Still Crazy After All These Days

Yeah, I’m still here: It has taken a few not-so-subtle nudges from friends to get me to grind out another post. After dragging my feet for months, I am finally forced to migrate over to the new blogger tool. I hate being the first on any new OS or application, preferring to let others to beat their heads against the wall of new bugs and quirks, and wait for a few critical patches to be released. In any case, I no longer have a choice, so here I am, using the new blogger. Woo-hoo.

For a self-proclaimed techno-geek, this may seem surprising. I grudgingly force myself to use Word XP (Word 7 was the last stable version, as far as I’m concerned, and I know a few renegades out there who still mourn the demise of version 6.0). As each new version adds more useless bells and whistles, I grind my teeth and search for the 27 places to turn off all the automation and wrench formatting and design control back into my hands. You won’t find me lining up for the first versions of Hebrew-enabled Vista, or for the latest upgrade of just about any tool. If the darn thing works and does what you need, offer up a small prayer and keep using it.

It’s been a busy week: On Monday I bid a fond farewell to a group of engineers at a client site in the center of the country. While I will continue to work with some of them in on-going classes, most of them will take what they learned in the course and try to apply it to their daily work. This was a very fun group: smart, challenging, and happy to participate. They giggled at my jokes, asked great questions, and (some) even did their homework. I honestly enjoy working with them, though I don’t realize until after I leave that I’ve misplaced my police whistle (an essential training tool!) in the classroom.

And it’s not all giggles. What many people don’t realize is that a three-hour training session is really a full day of work for me. To get there, I leave the house at 6:30, drive to Akko, catch a train to Tel Aviv, take a taxi to the client site, set up, teach until 12:30, head back to the train station, and, if I make the connections, get home around 16:00. “Oh, you’re so lucky,” someone once said. “You just work a few hours a day.” Uh, right. Sometimes it takes weeks to put together material for a new course. And no, I don’t get paid for those hours or for the travel time.

But I’m not complaining. Despite the occasional difficult client, I love the challenge and variety that comes with being a consultant and trainer.

Kan you read this? TCeurope, an umbrella organization of technical communication societies in Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK, sends out their monthly newsletter. The German influence shows when I am instructed to “klick on the following link”… Indeed.

Nassinu: There is the joke about someone reading through the bill at a restaurant and discovering an item “hitzlachnu” (we succeeded).

“What’s this?” he asks the waiter.
“Ah,” says the waiter sadly, crossing out the item, “lo hitzlachnu” (we didn’t succeed.

It seems to be the way a lot of businesses work. My accountant sends me a letter telling me that they want me to pay 3% of the war damages money that I got. I ignored it. Today, someone from the accountant’s office calls to ask if I got the letter and if I am planning on paying.

“Nope!” I reply quite cheerfully. “I pay you guys a hefty monthly retainer for all services, and you can’t retroactively introduce a new fee. Not paying.”
“OK, no problem,” was the answer. In other words, “nassinu” (we tried).

Anglo-saxim (i.e., those of us who originated in English-speaking countries) are known for being “fryers” (suckers) because we tend to pay our bills on time. I hate developing such an antagonistic attitude, but it is the only way to maintain some sanity.

Chalk one up for the good guys: Gill demands that the new security devices be installed properly. He doesn’t let up until the guys come back and spend several hours fixing everything. Nadine retires to the bed and refuses to emerge for five hours.

A difficult ride: The long shlepp down and back on the train is made more challenging by a people who are either unfamiliar with soap and deodorant, or who seem to think that if one quirt of perfume is good, then ten is even better. I change seats several times to escape first a guy who smells like a goat, then a woman doused in something cloying, and then an elderly man who has apparently bathed in some very 1960s musk. I should remember to bring my gas mask next time.

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