24 November, 2010

La Mondaine: no matter how short the countdown, it's still too long

Happily, La Mondaine is away with a headcold.  There's a certain pleasing irony in that, as yesterday she had a lengthy phone call to a friend who'd been exposed to a disease-bearing child.  La Mondaine gleefully AND VERY LOUDLY informed her friend how sick she was going to be in the very near future, how awful it would be, and how completely inevitable.  Because that's the kind of caring and supportive friend she is.

So arriving at work today to find she'd been stricken overnight was immensely satisfying for even more reasons than usual.

Yesterday she spent a great deal of time complaining about how she just doesn't understand kids today, and what's wrong with them, anyway?  In  her world, the youth of today are all on a non-stop bender and routinely glass one another in pursuit of an elusive "perpetual high".  It's not safe to walk down the city streets at night  because, seven nights a week, they'll be filled with drug-crazed youngsters chasing even more drugs and remorselessly smashing glasses and bottles into the faces of innocent bystanders.  In her day, naturally, when the world was young and innocent, people just weren't doing drugs - or if they did, they did them secretly and politely - and there was no alcohol-related violence, because people were just better then and she understood them.

The Stress Fiend then chimed in: kids today just had no respect for their elders (the word "whippersnappers" wasn't uttered, nor were there complaints about how those damn kids just wouldn't stay offa her lawn, but if they'd hung any more heavily in the air, you could have plucked them from the ether and used them as bludgeoning instruments).  Both blamed the parents for not bringing them up right.

Somehow this then segued into La Mondaine trying to use jailed drug smugglers like the Bali Nine as an example of how utterly lost and incapable of looking after themselves today's youth really.  At this point, despite myself, I felt obliged to point out that millions of teens and tweens manage to get through life without  smuggling illegal narcotics into death-penalty countries, but she couldn't grasp the concept that individual stupidity may not represent an entire generation or two.

(Which wasn't really that surprising - she, Ted and our previous team leader had a shared habit of fixating on isolated factoids devoid of any context.  This made team meetings in the old days into an absolutely excruciating experience that still sees me and the Stress Fiend flinch in pain nearly four years later whenever a team meeting is called).

"I just don't understand them, I really don't.  The worst thing my boys ever did was get a speeding ticket."  Pause.  "Oh, and one of them got a thirteen-year-old pregnant."

* stunned silence *

"But then she got pregnant again at 16, so she obviously really wanted it."

* more stunned silence *

Now, as a parent myself, I've know for quite a long time that La Mondaine's thoughts on parenting aren't worth the sputtering, threadbare and pickled synapses they dribble from at random intervals, but ... WHAT?  Her immature, dependent, judgement-impaired, financially-incapable, 13yo-impregnating offspring are an example of successful parenting?  But of course they must be, because they visit her a lot (for babysitting, washing, loans, help putting their underpants on the right way around, etc), so they're clearly far superior to today's kids with their lawless, nihilistic ways...

While that was hard to top (and I'm honestly hoping she doesn't manage to), she didn't feel it was any reason to stop talking. Instead, she switched gears and decided to argue against all the evidence that we'd miss Ted when he was gone.

When I asked, more than a little incredulously, "Why?" she began trying to convince me how hard it would be to get Ted's (eventual) replacement trained and up to speed. There was a plus side to this, however, as it gave me the opportunity to inadvertently offend her

"How will you and the Stress Fiend cope?  The job's soooo complicated!  It will take them months to get the hang of it all!" 

She very clearly wanted me to show some sign of distress or dismay.  Instead she got a non-committal shrug.

"Depends on the caliber of the person we get.  If it's someone competent, they'll pick up the basics fairly quickly."

A half-second later, the slightly frozen look on her face registers and a little voice in the back of my head adds "Oh, that's right - you're struggling.  Hmm - faux pas..."

But I have trouble feeling particularly guilty about it, especially because it meant she stopped talking at me for a while. Instead I'm wondering how to replicate the results on a regular basis while still making it appear spontaneous.

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