It’s Thanksgiving week! More importantly (in my family), my amazing grandmother will be turning 100 years-young (really, at that age you can’t say “years-old” because it is just mean. It’s like elder abuse! She’s 100, that is old. We get it, she gets it. Let’s agree to just leave out “old” from the description, okay?!) … wow. I can’t wait to mark this milestone with her. Last week I sat down with her and asked her to give me her best bits of life advice, which were equal parts hilarious and helpful. I planned to share them this week on the blog in honor of her birthday, but when she learned my blog posts are also on Facebook she was horrified and said I was not in any way allowed to share. Huh? Turns out she considers things written on Facebook akin to things written on a bathroom stall in a gas station (which, as my friend Elizabeth pointed out, is pretty accurate) and she does not want her personal thoughts shared in such a place. She sure told me. Not to fear, my mom and I plan to try and convince her to change her mind over the next few days. Fingers crossed because there are some brilliant bits of insight from her 100 years. I’ll keep you posted.
So with my planned blog topic having been given a metaphorical middle finger by my 100 years-young grandmother, I figured today would be a good time to introduce you to a new blog character, Captain EO*. You will be reading more about Captain EO, a former boss of mine, in upcoming posts that I have planned. To get us started and as a means of introduction, today I will give you a taste of what is to come as I recall a tale from a Thanksgiving past where Captain EO, as was his personality, inserted himself into my holiday. It went something like this…
Captain EO Dumps On My Thanksgiving
It was early morning on Thanksgiving. I was exhausted, my family was pissed at me. I was also pretty sure my dog Beulah had peed on the bathroom rug because I somewhat recalled hearing her make sounds to go out around midnight but I was too tired to move. Come to think of it, it may have been a dream. I had been working 12+ hour days with no weekends off for two weeks straight as we prepared for a new product launch. You see, my time was not mine. Because he employed me Captain EO also assumed he owned me. That’s how employment works in America, right?
At any rate, while I was still at work the previous night around 11 p.m. I called my parents and informed them that I would not be making the 6 hour drive from Los Angeles to the San Jose area the next morning and would have to miss the holiday. I was simply too tired to get behind the wheel of my car. I would be staying in West Hollywood, alone with my cat and dog and the lone Boca burger that lived in my freezer and probably should have been thrown out seven months prior.
Suddenly my phone started ringing (It was a Blackberry, actually… I hate to date myself but this was more than a few years back). I assumed it was my parents checking to see if I had changed my mind or maybe to let me know they found me a flight out of Ontario (that’s near LA, right?) with standing room only. I looked at the clock and shuddered when I saw it read 6 a.m. Even Beulah groaned in disgust from her side of the bed. I put a pillow over my head and tried to go back to sleep.
No such luck! Next thing I knew my home phone (also known as a “landline.” Remember those things?) started to shrill. I reached for a second pillow. A few minutes later BOTH PHONES STARTED RINGING. At the same time. I had one guess who it could be. I knew that no good would come from me ignoring the calls so I mustered all my energy to answer the phone.
“Good morning Captain EO, Happy Thanksgiving!” I said in a voice so sweet it made me even sick.
“Why did it take you so long to answer the phone? Today is Thursday, it isn’t the weekend. You are on the clock today,” he said… but to truly know Captain EO you have to understand his cadence. He speaks quickly and loudly, so if I tried to write they way he spoke it would be more like this: “WHYDIDITTAKEYOUSOLONGTOANSWERTHEPHONE? TODAYISTHURSDAYITISN’TTHEWEEKEND. YOUAREONTHECLOCKTODAY!”
“It’s Thanksgiving. A holiday. A day off,” I tried to explain but he was already talking over me.
“I was just reading a fishing magazine and I was thinking, I really like to fish and I am known for my outdoor activity. Like I’m adventurous. So anyhow, why have you not gotten me into any fishing magazines? Like this guy on the cover, who is he? Wouldn’t people rather see me fishing?” he asked. (Note: Captain EO was semi-famous in his niche of business, which had nothing to do with fishing, and I was his and his company’s publicist.)
“Captain…” I began but was immediately cut off.
“Here, my buddy is here with me and he thinks I should be on the cover,” he scream-spoke.
“Yeah, I’d rather buy a magazine with Captain EO on the cover than this guy who won some international fly fishing competition. This dude has won it the past five years. He’s old news,” said a new voice who I could only assume was his “buddy.” I heard rustling as the phone was passed back to the Captain.
“So, I mean… let’s make a plan, man. Like, tell me what you are going to do to get me in the magazine.” (Did I mention that Captain EO spoke like a pre-pubescent adolescent at a skate park?)
“Listen, Captain EO. Three things I have to say: The widgets* you make, as of right now, have nothing to do with fishing so I would need to work on an angle before I could contact the magazine. Do you plan to make some fishing widgets that we can tie into a pitch? Are your widgets related to fishing in some way that I don’t know about? Secondly, it is 6 a.m. Six-frigging-a-m. And finally, today is Thanksgiving. A holiday and a national holiday at that. Most people are with their families, something I can’t do because you had me working all night last night while you flew to New York to see your buddy who, apparently, has it out for the national fly fishing champion.” I was exhausted and done with this conversation at this point.
“Come on, man… you listen to me,” he said, and I knew I had crossed the line. “It’s not 6 a.m. for me, I am in New York so it is 9 a.m. here. Second, I am not American so this isn’t a holiday as far as I am concerned and lastly, if I have to make a damn fishing widget to get in the magazine than I will. Okay?”
“Okay,” I relented. “Why don’t you have your designers get started on that fishing widget and when I get something from them in my hands that I can share with the magazine editors than I will start the media outreach.”
“Perfect,” he said, his anger of only 30 seconds prior now long forgotten. “I really hate how you make everything so difficult.” (By the way, I never saw designs for a fishing widget. I did check in on the project about a week later and he said, and I quote, that it was “a lame idea” and he had moved past it.)
I sighed. I just wanted to get off the phone. “Sorry, Captain EO. I wasn’t fully awake.” At this point Beulah got off the bed and walked out of the room, horrified by my behavior. Great, even my dog thought I was being a pushover.
“Fine, whatever, just pull it together, okay?” he always had to get the last word in.
“I will, sorry.”
“Make sure you are in a better mood tomorrow,” he said.
“Oka – what? Tomorrow is STILL a day off!” I screamed. But he had already hung up.
Lesson learned: No matter how many pillows you need to stack upon your head, don’t answer your phone at 6am on your day off. And don’t assume that everyone you are in contact with will honor the work-life balance that most of us take for granted on Thanksgiving.
That’s all for today. More Captain EO stories to come. And HAPPY TURKEY DAY – well, to those of you who celebrate this holiday. Another thing I learned from Captain EO is that we don’t all break bread on the fourth Thursday in November here in America… just some of us.
- *Captain EO is not a real captain and bears no similarity to the ultimate “Captain EO,” the character portrayed by the late, great Michael Jackson (I wish my Captain EO was one in the same!). Captain EO is a conglomeration of some of my former employers (bosses, supervisors, etc.), both male and female. I will not name names. And you can’t sue (I already consulted a lawyer because some of these stories may get juicy!) me because everything I will write about Captain EO will be true.
- *Widgets is the pretend industry in which the Captain works. I will say no more about this.