Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In Which I've Got A Complaint

Knock knock knock.

I can hear her talking, presumably on the phone, and I shift my weight impatiently. The gleaming placard mounted on the wall next to the door reads Mother Nature: Vice President of Environmental Services, North American Region. A few moments pass with no response, so I knock again. Harder this time.

"Who is it?" a pleasant but distracted voice almost immediately calls out from behind the door.

"It's me, Mike," I respond, raising my voice to be heard through the door. "Do you have a minute?"

There is no response at first. Just as I am about to knock again, there is the distinct clatter of a telephone being placed back on its cradle, and a chair being rolled back. Light footsteps approach the door, and the deadbolt slides with a click. The door opens, and there she is... Mother Nature herself. (For the curious, she looked like a slightly less trampy version of this.) She smiles warmly, and beckons me inward with an open hand.

"Sure, Mike. Come on in. Have a seat."

We sit, her in an ergonomic and expensive-looking chair, me in a hard plastic and metal chair reminiscent of a high school cafeteria. As I try to make myself comfortable, I gaze around the office. A stack of papers lies on the edge of the humble wooden desk. No computer. A giant Rolodex. A multi-line telephone. A massive calendar with just about every centimeter of space scribbled on with different colored ink. A wire cup holding a few pencils and pens, the pencils wearing bite marks and worn-down erasers.

"So," she says, pulling my attention back to her. "What can I do for you?"

"Well," I began, clearing my throat, "I've got a few things that I wanted to address with you. Nothing major, just a couple of concerns. But first, I've got a question."

"Okay, shoot."

"I had a heck of a time finding your office. Why are you down here in the basement, instead of upstairs with the other VPs? Wouldn't you like to be able to look out the window at all of your handiwork?"

"People are always asking me that. I chose to be down here, okay?" she says defensively. "It's quieter, and I don't have the VP of the European Region breathing down my neck all day. He's such a prick, you know?" She pauses for a moment. "And besides. It's like when you work in a pizza parlor, how the last thing you want to eat is pizza? I deal with weather patterns and shit like that all day long. The last thing I want is to have it staring at me every time I look up."

"That's fine, I was just curio-"

"Okay, fine. It's mostly because of the European VP," she says, interrupting me. "He's always asking me if I've got the schedule complete, what the ETA is on the current pattern, and he's always late sending me his pattern differential requests. He and I had a little... fling... at last years Christmas party, and now he thinks he can just walk all over me."

She stops talking to catch her breath, her face flush. She wrings her hands.

"Take some deep breaths," I said soothingly. "I'm sorry I brought this up. I didn't know it was such a touchy subject."

"It's okay. I really shouldn't get so upset. He just hasn't returned any of my calls since that night, and I'm still a little sensitive about it." She sighs, and then smiles. "Anyways, what really brings you down here? Not to be my stand-in therapist, I'm sure."

"Truthfully, no." I smile. "Over a month ago, I submitted a request for sunshine, mild temperatures, and a light breeze, and-"

The telephone rings. She checks the caller ID, and motions me to pause with one finger. "I'm sorry, I've got to take this." She picked up the cradle on the fourth ring.

"Mother Nature, North America speaking," she said professionally. "Oh, hello, Father Time... Yes, I can talk." She glances at me and shrugs. "Yes, I'm aware that it's August now... Yes, I know. Fall starts on September 22nd this year.... What? Early? What do you mean, early?"

She leans back in her chair and looks at the calendar on the wall. "Yes, I suppose I could work out a deal with... Okay, by the first week in September. I'll alert Temperature Control and have them start cooling things down by September 1st." She scribbles something hastily on a scrap of paper. "Mmm-hmm. Sure thing. Okay. Bye-bye."

She hangs up the phone and finishes writing her note. "Sorry about that."

"It's alright. Can't keep the boss-man waiting," I sympathize.

"No, especially not Father Time. He claims that he is just so busy managing the time zones and making sure that the Sun and Moon keep their act together that he can't assist me with a simple project like next months flash flood or the next big tropical storm, but he has time to make phone calls all day long. I don't care that he started this company a couple thousand years ago. That shouldn't give him the right to just up and decide to change the start time of an entire fucking season with only a few weeks notice. Do you know how much work is involved in coordinating that?" she rants.

I cringe at the rising pitch of her voice. She stops and catches her breath again.

"Look, I can come back another time if now isn't good for you," I said quietly, and I get up to leave.

"No, no, now is fine. I'm sorry for the interruptions. Really... sit back down," she urges. "I've just felt a little under-appreciated lately. That, and I haven't gotten laid since... well... Christmas. I'm a little on edge."

"I can see that," I said awkwardly. "Well, like I was saying before, I put in a request for some decent weather well over a month ago for the weekend before last, and it appears that my request was ignored."

Mother Nature says nothing, but nods her head.

"The past is in the past, and I'm not here to complain about that. What I really came down here for was to see if there was any way I can ensure some good weather in late September. I'm planning a camping trip for my birthday around the 20th, and I'd really appreciate some cooperation here."

"Oh, I see." A pause. She glances at her calendar. "Well, with the new plans to bump up Autumn a little bit earlier, coordinating specific requests around that time might be difficult. Maybe. I'll see what I can do."

I sit back in my chair, incredulous.

"Seriously? Excuse me if I'm being rude, but that's the best you can offer me? After it rained on my wedding day? After it snowed 20 fucking feet of snow in recent winters? After you make it rain six days out of seven this entire summer so far? After ignoring my only previous request so far this year, the best you can do for me, for one simple request, is a maybe?"

"Okay, okay!" she says. She opens a drawer on the side of the desk and pulls out a sheet of paper. Selecting a pen from the wire cup, she fills out the paperwork and hands it over to me.

"Here. On your way back upstairs, hand this to the guy in the Indian Summer department. He's a crusty little fucker, but he's long since owed me a favor. Tell him that I sent you, and that this should be considered first priority for that week."

I took the paper from her. "This is the year 2009, and you guys are still dealing with couriers and paperwork? When does the next Pony Express come into town? Or should I use a carrier pigeon?"

She doesn't seem to appreciate my humor.

"Why don't you send him an e-mail about this? Wouldn't that be faster and easier for everyone, not to mention better for the environment? Especially since you have to coordinate this with, I dunno, the rest of the world?"

She sighs heavily, and gestures to show that she has no computer. "Look. Our ecosystem was put into action long before the age of computers, and we just haven't made the switch over yet. This way has worked for us for a long, long time. If you'd prefer not to do it, I can take your request up to him myself." She reaches to take the sheet back from me.

"No, I can handle it," I said, snapping the paper closer to me. "Doing it this way seems so... archaic."

"Well, again... it works for us." Her voice was now clipped and terse, a great change from the cheery person who first greeted me.

"Okay, then." I get up from my chair and head towards the door. "Thank you for your time, and for this," I said, gesturing with the paperwork.

"You're welcome. I'm sorry for all the interruptions, but you know how it is with nature... things change around here at a moments notice." She rises from her chair and stands by the door.

"Believe me, I know." I open the door and step out of her office.

"Have a good day, Mike," she calls sweetly. I'm barely outside the door when it closes swiftly behind me. The deadbolt slides shut with a heavy click.

I guess that mostly depends upon you, now doesn't it?


I do have some vacation time planned around my birthday next month, so we'll see what happens.


Sandy said...

She didn't appreciate your humor? Tsk tsk, she must be the only person on earth.....great post. Love it!!

And fingers crossed for your trip.

mysterg said...

Mother Nature is a MILF! I would so precipitate on her...

Kristina said...

I am laughing so hard people are starting to look at me funny. This is the best thing I've read in a long time LOVE it!!

Mrs Soup said...

This is so fantastic! Reminds me of The Incarnations of Immortality...brilliant.

Good luck camping! Oh, and we stole your sun, apparently. Oregon is super dry. Or at least, was until yesterday.

Organic Meatbag said...

Brilliant, man...brilliantly written...kudos!

Aunt Juicebox said...

Isn't rain on your wedding day supposed to be lucky?

Aunt Becky said...

She is a fucking bitch.

lovelila said...

Just because she hasn't gotten laid since Christmas, it doesn't mean she has to take it out on EVERYONE! What a douche. Hope the weather works out for your trip!

Moonspun said...

Oh my! What a great post, this has to go down as a Badass classic. I could just picture you having a conversation! You are such a great writer!

abrandname said...

You have quite the imagination, or a lot of time....

not sure which.....but I was compelled to keep reading

Weather is a bitch....

x said...

That was awesome.

Hey, you want sunshine, come to Vegas where it ruins CD's and lipstick left in the car!

Laura said...

I almost ordered that halloween costume last year (from your link)! I wanted to be mother nature and it was one of the least trashiest ones I could find. I ended up making something.... Fun post!

alntv said...

What a wanky beyotch! I'd be giving her the what not and the therefores, my friend. But overall, I'd say you did a great job keeping it in check. Nicely done. But I woulda punched her in the hoo-haa.

Employee No. 3699 said...

I need the address to that building! I'd like to have a little conversation with Father Time about these wrinkles and gray hairs I'm starting to get.

Hope you have awesome weather for your camping trip.

doobylove said...

You could always come down to New Orleans. But Mother Nature doesn't know shit about humidity. Or hurricanes. Or shit loads of rain.

Really, you're fucked anywhere you go.

JennyMac said...

She doesnt find you funny? Poor foolish Mother Nature. Then I am certain all my attempts at wit would get me nowhere. fast.

Lana said...

i love this story! and if indian summer does come around i'll be eternally grateful for your efforts as a makeshift currier.

Mwa said...

She just made it rain on our only day at the beach this year. Was that you as well?

Inna said...

Dude, that weekend I totally asked for snow. And then I flashed her. Sorry!

Debbie said...

what an awesome post!!! laughing..giggling..smiling.. all good!!:)

BeautifulWreck said...

I heart this post. I love it. Its a favorite. :) I hope you will have good weather for your trip.

Jewels said...

You are ridiculous. :)

areason2write said...

this is great!

Kat said...

She can be such a bitch sometimes...

Badass Geek said...

Sandy: She must be. Thanks!

Myster G: You, Sir, are dirty.

Kristina: Thank you!

Mrs Soup: So long as I get a couple days of sun, I'll be happy.

Organic Meatbag: Thanks, dude.

Aunt Juicebox: Not unless you've planned extensively an outdoor wedding.

Aunt Becky: She is. Do you know her?

Love Lila: I know. Seriously.

Moonspun: Thank you. =)

A Brand Name: I vote for both.

X: No, thanks. I just want a little sun, not a scorcher.

Laura: Nice! What a coincidence.

Alntv: It must have been her time of the month or something.

Employee No 3699: I took an oath of secrecy, unfortunately.

Dooby Love: I suppose you're right.

JennyMac: Corporate life probably sucked the humor right out of her.

Lana: It better come around, after all that hard work.

Mwa: I had nothing to do with that.

Inna: Snow? In September? Are you crazy?

Debbie: Thank you!

Beautiful Wreck: Thanks, I hope so, too.

Jewels: Fuck, yes.

A Reason 2 Write: Thank you!

Kat: She sure can.

Samsmama said...

Man, she can be a real bitch when she wants to be. Did you happen to notice on the calendar if it was her time of the month?

Loved the history with Father Time!

Samsmama said...

Dammit! I meant with the VP. Ugh!

Notes From the Grove said...

This is great! I loved the imagery you painted for me.

Nej said...

GREAT post!!!!!

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