Monday, April 24, 2017


I suppose it's no secret that I'm often the least professional person in the room. And that goes for pretty much ANY room, up to and including my living room when I'm home alone -- my cats walk with an air of sophistication that I will NEVER possess.

Don't get me wrong, I don't go through life with complete amateur incompetence. It's not as if I'm running around unshowered and belching (as much as I may yearn to.) I know how to properly behave in the office. Still, if you did an informal poll of my co-workers and asked them which of their colleagues would be most likely to start a work e-mail with the phrase, "What up, dude?", I think I might know their answer.

I simply treat everyone the same way that I treat my friends, because that's how I want folks to treat ME. You can still be polite and friendly without acting like a stuffed shirt or employing some phony "work voice." I've had bosses over the years who've tried to turn me into someone I'm not, and it never sticks. If I actively try to sound formal and measured, it comes across as insincere and phony.

I'm not the guy who says, "Please hold for one moment, ma'am, while I access that information." I'm more likely the guy to say, "Hang on for just a sec while I check things out." Am I unrefined or loutish? I just think I'm being myself, and I vastly prefer it to phony professionalism. At least I THOUGHT I did until the other day.

I had recently discovered that my TV provider had a cheaper option that could save me some big bucks off my monthly bill. The bad news was that it required new equipment, which in turn required a dreaded in-person visit from their technicians. So after being given the always-fun two-hour appointment window, I found myself at home on a Tuesday afternoon waiting for their crew to show up on my doorstep. And boy, did they ever.

I'm perfectly fine with people who take a more casual approach to their jobs. I am, after all, a card-carrying member of the casual club myself. But admittedly, there's a few things that even I had come to expect from the folks who work for my TV provider. Like, perhaps, anything that indicated they work for my TV provider. A handshake might be nice. At the very least, maybe a "hello" would be in order. Instead, I opened my door to find two scruffy-looking twenty-somethings in hooded sweatshirts and jeans.

"Dude," one of them said by way of introduction, "Did you know you had a weed scale in your yard?"

Ummm... what?

"See?" he said, pointing. "Over there in the grass. Weed scale. Might still work, too."

Before I could even process what was happening, they were walking past me into my house. WHAT IS HAPPENING, my brain screamed. All I could think to do was step outside and grab the item they had been pointing at on my lawn. Sure enough, it was a small battery-powered scale, the kind apparently used for weighing less-than-legal substances, likely dropped on my lawn by one of Rock Island's classier passerbys.

For a good few seconds, I had no earthly clue what was happening. Are these the technicians? Or just two random dudes who saw a scale in my yard and assumed I was the resident Pablo Escobar of the neighborhood? Were they about to be seriously disappointed that the only drugs I keep in stock are Imodium and Advil?

I jumped back inside and was never happier to see a complete stranger aleady dismantling the back of my TV. They WERE the technicians.

"Hey," said Guy #2. "While he installs, I need to see your line in. Which way to the basement?"

"Umm, there?" I said, pointing to the stairs.

WAIT A SECOND. I've seen this. It's the classic con, right? Two "technicians" show up to the door of the elderly victim. The first guy distracts the mark while the other guy goes downstairs and robs him blind. I couldn't let EITHER of these guys out of my sight -- except that I already had. The only thing I could think to do was stand halfway down the stairs, which of course meant that I was letting BOTH of them out of my sight. Sigh.

"Nice security system," Guy #1 said. "What all does it cover?" OMG. Seriously?

"EVERYTHING," I said, lying. "Every door, window, nook, and cranny of this house. It even dials 911 if I give it a voice command." (No, it doesn't.)

It turns out he was NOT inquiring how to murder me. His TV company also sells security systems, and he was just comparing. For what it's worth, the Weed Scale Bros turned out to be talented techs, and they had my new gear up and running in no time, for which I'm grateful. Also, they turned out NOT to be drug-seeking street hooligans there to rob me, for which I'm even more grateful.

As they left and I sat there confused yet impressed by their great work, a voice crept into my brain that said, "But would it have killed them to put on uniforms, get a decent haircut, shake my hand, and maybe acted like decent human beings?" Then I washed my brain out with soap, pretended that I DIDN'T just complain about someone else's workplace professionalism, and let us never speak of this incident again.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some Imodium to weigh.

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