29 November 2007

Ethel Strikes Again

She's back. And she's setting herself up for the long haul.

Ethel really wants a handmade Christmas gift. I made her nervous during our last conversation when I mentioned that I'm selling my work now. I detected a twitch. Now she's getting creative in her assaults, this is getting serious.

I have an advantage over Ethel in the way that I can always tell when she is nearby. I sit in cubicles (otherwise known as gray cattle stalls). You learn pretty early on that everyone can hear you speaking, even when on the phone discussing questionable topics. But Ethel has, shall we say, a broken volume switch. You can hear the woman from a mile away and she has no filter either. She will talk about everything from the color of the sky to her unfortunate gynecological ailments (don't worry, I will spare you the details.) And she doesn't care who knows. So in a sense, its kind of like a trumpet sounding when the battle begins, I know when to duck and cover.

On the other hand, Ethel has an even bigger advantage over me -- literally. She is much taller then I am (quit snickering, I know it doesn't take much) and can see me over the cubicle walls. This leaves me at a serious tactical disadvantage. If I can't hear her, I don't know she's there. And this is where she is getting cunning: she has become Stealth Ethel.

Stealth Ethel has the ability to advance on me in silence. I didn't think she had it in her but she is obviously determined to sway me to her way of thinking. She's employing the extra weapon of guilt. She is now seeking a gift, not for herself, but for an unfortunate family member who is at a financial disadvantage. That just happens to have the same taste as her and the same decorations in her kitchen.

Hmmmmmm.....my battle skills tell me she is a dirty liar.

She upped the stakes today. She brought me a coffee and a Mary Englebriet magazine with an example of what her "family member" would like. (I am a devout disciple of coffee. And she even brought it to me black, no cream or sugar, just the way I like it. The woman is pure evil.) She left said magazine with me just in case I "want to look at it for inspiration." If cuteness was the equivalent of diabetes, I would need an extra shot of insulin after looking through this thing.

The way I see it is that dear Ethel does not know yet just how stubborn I can be. In fact, I am so stubborn that I rarely admit that I am. I often opt for adjectives such as "determined" or "firm." But this is war and there is no time for pleasantries. I will embrace the stubbornness as my greatest weapon against Ethel.

So now the question is what to do when she comes back for the magazine. I have a couple of thoughts (if you have other ideas, shout 'em out):

1) Photocopy different pictures and deface the copies with sharpie markers. I'm thinking a devil girl picking flowers with fangs dripping blood may be a good comprimise. We could see if she agrees.

2) Cut out the cutest images and paste them all over my cubicle and myself. When she comes back, giggle hysterically and tell her just how pleased I am to join her way of thinking. She may become frightened and back away. Unfortunately this also may backfired on me and she may welcome me with open arms. Then I'd be screwed.

3) Spill coffee (not the one she brought me, I already drank that) all over the magazine and use it as a note pad for my meetings. Nothing says cute like some schematics of a transmission.

4) Put it in the ladies room for reading material. (Come on say it with me: Eeeeewwwwww....cooties!)

I'm obviously not being clever enough. I need to think on my strategy, its got to be good. I've tried all the obvious ones: saying "no" in a somewhat pissy tone, giving her my you're really annoying me stare (which for those of you who have experienced this know its not to be taken lightly) and even walked away from her during one of her babbling marathons. But she keeps coming back, she is immune, she is strong.

I will figure out a way to defeat her.

The battle is on, Ethel, the battle is on...


Disser said...

Hey Lynn,
I started reading your blog, you crack me up :0) It's fun to see what you're up to. I,m still missing Michigan (a lot). Your "Ethel" situation is so familiar. Why do people always assume we creative types need ideas for items to make or sell. I get a little annoyed when someone looks at my work, says they like it and then wants me to make them someting "in their colors" or "their style". Once, I was asked to teach a class at a store( and they would provide suppies).I Got very excited and showed up to talk details etc. They had pulled all this pastel flowery crap out (think Sunbonnet Sue)and told me they wanted to use it for the class. I sat there speechless.
And then I very politely became too busy to do the class. Good luck with "Ethel" She sounds like a challenge. -Lora

Jackie said...

I'd go with #1.

Barbara H. said...

Just quote her a really high price. That's what I do when I don't want to make something for someone who asks me. It stops them in their tracks real quick. Works for me!

Anonymous said...

As a musician, this is something I get asked a lot (write this or that for me, wouldn't it be neat if you could write a song about... argh!). I remember the one time a former (male) coworker came stampeding out of the closet and asked me to write a backing track for a "song" his young "boyfriend" at the time had "composed" -- basically it was some unfortunate wretch groaning into some PC microphone about how much this co-worker was all he needed and all he wanted. After careful consideration as to how I would present the track, I uploaded the young boyfriend's unfortunate vocal crooning to the (then non-defunct) Napster file-sharing site with the filename "Rare Justin Timberlake a capella recording".

It really was the least I could do.

Anne Wigfull said...

Quote an excessively high price and tell her your accountant insists on a non-returnable deposit of 50%