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November 17, 2004

There's Always One Of Them

The older I get, the more convinced I am that anytime you leave the house, you're going to bump into a Von PettyPumpkin while at work. It's simply inevitable. I will never escape it.

In fact, just as the last Von PettyPumpkin has left, crying and running off into the sunset tail between his legs and his butt covered in tar and feathers (at least that's how he looks in my mental picture), I get another one. It's fate. It's destiny.

The simple truth is I am always going to have someone fucking with me.

Since taking over the reins of Project Rocket Riding Gerbil, I have had a wider scope of people around me. I actually like almost all of the people I work those. Those I don't really care for it's simply because it's impossible to extricate yourself from their surroundings once they start talking, and no, for the record, I don't want to spend 25 minutes listening to you tell me about the time your daughter attempted Stravinsky at her 6th form class concert. I have brain cells, you know. And most of them are jumping, screaming, from my ears, taking their chances with the 5 foot 9 inch drop.

But there's always gotta' be one. There always has to be one guy that likes to push buttons, or is simply too ignorant (or arrogant) to know that he pushes buttons. For the most part, my team is fantastic-they call me, text me, and even call me The Project Mistress. I would be offended, only I know they mean it well.

After all, my manager gave me the promotion because, in his words, "I have that pushiness and that drive to me, that agressiveness that will show people we don't know how to be nice anymore. And I mean that in the best possible way."

Hmmm. And all this time I'd thought I'd mellowed.

I go to a meeting in Maidenhead today in order to spend 4 hours of my precious young life discussing test cases. 4 hours that will forever be lost in that bracketed decade known as my 30's. Someday I will reminisce: My 30's...they were so great. Well, except for that 4 hours I spent discussing test cases. Man that blew big donkey chunks. It really marred the otherwise perfect landscape of my 30's.

Since I was driving, I therefore was late (it's karma. I can never drive to anywhere on time). And lost. Late and lost and had dripped the contents of the olive oil soaked pasta salad that Emily turned me on to, so naturally I was feeling frazzled. When I finally arrived to the meeting (one hour late), I was forced to sit between Ron (whom I like) and Hadrian (whom I don't).

Hadrian and I had met before. He is a vendor to the Project I am working on, and we pay him to provide a part of the product. In other words, once again, I am the customer here. Hadrian and I didn't get on from the get-go. In the meeting some months ago I pulled out a bag of M&Ms. He immediately held out his hand and grunted: "Give me some."

Shocked, I simply poured some of my precious M&Ms onto his palm. He just looked at them and said, "They're going to leave colored marks on my skin."

Having largely recovered I replied, "That's why most of us learn in kindergarten to eat the damn things before they start leaving weird inky stains on your hands. I'll send you my latest copy of 'Candy for Dummies' to see if maybe you can get some guidance from it."

That said, he wiped his palm of my precious M&Ms, looking annoyed, and threw them away.

He threw them away.

What kind of person throws away candy?

I sit next to Hadrian and Ron, silently cursing my life, my horoscope, my real estate agent, and the Greatest American Hero for no longer showing on TV. The meeting is agony. It just goes on and on and on. Hadrian just drones on endlessly about what is needed, what is missing. And, of course, how he totally anticipated every possible delay and his company was perfect (which is an appropriate way of thinking about it provided you have the IQ of a brick wall and the foresight of a sailor plunking down his cash for a bit of girlie company at the Syphilis Nightclub and Lounge).

He turns to me. "After this meeting, the beer is on you, right?"

I stop writing down some notes. "What?" I ask.

"The beer. After the meeting. You're paying."

"Uh, no thanks. I'm not joining."

"Look, you're the customer. You have the money, right? And you're the one with the most senior position in the room. So you're paying."

Ri-iiiiiight. Is that how it works? Because my manager dumps an entire project on a skitsy 30 year-old with a penchance for saying what she's thinking, then I am buying beer and wasting precious time in that fabulous bracketed decade known as my 30's with this fucknut? Like my life isn't too short already? Like I don't already have a white hair that continues to grow in white no matter how many times I rip it out of my scalp with fear and horror?

I don't think so.

"Sorry man." I reply. "I'm heading home to pack."

He continues to grumble. I am getting seriously annoyed. I have cramps so badly (PMS always comes to an end eventually) that I could honestly feel my ovaries tucking themselves up somewhere around my esophagus. We haven't packed a single thing in the house and we move in three days. I have a number of action points to solve before my full-day of meetings in London on Wednesday. I seem to be making no progress in getting the broadband hooked up in the new house. We are still battling the estate agents over their handling of the Tabby Bomb. I haven't slept well in days. I just had my hair cut and dried in a way I can only hope to mimic and I have a zit on my chin that came with a big smiley: "Hi! I drank my estrogen today!" button on it.

During a "comfort break" (I love that they call it that, when what it really means is we all dash to the toilets), the room starts to empty. Hadrian turns to Ron, eyeing his apple on the table.

"Ron, give me your apple. I haven't had anything to eat all day." he demands.

"Sorry mate. I want this apple." Ron blithely replies, biting into the fruit with glee.

I think of the tube of Rolos I have in my briefcase and decide that, contrary to the leanings I was subjected to in preschool, I absolutely do not want to share my caramel-centered goodness. Go ahead, lecture me. Take away my finger paints too, I don't care, I have Rolos.

I turn to my briefcase to try to do the one-handed Smooth Move. Women will know what I mean. The Smooth Move wherein we extract a tampon from our bags and slide it into the palm of our hands, slowly lifting our wrists up so that the tampon slides quietly and effortlessly up our sleeve, without a russle, and no one asks us why we are off to the toilet with what looks like a dive knife tucked up our sleeve.

"Is that food? Give me the food. I haven't had anything to eat today and I am hungry." whines Hadrian.

And with a silent crack, my will broke. I was simply too tired and too annoyed to care anymore. I had had it with Hadrian and his behavior, and I simply didn't want to deal with it anymore.

Like a magician, I flex my arm down and reveal the hidden plastic-wrapped tampon from its cocoon up my sleeve. I smack it down on the table in front of Hadrian and Ron. Hadrian's eyes bug out and he looks at me. Ron starts a hideous wheezing cough, a gorgeous bubbly sound that is the hilarity of someone trying not to laugh their ass off.

"It's super absorbancy. Should fill you right up." I reply wearily, and start to walk out, before realizing that he actually wouldn't eat the tampon (I hope) and that unless it was Lizzie Borden Day, I actually needed the thing. I swipe it off the table and leave the room.

Pushy and agressive indeed.


PS-My 7000th comment should be left today :)

Posted by Everydaystranger at November 17, 2004 06:50 AM .

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Smooth Move
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Tracked: November 21, 2004 02:18 AM


as embarrassed as I'm guessing he was, he doesn't seem like the type that will stop being a dick anytime soon.

Posted by: girl at November 22, 2004 02:09 PM

So ummmm, are you buying the beer after the 7000th comment?

Just kidding mate, I have me own beer.

BTW, if your physiology is any thing like mine, your rolos and yours zits at 30 something are quite related. Although I am a scotch-Irish American male in Texas..... so perhaps your zits have more to do with your need to smooth move your tampons from your brief case.

Good Times.

Posted by: joel at November 21, 2004 08:06 PM

OH MY GOD! That was toooo funny! My four year old told me to "stop laughing- I can't hear my mooovie, Mommy!"
You really said that, about it being super absorbancy to fill him up? What a riot! YOU SO ROCK!

Posted by: AFSister at November 20, 2004 01:09 AM

Ya knoooowwww, I'm craving Rolo's now and it's AlL YOUR FAULT!!! :)

Posted by: Boudicca at November 19, 2004 10:27 PM

Funniest thing I've read in a long, long time.

Posted by: physics geek at November 19, 2004 06:57 PM

My two year old boy is looking at his mommy like she is crazy because I am laughing so hard from reading that. I came over form Beth's (thanks for the tip) This MADE my day!!!!!

Posted by: Kari Holtz at November 19, 2004 04:14 PM

Oh, Helen, that is the funniest story I've read for a long time. I even read it out loud to my husband.
I'd like to meet that Hadrian's mother. What was she thinking, raising a jerk like that?

Posted by: Beth Donovan at November 19, 2004 01:11 PM

Now that's funny. I never shared my Rolo's either.

Posted by: Kin at November 18, 2004 08:56 PM

Oh to have been a fly on the wall! Too funny.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at November 18, 2004 07:27 AM

Rolos used to use the slogan "Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?". Well actually, no I don't! :)

Posted by: MrDan at November 18, 2004 03:02 AM

"The Prince" sounds like a schoolyard bully to ME. And you delivered JUST the shot to the 'nads that he SO RICHLY deserved.

You, my dear, are THE BEST! I so needed that story!


Posted by: Margi at November 18, 2004 02:41 AM

thats freaking funny.

Posted by: pylorns at November 17, 2004 11:17 PM

I love it, I LOVE it, I LOOOOVE it! You could'a charged a hefty admission to witness that moment, and there would have been many a taker.

Posted by: brj at November 17, 2004 10:57 PM

Prince Terrence Montagnarde, huh?

Why is that name giving me visions of a giant turd? Something like what Bill Paxton got turned into in "Weird Science".

Should have stuck the tampon in his mouth.

Posted by: diamond dave at November 17, 2004 09:52 PM

Those are the once-in-a-lifetime moments one lives for (but which, if you're me, you're usually too tongue-tied and stupefied to take advantage of). Good for you on making that one count.

But who said you could tell about the Smooth Move? Why did you tell about that?!?

Posted by: ilyka at November 17, 2004 08:33 PM

a. Who the fuck in their right mind throws m&m's away?
b. The zits dude, I'm nearly 30, what the fuck is up with the zits?
c. I hope to god that you kicked that guy severely in the taint. Very hard. With pointy shoes.
d. What the hell kind of name is Hadrian anyway? I bet that guy got his ass kicked every day on the playground as a kid. I hope he got atomic wedgies too.

I think I need some m&m's now.

Posted by: sporty at November 17, 2004 07:11 PM

Dammit... I have pms and now I want m&m's AND rolos...Thanks HELEN!!! ;)

Posted by: EJ at November 17, 2004 06:57 PM

You fucking rock!

Posted by: Jessica at November 17, 2004 06:34 PM

His name is Hadrian? Like the self-aggrandizing emperor? Who DOES that to a child? Gaaak.

Oh darling girl, you are the best, to say the very least.

Now go pack.

Posted by: Kaetchen at November 17, 2004 05:48 PM

Hahaha ..Oh Helen.you crack me up so much! Of course you are my first read in the mornings and I spilt coffee all over my laptop! I wasnt expecting that post!
Good luck with packing...I hate it!

Posted by: butterflies at November 17, 2004 05:37 PM

Jim, you are a genius.

Hadrian is now Prince Terrence Montagnarde.

So it is written, so it shall be.

Posted by: Helen at November 17, 2004 05:26 PM

You crack me up! I laughed so hard that my coffee came out of my nose.

Posted by: justme at November 17, 2004 05:12 PM

dude. Fucking. Hilarious.

Love it. Love you. :)

Good luck with the packing. I hate packing too. "sigh" ...and it only gets worse everytime I move!


Posted by: Christina at November 17, 2004 04:38 PM

I think I actually snorted when I read that. And dude, send me some of the M&S pasta salad :)

Posted by: emily at November 17, 2004 04:20 PM

Congrats on standing up for women and candy around the world! And thanks for your offer of help with my situation. I'm not ignoring you. I'm just thinking about it.

I can't believe you have 7000 comments. Well, I can, since you're great, but jeez... I'm excited because I'm almost at 400. Have a great day!

Posted by: amy t. at November 17, 2004 03:50 PM

Oh that is priceless - I would have loved to have been able to see that!

Posted by: Onyx at November 17, 2004 03:41 PM


I SO want to work with you. You are the total Corporate Goddess. From all of us that go days without hearing another female voice and have to put up with men treating us like we're some kind of dolled-up tomboy who snuck into the clubhouse - THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

I would have paid good money to have been a fly on teh wall. I'd pay even more for an ounce of your gumption.

I SO Heart Helen.


Posted by: Elizabeth at November 17, 2004 02:50 PM

You are one sassy lady! These kinds of stories are the reason I keep coming back.

I have one of these wankers at my work as well. He has a god-complex and dresses like my grandpa.

Maybe I need to have a little fun with him. Where's my tampon? :-)

Posted by: Ice Queen at November 17, 2004 02:48 PM

This! This is one of the reasons I read your site as soon as I get to work every day. You say all the things I only think and would never dare utter aloud. OK, am too chicken to say aloud. And I'm so glad you say them.

Posted by: karmajenn at November 17, 2004 02:15 PM

7000 comments?! wow! everyone seems to be hitting comment milestones at the moment.

And i am in awe of the way you handled Prince Terrence Montagnarde (i love the name Jim, so thought I'd use it!) But in all honesty it wouldn't have surprised me if he had tried to eat it... after all, this is the same guy who threw away m&m's which everybody knows is a sacriligeous thing to do.

You go get em project mistress, and don't let nobody fuck with you or your rolos.


Posted by: Lemurgirl at November 17, 2004 02:14 PM

Best. Story. All. Day. Nothing will top this one today. Nothing.

Posted by: Z. Hendirez at November 17, 2004 02:06 PM

7000? Wow.

Are you moving closer to job or farther away? ;)

Posted by: drew at November 17, 2004 02:05 PM

I think everyone runs into Hadrian-like people in the course of life - what I always wonder is how on earth they survived being that way? What did/didn't their mothers or fathers teach them???

Posted by: martha at November 17, 2004 01:48 PM

I want to be you when I grow up, Helen. Such quick thinking, what a way to put him in his place!

You rock, Project Mistress. And I say that with utmost envy and admiration.

Posted by: scorpy at November 17, 2004 01:41 PM

7,000! Wow. I've got...er...slightly less than that.

We need a better name for this fellow, especially if he's going to be a regular feature. Hadrian is too classy. You know - the wall and everything.

How about Prince Terrence Montagnarde? He sounds like he thinks he's royalty anyway.

Posted by: Jim at November 17, 2004 01:17 PM


Maybe I'll start carrying a tampon for just such an occasion...

Posted by: Easy at November 17, 2004 01:11 PM

What a jerk that guy must be!

You put him right where he belongs, though, and had me in hysterics!

Posted by: Heather at November 17, 2004 11:09 AM

Perfect. You would have made such a good litigator, and I mean that in the most admiring way.

And I loved the Greatest American Hero. Excellent theme song.

Posted by: RP at November 17, 2004 10:51 AM

go helen!! I love it :)
and boo simon!!

Posted by: melanie at November 17, 2004 08:20 AM

Thank you Simon. I am an active little bunny in the sack, thanks!

And my darling-I have to say congratulations.

You just left my 7000th and 7001st comment :)

Posted by: Helen at November 17, 2004 07:31 AM

That is a classic. If only you had a photo of his face.

Right at the start you write: The simple truth is I am always going to have someone fucking with me. You could take out the with and it will still be true ;-)

And now I'll never look at Rolos the same way again.

Posted by: Simon at November 17, 2004 07:28 AM

Just passing through...now to read the post!

Posted by: Simon at November 17, 2004 07:23 AM
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