Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Here There Be Monsters

This is a story about ants.

It's also a story about a five-year-old and her Daddy.

When I was a little kid, I had a bike and a sister and a doll with eyes that closed and a bus to ride to school and parents who loved me. Life was easy and joyful.

And then one day, our home was invaded by interlopers.

Carpenter ants marched along the fence in the yard and slipped inside the house.

They skittered across the wall in my room.

They marched past as my sister brush her teeth before bed.

My parents decided that they needed to rid our happy home of these awful things.

My Dad was the bravest Daddy in the world.

But...giant ants?

Giant ants?

Terrified by the thought of my father battling giant ants, I did what any thinking, rational five-year-old would do.

My Daddy was brave and strong. But he was still a man. And how could a man win against a giant ant?


My Dad survived.

The ants did not.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Clay Baboons Interview Guide

So I got a job.

I'm very excited to announce that my mornings will no longer consist of surfing the net for three hours in my pyjamas before walking the dog.

(OK, so maybe I'm going to miss that. A little bit.)

I'm going to be teaching an adult language class. I'm going to have a projector and a spinny chair and only three students. They'll have their own spinny chairs, so I won't have to share mine. And I only have to work from nine until noon.

Dream job? Pretty much!

Anyway, getting ready for job interviews can be stressful. So I thought that I would share some interview tips.

You know, since I once had an interview and got a job.

Which pretty much makes me an expert.


*disclaimer: The following scenarios are dramatizations.
They are not based on actual events.
They did not actually happen.
Even I'm not that ridiculous.

The author can not be held responsible for your success or lack thereof if you choose to follow these tips.

Tip one: Greet your interviewer with a smile and a firm handshake.

Tip two: be honest.

Tip three: smile and make eye contact.

Tip four: turn negatives into positives.

* this one is, in my opinion, the most trite and obnoxious of all interview tips. If I were interviewing someone and they named "perfectionism" as their flaw, I think that I'd probably throw up all over them. With perfect aim.

Tip five: be prepared with questions at the end.

My actual questions at the end of my actual job interview:

me: Would you like references?
her: You've actually already given them to me!
me (chirping with obnoxious enthusiasm): Well look at me! Aren't I organized!

And question two:

me: Do people work here together?
her: ...
me: Umm, I mean, do people here work in teams or independently?

Tip six: be friendly, but formal.

Please note: I would never initiate a high five. Ever. With anyone. For any reason. High fives stress me out.

What if they hit me too hard?
What if my high five is weak and lame?
What if I miss their hand altogether?

My sister told me once to "keep my eye on the elbow" when giving a high five. Apparently it helps you aim.

Actually, this whole "don't high five the boss" thing was actually a plant. It was a clumsy segue into a series of photographs of me high fiving creatures from previous Clay Baboons stories. This series is inspired by Down Low, Too Slow, Da Cheeseblarg's latest blog post, featuring her high fiving her favourite animals.

What's that you say?

You, too, would like to make a visual representation of yourself high fiving your favourite animal? Well, it isn't too late...just head on over to Cheeseblarg and send her your submissions before midnight tomorrow.

And now let the wild high fiving rumpus begin!

So yeah. I hope that this post will help you get a job. Or something.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

For Self-Loathing, Press Three

Some things are very difficult for me to do: fold the laundry, return my library books on time, make phone calls. Especially phone calls. I once took cold showers for ten days straight before gathering up the motivation to call someone to repair the water heater. It was July, so it was hot outside. But still.

It's just so hard. First I have to find the number, then I have to dial the number, then I have to talk to someone. I mean...just thinking about it makes me sag with exhaustion.

Last week, I spent hours trying to call a government agency, just redialing again and again, hoping to get through.

It was my own fault. I was over a month late sending something in. If I'd done what I was supposed to do when I was supposed to do it, I could have avoided making that phone call. But I didn't do what I was supposed to do when I was supposed to do it. We can add "doing things that I'm supposed to do" to the list of things that are difficult for me.

And so, after thinking about calling the government agency for two weeks, I finally pick up the phone.

I start with a smile plastered on my face, a remnant from a customer service workshop that I'd once attended: people can hear you smile.

The smile slips from my face.

OK. That was a bit strange. I would have expected to be placed on hold.

Redial. Redial. Redial.

Redial. Redial. Redial.

My index finger is getting tired.

Redial. Redial. Redial.

With every beep of the phone, I slip deeper and deeper into despair.

This is all my fault. Why did I do this? Why can't I be a proper grown-up and take care of things? If I just did stuff, then I wouldn't have to sit here pressing the same stupid buttons over and over again. If I wasn't such a failure, I wouldn't even be making this phone call.


I choose one. No, three.

Redial. Redial. Redial.

I hate you, phone. I hate you, robot lady voice.

Redial. Redial. Redial.


Redial. Redial. Redial.


Redial. Redial. Redial.

Wait a minute...

Did she say...?


No! No, wait! Wait, I changed my mind!

Come back! Please!

Redial. Redial. Redial.

Redial. Redial. Redial.

Redial. Redial. Redial.

In the end, after three hours of hitting the redial button over and over again, I got through. The perfectly nice (real live human) woman who finally answered the phone was very apologetic and sounded even more harried than I felt. I asked if the wait time was normal. Her answer: unfortunately, yes. I can only imagine the harsh words that people holler at her all day every day.

(Seriously, though? Hire more people. And then invest in a phone system that puts people on hold instead of hanging up on them.)

I explained the situation. She apologized again for the delay. And then she told me that I'd have to call back the following week.

Sometimes I hate the world. Or maybe the world hates me. I haven't quite figured out which one it is yet.