More Than Ships Passing In the Night

Month: April, 2013


April is proving to be a month of “-juries.” Last week: back injury. This week: sworn in to serve on a jury. Next week: …perjury? I hope not, but it would certainly be ironic. The silver lining: at least I don’t have to worry about voice juries!

Story #1: When Lifting From Your Knees Doesn’t Work

Long story short(er): I found myself in the campus bookstore on a mission to buy 24 bottles of soda. Because a professor asked me to. Actually, because I inadvertently messed up the drink order for her class when she asked me to order pizza and soda for them. Note to future admins: if you are ordering pizza and soda from Pizza My Heart, you cannot order 2-liter bottles of soda. They only sell 20-oz bottles of soda. If conversions are not your strong point, then 1) you are in good company and 2) I’ll make it easy for you: a 20-oz bottle of soda is typically for one person. Furthermore, future admin, you should double-check your order because if you ordered two bottles of soda thinking you were getting two 2-liter bottles of soda, you are probably about to end up with two 20-oz bottles of soda. If you are ordering for, say, 26 people, I guarantee you that it will not be enough soda. Learn from my mistakes, grasshopper.

So, anyway. That was how I ended up in the bookstore, buying $46 worth of soda on my own dime, determined to fix my mistake. At least I had the presence of mind to bring an empty box with me. Here’s the thing: 24 bottles each holding 20 oz of soda actually turns out to be very heavy. After I had loaded up my box, there was the question of getting it from the ground into my arms.

Here’s what the medical experts don’t tell you: sometimes lifting with your knees just won’t provide the right kind of leverage needed to produce the desired results.

I’m not even joking. There was simply no way I could get that box off the ground while using proper lifting techniques. But I had no choice: 1) I was by myself (well, actually I was in a crowded bookstore, but no one was available to help me), 2) the professor and 25 students were waiting in a 3rd floor classroom for me to produce the desired beverages, 3) if I didn’t get back there soon, those students would start leaving, thus making this entire effort obsolete, 4) I had already paid for the stupid drinks. Abandoning ship was not an option.

I did what I had to do: I lifted with my back. There was that awful moment when the muscles in my lower back were collectively screaming at me. But then I was standing upright and the box was in my arms.

Getting the box back across campus was another story. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had to carry something that was too heavy for you, and you had no other option – you just had to make it work somehow? Add to that the fact that the heavy item is all liquid weight, so it has this extra momentum thing going on. And the situation is time-sensitive. It quickly becomes sort of panic-inducing. I had to stop every 3 seconds to readjust the box. I was trying not to think about the increasing pressure of the carbonated drinks, and making a mental note to warn the students about it, if I ever made it back to that classroom. By the time I got back to the building, I was sweating and my entire body was shaking. My arms felt like jelly. My back had already told me that we would discuss this later, but was still angrily complaining about the whole situation. I was on the verge of a tearful, exhaustion-induced meltdown. My entire body was threatening to stage a revolt against me: all of my muscles were going on strike and sheer willpower was not going to be enough to get that box up three flights of stairs.

Thankfully, when I was finally inside the building, still shaking violently, and trying desperately to readjust my hold on the box and teleport myself to the third floor, a student took pity on me and offered to help.

Thanks to Helpful Student, the drinks made it to the classroom, where the professor informed me that most of the students had already left, but assured me that they didn’t seem too put out by the lack of drinks.

Well, that’s just great.

The good news is that, since most of the sodas did not get used, the campus bookstore made an exception for me and let me return what was left.

The bad news is that this all happened a week ago Tuesday, and my back still isn’t fully back to normal.

Story #2: Law & Order

My story about jury duty is a lot shorter, I promise!

I have received two jury summons so far. The first time I got summoned, I ended up in one of the groups called in to report. I almost got picked to be an alternate, but narrowly avoided it, which was good since I was a student at the time. My second summons came in the mail back in March, for the week of April 8. I thought, “What are the odds of being in a group that has to report in person again? I probably have nothing to worry about.”

Funny girl.

We all know already that I had to report in person. As soon as I found that out, I just kind of had this gut feeling that I was going to end up on a jury. The jury selection process took three days. It wasn’t until the second day that they started calling people up to fill the box. I was in the first group of names that got called. I was questioned, along with everyone else. I guess I did a really good job of establishing my ability to be impartial. Maybe it’s my Swiss heritage? Also, I think I’ve been in one too many job interviews. When being formally questioned by someone, I automatically default to “Let me explain to you why I would be the best candidate for this job (or jury)” mode. After the first round of dismissals, I was still there. The second round of dismissals came the next morning, and I was still there. There was that moment when the judge acknowledged that we had a full jury and said it was time to move on to selecting the alternates. And then there was that moment when we all got sworn in. And then there was that moment when the judge dismissed all of our fellow civilians and we were left sitting in the box, not free to resume our regular lives like everyone else.

So, the trial starts on Monday and is expected to last through the end of April.

While my boss is not exactly thrilled, I feel fairly neutral about the whole thing (duh, I’m a juror. Impartial to the max, baby!). Right now, a change of pace and a change of scenery are not unwelcome to me. After navigating a few weeks of challenges both in and out of the workplace environment (the above “back” story being just one example), the prospect of fulfilling my civic duty for the next 2-3 weeks sounds okay to me.


Talk communication to me, baby

“You and your partner are always communicating, even if you’re not talking. How productive that communication is becomes critical to being able to resolve differences guaranteed to arise in your [relationship]. How you disagree, when and whether consensus is reached, and the ability to manage your own emotions when conflict occurs, all influence how honest partners are and how effectively they communicate. Disagreements are inevitable, but fighting is always a choice. Differences in fighting style and conflict management, as well as the ability to deal with uncertainty, drive the timing of conversations and their overall productivity. Misunderstandings about intent, purpose, and level of conversations are additional sources of difficulty. Assuming what your partner is thinking or feeling adds another dimension to the ability for the two of you to clearly communicate.”

(Taken from The 5 Most Common Marital Problems by Lesli Doares)

This is good. Everyone should take this to heart since it can apply to all kinds of relationships, not just significant others. But you should especially take this to heart as you communicate with your significant other. Just think of the train wrecks you might be able to avoid, and the growth that might happen in your relationship! Don’t be ships passing in the night. And don’t be ships firing cannons at each other.

An encounter with the male undergrad ego

Lunch break: sitting outside, reading a book, enjoying some fresh air in peace and quiet.

Student comes up from behind and stops in front of me. He is wearing reflective sunglasses so I can’t even see his eyes.

Student: “Excuse me. Did you just check… did I just see you checking me out?”

Seeing as how he walked up from behind me, I’m not sure how he arrived at that conclusion. At this point, I’m half-hoping that he’s trying to raise money for some student organization, or getting people to sign a petition, or anything that would allow the conversation to be as succinct as possible. I’m not in the mood to be the object of some undergrad’s lame attempt to prove to himself that he has game. So, I’m just kind of eyeing him, waiting to see what he’ll do next.

He asks me what my name is and proceeds to sit down next to me. Shoot. He’s not leaving. Normally in situations like this, my MO is to be friendly. If a stranger is feeling chatty, I’m usually happy to accommodate them.

Not today.

Student: “So, how are you doing?”

Me: “Well… I’m feeling a little invaded right now…”

Student: “Invaded, huh? Interesting. You know, I was just walking here and saw you checking me out and that made me feel invaded too.”

Go away.

Me: “Okay. Whatever strokes your ego.”

Student: “Strokes my ego, huh? I like you!”



Student: [seeing the book in my lap] “So, what are you reading?”

Me: “It’s an autobiography about Julia Child.”

Student: “Julia Child… that’s cool…” [pause] “…No idea who that is.”

Me: “…” [not in the mood to be nice, or informative] “…Well, minus points for you.”

Student: “Minus points, huh? That’s interesting you’re using points, because I’m not playing your game.”

Is this his idea of witty banter?

Me: “Okay, well, I’m not playing your game either.”

I return my attention to my book and start ignoring him.

At this point, the student reaches out and pats me on the shoulder, says, “It was nice meeting you,” and gets up and walks away.

I still am not entirely sure what just happened.

If I had gotten the impression that this guy was actually interested in treating me like a real person rather than a means to an end, then maybe I would have been friendlier. But his approach, tone, and demeanor all suggested that he thought he was quite the catch and was, in fact, doing me a favor.

Perhaps the conversation might have gone differently if he hadn’t started with the assertion that I was checking him out when, in fact, I don’t believe that I was the one who was doing the looking.