The Interim Normal


This is basically how I imagine a lot of CEO workspaces look at the moment.

For the past nineteen years my wife Anne and I have maintained firm boundaries between work and home. Home is our refuge from work, our earthly reward for jobs properly done, our container of collections and comfort, and our humble haven for our hearts. Work is an intrusion we’ve allowed inside only in extremely rare circumstances.

In this new era, our ongoing worldwide catastrophe, effective this week the line between work and home is one of many luxuries we’re no longer afforded.

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Happy 2nd Earth Day Birthday, Giant Office Plant Monster

Earth Day Plant!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

On Earth Day 2015 as a fun perk, my employer marked the occasion by giving out free tiny potted palms to every home office employee. They were three inches tall, probably the kind that professional greenhouses give out to kids visiting on field trips. Most of them were probably dead within a week.

Just for kicks, I decided to conduct an experiment by seeing what would happen if I actually tried to take care of it.

Two years later, what was once a cheap greenhouse keepsake is nearly ready to audition for Little Shop of Horrors. Lucky for me it’s not empowered enough to escape my workplace or hitch a ride. Yet.

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Sweet Anticipation of Goodies to Come

cookie mix!

Courtesy of my workplace, I came home today after a long, draining week bearing a glass jar of merry Christmas benevolence. Some assembly required.

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Fabulous Frothy Fatty Frolicky Friday Fun with a Fondue Fountain


Pictured above is the star attraction from our most recent pitch-in at work: a fondue fountain filled with rich, creamy, sinful chocolate. This enchanting appliance belongs to a kindly grandmother on my team who decided to spoil us with its presence, which made for a celebratory change of pace from the doldrums of day-old grocery donuts, lookalike veggie trays, and a thousand bags of unopened chips. Not one person was the kind of killjoy to complain that this setup had virtually no connection to the “Mexican” theme we’d voted on for the pitch-in.

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For a Happy Retirement After a 50-Year Run

Gift Basket!

For fifteen years my mom and I worked at the same company in different departments. She retired May 31st after nearly fifty years in the rat race. This was the gift basket her coworkers assembled to help kick off her next era and keep her busy with creature comforts for the short term till she gets settled into a new daily groove. At least one of these items is outside her bailiwick, but such special occasions aren’t the right moment for nitpicking. I appreciate that they took to heart most of the ideas I gave them. Maybe she’ll surprise me and give those untested things a try. Or maybe she’ll hang on to them till Christmas and then hand them off to me or my wife. Whatever works for her.

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Happy First Birthday, Free Earth Day Plant!

Earth Day Potted Palm!

On Earth Day 2015 as a fun perk, my employer marked the occasion by giving out free tiny potted palms to every home office employee. They were three inches tall, probably the kind that professional greenhouses give out to kids visiting on field trips. Most of them were probably dead within a week.

Just for kicks, I decided to conduct an experiment by seeing what would happen if I actually tried to take care of it. One year later, behold the results.

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MCC 2015 Food Photo Marathon #3: Farewell with Cupcakes


Our very special MCC extended interlude continues!

Dateline: October 2014 at work. One of my teammates retired after twenty-odd years with the company and per regulations was entitled to one (1) retirement party with visitors, memories, congratulations, family guests, gifts, speeches, food, fruit punch made from random two-liters, and the opportunity to enjoy all of this on the clock. It’s all part of the company’s sincerely generous retirement package. Food varies from retirement party to retirement party based on the whims of the retiree. This time: cupcakes.

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Our Jack Skellington Team-Building Pumpkin Showpiece

Sometimes team-building exercises can take you to the most unexpected places.

During our Customer Service Appreciation Week, our department and several others were challenged to a pumpkin-decorating contest. Each area received one (1) pumpkin, some bottles of paint, three paintbrushes in different sizes, a sheet or two of random Halloween stickers, probably some other art stuff I never even glanced at, and a few days’ advance notice in case we wanted time to formulate a strategy and bring our own art supplies and accessories. Once our allotted time began, we had ninety minutes to go from plain pumpkin to polished pièce de résistance, and with only one rule: no carving. Presumably the company has plans for all the pumpkin guts after the festivities end.

My team landed on the idea of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Pumpkin Skellington!

Right this way for more details and a look at Spiral Hill!

Thinking Like a “Chopped” Contestant Can Save Any Dull Pitch-In


The picture and my plate both looked too plain, so I added Crow for garnish. Maybe it’s not something you would do, but I’m an otherwise reasonable adult and I’m perfectly happy with my garnish choices.

Pictured above is my newest creation, inspired by frustrated circumstances. It’s a stale Marsh donut sliced in half bun-wise, filled with one layer of chipped-beef-‘n’-cream-cheese from the best kind of cheese ball, one layer of Ritz crackers, and one layer of plain cream cheese. I dubbed it the Good Afternoon Burger. It would’ve been even better if someone had thought ahead and brought in some rich, creamery butter to use as dressing. They had veggie dip, but that’s the absolute opposite.

And this wasn’t the worst thing I tried today…

Comics Better Not Get Me Fired. (Maybe NSFW.)

I thought I was getting funnier looks than usual today when I returned to work from my routine Wednesday lunchtime walk. It took me a few minutes to figure out why.

I have a special pattern on Wednesdays. I arrive earlier at work than usual; I spend my lunch break walking to my local comic shop to pick up the week’s new releases; I hurry back to my desk so I can finish out my early day and enjoy an extended evening. Pretty much like clockwork. My coworkers know me just enough to think nothing of it.

I paid for my hobby fix and got lost in thought while the clerk placed them inside the usual translucent bag. I remained pretty much on autopilot during the brisk walk back, through the heart of downtown, into the lobby, and up the elevator, passing a few distractingly odd expressions along the way.

When I sat down at my desk and began shuffling things around, that’s when I focused and really looked at what I’d been carrying.

Continue here for pics I normally wouldn’t post here, probably NSFW by some employers’ standards…

How Not to Celebrate Customer Service Appreciation Week

Are YOU ready to make your employees feel like kings and queens for a week? It’s rewarding and legal!

Anyone who’s in the same general field as my wife and I should be gearing up right about now for this year’s Customer Service Appreciation Week. I’m not sure if this annual internal salute to service representatives was invented by the same Hallmark scientists who created such business-based holidays as Boss’ Day or Secretaries Day, but since it benefits me each year, I refuse to be an ingrate.

The premise, for those of you in other fields with your own traditions of positive reinforcement: each year for five consecutive business days, customer service supervisors who can spell and pronounce “morale” treat their employees to a series of extra fun perks. Sometimes it’s free donuts for breakfast and/or a a catered lunch. Sometimes there are team-building exercises or one-on-one contests, with useful prizes at stake. For companies with relaxed dress codes, there can also be themed clothing days — e.g., Hawaiian shirt day, sports apparel day, jeans day, etc. If it’s different from a normal work day and doesn’t double everyone’s stress level, it’s welcome this week.

Between my wife and me, we have [mumble-mutter] years of experience in customer service, many of which have been blessed by superiors who observed CSA Week. We each have multiple fond memories of the occasion.

For those about to party on the clock, we salute you…

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