(Warning: Major Spoiler Alert towards the end re: Dan Brown’s “Origin”)
Lately, I feel like I am being driven slowly insane by a continuous game of Consumer Roulette—not in my personal life for once, where I expect chaos, but in the orderly, well-oiled machine of my job, which I have worked very hard to forge into said orderly, well-oiled machine. Although I work in a very large organization, I run a one-woman shop within it, and I like things ship-shape: My deadlines met, my e-mails returned, and my promises delivered on. But my credo of “Deliver the Goods” has been challenged lately due to what appears to be a complete breakdown of the office supply store social contract. You see, I recently took on something of an extra-curricular project that requires a large number of photo frames. My strategy was to order a few frames in different styles and finishes, and decide which one would work best before placing the large order. Upon unpacking the first delivery from Anonymous Gargantuan Office Supply Store, I was puzzled to find a solid block of wood accompanied by a flimsy sheet of laminate and some dodgy-looking “wood tacks.” Upon inspecting it further, it turned out to be what I can only define as a mounting block—a far cry from the picture frame that I was certain I ordered. I placed a second order for what I also thought was a picture frame, and received yet another mounting block, although this time they did honor my request for mahogany wood.
Upon the third order, it was clear they weren’t even trying anymore—they sent me a glass display box with a white painted frame, which was decidedly not the walnut wood picture frame that I had actually placed the order for. I finally hopped on with Customer Support live chat, and found myself desperately trying to explain to the poor person on the other end that I needed a picture frame, for an 8x10 photo, one where you slide the little velvet-covered back off and put the picture in it and put the velvet thing back on--you know, like what you would put your kid’s pictures in? That was maddeningly unproductive. I politely disconnected and slumped at my desk, head in hands. Words used to have meaning. I don’t know what is going on with AGOSS, but I suspect it probably got too hard to locate the actual products I was ordering, so they just starting throwing similar-ish things into boxes, figuring they were “close enough.” They’re not close enough, AGOSS. They’re not. I am now waiting on yet another frame, which is, you guessed it, on backorder.
The other thing I am having trouble with is paper. I run an event for work every year, which is the functional equivalent of putting on a wedding, and I have to start the planning a minimum of eight months out. Everyone thinks I’m crazy, but here’s just one example of why I need eight months lead time: For next year’s event, I need a certain grade and shade of fancy paper for the program inserts. I am a bit of a paper snob, and I don’t want to use cheap colored copy paper. Details are important to me, and I take pride in having beautiful programs. After an extensive and disappointing search across not one, but two AGOSS’s, several art stores, as well as a general internet search, I finally found a product that met my criteria. When I went to place the order, I was crestfallen to find that it had been discontinued. After going back to the drawing board for yet another maddening round of Find the Paper, I came across something not as good, but workable. And of course, it’s backordered. I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to be straight-up discontinued, though. I’ve started to feel like Patty Simcox in “Grease” when she screams “I don’t know what’s happening!” Meanwhile, the non-event planners in my life just shrug and say “What are you so worried about? It’s, like, four months away,” while I am struck with event-planner panic at the thought that it’s four months away--and I still don't have program insert paper!
My office products aren’t the only thing on backorder—so is my sense of personal ambition. With darkness falling at 4:15 in the afternoon these days, getting dressed on the weekends seems like a foolish waste of energy, and spending four hours in the evenings curled up on the couch reading a middling novel feels like a perfectly legitimate use of time. In case you’re wondering what the middling novel I refer to is, it’s “Origin” by Dan Brown. MAJOR SPOILER ALERT:
The Artificial Intelligence did it. All of it. The assassination, the framing, the murders, the set-ups, the lies. And he didn’t feel the least bad about it, either. AI wasn’t one of those things I had the emotional bandwidth to worry much about before I read this novel, but now I am legit terrified of it. Thanks, Dan Brown!
I don’t know about you, but I could use a good old fashioned dance party about now: