I read a book in college where an elderly couple got lost in the mall and died of “lingering dread.” After holiday shopping yesterday, I can see how that could happen. Nothing like crowds, too bright lights, and bad recordings of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” to make you wish you’d stayed home. Here’s how to get through it.
1.) It’s a bad sign when the customer service rep says, “Let me check you in” instead of “Let me help you.”
2.) Pedestrians are like rabbits. They dart out and don’t know where they’re going. You’re on the naughty list if you hit one.
3.) Baked goods are tricky. People have a lot already. On the other hand, my neighbor gave me homemade caramel sauce that should be a controlled substance so…this tip is no help at all.
4.) If you’re not close with the receiver, try an ornament. It says: “I don’t know you well, but I kind of like you and thought this was pretty.”
5.) Make your hard to buy for relatives write a Christmas list. Otherwise they end up with way too many coffee mugs.
Lastly, it will all be worth it on Christmas morning when you wake up and realize you don’t have to leave the house.
Since I’ve moved into my apartment, it has developed a faulty light switch, a leak in the ceiling, a cut cable cord, and a mold problem. There’s no insulation, so my neighbor can hear everything I say, and it’s sometimes colder inside than out. But it’s cute, convenient, and mine, so that’s that. Here are some of the chores I’ve had to do in my new place.
- Wipe dead flies of my door. How’d they get there in November? I have no idea. But a wet paper towel makes them go away.
- Clean the mold off my futon. I never thought lysoling my bed would be so important. Hint: It helps if it’s is kept against an inside wall, not an outside one.
- Taking out the garbage, or getting my neighbor to do it for me. I spend three days a week, including garbage day, pet sitting at my mom’s, so I opted for the second one.
- Meeting said neighbors—they’re who you ask if you can’t work the laundry machine. This has actually been a fun one. They’re are all nice, older women who (unlike me) pay to keep their apartments heated.
- Bug the landlord. This one has to be done regularly, like washing the dishes. They had to send their handyman out three times before he even saw the leak in my ceiling. And now I have to check if they’re sending a roof guy to follow up.
Luckily for me, my Mom’s place (where I pet sit now and used to live) has warmth and cable. I still think of it as home because, after all, home is where the heat is.
In the non-profit business, we like to hold a fancy event each year, so that people give us money for general operating expenses. General operating expenses cover things like salaries, electricity, internet, and ordering pizza that grants don’t always pay for. Here’s how to work the day of an event.
- Wear comfortable shoes. You may love your Italian boots, but they do not love you. Flinching with every step does not make a fun evening.
- On a similar note, don’t wear blindingly yellow socks. If you have to take your shoes off, everyone will see them.
- Events are good places to find acquaintances. I ran into a woman at my old office who made me cookies for my last day there. (“Hi, it’s great to see you!”)
- Fancy events need good food. Take your boss up on it when she offers you leftovers. Tonight I’m dining on an Italian meat I don’t know that name of, but tastes delicious.
- You’ll spend a lot of your time hiking up and down the halls in search of someone who knows more than you.
And finally, it is a truth universally acknowledged that no matter how good it feels to dress up for the evening, it always feels better when you hang up your blouse and put on pajamas.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve learned that workplaces have drama. Who’d have thought? I have two instincts when I hear about it. One is to curl into a ball like a porcupine, and the other is to prick my ears and say, “Tell me more.” Here’s how to navigate between those instincts. Hint: The curl up in a ball one usually works better.
- Smile and wave like the Madagascar penguins. This works in social situations too.
- When my boss mentioned some drama, I once said, “I have no idea how to fix that” and made a little cross with my fingers. Do what I did, only more tactful.
- On the other hand, everyone gossips. Don’t expect your office mates to walk around with duct tape over their mouths—that itches.
- Be kind. I told my mother that I valued kindness in the workplace even though it was archaic. She shook her head and said that we were truly living in Trump’s America. Etiquette rule one: Think of the most obnoxious thing possible, and then tweet it.
- Judge your co-workers by what you see them do, not what others tell you they have done. This is a modified quote from a Horatio Hornblower movie. The person who says it later ends up shooting a guy in the back after he tries to cheat in a duel with the protagonist.
Duels in the work place are generally a bad idea.
Dante said that the ninth circle of hell was cold. I say its cold calls. There’s nothing more awkward than telling someone: “Hi, I’m from Concern for Animals. You were kind enough to donate to our silent auction last year…” It’s for two good causes though, animal welfare and keeping my apartment. Here’s what I’ve learned about cold calls.
- You weren’t disconnected. They hung up.
- Get a list of previous donors. It will work five times better than randomly punching in numbers, and make it five times less likely that you’ll want to punch the telephone instead.
- It’s an ab workout. Your stomach tightens the minute you start dialing.
- Business 2.0 magazine says it’s a good idea to call around dinner time. Don’t do that. It’s rude.
- A lot of small businesses don’t have money to spare. It’s not personal when they don’t give, and it’s especially meaningful when they do.
- On that note, the ones that donate can make your day. I had a new prospect tell me: “Thank you for reaching out.” It still made me smile a week later.
Full disclosure: I have danced in my chair and sang “Money, money” after a successful call.
I moved into my new apartment last weekend. Mom helped me set up, and she said it was like sending me off to kindergarten. If that’s true…this is a really awesome kindergarten. Granted, the lessons so far have been about moving furniture. But when I breathe in, I can inhale the independence (it smells like the Lysol I used to clean out the bathtub). Which brings me too…
- Even if your bathtub is brand new like mine (no previous tenants), clean it anyway. Or you could get out feeling dirtier than you went in.
- Electricity costs, but it’s still okay to use the heat. Especially if it’s so cold your nose is running. Note: Slippers are your friend.
- If there isn’t much hot water, try boiling a tea kettle and pouring it in. Trust me, it helps.
- Make sure you get instructions for how to pay rent. I bugged my landlord about it early and often. I fundraise for a living, so she never stood a chance.
- Take stuff from your parents’ house to get you started. That’s what it’s for.
The wildest thing I’ve done in my new apartment was watch a movie and eat chocolate. And it felt like Marti Gras.
I started a new job this week as Development Director at Concern for Animals. I take care of grants, donations, and social media. I’ve been cold calling businesses asking for gifts and enjoying the fact that I have my own office. There are kittens just outside, so it’s a miracle work gets done at all. Here are a few things about my job so far.
- It’s possible to call the same business four times and still not get the person you need to talk to. I hope they haven’t filed a restraining order.
- Writing about cute kittens on Facebook is as fun as it sounds. I get to start sentences with “One of our little fur balls got adopted…”
- On the flip side, there are some desperate people out there. One guy called asking for medical help for his dog sent a video on Facebook of the dog coughing up blood. Oh boy.
- The funds I raise go towards helping people like the one in step three. That’s why I called that business four times.
- My own tastes influence the gifts I ask for. That’s why I called a frozen yogurt place, two tea shops, and a store that sells Star Trek mugs.
Note: When you take a (quick) break to pet a kitten, you have to pet them all. It’s only fair.