Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<





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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?


"50 First Dates"






Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
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or Search by State

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Contact The Media
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Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue

Slanglish

It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations


Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"


















 
Mail Trillian here





Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)

CellStories

Alliance for the Great Lakes


Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras


The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.



Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.





Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains





























Life(?) of Trillian
Single/Zero

 
Wednesday, July 02, 2008  
“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).

I have seen through the looking glass and it is scary. I am tumbling down the rabbit hole and know only that I will land to find myself in another odd place where normal is an abstract concept.

I work, therefore I am. Right? I mean, I should be happy to have, for the moment anyway, a job. Oh sure, the term “employed full-time” is relative. I am employed full-time on a week-by-week basis. Meaning, I have a full-time job this week, but that’s not to say I will have a full-time job next week. Speaking in general terms, that could be said for most of us. We could die tomorrow, too. Nothing is forever and nothing is certain except uncertainty. There are no such things as reasonable expectations. You work hard, give it your full effort (110%, even!), paint the so-good-it-seems-sincere smile on your face, support the team, offer to help out on troubled projects which aren’t even your problem, answer your phone and email promptly, bring in good treats for staff meetings and the real food for the office pot-luck, avoid gossip and don’t talk trash about your boss or co-workers (well, at least not to anyone related to work), are the first to arrive and the last to leave, take the business trips, even the crappy ones to the crappy cities with crappy clients, because the co-worker who should be making those trips has children and can’t travel or work more than their 8:30 - 4:30 schedule. You do all that and more and it seems reasonable to expect that you’ll remain employed. Heh heh heh. You also eat healthy, exercise daily, don’t take health or safety risks. It’s reasonable to expect a long and healthy life. And yet, you’re only one cancer cell, one drunk driver, one stray bullet or one misappropriated sexual trust away from death. Meaning: It’s unreasonable to have expectations of any kind. Live for today. Period. One day at a time. Period.

Meet the 21st century’s motto: Paranoia. It’s not abject anymore. It’s all real and it can (and probably will) happen to you. Try to have a nice day.

I know, I know, I know. Always look on the bright side. It doesn’t hurt to try to keep a positive outlook. You may still fail, things may still go horribly wrong, but if you keep a positive outlook at least you might earn some karma points.

That’s what they say. They say a lot of platitudes. Successories has built an empire on the “power” of positive thinking. Self actualization and all that.

Whatever.

Oh, by the way, Successories’ sales have been trending down since 2001. They’ve reported a decrease in sales every year since 2000. Coincidence? I think not. We’re collectively waking up to the fact that no matter how much pith and positive thinking you throw at your life or a problem, it’s still a sucky situation and failure is always an option and always a viability. There are outside influences and factors beyond your control. All the soaring eagle posters in the world can’t stop lay-offs as a result of a reorganization as a result of outsourcing, downsizing or a bad economy.

I know. Aren’t you glad you stopped by today? I’m just a little beam of sunshine right here in your web browser.

It’s just, well, I hate to say I told you so. But I did. And now that the rest of the world seems to finally get it, people are finally realizing the power of positive thinking is only as good as the circumstances and number of variables in your life.

Welcome to reality. I’ve been expecting you. Sorry I was such a sarcastic, jaded and practical buzz kill when you were riding high on the power of positive thinking and optimism.

It’s just that I had more experience and saw the flaws in the plan and calculated the odds of success at being low due to outside influences. I didn’t want you to get your hopes up high only to suffer crushing disappointments.

I’m used to disappointment, we’re old friends. But I really did hope the best for you. I was cheering for you and all your sexy confidence and positive attitude.

I wouldn’t wish my friend disappointment on anyone. Disappointment is a mean friend. Disappointment also hangs out with a rough group of kids: Rejection and Anxiety. I’m used to them, I’m used to their antics and soul sapping joy rides.

They always show up, uninvited, to my parties. They love to crash my life’s party, drink my booze, sleep with the guys I like, run up huge phone bills, apply for the jobs I want, then go away leaving a huge mess for me to clean in the morning. They really suck. And even though I always wish they’d pick on someone other than me, I didn’t want them to pick on you. I had in mind someone more like Simon Cowell or George W. or that weird guy who lives next door to me. Oh wait. I think Rejection makes frequent visits to the guy who lives next door to me. I don’t think I had anything to do with that. I think they’re very old friends. But other than him, you know what I mean. Someone more deserving of a visit from the three horsemen of paranoia than you. Or me.

But here we are. I’d love to tell you that you’ll get used to the malaise. I’d love to tell you that in time you won’t even feel the sting when Disappointment bites you. I’d love to have advice on maintaining self esteem and confidence when Rejection slaps you in the face day after day. I’d love to offer a calming mantra when Anxiety arrives with a high rate of inflation, a trip to the emergency room and no pay increase this year. I do feel like I’m letting you down. These are my old friends, I should know how to deal with them and I should have some coping techniques to offer you. I’m sorry. (Inadequacy shows up a lot, too. Inadequacy is Rejection’s annoying know-it-all little sister. Inadequacy has been busy bugging me a lot lately so maybe she’ll leave you alone. For now.)

Maybe if I tell you some of the stuff I’m dealing with you won’t feel so bad about some of the stuff thrown in your path of positive thinking.

I have a job, for now. I’m on a six-month trial period in a “new” job. Heh heh. Ya know, that still makes me laugh. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. Meet the new job. Same as the old job. But with added responsibilities and a lower salary level. But hey! Since I’ve been employed by the company so long, and have, until recently, always had outstanding performance reviews, they’re not going to cut my salary.

Yet.

They’re just not going to give me a raise.

Ever.

If, if my “new” job is approved and I am allowed to remain employed I will have the luxury of knowing exactly what my income will be. For the duration of my job. I will know this because it has been made very clear to me that my “new” job, while still requiring an advanced degree, years of experience and a long list of new responsibilities, is now considered an entry- or early career level job. That’s a polite way of telling me that my years of experience are unnecessary and are, in fact, dragging down the company by way of my “high” salary.

Oh yeah. I earn sooooo much money. That's why I haven't owned a car for almost 10 years. That's why I'm scarily in debt with medical bills. That's why I don't take vacations any more. That's why I don't do something about this ridiculous mullet haircut. It's all because I earn sooooo much money. Apparently I just don't know how to manage it properly.

I do know for a fact that I earn less than one of our administrators. I know this because until recently I approved his time and pay statements every month. This administrator does not have a college degree (but to be fair is working on earning one - one class/semester at a time). This administrator has never worked anywhere else - arrived at our door with zero work experience. Okay, I mean, yay him, he’s working his way up the salary ladder and that’s cool. I’ve been very supportive over the past few years, even helped proof and critique a term paper for a class in which he was struggling. (He ended up with an A in the class, thank you very much.)

Every time another baby is born unto him and one of his girlfriends I carry his workload so that he can spend time with the new baby. (and boy is that family growing, it’s like he’s living in Polygamist compound, apparently he doesn’t believe in birth control, it’s all free love and joyous blessings arriving every nine months) Last year, shortly after the birth of another child, I noticed his salary was increased on the time sheet I have to approve. I asked HR about it because I’m responsible for approving his time and pay statements.

I thought perhaps there’d been an error, and I swear, I’m so naive, I swear I thought his earning amount was mistakenly switched with that of another employee with a similar name. I was concerned the other employee had been shorted in his pay statement. I wasn’t out to create trouble or make any insinuation about anyone’s monetary value. I was just trying to do the right thing - approve the time and pay for an employee honestly.

Financial services told me that the pay increase was correct. HR sent them a pay increase form just two days prior. They remembered it because the normal procedure takes a few weeks and typically takes a couple paychecks to reflect the increase. But HR demanded priority on this one.

Oh. Okay. Erm, um, thanks.

So I called HR and said, ever so innocently, (seriously, I’m not being sarcastic), “I notice a pay increase for someone whose time I approve. I called finance and they said you told them to increase the pay. So, I just want to make sure, since I’m the approver, that it’s all okay. No one mentioned a salary increase to me so I just want to make sure we’re all on the same page.”

Boy oh boy did the fur and feathers fly. The administrator went so far as to accuse me of snooping in his business and that it was none of my concern how much money he earns. “Erm, um, well, actually, yes, it is. Part of my job is to approve your time and pay. It says so right here in my job descrip...

tion...”

and poof! that part of my job was eliminated. I guess it would be kind of awkward and weird for me to approve the time and pay for an employee who now earns more money than I do.

He’s been exceptionally chilly toward me ever since. We used to get along. I used to ask about his growing family, looked at the newest photos, gave him little toys for them. I even “baby sat” one of his kids a couple afternoons when he had to bring her to the office because the mother of that child had appointments and none of the mothers of his other children would babysit for her. (I could not make this stuff up if I tried.) But ever since I “snooped in his business” he casts me snotty looks and speaks to me only if he absolutely must. I just sit there thinking, “What’d I do? You’re making more money than me, now, so you should feel grateful or at least not snotty toward me.”

And then came all the stuff about me being laid off, and then not being laid off because two people quit and I “could” be “helpful” with some problematic clients, let’s revise the job description, blah blah blah, here I am with a job description listed as entry- or early- career level.

This is the new thing in my company. I’m not alone. There have been many lay-offs in the past few months. Not surprisingly (to me, anyway) every one who was laid off was a mid-level manager with several years in at the company. Their positions were eliminated. In one instance an entire department was eliminated. And yet, there have been several new hires.

See? The future’s not all bleak. We’re still viable. We still hire people. Okay, they’re all under the age of 25, have little or no work experience, live with their parents and are willing to work entry-level jobs with low pay and no benefits.

Oh yeah. I forgot about that. Those of us who have health insurance and paid vacation days will still “enjoy” those “benefits” because we’re “special.” However the insurance benefits have been greatly reduced. I can vouch for that. My $250 asthma inhaler will now cost me $400.

Oh, and, good thing I’m a loser and don’t have to worry about this: contraceptives are no longer covered by our health insurance plan. For years they weren’t covered by our plan, then there was a huge campaign to include them in our insurance plan, employees prevailed and for a few years we’ve enjoyed a $50 co-pay on birth control.

Well, no more, sister. You want sex but no children? You have to cough up the money for birth control out of your own pocket or Mr. Saturday Night is going to have to come up with a condom. One employee screamed that our company was attempting to play God. I pointed out that she might want to keep God out of it and that her argument might be better received if she suggested it was a form of social engineering. She said either way the company was controlling her sex life.

Um. Ya know. Oh never mind. This is such a stupid discussion that I’m not lowering myself to take part in it.

It was about this time the administrator in my office had another baby and got the mystery pay increase. I didn’t say this, I didn’t make any accusations. But. Other people connected dots to complete a picture.

Someone, not me, said that a few people complained to HR that without the insurance coverage for birth control that they had produced children. And now they couldn’t afford to care for those children. Their line of reasoning was that it was my company’s “fault” that these children were created and born because the birth control coverage was removed from our insurance plan. Apparently there were three new parents who received pay increases. That’s just gossip, mind you.

But. Ahem. One fact can be substantiated: A person whose pay I used to approve received a significant raise shortly after a baby was born unto him. It just so happened that this child was born 10 months after the birth control “benefit” was cut from our insurance. Okay, sure, in his case the old health insurance plan wouldn't have helped because he's well, a guy, an unmarried guy with multiple partners, or whatever they are, and he can't claim more than one of them on his health insurance. But. Still. The timing of the significant pay increase is interesting.

But that’s okay. We have all these new employees, young whipper snappers, who don’t have any health insurance unless they choose to buy into a plan out of their own pocket. I know this is becoming the norm. I get it. But. There’s a bigger issue here: Those of us who are “lucky” enough to have health insurance, meaning, long term employees, are costing the company more money than the new employees who are willing to work at entry-level pay without health insurance. And guess who’s being laid-off? And guess whose job descriptions are being “revisited and revised” and altered from mid and senior level to entry or early career level? And guess who’s being told because their new job descriptions are at a much lower level than their current rate of pay that there will be no pay increase, ever?

And guess who’s being put under a magnifying glass? Those of us who’ve been here more than a few years.

People just disappear. I went on a business trip for three days. I returned to find two barren offices where there used to be a couple of old faithful employees. It looked like the Grinch had been there. Push pins which once held up weekly budget reports, calendars, photos of pets and Dilbert cartoons were haphazardly askew on empty memo boards. One of the employees who used to occupy the space was a few years from retirement. She used to have one of those retirement countdown clocks next to her monitor. I’m guessing she’s going to have to re-set that clock and add a few years to the alarm. A coffee ring once covered by a “hang in there baby” mouse pad was the only evidence that any human ever occupied the space.

You know those Twilight Zone episodes where some apocalyptic or psychotic catastrophe occurs and there’s only one person left on Earth? Well, that’s the feeling around the company. People just keep disappearing. Those of us left behind have stopped asking questions. We no longer even acknowledge the disappearance of our coworkers. We’re not in denial. We’re very aware. But we’ve taken a “keep your head down, don’t make waves or you might be next” attitude.

I now think the ones who go quickly without warning are really the lucky ones in the long run. Because others, like me, are being pushed to our limits. My feeling is that they’re trying to make us miserable so that we just quit and they don’t have to go through the unpopular lay-off process.

I know that sounds paranoid. I know. And I avoided feeling that way for a long time. But to say morale is bad is the understatement of the century. Upper management is sensitive to that issue and is trying to cut-back on the lay-offs. Which is why I still have a job. For now. But lemme tell ya, I do feel that I’m being given a lot of crap in hopes that eventually, with enough crap piled on me, I’ll crack under the absurdity of it all and quit.

Wanna hear about the latest crap hurled at me?

Okay! This’ll be fun!

It may surprise you to learn that your old pal Trill is racially insensitive. Yep. I know. It does seem a little odd, but then again...I do pretty much have EDUCATED WHITE GIRL FROM A GOOD HOME IN THE SUBURBS tattooed across my forehead in indelible DNA. And you know that all educated white girls from good homes the suburbs are racists. Ergo, I must be racist.

I know how people just love to hear about this kind of stuff. People are sick. And I hate to give this any type of credibility by even mentioning it. BUT. If it can happen to me it can happen to anyone, so just in case someone else finds themselves in the Land of the Weird and Unjust and lands on this page, here’s the story of how an ordinarily accepting, caring, color blind (figuratively and literally) person gets ensnared in a racial insensitivity complaint.

We managed an event for clients. One of my coworkers didn’t show up to work at the event. My boss, who is also her boss, called her several times and could not get in touch with her. We were depending on her to be at this event. We’re already understaffed and we were all handling more than we could comfortably manage. The coworker finally showed up, two hours into a three hour event. No phone call, no text message, nothing.

My boss was furious. Absolutely fuming.

I was worried. I mean, no one just doesn’t show up for an event where they’re supposed to work without a really good reason, right? That sort of thing is beyond my realm of comprehension. You have a job. There are responsibilities and expectations at that job. Unless you have a really, really good reason you show up and do your job, right?

So my mind went to horrible tragedies: An accident, an illness, an horrific family crisis. I was genuinely concerned about her well being. As time passed concern turned to worry. I covered for her, taking on her responsibilities. I mean, you know, my goodness, some horrible tragedy has befallen the poor woman, the least I can do is cover for her at a work event. That may sound sarcastic, but I swear to you I was sincere and getting more worried.

Meanwhile my boss was grousing and moaning about her not showing up. She insisted that no matter the emergency, at least a phone call could be made.

In my mind the lack of a phone call made the possibility of a horrible tragedy all the more obvious. If it were some minor thing she would have called, told us she was running late and that would be that. No phone call = bigger tragedy in my mind.

Two hours into the event, in strides the coworker, smiling and chatting with people along the way. Even stopping by the bar to pick up a cocktail.

My boss blew a swutting gasket. (And I have to say, I was surprised but kind of, um, I’m not sure what the proper word is to attach to the feeling. I was just surprised that my boss has the ability to get really mad at a coworker with whom she is usually extremely gushy and friendly and blind to her professional shortcomings.) At the end of my boss’ tirade she asked for an explanation of why the coworker was so late (and why she bothered to come at all). My coworker looked astonished and incredulously replied, “It’s pouring down rain out there. It’s a bad storm.” Duh? strongly implied as she sipped her cocktail.

“Are you okay?” I asked, “Were the roads horrible?”

“I dunno, I took the train,” she responded indifferently.

My boss said, “So why are you so late?”

Look of incredulity, duh? implied, “I told you, it’s raining.”

My boss looked at me for an explanation. I had none to offer.

Long silence.

My boss then said, “A few minutes, a half hour, I can understand that I guess, but why no phone call? You really put us in a bind by not showing up on time. Trillian’s been running around like a crazy person doing her job and covering for you. Trillian was worried about you.” (I’m still not sure if that was meant as a pat on the back for my compassion or a sarcastic comment, like, “Trillian was even worried about you and you know she doesn’t ever worry about you.” Her tone could have been taken either way.)

Again she gave us the incredulous look, “Why were you worried? You could see it was raining.”

“Uhhhh, well, after you were an hour late with no phone call I thought something bad must have happened.” It sounded better in my head than it did coming out of my mouth and maybe she somehow construed it as sarcasm.

“You can’t expect me to go out in the rain. I just had my hair done.”

Oh. Right. Of course. Silly us.

My boss totally lost it. I mean, like, totally lost it. I’ve never seen her lose her temper like that. A lot of things were said. A lot. Both my boss and my coworker threw a lot of verbal punches.

One thing I heard was, “You and Trillian have white girl hair, you don’t have to worry about rain. You need to be more understanding that not all of us have spoilt white girl hair.”

Thinking to myself, “Ha! You should see my 'spoilt' white girl hair in August with 100% humidity. My people are from lands far up in the Northern hemisphere where there is very little humidity and unfortunately our hair has not evolved and acclimatized to warmer, more humid weather conditions.” Instead I said nothing.

My boss, however, continued her tirade.

After a lengthy lesson on hair and the effect of rain on certain types of hair, I said, again, very innocently, “It seems like you’d have to take an umbrella with you everywhere.” I said this in sympathy, like, what a drag, the things we endure for our hair.

Yadda yadda yadda two weeks later I received a letter from HR saying there was a complaint filed against me and that I had a mandatory session with the head of HR. When I read the complaint statement I nearly keeled over in shock. My boss and I were both named in this complaint and were both called racially insensitive. My company takes these complaints very seriously, as they should. But. I noticed in the complaint that no facts were actually written out. It was just a statement saying that the work environment was hostile and racially biased.

Okay, I’ll grant you, in the moment, at the event where my coworker failed to appear to work, my boss was hostile. And had I not been so busy covering for her and worrying about her, I probably would have been hostile, too. But nothing was mentioned about her arriving two hours late, not letting us know she would be late and leaving us to manage without her. The exclusion of those facts made me feel a bit hostile. But I figured we’d be given the chance to tell our side. (silly Trillian, figuring on logic to prevail)

We were asked in the meeting, you know, verbally, to give our side, but no notes were taken and nothing (as of yet) has surfaced in writing explaining our side of the story.

The bottom line is: “We” were wrong. Never mind that she didn’t show up to work at her scheduled time. Never mind that neither my boss nor I ever said anything having to do with anything relating to the color of her skin or country of origin. Never mind that she brought up our ethnicity at least twice and seemed hostile about our hair. Of all things. Seriously. Of all swutting things. And by the way, I’m still growing out the mullet so that only adds to the effect and supports her claim of racial insensitivity. Us white girls can take our mullets out in the rain and suffer no ill consequences. (I know, I know, I shouldn’t joke about this, but c’mon...)


For once my boss has gotten herself into a situation which cannot be blamed on or delegated to anyone else. Do I think her anger was fueled by racial insensitivity? Oh geeze, no. She’s a lot of things, many of them negative, but racially insensitive is not one of them.

I even defended her. I know! It's the End of Days for sure! I made it clear that I have never heard her make any type of racially insensitive statements. Not that my white girl mullet headed opinion matters in the least.

Oh, and for the record, with all the recent lay-offs and people quitting, my company has now reached the point of diversity where my boss and I with our white skin, spoiled hair and Northern/Western European heritage are the minority. I used to like working here because we had a huge mix of people, lots of diversity, a huge melting pot of gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation and we all got along fine. It was like working on Sesame Street. We were all just us. I dunno, I never really noticed any more or less of a particular skin tone or ancestral heritage and it didn’t seem to be an issue with anyone. We just came to work and did our jobs. Again, not that my white girl mullet headed opinion is in any way relevant.

But I do think it is relevant that I’m now more frequently referred to, and defined by, my skin tone. Not by my job description, what floor I work on, what department I work in, the clients I have or even my actual name. I am, “that tall white girl on 18.” Not to be confused with the short white girl on 18. (That would be my boss.) I used to be “that creative genius who got XX client to bring their business back to us,” or just “Trillian.” Now I’m “that tall white girl on 18.” Not to be confused with the short white girl on 18. I am not calling attention to my, or anyone else’s skin tone, but boy oh boy, other people don’t waste a second to call attention to and apparently judge me by my skin tone and that’s perfectly acceptable. Not that my white girl mullet headed opinion matters in the least, but, I'm just sayin'...isn't there something hypocritically ironic in that?

I don’t know what my boss’ fate is going to be. I’m surprised that I’m actually scared for her. I mean, I’d love to see her go but not for this reason. Especially when there are so many other really good reasons for her to be let go.

But. My punishment is this: I now have a demerit, a racial complaint, officially filed in my company record. Any would-be employer who asks my HR department for record of employment will see several years of glowing reviews, then a job description change to an entry-level job and a complaint of racial insensitivity.

Don’t you just love the ‘00s?! I sure do. I’m having a blast!

The other part of my punishment is that I was required to spend a day in a communication class learning how to communicate. It was a one-on-one session. Just me and the Communicating Diversity “Champion.” Her business card says that. “Champion.” Not trainer, instructor, manager, VP or even coach. “Champion.” I felt really lame giving her my business card which just reads “Manager.”

Well okay, champ! Let’s go!

It was intense. But it was worth it.

I now know how to communicate with tact and respect. I had to unlearn everything I knew about communication. Forget what my parents, schools and universities taught me about communication, language, vocabulary and grammar. That’s all irrelevant. And bad. My parents were bad, my schools were bad, my universities were bad, therefore I'm the product of a lot of badness. I'm bad to the bone, baby, bad to the bone.

But! Redemption and salvation is mine if I want it! I have been granted a chance, given an opportunity to reform and be good! I was shown the error and arrogance of my ways. I was informed, reformed and enlightened. I learned that I must speak with tact and respect to preserve the dignity of those with whom I work.

I know! I thought I was already doing that. I don't love most of my coworkers, but I do respect them, or at least try to respect them. If I don't have anything nice to say I keep my mouth shut. If I don't have anything relevant to offer a conversation I keep my mouth shut. Most of all: I listen. I even have statements on previous annual performance reviews which state, among other things, "Trillian is an exceptional listener. She takes time and consideration for coworkers' and clients' ideas and points of view. Clients note that she is warm and friendly, approachable." But then again, that's all in the past. The past was bad. And if I want to succeed now and in the future I have to unlearn everything I know, everything I am. I have to stop being bad and start being good.

Any of you who know what I've been through in the past few years might be surprised to learn the root cause of all this. I know I was a bit taken aback when my Champion told me, accusatorily, that the core issue I must rise above, the challenge and burden I must overcome is: I am privileged. More so than others because I was raised in a home and community of privilege and education. (Funny, I thought I was raised in a home and community where education, doing your homework, staying out of trouble, hard work and not being a jerk were the values. I guess it's a tomato-tomahto thing. The Champion and I spent a lot of time beating that lesson into my privileged be-mulleted head. Those are the values of privilege. Privilege is arrogant. I should be ashamed to flaunt my privileged status.) I must always remember this before I open my mouth. I must always give my status as a person of privilege pause for thought and adjust my language, vocabulary and context accordingly. I must always remember that there are many people who have not been given the privileges I’ve been given.

And because I’m the one with the unfair advantages I must always be humble and speak with charity. Humility is the burden of those of us who are privileged and educated. Therefore we must never assert ourselves in any way. Assertion and intelligence are perceived as arrogance and snobbery. Therefore asserting ourselves, our ideas, our points of view, our intelligence, is tactless, arrogant and rude.

We are to feel apologetic for our unfair advantages. The tone and words we use when speaking should reflect apology for all our privilege and education. Using large words, “European language based” words, a vocabulary found above high school level, is not appropriate when working with those from backgrounds “diverse from my own.”

I am humbled and stand corrected. I have already modified my outlook and behaviors. I certainly do not want to be perceived as arrogant, rude and uptight. This is all for my benefit. I am lucky to have the opportunity to learn how to be tactful and change the perception people have of me.

People often tell me I have a nice smile. I laugh at the ubiquitous compliment because it's one of those things people say when they can't find anything else to say, "she has a nice, um, a nice, hmmm, smile, yeah, she has a nice smile." But, on the other hand, four years of orthadontia, headgear, retainers, the whole bit, I do have a nicely aligned set of teeth. (More on that in a minute.) I don't smile a lot, but I do smile. It may surprise you to learn that there are a lot of people who know me only casually or by sight who think I'm a really upbeat and happy person because I always greet them with a smile. So I didn't think I needed smile therapy. But, my Champion pointed out the error of my attitude in that regard, too! I have to make sure that my smile is not condescending. Uh. Okay. I didn't think it was condescending. BUT, apparently my professionally aligned teeth beaming from my EDUCATED WHITE GIRL FROM A GOOD HOME IN THE SUBURBS face is an advertisement for all that privilege I was born into.

"No one has teeth that perfect, naturally, Trillian, it's obvious you had work done on your teeth. I'm sure that's the norm where you come from, but other people don't have that privilege. You are friendly and you do smile a lot. I've noticed that about you, but that can be perceived as bragging. Every time you smile you're showing off your privileged heritage." So now I spend time practicing smiling with sincerity and humility in the mirror.

How do I achieve that? By not smiling as "big." I have to find a smile of moderation - somewhere between a lippy grin and a slightly tooth baring smile. Getting past the sarcastic smirk and cynical sneer is difficult, but I just relayed the smile situation to you with only two relapses into a smirk. Progress! I have to do my smile homework 15 minutes every day. Soon I’ll end every sentence with a sincere, heartwarming and apologetic smile. That's the "trick" the Champion taught me. She told me to think about how I would smile if I were apologizing to a friend for hurting their feelings and use that smile as my "normal, every day smile." That will be grand. And tactful.

Who knew those crooked, bucked, overbitten British teeth I had before orthodontics would have served me better than the aligned and tightened revised version which emerged after four years of orthodontia?! Wow. Shane McGowan must be perceived as the most sincere, nicest, underprivileged guy on the planet. Though I heard he's actually getting his teeth fixed. (So legendary are his teeth that there's even a Wiki on them!) If my parents had known I'm sure they never would have trekked me off to the orthodontist every month. No matter how bleak the picture of gum disease, jaw and neck pain and ill-health painted by the dentist, my parents would have refused to take his advice on getting my teeth in healthier alignment.

After I learned about my arrogant, showy, privileged smile I thoughtfully, wistfully said, "Gee, maybe that's why I can't find and keep a decent man. They're all intimidated by my perfect teeth..." The Champion patted a sympathetic hand on my shoulder, "Men fantasize about perfection but don't want it thrown in their face every time their date smiles at them." I have absolutely no idea what she meant by that but she's married and I haven't had a decent relationship with a man in years, so, I need to work on figuring out what she meant. I think if I crack the code I might unlock the door to finding, luring and keeping a great guy. She is a Champion. I never even considered that my smile could be perceived as snobby and rude. Boy was I an arrogant bitch. No more!

Before I had braces, especially in the pre-teen years, I became very embarrassed about my teeth. They were a crooked, bucked, overbitten mess of oversized enamel crammed and jumbled into a mouth not shaped to properly contain them. Around the age of 10 I made a concerted effort to quit smiling. Laughing was problematic so I'd cover my mouth with my hand when I laughed. Once I had braces installed I smiled and laughed freely. I thought I was showing people, other kids, that hey, we're finally doing something about my teeth! I thought fixing the teeth kids teased me about was a good thing.* I was so young and so wrong.

If that homework doesn’t do the trick there are mood altering medications available. I have a follow-up session with the Champion in a month. If I’m not affecting a tactful demeanor and communication style and smiling like I mean it a note will be given to HR advising therapy. And perhaps medication.

I now happily welcome the opportunities for personal and professional growth which are presented to me. I am very lucky to have a supervisor and coworkers who are willing and patient enough to help me see my shortcomings and show me how to improve myself. I am grateful for the chance to become the best me I can be in such a nurturing environment.

Normally you would probably expect a sarcastic comment here. Normally you would probably expect me to point out the ridiculous irony in all of this. But I’m sure you are aware, because you are tactful and humble, that irony and sarcasm are arrogant, elitist language tools rooted in upper class European society** and have no place in a diverse and modern office. They are passive aggressive tools used to alienate and repress those who are not of upper class European ancestry. Sarcasm, especially, is thinly disguised as humor but is seen as offensive, mean, exclusionary and elitist because many people do not understand sarcasm or irony. They are therefore not “in” on the joke. And it’s rude and unfair to exclude people in a conversation.

I’ve learned a lot, but the one thing that will be a real challenge for me, and one of the things which may require medication, is understanding and accepting that sarcasm is a modern day form of slavery practiced by elitist, educated white people and that it should not be used in the work-place.

I am a little sad that in all the years I’ve known you that none of you have enlightened me about the arrogance and elitism and slavery endemic in sarcasm. Oh, I’m sorry. There I go again with the college words. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. Sometimes I forget to dumb down my vocabulary. Ooops. Silly me. That sarcasm just slipped right out of me before I remembered to think before I speak. I didn’t mean to enslave anyone. I really do not want to have to go to another session with the “champion” or see a professional therapist.

Or take medication.

I saw A Clockwork Orange. I’m no Alex, right? I mean, I’m not perfect. I know that. I do use and understand sarcasm and irony and big words but I’m no Alex, right? I’m afraid of Ludovico-esque treatments. I don’t want to get sick every time I hear sarcasm or a multi syllabic word. I want to behave, I just don’t want to lose myself in the process.

But. That’s the problem. Who I am, what my skin color and DNA ancestry (and mullet, don’t forget the unfortunate mullet) represent - privilege, unfair advantages - is what’s wrong with society.

I thought we were talking about my specific workplace but my “champion” told me it goes beyond the walls of our office. I have to change the way I think. Period. I need change. There’s an era of change coming and I need to embrace change. Or so I was instructed by my champion. And she’s the champion. She should know.

I am as bad as Alex without the ultraviolence and raping. I was raised on Free to be You and Me only to now find out I’m not free to be me. I have to change. I’m not okay. I’m bad. I’m very, very bad. A very, very naughty girl. I should be spanked. Ooops. Sorry. See? I’m having difficulty adjusting, erm, changing. Perhaps you can help me.

After I thought about it I realized you were being polite and tactful by not pointing out my shortcomings in the areas of tact and elitism and arrogance in my language and communication. You’re so much better at this than I am. So if you read any elitist or arrogant or sarcastic, swut, especially sarcastic communication from me, please remind me that there’s a Ludovico-esque treatment waiting with my name on it.

Have a nice day.



*Though I will admit the braces years did result in me perfecting the art of the cynical smirk. Having a mouth full of wire poses several painful problems, the worst of which is getting your lips caught on the wires. You learn your lip limit and stay within it. In my case staying within the lip-safe zone resulted in a smirk which, when accompanied with a properly timed roll of the eyes affected a very cynical presentation. There's a box labeled "For Trillian's Teenaged Children" hidden in my mother's closet as testament to this. Photos of me during the smirking years are in that box. Ha! I showed her! I don't have children!

**Boy do I wish my grandparents were here to hear themselves considered upper class. They'd have a sarcastic comment or two to make about that. Especially in relation to the old (European) countries they left behind when they immigrated. I've seen photographs of the village my grandparents left in Norway. I've tasted some of the recipes which were favorites in that village. Lemme tell ya', there are many valid reasons why they left. But...wait...sarcasm...OMG!!!! They must have been upper class! Holy smokes I had no idea I came from such high falootin' well-to-do ancestry!!! Who knew the ability to read and write and speak and comprehend syntax and crack a joke or two makes you part of the upper class?! I am privileged!

3:19 PM

 
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