#199 That secretary who actually runs things around here

There’s always one.

It’s the lady who’s been there since the war with glasses perched on her nose and the framed photo of her kids from twenty years ago on her desk. Sure, she might have gray hair, she might have wrinkles, but nobody’s better at keeping this place together.

First of all, she’s mind-spinningly fast when it comes to simple tasks that trip people up like double-sided photocopying while filling the legal-sized paper tray or figuring out which key belongs to this stupid locked filing cabinet.

She keeps the top brass organized so well that it usually becomes a joke with lines like: “We’d be lost without Cindy!”, “Sam runs this place!”, or “If Barb goes on vacation, it would be chaos!”

These lines are usually funny until Barb goes on vacation. And it is chaos. That’s when the lunch meeting has no lunch, there’s no laptop for the big presentation, and the expense reports don’t get filed because a haystack of crinkly receipts are just piling up on her desk.

Now apparently the origin of secretary comes from our great-grandpals in the 1300s who referred to them as “one trusted with private or secret matters.” These days not much has changed as they’re often the only ones with access to the goods to get things done.

Today we say thanks to that secretary who actually runs things around here.

You make our school, and office, and life


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#203 When everything you’re cooking gets done at the same time

Toast gets cold fast.

I’m reminded of this nearly every morning after I toss a couple scrambled eggs onto a plate and then mindlessly chomp into the cold and crumby jam-smeared bread that’s been lying around for a couple minutes.

Do you have issues like I have issues?

Hands up if you’ve ever watched your veggies get cold while the pot roast kept roasting, or served some hot, piping garlic bread before waiting thirty minutes for the lasagna to finish. Yes, eating the side dish long before the meal ranks up there on 1000 Annoying Things, that non-existent netherlist that also includes #983 Peeling off a band-aid that’s stuck to your arm hair, #982 When full hugs meet side hugs, and #981 Clogging someone else’s toilet.

And that’s why it’s so great when everything you’re cooking gets done all at once. When microwaves ding and ovens chime and everything is ready all at the same time, well that’s an itty bitty moment of bliss and a great big feeling of


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#204 Opening doors without using your hands

I live in a tall apartment building downtown.

Whenever I get home from the office I tap a little gray button thing or ‘fob‘ on my key chain onto the black box sensor near the front door which unlocks it. If I forget my fob, I’m locked out and forced to nonchalantly impersonate a Trustworthy Fellow Tenant until I can squeeze behind someone else. Yes, if you come home and I’m just whistling outside the front doors with my hands in my pockets, nice to meet you! I live here and just happen to be going inside now, too.

Sometimes I’ve actually got my keys and fob with me but they’re buried deep in my backpack or pants pockets and I’ve got my hands completely full of groceries. This is when I employ The Backpack Bump and simply reverse into the sensor over and over until it connects and the door unlocks. It’s a beautiful no-hands move to get me in the door.

Yes, if you’re with me, then you know advanced moves are often required to open security doors without using your hands. In addition to The Backpack Bump, I’ve seen young and old alike pull off The Hip Shimmy, which looks like a jerky country dance move involving your pocket or belt buckle touching the sensor. This one is best done while wearing extremely tight light blue jeans and a plaid shirt tied into a knot at the bottom.

Also, let’s not forget The Head Bow, which is when you’re returning to your college residence and you’ve got your fob hanging around your neck in a jangle of assorted keys and plastic dining hall cards. The Head Bow prevents you from needing to take off the key jangle and your hands can continue munching on your dining hall ice cream cone while text messaging.

Opening security doors without using your hands is an advanced skill that requires minutes of practice. When you finally master these moves it means you’ve become an Apartment Building Jedi.


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#205 That one person lying down at the front of every sports team photo

There’s always a photo.

Yes, whenever I finished up a few painful months of smacking T-ball stands or getting beaned by soccer balls it was time for that classic end-of-the-year, middle-of-the-field photo shoot. Straighten your shinpads, comb your cowlick, and tighten your cleats, because the flashbulb is gonna pop as we all stop to capture this tiny little moment in time.

Now the person who lies down in front of the team is generally that sort of outgoing, informal captain of the squad. They’re the fun-loving one who gets people laughing and has no problem posing swimsuit-model style with a volleyball clutched firmly in their hands.

It’s not that the person lying down at the front of the sports team photo is more important than anyone else.

It’s just that they’re a tad more


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#206 When someone returns your wallet

Please don’t steal my wallet.

Honestly, I’ve got my entire life scrunched into that little slap of leather. Credit cards, ID, and lots of other Really Annoying Things To Replace fill up my back pocket every day of my life. Once in a while I’ll be in an airport in another country, on a bounce-a-long business trip, or swinging on top of a Ferris Wheel and I’ll suddenly panic and think “If I lose my wallet here, I’m screwed.”

Yes, we all know the pain of losing a wallet ranks high on 1000 Annoying Things, that non-existent netherlist we’ve mentioned a few times before that also includes: #986 Yanking out only two inches of floss because the package is suddenly empty, #985 When your nacho breaks in the salsa, and #984 The taste of orange juice after brushing your teeth.

Losing that handful of crinkly fivers is nothing compared to spending weeks trying to trace back all those little pieces of plastic that rule your life. Plus, in addition to a series of neverending phone calls with the government, you also have to start your Buy 9 Cappuccinos, Get 1 Free card all over again. Hullo!

So that’s what makes it so sweet when someone returns your wallet. And that’s why today we stop to say thanks to you, anonymous stranger! You resisted the urge to keep everything after finding our life lying in the gutter … and you traced it all the way back to us. Returning a wallet to a stranger definitely ranks higher than blessings and photos on the Stranger To Stranger Love List.

Stranger to stranger love, folks.

Stranger to stranger love.


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#208 Cleaning all that gunk out of your keyboard or mouse

Dirt is everywhere.

Just look around the house for a second here. What’s that in your phone receiver? What’s all over the bottom of your Tupperware cupboard? And what’s that coating your own … face?

If you said horribly sore bright red zits that’s only half the answer.

The other half is dirt.

Of course, when you think about it we’re all living on dirt our whole lives. Yes, a big crusty chunk of it miles and miles deep coats our entire planet. This crusty chunk is aptly named The Crust and it’s a pretty good equalizer. After all, young or old, rich or poor, Californian or Mongolian, you live on dirt. The only exception are Ewoks.

So it makes sense that our keyboards and mouse balls get clogged with thick piles of dirt regularly. Dust balls, flower pollen, and slowly disintegrating fingernails are all swallowed up by your keyboard cavity.

If that sounds disgusting it’s because it is.

And that’s why it feels so great to finally vaccuum your keyboard or – throwback! – twist open the bottom of your mouse and scrape out all the collected filth inside. Cat hair, dog hair, dust from the couch, it doesn’t matter. Nope, what matters is how great it feels to finally get that dirt out of your computer get rolling again.

Unwind a paper clip and jam it in there if you really want to get it all out.

Or a really sharp pencil.

Or a toothpick.


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