Friday, April 16, 2010

Part of My Job . . .

. . . involves going out to to offices across the City. And since I don't really have a supervisor, it's usually on me to coordinate with whomever I'm to be meeting with. The thing is, I'm sort of lazy and I don't like planning. Given that these are all sites belonging to the Department of Revenue, my lack of foresight can make the simplest of tasks utter murder. At the same time, it's part of the fun.

I have the worst sense of direction. Most people from rural communities do. They say you can spot someone from out of the way, by how they guide. People from more developed areas - major cities or urban areas with a more complex roadway system - will speak in north, south, east and west. Those of us who come from Real America, where the smell of industry fills the air, we speak in landmarks. Things are pointed out by way of number of turns after the water tower. So when you see us in your bustling downtown with our maps outstretched, we appreciate you helping us out - but please, keep it simple. Tell us if we need to go right or left when we hit the Sbarro.

Where was this going - oh yeah, lack of planning. So I never take a map anywhere and I have a horrible sense of direction. So even if I did have said ghost map, or even if I did stop to ask for directions, it would all be for naught (nougat). I'm lost. And eventually I'll unlost myself. That's the fun. I get to find those places off the beaten path. And since I've driven to so many major cities, I've been lost in some of the most obscure neighborhoods. This proves fruitful when I meet someone from one of those places, and I ask if they've ever had the chicken fingers in that gas station in Memphis, you know. The one seven miles away from the nearest interstate to Graceland. (My God, those chicken fingers were yum-azing!)

For the last however many years, I've been doing this at my job. Showing up at high-security city offices and having to figure out a way to get in. You'd be surprised and maybe scared by what works.

The first and foremost thing that will get you past any line or into any office, restaurant, club or even concert. What you need is a cell phone. As you enter the building, hold the cellphone to your ear and give the occasional "Yeah," or "uh-huh." As you approach the threshold guardian, tip the receiver away from your mouth, while keeping the speaker to your ear. Open your mouth like you're about to say something but then only give a nod. Then speak into the receiver, "Yeah, after he re-scheduled." The trick is to have the utmost confidence. Don't hesitate for a second. (This has worked at bank lockbox rooms, auto pounds, the Signature Lounge and Conan O' Brien when he did his week-long stint at the Chicago Theater.)

Another is one I call, the Sad Clueless Man. For those places that incorporate a phone system where you have to page the person to gain you admittance. What I often find is that the person who is supposed to let me in, or whose name I read from the e-mail, is out to lunch or on leave. I'm too important to wait. Immediately make a sad face at the phone and hold the receiver to your side as you push the same button over and over again. Make a whiny sound when you hear someone coming. That passing person will stop. And they will feel sorry for you as you must be here on some type of work/assisted-living program. "Oh, I'm supposeda do some work on a compooter, misses." Even if they don't let you in, they'll find someone who will.

The You Don't Even Know What You've Just Done. This one worked at the Daley Center and the three months I couldn't find the keys to my apartment and didn't want to pay for another fob. (Turns out, they were on the key rack!) With intercom systems that buzz you in, it's the value of that pound key being depressed on that network which trips the circuit and lets you in. The phone number associated with my old apartment was wrong for the entirety of my stay. My guests took to calling me as they were nearing the building and I would meet them at the lobby and then the door people eventually knew who was there to see me. (Though, they don't know when I didn't want that person to be there. As was the case when a friend and I returned home to find an ex I'd just broken things off with in my place collecting the things she'd left behind. Weird. I couldn't be mad as it was ME who left my apartment door unlocked and slightly ajar for about four years. I also blame that on being from a rural community.) Where was I, oh yes. Entering the building. So the intercom rang some old lady on the west side of town. For the period I was without my key, there were a few times when the door person was gone and I was without means to enter. So I rang my own apartment which called the lady on the west side and flat out told her, "Hi, this is (a.v.e). I'm the person people are always asking for when they call you. Sorry about that. Look, could you be a doll and press the pound key on your phone."


"Thank you."

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