Hair and Water
Years ago I worked at a little dot com startup in Boston. There were 7 of us. My extension was 107, being the last one in the door at that time. When I called people from my office phone it would read out on their phones as, “x107 Mo”. We were all in the habit of reading who was calling and thus answering the phone with, “Hi Madonna”, or the name of whoever it was calling. But the engineers often changed mine to read things like, “x107 Mop n’ Glo”, so my boss would often answer the phone by saying, “Mop n’ Glo?” and I just thought he had an odd sense of humor. Till someone clued me in after a round of drinks.
I had interviewed for this job as a one month contract position. The ad in the paper said to either send or email a resume to the address listed. I had a website which was basically a narcissistic site about me. It had design work I had done along with loads of pictures like, “Here’s me and my friend Gwendolyn in Las Vegas”, and, “Here we are at Mister Donut in Tokyo!”
(There were Mister Donuts’ on every block in Tokyo and they were always mobbed. Clubs had umbrella racks outside with locks. Like locks at ski lodges. These things, and the bathrooms, are among the things that stick out in my mind from that trip.)
Maybe this blog is not so different from that first circa 1995 website.
Anyway-I emailed my resume and a link to my site. I got the job because out of a hundred or so applicants, I was the only one who applied via email and with a link, and in spite of an incredibly bad hair day.
I had a really silly hair stylist at the time who had given me a modified bouffant. These were the days when that particular hairstyle had made a thankfully brief yet hilarious comeback. When I left my apartment in Southie I looked fabulous, according to my neighbors. It took some serious work to get that bouffant just right. I walked to the interview which meant walking down the length of A Street, which runs along Fort Point Channel. As I walked I wondered how I’d forgotten what an amazing wind tunnel A street was but because I love wind I didn’t think beyond that. I love wind.
Riding the elevator to the interview I happened to glance at my reflection in the button panel and I suddenly realized that my bouffant was no longer modified, it was aloft. But just then the door opened and I was faced with people so I had to endure the interview as is. I was sure they just thought I was sunburned and had walked in the wind.
Days later, after a round of drinks, it would come out that after (and during, actually) my interview the whole office had a huge laugh at my hair but decided to hire me anyway. That could be why they looked surprised when I showed up for my first day (via the subway) with a normalized semi-bouffant. I am tenacious and couldn’t quite let the bouffant go entirely as the trend was not yet totally over. Maybe it filled the foppish void left in my life when perms went out of style. This was years ago. I have embraced many silly things.
After a week or so they offered me a full time position so I stayed. I stayed 5 years actually, through 2 buyouts and a relocation, memorable business trips, an elevator dj, and up until I accidentally moved here nearly 6 years ago.
Anyway-it only took a few days to notice that we didn’t have water. A few times a day the entire office (all 6 of us, the boss didn’t come), would take the elevator down to the street and go to the little store nearby and buy bottles of water. It added up, although the frequent walks were pretty fun. We’d also buy swedish fish and toy soldiers with parachutes to throw off our roof deck. So I said, “We should just get water service”, and immediately the task was assigned to me, with much commenting on getting the boss to spring for water. So I approached the boss (let’s call him Ajax) and suggested water service and he said no.
So I made charts and graphs with quadratic formulas and diagrams clearly illustrating all the time we’d actually save not going out for water and did productivity analyses with crayons I found lying around, and presented them to Ajax. Still no. In every meeting I brought up the water issue and how dehydration leads to fatigue and cited more reports and studies about how people can die of thirst. I’d call Ajax and he’d answer the phone with, “Sheriff Mo?”, or whatever new things the engineers had made my phone read out that day, and further my campaign.
I calculated cost analyses (from fliers for Poland Springs and other water companies that I had found on the sidewalk) and wore Ajax down till he finally agreed to the 30$ monthly fee. As he conceded he said, “Do you always get what you want, Mo?”, to which I replied with exaggerated incredulity, “Ajax, it’s water.”
And now we had a watercooler to hang out at.