Friday, February 3, 2017

The Survey

The graduate school professors would distribute two performance surveys per class, one in the middle of the course and another at the end.  The questionnaires' purpose was to determine the professors' performance and the students' take on the quality of the class.  The common practice was for the professors to take the surveys and review it on their own and with their superiors, taking praise or adjusting their work accordingly.

As I took the survey, I poured all of my frustrations on paper, stating that the professor takes her shoes off in class, exposing her Timberland socks, and puts her feet on the desk as she lectures.  I wrote that she eats, be it her lunch or a snack, while she is speaking during class.  I stated that she treats the classroom like her own private and personal living room and that she has no respect for the teaching environment.  I wrote that her behavior is distracting and unprofessional and disrespectful.  It felt good to be able to release all of the frustrations that had been building up in my chest throughout the duration of this particular class.  I was happy that finally someone will tell this professor to be professional and stand up in front of class and talk instead of almost laying down on her back and talking like we are at a slumber party.

I so desperately wanted to suggest for her to get a new haircut, point out the dire need for her to dye her gray hair and to update her wardrobe from 1965.  Even though these issues were distracting and frankly disturbing for me personally, I had to remind myself that this is not a fashion survey.  I figured that not only it could not be argued that these fashion disasters affected her teaching or the class, but also it was very unlikely that the extremely liberal graduate school in Psychology in Washington State would give a hoot about these things, most likely finding them not only insignificant but insulting.  And I surely did not want to be insulting!  

The next day in class I learned that this particular teacher's procedure is to read all of the surveys out loud in class and discuss the feedback with the students.  As she was reading my comments with a smirk, her tone was mocking.  All of the other students in class mimicked her response with a high and mighty air.  They all defended the teacher and every single person in the classroom knew who the writer of those comments was.  As I sat there quietly and wishing for a giant hole in the ground to suck me down, I was in disbelief and utter shock that I was the only person there who was bothered by this professor's style.

I finished that class in misery.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

An immigrant in first grade

When I was seven years old, my parents decided that my mom and I would go to America and visit my sister and brother who where living there.  The three of us could not visit America together because an entire family would not be granted a visa due to risk of never returning home.  This way we would surely return since we could not leave my dad behind for good.  So we went on our trip which ended up lasting one year!
As I was school aged, I was enrolled in first grade in America.  Even though I had gone through first grade in Iran, my family decided that it was best for me to start fresh in America (a decision that set me back one year in my life).  I did not speak any English, I had no background in the American school culture.  At that time in America, immigration and children who did not speak English were not common so schools did not have any programs such as ESL.  Also, teachers were not trained in working with such kids if any came across their classes.  I was enrolled and attended school just like any other American child with no special assistance or consideration for my situation.  I went through the motions in school every day not understanding the lessons, the instructions, the homework and basically what anybody was saying.
I remember my classroom, I remember my cubby, the stationary that I was given such as brand new shiny number two pencils.  I remember the outside grass area and the playground, the bars that I did gymnastic moves on.  I remember having no friends.  But there are two things that I remember most vividly.
First of the two vivid memories is of two girls, friends who were always together, a blond with straight hair and a brunette with wavy hair.  Every so often the two of them would approach me, the blond would stand inches away facing me, looking down into my eyes (she was a few inches taller than me) and aggressively moving her index finger in and out of my face, intensely saying things loudly.  I did not understand what she was saying but I knew that they were mean words.  The brunette would stand behind or next to her friend and watch.
Second of the two vivid memories is of a day that I had not completed an assignment that the teacher had given.  One day I came to school in the morning that noticed that each student had brought in a large house made of cardboard.  Apparently this was an assignment that I had missed because I did not speak the language that the teacher was speaking.  There was a lot of excitement between the kids regarding their houses and the prize they were going to receive for completing it.  My feelings however were shame and fear for not completing the assignment.  Each student who made a cardboard house (all of the students in class) received a large red gummy cinnamon candy shaped like a bear.  Naturally I did not receive one.  Later in the day I saw one of those candies lying on the ground and thought about picking it up, but pride stopped me from doing it.

By the end of that year I understood and spoke English fluently as if I had been raised in America.  When we went back to Iran I was enrolled in and attended second grade.  My second grade teacher in Iran asked for a meeting with my parents in which she asked them to stop speaking to me in English at home (for practice), because my Farsi had developed an accent and she was afraid that the other children may make fun of me.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Golden Age Thinking

Have you seen Woody Allen's movie called "Midnight in Paris"? Well if you have, then you know me well, because I am Gil… Gil is me.  Just like Gil, I also want to live in the past, I too do not like the present and wish that I was born at a different time.  At a time in the past, long long ago, before cell phones, before computers, maybe even before airplanes and cars.  I wish that I lived during simpler times when life was easier and well perhaps happier.  A time when things moved slower, much much slower… slower and simpler.  My logic is complicated.

I always considered myself a progressive and independent woman, one who broke glass ceilings.  I seeked and completed a higher education, have independently made bold decisions, have held high and low level jobs, have traveled to many countries, have educated myself on multiple topics such as history, politics, sociology, etc.  And finally, in my life, I have confidently and without regret broken many of my culture's expectations and rules for women.

After years of being a woman of today, for reasons unknown to myself I have come to a place in my life where I crave simplicity, tradition and culture.  I slowly came to wish that I lived in a time when people's roles were pre determined and choices were limited. I wish that I did not know better and my knowledge was limited.  The simple time when women were expected to get married young, be protected by their men and have a family.  The time when women were not involved in the worlds of politics, finances and employment.  I realize that this confession will rise fierce anger and judgment against me from the feminists and progressive friends, but all I ask is to be heard and not judged.

I feel that if I did not know about politics, I would not be so angry.  If I did not know about art and culture and cinema, I did not feel the urgency to see and learn it all.  If I did not have the option for a career, I would not be judged for not having one.  I feel that life would be simple, no decisions to make, no glass ceiling to break.  I feel that if my world and my mind consisted of housework and child rearing, my life would be simple and slow, no decisions to make, no choices to ponder, no ambition to be concerned about … and yet more content?

At the end of Allen's movie, Gil realizes that he has been wrong about living in the past because the past does not have Novocain or Antibiotics and he realizes that life in the past would eventually become difficult and dull for him just as the present.  And as for me, I think what if I did live in the past but did not have the ignorance that I wish for? What if I am in the past with the current knowledge and thirst to learn and experience and explore? In the past, with no freedom and independence for women, an active and bright mind would live a hellish life in prison.

Who knows?…


Thursday, March 26, 2015

A magical night in Venice

It had been a full day of exploring the sights, eating calzones, taking photographs of picturesque corners, taking a boat ride through the Grand Canal and buying classic masquerade masks.  I was tired and my feet hurt and my face was no longer fit to be in photographs after being in the warm sun for so long.  We were at a fairly quiet street corner where I found some steps to sit on and take a moment to rest.  As I got up to continue my walk through this fabulously gorgeous town, I came across a modest church.  It's small door was open and there sat a small table outside which held flayers for a show tonight, it was an Opera.  This was unexpected! The two young people sitting at the table spoke English and were able to answer my questions: Is this a formal event? No.  Are there seats left? Of course! Price? Inexpensive! When does it start? In about half a hour.  Wow! I never thought going to an Opera in Venice, Italy could be this simple!  Two tickets please!
As we entered the church, I noticed a difference between this church and the other ones that I and all the other travelers toured and took pictures of.  This church did not have elaborate golden altars or sculptures made by Michelangelo or seven story ceilings.  This church was a simple one, it felt cozy and comfortable and friendly with plain walls and wide stair cases.  It did not show off any collectibles or fancy memorabilia.  We casually made a line inside the entrance to wait for the hall doors to open, there were no seat numbers, this Opera show seemed to be very low key.  I could see through the doors that the sun was slowly setting and the day was turning in to dusk.  The doors opened and we entered a large simple hall.  It had a high ceiling with large old wooden windows and painted glass.  The walls were white and bare and the wood floors creaked.  There was no platform or stage for the performance; folding chairs were set up facing the front of the hall, wedding style.  I'm not sure if it was the causal air of the arena or the type of people who chose to go to this event, but whatever it was, it had made the audience highly friendly and kind to one another.  There was a very heavy civilized, smiley, courteous air all around and everyone was happy with the seats they received.  
The Opera was performed on the floor, at the same level of the audience in the front of the hall and at times in the middle of the row between audiences.  The actors/singers were in full costume but minimal make up, it was mostly singing and less acting.  It felt like we were a very large family having an entertaining evening together.  Although I could not understand the Italian language, I could feel all the different emotions portrayed by the performers; maybe it was their close proximity to me, or their great talent but it truly was one of the most enjoyable Operas I have ever been to.
The large wooden windows were open and the fresh night air made it's way into the building, as well as the sound of the narrow street outside and a few passerbys; this made the show even more alluring and romantic.  This casual and down to earth show was shocking to my expectation of a fancy, elaborate and dressed up Italian Operas! 
Then something amazing happened: it started raining! It was one of, if not the first rain fall of the beginning of autumn.  The wonderful smell of earth was raised from the cobble stone streets by the falling rain drops and made it's way into the church hall and into our little show.  The beautiful sound of falling rain was mixed in with the wonderful sound of the music, making it seem like it was coming from heaven.  The smell, the sounds and the feelings at that very moment in time, in that very spot, in that old simple church, amongst those friendly strangers was pure Magic
When the Opera ended and we left the church, the rain had stopped and we were left with the fresh smell of fall's first rain and the sparkle of Venice's narrow alleys.  It was back to being a beautiful moonlit night.
That night, unexpectedly, I had a little taste of magic at a small Opera performance in a simple old church in Venice.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My guide for the first time traveler to Paris

So you have decided to go to Paris! Good for you :) 
Here is a list of some things you need to know 

Pre-Planning 

Make sure you have a valid and current passport (it could take up to 6 months to get one).

Make sure to do diligent research on when it is the best time to go. You do not want to hit any holidays where things are closed or it is too crowded. Also check to see how the weather is because that is important. I like to travel in September because school is open so there are less tourists (less lines) and the weather is usually perfect. 

Do as much research as possible before going or making any reservations (sights to see, weather, money, language, etc.). Good sites are lonelyplanet.com, Travelocity.com. I always buy travel books (i.e. Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, etc.) and read before I go and take them with me. They have good information.

I recommend 5 days for Paris, which includes going to the Palace of Versaille (which is out of town).

Flight 

Check tickets on the cheap sights (i.e. cheaptickets.com, expedia.com, etc.), but go and compare prices with the actual airline site. If it is the same, buy from the airline. Try not to have any stops (they are a pain), but if there is a layover, make sure that you have enough time between flights. I usually get my tickets from Expedia.com and I prefer to arrive at my destination in the morning. 

Hotel

I have had great experiences booking my hotels through expedia.com. First, chose your area, how many stars you want the hotel to have and price range, then search. Read all the reviews from other people, they are usually right on! I usually chose 4 star hotels (Europe’s standards are a bit lower than the US) and the area is my most important category. Rooms will be very small so do not be shocked. They are very simple hotels, but clean and nice. I recommend staying in the area around the Louvre museum, it is very centralized and walking distance to a lot of sights.

Before you go 

Call your credit card company and bank and let them know where you are going and when you will be there. They will make a note of it and when they see you spending $ there, they will not put a hold on anything due to suspicious activity. I recommend taking your debit card and one credit card. The money exchange stations are usually a rip off. I recommend taking cash out of cash machines when you get there. Use credit card when possible because the rates are usually the best.

Call your cell phone company and let them know you will be traveling. If you’d like to use your cell phone there, then ask them about the different international packages they have. If you do not want to use your phone, I recommend not shutting everything off and still having it with you in case of emergency. But I usually tell them to shut off the ability to receive or send text (it is very expensive and you can’t control other people texting you) as well as data.

You do not want to have any concerns about your comfort when you are sightseeing. So take comfortable shoes and comfortable clothes (you will need layers for September in Paris). Take a comfortable and light bag or back pack (I like small ones that go across the shoulder) for everyday use. Take one or two nice outfits for a couple night outs too ;). Do not over pack.

Take a good camera for pictures. Paris is the most beautiful city in the world so you will want to capture many moments. Make sure that you have extra batteries, chargers, room in the memory card, etc. The last thing you want is problems with your camera while you are faced with a breathtaking image. I care about the quality of my pictures so I lug around a large and heavy camera, but if you’d like to stay comfortable, take a light small one.

Take an electric converter (you can buy them at Best Buy) with you in order to be able to use the European outlets to charge your electronics (and use your flat iron!). If you do not have one, they may have some extra ones at your hotel, ask the front desk.

Make sure you have the address for your hotel printed with you to give to the cab driver at the airport.

When you get there 

Jet lag is a big bummer. Adjust your time to the local time as soon as you get on the plane. For example, if it is night time in Paris at the time, sleep on the plane or if it is day time in Paris, stay up on the plane. What works for me is a couple hours of nap in the afternoon on the first day (sometimes for the first couple days). Make sure you get enough sleep at nights to have energy to sight see during the days.

Make friends with your hotel concierge (you will have a good one if you have a 4 star hotel), they can be a very useful resource to have. You can ask them for maps, suggestions, ideas, information, etc. They can even book tickets for you.

Take little snacks (i.e. bars) with you when you go sightseeing. You do not want any annoying distractions such as hunger to dampen your time.

Some Sights 

I recommend using the Double Decker Hop on Hop off Tour bus for sightseeing. It takes you to all the major sights and they tell you interesting information about what you are seeing (either a live guide person or through headphones). The bus stops at each site where you can hop off, go see the sight for as long as you want and come back to the stop and catch another bus which goes through the same rout. Usually a bus comes through every 20 minutes. Even though they may be different buses, but the rout and the explanations are exactly the same. Buy tickets (you can buy them at the hotel) for two or three days so you don’t feel rushed and can hop off at any stop you want any time. My husband likes to sit in the bus for the entire rout once and see all the sights first and then decide which one we’d hop off next time. Usually an entire rout is about 2 hours.

The Louvre is very large, you could spend days in there if you want to see everything. Study the guide before and decide which parts you want to see and go straight to those, depending on how much time (or energy) you have. Note: If you are there on a Sunday, know that most things are closed except for the Louvre.

The Eiffel Tower is located next to a grassy field where you can lounge around and take in the sight. If you like to go to the top, be prepared for a long line and wind. I prefer to see the city from above from the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur where it is prettier and free and no lines.

Basilica de Sacre-Coeur is a beautiful gothic style church sitting on top of a hill in Paris. You climb up on stairs and you get to the basilica and turn around and you will see the city of Paris before you. The basilica is located in the Montmarte area in Paris which is the area of the artists. You will find lots of little shops and cafes and many many tourists in that area. Go behind the church and take a walk around the old neighborhood, less tourists find their way there and you will feel like you are in an old French movie.

The Opera house in Paris is beautiful. If you are a fan of Opera or even “Phantom of the Opera” it is worth checking it out (there really was a body of water under the building!). September is off season for Opera but you can always get a tour of the historic building and see the famous chandelier!

If you are interested to see where the French kings were crowned or if you have read the book “Hunch back of Notre Dame”, then you can go see the Notre Dame. It is a beautiful gothic style church.

I definitely recommend spending one evening at the Moulon Rouge! You can make reservations and buy tickets through your concierge. It is a two hour fantastic dance show accompanied by dinner (one of the best dinners I have ever had in my life!). Don’t be taken back by the topless dancers, that is how it has been done for years, it’s art :)  The place gets packed so you will be sharing your table with strangers. Be friendly and make friends :)

Palace of Versaille is a must see. It is located just outside of town and there are some tours that will charge you a bundle to take you there. But you can also take the public train on your own, it’s super easy, just ask your concierge. I recommend scheduling at least ½ a day for it. I also recommend reading up on the history of the place before going, it makes it more enjoyable.

Recommended walk 

Start from the grand arch outside of the Louvre and go through the beautiful and romantic Jardin de Tuileries park all the way until it ends (stop and marvel at the sculptures throughout the park). You will then be at the most magnificent and historic intersection (consult your travel guide to know about the history). Continue down on Chaps-Elisees Boulevard through the famous shops and restaurants. At the end of the boulevard you will come to Arc de Triomph. Stand under the arch and not only will you be in the center of the largest roundabout in the world, but you will be on top of a hill with a gorgeous view of the city around you.

Food 

Paris has some of the best food in the world. Make sure to ask your concierge or use your guidebook to find good restaurants to eat at. I recommend having a good breakfast (in Paris it is always French bread with butter and jam, croissant, orange juice and coffee). Have a light lunch at a casual café or the street food stands between sightseeing and then have a great dinner at a nice restaurant at night. I usually like to come back to my hotel room after sightseeing, shower and change and go out to dinner. Remember that eating is a process for the French, they sit and enjoy many courses for hours while drinking and smoking and talking and laughing. Try to get out of your rush rush American mentality and join the relaxed Parisians in this experience.

Try snails, they are not that bad!

The French drink Cafes, which is like espresso.  If you would like a latte, then you have to ask for a café latte. If you just say Latte, they will bring you milk.

French Onion Soup is just called “Onion Soup” in France! :)

Other hints 

Customer service is very different everywhere outside of America, so bring down your expectations. The waiters will not be checking on you every 5 minutes with a fake smile on their face. Call them over to your table if you need them.

Consult your guide book about tipping in restaurants and cabs.

Most people in the service business speak fluent English and all menus and guides have English translations. So you probably will not need a dictionary to be able to communicate with others, but take a small one if it makes you feel safer :)

American tourists are known to be loud and obnoxious. Let’s help end that stereotype!

The Euro’s value is much higher than the Dollar so shopping will be expensive, but I recommend buying at least one nice thing to keep as a momentum of Paris. High end designer items will be less expensive in Europe than in the US because you do not pay taxes. Also it is good to know that they are from the latest collection and have not made it to the US yet!

Final thought

Lastly but definitely not least (and my favorite part of Paris), the best sight in Paris is her streets, buildings, cafes, people, etc. Just walk around the city through her narrow coble stone alleys and you never know what will come your way (a small antique shop, a cute boutique, a local bakery, etc.). Just look up and enjoy the elegant balconies on all the buildings and the lamps in the streets. Sit at a café and people watch! The people of Paris are cool and elegant and you can watch them for hours. Just accept that there will be cigarette smoke everywhere you go, so don’t let it bother you. Maybe even join in and have a cigarette with your wine or café! Why not? You are in Paris!

 I hope that this guide is helpful to you. Enjoy your time in the city of lights! ~ Shabnam ~

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Street

When I was a little girl I did not have any siblings to play with at home, the household consisted of me, my mom & my dad. Most of my cousins were a few years older than me and the contact we had with the ones who were closer to my age was infrequent. So I had to entertain myself throughout the days that I did not have school, especially since TV at that time consisted of 2 channels, and the kids’ program was one hour per day.
So I played house with my dolls where I (the mom) would hold my doll’s (the daughter) hand and go shopping throughout the house. I played with my Barbies where I would build a house for them (with pens & pencils on the floor of my room) and go through a day in their life with them. I would spend hours drawing and coloring, creating houses, villages and people on paper. These activities took a large amount of my time, but during the three months of summer with no school and no planned activities I was still left with time to spare. I was also left with the need and desire to socialize with other children my own age. To fill that void I turned to the neighborhood girls who were my age.
We lived on a quiet, small, dead end street where everybody knew their neighbors, so playing in the street was as safe as playing in your own back yard. Therefore, every summer day we would plan to meet in the street to play, talk, scheme, laugh and have a blast together. The neighborhood girls and I became playmates and friends throughout many many summers, as some of us (including me) had been living in our homes since our birth!
Going out to the street to play was the high light of my summer days and I looked forward to it all day. We were allowed to go play in the street mostly in the evenings after the heat had subsided. Because our parents did not like us to play in the hot Iranian sun or to disturb the neighbors’ afternoon naps! Even though at times we were able to get away and go play during the day, our usual meeting time was around 5:00 in the evening. We would meet in the street and it would take only a couple of us to start talking and playing for the rest to hear the sound of fun and join.
We had a blast in the street where we played all kinds of games, you name it, we played it: Active games like hide & seek, hop skoch and tag; sports like dodge ball, volleyball and badminton; word games (using chalk to write on the ground). We rode bicycles and played with ropes, we used a water hose to cool ourselves down, we would snack on our favorite dried fruit. We had phases of favorite games that we would become obsessed with. At some point we were even very much into calling the other world to talk to ghosts. We even did mischievous activities such as ringing people’s door bells and running away or writing on the walls of people's homes with chalk.
When we became tired and wanted to take a break or at the end of the night we would sit on the hoods of parked cars or the corners of the street and just talk, talk, talk and talk. We would talk about everything and anything and laugh and laugh. The thought of going home did not even occur to us until our moms had to call our names multiple times to go home around 9:00 or 10:00 at night. There was something about sitting under the stars in the hot summer night with the street lights flickering and sharing secrets and laughing that was intoxicating. Sometimes when the moms came out to call us in, they would start talking to each other and that would buy us more time with one another.
We knew every detail and corner of that street, every tree, every dent in the wall and every bump in the ground. That street was our second home and we were not only each other’s friends, but we were each other’s family. The street and the neighborhood girls were a big part of our lives at that time.
We spent many summers in the street with one other, we played all the games ever invented out there, we even invented some of our own. We talked about everything under the sky and had the best time any kid could have. But mostly, we grew up together, we learned about life, we learned about friendship, loyalty, tolerance, kindness and compromise; we even hit puberty and learned about boys together.
My last year of living in that house and going to the street was less about playing and more about talking about the neighborhood boys. It was less about jumping up and down and more about dressing cute and walking around. We used to hang out at the end of our dead end street, but we had moved to mostly hanging out in the front of the street in order to see the neighborhood boys walk by. Times were changing and it was exciting.
One day I had to leave my comfortable, fun and recently exciting environment and move away, never to go back there to play again. It was hard to say good bye to my house, my street and my friends. A big part of my life was suddenly over and I was not ready to say goodbye.
The first time I went back to our street, after four years of being away, we still had and stayed in our old house. Some of the neighborhood girls still lived there and I saw them, but they did not play or hang out in the street any more. The last time I went back to visit our street, after twenty three years, none of the neighbors lived in the street any longer and our house was not ours any more. The street seemed much smaller than I had remembered it and I felt like a stranger in it. Strangers were living in all of the old familiar homes and the cars that were parked in the street were too new and shiny to even think about sitting on their hoods. There were also no children around and no one was playing in the street, there was no sound of laughter or screaming to be heard. All the homes had bars in front of the windows and balconies which made them look like prisons. Had the safety of the neighborhood left with us too? It looked like that street was never again used for fun and play after we had left.
Standing there and looking at our street, at my street, brought back many memories from my childhood. It made me very grateful for those fun times and those great friends that I had. It also made me realize that it was a special bond we, the neighborhood girls, had which was not very common.  I may have grown up with no siblings to play with but I never felt alone, thanks to those girls in my old street.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Office

My Team

There is a woman who sits right outside of my office who has the need to verbalize everything that she does or thinks, either by words or by sound effects. When she is being very productive and her energy is high, she lists the names of the clients that she is working on, the minutes she is keeping track of and the order of the tasks she is working on (out loud). She has different sound effects that she makes for surprise, concerned, confused, etc. (out loud). Recently she has started vocalizing sentences; she recites her notes simultaneously as she types them. The audience is meant to be herself, however since she sits amongst others, does not have a door or an office, the audience end up being the staff sitting around her and I.

There is another woman who sits right outside of my office where her desk is adjacent to my front wall.  This allows her to just roll her chair back one steps and place herself in my doorway. She does not have to get up; just roll back one step and turn and become face to face with me. To her this is such a beautiful convenience where as soon as a hint of a question or a concern or even a wild wonder comes to her mind, she rolls back one step, turns and asks Shabnam. She seems to believe that my job is to sit in my office and wait for her to roll back a step and turn to answer all of her questions, concerns, wonders and sometimes even listen to the expression of her feelings.

There is a guy in my team who is not capable of ending his conversations. He stands in the doorway of my office and gives me information about a case which could have been communicated clearly in no more than three sentences. However, his version goes something like this: " So & so threw a desk in class and was suspended. so, yeah, he got suspended from school. Yeah, I just wanted to let you know that he was suspended. I thought you might want to know, so. So, yeah. Ok, then. Figured I tell you, so you'd know about the suspension". I find myself desperately searching for additional words that are similar and synonymous to "ok", "alright", "sounds good", "FINE!".

There is a man in my team who is a heavy smoker and there are obviously some problems with his mouth/teeth when he speaks. When he comes to supervision in my office, other than the smell of cigarette smoke, I notice that he does not swallow his saliva as regularly as needed when he talks. I find myself swallowing my own saliva twice as much as I need to. I dread any moment that he laughs because drops of the gathered saliva spits out from his mouth. I make sure to remove any food or drinks I may have on my desk away from the guest seats in my office and roll my chair back as far as possible.  At the end of those meetings I find my mouth extremely dry.

The Chart Room

There is a list of alphabets written on the drawers that hold the clients' alphabetically ordered charts, because one of the administrative assistants does not know her alphabets.

There is a girl in the office who checks her mailbox in the chart room and leaves everything that she does not need at that exact moment on the table in front of the boxes and leaves to never come back. We are left with mostly her papers, but sometimes we are left with her empty cup or her cell phone!

The Lunch Room

There is about 20 signs in the small office lunch room asking people to clean up after themselves. Yet, I still find myself having to wipe down the table and throw away used cups and forks before I sit to eat.

Our office has gone through 10-12 policies regarding cleaning the refrigerator. The current policy is that Fridays at 4:30, everything left in the fridge is tossed.

Cabinet doors are left open in the lunch room, half used hot cocoa bags are left on the counter, used sugar packets are on the floor, etc.

The Conference Room

It is hard to fit 35 staff into a conference room with tables in there, so the tables are removed during meetings and chairs are placed classroom style. People reserve their seats by placing a post it with their names on each chair. When they arrive at the meeting to sit, they do not remove the post it. When they leave the meeting, they do not remove the post it. Post its with people's names on them are always floating around on the conference room chairs, floor, tables, etc.

After staff or team meetings end and people leave the conference room, you can always find empty cups, water bottles, scrap papers and scrunched up tissue on the floor.