Tuesday, September 27, 2011

So, I sat on my ass all last week......

     I'll have to be careful about posting too much about asses, or I'll end up on a restricted list somewhere.  It's tough to do though, especially since I'm the topic of a lot of these, but this one is not about my physique, or about my inappropriate behaviors,  it's about how I spent last week, and how I've spent my life avoiding such weeks. 

     Without going into too much detail, I spent last week in meetings in Dallas.  The temperature in Dallas finally eased back from 100 degrees, but I didn't know it as I spent the week inside the Omni hotel that had an air conditioner that was on steroids. It was pretty funny to look around the room and see the 130 of us donning jackets inside the conference rooms and restaurants, while it was 95 degrees outside. 
How I felt in the room at the meeting
The agenda that was sent prior, listed 5 straight days of 11 hour meetings, and I assumed that that was probably a worst case scenario.  I was wrong.  It didn't help that they brought in a different snack at each break, granola bars, biscotti, nuts, popcorn, cookies, I gained 4 lbs in a single week.  There really was enough important business that it took that long and while the time was well spent, I had to ponder, later, if that wasn't the longest stretch of sitting on my ass I had ever had.  It was, by a long shot.  Before I continue, I'll dedicate this blog to all those workers, who sit down on their jobs, thrust into cubicles or locked down in meetings, all week.  Prior to last week, I hadn't given this much thought but I literally feel your pain now.

      Many of my brothers got to work with or for my Dad in his plumbing/electrical business more than I did.  I don't recall how many times I did it, but I do recall the type of work we did, and decided early on, that it wasn't for me.  One job we did was for a guy named Robert E Lee (you can't make this stuff up), and I think it was a sewer line or water line we installed, but I was just the shovel guy, so the grand plan wasn't shared with me, just the instruction to move dirt from one place to another.

That time I worked for Dad
  One time, years later, I saw Cool Hand Luke on TV, and instantly had a flashback to working with my Dad.  As mentioned earlier, I decided that ditch digging wasn't where my talents lie (Dad agreed, by the way), so after college I pursued a white collar job.  Prior to this, I had worked in the Foodservice field, slinging chicken wings, managing a pizza shop, and helping to develop a catering business.  With my Computer Science degree, hot in my previously kitchen-grease stained hands, I went out to seek employment, and found it almost immediately, right back in the Foodservice field.

     I went out to find a programming job, where I would have likely sat in a basement of an office, in a cold room, on my ass, for hours on end.  It was during this process when I was invited to interview for a distributor sales rep job, in the foodservice industry. My final question of that interview went something like this, "Wait, do people really get paid to ride around and talk to restaurant people and sample food, and they get free samples of that food all the time?  They had me at "talk to people", the free food part was a bonus.  I took the job, and avoided the job sitting on my ass in an office, working for the Man, and started my new career, riding in a car, sitting on my ass, working for the Man.
My Monday morning commute
There doesn't seem to be much of a difference when you say it like that, but in that job, every Monday I drove through Letchworth Park from one side to the other to call on the Glen Iris Inn.  I'd see deer and fox and groundhogs and beaver all on my twenty minute commute to my first account.  How many office workers have that commute or can see those things from their cubicles?  Exactly.  I did have to do some office time each day.  I'd input my orders into the computer when I got back, or call some accounts to take an order over the phone, but even then it wasn't like being shackled to a desk, I had a corner office and I usually made dinner in the test kitchen we had, to make it seem less like office work.  I worked there for almost four years, before I left that job to do the exact same thing for another company.

    I really need to get back on point here, or you'll have more ass time reading this, than I did last week.  The point was, working for C&R Foods, I avoided office work, and the same held true for my time at the John Sexton and Company.  My job was outdoors, traveling Western NY and selling mainly canned goods to restaurants and schools (a little known fact, the John Sexton company invented the #10 can which is the standard in that industry).  My office time was now spent at pay phones in the front of restaurants or sitting at the end of a bar, entering my orders, but still successfully avoiding the cubicle.
My first cell phone
When cell phone use came in vogue, I got one of the first, and had it installed in my car, making that my office.  I had to do training for this job, but that was a one week school, in Chicago, mainly spent tasting and spitting out different kinds of foods, still no office.  I was proud to work for that company, and I did, right up until they closed the Rochester branch, and I left for another food job working for the Kraft Foodservice company.  I encountered an issue immediately as they normally started out salespeople in a program called "Fastrack", which entailed spending 6 weeks in an office shadowing different people to learn the ropes.  Mid-week of the first week, I approached my boss and together we developed "Fastertrack" which cut my office stint down to 2 weeks (Thank you John Glynn), and allowed me to test out of the other parts.  You see, I knew how to work in an office environment, I just chose to avoid it.  My next job at Palmer Foodservice was very similar, no office work to speak of, but a few hours spent each day from my home office.  My home office continued to evolve in these jobs, starting at the dining room table, or in a recliner in the living room, at night, and ending in a dedicated room that I tried like heck to not make look like a regular office.  I put a TV in each one, and even though I only ever watched the first 15 minutes of the Today show on it, it made my home office seem more like a regular room than a true office.

     For my last two jobs, I got out of the DSR job, in the Foodservice industry and transitioned to being a manufacturer's rep, um, in the Foodservice Industry (Ok, anyone that knows me at all, knows how much I like food, so there should be no shock factor here at all).  My final question for that job went something like, "Wait, do people really get paid to fly around and to talk and entertain people at bars and restaurants on an expense account?"  They had me at bar.  My office quickly changed to the flip down tray on airplanes and hotel desks while on the road, or my home office still while not traveling.  My training at each Corporate Office took less than a week each.
My family like it better when I sold this.
One company Mrs. Smith's Bakeries was headquartered in Atlanta, and my current one is headquartered in Dallas.  During this time I built my current home office, which is about 500 square feet in the top of my Garaj-Mahal, complete with TV (never used), exercise area (rarely used) and an open air balcony (not used enough).  Point is, even when I'm working the beginning and ending of each week from there, it doesn't seem like office work. I even re-created the test kitchen from my first job downstairs,complete with an oven, refrigerator, sink, and a smoker.  On days when it seems like I am more of a cubicle rat, I take a break and exercise my culinary talents downstairs, to break up the day.  If you haven't gotten the pattern by now, I'll pretty much do anything to avoid sitting in an office all day. 

     In closing, (and in case my current bosses read this), I know I am probably just prolonging the inevitable as it relates to sitting in a chair, in an office somewhere. My future may take me to Corporate somewhere, and that's how business is done, so you have to accept it. I'd like to point out though, that even if that does happen, I'm well ahead in the ballgame, as by my count, I've spent about 6 weeks of a 30 year Foodservice career sitting on my ass, in a true office.  Not too shabby if you ask me, in spite of the time I spent in Dallas last week.    I'd ponder this more, but the Today show is about to start. 

1 comment:

cdyarger said...

AH, yes, the Mrs. Smith's stint was our favorite! Delicious, restaurant quality desserts, all the time!! Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Anyone need any wraps???