Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Liv's Interview

Liv over at Madness, Madness I Say offered to extend the 5 question interview meme to those who volunteered and despite my military background (the first thing they teach you in basic is NEVER volunteer for anything. look what happened the last time you raised your hand.....) I raised my hand.

1) You remind me of that line in "As Good As It Gets," where Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall says to Helen Hunt, "in every single thought that you have, [and how] you say what you mean, and [how] you almost always mean something that's all about being straight and good." Is there ever a time where some inner "meanie" comes out? What is Bob's break point?

This is a difficult question as I rarely find myself in a confrontational situation (i.e. - a fight or knock down, drag out argument). I have A LOT of patience, I don't like to hurt other people's feelings, and I can usually find a way to see the other person's viewpoint even if I don't agree with it. So I rarely find myself in a situation where I want to deliberately hurt someone. Something happened years ago that has helped me develop this. The kids were maybe 4, and 5. I was in a particularly bad depressive cycle and they were doing something or another that really annoyed me and I snapped - I yelled at them. I have a very loud voice. I scared the hell out of them and I could see that. It about crushed me, seeing what my selfishness and lack of control did to them. I am so very ashamed of that. That was 15, 16 years ago and it still hurts. These days, I do my best to keep from putting myself in the position of reaching that breaking point.

I asked Laura if she remembered the last time I was mean to someone and all she could come up with was sometime recently I was on the phone with our help desk - one of the plants had called them with a problem and they called me late one night - she said that, while I wasn't rude, I was plainly annoyed. The situation wasn't a real emergency and it was late and the problem was something they had been trained to handle and this was someone who should've known better. I try not react like that because I want them to feel free to call me so that when they have a real problem they'll call instead of attempting to handle it themselves - and probably make it worse.

***edited to add*** Meno has reminded me of an incident! I left a rude comment on her blog, but immediately deleted it. The person I made the comment about never saw it, but Meno did. So I apologized to Meno. I am glad that it wasn't seen by the intended recipient, it wouldn't have accomplished anything except engender ill feelings.

2) You've danced around some dicey situations at work which led to some darker posts in midsummer. Where are you with that? Can you say?

While being as honest as I know how to be here, I don't mention specifics out of a ?misguided? sense of discretion. So, without directly naming the company I work for, I work for a textile manufacturing firm that had, as recently as 5 years ago, over 30 plants. 15 years ago, over 40. This company has been closing them down and, like most textiles today, is sourcing goods from overseas. We have 10 plants now, 2 of which are closing and 3 more of which are rumored to close by end of 1st quarter next year. Plain and simple, it is driving me nuts. I HATE that all of these people are being put out of work. Thousands of them. The system I support is used in all of our plants, so I personally know 10-20 people at each plant that have lost their jobs. Some of them with 20, 30, and some even 40 or more years with this company (and it's predecessors). I hate that the goods we are buying are (not always, but usually) of inferior quality that what we produced domestically. I hate that I've been here 17 years and am being forced to consider that I will soon have to look for another job. (soon = next year?, 18 months? 24 months?) So, the dicey situation at work is me being unhappy. I am dealing with it. I am doing my best to keep what is left of the company competitive, within the limits of what I control.

3) Beyond what the post of music selections in your last post, what are you listening to these days? Is there any new band or singer that's doing it for you?

I don't buy a lot of music when it comes out. For example, it took me 4 years to buy Black Eyed Peas album Elephunk, but it's in my CD player right now. Another older album I've bought recently and have been listening to a lot is Moby - Hotel. It is a two disc set, one of which is ambient - the one I usually listen to. I scanned the Bilboard charts to see if there was anyone there who I listen to/like and there are a few - Nickelback, Pink, and Matchbox Twenty are all groups I like. A group new to me is Plain White T's. I really like their single Hey There Delilah, I've heard it on the radio a good bit and I'd like to hear more of their stuff. But my most recent acquisition is an album I've wanted for years and could never find. It is listed on the music post, but since it is my most recent obsession I'll mention it here - The soundtrack to the Gene Wilder/Richard Prior movie Silver Streak. I LOVE IT. (the movie too!) I am a big, big, big Henry Mancini fan. As it turns out the soundtrack never had been released by the studio nor Henry Mancini, which is why I couldn't find it. Until now. I finally found it on an obscure label who's purpose is to find and release soundtracks such as this. The last album before this that I bought and played incessantly was Green Day's American Idiot. As it happens, their album Nimrod is in my wife's car's CD player right now.

4) A quote attributed to you is, "I will tell you that your supper was excellent even if I had trouble choking it down." (ahem.) If I were cooking dinner for you, what would be the perfect meal in your estimation?

ahem yourself! I like trying new food, finding out about dishes other people like and then seeing for myself. When I travel I like to find what the local specialties are and give them a go. If I get to go to Philadelphia I intend to visit the home of the philly cheese steak (Pat's AND Geno's). If I get to go to Chicago I intend to find the home of the deep-dish pizza - Pizzeria Uno. Etc., etc., you get the idea. So, the perfect meal for you to fix for me would be......a meal of your absolute favorite dishes. I would help make them and you would tell me as we eat why they mean so much to you, which would make it even more special.

5) Crete, huh? I'm pretty passionate about Greece, and am wondering what you think is so magical about the country that those who have spent any amount of time there hold the memories as delicately as a basket of peacock eggs.

A lot of what made Greece magical for us was - us. We lived on Crete for two years, moving there during our first year of marriage. Those first few years of marriage are an intense time for a couple and "things" mean so much. Also, both our kids were born there. Instead of Laura going to Germany to have the kids in an american military hospital and me quite possibly not able to be there, we decided to have them in a local maternity clinic. I was there. Aside from us, and more directly answering your question - One reason would be the people. We lived on the second story of a two story house, the owner lived downstairs. They involved us in their lives. One evening I had just gone to bed (I had a day shift coming up and had to be up at 5:00) when the owner's wife came knocking on the door and invited us down, their daughter had just got engaged and they were throwing a party. There were 30 or so people there, both families as well as friends and neighbors from the village, including their priest. They asked that we and the babies come down to join them. Oh - Greek people LOVE children. They are a family people. Everywhere we went, the women wanted to hold the babies, asking us their names, how old they were, etc. etc. We were flying home for a visit and were in the airport in Athens. There were a ton of the typical Greek old women there - you know, black shawl, black scarf over their head, black skirt, clunky black shoes - and we joined the line. It wasn't a minute before they started coming up, wanting to see our baby - he was passed from woman to woman all over they airport lobby. Wherever we traveled on the island, we found the Greek people to be warm, out-going, and hospitable. They'd invite you in, break out the raki, or that wickedly strong coffee - don't drink to the bottom of the cup or you'll get coffee mud. In addition to the people, the country is beautiful. You've seen the pictures. And history is all around you. The Minoans were sailing the mediterranean about 5 thousand years ago. There is some minor contention about whether the minoans influenced the egyptians or the egyptians the minoans. Everywhere you turn is something a few thousand years old - the palace at Knossos, the legendary home of the minotaur and the original labyrinth, as an example.

I am sure that this is not unique to Greece, but I haven't visited anyplace yet that matches it.

I am also sure that anyone's experience of anywhere they go is what they make of it. There were some people there when we were that hated it. I invariably find that when discussing traveling or living in other parts of the world someone will say that they didn't like it and then list their grievances. I've lived in a good handful of places here in the states and in a few overseas, and while there are some places I wouldn't necessarily want to live again, there was always something about every place that I liked.

14 deeply creased, dogeared comment(s):

liv said...

Yay! Thanks for answering and forcing back for a re-read of your blog to snoop around for question material.

Greece=my happy place!

urban-urchin said...

greece is cool. i loved it. you're right- you may not like every thing about a place but if you live there you better find at least one thing you like or you'll be an unhappy sob.

meno said...

Nice job Mr. Bob.

I can remember a time when you lost your temper. But you apologized, which is all i require of someone.

Now i want to visit Greece. Do you have that cats in Greece picture book? I look a that a lot and dream.

Bob said...

liv - you're welcome.

urban-urchin - I agree - Greece IS cool!

Meno - I added the incident to the response (gawd, I hope this is what you were referring to. I'd be embarrassed to learn I've been rude more often and don't even knpw it.)

Sober Briquette said...

My mother-in-law is half Greek, and traveled there twice with her father, loving it. The photos were incredible.

Have you always been laid-back? I have a very short fuse, and I'd say it's my biggest fault. Do you have any tips for increasing patience?

Working under the ax is very stressful, and it must be doubly so for someone as empathetic as you.

Bob said...

Meno - I forgot to say this: Laura says to stop dreaming and start doing. Plan yourself a trip to Greece! Also, we don't have the cat book, we have some pictures and our memories. Also, also, I was given an calendar that had pictures of the Greek Islands and one month's picture turned out to be exactly the same scene as a picture we took while there. slightly different angle, but the same!!!

De - When I was a younger man I had more of a temper. My laidbackness (it aught to be a word) wasn't deliberately cultivated, it evolved. So, I don't have a secret to share with you - I'm sorry.

Susanne said...

I really like this interview series. Also Liv's questions and your answers are beautiful.

Like De I'd like to develop a longer fuse. Hm. Meditation has helped a bit and so has taking care of my physical needs.

And thank you for reminding me of my vacation on Crete.

I hope that your work troubles dissolve.

Bob said...

suzanne - I enjoy them too. Thanks for the sentiment, work will "work" itself out one way or another.

amusing said...

Ah, (she cringed...) The Raki. You had to remind me. That's what tipped me over the edge. When the "disco" owner reached behind the bar for the private stock of raki...... On top of the cheap red wine, on top of the ouzo, was there also -- was I insane? -- beer? And then..... well, I don't remember, to be quite honest. I know I woke with cracked ribs, and in someone else's clothes.....

Bob said...

amusing - I don't know what you were thinking either (obviously you weren't!). I still can't remember a night at a disco where metaxa/7-up slammers were proliferate.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I have also lived in many places, and agree completely. There is always something to love about every place, and I put down roots to some degree in all of them.

I would very much like to visit Greece, or preferably, to live there for awhile. I'm glad that you and your family had that experience and so enjoyed it.

These were such thoughtful answers to excellent questions, and I feel that I know you better.

Thank you and Liv for a fine post.

Bob said...

hearts - thank you! I think everyone should live abroad for a while. See the world, and see events in the world from another perspective.

Rachel said...

Great interview: Liv asked good questions, and you answered them fully and honestly. Wonderful. I love the fact that you are so obviously a man of character and moral worth. It seems so rare, sometimes.

I'm sorry about your job. My old job closed down my entire department 3 months after I quit. Im glad I left but I wonder sometimes what happened to my former coworkers; for some, that job was their only prospect. Saddening.

NOw you make me want to visit Crete. Perhaps I could convince my mister to take us on a cruise someday!

Bob said...

rachel - thank you. I can only hope to live up to your assessment of me.

I would encourage anyone to visit Crete (and the other Greek islands). I would enjoin you to get off of the beaten track, out of the touristy areas so you can see the real Crete.