Friday, November 19, 2004

this is how bad it is

D and I volunteered to be among the first staff cut tonight; the party (a corporate open house) had run an hour past the official end time, yet our manager was trying to stick to the original allotment of staff hours he'd been given, so people had to go. I used to feel weird about being among the first to leave, especially with this particular manager. I thought it reflected badly on my dedication, blah blah blah, I imagined that he was narrowing his eyes as he noted that yet again, I was piping up that I would like to leave.

No more. I'm a manager myself now, and responsible for staying until the bitter end of the parties I've been given to run; I don't feel obligated to do the same for events that aren't mine. And I'm really past caring whether upper management thinks I'm dedicated or not. The parties I've managed since they put me back on (it took a while, after my extended absence; I captained a lot) have come off smoothly, if we don't count the Great Cheese Riot. The feedback has been good, nothing major has been lost, broken, or set afire on one of my parties, and I haven't made any staff cry lately. While I may not be a shining example of the ultimate floor manager, I'm doing my job competently.

But I digress. D agreed to drive me home, so I wouldn't have to wait for Emperor, who is driving on his spare tire today. Very, very, slowly and nervewrackingly. D and I used one of the unassigned cubicles to change out of our tuxedos (there's a whole big cube farm this company hasn't filled yet, it's a little eerie) and I was done first. I've been wanting to do this all night, I told her, and proceeded to crawl under the desk, into the dark little space bounded by desk and cube wall.Now nobody knows where I am. D humored me for a moment--calling my name, asking loudly if anyone had seen me, and so forth. And then, because she knows a good idea when she sees one, she crawled under the desk with me.

Which is when things got really silly. Here we were, two adult women, curled up in the fetal position under a desk. Railing against the circumstances and our own inability to find lucrative work we believe in that keeps us beholden to catering, to all the frustration and waste that catering entails.

Wouldn't it be funny if we stayed here until they thought we were all gone, and we could hear what they said about us? she said, meaning the clients. Wouldn't it be funny if we stayed until after they left, I shot back, and went in and rewrote all their stuff? Then we speculated on whether there was a high-tech security system with lasers, like in any movie you've seen that involved a heist, that would cut us to ribbons the minute we crawled out from under the desk. Then I pressed my face into the carpet and moaned, Goodbye cruel world! I'm going to huff the formaldehyde outgassing from this industrial carpet and end it all!

Meanwhile D, who really looks like she's toeing the cheerful-cheerful party line when you see her on the floor, was going off on a rant about the sticker on the underside of the desk printed with a date two months after the war on Iraq began, something about the relationship between the dot com bubble and the military-industrial complex that I couldn't quite follow, something about how the bodies hadn't started coming back yet, and we were both laughing hysterically and hugging our polyester tux pants-clad knees to our chests and trying to stretch out the achy places in our lower backs.

It's moments like these--or the Contraband Scavenger Hunt at the coming-out party Danielle Steel threw for her daughter, or the bus trip back from a Big Sur gig where one of the other managers demonstrated his fellatio technique with a (very long) banana, or every time I do a little swing dancing with the chef who beat throat cancer last year who, regal in his whites and Dansko clogs, dips me until my braid brushes the kitchen floor--that make it hard for me to imagine leaving catering. I don't remember liking anyone at ILM this much, except Almeida; here I'm surrounded by awesome people. If we could all go form another company, some other sort of thing altogether, that would be perfect.

For now, though, we brace ourselves for the holiday season, and the onslaught of superficial, ultimately joyless little parties that people throw out of obligation, and dream of our real work.