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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Have Your Cake, And Eat It Too

I have just a couple of days left at work, so I'll leave nothing up to your imagination. You see, something really funny happened today, and I have to tell you about it. (Granted, when you’re in a position like I’m in, and you’re sitting at a desk and observing herds of rich people in the comfort of their own homes for eight hours a day, funny things happen all the time. But this one takes the cake.)

Despite the monsoon that’s materializing outside (and the locks of soaking hair that weld to my face as a result), the day begins like any other day: I’m pounding away at the keyboard, ignoring the jumble of papers that obscure my desk. Every so often, I look up to greet a resident with a murky “Good morning” as he enters the lounge to fill up on fancy coffee and biscotti or tea and honey. When he leaves, I’m compelled check the coffee bar and take inventory of the mess he has made.

A cute, stainless steel mini-trash can sits beautifully on the counter; however, I’ve come to the conclusion that it must not look like a trash can, because people refuse to use it. Instead they toss their Stash tea and Splenda wrappers on the silver platter that holds a milk carafe, a neat stack of to-go cups and lids, and a dainty bowl filled with sugar cubes. Splenda and hot-chocolate powder is sprinkled across the counter along with a mound of used stir-straws (which also fit nicely in the garbage can, if one opts to use it). Biscotti crumbs coat the shiny hardwood floors.

Seeing as I’m the only one around to do anything about this, I do something about it. I snatch a rag from behind the bar and drop to my hands and knees, careful not to run my nylons or tear my skirt or roll an ankle. I’m wearing sky-high pumps, which I’ve learned is no excuse for ignoring a pile of crumbs or garbage in a building like Luxury Condo. (In the past, when I’ve reported messes such as this one, I’ve been told, “Go get the Windex and do it yourself.”)

The good news is that not many people can say their daily duties dip into a multitude of professions. But I can. After ten months at Luxury Condo, I’ve gained valuable experience that has prepared me for each of the following trades:

1. Manager – of anything
Because let’s face it, I’m in charge.

2. Babysitter
Not only do I dress as an elf and decorate cookies with five-year-olds at our Christmas parties, but also I play peek-a-boo regularly – with more than one kid. And I'm pretty good at it.

3. Concierge
Need dinner reservations at a swanky new bistro? Unfortunately, I’m the gal you want to make friends with.

4. Janitor
See “get on hands and knees to clean cookie crumbs” above.

5. Event coordinator
Before I realize the resident handbook clearly states “No More Than Twenty-Five Guests Allowed on the Club Level,” I okay an eighty-person shebang – complete with unlimited booze and a DJ – on our outdoor terrace. Security is an issue, and my job is up for discussion the next day, but the party-goers have a ball.

6. Counselor
Coping with grief? Marital Problems? Parental challenges? I’m a happy, single, twenty-three-year-old girl with no kids, but by all means feel free to share your story with me and have a good cry. My demographic and temperament hasn’t stopped anyone at Luxury Condo from doing so.

Anyway, like I said, today is a normal day. Which means I’m writing emails and rolling my eyes when no one’s looking. (At this point, I suppose I’m wearing my Manager cap.) An older woman, a nanny, strolls toward my desk with a one-year-old boy and stops in front of it. I glance up without moving my head from its downward, ultra-focused-on-the-keyboard position. My pointer fingers continue to fly across the keys.

“What can I help you with?” I say sweetly, carrying on with my typing.

“Eh, um,” the lady stammers. She looks about seventy years old and speaks with a muffled accent. “Do you have any cake?”

“Any what?”

“Cake? Where do I get the cake?” she repeats.

“Did you say tea?” I ask, mystified. Her words are difficult to understand. I think she said tea, but I don’t know if it’s only because I don’t want to believe that she just asked me for cake. I’m positioned at a well-built, ritzy desk – which is covered in papers, yes, but ritzy nonetheless – with not so much as a food item in sight. (Hell, even the decorative apples on the table across from me are – decorative.) There’s a coffee (and tea) bar around the corner, but no cake…

“I said cake. CAKE!”

Now she’s yelling. But before I can get mad at this woman for asking – no, demanding – something so ridiculous, I laugh at the thought of storing a cake under my desk, at my feet, for occasions like this. What did she think? That I’d whip a chocolate mousse out from one of my desk drawers?

I tell her I’m sorry, but we do not have any cake available at this time. The woman is very upset – and storms off.


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