Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I am working this audit with an auditor from another branch. When traveling together, we do our best to split all of the expenses. We buy our own airline tickets, hotel bills and meals. Some shared expenses, like our rental car, we take turns paying the bill so both branches absorb about the same in expenses.

This week, my partner rented the car. By the way, regardless of who rents the car, I seem to be the one driving! ME! The one who gets lost often! But, since I'm the one that's been here before, she thought I would know my way around at least a little bit.

Anyway, whoever rents the car also assumes the rest of the expenses that go along with the car like the parking at the hotel, the parking meters and the gas for the car. I know we're only a week and a half into the audit but so far, we were doing well.

Tonight, we worked late, then headed straight to dinner. Parking is really at a premium here, and I never seem to be able to park any closer than a block away from where ever I want to be. If you read yesterday's post, it's beyond cold over here, so even a block walk can hurt. We had a great Italian dinner - my veal marsala was the BOMB - and when walking back to the car, my partner suddenly said "do you remember me putting money into the parking meter?" You know words like that can't end well.

We rushed over to the car like that was going to help our cause. She was trying to see what the meter said in the dark. Having been here before, I happen to know that when there is time on the parking meter, there is a red light that flashes. No flashing, no time on the meter. That helps the parking nazis know who they can give a ticket before they even waste time getting out of their cars.

I had the answer before she did - I pulled the ticket off of the windshield. $10.00 extra for that veal marsala!

My only question now is . . . if I add a column to my expense account titled "brain fart", can I expense that parking ticket?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Who'd Believe It?

Who in their right mind would believe that Cleveland's weather is worse than Chicago's? But it's true. I've seen it with my own two baby blues.

I left Cleveland Monday morning with four inches of snow in my driveway. When I got to Chicago, it was snowing, but lightly and there was really no accumulation on the ground. But it was colder than anything. Man, it is absolutely bitter cold here this week.

Monday, we were supposed to land at 9:45 am. We actually landed at 9:30 but because of some kind of troubles with other flights, we were put in a plane parking spot next to a fence. The captain told us we should only be 10 or 15 minutes before our gate opened up and we could taxi over. So, I did what everyone should do when they are on the company clock. I fell asleep and took a little nap! I woke up at 10:30 and we're still in our parking spot by the fence! So much for 10 or 15 minutes. It was finally almost 11:00 am before we found our gate. What a long flight that turned out to be.

This morning, I took a bottle of water with me from the hotel to the car so I would have it to drink at the job site. Well, I got out of the car, grabbed my laptop bag and didn't think about the water until I was in the building. By then I was frozen half to death and didn't want to walk back to the car. When we finally got back to the car after work, my water was frozen solid! That's how cold it is outside!

As miserable as I was with the cold, I did feel a little better when I got to the hotel. I grabbed my cup of hot herbal tea in the lobby and went to get into the elevator to go to the 6th floor. I ended up sharing the elevator with a young man who was looking a little blue around the gills. We said our hellos and he said something about how cold it was. I said, yeah, it's a bit brisk out there. Come to find out that he just flew in from Arizona where he'd never seen snow before! Talk about a culture shock! I think he had trouble wrapping his mind around the fact that I came from Cleveland where the weather was even worse than what he just experienced.

Yeah, I've been feeling a little better about the cold after that one. Poor guy.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It's Finally MY Turn!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's finally MY turn.

I had a phone call from my boss this morning informing me that my promotion has become official! It only took me 3-1/2 years to get it, but by golly it's finally mine.

Say good bye to Staff Auditor, and say hello to Associate Auditor. Ok, the title sucks and to me makes no sense, but who cares about the title. I say, "show me the money"!

The promotion does come with a color coordinated raise. And, to complete the look, the accessories that go with my new look, are that my bonuses are now calculated at a higher rate, thus, they should be bigger bonuses.

What changes in my actual job duties? Not a damn thing. That's the killer. I've been doing all of the work all along, just not getting compensated for it.

So there you go. New business cards; yeah that's about all that will change. Ok, that and the paycheck! Hallelujah, it's finally a raise!

I am excited, but I'm not sure it's all sunk in yet. Now I have the feeling of now what? I've been complaining about this damn promotion for the last year and a half. So now what? Holy cow, can I actually sit back and try to enjoy it? Wow. New concept.

For now, y'all can congratulate the new Associate Auditor. It's been a long time in coming, but . . . it's finally MY turn! Oh, but don't call me. I was so excited tonight that when I left the audit site, I left both of my cell phones sitting on the desk. I guess some things will never change. I will continue to take after my Dad in so many ways, including his forgetfulness.

Monday, January 22, 2007

How Many Wrongs Make A Right?

Today I had a little case of one of them days.

I am back on my Chicago tour of duty. I started this audit this morning, so I'll be commuting every week for about five or six weeks. Sounds easy, right?

As before, Ron is nice enough to get up at oh-my-gosh-o'clock to get me to the airport. We left the house the first time when I realized that I left my boarding pass on the dining room table. Ron turned around and I ran back in the house to pick it up. Too bad I didn't pick up the file next to it that I also needed.

Cleveland weather wasn't the best this morning. We had rain and about 30 degree temperatures, so it was a little treacherous on the roads. From what I hear, planes don't like this either. That means that we had to go through the de-icing process before we could take off. That wouldn't be bad, except that every plane leaving had to be de-iced. So, there was a long line that delayed us in leaving for over an hour. This sounds like a bad thing, but in reality, it turned out to be a good thing! They had pushed us back from out gate into a holding area while we waited for our turn on the de-icing pad. I made use of this time to take a nice long nap on company time! This turned out to be a Philip kind of nap! I fell asleep in the holding area, slept through the de-icing, slept through take off and slept through most of the flight. I woke up when we started our descent. Yeah, I could dig that on every flight! Nothing to worry about when you sleep through it all. And, on company time. Bonus!

Only problem with this theory is that I was still half asleep when I got off of the plane. That's bad because I left my book on the plane. Grr. And, I only had about 100 pages left! Geez! Now it's to the point that it's really a page turner, and it's still in my seat back pocket along with my toll receipt from this morning and my business card (cheap book mark) and my ticket stub. Grr.

So, a few obstacles aside, it wasn't a bad day. I was able to get my boarding pass, the file I left at home isn't imperative to this week; I can bring it back with me next week. And, as for my book, I walked over to Border's after dinner and got me another copy. I tried for a sob story hoping to get a discount on the book. I mean after all, I'm not going to read the whole thing, just 100 pages or so! I thought it was a good argument, but it didn't fly. I paid full price.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Happy Day To Me!

But what a way to celebrate!

First of all, yesterday was my birthday. As anybody that knows me well knows, I LOVE my birthday! Can't help it. I celebrate for all I'm worth, usually for the entire month of January. However, since I've been so sick this month, I'm behind on my celebrating.

We did start off a great weekend with lunch with Mike and Mary Jane at Hoggy's Barbeque. We were stuffed little piggies by the time we were done there. The best thing was, the manager noticed it was a celebratory lunch and even sent over a cake for four to our table to cap off a wonderful lunch. Any time there is chocolate cake involved, that's just a bonus.

Yesterday, Ron said we could go anywhere I wanted for my birthday. Well, what I wanted was a quiet dinner at home, with just the two of us. Hey, it's my birthday, I'm entitled to enjoy it any way I want to! So that is what we did.

Ron cooked my absolute favorite meal for me that was ready when I got home from work (fried cabbage and macaroni, thank you very much!) and we had a nice dinner then curled up on the couch together to watch the premier of American Idol. Hey, I still have that reality TV sickness in me. I'm telling you it was a great night!

However, there was excitement during the day around our house. Here is an article that was in our local paper.

The SWAT team is what Ron faced when he tried to go out on a service call yesterday morning. You see, all this happened two doors down from us. I told you our neighborhood was exciting. He walked out of the house yesterday morning, holding a cup of coffee and went to his van parked next to the garage. Police with guns was all he could see. Luckily he was allowed to leave without incident.

So there is my exciting birthday. I sure could have done without a strong armed robbery in my neighborhood complete with the SWAT team.

To make up for this, the birthday card I received from my brother Philip specifically told me to go out and to have a margarita for my birthday, with additional instructions that it doesn't have to be just one. I think for once I will listen to my big brother and Friday night we are going to our favorite Mexican restaurant to do just that! Phil, the first one will be for you!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Please Forward My Mail

I've been staying in Columbus for quite a few weeks now. Most of those weeks have been spent at the same hotel. The staff is great, but the hotel is undergoing renovations. That means we get a great rate, but have to put up with construction. The banging stops by 7:00 pm and they don't start until close to 8:00 am so I don't hear much of it. And, trust me, the place definitely needs updated.

My wireless card on my laptop is breathing its last breath, so when I checked in this week, I asked for a hard wired room. That's just a room with a USB port. After searching available rooms upon check in, a manager finally came out. We were all joking and kidding. Then he heard my name and recalled I've had a few difficulties with the hotel lately. Like my last stay was double billed. But hey, a phone call to the manager fixed the problem immediately. The few issues I've had have all been handled in a like manner, with the staff seemingly happy to help and correct what needed done. (And, yes, I did send an e-mail to the corporate office regarding the great staff here! Problems aside, they have all been wonderful.)

I don't know if it's just because the manager recognized my name or just because I was a paying guest, but he said "give her a room on the sixth floor". Hey, I don't care what floor I'm on as long as it's clean. The manager said I'd like this room as the sixth floor has already been remodeled and he thought I'd appreciate the new amenities.

I really don't need much, but who am I to argue about being trying out new amenities? I took my stuff up to the room and almost knew right then that I liked it! Ok, it might have something to do with the 42" plasma TV. I know it's not the Art Deco decor. I could take or leave that part. Aside from the awesome TV, this has the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in. I mean it is fantastic!

With a room like this, who in the heck wants to go to work in the morning? Well, come Tuesday morning, I had to do it whether I liked it or not. However, about 10:00 in the morning, the building was quickly filling with a most noxious smell that got worse by the minute. A sewer line burst. I was almost feeling like Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs there for a minute. It was a smell like I will never forget. While waiting for a crew to fix the problem, they were spraying some kind of stuff in the air to counteract the smell. That was making a bad situation worse, as that caused people to start losing their breakfasts. The department I am in was evacuated to the other side of the building. It was better over there, but not great. Since I was sick anyway, and I couldn’t do anything from the other side of the building, I decided to pack up and head back to the hotel. I definitely had enough work there to keep me busy for the day.

Yeah, I lead a tough life. Me and my 42” plasma TV and my most comfy bed. I did work for awhile, then loaded up on my cough medicine and took a long nap. It was a hard day for sure. Lucky for me, Wednesday all was not fixed yet. So, another day spent working from the hotel. I did take another nap that afternoon, but I also really did work! I got quite a bit accomplished, although I never seem to be close to being done.

Now it’s business as usual. I had to come back to earth and join the real people, having to get up in the morning and work the old 8-5 grind. Oh well. It was great while it lasted.

Monday, January 08, 2007

It’s A New Day

And I still feel like crap.

Ok, maybe a little smaller pile of crap, but still crap.

I made it to work last week for a few hours on Thursday and even fewer hours on Friday. Yeah, my first week of work of the year and I’ve used three sick days! That just sucks.

But now it’s Monday and I made it to Columbus in one piece. I tried to work hard today but my concentration seemed to come and go. So, I just did what I could do and called it good.

I do feel badly though, about the way the house was left for Ron. All of our comforters/blankets in the living room are strewn to and fro. Hey, it was grab a piece of real estate in the living room and cover up with whatever is in reach. That room was definitely lived in during our illness. Aside from that, the cupboards are bare. It just got to the point that neither of us wanted to dress enough to meet a delivery person at the door, so we started cooking. It’s unbelievable to me that we are down to practically bare cupboards! Ok, they are not empty, but many staples that we always have on hand are not on hand. Like onions – who can cook without onions? Or, like pierogis, or hamburger or fish sticks or turkey mignon or even chicken. Last night I finished up the peanut butter! Can you believe my house without peanut butter? This truly is unheard of. I see a very expensive shopping trip coming up this weekend for sure.

Going back to my work life, I just got word today that I’ll be heading back to Chicago on the 22nd of January. It’s good and it’s bad, this trip to Chicago. It’s good because I will make money there plus the people are great plus the food is awesome! The bad part is once again going to Chicago in January. Good thing I love de-icing the plane and the cold of Chicago in the middle of winter. That will take me a good five to six weeks to complete. From there, who knows.

I’m also a little nervous this time going to Chicago. This is our largest audit for us, and this year my boss is not going. I will be the one managing the audit. This is a little daunting and this is not necessarily my cup of tea. I just want to be a good worker bee and let someone else worry about all of the administrative stuff. Yeah, I’m a little scared at the size of this one.

I’ve been telling people that a lot of changes were coming to my job. Well, as of January 1st, they have, but not all of the ones I expected.

As expected, people were fired, I’m sorry, downsized, from VPs all the way down to the auditors. I wasn’t one of them. However, our territory has been greatly expanded due to the downsizing of employees, so I can now expect a change from 25-30% of my time on the road as it has been to 75-80% travel time. Now I cover all of the way east to Buffalo NY and south to Syracuse NY, also Harrisburg PA and Pittsburgh PA. I’m sure this isn’t everything, but you get the picture.

It’s going to be a heck of a year. Maybe I should have asked Santa for new luggage.

In closing, I want to quote my brother Jim from first thing this morning – Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Where Have You Been?

I know, I know. It's been awhile. But let me tell you, there is a story here.

First, we had a great Christmas. On my first day of vacation, we headed to Mike and Jenny's for my family's Christmas party. Hey, throw in family, kids, laughs, great food and how can you go wrong? Unfortunately Jim had to leave early for work, but other than that hitch, I think a great time was had by all.

Ron and I made it home that evening, even stopped at my office to drop stuff off on the way. I was ready for the rest of my ten days of rest and relaxation.

Well, have you ever heard the term be careful what you wish for? I am now a firm believer.

A few days after the party, it started with Ron. One heck of a case of the creeping cruds. I am about two days behind him. We spent the rest of my vacation and then some flat on our backs and not in a good way. Luckily, before I went down for the count, I made a big pot of Mom's bean soup. It was totally awesome! Had some serious gas side effects, but luckily we couldn't smell anything anyway.

The soup kept us going for a few days. After that, it was all about delivery. We have this nice book that holds all of our take out menus, separated by ethnicity of food. We had deliveries for a few days, with instructions to put the food on the porch and step away from the sick people!

Unfortunately, the Fedex guy showed up the one day and insisted on someone opening the door. Picture me, having had no shower in a few days, hair is every which way but down, in my night shirt, a quilt sort of wrapped around me, showing up at the door with a croaking "WHAT?" I'm sure he may still be having nightmares about that sight! That will teach him to wake me up from a nap.

So, our New Year's did not start out well. We did stay up until midnight and toasted each other with a shot of Theraflu. Ok, it's not tequila, but it was what we needed. The champagne will stay in the fridge until we are up to having our noses tickled.

Here we are, at January 4th and I've finally faced my first day of work in 2007. I was supposed to be down in Columbus on Tuesday. I was so sure I'd make it I even packed my bag on Monday night. It's still packed and ready to go next Monday. I've had to waste two sick days already, and I really could have used another one today. I made it in for a few hours though, and did handle some phone calls. Whoopie.

For at least another week, I'd recommend everyone staying away. Although, if anyone has soup, just leave it on the porch and back away from the door. Trust me, it's for your own good.