From a review of I Don’t know How She Does It -Allison Pearson: For every woman trying to strike that impossible balance between work and home-and pretending that she has... here's a novel to make you cringe with recognition and laugh out loud...brilliantly dramatizes the dilemma of working motherhood... In Kate's life, Everything Goes Perfectly as long as Everything Goes Perfectly... In a novel that is at once uproariously funny and achingly sad, Allison Pearson captures the guilty secret lives of working women -the self-recrimination, the comic deceptions, the giddy exhaustion, the despair... gets at the private absurdities of working motherhood as only a novel could: with humor, drama, and bracing wisdom.
Recently I accepted a promotion at work. I am now supervising an office closer to my home and the job requires much less travel (the major reason I finally allowed myself to get a puppy... well puppies, plural). This would be great news except for the fact my employer often forgets I have a new job and continues to have expectations of me from my old job.
A few weeks ago I was scheduled for a meeting with my new job at the same time I was scheduled for an important conference call for my old job. Of course both were in direct conflict with my lunch break when I usually drive home to let the puppies out for a short walk and to use the bathroom.
I am the guy you see in the neighborhood trying to eat a salad and walk two dogs at the same time; and yes, it is as difficult as it sounds but you would be amazed at what one can accomplish in an hour when one multitasks -and while I’m at it, yes, a sandwich would be more practical, but I’m also old now and my metabolism has taken a nose dive so stop judging me for my choices!
Where was I, oh yes, work, dogs, and multitasking. So since I needed to leave the first meeting to attend the second, I decided to take lunch early and let the dogs out while I took the conference call. Did I say this was a very important conference call? The director of my agency was on the call, the assistant director, chief officer, legal council, fiscal management. It was a very big deal. Knowing that walking the dogs while taking the call would be too distracting, the puppies were relegated to just a quick trip to the side yard to “go potty.”
“Go potty.” There are many quick phrases that people use to get their dogs to associate using the bathroom with a short command. “Do your business,” “Take care of business,” even “use the bathroom, X (insert pet’s name here).” All excellent choices. Maybe it’s because my Godson just finished “potty” training (see, potty doesn’t sound so bad when you use it in that sense now does it?), but instead of a more adult sounding euphemism, I chose “go potty” for my puppies. It is a choice I have since lived to regret.
I rush home from work during my lunch break, dial up the conference call while I’m driving, open up my laptop to see my notes, grab my salad out of the refrigerator, put the phone on mute, hook up the dogs’ leashes and head out out the door.
Are you familiar with Blackberry phones? They are a rather convenient little device to have for work. Maybe I should emphasize the word little here. They have these teeny, tiny little buttons that people with fat fingers like me find very hard to manipulate, especially when one is also trying to control two puppies who desperately want to charge down the sidewalk for their usual lunchtime walk but are being forced to stay in the side yard.
So I’m balancing the phone between my ear and shoulder, trying to eat a salad, and being jerked wildly by walk-obsessed puppies when, “tink,” unbeknownst to me, the teeny, tiny little button that says mute is turned off. The entire Executive team now gets to listen to me standing in the wind pleading “Go potty, Chloe. Go potty, Daddy needs to go to work. Go potty, Chloe. Be a good girl for Daddy...”
Chloe finally “goes potty” and I run the dogs back in the house, check my notes on my computer and only then see the litany of emails that I have been receiving from my co-workers.
Put your phone on mute!
We can hear you!
PUT THE PHONE ON MUTE!!!
Everyone one can hear you, Jim. Put the phone on mute.
“Go potty, Chloe. Go potty for Da-Da.”
Put the phone on mute, dumb ass!!!
Now you may be asking, “Why didn’t they tell you they could hear you?” Well...
Meanwhile in Columbus, the entire Executive Team is trying to have a professional meeting with all of my department except for the one and only person joining the conference call remotely. This would be the same person who would suddenly start blabbering “Go potty, Chloe. Go potty for Daddy...” into the conference call. Surprised, and I can only hope a little amused and, if I’m really lucky, maybe even seeing the all to human side of Jim Lake -business professional and also devoted pet owner, the group does not realize in the sudden effort to silence me, they have now turned on their mute button. So, while I am blabbering away about going potty, my boss is very professionally trying to silence me stating “Jim, your phone is not on mute. Jim we can hear you. Jim...” but I hear nothing; Absolutely nothing.
PS In case you were wondering; I'm still employed.