Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What’s in your closet? Literally.

Inspired by the topic for tonight's radio show, I decided it was time to literally clean out my closets. What's crazy is that I usually do this twice a year so I'm very confused by some of the things still lurking in there. There are some real "What was I thinking?" items in there. I understand the "I might fit into that one day" section though I've pared that down significantly. My "special occasion" section has been whittled down to the point that if a formal event comes up, I might as well just buy something new. Working from home has me questioning why I still need all those spiffy suits. I am a fairly conservative dresser though I believe in color, most specifically jewel tones. I like basic fabrics like cotton, silk, linen and jersey and anything that has "stretch" in the mix is a win. I tend to skew toward traditional cuts and lines borderline on preppy with one of two trendy pieces thrown in for kicks. But some items I have absolutely no explanation or excuse for.

Here are the worst five:

One – A T-shirt ripped at the shoulder (a la Flashdance) that says in neon colors "Jamaican Me Crazy". I quit buying tees on vacation over ten years ago and this shirt is a small. Without oversharing, I've been in a D cup or larger since the age of 14. There is no size small shirt stretching across here. Conclusion: I don't know whose shirt this was but it's going to be used to polish my car this weekend.

Two – A ruffled wrap blouse in a truly unfortunate shade of green. Somewhere between a rotting lime and baby-poo color. Plus, see the comment about the chest size above, ruffles no bueno. A glance at the tag still attached (FAIL) says it was on sale for $5.99 at Ross Dress for Less. That's no excuse. Conclusion: I was clearly impaired when I purchased this, it's off to Goodwill.

Three – A bronze leather pantsuit. Let me have that sink in for you. Slim cut leather pants in bronze with a matching double breasted jacket. I'm not old enough to have gone to Studio 54 where this suit would have been the bomb diggity. I recall wearing the pants with a baby pink angora sweater with a deep V-neck and baby pink suede ankle wrap stilettos years ago. I also recall rocking the jacket over an all-black outfit more than five years ago. Bless my heart… Conclusion: Definite Goodwill material and praying no one has pictures.

Four – The workout wardrobe. Granted I used to date someone who got unlimited freebies from Nike and Reebok but this is ridiculous. I could work out three times a day for three weeks straight (yes I did the math) and never run out stuff to wear. Crazy since I wear the same three yoga pants and five t-shirts. Plus I was holding onto six (SIX!) of that ninja's jerseys. Seriously? Conclusion: Random workout gear to Goodwill, four of the jerseys to eBay. Two are pro bowl jerseys with a bunch of players' signatures. Holding onto those for collector's items.

Five – Okay so I have a shoe thing. I love shoes. I believe in owning the entire rainbow. I am that matchy-in-a-preppy way chick. But I don't see any reason to own five pairs of orange shoes. Okay one pair is a burnt orange wedge sandal, one is a cantaloupe flat, one was a died-to-match shoe for some wedding I was in years ago and the other two are highly questionable as far their usefulness. The boudoir shoes? Shoes clearly only meant to be worn from the front door to the boudoir, um – we're paring those down. And don't even get me started on my purple shoes. I'm not evolved enough to let those go yet. Conclusion: Some orange, pink, green and taupe shoes are outta here. And I need to understand why I need more than one pair of black patent peep toe Mary Janes. (They say admitting you have a problem is the first step. Hello, my name is Michele and I'm a shoe-aholic.)

Those are just some highlights. I'm not sure why I own wide-leg plaid pants, a red lyrca catsuit and a jacket that looks like a circus threw up on it. My travel uniform used to be a crisp white shirt, dark jeans, jacket and loafers. This explains the twelve (at least it wasn't thirteen?) variations on white dress shirt in my closet. I don't know ya'll… I just don't know.

If you get some spare time, I suggest you rifle through the back corners of your closets and see what you can find. Has anyone else found something in their closets that gave them significant pause?

Tonight on BnB Radio Network – Cleaning Out Your Closets

Up next is Episode 2 of the Diva Summer Series with me, Carolyn Edgar and Yvonne Bynoe. This summer, we're discussing Creating the Life & Love you want. Step two is Cleaning out your Closets. 

Ever notice how hard it is to move forward if you're always looking back? How much harder it is to climb up when something is weighing you down? It might be time to clean out those closets. Financially, emotionally, and physically - it's always best to declutter. Join us tonight at 8:00pm central/ 9:00pm eastern as we discuss letting go, moving on and stepping up.

Yvonne Bynoe is the creator of Her mission is to teach professional women how to go from being underpaid to earning their worth. Carolyn Edgar is a New York City lawyer and writer. She is a frequent speaker on legal career and workplace issues, and writes about single motherhood and divorce on her blog Come join the Divas while we talk about life, love, health, wealth, music, men... to name a few.

If you have questions you want answered on the show, drop me an email at or call into the show at (646) 378-1171. We'll see you there!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why C. Breezy and A. Keys need nothing from me

I watched the last hour and a half of the BET Music Awards. I really need them to caption folks. I'm old and needed a cheat-sheet to figure out who half the performers were. I do know that Trey Songz trying to wail his way through Purple Rain hurt my feelings on a deeply personal level. My personal highlight was the return of El Debarge. Yes, that El Debarge. He was out of jail and presumably sober. That was my happy moment.

Watching an awards show on Twitter is like color commentary on speed. Everyone has an opinion on everything and people tend to take sides… with a vengeance.

Alicia Keys is one of lightning rods right now. She appeared on stage all glowingly pregnant flashing her engagement ring from Swizz Beatz (a man that she allegedly began a relationship with while he was still married to another woman). Some folks feel betrayed seeing as she spent most of her career singing about superwomanhood and respect for your common man. Others feel like that has nothing to do with her music. Personally, I just don't like her latest album. I found Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart a tad whiny and I was too through with Empire State of Mind months ago.

Chris Brown (I have come to call him The Bow-Tied Boy Wonder) is battling to regain his stature after the assault/battery/domestic abuse charges surrounding his tumultuous relationship yodeling pop diva Rihanna. Chris Brown is twelve years old in my mind. I heard his music when my nieces played it in the car. I thought he had some talent but I wasn't running out to buy his music. I have Wall to Wall on my iPod for no discernable reason and thanks to my eldest niece I know all the words to his duet with Jordin Sparks, No Air. That's all I got.

So fast forward to this award show Sunday night. Chris Brown danced his way through an MJ tribute. He can dance. I acknowledge the talent. But folks on Twitter acted as if MJ himself rose up out the grave and anointed this boy with the "Future King" crown. After the dance tribute, he took a crack at singing Man in the Mirror. Half a verse into the song, he broke down in tears. I wasn't feeling it. In fact, I called bullshiggity. Half of my timeline (that's a Twitter crew) was thoroughly disgusted that I wasn't feeling Chris' pain and the other half co-signed with me.

Alicia was all up and through the show. She came out during a Prince tribute to sing Adore. At some point, she was really feeling it and climbed her pregnant behind up on the grand piano. I was forced to call bullshiggity again. Half of my Twitter crew thought I was hatin' because of her home-wreckin' reputation and the other half thought I wasn't hard enough on her.

Here's the deal on both of these situations… There is one Michael Joseph Jackson and Chris Brown is nowhere close. So no, I wasn't feeling his tribute. Truthfully, I wouldn't feel anybody's tribute and since I'm not a huge fan of Boy-Tied Boy Wonder, I was not pleased. The tears just struck me the wrong way.

Similarly, there is but one Prince. A fitting tribute to Prince would have been Prince standing up and doing a medley of Prince hits. And Adore is a special, special song. For me, no one else needs to sing it. It is a quintessentially Prince song that only he does justice to. These are my opinions. I'm allowed to have them. You may agree, you may not. Welcome to free speech.

What I really detest is this public wave of feeling that Chris or Alicia need some flavor of forgiveness from me, you or anyone else. I don't know either one of them personally. Sure, I have my opinions about their behavior but what difference does it make? Both of them are millionaires a few times over and neither of them is cutting me a check. Chris didn't hit me and Alicia didn't sleep with my man. So when I say I'm not feelin' either of them, that is my personal preference based on my feelings about their product and performance. No more, no less.

People, none of us are in a position to "forgive" either of these artists. That's not our role. You can either buy their music or not. You either enjoy their work or not. Period.

Thoughts? Comments? Opinions? The floor is yours…

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Here we go again…

So my super-mean publisher wants an additional 20,000 words for my second book, Sweet Little Lies, in the next week or so. I started yesterday and knocked out about 2,500. But ya'll know what this means… I might post, I might not. Drop by just to check, you never know. Send positive thoughts and reinforcements my way. All prayers greatly appreciated. Keep it bougie… Be back soon!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday Video Shout-Out: Michael Jackson

Had to do it. King of Pop, ya'll. How many celebrity/actor guest appearances can you spot in this video? There are at least six...

I can't listen to this song without cutting a little step. Okay, sometimes a big one. Enjoy!

 Any music to shout out today?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Remember the Time?

Michael Jackson was a huge (I mean huge) part of my childhood and actually the soundtrack to a lot of my life. The BougieSiblings and I used to line up with two of our BougieCousins and dance it out. There were times when my musical tastes were vastly divergent from my parents but I could always put on some Michael Jackson and everybody was happy. We used to watch Michael Jackson video debuts as a family. We watched his Grammy performances as Must-See-TV. The last concert all of the BougieSiblings attended together was the Jacksons Victory Tour. We were also all huddled around a TV in Atlanta for BougieOlderBro's graduation from Emory University when Motown's 25th Anniversary Special aired. There was this one moment in Los Angeles when me and the ex-SO put Break of Dawn on repeat… but let's move on. The point is, there are a lot of really great memories associated with Michael Jackson's music for me.

One year ago, we heard the shocking news that Michael Jackson had passed away. Who can believe it's been one year? I wrote a whole bunch of stuff that no one read (I was a newbie blogger) about my MJ love. I've always been one to celebrate the music instead of eulogizing the man. So today, a special edition of Five Questions, Five Answers:

Name your top two Michael Jackson songs: Stranger in Moscow and Lady in my Life if really pressed.

Name your favorite Michael Jackson video: Smooth Criminal

Be honest, back in the day, Purple Rain or Thriller: I'll admit I was really all about Purple Rain though Thriller had the better videos. They both have stood the test of time. Still sound good today.

Did you/do you own glitter socks, sparkle glove, Thriller jacket or black penny loafers? I had black penny loafers because I was that preppy chick. I tried to get the sparkle socks but BougieMom was not having it.

Where were you when you heard that Michael Jackson died? I was exactly where I am now, in my home office polishing the manuscript for Heard It All Before. I admit to thinking it was hoax for a while.

Bonus Question: Who is out in the music game that reminds you of Michael Jackson (in scope of talent and influence)? I honestly cannot think of anyone.

Your turn:
  • Top 2 MJ songs?
  • Best MJ Video?
  • Purple Rain or Thriller?
  • Did you/do you own glitter socks, sparkle glove, Thriller jacket or black penny lofers?
  • Where were you when you heard that Michael Jackson died?
  • Who is the "next" up & coming MJ?
RIP Michael, your musical legacy reigns forever.

Oops. Happy Anniversary BougieLand!

So much drama went down on the blog this week, I blew right past the one-year blogiversary. June 23rd was the official date. So let's pause for the cause and raise up a BougieCocktail.

Woo-hoo!! Wasn't sure we'd make it. Some of you all have been with me from the very, very beginning (Shout out to BougieSis, JaymeC, My Girl "C", ASmith86 and TiffanyinHouston for being my first "regular" commenters), some of ya'll are brand new but I'm grateful for each and every one of you. Well, 99.87% of you totally rock. :-)

Some stats: 440 posts. 552 subscribers, 231 Google followers, 418 Facebook fans, 778 followers on Twitter, 33 BougieTales. 28 BougieCocktail Moments, 13 Ask a Bougie Chicks, 12 Guest posts, 1 Movie Week, 1 Music Week, 2 Relationship Weeks, 2 Pookies, 1 Ray-Ray, a Romey-Rome, 2 lifetime BougieBans, over 5000 Bougie Thoughts (comments), a Blog Talk Radio Show and one writer/blogger/bougie chick who is having a blast. I've met the bestest folks and look forward to whatever year two brings.

We've talked politics, pop culture, fashion, dating, literature, and cocktails... to name a few categories. And yet, there is so much more bouge yet to be shared. BougieTales yet to be told. BougieCocktails yet to be lifted. Just wanted to let you know you are appreciated. Stick around...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Five Questions, Five Answers with OneChele – Take 3

Okay BougieLand, it's that time again. Thanks as always for your emails and questions. For those of you that want to send in questions for the next round, I'm emailable at So, for those not aware of the rules: Instead of a full-fledged episode of Ask a Bougie Chick, I just take a sampling of five questions I've been asked recently and answer them. In the spirit of fairness, I printed out the questions, shuffled and picked five at random. I'll share my answers and then I expect each of you, dear readers, to do the same. We love Getting to Know You Day… don't we?! Without further ado:

  • What is the stupidest thing a man trying to holla has ever said to you? "You don't mind that I'm married, do you?" Nuff said.
  • You seem to like a lot of different types of music, what's your favorite genre and your least favorite? R&B/ Neo-Soul is my favorite. Metal is my least favorite although I have some Metallica I rock from time to time. There's nothing like "Enter the Sandman" to get you moving through a work out. Also not too keen on bluegrass though I will listen to some country. When I want to completely mellow, I go old R&B standards – Stevie, Aretha, Donny, Gladys and dem.
  • You've lived in a few cities, which was your favorite? If you could live in any city in the world, where would you live? I loved living in the San Francisco Bay Area. If I could live in any city in the world? Maybe Barcelona. I loved it there: the food, the folks, the architecture. I speak Spanish and I believe in the afternoon siesta. Plus, all my favorite cities have mountains on one side and water on the other. Yes, I know none of that is in Dallas. Moving on…
  • Would you vote for Obama again (if there was a do-over)? And in 2012? As opposed to who? Yes I most certainly would. And yes I most certainly will. People have such short memories. The hell we went through with the Idiot Shrub for 8 years? You can't tell me Obama has done a worse job than that. And quite frankly, I can't think of a smarter candidate from either side.
  • Who is the most famous person you ever met? I don't know, who's more famous: Hillary Clinton or Michael Jordan? One of them. Hillary was nice if a little forced, Jordan was not having a good night.
Alright BougieLand, it's your turn, let me switch them up a little to make it interesting:

1. What's the lamest thing said to you by an aspiring S.O. candidate?
2. What's your comfort music genre, when you want to feel good? What genre will you just not listen to?
3. If you could live in any city in the world, what city would you pick?
4. I'll switch this one up. Let's pretend Obama decides not to run in 2012, who's your pick?
5. Name a famous person you would love to meet.

Answer one, all or just say hi - enjoy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Quick Hello to South Africa!

Interestingly enough, the bougie blog was recently ranked very highly in South Africa. I also received word yesterday that my book is selling very well there on Not to mention, you guys are totally rocking the FIFA World Cup. So a quick pause for the cause to say: Dankie vir jou besoek! Jy word waardeer. (Hopefully that says thank you and I appreciate you!) Welcome Bougie Cousins from the Motherland…

A blog bites back…

So… earlier in the week, Leslie visited the blog and saw where I pretty much had her and her ex-boyfriend Vince on blast. On a sad note, she said that reading what he said about her stung. On a good note, she said reading what he said about her dropped the scales from her eyes and caused her to see the light in a way she might not have without my bloggy blabbing. All's well that ends well? Ends justify the means?

Late last night I get a Facebook email from a former subject of an EpicFAIL BougieTale. I'm not picky about my Michele Grant account because I want everyone in the world to go buy my book. Unless the profile is super objectionable, I generally accept all friend requests… the better to beat folks over the head about buying it and two for your friends. So I honestly can't even say when I accepted this dude's friend request. I do know I haven't thought about it in more than a minute. In case you're wondering, I wrote an Open Letter to this guy after a tragic date.

If you don't have time to go back and read it, basically I pulled Dude's player card for trying to lure me to his house instead of taking me out. I did go by his house to pick him up and it was ridiculous. He had his laptop open with a screensaver slideshow of women in stages of undress around his house. He had some random chick's bra hanging on the bathroom door. We got to the movie and he was Facebooking some other girl to come out and "close the deal." I needed no more. I switched his name to "Ah Heckie Naw" in my BlackBerry and set the phone to auto-ignore his texts. Wrote the post, chuckled over the comments and moved onto the next.

Well I guess my Michele Grant Facebook account posts the blog updates (though I thought it was only on the BnB Fan Page). Apparently, he clicked on one post and started surfing around. Now I have put up 437 posts since BnB launched last year. What are the ODDS that Idiot Ninja falls across the one post about his trifling behinds? Oh, I almost forgot about my juju/karma issues – of COURSE he found it and knew it was him right away.

Enraged email was entitled: "I ought to sue your bougie ass." Well that's just not polite, is it? Quite an unbougie way to reinsert yourself into my world. Allow me to continue to share the lowhighlights, my commentary is in brackets.

You made me sound like some kind of perverted loser. [If it talks like duck and walks like a duck…]

All I ever wanted to do was get to know you. [Naked, get to know me naked]

Some of the things you said were over the top and hurtful. [Only some?]

After reading that, I wondered what I ever saw in you. [Big boobs, long hair, cute smile. That. Is. All.]

You are not at all who you represent yourself to be. [Pot/kettle introduce thyselves and call it noire]

What was it about the naked pictures that bothered you? That you weren't in them? [**crickets**]

I guess since you never used my name, I can't really sue. [First correct thing you've said so far]

But you should warn anybody you hang out with that they could just end up as blog fodder. [All the important people know already]

Good luck finding a man to put up with you. [Thanks, I'm working on it.]

I'm sure you'll understand if I defriend you now. [Deuces. I'm sure you'll understand if I blog about this tomorrow?]

Bye. [Buh-bye now]

So I will admit that the one-two punch of Leslie and Idiot Ninja made me wonder if I should either stop blogging about real stuff that happens or if I should warn every random person I roll past that anything they say can and will be used against them in the court of Bouge? And then I came back to myself. My family, my best friends, and New Dude all know about the blog. And if I decide to talk about them, I ask first. Everyone else is fair game.

Moral to this story? Act right and I won't have to turn you into the BougieTale Blast of the week? Ha! No, I already think twice (and then thrice) before I post things and I try to keep it as anonymous as possible. Apparently, I need to try harder.

Thoughts, comments, insights. Should I just start blogging recipes, movie reviews and political commentary? The floor is yours…

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How “Greener Grass” can bite you in the a$$

So I was over at New Dude's house chilling when the doorbell rang. We'll call New Dude Derrick. Derrick looked at his watch then at me and I looked back like – um, this is your house. He swung open the door and it was one of his friends. I'll call him Vince. Derrick looked at Vince and said one word: "Bruh." Translation – "Why you at my front door at this time of night without calling first?" Vince looked past him to me, "Hey, Michele wasn't it?" I waved. Vince said, "What ya'll doing? Nothing? Good, let me talk to both of you for a minute. I need a man and a woman's opinion." With that he rolled in the house as if invited and settled on the loveseat across from me. Derrick and I exchanged a look. I smiled and shrugged to indicate it was okay. He shot Vince a look and then came to sit down.

Vince hung his head down and said, "Leslie's gone." I met Leslie ever so briefly at the barbecue; she and Vince had been dating for a little over a year. She seemed nice. Not wanting to overstep, I looked at Derrick. He looked appalled. "What do you mean she's gone? What did you do? She was a good woman!" Interesting. My eyes swung back to Vince. "She was trying to hem me up, gave me one of those ultimatums, I couldn't have that." Vince looked up before I could fix the dismayed look that came across my face. "What?" He asked me.

I looked at Derrick. I wasn't about to be schooling his boy on relationships without a co-sign. Especially not while in the oh-so-delicate getting to know you phase. Derrick said, "Go ahead, I know you're dying to say something." I thought about it and then dove in, "So yeah, ultimatums are bad but I'm assuming that this is a woman over the age of 35 who has already invested more than a year of her life into you?"

"Yeah." Vince shrugged.



"So what? She demanded a commitment, a timeline, a plan?"

He nodded, "Can you believe that?"

I frowned, "How can you not?"

"Wait, I'm wrong?" He held his hands out in a "who me" gesture?

I sent the seriously silent side-eye to Derrick. He jumped in, "Well what are you waiting on? She's got the look, the personality, the job, she loves your dirty drawers and appears to be treating you right – you gotta either pull the trigger or cut her loose. Ladies have expectations, time clocks, futures to get to." I refrained from hopping up to applaud. I don't know if he meant it but it was a damn good answer.

Vince said, "Well what if there's someone better and I'm stuck with her?"

Again, the dismayed look spread across my face.

Vince sighed, "What now?"

I paused because I was about to go IN but again…. Derrick's boy, Derrick's house, I'm just the new chick. All of a sudden Derrick started laughing, "Michele, do not give yourself an aneurysm holding it in. Vince bust in my house, broke up our evening, please tell this man what he needs to hear so he can go."

I raised an eyebrow like really? Derrick said, "Go head girl, get him."

I exhaled, "So here's the deal… what are you even dating someone seriously with that grass is greener attitude? The fact that you used the words 'stuck with her' to describe a commitment tells me you're not the marrying kind right now. You still think there's plenty of time to find someone better. Maybe there is for you, I don't know. But it's damn near inexcusable to string a woman like that along for this long knowing you only had half a foot in. That's something you do with a 22-year old girl who's just in it for the benefits. What you did is straight shiggity. I hope she's not the type to turn crazy or you have slashed tires in your future. You just can't toy with people like that, son!"

Vince leaned back, "Whoa! I'm just not sure she's The One, that's all. Does that make me the bad guy?"

"Did you tell her that or did you tell her she was the only one for you, best thing that ever happened to you, you never wanted to let her go?"

They both just looked at me. Um-hmm.

I followed up, "I'll tell you something else. A woman of her age and in her position? She doesn't issue an ultimatum unless she's 1) prepared to walk 2) expecting a yes or 3) already got a backup plan lined up if you don't act right. You have a choice. If you're ready to start talking rings and destination weddings, go get her otherwise just let it go. But either way be prepared for the fact that she might not be coming back."

Derrick leaned back and crossed his arms, "Is that how it works? You speak with the voice of experience."

Oops. Got so wrapped up in my preaching I forgot about what I might have revealed to the New Dude so soon. It was out there now. All I could say was, "I'm just sayin'…"

"I see." He said nodding his head in a "to be discussed later" fashion.

Meanwhile Vince is getting all maudlin, "I just wanted a little more time, I didn't want to lose her."

Derrick rolled his eyes, clapped his hands together and got up, "That's what I would lead with when you call her to beg forgiveness. I would leave out the 'stuck' part." He started herding him towards the front door. "Good luck, let me know how it goes." He had Vince out and the door locked in no time. He turned back to me, "You said something about commitments, timelines and plans. Is there a conversation in your head that I need to be a part of or are we cool?"

I blinked twice. "We cool."


We went back to watching the movie. Found out tonight that Leslie wasn't taking Vince's calls. She had in fact disappeared right after their failed ultimatum discussion and no one seemed to know where she was. Vince, now denied the thing he wasn't sure he wanted, really wanted to have her back and try the "forever thing" <- his words, not mine.

There's a moral to this story if anybody cares to look. So what've you got? You think he still has a chance? Shouldn't he have indicated at some point in 15 months that he didn't think she was his forever thing? Or should she have pressed harder for his "intentions" earlier? Thoughts, comments, insights? The floor is yours.

A few administrative details…

It's been almost a year to the day since I started Black 'n Bougie. I had a few things to say about the state of bouge and I wanted to promote my book. That was really it. Then I discovered this great community of folks with bright minds, ideas and ideals and this mythical vibe called BougieLand blossomed. A place where intelligent discussion, diverse opinion and random thought can all co-exist nicely. It's Black and Bougie. Not Black and Bitchy, not Black and Beat-Me-Over-the-Head-with-a-Brick. We have our folks that like to toss hand grenades from time to time just to see what happens but if it doesn't come from a place of malice (usually) we have no problem. For all my joking I've only put 2 people on the 24 hour BougieTimeOut and I never kicked anyone out (though one fled).

But since we're nearing the one year mark and have so many new folks (thanks!), it's time for a refresher in the Bouge of It All. For a detailed look, check out the Bouge Basics page.

Blog Rule #1 – Bouge is Love, ya'll
I understand folks are passionate about some issues and I welcome a freely spirited debate. However, there will be no over the top racist, sexist (any -ist) comments posted up and through here. If that's what you feel like typing there are thousands of other blogs out there in Cyberspace... get to stepping and try one of those. While I don't believe in constant comment moderation/modification (and I really don't have that kind of time)... any comments that blatantly disregard that rule (like your comment is a borderline hate crime in the making) will be deleted... unapologetically. Yes, management reserves the right to refuse service to anyone at anytime for any reason.

Blog Rule #2 – No Blogjacking 
Share and share alike in BougieLand but if your comments are soliloquy – stream of conscience thoughts that triple the word count of my posts… you need your own forum. You get once to share a great story, twice to make a great point. The urge to hijack the comments section should be suppressed. Also, if you have "lastworditis": the compulsion to always have the last word every single time, that's no bueno.

So that's it, two rules. And I always (always) reach out to folks via email if they are near transgression-level shenanigans. For everyone else, keep the comments coming! Thanks for stopping by.

Next up – Apparently I have not been hustling enough for Black Weblog Award nominations. So, if you haven't nominated BnB, be a sweatheart and do so. My blog fits into the following categories: Best Personal Blog, Best Relationship Blog, Best Writing in a Blog, Blog to Watch and Best Blog Post Series for my "I Love Black Men" seres. All you do is click here, enter and for the series.

Much obliged.

Monday, June 21, 2010

So… some folks aren’t feeling Father’s Day?

Let Daddy have a day!

Yesterday something happened that I did not think was possible… Twitter shocked me. I really thought I'd seen everything there was to see in Twitlandia. But nothing prepared me for the outpouring of bitter bile over Father's Day. People went on epic tragic 140-character rants about the men who donated sperm to give them life. (Yep, someone described their father that way – wince.) I was informed that folks were getting down the same way on Facebook but I had not the energy to look.

I mean wow. I'm not naïve; I fully understand that not everybody had WonderDad but oooh weee, some folks either had Lucifer come to earth as their father or no father at all. But I have to wonder, what does sharing your "my dad wasn't shiggity" story to the whole world on Father's Day do for you? It's a vent, okay and now what?

I actually had someone tell me I was "rubbing it in" that I was raised in a two parent household with a good father. Um, I still miss my dad. I was trying to get through the day without weeping buckets. I didn't realize that it was some sort of competition: My dad is better than your dad? Really, after all these years? We didn't leave that behind in pre-school?

There was also the crazy dynamic of people trying to out-do each other with the most tragic "My Dad used to" stories. Again, what does airing all that scandal net you at day's end?

Oh, and lest I forget… the women going IN on their baby-daddys. Sweetheart, you thought that man was good enough for something at least one time. During that bump 'n grind were you worried about his deadbeat tendencies, immaturity and inability to connect emotionally? I'm not judging, I'm just saying no matter how trifling yo BabyDaddy may be; he's still the father of your child. Bashing him on the Innanets does nothing good. Truthfully, any bashing in a public forum is a co-parenting fail but I'll leave that to relationship experts to discuss.

Speaking of experts, I've been told by psychologists that children of devastating upbringing should be given to age twenty-one to face it, to age twenty-five to start dealing with it and to age thirty to put it behind them. The thought process being that at some point you cannot keep trotting out your childhood as reasons not to move forward and be all you can be. I don't know if this true but based on what I saw yesterday, a lot of folks still have a lot to deal with.

No doubt there's a time and place to call out faulty fathers, I can't say I believe that Father's Day is it. Let the current and future fathers that are striving hard to do the right thing have their day. Monday is soon enough to go in on the trifling ones.

I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this one. Is Twitter Daddy-bashing justified? Is there ever a good time to air your dirty laundry? Do these stories help or hinder? Am I just clueless? Comments and insights welcome…

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Two fingers of Crown for Father’s Day

It's a tough day in BougieHousehold. I was (and still am) a daddy's girl. Doctor Bougie passed away in 2000 and Father's Day has been bittersweet ever since. Instead of going into a whole tribute (which could take weeks), I'll just say that as much as I adore my Mom, there was nothing like the unconditional love of my father. He was unequivocally my champion. He truly felt that we were the brightest bestest kids in the world and expected us to act accordingly. None of us lack for self-esteem, none of lack for brains, none of us lack for personality. That's genetics mixed with motivation and constant validation.

Frank was born on the edge of a sugar cane field in Georgetown, Guyana, South America. (Literally, we saw the shack) He was the youngest of fourteen. His father was a ship's captain who sailed over to Barbados, met a beautiful woman and married her. She became the cook for the King. Against all (unbelievable) odds, my father was the one that got out. He came over to America on a tiny ship, worked in the Tootsie Roll factory to save up money until he was accepted into Morgan State University on a tennis scholarship. He pledged Alpha Phi Alpha and was quite the player on campus. He and his friend from the homeland were known as the Guyanese Thieves because they stole so many hearts. The one woman who was about business and not paying him any mind was a serious accounting major who was pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha. This is how BougieMom and BougieDad met.

So there they were, a charismatic and ambitious man from Guyana with the easy smile and seriously studious Baltimore native with a sly wit and tinkling laugh. What they had in common? A deep respect for the purposes of education, an urgent desire to live better than their parents and conventional ethics. Somehow his West Indian sensibilities and her Southern code of values meshed. Unless they didn't. One day during their courtship, he decided that they were too much of a couple and he told Nellie he needed some space. She disappeared. If she saw him coming, she went the other way. It got to the point where he literally had to chase her down. They married two years later. He was brilliant to choose her.

They had four kids; I was the third of four, the youngest daughter. I was born three days after his birthday and he used to say that I was the best present he ever got. We were similar spirits. I have his stubborn streak and his ability to put strangers at ease in his presence. My older brother got his sense of humor, my older sister got the driving ambition, and my younger brother got the ability to turn a chicken-shiggity situation into chicken salad. But he gave all of us the belief that there's no such thing as falling down and staying down. He gave us the tools, the education and the confidence to take whatever life throws at us and keep it pushing.

He loved my Mom, he loved being a doctor, he loved being a father and wow did he love being a grandfather. He was strict as hell as a father, no man I ever dated was good enough, he wanted A's with bonus points and thought C's were for the lazy. The older I get the more of is stuff I seem to pick up. The cooking, the baking, the grilling, the cultivating roses, wanting fresh veggies, the love of Duke Ellington and the big band classics.. is it a matter of time before I'm swigging back two fingers of Crown Royal?

I feel blessed to have had him as a father. Happy Father's Day to all the current and future daddies out there. Respect to the good ones, it's a legacy absolutely irreplaceable. Lift them up and enjoy the day.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's Juneteenth ya'll...

Yeah, I'm late. I decided to commemorate all my emancipated liberties and whatnot by sitting on my hindparts reading a book and sipping tea. Thank you President Lincoln, appreciate ya! 

For those that don't know: Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.

Since it's Saturday as well, here's a little video shout out. See what you think of this guy, Canton Jones, he's a contemporary gospel artist and his song Hello Sunshine talks about that feeling after you've come through the storm... kinda like Juneteenth. (see what I did there?) Enjoy...

So raise up your summer cocktail of choice and reflect on the fact that you are most likely not picking cotton, chained to a fence post or plotting your escape to the north. Sorry, I watched some of Roots last night...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Five great things about work

Wrapping up Bougie WorkTales week, I thought we'd end on a positive note. For all of the things I find wrong and/or irritating with The Paycheck Plantation, there are a few undeniable plusses available. Here are a few:

Working can give you a sense of purpose. For anyone that has ever been laid off or unemployed, nothing beats the feeling of getting that next offer of employment. Putting your skills to the test, solving problems, feeling useful, getting it done. The ability to test your knowledge and ability to execute against the tasks assigned to you, the chance to prove yourself as equal (or better) than others… that's good stuff. It's a reason (in case you need one) to get up in the morning and be about your day.

You are exposed to new things. If you are fortunate, you generally get the opportunity to learn different disciplines, interact with a lot of different kinds of people and basically expand the world you know. If you have the opportunity to travel in and out of the United States, it's an eye-opening realization. While corporate travel is by no means glamorous, you do learn to open yourself to new experiences, people, places and airport security procedures. [Just sayin'] The workplace is a constantly evolving place (hopefully) allowing to you grow along it.

For some it's an escape. Let's face it: Sometimes your home life can be dramatic. On more than one occasion I have had a co-worker say that coming to work was a relief. One said she just needed a break from her kids (especially during the summer months). There's nothing like a huge pile of work to take your mind off of everything else. Sometimes the simplest and most mundane of tasks (for me it was creating reporting spreadsheets) can block out everything else going on in the world and that's just what we need.

The satisfaction of a job well done. I admit it… I love a well-earned atta-girl. When I have work my rear-end off, turned in a quality project and it's acknowledged – one of the best feelings in the world. I recall making a proposal to the board of directors of a global technologoy company. I was requesting $ 4 million for a staffing/training project. I only had 3 days to prepare because my boss had gone crazy trying to put this project together and sent a flame-o-gram email at four in the morning telling everybody in his chain of command (up to the chairman of the board) exactly what was wrong with this company. (Strastospheric FAIL) So you might say I was nervous going in. After I finished speaking, the room was dead silent. One of the members said, "Who are you again?" Did I mention that I was a contractor? I explained that I was basically a hired gun brought in two weeks prior to help out. *AWKWARD* Then they dissolved into laughter, approved the project and gave me a raise. Not only did I get the project going, it was a raging success. There's no better feeling.

Last but not least… The Cheddar, The Mayo, The Diggity-Dollars, The Benjamins. As Wu-Tang Clan said: C.R.E.A.M. – Cash Rules Everything Around Me (dolla dolla bills, ya'll). Very few people would do their jobs for free and very few people would keep doing what they are currently doing if they suddenly became independently wealthy. Money is important. It makes the worlds go around. It provides for your most basic needs and your most outlandish desires. If you're in the right kind of environment, as you progress your paycheck grows with you. If you are in one of those positions with bonuses, incentives, stock options and perks… paydays can bring a huge smile to your face. But at the very basic level, a fair paycheck for an honest day's work is the foundation upon which capitalism is built. Plainly put, paychecks rock.

Anybody else have one to add? Thoughts on my list? Comments, insights, theories? The floor is yours. Thanks for sticking with me this week.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Five quick truths about the Workplace

There are so many "truisms" I could share about the Paycheck Plantation but I decided to share the five that sprang to my mind as extremely true no matter what kind of work environment you find yourself in. Without any fanfare, here are five quick things I know to be true about the workplace:

Some people just do not have a good work ethic. This is something that in my opinion has to be taught from a young age. If a person has never been taught (and shown) that you have to work for what you earn, the workplace is not where they are going to pick it up. I remember trying to mentor one young lady who acted like a paycheck was an entitlement just because she showed up every day. Very few companies have the patience to teach someone how to hustle. You either get it or you don't. And the ones that don't… wow! It's painful to have them around. There is just always someone who comes in not wanting to be there, watches the clock all day and leaves without accomplishing much. Every. Single. Day.

Some people live to work, not work to live. On the flip side, for some people – their job is their whole life. It's literally who they are, not what they do. You can't separate one from the other and neither can they. While on one hand, it's admirable that someone is that dedicated; on the other hand it's overwhelming for people who actually want to have lives outside of their 9 – 5. This person usually suggests the 7:00/8:00 am meeting, working through lunch and coming in on Saturday. There is a difference between great work ethic and workaholic.

One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. This is why hiring is integral to an organization. Chemistry is everything. Bringing in one super-negative or super-sloppy or ultra-anal or not-as-talented or over-hyper person in a group without those characteristics is disastrous. Not that everybody needs to have the same work styles, but they have to be complimentary or all hell will break loose. The "bad seed" will bring down one other team member and the dominoes start to fall from there. I've seen it happen too often. There is truth to "work wives" and "work husbands", relationships with the people you spend 40 to 100(!) hours a week with need just as much care as any other.

Some people are only in it for the money. And that's fine. If you are a manager, knowing what motivates your workers is half the battle. Some people love their jobs and the people they work with. They are blessed and rare. Some are just about the paycheck. They don't want all the warm fuzzies, they don't want to bond; they don't want to make friends... they want their check. And they want their check to be bigger than everybody else's. As long as their single-minded pursuit of dollar bills doesn't infringe on your world, live and let live. There is nothing wrong with the paper chase unless you have to be shady to get it.

Not everybody is meant to do everything. God Bless Us Every One. The founder of Wendy's, Dave Thomas once said, "Some folks are better with the fries & Frostys than figures and forecasts." Okay? Not everyone is good with numbers. Not everyone is on their written communication game. Not everybody programs or writes code. And that's okay unless… you are a terrible writer in a communications role. You are terrible with numbers and you're in the accounting department. You're not a people person but you WORK IN HUMAN RESOURCES. [let me breathe in, breathe out, woo-sah] My point is sometimes what people are actually doing is not what they are good at. And until they face that reality (or someone makes them face it), work life is tough for us all. There is something to be said for "career path management."

So that's my list for today. What have you got? I could dedicate a whole post (and I still may) about one other truth – Not everybody who is in a management position knows how manage people effectively. Let BougieLand say Amen. 

Sorry, where was I? Oh, yes – so examples of things you know to be true about the workplace? Thoughts, comments, insights? The floor is yours.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I can’t go for that – Workplace traditions I’m not feeling

Part of the problem with working for other people is well… you're working for someone other than yourself. You spend a lot of time in the promotion of that brand as opposed to pushing TeamOne. Or as I refer to mine, CheleCo. CheleCo can't prosper while I'm hustling day and night for Big Corporate Co. Plus, Big Corporate Co has all sorts of random expectations (beyond just delivered work product) that grated on my last nerve. Here are just a few:

The obligatory birthday celebration: Le Huge Sigh. I listed it as number one because it is my least favorite thing. The passing of the card (always some drama). The herding of people into the conference room for the singing, cake cutting and whatnot. If you don't go, you're anti-social. If you go but don't want cake, you're making other people feel bad. What if I'm on a diet? What if I don't care for the person whose birthday we're celebrating? What if it's my birthday? You want to wish me a happy birthday? Give me the day off with pay. Nothing says "Happy Birthday!" like getting paid to sleep in.

Weekly Staff Meetings: Very few people know how to run these well. Just because a meeting is scheduled for an hour doesn't mean we have used every second. If we've done the updates and status reports in a half hour… cut us loose. But no. There's always one person who has some drama and waited until the staff meeting to bring it up. This also plays into my peeve above about folks who call a meeting but have no agenda.

Bosses' Day: I'm sorry. What is this fake-ass holiday about? Don't I spend all year doing for my boss? I'm required to show some special appreciation too? I once remarked (loudly), "Isn't EVERY day Bosses' Day?" My VP didn't appreciate it. Guess who was in charge of the celebration. L

Performance Appraisals: I know they are necessary. The problem is that people rarely use them as they are meant to be used – to set goals and review your performance against previous goals that have been discussed and agreed upon. You don't let somebody eff up all year and then nail them in the performance appraisal. The appraisal shouldn't be used as a weapon. Also, there should be few surprises. No one should find out on page nine of their annual review that no one thinks they are a team player. An effective manager really should level-set expectations. If someone thinks they are shining and about to get a juicy increase/promotion and you put them on a 60-day warning… that's a manager FAIL. Don't get me to preaching performance management.

State of the Company: Otherwise known as the All Hands' Meeting. If it's via conference call, it's almost bearable. But how painful is an all-day mandatory all hands on deck in person meeting where the muckety-mucks roll out the corporate speak: "We've had a challenging quarter but our turnaround strategy is sound. By innovating and striving for continuous excellence, we can reach our potential. But we need everyone giving 110% with their head in the game, it's going to take us rolling up our sleeves and making a team effort. Quality, Service-Driven, Results Oriented… that's our plan." Okay but what does that mean?

Team Building Exercises: I've played games, I've run races, I've gone on retreats, done the backwards trust fall, held hands and sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" (I wish I was joking) all in an effort to team build. I've never understood how forcing me to play Pictionary with the Benefits Manager after hours at the Director's mansion does anything other than solidify my opinion that the Benefits Manager was an idiot and that there was four hours of my life I'll never get back. Whenever I'm asked to provide ideas for team building I say the same thing: have everybody stop working one Friday of the month at twelve. Force them to sit together while you feed them then send them home early with pay – that's team building.

One day, I'll have to go in on Holiday parties, Company picnics and Freakin' Secret Santa. I could go in all day. But let's hear from you. What cutesy work "thing" drives you nuts? Are you sick of the white sheet cakes was super sweet frosting? Do share. The floor is yours…

We Mean It this time: Blog Talk Radio Tonight - Summer Diva Series kicks off

Please join me, Carolyn Edgar, and Yvonne Bynoe for this summer long series on Creating the Life and Love You Want. This is our crusade to get women (and the men they care about) to do better in every aspect of their lives. Ladies, it’s really all about you. Are you looking for wealth, health and great relationships? Everyone wants happiness. Many look for it in all the wrong places. The first step to building the life you want and getting the love you deserve is by understanding you. There’s a great line in a movie that says, “You are supposed to be the leading lady in your own life.” Are you the star of your personal feature film?

Yvonne Bynoe is the creator of Her mission is to teach professional women how to go from being underpaid to earning their worth. Carolyn Edgar is a New York City lawyer and writer. She is a frequent speaker on legal career and workplace issues, and writes about single motherhood and divorce on her blog

Tonight. 8:00pm central/ 9:00pm eastern at Call in number is (646) 378-1171. Join us. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You might be a terrible co-worker if…

Continuing Bougie WorkTales Week… a list that you do not want to be on.

Let's face it; work is better place to be if we all just get along. Human nature doesn't really work that way but there are some things that one can avoid in order not to be hated (or severely disliked). Without further ado, you might be a terrible co-worker if:
  • People can smell you coming before they see you coming. I have had the unfortunate experience of having to send someone home because of the cloud of funk surrounding them. Even more awkward was the case of the gentleman who only bathed once a week for religious reasons. I had to move him and two of his like-minded friends into a room of their own on a different floor. How much did I hate to go in there for anything? Funk is bad. Febreeze covered funk is just flower-flavored funk. Put it on a bumper sticker.

  • You are never on time for anything. Ever. Even if you are hosting the conference call (one of my pet peeves). You never make the eight o'clock meeting on time, you're always a day (or more) past a deadline. You're the person who promises to send an email in fifteen minutes and four hours later I'm still looking for it. A word of advice – do NOT travel with this person. It will make you crazy.

  • You can't keep a secret. Workplaces are just high schools with paychecks, a benefits plan, and a much sterner principal. Everybody is in everyone else's business and confidences get shared. Learn the difference between sharing an interesting tidbit, "I hear she applied for a transfer to Iceland" and straight snitching, "She makes $8,500 more than everyone else in the department." Mind your own, please.

  • Your lips stay attached to the bosses hindparts. You know who you are. The bossman never said a word you didn't agree with. You laugh at the terrible jokes, co-sign the offbeat commentary and think it's a GREAT idea to have that meeting at 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon. [serious side-eye to that one]

  • You are sleeping your way through the organization chart. Hmm, how to say this? Hump at home. Keep it zipped at work. If you must get buckwild with a co-worker, swear each other to secrecy and sign a blood oath. If it's some one you are in a direct reporting relationship with… you're asking (begging) for trouble. It never pans out and it always comes back to bite you in the ass. Pun intended. There are a ton of clichéd phrases for this: Don't dip your fingers in company ink, don't shiggity where you eat… you get the idea.

  • You pass the buck. Assignment lands on your desk and you always (ALWAYS) find a way to pass it on to someone else. As a matter of fact, you have perfected the art of doing very little and taking responsibility for not a darned thing. We don't like you. Watch your back.

  • You send out those cutesy joke emails all day. One joke, one cute anecdote during the day… fine. But don't be that person who sends fifty-eleven jokes about kittens and grandmas. And the Jesus prayer chains? Um, I appreciate the blessings but telling me that none of my prayers will come true if I don't forward it to twelve people in the next twelve minutes cannot be the kind of discipleship Jesus had in mind.

  • You never see the silver lining and always discuss the cloud. Aargh. We called this person Depression Dan or Zoloft Zelda. They are perennially unhappy and let everybody know. They are the person that opens the bonus check you weren't supposed to get in the first place and complains (loudly), "Is this all we're getting?" We may be thinking it Dan/Zelda, we don't say it. Your barrage of blues is bringing everybody down. Try walking on sunshine… just once. Please.

  • You tell us (repeatedly) that this is not how it was done at your last job… the one where you were a star. Granted, we haven't seen any evidence of that shiny brightness here but you are hell bent on reminding us how things used to be done wherever you came from. This prompts us to wonder why you left (or got the boot) and why you just don't go back to the place where the streets are paved with gold and champagne flows from the water fountains.

  • You flat-out suck at your job. Yes, you do. Someone (usually me) has to re-do everything you touch. You do not catch on quickly. Your learning curve is Mt. Everest. Several times a day, you approach people with the opening phrase, "Can I ask you something real quick?" Le Sigh. It takes less time for me to take it from you and do it than for me to explain it to you. But you know that already, don't you? No one understands how you got this job or how you are still employed. Yet here you are.
If you recognize yourself in 2 or more of these examples, you may want to think about opening up your own shop. Seriously… don't be this guy/girl. Can anyone think of a terrible co-worker trait I forgot? Do you know any of the folks I listed above? Comments, insights, thoughts? Do share…

Monday, June 14, 2010

BougieTales of the Workplace: A Human Resources Nightmare… for a rookie no less

I fell into Human Resources quite by accident. I'd intended to be a lawyer you see. I was going to save the world from injustice one case at a time. And then I figured out that the actual practice of law was nothing like what I saw on Perry Mason, LA Law, Law & Order or The Practice. No, it was work and a lot of it… for years before you got to do the sexy stuff I wanted to do. My professor suggested I get an entry level job and bounce around a large corporation until something appealed to me. I started off as a temp at GTE (now Verizon) Corporate Headquarters. I was the executive assistant to the Senior Director of IT Field Services. Sounds impressive but you can strikethrough all of that and just say "drone who typed fast." Back then I typed about 90 words per minute, I knew all the latest programs and I didn't have to be told things twice. I was a hot commodity. My first job out of college paid $13.50/hour plus overtime and benefits after 90 days… I was high-rolling. Three months into my assignment, the Human Resources girl came into town and asked to "borrow me" for a project. And that was it.

It took me no time at all to realize that being an administrative assistant was not a great fit for me. Me of the side-eyes and seriously's and constantly thinking 'NO one else can DO this?'… not a fit. I wasn't humble enough (then) to make coffee and offer other people's phones. I hated it. I left and went to work for a global photography and imaging company. I went in as a junior recruiter and human resources generalist. Basically, that meant I would fill positions my boss didn't feel like filling and do whatever other random Human Resources tasks fell off someone's desk onto mine. My second day on the job, I did a new hire orientation for an Assistant Vice President of Sales and Marketing. She was a little blonde thing with boobs a little too big, skirt a little too short and answers a little too glib. She gave off a shady vibe and some of her verbal answers didn't match her written ones. [things that make you go hmmm] Seems the Vice President of Sales (a bit of a leech) simply had to have her on board. With a five-figure non-refundable sign-on bonus that they were determined to pay out immediately. I asked the HR Director if we'd thoroughly checked her references… I was told to basically mind my own and get this woman on payroll. "Michele, just do the paperwork and cut the check." Ooo-kay.

The next morning, she whizzed into the parking lot in a brand new red convertible Porsche. Climbed out flashing crotch to all within sightline. I saw all of this from my office window but I turned a blind eye because… I was minding my own. Before week's end, I was called into the conference room for an emergency meeting. I walked in and it's clearly a BFD (big effing deal). Three VPs, the HR Director, my boss (ditzy Recruiting Manager), two other managers and two admin assistants were sitting grim-faced around the table. It seemed as though one of our mid-level managers went into the stock room for supplies and caught AVP Hot Pants bumpin' and a grindin' on the Loading Dock Dude's lap. No, I'm not making this ish up. Middle of the damn day, door not locked and they were sweating up the bubble wrap. Now, Loading Dock Dude was an African American male in his early twenties. He had been with the company for four years, never had a bad performance appraisal and was nine months away from being fully vested. AVP Hot Pants just arrived and had clearly already spent her five-figure bonus. My lips were pursed as tight as they could be so that the words, "I told you something was wrong with that hoochie!" didn't accidently fly out of my mouth.

Then the ridiculous happened. Someone suggested that we reprimand Hot Pants and fire Dock Dude. Instead of screaming, "The HELL?" I calmly pointed out our possible liability and the inferred inequality of that action. They all wanted to fight me because this is a company that was used to doing whatever the heck they wanted and getting away with it. But I was on my game and cited cases (see how the law thing came in handy after all) where companies had been slapped with huge civil actions (not to mention Equal Employment investigations) based on behavior not even as heinous as what they were suggesting. By the time I shared the dollars involved in those cases, they were on my side. But because I opened my big mouth, guess what? "Michele, you handle the investigation and report back to us by next week." My mouth dropped open, "Wha..?" It was my first week on the friggin' job – whatever happened to easing someone in? And then I got it, I was the fall guy. If I jacked this up, they could blame it on the new girl not knowing what she was doing. Fine. I flashed my patented "No Problem" smile and said, "Great, I'll handle it."

I got the surveillance tape from the stock room. That is twenty minutes of my life I wish I had back. There in grainy black and white, old girl waltzed in and went to work on dude. According to the film, she'd been hitting on him all week and he'd been saying no. On this day, the lack of panties seemed to do him in. To his (meager) credit, he did not make the first move. She jumped him (literally). I mean she took him down like a lion on a hapless gazelle near the watering hole. Damn! She had that boy unzipped and covered (she just happened to have a Trojan tucked in bra) in no time flat. I fast forwarded through most of the freaky-deaky but they appeared to quite heavy on the calisthenics and light on style. Anyway, it was clear it did not occur to them that they were on film and that any old body could just walk in. Which is of course what happened. Now HIS face? Mid-Manager? When he walked in and realized what was going on? Priceless.

So I called in Dock Dude first. I asked for his side of the story. He cried. He was married, two kids, and his wife was going to kill him not only for losing the job but how he lost it. So I asked… why? His words, "She just kept throwing it at me, man. She just wouldn't quit. She wouldn't quit. She got me, she got me." And he cried some more. I told him he was suspended without pay while we conducted the rest of the investigation but he could use his personal, sick or vacation time to stay on payroll while we worked it out. He said, "What am I going to tell my wife?!" I said, "Presumably, not what you told me."

Next up was Hot Pants. She came in, flounced down and before I could even ask a question she said, "We both know you don't have the power to fire me. So sure, I did it. So what? I wanted him, I had him. You didn't have me sign a morality clause." I was flabbergasted. Did one need a morality clause to know not to get freaky on company time with the Dock Dude? I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to add to her statement and she shrugged, "Things happen. Get over it and stop being such a prude." She got up and walked out. Did I mention that I taped both of their statements and advised them of this before we got started?

I decided there was no way she hadn't pulled something like this before. I did a little research and it turned out that I had a friend of a friend at her last company. She agreed to meet me for happy hour after work. She not only had the scoop, she had a copy of memos from old girl's file. Lo and behold, she had rather notoriously slept her way to the top at the defense contractor corporation she'd come from. She left a trail of scandal, ill will and skankery everywhere she went. She was also an exhibitionist and had been warned for public lewd (and semi-nude) behavior. When the company threatened to fire her, she threatened to start calling wives. They gave her five figures to leave and not look back. Hot Pants was straight hustling.

The next day, I reached out to the company Hot Pants had worked at before the defense contractor and was informed that under the terms of a legal confidentiality agreement, they were unable to give out any information other than to say that she had been an employee. But I received a voicemail that night saying that under no circumstances should we hire the woman. She was (and I quote), "A menace and a maneater." That was title of the report I passed out at the meeting. My recommendation was to bring back Dock Dude and place him on 30 day performance improvement, to fire Hot Pants, to tighten up pre-employment background checks and to have everyone participate in a Sexual Harassment training and sign an ethics pledge. 100% agreement… but you know who ended up doing all that, right? New dude cried when we brought him back, old girl threatened to sue when we let her go. And I learned to trust my hiring instincts.

So anybody ever have a work nightmarish problem to solve? Ever met a corporate piranha like Hot Pants? What advice would you give Dock Dude? And isn't it amazing the thing people think are okay to do in a "professional" setting? Comments, thoughts, insights… the floor is yours.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Good News Story: Verna For the Win

Verna Oller - Unlikely Philanthropist

From ABC News:
There are two things about 98-year-old Verna Oller that just about anyone around her neigborhood in Long Beach, Washington can tell you. She was feisty, and she was frugal. She was so frugal that she never went to a hairdresser. After all, she could cut her own hair for free. She refused to buy new shoelaces and improvised by looping the zipper from an old coat through her boots. When her longtime friends, Guy and Carolyn Glenn, bought her a new coat on sale, she sent it right back. She found a cheaper one for just $2.
What folks did not know is that Miss Verna was an investment genius behind closed doors. With her hourly wage from filleting fish, she managed to amass a small fortune nearing $4.5 million (yes million) by the time she died. She directed that all the money be spent on her hometown and specifically on a community pool, grants and scholarships.

By the way, before the recession… Ms. Verna was worth $5MM but the stock market cut into her savings. Go head, Ms. Verna.


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