down and a new sense of working together was born. The buzz of leaving behind The House is both exciting and saddening. True, it was condemned. True, we have to share offices while discussing sensitive and confidential information with out students. True, we could never hire someone who is in a wheelchair. And true, we have strange phenomena like odd sound tunnels, close encounters with bathroom follies, and fuses blowing out when we turn on two space heaters at the same time. But we’ll also be leaving something behind.

We will be leaving behind little things, like having our own building, plenty of metered parking out front, and the “warmth” that being in a house connotes. Most importantly, we’ll be leaving behind the closeness that our space has created. We have been forced, in a sense, to work side by side, and that proximity has branded a kind of camaraderie that a suite of offices cannot forge. While we will carry that spirit over with us, will it persist in the same way with our new staff?

The very thing that is so wrong about our office makes things work so right for us. Therein lay the most fascinating duality I think that we encounter in this world. The House, with all its bitter faults, sustains our spirit. Without it, can we be the same? The new familiarity will create a new dynamic, so the question remains:

Is this the beginning of our Golden Age, or are we at the end? No one can say until it is in retrospect. The very idea of a Golden Age is a mythology of life that is recognized only by peering backward and remembering that feeling in the air that we mistook once as our daily life. Never noticing that those days were laced together by a sense that everything has a pattern, that life was good, and that energy and creativity could build anything that wasn’t limited by imagination. Possibilities dangled all around. An ideal work world was on the cusp of discovery. Nothing could stop us.

Every Golden Age ends, as is the cycle of order. We ourselves cannot control it, as it exists beyond any one of us. Nor we can force it to remain. We can only experience it as a moment of transition, something fleeting, that we were fortunate to be a part of, and hope that what we do in this high time will persist beyond our reach.

“Put your hands on the wheel, let the Golden Age begin.” ~ Beck

Dirty Bomber

Picture it…

You're an academic advisor sitting with a student, discussing his major interests, having a candid conversation, and suddenly…

A dirty bomb goes off. From all the way down the hall. In the bathroom. Behind a closed door. And you can hear it loud and clear from 30 feet away. It sounds like pthpthfppthfh-pthfpthpfhttthhhfpffth-pfphfphfpfhffffhthtph. That's right. Explosive, uncontrollable, jackhammer diarrhea.

You continue your conversation with the student, hoping he didn't notice the sound or perhaps, if lucky, misinterpreted it for a nominal intermittent office noise. You try your hardest not to crack a smile. Fortunately, the conversation is lively, so you can slip in a misdirected grin and get away with it.

Until the unseen wall of stench attacks and slowly strangles you. Is it possible this student has a poor sense of smell? A stuffy nose? At this point, ignoring the stank elephant in the room is the only option. It's too late to address the issue. But the gas bomb continues its effects with dire consequences. Mouth breathing is your life preserver.

That happened to me on Tuesday. As if our office, the Condemned House of Shat, needs any other reasons to be loathed. Some random guy dropped by, sh*t out his a$$hole, and quietly left. The dirty bomber has escaped and is loose. There's no telling where he'll drop in (literally) next. My sources tell me it was the father of a student. He was either totally embarrassed or completely without shame.

Everyone on the second floor heard it. Every single one of us. And apparently the stench crawled down the stairs and into the garage (yes, some of us work in the garage). The worst part of it is that Mulva's office is right next door. She was at ground zero. She literally repressed the event. Once we talked her to a safe emotional place, she was like, "If that was me, I would have jumped out the window rather than step foot out that door." Tell me about it!

Blurt McLoud and Mama Bean were in the kitchen, so I waved them over in a way that connoted I had a story to share. Blurt's all, "Ahh, you got a juicy tale for us?"
Mwuahahahahhaa! "How true your words are!" I quipped back.

Advaganoush was lucky - she was home sick.

When I told Feyonce about it, she pontificated that mass quantities of Taco Bell were involved. I added White Castle slyders into the suspect line-up, too.

Clockwork was trumped once and for all in the epic game of Battleshits. Dirty Bomber sank her entire fleet.

None of us want to set foot in that bathroom again. It's like an altar has been desecrated. And that's saying quite a bit, considering where we work.

P.S. This whole scenario reminded me of a funny SNL skit involving Robert DiNero.

Additional Shout-Outs

To 15 Year-Old White Kid in Mall on Cell Phone Acting Like a Pimp-Daddy:

The gig is up, young man. You are still in junior high. You look like a poser. The food court is the closest place to a ghetto your suburban behind has ever been to. And yet, I'm sure you're getting more action than I am. Who's the pathetic one...?

To Woman Asking Me For Gas Money in the Meijer Parking Lot:

The exasperated tone of your voice was better suited for someone asking for food. You sounded desperate or strung out. And as a side note, don't get back into your running car, waiting for your next shopper to approach, when your schtick is asking for gas money. Hone your craft dear, or simply be honest. I want money for booze, drugs, or both. I prefer to reward truthfulness.


To Ms. Toyota-lly Clueless:

Green means go. It does not mean slowly roll to a stop and wait at the green light... especially when cars traveling in the same direction pass through the intersection. This town is slow enough with the Red Light Infinity, and yet, you've somehow managed to make it slower. I both applaud and gnash my teeth at you.

To Lounging Guy Who Keeps Adjusting His Ballcap While Talking on His Cellphone:

The driver's seat is not a La-Z-Boy recliner. If the hat itches, take it off. You look silly chillaxin' back like a smooth operatin' old-school playah. I thought I was being tailed by the Headless Horseman. At least the old ladies have no choice but to peer out the windshield between the gap in the wheel and the dash. I'm not trying to playah hate. But c'mon, man. Safety first.

To Guy Driving a Mazda 3 Whom I Could Lip-Read Saying "Mazdaspeed 3?" In My Rearview Mirror As I'm Waiting to Back Out, Too:

Yes, my Mazda 3 is better than yours. It's newer, faster, and black. Those make it better. Now get your purple car away from my tailpipe. I'm hauling ass out of this parking lot with the windows down and "The Killers" blasting. That's right. I've got some motoring to attend to.