Archive for the ‘Office Jorgen’ Category

(This is the third in a four-part series)

I got to the bus stop just as a bus was passing, this time I was lucky enough to flag it down. As I walked over to the opening doors, I pulled my wallet out to grab my u-pass. It wasn’t there.

My u-pass is always there. Every time I use it, I put it right back in the same spot. Every time. Somehow, it was not there.

On any normal day in the past, and possibly in the future, I would have lost my composure. I would have gotten angry, upset and stressed. Something immediately overcame me though; I looked up at the bus driver and, smilingly, waved him on.

I then began the two-block walk home.

On the way, I tried to figure out where my u-pass might be, but I could not begin to guess.

I entered the apartment expecting a long and frustrating search, but there it was, on the ground behind the head of my bed. How in the world it got there I cannot begin to guess. Why my eyes looked there first I cannot begin to guess. I picked it up, turned around, and walked back to the bus stop.

The bus came. I got on, and (somehow) still got to work with time to spare.

The whole time I felt peaceful and calm, how? There is something deeper than me and my guesses.

depth charge one: casualty

Posted: April 29, 2011 in Office Jorgen

(This is the first in a four-part series.)

As the cheerless news made its way around the office an appropriate sense of somberness sunk in. smiles turned to solemnity, delight was shaken by the tremors of despair, happiness morphed instantly into heaviness. A 12-year-old boy had been shot in the back at a South-Side middle school. A gang member had shot him just days after violent threats had been posted on his Facebook wall. This “gang member” was his 14-year-old classmate.

Chew on that.

Explain that to me, please.

What kind of sense is there in a kid that young being shot down, in public, at school, by a classmate.

***

The reason this hit our office so hard was because it happened at one of our schools. We concluded our after school program there just last month, our after school program which began each day at almost the exact time that the shooting occurred.

Yes, we are an educational company, but we are also a safe haven for these kids who are surrounded by violence.

I may have started here on the sole impetus that I needed money; however, that reasoning alone cannot sustain anyone for as long as I have been here. I have to jump in. I have to acknowledge the awful facts around me, the reality of the lives of the students that we serve.

***

The dark cloud hung over the office for most of the morning. The eventual response was to push this tragedy out of our minds, forget and move on. No one mentioned it the next day. No one wanted to.

birthday

Posted: April 5, 2011 in Office Jorgen

As he gently pushed the door open, trying to be as quiet as possible, the balloons in his hand bumped against the jamb and sent a chorus of echoes down the overly-echoey hallway. And naturally, since we were attempting to be quiet, the sound was much louder than it normally would have been. After this close-call, my co-worker succeeded in entering the office, and together we bolted into the conference room to hide the goods. We were the official party bearers for the most recent office birthday.

The day before:
The official “secret” email was sent out to all of the non-birthday people, getting us all on board for the following day’s festivities. One of my co-workers signed up to go and get the supplies, cake and balloons, from the nearby grocery store. His reasoning was that he had yet to participate in this way in any of the other birthdays, which got me thinking, “why not me?” So, I quickly volunteered to be his partner in crime for the sortie.

The next day:
Acting very nonchalant, we headed out of the office under the guise of a ‘lunch break’. As soon as we reached the exit however, the mission was our only focus. We had a dual purpose in going, for one, we really did feel like our time had come to help out, secondly, we figured we could botch it up so badly that they would never send two guys again.

Our official party headquarters is a Jewel one block away from our office building so the journey did not take long. Once there, however, things began to get complicated. First, there were no cupcakes and there are always cupcakes (we later learned they keep them in the back of the store, see, you shouldn’t send two males). We wandered aimlessly through the bakery section trying to find a fitting substitute. What we eventually decided on were these two small, cheap – literally the cheapest things we could find – cakes, one of which was lemon. Our next challenge was creating balloon bouquets. Which would have been easy, except for the fact that we had very little concept of what colors looked good together. It took us a long time of pulling together different combinations of balloons before we felt properly satisfied with our decision.

After checking out, we headed back to the office. Note: try taking a bunch of balloons through a revolving door sometime, it is a fun little challenge. The only difficult thing between the lobby and our floor was the elevator, for some reason business people get weird in an elevator packed with balloons, oh well. After the doors opened, the challenge of the hall was in our way. We wanted it to be a surprise, so we had to proceed cautiously. Thankfully, we reached the office door uneventfully, but then As he gently pushed the door open, trying to be as quiet as possible, the balloons in his hand bumped against the jamb and sent a chorus of echoes down the overly-echoey hallway. And naturally, since we were attempting to be quiet, the sound was much louder than it normally would have been. After this close-call, my co-worker succeeded in entering the office, and together we bolted into the conference room to hide the goods.

After we were safely inside the conference room, we set everything up for the birthday girls’ arrival. We went around the office, getting everyone to go to the conference room, then we invited the two birthday ladies in for a ‘meeting’ and… Surprise! Everyone enjoyed the little party, and much to our surprise and chagrin, showered me and my friend with adoration for our great job and the delicious cake.

As I stood in there in the midst of these daytime comrades of mine, I felt so connected. I came into this office five months ago and had been stopped for a similar ordeal (read about that here), this time I was more than an innocent bystander, I was really one of the gang.

He rolled around in the hotel bed, unable to rest. Part of this was due to the incessant sunlight pouring through the window, part of it was the ceaseless prodding of his conscience. It was a strange dichotomy between too much light and too much dark.

A few minutes after the conclusion of the above movie, I went to bed myself.

The yellow glow of the streetlight defied the darkness of the room as it made its way through the wooden slat shades with ease. I tossed and turned for a while, the light was not so much of a problem as was the constant churning of thoughts in my head.

The main thing on my mind was this: “don’t lose your way.”

The next night the situation repeated itself, minus the movie.

The next morning when I roused I glanced up at the clock on the dresser: 7:35 AM. I was late; I had lost a half-hour of preparation time. Still, it was hard to convince myself that I needed to get out of bed that is until I looked at my cell phone which recorded the time as 8:35 AM. It was then that I remembered that the dresser clock had not been adjusted for daylight savings time, and I was 20 minutes late for leaving the house. I didn’t have time to shower; let alone make coffee, eat breakfast or make lunch.

Day’s like that are hard to rectify. Seemingly nothing can go your way when you start your day late.

I felt this fact compounded as I commuted to work. Naturally, it was raining, drizzling more like. I felt a deep coldness, unsatisfied with myself and yet unwilling to change my mind. It was a strange dichotomy: light all around me, yet darkness within.

Paul Cézanne, the French impressionistic painter, once said, “Genius is the ability to renew one’s emotions in daily experience.

A change was needed. And that change could not manifest itself in the form of wishing away another morrow; tomorrow would come just the same, yet hopefully be different.

I awoke very early the next morning to the sound of the alarm on my phone going off. I got out of bed, it was still dark outside. I stumbled, as one does early in the morning when our dormant legs are not fully ready to handle our weight. I made my way into the living room; the street lights were not as effective in this part of the house so the room was much darker. I took a seat on the la-z-boy. For a moment or two I just sat there, in the dark, at 4:45 AM.

Eventually, I reached over and clicked on the lamp.

Light flooded the room.

For roughly the next hour I sat and read. I then got back into bed, to sleep until I needed to start getting ready for work.

Something was inexpressibly different when I awoke to face this new day.

Proverbs 19:23 – The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

Proverbs 4:18-19 – The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

We lose are way when we live in the night. We stumble and know not why.

I needed to reset, refocus and restart – I needed to walk in the light.

And turn off the dark.

As I commuted to work I saw people all around me. At work my colleagues were real again. And, coincidentally the sun was shining like “the full light of day.”

The knock of the pins hitting the floor was drowned out by the sound of the music blaring through the speakers. Our conversation was limited as we strained to hear each other over the cacophonous background. I was speaking with the owner of the company, for the first time ever. Though it was hard to communicate due to our settings, I had the opportunity to honestly share my life with her.

The above happened three weeks ago at my companies quarterly outing, which happened to be at a bowling ‘lounge’.

The place was very dimly lit, on top of this, most of the lights were black-lights which gave our clothes an eery glow. The lanes were painted with these distracting squiggles, which heavily detracted from the bowling. Everyone around me was drinking, I held a disposable plastic water cup. My co-workers were all dropping expletives, I fought (successfully) the urge to let my tongue slip. Finally, the place was packed, our group alone represented 35 people on just three lanes.

Fast forward to this last Friday night. We walked out into the rain, it was cold and windy. Moments earlier I had been fighting going out at all, my brother had urged me to join this late-night expedition. We were headed to a fraternity party (?!?!).

It was much brighter than the bowling alley, and there was no bowling, but otherwise it had a pretty similar feel. Everyone was drinking and using language. The whole apartment was packed, we had to literally squeeze our way into the crowded room, only to find ourselves backed up against the hallway wall trying to make conversation with those who were directly next to us. I had only one partial conversation while in the confines of those walls, and even that was a chore of straining to hear the others voice. But even in that limited context, I was able to be open about my life.

Needless to say, my view of a ‘party’ does not mesh with these modern incarnations of such. Why show up at all then? I don’t participate in the signature activities available at these parties, never have, have no desire to do so. I did not go to these parties in order to divulge in debauchery, that is really not my cup-of-tea. No, I went to a) see, and b) speak.

I have heard a lot of people defend attending college parties in order to “You know, try it. How can you say its wrong if you’ve never been there.” I assure you this was not my line of reasoning, I had no intention of ‘trying’ anything. (On a side note: I missed the part that said you need to try something before you can know that it is wrong.) I simply wanted to be there, to see what the experience was like.

Secondly, I was given an opportunity at both parties to speak. Even though it was strained, short, and staccato, it was still genuine and honest.

It would be a lie to say that I was comfortable for any real amount of time at either party, nor should I have been. However, if we are not going into places that make us uneasy, I would argue that we are either not living in the world enough or that we are too being much of the world. It is not enough to simply be in places that we do not belong and attempt to fit in, we must waltz into these parties and consciously be distinctly different.

t.G.i.f.

Posted: March 4, 2011 in Office Jorgen

When my friend and I were told that school went 6 days a week, it was all we could do to keep our mouths closed in the presence of the schoolmaster; but as soon as we were alone we vocalized our shock and frustration. We had just arrived at what would be our home for the next three months, Two Worlds Public School in Vishakhapatnam, India, and had been informed that, unlike American schools, theirs ran all week long.

The irony of the above situation, as my friend can attest, is that throughout our time there we only taught 6 days of one week due to holidays and unexpected excursions.  But why did it matter so much to us? Simply put, we are Americans and we valued our weekends.

At least, I thought I valued the weekend at the time. Truth be told, I didn’t. Nothing about the way I was raised, educated, or the way I lived actually placed emphasis on the weekend. In fact, in high school, weekends were usually exponentially busier than the week.

Obviously what I am driving at is that I now feel like I truly anticipate the weekend.

Take this week for example, although it is not entirely exemplary it does give a decent representation of my life.

I get up at 7 everyday, out of necessity, and this week was no exception. I spend an hour getting ready – read a psalm, prepare the coffee, take a shower, do some dishes (this is always needed), brew the coffee, make a sandwich (for lunch), make and/or eat breakfast, pour the coffee, get dressed, wake up my brother, drink coffee, talk, pray and leave.

Then there is the commute. With a combination of bus, train and foot I make it to work in a little less than an hour.

Then I work. Full-time. Forty(+) hours a week. Work can be fun. But, when you do the same thing, in the same office, at the same desk, everyday, it begins to wear you down a little. I had a breakthrough a few weeks ago: I have responsibilities. There is a fraction of this company, however small it may be, that is resting on my shoulders and the work I do. As exciting as it is to be 20 years old and have that kind of responsibility, it changed my interaction with the workplace – it is more than just a fun place, it is a place of duty.

This week I had something every evening after work: Monday, watched the school play; Tuesday, class; Wednesday, debate society; Thursday, class; Friday, Intervarsity. I got home by 10 at the earliest, every night, which means 14 hours straight of being out of my apartment.

My week is both long and arduous. I am not living in la-la fun land. I am also not complaining. Life is good, but I am living for the weekend.

The weekend brings three things that I cherish: rest, friends, and church. I overdose on these three. And you know what? That makes the week even harder because I know the joy that awaits me at the end, and I want it so badly that it drags on me all week.

But I must press on – we must press on – because the whole point is to long for the greater, to see the things of this world become a drag on us as we fight for eternity. And we are given the little, momentary rests to encourage us on to greater depths.

See, the week is endurable because I know that the weekend is coming.

the Hurricane* must continue

Posted: February 6, 2011 in Office Jorgen

Call me a naïve California boy if you will, but when I am told to be somewhere I will make an effort to be there; even if that means conquering snowmageddon. Such was the case this past week; our boss (who was at a conference in Orlando where it was going to be 70 and sunny mind you) told us that he wanted us all in the office the day of the Chicago blizzard.

I awoke on Wednesday morning to the most unbelievable sights. Our living room window (on the third floor) was almost entirely obscured with snow. Our front porch was full of snow, nearly covering the chairs and completely disguising our Smokey Joe® BBQ. Upon reaching street level things only got more insane. The front steps of our building were piled high with snow, the sidewalk didn’t exist, and the street was indistinguishable. The 20+ inches of snow easily topped my boots and got inside of them as I trudged through the mess. When I finally reached my bus stop, I saw the demarking, curbside sign standing 15 feet from anything that one could feasibly call a road. The mighty 55th street, normally two lanes each direction, had been whittled down to approximately 1 ½ lanes total. Due to the enormous amount of snow blocking the road, the bus we got rerouted, adding ten blocks onto a ten block journey. We made it to the train station though, and things appeared to be all green lights.

A lot of stations now post the time of incoming trains, which for the most part I’ve found very accurate. On this morning the following projected times greeted me upon my arrival at the station: 1) 2 min; 2) 4 min; 3) 6 min; 4) 6 min; 5) 6 min; 7) 9 min; 8 ) 13 min. I was surprised that so many trains were projected in such short amount of time; normally not more than 3 trains are predicted within the quarter-hour. Needless to say, I was disappointed. The train times kept decreasing, then passing, and no train was forthcoming. After almost 30 minutes of standing in the cold, with the snow and wind beginning to pick up again, a train came into sight.

The redline runs over ground until it reaches downtown, and then it becomes one of two subway lines. When I emerged from the subway I was in the middle of an active blizzard. There were a handful of people (remember this is downtown Chicago), two cars, and I could not see the tops of any buildings. Snow was violently whipping against my face as I trudged through the snow and haze to get to work.

A nearly silent office greeted me.

I walked around, looking for everyone, anyone.

One guy was there, in the back office, everyone else had bailed.

Within a few hours two more people showed up, but that was it. As we all patted ourselves on the back for braving the blizzard, and received adulations from our non-present co-workers, something changed. I became a part of the team. I was able to relax, let my guard down, let them in. it was a good day at the office, we had a nice lunch, I was super productive, and I got to know my co-workers in a newer, realer way.

The next few days in the office were my best to date; and I hope that I will retain this new-found connection with the team.

*our company name is Brain Hurricane