one of the things that sort of makes me sad sometimes is seeing so many people chasing a slightly different Caesar salad that comes in fancy black plastic containers (which totally invalidate the energy savings- if you include transport and packaging- the organic craze is actually high impact) and have entire websites dedicated to their presentation, these salads, they provide a good living for an ecosystem of consultants who are on the move and those consultants are sometimes plagued with doubt, serious doubt about what they've done, and the salads website needs a refresh because there's a new supplier for avocados in Guatemala and they've got to get these Guatemalan avocados moving, like yesterday, the client's factories are hungry for avocados, that they may be thinly sliced and bagged with baby spinach and a composite soy/ginger dressing unit that the client buys in bulk from Mexico, where there's like Mexicans in sombreros working 24-7 to make metric tons of the dressing condensate, and all that money is already spent, so the client, yeah, they're concerned about the Maersk freighters arriving in Seattle full to the brim with Mexican condensate that has to be refrigerated at some unheard-of extortionist per-diem at the point of receipt.
And the consultant comes home and the wifey is three sheets to the wind for like the eighth month in a row, and jesus can they keep it going, or should they and this consultant ends up just smoking on the balcony of their condo and he calls Peter, who's is in on the exec board (they went to college together, before) and the word is the Product Presentation Layer is 'tight as hell' and the consultant grips the rail and there's like a weird mixture of relief and fear and the clang of glass on glass from inside and the wife has put on LCD Soundsystem and is about to start crying, this consultant knows.
So he darts through the living room and yup, she's crying and talking on the phone so its a quick VPN tunnel and the web guy's also online so maybe they can get the new Avocado thing up (should it go 'Ease of assembly' or 'easily assembled' wrt The Avocado Thai-Infused Salad Unit?) and this consultant taps his pen against the glass desk and she's worked it out of herself and there's little glass on glass noises from the living room and he clicks the iconographic envelope that means 'send' and the SAP guys in Bangalore are going to love this one, because the MM group insisted on a hyphen in the descriptor, the 'Thai-Infused' so the interface layer is going to puke, just like the wife is now puking in the bathroom, and there's an odor of red wine and the consultant knows he should get in there and man up and like volunteer to hold her hair back or something but he doesn't and the little iconographic flags are now red.
And god, he's sorry about the baby thing. But isn't eight months enough? And Peter forwards him an email and it goes ding, and the 'Thai-Infused' whacked the interface layer and she walks from the bathroom to the bedroom and doesn't look in the office and say 'hey sexy' or 'i miss you, CONSULTANT_NAME' so the consultant fires up the testing plan and he's going to do it all himself, the PPL team is going to just like sizzle with delight and Peter will kick it upstairs and outside the bay window the night is doing its thing.
'Hey honey, do you want to go out?' he asks.
Janine has her hair up, she's doing the full show, down to the slight dash of Maybe Baby and the casual jeans that might just be strategically a little too tight, and the thing is, Internet Strangers always notice and maybe put a hand on her knee, and jesus, it's way more than CONSULTANT_NAME ever does.
And she sits in this Hooters, which she finds hilarious, to be a fully accredited and licensed graduate of UC Berkeley College of Letters and Science, with all the rights and privilieges fully bestowed therein, which these days tends to mostly come in the form of a series of weird fractured narratives that Janine posts on this silly website.
It's how she met the current Internet Stranger. It's how she met the last Internet Stranger.
CONSULTANT_NAME knows, she's positive, as she took great pains to use their shared VISA for these little overnighters- and yeah, she sits here looking at Tawny, who does have a nice ass, frankly, and who's real name is probably Jennifer or Maude.
And across the restaurant she sees Internet Stranger #4 walk in and do a stupid little wave, and she does a pinky-wave thing as she sips her iced tea. He likes Hooters, okay. Roll with it.
It's stupid, there's no reason she couldn't just take these guys home, CONSULTANT_NAME's off earning his $120 an hour and sucking up to that creepy Deloitte douche, Peter.
Internet Stranger #4's a funny guy, a short little PE teacher from Vancouver who writes totally sincere and miserable poems and has been sort of sleeping his way through this silly website, same as Janine. There was no need for any drama, no long emails. The guy was a pro, and lets be honest- unlike CONSULTANT_NAME, who took to travel and eating and has gotten heavy- you can count on a PE teacher to keep it together. Granted, his wife left him for a guy who's like 6'6 and there's some residual damage there, but Janine likes that it's a cause and effect thing. Clean.
So Internet Stranger #4's there, and he immediately says how nice she looks and sort of appreciatively smiles and flags Tawny down and Hot Wings are coming.
'It's nice to not have to cry every day anymore,' she says.
Internet Stranger #4 places his hand on her leg.
'It is what it is, you know?'
Father Park's (please call me 'Rick' or 'Dong') doing his best with Peter. The key of course, to confession, is providing the insight that the sinner is neither flawed or defective, or rather that flaws and defects are part of the potter's clay, and the road back from sin isn't a lonely one. Father Park tries to keep his confessionals light, forward-looking.
Peter clears his throat and starts talking:
'So, the thing is that I'm in love with this girl- here I am, aged fourty five, and I spent two large last month- that's thousands, kilodollars- largely on this girl Sarai who's like part Hatian or something and just drop dead- and I'm finding that talking to her- here's a single mother doing it on her own- and I'm in love-'
'You're not in love,' Father Park says. 'But please continue.'
'I'm sure, I am, I really am, Father. It's a sin, but I can't help it. I don't understand myself. Sarai has very little interest in Process Management of Enterprise Resource Planning Subsystems- but there's this thing, when we're talking- I feel like she's really listening-'
'Mmmmhmmm,' Father Park says.
'and I'm tired of it- the lies, hiding the money, wondering if I'm coming home smelling like strippers, telling Laurel that the projects gone long-'
'Consider the vows that you swore, right over there-' Father Park motions towards the church proper.
'Well, the thing is that I think my understanding of those vows has changed, and I don't think God wants me to be miserable, and God knows Laurel's miserable too, and I think that my future really is with Sarai. I can get her a decent job as a rep.'
Father Park clears his throat.
'Well listen. We've got marriage classes, and I think that it might be a good idea for you and Laurel to think- strongly think-'
'No counseling. I think this is a situation I can manage.'
Eight minutes to go, Father Park thinks, carefully grabbing the time from the bottom right corner of his Windows Vista desktop.
NOTES FROM THE FOLLOWING MONDAY'S HIGH LEVEL STRATEGY SESSION AS PREPARED BY NAMELESS_CONSULTANT AND TRANSMITTED TO A WIDE VARIETY OF TEAMS, BOTH INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL AFTER EXTENSIVE CLEANUP AND STRIPPING OF PERSONAL NOTATIONS.
PRODUCT PRESENTATION LAYER TEAM MEETING
Peter - D&T
Mike L- Business Operations, Quick Prep Division
Tony Kapoor- CodeWire Offshore ABAP (remote)
Meghann M- Materials Management Lead
Kelly Y- Product Development
The Database Guy- Information Technologies
- I feel like shit this morning.
- Mike L says there's like 150 tons of Soy Ginger/Condensate still at the dock and it's going to be like $200k this month.
- Peter has a shiny new shirt and bow tie.
- Tony K sounds really tired, I think it's super late in Bangalore and the thing with 'Thai-Infused' is a real problem because the test transactions are loaded.
- No they aren't loaded, they failed out at the interface layer and the ABAP guys are figuring out if they're going to strip the hypen out of 'Thai-Infused.'
- Okay that really pissed off Meghann and the MM team, because the idea I guess is to introduce the concept of 'infused' salads in preparation for a whole line of 'ETHNICITY X- Infused' things.
- Tony is really freaked out that theres a ton more of these hyphen's coming. I guess ABAP is really hard.
-Peter drew a timeline.
- Kelly Y is saying that they're really serious about the '-infused' concept and they've got to have the hyphen.
- Mike L reminds us that even as I sit here typing notes, there's a whole hell of a lot of infused condensate consuming high-dollar HVAC in seattle
- Tony suggests we strip out the hyphen for the initial product load, so we can get the transactions booked.
- Meghann just left the room, she's got to go to some other meeting about the WebCommerce engine for B2B stuff or whatever.
- Mike L says okay, take the hyphen out
- Kelly Y reminds us that there's like eighteen new hyphenated salads in development.
- Mike L says the first avocado shipments are going to start hitting in like ninety six hours and we need to have the interfaces ready to accomodate inventory movements.
- I propose we strip out the hyphen to get things going again.
- Tony agrees.
- I just checked my VISA statement online and she did it again.
Hooters? This isn't happening.
- Peter says that the value of the hyphen to the branding and marketing initiatives are well understood and that following the initial load we will put the hyphen back.
- Everyone agrees that the hyphenation will resume, except Meghann who is carefully undermining our efforts, even now.
- Mike L would like an email when we are ready to start loading inventory movements so they can like book the trains full of avocados via the SD module interfaces with the rail shippers.
- Tony regrettably informs Mike that the code for the rail interface on new SO's was removed from the project plan.
- The database guy said nothing.
- We are out of time.
If Janine thinks about it, which she doesn't, not since losing Alice, she'd say that she was acting out, that's obvious, and that her anger was misplaced and sure violent, anonymous sex is fun for the first month, but c'mon, what then? 30 hit her hard, CONSULTANT_NAME is busting his ass to keep their larder well stocked with Brie and Shiraz, and it's just a stupid phase, right?
She's driving home, listening to some sort of Cambodian Surf Rock that her buddy in LA hooked her up with. There a lot of chanting and wa-wa-wa guitar going on.
Internet Stranger #4 is phasing out, she's aware. He pulled on his briefs, and kissed her neck but he had to get back early, like 5 AM to coach the JV Girl's Swim Team.
The Cambodian Surf Rock goes on and on, and she vaguely remembers being happy a few years back, before the Salad Company, when they'd just arrived in Portland, and this was it. CONSULTANT_NAME sealed the deal, had finally jumped from the $80 to the $120 level, was on his way to give some Mid-Sized Process Manufacturing Firms new levels of visibility and metric analysis. Or whatever.
And they did that show, at the Doug Fir, and the Indian guy who looks vaguely like Tom Cruise was there, and he was really sweet and shy and obviously CONSULTANT_NAME and The Indian Tom Cruise were going to be tight and she found herself saying things like, 'I love you. So much!' and hugging the Indian Tom Cruise who's name is like Tom or Tony and he blushed.
CONSULTANT_NAME had given her one of his smiles then, and the show turned out to be half-decent and they got the album at the merch table, and it was a lovely evening right up until the drunk lady in a teal pantsuit walked right into the mirror by the bathroom and like hit the right tae kwon do angle and there was a loud crunching noise that made everyone turn and she lay on the floor flopping and spasming, and so the evening ended up sort of morbid and weird.
There was a buzz and the first :10 of Rasputina's 'The New Zero' played and she had an inbound text from Internet Stranger #4:
I MISS U ALREADY
The engineer (rail, whistles) met the engineer (AIM 9M Propulsion systems) doing 45 in a fully loaded run from Tucson to LA.
The engineer, (AIM 9M Propulsion Systems) was really just a guy named Gene, now- fifty six and recently offered a Pension Reductionary Activity Settlement in coordination with a Raytheon Cost Savings Initiative, which truthfully, didn't do wonders for Gene. His wife, accustomed to a comfortable-ish life in a ranch style in North Tucson quickly packed her bags and moved in with a Yoga Instructor and is now some sort of practicing Buddhist. Both of their daughters, in college, stopped calling.
The engineer (train) is early in recovery, which is to say that he relapsed the preceding weekend, and was in fact concerned about talking to his sponsor and putting First things First, and he honestly didn't hear the impact warning sensor start to beep and Train #49301GW, fully laden with new cars, petroleum distillates, and twenty three containers of avocados basically reduced the suicidal Gene to exploded wet sack.
The engineer (train)'s woolgathering ended in every engineer (train)'s worst nightmare: He immediately threw the eight-way compression brake emergency switch, the one with the red light above it.
And again, due to the I-10 widening project and some financially tough times, the rail corridor at mile marker 103, where Gene decided to park his aging Buick and to say the hell with it actually had some ballast saturation and was canted towards the freeway and Train #49301GW tore off the rails, and the engineer (train) died in short order when the engine tossed and turned like a child's toy into the embankment, with several thousand tons of cargo acting rather scarily like a thrown child's toy.
The practical upshot being, that for a few dozen horrified motorists parked at the rail crossing, none of whom were hurt- life became extremely valuable as the train twisted and slowed in the sand with a tremendous bang and millions and millions of avocados rolled out into the Tucson street.
One such motorist, pretty much lost in shock and adrenaline watched several dozen avocados whizz by her window, and not knowing what to do, just sat there.
It took about three hours for the news to reach Portland, where the focused and driven and responsible Mike L got an email and said 'oh no, oh no.'
About the same time that Mike L ran down the well-lit corridor and burst into the Exec meeting, an automated ACH transfer moved the remainder of Gene's Pension Reductionary Activity Settlement into his eldest daughter's account, much to her baffled surprise that morning in Flagstaff, she was suddenly $82,000 liquid.
'We're going to Mexico,' she informed her boyfriend.
So the CodeWire ABAP team's offices are on lovely tree-lined Sampire street in North Bangalore. Tony, who's birth name was Tendulkar, and he didn't really get into the American name thing until CodeWire, and they basically made him during the six month language intensive is sipping a diet Coke at his desk and is totally, totally hooked on this American girl in La Jolla.
He didn't go to EIT, but followed in his father's footsteps with a perfectly respectable EE degree from BU, which was timed perfectly to hit the Java/.NET offshoring, and basically, at age 32 he's got it made, earning a very respectable $20 an hour and getting exposure to the SAP ABAP and Oracle he needs to land an H1B and make the real money stateside.
And, no, he didn't like Jupa ('Jenny') all that much, and the marriage thing wasn't going to happen, and his mom and sisters are very, very concerned and Kalpana saved up and got him a six month trial to eharmony, so would he please listen to her once?
And he did, and that led to Gloria, wonderful amazing Gloria who's 5'8 and an RN and half-Indian, or a quarter-Indian, close enough, and she sends Tony pictures of her driving and out with her girlfriends and they haven't called yet, but they send each other cute notes and she loves to use the ':\' emoticon and she's very traditional and would love him to stop by on his next visit, which he's putting a lot of heat on the Salad Solutions CA division to make happen.
So, Tony's got that thing where every single email ding makes his heartrate shoot to like 90 and he's excited to see how the weather is in La Jolla and vaguely imagines taking up surfing.
There's one of those dings now.
'URGENT: TRAIN EMERGENCY' is the title of the email.