Saturday, September 8, 2012

Invisibility and Other Musings

"Oh, it's just the tech guy."

I laughed when two people who work in my building were having a genuine, silly conversation, only one of them realizing I was there. When the second person saw me, she first got embarrassed about the frank discussion I had been privy to. Then she realized who I was and said, simply and truthfully, "Oh, it's just the tech guy."

This is not an insult. It's sure not a compliment either, it's just the way the vast majority of people feel about us IT folks. We ARE the equipment. When something breaks, we're to be yelled at or panicked to. When we fix it, we're living legends. But most importantly, when we're there working on something that isn't an emergency, we're window dressing. I've been working on computers during intense disciplinary meetings in principal's offices. I've witnessed the dressing down of employees by bosses. I've been put in front of screens with highly sensitive data (not a click away, just sitting there open). I've seen office politics at its worst and office romance at its least subtle.

And sometimes, instead of pretending I'm not there, people involve me in the discussion. They talk badly about their bosses, their employees, their families, and I engage. Because for some reason, everyone trusts the tech guy. It makes sense if you consider that IT can see all your shit anyway if we want to (we don't). So what is there to hide? We're not messing with your private files, we're on your side, and we want your equipment to work as much as you do.

Babies and Food

Most people have been very supportive of my quest to get healthy. But reactions certainly run the gamut from encouragement to selfishness. The first reaction of some people is to worry about how it will affect them. Others feel like my choice to abstain from dessert means I'm judging them. Why do so many office/life events center around food? And how do we avoid participating in the food portion without making some people feel like we think we're too good for their birthday, etc? I can't have dessert once a week. It doesn't work for me. So I have to turn it down all the time, but I'm not faulting those who don't. My new reality is that the two times I've lost significant weight, 2012 and 2003-04, it involved no dessert. Sometimes is not an option.

We have lots of birthdays coming up, mine included. I know my close family won't be upset with me for not eating cake, but why is there a small part of me that worries about it? We're conditioned to eat crap at events, and thanks to the event industry, new obligations pop up each year. There are cards and desserts and plastic garbage for "special" days, both very real (birthdays, major holidays, Talk Like A Pirate Day) and completely made up (Valentine's, the super bowl). Now I'm not complaining about gifts, more the excess of holidays, when back before I became a cranky old man we used to just spend time together and give small, personal gifts, and that was love.

Basically, I'm moving in a new direction, and hope others are or will start. We're getting rid of clutter in our house, trying to live smaller. We're moving toward a diet that consists largely of fresh food. And I definitely want to give fewer "things" and start addressing more "needs" for those around me. I'm starting to see the light about gift cards or stone cold cash as gifts. Because if someone handed me cash instead of a gift, right this minute, I would either indulge with a GPS watch or running shoes for me, or just go buy things like diapers. My point is lets start giving less and be together more!

And we want the same for the baby. I grew up with a reasonable amount of toys. I wasn't drowning in them, and I used my imagination a lot. Too many toys, too much reliance on TV or other electronics, and I feel like kids have a harder time just being on their own, outside, imagining and building. Then again, I'm not a parent yet so I'm not allowed to have an opinion on child rearing (or so I've been told repeatedly).

Having a baby causes great excitement among friends, family, and sometimes people I don't even know. Babies are awesome. But much like getting healthy, there are a few people it just plain bothers. Some complain about how we won't be able to hang out anymore. Many say "just you wait" as if we'll finally pay penance for our year of DINKhood.

But nothing matches the reactions of some of my mother-in-law's clients. She has been harassed about when the baby is coming (as if she can predict the future). Several people have scoffed at the idea of her taking time off to help us out. A few have said they are no longer going to use her because she can't guarantee her availability. It's amazing and sad how low some people can be, and I say good riddance to them. If they beg to come back, which they will, charge double.

Perhaps Some Positivity

Strong desires for dessert still kick me in the face occasionally. I can quickly dismiss them most of the time. It's starting to feel like dessert is a sphere and as I address the need for it I can sense my hand gripping that sphere. Each week I go without, each time I smell it and feel weak but refuse anyway, every time I move past and have gum or fruit instead, I smile. And I squeeze that sphere tighter. And it's starting to crack, and that's good news for me, because soon it's dust and I'm never going back.

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