Sunday, August 08, 2010

Work, Yankees and South Africa

If you are like nearly everyone else I know (with a couple of notable exceptions) you are probably enjoying a leisurely August where responsibility slides down the priority list and vacations creep up to the top. Just so you know, I resent that about you. Most years that is me. No matter how busy work is in June and July it somehow manages to vanish in August - often to the point of me being worried that the work will never come back (yes, my job is a sickness if you must know). I usually manage to enjoy the lax attitude of August in a large law firm by leaving the office every night by 6 pm, taking long lunches to run errands or catch up with neglected friends, take long weekends and most importantly - go on vacation. I resent my former self for that as well.

This year August is ugly. Hideous even. It is full of deadlines and stress and responsibility after seemingly endless months of deadlines, stress and responsibility. I finished out July with a near melt down at work. All I could see marching out ahead of me was task upon convoluted task with no hope for break before November and possibly no break even then. When my boss asked if I was going away this month I initially confessed I had not planned on it. But when I had that very bad day when work was overwhelming me to the point where I had to dig my fingernails into my palms to prevent me from crying out of pure frustration . . . I realized it was time to plan. So I blocked out a week and informed everyone that I would be gone - unreachable, I just didn't know where I was going yet.

In the mean time, I worked and worked and worked and everything in my fridge turned to smelly rot so I stopped opening my fridge and ordered as much comfort food as possible to compensate for the picked-on dejected feeling of the over-worked and over-stressed. I wasn't running because I didn't have time and all kinds of aches and pains were manifesting themselves in my body making me feel injured.

Also about this time some especially emotional personal . . . incidents? events? I don't know how to describe it. Anyway, something kind of big but not necessarily bad was/is happening in the background and I felt drained.

So last week what happens? More work. I work until 2 am and then 4 am and then go straight to court the next day at 730 am and try to stay caffeinated enough to keep my eyes open and prevent my head from nodding. I have an "early" night and leave work at 8 only to return for more early meetings the next day and the next. By the time I hit Friday my head was clouded and my kitchen required a haz-mat team to handle the dishes filled with curdled milk in the sink (seriously, who doesn't rinse their milk down the drain? in the summer? no one to blame but myself . . .).

I had staked out my vacation at the end of the month and had arranged to have a stop over with family on the way home from yet another work trip but mostly I wanted to get home to my couch and shift my brain into neutral in front of the tv.

Instead, I was asked to take the extra ticket for the Yankees game that night with clients who were in town from South Africa. I hesitated at the invitation and the two partners in the meeting urged me to accept. So I did, after explaining I had to stop at home to change out of my suit first (did I mention the fact that we are having the hottest most sultry summer ever here in New York?). I rushed through a few urgent tasks and left the office by 5 or 530. It was so liberating and foreign that I felt light headed and almost dizzy. Then I realized that was the lack of food and need for more caffeine.

I scarfed down a bag of rice cake snacks and a Dr Pepper and faced a sartorial dilemma: how casually does one dress for a Yankees game with clients on a Friday night? Ugh! I knew they were casual. They had returned to the office Friday afternoon in jeans and commented "we've shown you we own suits" so theoretically they wouldn't care, right? But any old shorts and a t-shirt didn't seem right so I agonized a bit and finally settled on a loose navy blouse and plaid shorts paired with my Yankees hat as a compromise. I swigged down a couple of Excedrin with the last of my DP and was off. Somewhat reluctantly despite the fact that I was looking forward to attending my first game at the new stadium.

I arrived just after the start of the first inning to a row of five South Africans wearing brand new matching Yankees hats. I was greeted immediately with my first baseball trivia question of the night: "what's a DH?" That question was swiftly followed with an almost constant barrage of

"what's an ERA"
"how many pitchers on a team?"
"you realize the 'World Series' doesn't really involve the world, right?"
"what's that white line on the pitcher's mound?"
"can you explain top of the inning?"
"what about a DL, what is that?"
"what is the difference between the National League and the American League?"
"how many points per base?"
"wait, isn't .300 really bad?"
"how are the bats made?"
"Are any of the Yankees actually American?"
"where is the woman who is singing?"
"35! That guy is old! Is that the average age?"
"can we trade our hats for Red Sox hats now?"
"what's 'Got Rings?'"
"How many rings do the Yankees have?"
"Is that an error?"
"What's an RBI?"
"Can you explain RBI again?"
"How much do these guys get paid?"

And on and on and on. Yes, it was like accompanying five 4-year olds to a game. Five very important 4-year olds who must be catered to. Except that it was fun. Despite the baseball inquisition, I had a really great time. At the end of the night I told them they have squeezed every drop of random baseball knowledge and trivia out of me and then some. What I didn't tell them is that they are very lucky that I am the type of girl who likes sports! There were definitely times when I was punting (forgive the pun) and afraid any of the real Yankees fans seated around me were going to snicker at my response or call me out on my BS but mostly I was wanting anyone more knowledgeable than me to jump in. In fact, when I was stumped by the "DL" acronym at one point I turned to someone seated nearby and asked. They were all decked out in Yankees gear and seemed to know what was what. Except for DL. From the context (which was often difficult to get since there are many, many flashing screens and scoreboards in the fancy new stadium), I was assuming the player referenced had been injured but in my head "injured reserve" is the term and not "disabled list." I'm much more of a basketball person than a baseball person. But all those years of obsessing over baseball in my junior high years as well as a Sports in American History class in college (that was essentially a Baseball in American History class with lots of baseball statistics obsessed boys) paid off and I think I gave at least adequate responses to all of their questions.

Another favorite moment from the game is when they asked me to order for them at the concession stand. I've mentioned previously here, I find the South African accent one of the most difficult English accents to recognize and to adjust one's ear to comprehending. I blame the Dutch influence. Anyway, I think they were encountering the language barrier (despite everyone speaking the same language) and chose to shuttle their orders through me for hot dogs, fries, beers and whatnots. They also found the new custom of posting calories next to the concession items both fascinating and alarming. Of course, they were not alone in being alarmed. A hot dog is the most healthy choice on the menu.

In the end it was a great way to de-stress after a long stretch of incredibly intense days and nights and after sleeping in until 1130 on Saturday (!!), going for a run and de-toxing my kitchen by literally throwing everything away, I was able to head back into the office Sunday (despite the parade booming on the avenue below my window) and feel a little less anxious about how everything is going to get done.


Mary said...

What a cool class to take in college! Thankfully it paid off. That really is so funny about the concession stand too.

I was an obsessed St Louis Cardinals fan in high school (listening to afternoon games during Biology class) but so far have not been called upon to share my knowledge of their lineup in the 90s.

Tiffany said...

I'm so glad you got to go do something fun, even though it was still work! (Also glad you're finding time to write!)

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