Thursday, June 26, 2003

Training in Gomorrah - Part III

I’ve fallen behind on updating you about my adventures. The blame here lies squarely at the figurative feet of Lowenbrau and, as you may have surmised, my singular dancing ability. These have been long days and nights of debauchery, and I’ve been stumbling back in with scarcely enough time to bathe in time for class. You should have seen me getting my freak on at Walgreen’s earlier tonight. (I don’t really know what that means. I’m just reporting to you what I was told by some other people.)

There isn’t too much to say about the actual training sessions. They’ve all been great. The only thing worth noting is some of the names I’ve been called. These include but are not limited to serial killer, idiot, geek, sociopath, and weirdo.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I’ve left the names of other people out of my adventures. This is an intentional effort to protect the reputations of the people who have been sympathetic enough to be seen with me in public. Let me break from tradition to call out a certain auditor from Region IX. So as not to be fired or sued, I’ll just call him "Glennis" from the "Mystery" field office. Many of you know that I don’t usually curse, but I don’t have the words at my disposal to write what I mean without resorting to cussing. "Glennis" is a horse’s ass. After certain training modules we transition into a round of Audit Process Jeopardy. I know what I’m about to tell you on account of having connections that report back to me about stuff. Reader, it seems that "Glennis" has been telling all of the other people that any amount of success I have in these games is a result of studying the course materials in lieu of going on breaks or eating lunch. Perhaps "Glennis'" audit manager would be interested to know how little regard "Glennis" has for The Audit Process (TAP). Should I be made to feel guilty and the butt of all audit jokes just because I think auditing is fun? Wait until later when you find out what fate befell "Glennis". I have a plan, but I need to run through some simulations before carrying it through.

Back to the evening of June 24. Some of the people plus me decided to go over to watch the Devil Rays play the Yankees at Tropicana Field. It is a weird looking stadium that appears to be sinking on one side. I nearly got our two car convoy killed a couple of times on the way to the game. Then we got lost trying to find our seats (poor signage). Then we got lost trying to find refreshments (I had pizza! – pepperoni). When we left the game we couldn’t find our cars. The game was good. It was highlighted by a Marlon Anderson grand slam that put the Devil Rays ahead 9-6, and lowlighted by a ninth inning Yankee comeback and victory. I should warn you about something in case you ever are thinking about going to Tropicana Field. They advertise a certain refreshment as their “best value”. What this is your carbonated beverage of choice in a very large plastic cup for $5. The cup engineer who designed the best value cup did not seem to consider A) the weight and distribution of the beverage relative to the shape of the cup, or B) the size of the cup relative to the size of normal human hands. One of the smaller members of our group had a difficult time handling her beverage. When she tried to poor some of the drink into her self, the cup practically took up her whole face. I even had a difficult time manipulating Tropicana Field’s best value – and I am humongous.

We got back to the motel with no problems. Everyone went to sleep – except for me! I went down to the Ramada for a contest I knew they were having that night. It was a Men’s Break Dancin’ and Butter Contest – which I won. Unfortunately none of my colleagues were there to witness my victory, and there is some speculation that I could have made the whole thing up.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Training in Gomorrah - Part II

As it turns out, I am an INTP. According to the test we were given today, this makes me introverted, intuitive, thoughtful, and perceptive. Introverted my foot! Little did the test know that in about five minutes I’ll be at the Tiki Bar for social hour. There I intend to accomplish at least the following: A) eat a lot of cheese, B) lodge an official complaint about my exclusion from last night’s Men’s Topless and Tight Fittin’ Jeans Contest, and C) party ‘til my pants fall off.

This day was somewhat of a non-event relative to the ringer I was put through yesterday. It started with some cinnamon french toast. Despite it being a little bit eggier than it needed to be, I thought it was kind of good. The french toast, according to the menu, is the “signature item” served up in the restaurant here at the Holiday Inn Saskwatch. In fact, there are laminated posters illustrating french toast at practically every turn in the common areas of this place. I submit that french toast, no matter how good, is nothing to hang one’s hat on. It is bread dipped in raw eggs. Perhaps if the chef were a baby this would be something to be proud of, but these are adult motel workers who have elected to compete with the neighboring lodges based on the quality of their egg bread. I’ll be back to tell you some more stuff after I get done going over to the Tiki Bar.

Now that I’m back I’ll take up where I left off. Training was good today. We learned about teamwork. Part of learning about teamwork is watching a movie about teamwork. If you’ve seen many instructional videos, I bet you can guess what the soundtrack was like. Can anybody tell me what instrument they use to make those soundtracks and why that instrument seems only to be used in instructional videos? And the actors! Good lord. Where do they get these people? Are they volunteers?

A man with heavily over-styled hair by the name of Rick Rosenthal narrated the teamwork movie from what appeared to be the same studio where Robert Tilton broadcasts his Word of Faith television program. At one point Rick was standing in a very narrow area between a desk and a wall and explained how conflict – when managed properly – can be a good thing. I understand what he was saying, but I’m not sure why he needed to deliver his message in such a cramped and peculiar location. I can’t stop trying to figure out under what circumstance a person would ever end up standing between that desk and wall. We’re talking 18 inches max.

At lunch a person from Iowa asked me if I have a hard time telling the truth. I told her no, and would she like to come out dancing with me tonight. After all, I brought all these leotards and they’re just going to waste sitting in my luggage.

This brings me back to earlier when I was about to go over to the Tiki Bar. Sadly, the people in charge determined that weather conditions were too unstable to have social period outdoors. The fun was moved indoors (H.I. Sunscratch Conference Room Surf D). The good news is that they didn’t forget the cheese. The bad news is that there wasn’t anybody around for me to lodge my tight fittin’ jeans complaint.

After having cheese I wanted to go out for other food. We headed left out of the motel parking lot looking for a nice place to eat. We passed lots of places that offered a variety of different types of products and services. Usually these businesses, in addition to their bread and butter product or service, offered a secondary product or service. Let me try to remember some places: T-shirts and Coffee; Bathing Suits and Jerky; Lumber and Tattoos; Beanie Babies and Fun. Finally we happened upon a place called “Pizza and Restaurant”. I had pizza (hamburger and pepperoni). It was good! On the way back we decided that we wouldn’t mind having a little bit of ice cream. We didn’t stop at the first ice cream place we saw because none of us also needed piercings. You should have seen the teenage vermin blocking safe entry to that den of questionable repute. Patience paid off in the end though, when we found a really good place known as “Sweet Temptations & Internet Connections”. If they were trying to rhyme, they should know that “temptation” and “connection” do not. At “Sweet Temptations & Internet Connections” you can buy lots of sweets (even candy cigarettes), and you can also use the Internet. They charge $3 for the first 15 minutes of Internet usage. Obscene! My malt tasted good!

I need to get going because it’s karaoke night at the British Pub, but let me tell you that the water pressure here sucks, the shower in my room is too small, my hair and scalp are not reacting well to the amount of moisture in the air here, and I use female facial scrub. More on all of this later in the week.

Good night from the twilight zone.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Training in Gomorrah - Part I

Good evening from what has to be the most humid place on the face of Mother Earth. Landing this afternoon felt more like riding in a submarine than an airplane. A couple of seahorses and a tuna swam past my window as we flew over the Gulf. Everything here is wet. According to the low budget newscast, it has been raining here for a while, but you can tell that it’s always wet. On the way down it was difficult to tell where it would be safe to land. Everything looked as though it would sink.

The airport here is nice. When we got off the boat we took a fun shuttle over to the baggage claim area. After a while, my bags came out! I had a backpack (carry on), and two suitcases (checked). I felt like I packed the minimum necessities, but noticed that no other man had so much baggage as me. Perhaps my big pants account for at least part of this phenomenon. My pants take more than their fair share of material. What can I say? I love fabrics. Nylon, denim, wood, paper, felt…you name it! Burlap! You’d be hard-pressed to name a fabric I consider objectionable. Meat!

Anyway, we took the Super Shuttle over here to the….Wait! I’ll be darned if it isn’t the largest cockroach I’ve ever seen. I don’t even think I have an implement large enough to kill this thing. I’m not joking. I tried to use a phone book, but the wind created by my mighty blow only knocked the beast to the carpet and under my bed. A place the S.O.B. will no doubt lurk until I am asleep – at which point it will surely assume residence some place inside my self. But the Super Shuttle brought us to the Holiday Inn Sucksprout or some such. It took about an hour to drive over here (an old had to be deposited at her apartment on the other side of town before we could come over here to the Sunsquat) and another 45 minutes to check in – I’m serious. And my suitcases – not including my backback – weighed 66.1 pounds according to airport scales (I brought my metal underpant). My attitude (I just injured the cockroach within an inch of his life) which was really great going into this training opportunity, was souring quickly at this point. I was sweating quite a lot and the muscles from my arms were approaching failure. Finally I was registered and ready for a little relaxing before dinner.

Quickly, I changed into my customary felt napping pants (brown), removed the nasty comforters (personally, I am not comforted knowing the different human byproducts that must get on motel comforters…did you know that they don’t wash those things?), and laid down for some resting. I hadn’t taken it easy for five minutes before all areas of my person began to itch. It was the kind of itching that takes place deep inside the carcass. It was the kind of itching that can’t be dealt with minus surgery. I rubbed and rubbed and rubbed, but it was all for naught. Even I couldn’t have imagined that my deterioration in this place would begin so quickly and severely.

Next we went for some seafood. It was fantastic! I had Grouper (a kind of fish). I wouldn’t mind going back to that place.

My plan was to take you through all the events of the evening. However, I just revisited the spot where I wounded the cockroach within an inch of his life. Guess who already healed enough to hide back underneath the bed? Now I don’t feel like telling much more about my adventures from Night 1. You should know though that my feet are infected as a result of my dumb trip down to the ocean. I am full of sand, my feet are blistered, my innards itch, I forgot to go to the Tiki Bar in time for the Men’s Topless and Tight Fittin’ Jeans Contest that I was destined to win, and now I’m going to go to bed so that a cockroach can come live in my ear – or worse.