Looking Abandoned

Behold! Episode 19 of Looking Back for your reading pleasure!

When winter is almost over and the days do a particular stretch, the way a cat does after a long nap, I start to get restless. I don’t sleep well anyway but the change in season makes it worse. My mind wanders back through unpleasant memories. Lately I’ve been stuck in an experience from college. The archery team had gone to a competition in a suburb of Chicago. As part of the trip back it was decided we needed to stop at the Museum of Science and Industry. I was mildly interested but soon was mesmerized by the cross-sectioned people in the stairwell. There was a man and a woman sliced like bread and embedded in Lucite slabs. I must have stood there examining them for over an hour. When I realized that the rest of the team was nowhere in sight, I headed to the entrance. Knowing that they’d have to leave by the main entrance I camped out waiting for them. When it was closing time I found myself standing in a deserted parking lot near downtown at dusk with nothing more than my ID and a couple dollars cash. I’d left all my stuff on the bus including my coat. I have always been fairly self-sufficient so I wasn’t panicked but I was getting cold and I was hungry and it was getting dark. That’s when I got angry. I headed toward the trains. I could at least get directions and maybe notify the school that they’d abandoned a student in Chicago. Long story short, I slept in the subway, got arrested for vagrancy, spent a day in a precinct holding cell and was finally returned to my campus amid many apologies. I lay awake and go through the different ‘what if’ scenarios until it is time to get up. When I’m fully awake I realize I probably wouldn’t have done anything differently.

Looking Green

Its not easy being green. I’m working on my Green Belt in a Lean Six Sigma management course. I have to finish some grueling online classes. There are six of them and I’ve done 3 with quizzes (I passed with 2 perfect scores and the 3rd one with an 80%). That leaves 3 more to complete before the end of the month. I have to meet with my sponsor and the Director of Continuous Improvement (his official Lean Six Sigma title) who is my mentor/spirit guide/task master. He gave me homework and it is really hard. I have to come up with the business case statement that basically justifies the project from the business point of view (financial benefits, organizational efficiency, reduction in waste, time savings…). Gah.

I have to do a project to be able to graduate with my Green Belt. Other institutions allow you to do the online course and then award you the certificate. Not my luck. I have identified the “pain point”, looked at the inefficiencies, and am in the process of doing my SIPOC Map at the 30000 Foot level. I am also tracking the time spent on several activities. I’ve come to the conclusion that this Green Belt will involve more mathematics than I had ever imagined! To quote Barbie, “Math is hard.” Two coworkers have been working on their Green Belt project for over a year now. I was told that they will officially graduate in April after 18 months. I really hope my project doesn’t take 18 months to complete. I would however be really happy to make it my “legacy” and have it live on after I retire…

Looking at Adult Responsibilities

My sons are on their own. They own a home together. They are employed and have their own cars. However they do rely on Sparky and I to provide emergency backup for some life events. We have always told them that they can call and come over anytime. They know we will welcome them with open arms. They often call for advice when making major purchases. Son#1 had his father go with him when he was car shopping and when he bought his car. Son#2 asked me to listen to different violas as he was trying to decide which one to buy. I went with son#1 when he purchased the new refrigerator. So it was no surprise when I got the phone call.
“Hi. Mom? Can I ask you a question?” (that is the standard form they use when they want something.)
“Sure. What’s up?”
“Um. I was leaving the house when I looked down the basement stairs. There’s water in the basement.”
“Did you call a plumber?”
“Um, no.”
“Well you need to call a plumber and also take a look and see if it is just water or if it is sewage.”
“See that’s the problem. I’m at work and I can’t get my brother to answer his phone.”
“Do you want me to call him?”
“Well, I sort of wanted to know if you could go over to the house and see if you can call a plumber.”
“Sorry. It is 10:30 pm and I’m not going to go check it out. I’ll call your brother. In the meantime, don’t flush the toilet or take a bath or wash dishes or run the washer.”
“OK. I guess I can do that.”
“And don’t call a plumber until tomorrow morning or you’ll pay big bucks for an emergency house call.”
He called back when he got home at 11:00 PM. The sewage had receded and left some nasty residue. I counseled him to clean up with bleach water and to wear latex gloves. He stopped over and picked up some gloves and bleach. His brother came over the next day and showered at our house. The plumber has come and gone – roto-rootered the drain from the house to the sewer line and removed all the roots that had grown in from the 2 big maple trees in back. They were told when they moved in that they would have to do that every couple years… It has been 3 years. Guess it was over due.