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You know I've reached a low point when I reference Beavis and Butthead.

Even though I work for a large, international firm with over 9,000 employees, I only have contact with about FOUR OF THEM in any given day. And they're the same four. Every. Single. Day. Forever. And ever. They're basically decent people, but I need some variety. And my office is not one of those environments where everyone becomes best friends and has dinner parties together on the weekends because we all love each other so much we can't bear to be apart when we're not working. It's very professional and courteous, very "let's just do our jobs and go to our separate ways afterward...you're great and all, but I've had enough of you for today." Plus there's this pesky morale issue that I've mentioned more than once which prevents much more than a surface level courtesy between all of us.

My job is also "all or nothing," "ebb and flow," "hurry up and wait." For the past six weeks I've been in the "nothing," "ebb," or "wait" phase. This is also known at our house as the phase where a hopeful Kristen answers her office phone after only half a ring in the mornings, but after nine hours of mind-numbing, thumb-twiddling solitary confinement, returns home for dinner with dead eyes and a black, black soul.

Yesterday, mid-morning, before my descent into the darkness of my daily boredom coma was complete, one of the four humans I work with came into my office, irritatingly interrupting my blog-reading time. "Do you want to be on this conference call with corporate?" This was a difficult decision for me. On the one hand, I should jump at the chance for something, anything to do. On the other hand, in the past six weeks, I've quite nicely honed my morning reading routine, and I realized I was loathe to sacrifice it for anything WORK-RELATED. Don't worry, dear readers. I have not yet fully transformed into a sloth ("yet" being the operative word here), and I completed my internal struggle over this in mere milliseconds, said, "sure!" and agreed to participate in a call, the contents of which I had absolutely no indication. All I needed to know was that it was with "corporate." That was a beautiful, happy signal to me that people other than the four I normally work with would be involved. Oh, Happy Day! Contact with other humans!

I knew I'd made the wrong decision, though, when the conference call began with total and utter silence. My co-worker was typing away on his laptop like this was perfectly normal. "Uh, is this the call? Shouldn't someone be, um, talking?" He kept typing, then said we were waiting on everyone else to join the call. Oh, right. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. *Beep* "Now joining," cracked the phone robot "Bob in, in New York" came Bob in New York's voice. Oh, goodie! "Hi, Bob! Now we can start the call. Right?" Nope, still waiting. Silence. Bob in New York clears his voice. More silence. *Beep* "Now joining,...Michigan." Yes! "Hello, Michigan! Ready to start?" You wish. Feet shuffling. Throats clearing. Who's in charge here? *Beep* "Now joining...Mark in Boston." Mark in Boston, please be the one in charge. "Hi everyone," Mark in Boston says. "Who's here so far?" Yes!! He's asking who's here, now we can get started since he's obviously in charge. *Beep* "Now joining," (there's that robot again, I'm getting sick of her voice), "California." Mark in Boston started talking, and my heart skipped a beat in pure bliss. Yes! Yes! The meeting is starting and I might get something to do as a result, and at the very least I'm not sitting in a coma at my desk right now...it's a Festivus miracle! *Beep* "Now joining" (someone shut her up!) "Kentucky"...okay, now that's enough people. It's past the meeting start time, so don't be rude enough to interrupt -- *Beep* "Now departing" (Oh, she has a broader vocabulary than I thought) "Kentucky"...huh, they didn't want to stay long. Now back to the meeting. Mark in Boston is still talking - *Beep* "Now joining" (OH MY GOD I'M GOING TO KILL THAT PHONE ROBOT) "Kentucky again." Kentucky, what the hell is problem here?! We're trying to have a meeting, I'm trying to keep from dying of boredom and poisoning my children with the soulless futility of my existence. Have some RESPECT ALREADY!

Finally, the meeting started. And then I remembered why I felt that struggle, that little doubt tickling the back of my brain when my co-worker originally walked into my office and asked if I wanted to participate. THESE CALLS MELT MY FACE OFF. People drone on and on about things that have absolutely nothing to do with the original purpose of the call, but nobody does anything about it. I wasn't even technically supposed to be on the call, but if I were, I think I would have stood up (just for my own satisfaction, since nobody on the call would actually experience the dramatic effect of such) and pounded my fists authoritatively next to the phone (THAT they would have heard, heh heh) while shouting, "FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIVES, JUST STAY ON TOPIC, PEOPLE!"

But I didn't do that. I had to be satisfied with my own internal Beavis and Butthead dialogue over the fact that one particular participant kept referring to his branch's "penetration" into the market of "vertical construction wrapped in a wrapper of green." Oh, man. If only I had dinner parties with my co-workers. We'd really get a kick out of that one.

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