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Where Were You July 20, 1969?

 

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Like most major events, the moon landing and Neil Armstrong’s walk is firmly ingrained in our brains. We remember where we were and what we were doing. We remember what time of day it was. Me? Here’s what was going on…

The place:  Lane 3 at Sheridan Swim Club’s annual invitational meet. The time:  3:18 P.M. (CST) The weather:  hot, sunny, miserable for parents in the stands. The activity: Me, slogging through the 400 yd. Individual Medley (IM) 100 yds. each stroke: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. The results: Dead last. I knew this wouldn’t be my stellar event. First, I was a sprinter; 100yd. IM was more my speed. Second, before the race, the P.A. announcer said the landing would be aired momentarily.  And I’m going to be underwater. Fantastic. By the fifth of eight laps of this race, I lagged behind, thanks to breaststroke. I swam breaststroke like Myrtle the turtle. That day, my stroke was even more turtle-like, because I swam with my ears above water. (The better to hear the broadcast.) See photo above. My hope was that it would appear as if an effort was still being made. I failed miserably because I just could not miss history in the making. Coach was less than pleased to see the results, but I’d totally justified it in my mind. Sometimes you just have to keep your head above water, you know?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

So, what were YOU doing? Where were you? What do you recall if you were near a radio or television? I’d love to hear from you and will compile a list. I’d bet my last dollar you can remember, if you were old enough, that is.  bw

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That’s On Me and That’s the Troof

4f7ff044-0642-4eef-b058-b3ac4e119e08We’ve been hearing this phrase a lot lately. It’s a handy one. It can tolerate any pronoun:

That’s on me.

That’s on you.

That’s on us.

That’s on them.

I think this phrase be used a lot or a little. It depends. If we’re taking ownership in something we’ve done that doesn’t turn out particularly well. Well, that’s on me. I need to own it. 

Before slinging this phrase around, perhaps the best idea  is to turn the phrase  into a question “That’s on who?”  (For you grammar gurus, I suppose it’s more correct to say, “That’s on whom?” Whichever, it is and right now, I’m getting confused about the wrong thing, so let’s move on, shall we?)

If someone is trying to throw blame on you for something, they might say, “That’s on you!”  If it’s true, then it’s going to hit right where it hurts. Why? Because truth is hard. Truth can hurt. But the truth is the truth is the truth. And that’s the truth. Or as our Nick would’ve said it as a little kid, without front teeth, “That’s the troof!” And that’s okay. We need to hear a little more troof!

The problem with hearing the troof is that we become so damn defensive. It’s a natural response.  If we don’t go down the defensive road, I know that for myself, I will just crumble into a puddle of woe. Woe goes like this: 

“I’m so stupid. I’m such a loser. I should’ve known better.” Yeah, let’s be self-defeating. That’s so much more fun! This is because someone has just validated what I’ve known all along. And the troof can feel like crap. So, be careful before you sling around “That’s on you.”

However, if we’re to correct our actions and become better humans, then it’s important to know what troof feels like. I think I really like using this version (troof), because it makes me laugh. And maybe we all need to do that a little bit more when it’s on us. Bw

My friend, Michele, is Just the Best!

After 67 years, my parents had been split up, not by divorce, but by different aging conditions. 

While there was no question about the strength of our friendship, it was confirmed many times by Michele’s willingness to accompany me on my visits. 

There are two kinds of humans in this world: those who can deal with the elderly and those who cannot. Now a successful banker, Michele had CNA experience a couple of decades before this. 

CNAs must deal with the messiest of patients and there was nothing that could violate Michele! 

At this time of the year, I’ll never forget when my ninety year old mom was in the hospital one winter, three times in six weeks, for recurring pneumonia. Her diagnosis was, “pneumonia and failure to thrive.” Her prognosis read, “Poor”. She wouldn’t eat or drink and it felt like the beginning of the end. 

One Sunday morning, Michele offered to go with me to the hospital. Very few people assume the invitation is always open. I would never ask anyone if they wanted to go, except a family member. 

Mom had just had a bath and was ready for a breakfast that she wouldn’t eat. Her hair, thin from aging and wet from her bath, was plastered against her small head. It was unsettling. 

There were two basic things to do: get food and liquid in her and set that hair! Michele coaxed her kindly and fed her easily from the front, while I put her hair up in Velcro curlers, from the back. It was a two-pronged approach and quite a vision, I’m sure. 

Perhaps it was because of Michele’s kind, gentle easy nature with Mom, orr maybe it was the ever-present sparkle in her eyes, but it was the loveliest gesture a friend could offer Mom and me.

We see this aging parent scenario unfold hundreds and thousands of times. Let this be a positive lesson to us all that we, too, can dish up kindness and assistance with a spoon or a fork. And a little Dippity-Do! 

Thanks, Michele. LYLAS!

 

My Tee-Tee Tsunami

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When learning the speaking and writing business, we were taught, “Avoid speaking about bodily functions, seeing as everyone’s “ick” tolerance and privacy levels differ.” I’ve adhered to this advice for seventeen years in the business. No breastfeeding, colonoscopy or incontinence discussions found here. The only thing I might discuss would be: January 13th is my annual mammogram appointment, because it’s the same day as my annual vacuum maintenance

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Photo by hermaion on Pexels.com

at Sears. And, yep, they both suck. That’s about as far as I go.

 

Anyway, as I finished eight loads at the Wash Tub Laundromat Saturday, I reflected on the prior weekend. The wash consisted of 14 bath towels, 7 beach towels, 11 hand towels, 2 dishrags and 6 pairs of socks. I’m breaking my rule today to write about how humor in the home place is sometimes, well, hard.

 

It started at work, Memorial Day Saturday, at 8:37 a.m. BAM! I got the Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) from hell. Just. Like. That. It’s always perplexed me how the elderly can contract UTI’s, but have no clue until they land in E.R. for observation, antibiotics and fluids. Dad’s symptoms would mirror a stroke or brain tumor. The prognosis was typically “UTI”. In contrast, before drop #1 ever hits the toilet water, some of us KNOW we’ve got a UTI. Or is it “an” UTI? Whichever, I’m not kidding. Vengeful symptoms escalate hourly. These delightful symptoms include, burning from your wa-hoo to your tonsils, urgency and frequency, oh my! I helped customers between bathroom visits, alternating between the east end and west end of the building’s restrooms, so the staff wouldn’t think my frequency odd. Why I even cared is beyond me. I couldn’t leave work for staffing reasons.

 

My co-worker recommended an over-the-counter remedy. I flew to Wal-Mart out the back door. $50 later I owned every AZO product on the market. After work, I sped to Ambulatory Care for labs and antibiotics. The nurse said, “Doctor is in the procedure room, so you’ll need to wait.” Translated: a woman was getting stitches in her hand. I nearly laughed out loud. WHAT? WAIT? Seriously? So I sat near the restroom.

 

The frequency lasted all day and night, leaving me exhausted.

 

Sunday, my “tee-tee tsunami” calmed. I resumed normal activities through Memorial Day. Jeff returned from a fishing trip. By 8:45 p.m. we were ready for bed. I ran down to the laundry room to grab sheets out of the dryer when I stepped into half-inch deep water.

 

I hated to break the news, but had no choice, “JEFF…WATER IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM!!!” Jeff’s frustration resembled fire and fury, putting it mildly. Since I’d been the only one home, he started quizzing me on what I’d done in excess to tax our sewer system. Let me clarify, the standing water was crystal clear, thankfully.

 

“Why’s it always my fault?”

 

“I’M NOT GUILTING YOU, I’M SIMPLY DOING THE MATH!”

 

No wonder I hate math. (He speaks very loudly when he’s trying to learn me something!)

 

As he vacuumed water, I fetched towels and more towels. Not exactly our idea of fun at 8:45pm on a “school night.” His questioning continued. It was logical and necessary, I must admit.

 

“DID YOU TAKE LONG SHOWERS?”

“Nope.” Mine are fast. You know that.

 

“DID YOU DO LOTS OF LAUNDRY?”

 

“Two, maybe three loads tops.”

 

“DID YOU FLUSH THE TOILET A LOT?”

 

CRAP. Well, NOT crap, exactly… “I had a bladder infection, O.K.?”

 

“DID YOU USE TOILET PAPER EACH TIME?

 

“Uhhhhh, yeah.” (There’s another option?)

 

“ABOUT HOW MANY ROLLS DID YOU GO THROUGH?”

 

Seriously?

 

“I don’t know… 3? 17? 2? Yes, maybe 2.” Typically, I don’t keep a running toilet paper inventory, except when it’s the last roll, right?

 

“WELL, TWO ROLLS OF NON-BIODEGRADABLE TOILET PAPER WADDED UP IN THE PIPE WILL DO THIS.”

 

“Could it be the tree roots (again)?

 

“IT COULD, BUT STILL, HOW IS A WAD OF CHARMIN THAT BIG (holding his hands the size of a giant watermelon) GOING TO PASS BY THE ROOTS? IT’S NOT. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS.”

 

Any and all humor had gone done the drain with the toilet paper.

 

As hot, tired and sweaty as we were following clean up, showers and flushing were forbidden for now. In the morning, the basement was dry, so I took a 10-second shower before work. I didn’t even wait for it to warm up. I couldn’t have used more than one gallon of water. No way.

 

When entering work on Tuesday, my co-workers asked, “How was your weekend?” So, I told them…about my infection…about the water and how it came down to T.P inventory. And how tonight, Jeff and Donnie would rent the sewer snake to break through El Waddo, (and roots). It got funnier. I called for my lab results and the nurse said, “You DEMAND to see every tissue square of those two rolls that you used to clog the system, do you hear me?”

 

I demanded. The guys laughed at me, because the wad was heading downstream somewhere. Seeing the two of them sitting on the basement floor rolling the snake out and then in, was like watching two little boys play in a puddle. They were in heaven.

 

Epilogue.

And they lived happily ever after, Bobbe learning her lesson, of course. And Jeff might get a sewer snake for Father’s Day. And the next time when a UTI attacks my system, I’m heading to the Holiday Inn Express. I belong to their rewards program. Huh? You see, I’ll get “points (for toilet) paper! And I’m pretty sure each room has at least two rolls and industrial sized pipes…

 

bw

Pedaling My Tush Off

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Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

While in St. Louis, my daughter-in-law, Jenna, treated me to Cycle Bar for spin class. I spin occasionally and do other cardio workouts, so I was certain I could hold up for 45 minutes. Walking Lily used to be cardio, but, seriously, how many 77 year olds do you know who can clip off a four-minute mile? But, I digress.

 

We received emails and texts, welcoming and preparing us for class. I was fitted with shoes and given a welcome water bottle. It was even personalized. I loved this place!

 

Our bikes #25-26, were located on the second tier. It felt like we were sitting in the piccolo section of an orchestra room. Our instructor, Michelle, adjusted my bike. I think LeBron James had ridden this bike in the previous class. The seat reached my armpits. Michelle lowered the seat and locked my shoes into the pedals. However would I escape in the event of fire? I’d be the last man out dragging the damn bike with me, because I wouldn’t be able to unhook my shoes. In previous classes, I’d worn my own shoes. I must admit, I felt smugly professional in the clamp-ons.

 

Two towels hung on each bike. One was for sweat; the other to cover the dashboard. Michelle explained that in classic spin classes, the dashboard was utilized to motivate us to reach “push” levels. The stats revealed velocity, degree of difficulty, caloric burn and minutes remaining until my legs might fall off. Or my tush, whichever came first. I’d forgotten how unforgiving the hard saddle was. Fortunately, the class was taught mostly from a standing stride.

 

Rather than being dashboard directed, Michelle helped us attain limits from desire and inspirational encouragement. She motivated us by getting into our heads. I do adore psychobabble! Did I mention I loved this place? Michelle’s mantra unfurled in a smooth, but convincing voice, fit for a DJ. Her monologue was punctuated by dancing lights and playlist that could rev up Rumpelstiltskin. It went like this. (My internal reply is in parentheses.)

 

“What do you want for yourself today?” (“I don’t know, but let’s get it, Gurl!”)

 

“Come to the edge, farther than before!” (YES! Show me the razor’s edge!”)

 

“Leave behind all that which does not enhance your existence.” (Bobs is leavin’ it in the smoke, Baby. Raaahhrrrrr!)

 

It occurred to me that pacing myself, regardless of my stoked inner power, might be wise. I backed off a teensy bit. Jenna dialed up her resistance and velocity. She meant business. I merely hoped to leave Cycle Bar on something besides a gurney and oxygen. Like my legs.

 

At the end, everyone applauded Michelle. She was an amazing instructor. I felt like I’d attended Tony Robbins’ seminar. Shortly, our compiled stats were emailed to us. This was new. I’d no idea I was being assessed. How cool is that? Jenna read hers first. She’d nearly ruled the class, being ranked for effort and workload, ranking her #2 out of 23 participants. Impressive, but not surprising. She is a fitness machine, that one!

 

“Check yours!” Jenna encouraged. “It’s in your email.”

 

“Oh, I hope I didn’t perform really badly…” I envisioned being #10-11…middle of the pack.I was pumped. I’d pedaled hard. I felt gooooooood! I LOVED THIS STUFF!

 

My recap showed that I’d burned 263 calories, my average speeds and workloads. Then in all its glory, we read my ranking…. #23. That’s out of 23.

WHAT? I WAS THE WORST? I HATE THAT PLACE!

 

Devastation flooded my head, for, like, one 23rd of a nanosecond. Then we started laughing. It got funnier. Take two bikes, side by side. Jenna was nearly the best in class; I must’ve had a flat tire.

 

Yet, here was the method in the madness: numbers don’t always justify results. I felt great and had a great experience. Nobody could take that away from me, #23. The laughter was pretty great too. Pedal on, my friends. bw

WHEN GIRLS GET UGLY (good happens!)

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Bobbe White

Were you a customer in our bank October 31? If so, please come back.  You saw us at our worst. We wore hideous housecoats, slippers, pajamas, curlers and facial masks. We looked awful. Photo shopping couldn’t help this bunch. You be the judge.

It didn’t start out fun for me. While waiting on our breakfast pizza order, it made sense to hit Wal-Mart. I entered in cheetah slippers with red pompons and anticipation. Maybe dressed as “Come as you are” could give a clerk, customer or cashier a giggle. I mean, at 8:00 a.m., the clientele represents a lot of PLU (people like us). You know, normalcy. At 10:00 p.m.? Not so much.

It seemed obvious that I was in costume. Didn’t it? Can I tell you I did not get one glance or second look? Not even one. In the hair aisle, a regular lady shopped near me. She looked at my curlers as I snagged hairnets. I smiled playfully, as if to say, “Can you believe people really buy these?” She smiled sympathetically, thinking, “Can you believe people go out in public like her?” I don’t think it occurred to her that I was in costume. Next, I went for trick-or-treaters’ candy. Two clerks furiously stacked shelves, tossed bags and boxes around and over me, never stopping to admire my costume. It was disappointing like the last aisle. I decided my costume would continue to underwhelm the cashier and customers, so I avoided them and self-checked my purchases.

In the car, I put on the hairnet and drove to Casey’s. There was an immediate reaction upon entering. YES! Then again, one of the clerks knew me. NUTS. Things improved at work, seeing as about 95% of the staff was costumed, department-by-department. Staff and customers alike were amazed and amused at how we could get so ugly, so easily. (I think we surprised ourselves as well.) We didn’t win best costume, but did get one vote. On the other hand, we were champions of comfort. Now I know why schools have pajama day. It is the BEST.

It’s difficult to express the joy of seeing co-workers walk into work, looking more hideous than the previous person. In banking, where we’re typically well groomed and dressed appropriately, we broke every rule. Some days the rules are meant to be broken. Post-Halloween, it’s business as usual, but the leftover fun, laughter and morale boost carried over. We’re now hearing how much better we look, from those who’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly.

Fortunately, with flexible workplace management, kids don’t have the corner on costuming. I don’t know how we’ll top this costume next year, but I’m sure we’ll give it a go. All I know is when you’ve been incredibly ugly, any little improvement is noticeable. Everyone should get ugly occasionally, because you feel so attractive the following day. Hope your Halloween was overwhelming! bw.  (Thought you’d like one more look at us…)

Oh, Those Cubs, Always Full of Surprises

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Bobbe White

IMG_2957 (1)el tappe

On a sunny September 9th, Wrigley Field spread before us. It was my first visit. I now have a certificate that says so. The ballpark is spectacular, from the rooftop bleachers to our seats in the shade and I now have a greater appreciation for “Field of Dreams.”

As we waited for the opening pitch, I envisioned, one former player at catcher. Our very own, El Tappe, from Quincy, IL. Google El to read about his impressive career. Knowing the man, I was somewhat awestruck by how much he actually had done for this club. I impressed our friends with his trading card, which I found online, during the game.

His MLB debut was 1954; his last appearance was in1962. Wikipedia writes that, “He was best known for being instrumental in implementing the Philip K. Wrigley College of Coaches, to give the team better leadership and stability, by utilizing coaching talent from within the organization. Tappe was one of the rotating coaches himself for 95 games. He returned to his backup catcher role for his last year as a player.”

To me, El was simply Tammy’s dad and Donna’s husband. He was one of the nicest, funniest gentlemen I’ve met and he was never crabby when we girls got bratty. It’s funny how someone of such stature can remain humble and patient. To growing up girls, he’s basically the nice dad of your best friend.

Here’s the odd part. Every fall, Tammy and I went to Madison school. In second grade, I ratted her ponytail, while sitting behind her in Mrs. Long’s class. However, every year, during K-6th grades, Tammy disappeared after Christmas Break. I’d receive her new school picture from Mesa, AZ. I guess I wasn’t curious enough to ask where she went each year, because she’d always return for the summer. The Tappe family relocated annually for the Cubs’ Spring Training, El was part of the coaching staff and scout. In hindsight, Tammy says she feels so fortunate to have had this split opportunity. Donna continued to visit her Cub “family” after El passed away.

In high school, we girls were given the opportunity to socialize (i.e. drink beer) with the Cubs AAA players, who played summer ball in Quincy. The fun continued, when at Arizona State, a few of my friends and I went to the Allman Brothers Band at the Mesa ballpark with the AAA’s. I wonder if any of them made the A team…

I pull for the Cubbies harder now that I have experienced the Wrigley Field awe. I understand the pilgrimage people make game after game and particularly when Cubs Vs. Cards.

Is this a great country or what? If there’s a major league in heaven, I’ll bet El is either still scouting, coaching or back at catcher. Thanks El, for giving my ball park more meaning, even if you guys lost that day 15-1. Ouch. Okay, now, PLAY BALL!