Friday, November 12, 2004

"Don't leave me" ?

Sometimes I don't believe the candy-ass shit that comes out of my mouth. Obviously, I've been watching too much One Life to Live. Then again, Steph clearly has a soft spot in her heart for guys with a lack of testosterone.

After I hung up with her, I felt relieved. I felt better. It didn't matter if she chose me or not: I let her know how I feel, and now the choice is hers. If she chooses him, can I really blame her? She's been with him for a year. He's willing to take less money and go to doctors for her. Would I do that? Would I take a demotion for Stephanie, or any girl? Would I take a pay cut? Would I be allowing doctors to stick a greasy finger up my ass, poke and prod me and fill me full of drugs? No, no, no, and no.

It's Friday the 5th. I get to work early and I feel good. I am proud of myself for telling Stephanie how I feel.

I usually have a very good idea of what people are going to say or do, but in this situation, I really can't tell. On the one hand, she has agreed to see Paul, and to talk to him, and spend time with him. She's not pissed off at him, or telling him that it's too little, too late. She's not dismissing him out of hand. She's listening to his side of the story, and she basically already knows what his side of the story is. Sometimes I think that, if she hasn't dismissed him by now, she's not going to.

Other times I think that she is giving him a last gasp effort to win her hand, but that she's only doing it out of obligation. Sometimes I think that it's over, and she knows it's over, and that she only agreed to see him because it would have been rude to dump him over the phone when he bought a plane ticket to come up here. Sometimes Steph talking to Paul feels like just a mere formality, and that she will choose me. Of COURSE she will! How couldn't she!?

I feel the same way I felt when the Red Sox were in the playoffs, and were playing a game every night, night after night after night. I couldn't fully focus on work during the day, because the worry about that night's game gnawed constantly at me. It was always in the back of my mind, tainting my every interaction with a little hint of possible impending doom.

I can't afford to be too preoccupied at work. Sometimes there will be two area managers standing in front of my desk, screaming at each other, and it's up to me to figure out the solution. I am the last chance for guys like that. They have come to the DM's desk, and there IS no one else above me to help them, unless they want to go to corporate and speak to Dan Johnson. I HAVE to come up with an answer. I HAVE to think of something. And sometimes there is no easy answer.

2:15. Mike from underwriting is in my office, a panicked look on his face. "Steve, I am trying to submit these reports to the state, and I can't get them to go, and they HAVE to be in today! What should I do?"

"You submit that over a 56k modem line, right?"


Flintstones, meet the Flintstones...

"Why don't we do it over the web? Why are we still on a dialup for this?"

"It's the only system the state has. It's one of those old BBS systems. But I can't get my modem to work."

"Dial tone?"

"No. Not even a dial tone."

"Did you call IT?"

"No I came straight here. Those guys never help me."

"Mike, that's what they're there for. You HAVE to go to them first."

"But Steve, I-"

"Bonnie, get Pat from IT in here," I say into the speaker on my phone.

"Didn't we do some work on the phone lines 3 months ago? For the alarm system," I say.

"Yeah, yeah, that's right," Mike says. I wonder if they took my modem line for the alarm.

My cell phone rings. "This is Steve."

"Steve. It's Nancy." My sister-in-law. One of the people who gave me shit the last time I went to dad's house for dinner.

Pat walks in. "Hold on, Nance," I say.

"Pat. Did those alarm guys take our modem line for the alarm system?"

He turns white. "Well, yeah...we had to."

"Why didn't they just use channel off the T-1 line?"

"Can't do that. Doesn't work."

I hate that expression, "it doesn't work". It really doesn't work for me. He he he... Seriously, most of the times I hear it, it's not actually true.

"Why doesn't it work?"

"You can't transmit analog data over a 56k modem using a channel of a T-1 line. You need a regular analog phone line."

"Yes you can!"

"No, Steve! We tried! I swear we tried!"

"Pat, we NEED that modem line. Get them back in here to fix it."

"But it takes forever to get an appointment. "

"Should I call you back?" Nancy is saying.

Bonnie buzzes me. "Steve, Dan Johnson is on the line for you."

Jesus fucking Christ. Time to clean house.

"Nancy, I'll call you back," I say into my phone, and hang up. "Pat, have the phone company run a line outside the T for the alarm. And get somebody in here TODAY. When they make a mistake, we don't wait for an appointment. Mike, use someone else's PC to transfer the file to the state. Bonnie, put him through."

"But Steve," Pat says.

"Call me if there's a problem," I say. "I'm sure you can handle it." In otherwords, I'm going to be very pissed off if you fuck up.

Mike and Pat leave the office. My office phone rings.

"This is Steve."

"Steve, WHAT have you learned today, sir?"

"Always test your modem after the alarm company leaves."

"Uh, ok, Steve," he says. "Steve, I want you to come down here soon. I really want you to work very closely with our staff in this office, and it's important for you to get to know them."

"I agree, Dan. Work is starting to slow down for me, and I may be able to spend some time in a couple of weeks."

"A couple of weeks it is. If it's going to be longer, let me know. This is very important to me."

Did you notice that? I said, 'I MAY be able to spend some time in a couple of weeks,' and Dan tells me to make it happen. I like it: It's a way to force people to make a commitment.

3:00. I call Nancy back. "What's up?"

"Are you still pissed off," Nancy says.

Well, if I wasn't before, I am now, with your nauseating questions.

"No. What's up," I say abruptly.

"I just wanted to apologize for everyone," she says. "Your girlfriends are your business and we didn't mean to offend you."

"Don't worry about it."

"Are you coming to dinner tonight? Everyone wants to see you."

Shit. I really hate family dinners. Empty conversation, and no possibility of getting laid, if I'm not bringing a date, which apparently I'm not. Or am I? Steph said she would call today.

"Ahh, ok, Nancy."

"Oh, good, Steve! I'll see you tonight!"

6:20. My doorbell rings. I look out the window. It's Steph. I watch myself walk to the door and open it.

It occurs to me that, in a few seconds, I'm going to know what the future holds for Stephanie and me. I can hardly stand it.

I open the door. Her eyes are pink and puffy, and fresh tears leave shiny trails down her face.

"Steve," she sniffles. "I've decided to stay with Paul."