Monday, November 08, 2004

Heidi's first day

For those of you who manage employees, I urge you to treat new workers very well on their first day. It's a great way to set the tone for the rest of their time with you.

I remember my first job, as a bagger at a supermarket. On my first day, I walked in, and they had one of those hideous red smocks hanging up on a hanger for me, complete with a name tag on it reading "Steve".

A simple gesture, which probably took them all of five minutes. But here I am, remembering it, 18 years later. It made me feel like I belonged.

I never forgot that, which is one of the reasons why every time I hire a new employee, I make sure we have a name plate for their office door or cubicle wall, as well as a box of business cards with his or her name and title printed on them. We even get them for maintenance people!

Another thing I insist on is for the employee's supervisor to take the new hire around and meet the other people in the office. We have 93 employees, so they can't meet everyone, but it's a good way to meet key people, and another nice touch.

It's November 1, 2004, 7:30am.

"I can't believe it, Steve!" Heidi says. "I work for you! I actually WORK for you! Well, not actually FOR you, not directly, I actually work for Dom. But you're the big boss, so I technically work for you! I've never worked for a friend before! And Dom's a friend, too!"

Her voice is high and nasally, just like it was that first night. This is whiny Heidi. I hope it's just nerves.

"When you're here, Heidi, we're co-workers," I say. "I don't have friends in the office, just associates."

"Woooooow, that's a great way of saying that, Steve. You are so competent. You're such a good businessman. What does your dad do? Is he in business? I bet your dad's in business!"

"Dad works in a factory, Heidi."

"And your mom, now what does your mom do?"

"Mom died. She drank, mostly."

"Ohhhhh, that's right. I hate when I do that. I hate when I ask about a relative, and the relative is dead. It's so awkward! You don't know what to say-"

The phone rings.

Immediately, the whiny voice shuts off, and the smooth, polished office voice takes over. "Good morning, this is Heidi speaking. How may I direct your call?"

Her voice is perfect, like the phone company recording you hear when you dial an out-of-service number.

"I'm sorry, he's actually not in the office yet," Heidi says. She pronounces every syllable: ac-tu-al-ly. "May I transfer you to his voice mail? Alright, please hold for just a moment. Have a nice day!"

"So ANYWAY, Steve, I can't BELIEVE I am working for you!" she says, back into whiny mode. "Won't this be FUN? Won't it be INTERESTING?"

"Sure, Heidi."

"I won't usually come in this early. I just did it today because I didn't know how the traffic would be. It's gonna be a nice ride in, it only took me 22 minutes today! Isn't that quick?"

Fuck. Is it 9:00 yet?


Tuesday, November 2, 3:00pm.

"Steve, do you have a minute," Stephanie says.


"Steve, I just spoke to Paul. I tried to break up with him."


"It didn't go well."

"You were expecting it to be a good call?"

"No. But he said some things that kind of threw me. He started crying, for one thing."

How did I know she was going to say that? The pussiest thing a guy can do is cry in front of his girlfriend. There's nothing worse. I'm not talking about a death in the family, or watching "Field of Dreams" (wink, wink). I'm talking about letting HER make you cry. I've been dumped a million times. Sometimes it has hurt, but I've never even come close to crying about it, and I am proud of that. It's important to appear strong and resolute, I believe.


"Well, he asked me what was wrong. And I told him that I didn't see him enough, and that I never heard from him, and I mentioned his....problem."

"Down there?"

"Yeah. And I told him about you."


"Steve, chill. I didn't give him your social security number."

"It's ok. I'm sure he's got access to it anyway," I say. "You told him we're sleeping together?"

"I didn't mean to. But he asked me and I didn't want to lie. I couldn't."

"I guess I can understand that." Yeah, I hate lying, too. "So what happened?"

"He offered to transfer up here to a different job so he wouldn't travel as much. And he said he'd go to the doctor about his problem."

"What pill is he going to take to make him less cheap?"

"I know."

"You told him to forget it, right?"

"He wants to see me."

"Fuck, Stephanie."

"Steve! Please try to understand! This whole thing has been really hard on me."

"It's about to get hard on me," I say.

"You knew I had a boyfriend. I didn't know you wanted a relationship with me. Not at first, anyway."

"Well now you know. And evidently it doesn't matter. Are you gonna see him?"

"Steve, he just kept telling me that I never even gave him a chance. I never even told him what was bothering me."

"So he can be a limp-dick and a cheapskate, and never call, and assume it's ok unless you say something?"

"I know. He says if he can get transferred he wouldn't work as many long hours and he could spend more time with me. It would be a pay cut, but he says he's willing to take it for me."

"My hero," I say. "So what are you gonna do?"

"I'm gonna see him."

"You're gonna SEE him?"

"Steve! He's flying up here. I have to see him! I've been with him for a year."

"Fine," I say.


"Are you gonna break up with him?"

"I just.... I don't KNOW, Steve. I'm so confused! Now I feel like a total BITCH. No matter what I do, I'm going to hurt someone. I'm gonna break someone's heart. I feel like I'm comparing you two, and I hate that, because I care about you both."

"Well, when you're not confused, call me."

"Please don't be mad at me!" her voice is breaking.

"Do I have something to be mad at you about? Are you going back to him?"

"I told you, I don't KNOW!"

"Fine, well when you know, call me."