The Horn

I usually don't like to use the car horn. It's rude. And no one wants to hear it. Doesn't matter, though, 'cause I'm some amalgam of let's-go-right-now and Type A, which is torture for my long-suffering polite Midwestern husband; I must constantly resist the urge or--more likely--wince from guilt the instant my fingers tap the horn. Yet tap they do. But, you know, maybe it's not all bad. Lately I've been thinking about how useful the car horn can be.

Like at work, for instance. OK, not literally. But as much as I feel guilt about deploying the horn, sometimes it can make someone else prioritize moving ahead. Back to the literal. Tonight I was in a line of cars; the car in front of me was just sitting behind a cab poised to make a left. I tapped the horn once to let the car know that I did not want to sit there. The car then drove around the cab. Traffic flowed again.

On a project recently, I was urging an outside vendor to move faster on a task. "Well, I don't know if I can get it done this week..." he said. I gazed at him, letting the silence do the honking. I don't mind being the bad cop with this particular vendor; then one of my colleagues, the good cop, chimed in, "Well, we can probably get by without it." He's the best colleague you could want, and I think there's a lot of value in a good cop. But I wanted him to let me lean on the horn a little. In the end, he did, and it seems to be working. I just want this guy to drive around the cab.


This Week I Learned

So, I really like to talk into a mic for an hour. I already knew this from teaching fitness, but it turns out I like it even when the people I'm addressing aren't in perpetual motion. I like it when I have something to say. I like walking to the middle of the room, up and down the aisles, holding their attention. Stopping until they listen. Listening until they respond. Using the energy of the room to move us all forward. My audience's feedback forms from the 3-day conference that most warmed my heart said things like, "Inspiring....almost a motivational speaker." Who knew? Who knew I wanted to be a motivational speaker? But I do. I'll add this to the list of things I want. I've been building a list of things I want to do. Write a book, present more often, advocate for the good culture at my workplace.

I've also been learning a lot about authority. I have a life coach (I really do! Amazing, amazing job perk) who gives a talk on authority called, "How Your Inner Teenager is Alive and Well in the Workplace." I've been paying a lot of attention that inner teenager lately. My life coach wants to know how people learned to relate to authority, and to what extent that defines us now: as teenagers, did we try to please authority figures? Did we rebel openly? Did we appear to obey but were secretly rebellious, or appeared rebellious but were secretly obedient? Anyone who knows me know what category I fall into. But just as interesting is the category other people fall into. People I admire, people I work with, and people I love. If you listen hard enough, or maybe, stop listening and just be receptive, you can learn who that teenager is.

Last weekend my inner teenager, and the inner teenager of my husband, kicked around Western Mass for a day. Fell asleep in a park, ate sugary foods, drank PBR, visited my old college and gawked at all the actual teenagers, who live so fiestily and work to define themselves so ardently. We went up to the library and pulled my Div III off the shelves. "Hyperreality Bites: The Lost Point of Reference in America." The library featured racks of zines. The posters and magazines and "artifacts" of the culture there were so energizing and sweet and passionate at the same time. Everything seemed to be about being as honest as possible. And bucking authority, of course.