Archive for January, 2017

So close from so far

I thought of something strange recently.  Yes, even strange for me.

Imagine you’re a photon.  Through the miracle of science, you are created and shot out of the sun into space.  It’s unimaginably vast, but you are out there and moving at the speed of yourself.  After a couple of minutes of zooming through space, you see a rock in the distance.  You can’t tell for sure, but your current trajectory seems to be heading in its direction.  A couple of minutes later, the rock is getting bigger, and you’re pretty sure that’s where your path is taking you.  Aside from debris and gasses and such, there really isn’t much else to see, so it’s pretty exciting that you’re well on your way to a major player in the solar system.

Eight full minutes elapse since you left the sun, and that rock is now big, beautiful, and only seconds away.  You see giant water formations, lush grasses, majestic mountains, and more.  Where are you going to make contact?  The excitement builds as you plow through some atmospheric layers and keep hurling closer and closer.  You’re arriving!  You’re suddenly less than a second away from reaching that rock you saw millions of miles ago, the culmination of your journey and your entire life as a photon.

And then you hit the shoulder of some middle-aged dude walking from his car to Trader Joe’s, and your only legacy is being part of a fleeting shadow that literally nobody noticed.

93 million miles.  Nearly 500 billion feet.  After getting 99.999999998% of the way to your destination, the plan is thwarted and you’re left just shy of reaching that rock you saw on your 8 minute and 20 second journey of light speed travel.

That’s what I thought of when I contemplated my shadow recently: dashing the dreams of untold photons simply by being in their way at the last possible fraction of a second.  I told you it was a strange thought.

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All Greek to Him

Good morning.  As my 2-year anniversary at work gets closer (March 9th, for those of you scoring at home), I was reminded of a funny experience that happened on my very first day.  So why not share?

First allow me to set the scene a little.  This was a brand new gig and I didn’t know a soul at the place yet (aside from those who I briefly met in my lone interview).  I arrived at 10am as instructed and met up with the HR Director to fill out paperwork, get a tour, etc.  After the tour, he asked if he could take me out to lunch in a couple of hours, and I gladly obliged since I wanted to hear more about the company, its culture, my role, etc.

When the time came, he strolled by my desk and asked what I felt like.  “Anything’s fine,” I said (and meant), and he said he felt like going to the Greek restaurant that was just a block or two away.  I told him that sounded great, and off we went.  When we got there, we chatted a little while I half-looked at the menu.  I was debating between the gyro sandwich and the gyro plate, but had pretty much decided on the former since I thought having sides of rice and a salad would make for too large a meal (plus it was a couple of dollars more and I was over-analyzing my behavior).

The server approached, and I magnanimously gestured that he should go first.  “Yes,” he began, “I’d like the gyro plate please.”  Except he said it with a J sound and a long I, like j-eye-ro.  Shit.  That put me in a predicament.  While they discussed his sides and what he wanted to drink, I was quickly going through my two options:

  1. Pronounce it correctly as YEE-ro.  This would have the subtext of, “You said it wrong, Mr. Head of HR at my New Job on Day One.”  But I’d be accurate, which I care a lot about, but at what cost?  (See: “over-analyzing my behavior” above.)
  2. Copy his incorrect pronunciation.  This would avoid any awkwardness with pointing out his error, but then the server would think that I didn’t know the right way to say it.  I can’t explain why that mattered to me, but it did.

Neither felt like a good choice, and my time was running out.  I quickly thought of a third option: What if I said, “I’d like the sandwich please…is it j-eye-ro or…YEE-ro…or…” and let her point out the right way (as the expert)?  That didn’t feel right either, and as she turned to me, I knew I needed to decide right away and had a palpable moment of panic.  And then – boom! – glorious option number 4 popped into my head and I went with it.  “I’ll, uh, have the same thing please,” I said while pointing to the gyro plate on the menu.  I tried conveying with my eyes that I knew he said it wrong but didn’t want to point it out, and she absolutely picked up on none of that.

So I opted for my second choice of food over first day awkwardness, and I survived it just fine.  Even with a little too much rice.

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