So I decided to stay in DC Friday night to see some people and catch up with friends I’ve only seen once or twice since moving away in May. If you follow me on twitter, you know that I kicked off the night with a celebrity sighting Friday evening. My last year of law school, I worked as a babysitter/nanny and became very close with the whole family* (to the extent that when they were going to a family reunion in Michigan this summer, they spent a night in Cleveland and we had a very fun BBQ and swimming evening. I meant to write about it, but ended up not having time with the Bar). Anyway, Sara, the mom, and the two girls and I were supposed to meet up once I got done with work stuff and go to the Portrait Gallery and then Zaytinya for dinner. Unfortunately, The Divine Miss E, the four year old, was sick with bronchitis and unable to come at the last minute so it was just me, Sara, and Baby, who is no longer a baby but a very adult 18 months.**

We had an awesome time checking out the “1934: A New Deal For Artists” exhibit at the American Art Museum and catching up, but the highlight was when we got to Zaytinya. Not only was the food fantastic (Baby laid claim to the kibbeh immediately and made this preference clear with her emphatic MMMMs after every bite! – overall, she was fantastic and charming and quite the little lady), but Sara (who is also a huge Top Chef fan) and I got a great surprise when Mike Isabella from this season came out to chat with the people behind us and we realized that Richard Blais was at said table. Sara may have taken a picture of Mike and Richard, under the guise of taking a picture of me and Baby, but other than that we played it cool and basked in the Top Chef glow.

After that, I met up with Jill at the semi-annual work party for the SAT prep company we both worked for in college and that she is pretty high up at now where I got to catch up with my old boss and some old co-workers and meet Jill’s new boyfriend. After that, we went to our favorite bar in Crystal City where several shots where had to celebrate my passing the NY Bar.

Jill has been working like crazy the past few weeks and I’ve had a few stressors as well what with starting work and moving and all, so we decided to treat ourselves to massages to relax. It was great-I mean, who doesn’t love a massage- but definitely not relaxing! My masseuse started working on my back, then stopped and said that he thought my shoulders needed a lot of work and that we should do more of a therapeutic massage. I figured he was the professional, so why not?

Let us just say that he took his work VERY seriously, to the extent that he was telling me to breathe through the pain. I definitely think that my back and shoulders needed it because he found and worked out a ton of knots, but Dear God is my back tender today. The boyfriend literally put his hand on my back and I winced in pain. Am actually contemplating breaking out the heating pad now.

Clearly I need to find a yoga studio that I like here and start a regular practice again because I can’t let my back get this bad. It will definitely be a battle with work and sitting at a desk all day so I also really need to be more conscious of my posture. So easy to say, but we’ll see how I do in practice!

*I knew it was going to be a good fit when I discovered they named their dog Asta after the dog in the Thin Man movies and that we shared a love of old movies (the Thin Man movies are some of the first movies I remember seeing).
**Baby has a very pretty and elegant name that she is just starting to grow into so most of the time we all just called her Baby. Very Dirty Dancing.

Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh, but I would still not exactly recommend them. In order to explain, we must go back a month or so…

Even though I ended up selling the majority of my big furniture on Craigslist pre-move, I still wanted to keep my bed frame which was just a little too big to fit in my Dad’s Santa Fe (the original plan had been for both my dad and my brother to bring their cars (my brother’s car is my car’s twin – also a Tucson)), but once I really looked around at what I had and the sizes of boxes and such, I realized it would just make more sense to rent a small truck. I looked around online and, for a 10 foot truck, Budget was offering the best price. Now, with Budget, you book through a central system and then get assigned a pick up location. I was assigned a location about five minutes from my apartment. Easy-peasy, no?

Yeah right. Now, as always, I should have been more proactive with the whole thing and followed up directly with the pick up location, but with finals/packing/selling stuff on Craiglist/graduation/saying goodbyes, I didn’t. Let that serve as a warning, people. Anyway, Monday morning of the move rolls around and we are scheduled to pick up the truck at 12. I have the service elevator and loading dock in my apartment reserved from 2-4. My dad and I get to Budget and the woman tells us that she has NO 10 foot trucks, she’s never had any 10 foot trucks, and she doesn’t understand WHY they would tell us that she had one because they are all reserved for in-town moves. Instead, she will give us a 16 foot truck. Now, I don’t know how familiar you all are with trucks, but there is a significant difference between the two. The 10 foot truck is kind of like an overgrown van. You know it’s a truck, but it’s all one piece, it’s not that tall, and it’s really not THAT overwhelming. The 16 foot truck, however, is like a junior semi-truck and it is HUGE and TALL and massively overwhelming. My dad was very sweet and said he thought he could drive it, but after a family conference, we decided that wasn’t going to work. Plus, there was absolutely no way I had enough stuff to fill the 16 foot truck – all my boxes would just be sliding around and all over the place. Not good.

I tell the woman that we will not be taking the 16 foot truck and I call the central booking line for Budget. It turns out you have to talk to an operator who puts your “ticket” into the system and then a booking agent will call you back within 2 hours. In the meantime, my mom is calling other vendors and finds a U.Haul with two available trucks about 15 minutes away. The only issue there is that it will cost about $75 more. My parents are very nice and offer to cover the difference, but I feel bad and want to see if I can get the Budget thing to work out (mistake # 2). Rodney, the booking agent, actually calls within a half hour and tells me that there are no 10 foot trucks to be had in all of Arlington, Virginia, BUT that if I am willing to drive to Falls Church, he has a 10 foot truck there AND he will give me a $25 credit for going out of my way (Falls Church is next to Arlington, people, where Jill lives, and approximately 25 minutes away – of course I said yes). So my dad and I hop in my car and set off for the Falls Church Budget office. However, when we get there, the truck woman is off getting lunch. So we wait. 15 minutes later, she arrives, only to tell us that while she does have a 10 foot truck, the transmission on it is shot and she told Rodney that. Note that after this point in the story, Rodney is no longer picking up his phone or returning my calls. She then says that she doesn’t know why Rodney sent us to her, but that she’s pretty sure there are no 10 foot trucks to be had in all of Northern Virginia. Awesome.

So at that point, I admit defeat, my dad and I go pick up the U.haul truck, and get back to the apartment with 45 minutes left on the elevator/loading dock. We haul ass and use 2 dollys and a bell cart to hustle everything downstairs to my mom who is organizing the truck. The fifi family is pretty darn athletic and awesome, so we are able to get everything through the elevator and down to the loading dock by 4. Luckily, there is room on the loading dock for two trucks and the guy who had the dock reserved at 4 was very nice and said that of course he didn’t mind us sticking around and that we were not in his way (which, for the record, we were not). That did not stop the bitchy front desk woman from coming and yelling at us that our time was up,* but whatever. At that point, the attitude was flowing right back** and I won.

So anyway, you might be asking why I’m writing about this now? Well, not only did I end up having to pay $75 more for the U.Haul truck ($100, really, if you count the discount Rodney promised me), BUT Budget also charged me a cancellation fee which I, of course, contested. I thought I had settled it with Budget myself after wasting a considerable amount of time on the phone with various people (Important lesson here people: Whenever you are dealing with a situation where things are getting sketchy, take lots of notes and ALWAYS get the names of people you talk to so you can refer to them later. Although it didn’t work in this case-mostly because I didn’t feel like wasting anymore time weeding through the hierarchies of Budget management- this technique will generally help you to get your way), but finally gave up and deferred to AmEx (I heart AmEx). The charge has now been refunded.

Ultimate lesson of all this: Moving is a bitch, but if you must rent a truck yourself, go with U.Haul.

Note: I am very very very glad that my firm is paying for movers to NYC. Hopefully this will result in much less hassle.

*This is the same woman that yelled at the boyfriend and me the weekend before when we somehow managed to get locked out of the apartment. The building has keys to all our apartments, but she kept threatening to make us call a locksmith (“we don’t do lockouts on the weekends”) and made us wait 30 minutes before she finally agreed to let us in the apartment (“Just so you know, you only get three lockouts before we won’t do it for you and you have to call a locksmith.” fifi: “Well considering this is the first time and I am moving next week…” the boyfriend: (elbowing me): “You can be a bitch AFTER she lets us in the apartment.”).

**Note as well that my building management company had to have been THRILLED to see me leave. We did not have the greatest relationship – all their fault – that cost them quite a bit of money, (another story for another day, but in summary: they let someone in my apartment when they were not supposed to and did not supervise that person and that person went through my drawers, stole my spare key, and stole my car. In an unrelated incident, they lost my full length cashmere winter coat and thus ended up writing me a check for $500 for that one) so I think we were both very happy to part ways.

You are going to have SO much fun in the real world. (Also, Fox News has clearly turned on you. HEE). There is a very special circle of hell for crappy employees like you.  And my former assistant. And the boyfriend’s secretary.

I worked at George.town after graduating and every year I got to hire a work-study student to help in the office with things like filing and mailings (we sent out A LOT of mailings) and copies and flyering and all that fun stuff. Clearly, the job was not glamorous, but that was as-advertised and, as work-study jobs go, it was pretty standard. Now, I will say that out of the three assistants I hired during my tenure, two were awesome. Nice, polite, pleasant to be around. The first, however, was the DEVIL. Seriously. I think she was put here and in my office for the sole purpose of trying my patience. In my defense, she was my first hire and she seemed very mature and capable. LIES. Similar to everyone’s favorite ex-beauty queen above, DEVIL had a ginormous chip on her shoulder and clearly resented me for asking her to do things that she believed were below her. Like her job.

Among the highlights of the semester we spent together:

1) The huge SIGH of anguish anytime I asked her to do anything (i.e. “DEVIL, can you please print out 30 copies of this letter for me on letterhead?” “SIIIIIIGGGGGGHHHHHH.”

2) The fact that, no matter how many times we had a little sitdown&chat about that crazy little thing called “professionalism” and the fact that there are certain things you just can’t do in the workplace, she persisted in walking around the office singing. SINGING. And not quietly under her breath. Apparently it was her means of communicating with God (ironic, right? The devil clearly has a sense of humor).

3) The fact that she consistently showed up late to work, left early without checking in with me, and lied about doing things (example: putting things in the mail) and would only admit to not having done them when confronted with clear proof (ex: stack of envelopes she said she had mailed out a week earlier).

4) The time I asked her to hand-deliver something to another office ASAP. 30 minutes later, I got a call asking where the document was and went out to DEVIL’s work station to find her on her personal email. She then told me I was interrupting her. I believe that is when I first suggested she start looking for alternative work for the next semester.

Because that was the thing: since she was work-study and you can’t just fire work-study students, no matter how incompetent/evil they are, there was no way I could get rid of her until the end of the semester. It was a LONG semester.

The final straw was when I had to be out of the office one morning for a not-a-huge-big-deal-in-the-long-run, but-not-insignificant outpatient procedure. I worked on the Main Campus and so the hospital was right there and so I went into work before the procedure where I found that DEVIL had been lying to me (I know, I know. From what I told you above, shocker, and I should have been watching her like a bird at that point, but that’s what I get for treating her like an adult and trusting her) all week (under even the best of circumstances, DEVIL worked at the speed of molasses. It was often faster to do things myself) and had not even begun to assemble the 40 packets that had to be done by that afternoon so they could go out in that day’s mail pickup. So I left a note for her at the workstation emphasizing that the packets HAD to get done that day, explaining again how to do them, and telling her to email me the minute she got in. I also sent her an email with the same information.

I go off to have my procedure and keep checking my email. Nothing from DEVIL. Finally, I email my friend Hope* and ask her to please swing by DEVIL’s work station and make sure she is there and, if she is, tell her to email me (my office and the workstation were tucked around a corner from the rest of the department). She does, DEVIL is there, doing nothing as expected, and DEVIL finally emails me back something along the lines of “I am DOING it.” I take several deep and calming breaths. I get back, even though I had planned to take the rest of the day off, only to discover she is not doing it or anything and is on the phone with a friend. I see red  and ask her to come in my office.

She agrees, telling ME that SHE needs to talk to me. Before I can say anything, she tells me that it was really rude of me to send someone to check up on her and that I have no right to babysit her. I see red yet again, take a deep breath, and send out a little “thank you” to the universe for the painkillers the doctor sent me home with. And then we had yet another talk about professionalism and what it means when one person is the employer and the other is the employee (i.e. I beat my head against a brick wall yet again).

I thought DEVIL was one of kind, but clearly (scarily) there are more of her kind out there.

Oh, and the boyfriend’s secretary is just the worst. He shares her with several other people and they all trade horror stories on a regular basis. She regularly tells people calling that she hasn’t seen said associate/partner and so said person must not be in yet (a huge no-no) and refuses to do basic secretary things like answer the phone.** What I don’t get about her is, all things considered, she has a pretty cushy thing going. She’s got benefits and makes a very decent living (a little less twice what I made working for George.town), considering she only has a high school degree, and it’s not a horribly demanding job – she gets to leave at 6. So I don’t understand the refusal to actually, you know, do her job.

Clearly my expectations of how people should act in the workplace are just out of line.

Goes off to cry quiet tears of frustration and rally against a world that promotes such insane entitlement.

*Whose wedding I will coincidentally be at this weekend.

**There was some problem last week where all her charges kept getting fax calls to their individual lines – I don’t know why – and she told them that she was tired of picking up the phone and hearing the fax trying to go through and so she would not be answering their phones and would just let all the calls go through directly. Two of them, including the boyfriend, were closing deals. They were thrilled, let me tell you.

Last I left you, I was preparing to drive some things (1 armchair, 1 ottoman, some very nice wooden folding chairs, 2 folding bookshelves, 2 bar stools, and my Christmas tree – yes I am an awesome packer, thank you very much) to New York to move into the boyfriend’s parents’ basement until next fall when they will hopefully come to live in my lovely new apartment. This is pretty much all of the big stuff I’m keeping (hello? NYC apartments are teeny-tiny) except my bed which I love (hmmm…perhaps this would be a good excuse for a picture!) so I’ve been in the process of selling my other furniture and have made a half-hearted effort to pack a few things up. I still have one more final tomorrow, so I have packed exactly 2 boxes. Which means next week is going to be FUN!

My bed – isn’t it lovely? I know it’s a little girly, but I think the girly factor would be taken down by a nice solid color comforter which I will invest in once I start earning a real paycheck again. I got it on sale for $70 when I moved into my first real apartment after undergrad so I’m keeping it around for the time being. 

Bed Frame

Anyway, so I ended up not being able to leave until around 4:30 which did not make me happy because if you have any experience with DC traffic you know just how horrendous it can be from about 2 – 7 on any given day. And it was – to an extent. I sat on 495 (the beltway) for about an hour, trying to go 20 miles. However, I got really lucky and once I got on 95, everything was smooth sailing. By leaving so late, I also avoided NYC traffic, which was nice because the only thing worse than DC traffic is New York traffic. The drive ended up taking me just about 5 hours. I made up a little time by using my wonderful new EZ Pass which I am in LOVE with. All those people waiting to pay cashiers? Sucked to be them – I sailed on past.

FYI: Getting an EZ Pass is free and they work in most states that I am aware of on the East Coast. The only problem with the EZ Pass is that it’s not a centralized system, so you basically have to pick one state to get it through (but then it works in every state that has EZ Pass). You can set it up to automatically link to your credit card, so you always have a set amount of money available on it (I do $25, although I added a little extra for this trip because the tolls on the trip from DC to New York add up quickly – it is not a cheap trip!). Anyway, I had always thought I didn’t need one because most of the roads I use regularly around DC are not toll roads and Ohio doesn’t use EZ Pass (coming in Summer 2009!), but I have to say if you are going on a trip where you know there are going to be a lot of toll roads, it really does make the trip easier. 

Now that you think I’m an EZ Pass employee or something, back to the trip. So I got to the boyfriend’s parents’ house on Long Island around 9:30. The boyfriend insisted on taking the train out to help me, but I beat him there by about 30 minutes, giving me time to get everything except the chair unloaded. He carries the chair down to the basement and we hopped back on the LIRR and went back home to the city (I left my car at his parents’ house to save on parking – his parents were out of town until yesterday – he was going home for Mother’s Day anyway, so it made sense). 

Friday I hung around the apartment and studied while the boyfriend was off at work being busy and important, then met him at Cipriani Le Specialità for lunch because he has been wanting to try it. The food was good – he got pasta and I got a salad and we split two mini fruit tarts for desert – but it didn’t really stand out to me. I think part of the problem was that they listed all these awesome, unique salad mix-ins, but didn’t have a lot of them actually available. Still, I’m sure we’ll go back at some point. Their sandwiches looked really good so maybe that’s what I’ll try next time. Our firms are relatively close to each other, so we’re able to meet up for lunch pretty easily which is nice. After lunch I went back with him to the office to see his new solo office (the boyfriend is moving up in the world!), but I always feel awkward around there in street clothes, so I hightailed it out pretty quickly (I may have also wanted to get a pedicure. Details).

Dinner was something I had been looking forward to ALL week – Sushi Yasuda. The boyfriend took me to celebrate my upcoming (fingers crossed that no exams were failed) graduation. There are really no words to describe my love of Yasuda. I actually told the boyfriend that if he were ever thinking about proposing, Yasuda would actually be an excellent place to do it (His exact response: “You’re crazy. A sushi restaurant in Midtown Manhattan with people sitting less than a foot away from us? Really?).

But I digress. Even though it’s one of the best sushi restaurants in New York (ask Anthony Bourdain!) and you could easily run up an extremely high bill, they also have a great pre fixe menu for $25/person (soup or salad, 5 pieces of sushi (nigiri), 2 rolls, tea and mochi) so the boyfriend and I are able to indulge every couple of weeks or so. He never finishes all of the sushi that’s included (more for me!), although I usually get 2 or 3 extra pieces. Friday was probably my favorite meal I’ve had there so far – whenever we go, I always like to try different things based on what they are recommending on a given day and sometimes I try something that I’m not crazy about, but I loved everything on Friday. It was all SO fresh and the taste & texture were phenomenal. I left a happy, happy girl.*

We ate dinner relatively early and the plan was to go back to the apartment and study (the boyfriend is taking the CFA exam this summer and is starting to feel pressed for time – I obviously have the final tomorrow), but somehow when we got back, the tv got turned on to the Yankees game (for the boyfriend) and the computer screen covered with some handbag sites (the boyfriend’s parents’ have generously offered to get me a nice leather tote for work as a graduation present) and when the boyfriend’s former office mate called to see if we wanted to grab a drink with him and his wife, he didn’t have to twist our arms too hard (plus we’ve been saying we’d get together with this couple for months now and haven’t so we were feeling a little guilty). One drink turned into several beers for the boyfriend and former officemate C. I nursed a Maker’s for a good chunk of the evening, but then when I suggested heading home around midnight, somehow a vodka redbull showed up in front of me. One more of those, approximately $20 on the jukebox (who doesn’t love a little Take Me Home Tonight/More Than a Feeling/Living On A Prayer/More Than a Feeling/Sweet Caroline/etc. medley? That’s what I thought) and we found ourselves headed home at 4 am (which created serious complications for our study all morning plan). Good times though. 

I finally got on the road around 6 yesterday , had an uneventful and quick drive back to DC and am now settled in, studying for tomorrow. Well, actually I’m blogging. But I swear I’m going back to the books right now…Wish me luck!

*What did we get, might you ask? Fluke, hamachi, orato, spanish mackerel, and tuna. Hamachi and spanish mackerel rolls. I also got arctic char, a second type of yellowtail, and tasmanian trout. yum yum yum.