« Quod erat demonstrandum | Lucky »

How To

January 11, 2005 | Category: In My Life

I was born under a rock.

I have no other explanation for how I ended up, at nineteen years old, living on my own without any of the most basic skills.

My first month in that first apartment, I washed my car with undiluted Spic and Span. Just poured the granules onto the car one sunny day, sprayed the hose and went to town.

The cop who pulled me over the next week had to ask.

Miss, what did you DO to your car?

I told him. I said I washed it with Spic and Span and now it was fugly and I didn't know why.

To this day I think he gave me that speeding ticket partly on account of my being so stupid.

Other people, they are a story of great romance or high mystery in their walk through life. They are self-help relevations. They marvel at the world as though it was a travel book full of big glossy pictures.


Yeah, I'm the 'How-To' experience. White paper, black ink, and some 3D sketches.

My very competant parents tried, Heaven help them. You clean the gutters every fall. You break an egg like this. You write thank-you notes immediately.

But somehow, none of it stuck to my brain. The words went in, bounced around, and then fell out my ears while I slept.

So there I was, on my own. And I had no idea how to check the oil in the car, how to balance my checkbook or create a budget, had no clue from pilot lights in the stove and couldn't properly shave my legs.

A day didn't go by that I wasn't either bleeding, broke, hungry or scrambling to find a ride to work.

This went on and on. Until I realized, Hey this is life.

As soon as I learn one thing, shit if there isn't always going to be another to learn right behind it. And knowing me, the hard way.

I was thinking about that today when I got a call from one of the junior folks.

My vendor had a meeting with my customer. Without me. She confessed. What do I do?

This was bad.

As a project manager, you are the Contractor on the job site. You represent all the work and all the vendors to your customer seemlessly. If the Roofing guy talks to your customer and tries to cut you out, that is a violation of the entire process. It's also a breach of contract.

And Junior was counting on me to tell her how to deal with it.

So I did. I walked her through it.

How do you know how to deal with this? She asked me.

I could have said, it's standard Project Manager process. Which it is, but of course I didn't learn it that way.

I learned because I once took a flamethrower to a vendor over a 50 million dollar contract. And once I had pretty much burned down the house, the yard, the block, the car, the vendor, and oh - myself.... along came a guy, probably dressed in black.

He leaned over my steaming self and said, calmly, You know Maverick, we got lawyers for this.

Junior laughed. They say there isn't much you don't know how to do.

I thought about the Engine light on mini-van, my "Universal" remote control, the so-called instructions to my son's Lego Pirate Ship, the dozens of burnt Christmas cookies I threw away this year, my unused wireless laptop, my unsubmitted travel expenses, and the 72 inches of paper that represents my retirement plan.

They, I told Junior firmly, would be wrong.

Share: Delicious Delicious! | Stumble It! | Slashdot  Slashdot It!
Tagged: Corporate, Mommy, Life


For me it's stuff other people learned in school, but due to my church school education, I missed out on. No, church school isn't all bad! But asking someone to teach 8 grades to 12 students is not the way to educate kids! Anyway. Science got dropped. I still ask Hubby questions that apparently everyone else learned in grade 5.

Posted by: Tammy on January 13, 2005 04:40 PM

Been there, did that, tore up the t-shirt for bandages. Except that because of reading Hot Rod magazine when I should of been doing homework, I knoew how to take care of the car. Of course that led me to tear into a couple of engines I couldn't put back together...

Posted by: triticale on January 13, 2005 12:04 AM

I love your writing. I could read you for days. Really.

Posted by: ben on January 12, 2005 10:14 AM