Diary of a Week - Part I
Friday, 30 June. Weight: 8 st 6 (v. good), Calories: 50 (1 packet crackers), Cigarettes: 700 (feels like), Alchohol units: 1 (beer from case bought in honor of brother-in-law's arrival, as have no idea what else he eats or drinks)
11:40 a.m. Finally finished writing presentation for Very Big Client on Monday.
Am highly efficient work-production machine, set on fulfilling career path.
Will begin printing ten copies, so can take them for spiral binding this afternoon.
Now there is only the PowerPoint presentation left, which is just bits and pieces taken from document. Should take very little time. Will be able to spend relaxing, fun weekend in company of family, getting to know nephew as a 14-year-old with deep voice. Must try not to be too auntie-like.
Hmm, is 30 pages too long a document for busy execs? May be excessive zeal that made me get carried away with charts, tables, etc. Will fax copy to Mario to see if he thinks is too much.
12:10 p.m. Mario called with some minor changes. Input is good, teamwork makes for better final product. All working together toward common goal.
12:12 p.m. Mario called with more changes.
12:15 p.m. Two more changes.
12:20 p.m. Mario is calling me on every other page with changes he suggests to emphasize points. Am beginning to stress; must start printing now or will be unable to finish ten copies in time to take for binding. Hope he has finished.
12:35 p.m. Have discovered that concept of 'teamwork' may be carried to excess
and distorted beyond recognition. After inserting many minor changes and finally
declaring report 'fine', Mario casually mentioned that final copy should be
at least 60 pages. "Clients judge our work by weight and volume, not
by content," he told me. "We need to show them we've been working
hard on their project."
Feel blood reach boiling point at casual use of 'we' by tanned, tennis-playing person who spends weekends on Adriatic shore with family, vs. pale, sleep-deprived self who has barely seen husband in recent weeks. Politely enquire whether thirty pages of actual content may be considered equivalent to 60 pages of fluff. Am met with slightly accusatory silence, followed by, "Well, you be the judge."
Message is clear. Must double size of report by including every conceivable ramification of research, complete with charts and tables. Must print ten copies of 60-page report, and insert in binders, as no time to take for spiral binding in country deprived of the concept of Kinko's et al. Will have to spend weekend ignoring arriving houseguests and finishing presentation, which will no doubt be judged inadequate.
Am contemplating dramatic suicide as message to world about wrongness of today's values in the workplace.
2:40 p.m. Have temporarily postponed suicide until after relatives' arrival. Is not good form to greet visitors in dead state.
5:30 p.m. Have just returned from spending £80,000 on set of binders and plastic sheet protectors, plus £70,000 on spare printer cartridges. Fretting about hour spent away from computer, as one hour less of work. Must buckle down and become efficient, productive work machine, churning out dazzling charts and graphs for executives who will not look at them.
1:00 a.m. Can'tfocuse ye s anymore mustgotobed. Set a larm for3 a.m. asusual.
Saturday, 1 July. Weight: 8 st. 4 (am dwindling into waif-like creature), Calories: approx. 42, Caffeine: 140 times RDA, Alcohol units: 1 (yet another beer from BIL stash. V. strange, as do not normally drink beer. Must be stress reaction), Cigarettes: 800 (approx.)
11:00 a.m. Worked until very last possible minute, jumped in shower and attempted
5-minute psychic renewal through Lush. Was v. nice except intense heat and
humidity caused all positive effects to be lost through sweat glands in the
space of approx. 30 seconds. Weather in England obviously does not lead manufacturers
to consider such problems.
Am finally able to be excited about upcoming visit; haven't seen sister or BIL or nephew in over two years! Will be fun to have them around, except will be unable to actually spend any time with them due to nightmare work schedule. Still, am feeling bouncy and anticipating Hallmark-style family reunion.
Fabio is coming with in station wagon so will have transportation for both guests and luggage. We are super-organized hospitality center.
1:30 p.m. Back from airport. Spent two hours positioned between arrival gates,
as Bologna airport not clear on where flight from Brussels would be disembarking.
Scanned crowds of arriving passengers for v. tall people with lost expression.
Finally became clear that flight from Brussels had arrived and unloaded all passengers, but sister & family were not among them. Was instructed to go to Sabena office, hidden in glassed cubicle behind airport bar. V. nice woman checked computer, and cheerfully informed us that flight from New York had been delayed, thus family members rerouted to Zurich. New arrival time is 5:40 p.m.
Fabio insists on coming back, despite tentative plans to go to beach in afternoon. Feel terrible about wasting his time, taking him away from v. pregnant wife, and esp. about hours spent in airport when could have been making progress on swollen version of report.
On way home from airport, realize have no actual food in house for weekend; preparatory shopping trips having mysteriously produced only massive amounts of beer, toilet paper, and breakfast cereal. Dario drops me at home to keep working while he goes to spend too much money on food we are not sure anyone will eat. Am utterly useless as hostess and should be prohibited from having guests.
5:00 p.m. Worked until very last minute, time to go back to airport. Hope
to actually return with guests this time. Cristina is coming with, as at least
this way can spend time with husband in last days before impending birth of
Feel terribly guilty at wreaking havoc in others' families. Must remember am not responsible for airline difficulties, and friends are good and like to help each other.
Must think of excellent present for baby to make up for current mess.
8:30 p.m. April, Mike & Ryan safely arrived on flight from Zurich, but
with only one suitcase. Whereabouts of remaining luggage unknown. Spent over
two hours in lost baggage line, with passengers from at least two other flights,
in bizarre Bermuda Triangle-like epidemic of missing luggage. Is it possible
for bad karma to strike entire airport???
Cristina and Fabio have thus come and stood around in airport for hours for no reason, as single suitcase can fit easily into trunk of own car. Must think of excellent, expensive baby gift.
BIL not excited at first experience in international travel. Nephew v. tall. Sister surprisingly chipper after endless flight and delays and crossing multiple time zones. Would rather sit around talking and hugging adorable nephew than formatting charts and tables, but must finish presentation.
11:00 p.m. One piece of missing luggage arrived on 10 p.m. flight, and thankfully
was Mike's, as desperately needed shower and nothing available in house to
clothe bear-like man over 6 feet tall and v. large. April woke him up from
where he was sleeping on floor, with bewildered Vicki peering in cautiously
from doorway trying to figure out what strange large animal had taken up residence
in spare bedroom.
Jet lag finally sent relatives to bed (not on floor this time). Can almost see light at end of nightmare presentation tunnel. Will work for just a little longer, then get up early tomorrow and finish. Will spend relaxing afternoon with houseguests while printing out copies of reports. Feeling v. productive and efficient, only slightly frustrated at being torn in two directions between work and family.
1:30 a.m. Time to go to bed. Will nap for two hours, maybe even finish report before relatives awake from jet-lagged sleep.