You get to me

Cities we love -- and co-workers we don't, this week in Table Talk.


Salon Staff
July 7, 2006 5:00PM (UTC)

Mind and Spirit

RANT RE-TUMESCENT; Atheist, ,Xtian, Etc. Bashing Here (and smootches okay, I guess)

DebG - 07:02 am Pacific Time - Jun 30, 2006 - #7884 of 7912

I do understand the appeal of the Pacific Northwest. Back in August '92, I changed planes in Seattle on the way up to Ketchican. Friend of mine left her car at Prince Rupert, BC, and took the ferry up to meet me. Ketchican has not just one but two places where there are totem poles. That's what lures me there to begin with. From Ketchican, we ferried back to Prince Rupert, and then spent hours and hours driving through the wilds of BC. What incredible scenery. Dense forests. Verdant hillsides with waterfalls. Exquisite. And then, after a night of camping, into the Yukon and over to Alaska. Two glorious weeks we spent camping or hosteling about Alaska. So I have an inkling of the beauty that awaits me.

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But, see, I am a broad-shouldered woman, rightly placed. Coarse peasant woman that I am. Chicago and I will always be well suited for one another. We put our backs into our living, Chicago and I. You see, I am truly a daughter of the prairie. The remnants here are truly splendid, and their beauty is often overlooked. True. 'Tis a flat land, but not unremarkable. The pioneers didn't see the tiny stargrass beneath their feet. Instead they smelled the wild onion and envisioned broad fields of corn or clover for their cows. Perhaps they enjoyed some wild strawberries and raspberries as they made their way. Luscious fruits to be had on a June day. Back then only clusters of oaks would dot the landscape here and there. Likely they'd seek out shade as they made their way westward and wondering what this flat land had in store for them.

There is something to be said for living in a city that is named for an onion. Deceptive in its simplicity. Layer upon layer of culture. Layer upon layer of heritages, intermingled. "A city of neighborhoods." Separate and distinct. A flavor all their own. Yet also diverse. When you peel back the layers, you see the city's archaeology laid bare. A Jewish star on a building that is a Baptist church. Vestiges of immigrant groups. Remnants of "that Maxwell Street" man. Ukrainian churches and Polish churches reclaimed now by others who have followed. Back of the Yards hearkens back to the time when Chicago was "hog butcher to the world." Bridgeport. Home of two mayors, father and son. The fire academy built where the fire arose and destroyed the city. The city, itself, a phoenix. A survivor. Gritty. Honest. Authentic. Real. The city that works. Not just because of the politics. But because people here roll up their sleeves. And not just for photo ops.

I do not kid myself about this city's ugliness. I do not kid myself about the racism. The "city of neighborhoods" sometimes being a euphemism for a segregated population. Even so, I love this city, scars, warts and all. We understand each other. We forgive one another for our shortcomings. Together we are unglamorous. We are the runner-ups. Second or third. And never, ever, Miss Congeniality.

Chicago is in my blood. Chicago sustains me. Chicago is my mother. Chicago is my dutch uncle. Furious, yes, but never unforgiving. My daughters will become the daughters of the Pacific Northwest. Not I. Not sure yet what my relationship will be to Seattle. Everyone who has been there or lived there has told me, "Oh, you will love it!" Me, I am a seeing and experiencing is believing kinda gal. We'll see.

Work Life

Co-Workers you love to hate ... Or just hate.

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Mary1971 - 05:25 pm Pacific Time - Jul 3, 2006 - #3783 of 3807

So I'm working this little temp job, and I sit wherever there's room. Today it was next to another temp, who introduces herself by noting she is a newly minted college graduate. High honors, don't you know?

It's 8 a.m. and I'm organizing my workspace and Newly Mint leans over to me and says, "So what time is lunch?" I respond that we don't have a set time -- and add I don't usually take lunch, partly because I get into a groove and don't want to pause, and partly because then I get out a half hour earlier. Newly Mint says, "Well, *I* am not doing that. I can already tell this work is going to suck." (We're basically stuffing envelopes -- although it does take a bit of concentration because it's fairly sensitive information and you don't want Mr. X to know Mr. Y's information.)

About 15 minutes goes by, and Newly Mint POKES ME IN THE ARM (ouch!) and says, "Can I listen to my iPod here?" I respond that I don't know. Privately, I assume that she got the discussion from our temp service rep about how they want meticulously detailed people who pay close attention to things, but then I think, "Well, some people can be that, and listen to music." I am not adept enough to make that claim.

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Newly Mint whips out her iPod, cranks it up, and I'm bathed in the sounds of Nelly. (I asked who the artist was, and added, "Because I can hear it -- mind turning it down a tad?" Newly Mint nods, but I catch a wee bit of a scowl.)

About a half hour later, our supervisors leave for a meeting, and Newly Mint says to me, rather loudly (because, I can only assume, she wants to hear herself over the music), "This is really dull. How about a break?" I smile and shake my head no, and say no thanks, I'm good. She yells, "What?" I then remove one of her earpieces and say, "No, thanks. I'm good." She then tells me not to touch her headphones -- they are very expensive!

She then asks me where she can get coffee in this place. I don't drink coffee so I don't have the first clue. She smirks and says, "Well, you are just the fountain of information, now, aren't you?"

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She later got busted for inserting information into the wrong envelopes. The supervisor actually had to remove her headphones from her ears to get her to pay full attention. "We don't listen to music while we do this. There's too much margin for error." Bye-bye, Newly Mint!

I just wonder where these people come from. The day before, I sat next to this guy who came to the job wearing those plastic beach flip-flops, torn jean shorts and a T-shirt that said, "Official Porn Inspector." Granted, it was a Sunday, but really? How about a little bit of dressing up?

Posts of the week is an ongoing feature of Table Talk, Salon's vibrant community forum. Older posts of the week may be found here in TT. Want to join the discussion? Sign up for Table Talk here.

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