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Thursday, December 4, 2008


I hate being late. I spent 10 years of marriage being late. The kids make me late. My car clocks are set 11 minutes fast. I give dirty looks in the office when my staff is late. So when I’m late—which is rare—I spend most of the date searching out my inner chi.

Travelling has made me lazy the last three weeks. Thanksgiving didn’t help either. My Media Guy cape is fitting a little snugger these days. After six months of the eternal search for the slimmer, sleeker me, I couldn’t let it slip away. So instead of rushing into the office, I started back on three-a-days. That’s three relatively easy exercises done three times a day for three consecutive days. My workout mornings are also supposed to clear my mind. But that’s not always the case.

As I began my first mini-workout, I immediately began to sweat. The sweat was a nervous sweat; a panicked, nearly maniacal sweat brought about solely because of missing work. Why am I like that? Why is the job an integral part of my being? Why do I live for the media? The rush of seeing my clients in the limelight is a drug. One that can’t be relaxed away poolside on vacation. Perhaps I am living vicariously through them. Perhaps I am living vicariously through myself.

I remember those times at the airports in the 70’s with my dad, Media Guy Sr. I asked them who the bald guys with sheets were. He told me they were kooks. Later on, I learned they were Hare Krishnas. While those guys at the airport were probably kooks running from their trapped lives in Los Angeles suburbia, the true Krishna does present something very valuable. It presents the principle of Abhyasa, which is the ideal that life is made from what you practice.

What does it all mean? If you meditate, practicing mindfulness of breath, you become mindfulness itself – and you might experience a sense of being nothing but breath, or even that everything in existence is only of this very breath. This is all fine and dandy, but Abhyasa also has a dark side. If you practice tensing the body, you become perpetually tense; if you practice anger, you become an angry person. Makes sense right? We are what we eat, blah blah blah. Somehow the Hare Krishnas channel of this Abhyasa correctly. If they don’t, who knows? Maybe they wind up giving out flowers at LAX.

For me, in the here and now, Abhyasa could manifest itself into running late on a regular basis. Could it be that I found my secret identity? The LATE Media Guy. Holy mother of the white rabbit, Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late! Yet I digress.

On my ride into the office I muttered to the inane DJ yapping about nothing from the radio what kind of drama awaited me at the office. I got my answer 10 steps past the lobby with a shrieking “Omigod! from one of the middle offices. ”A mouse!”

Crap! Just what we need on the heels of a potential new client in the house in roughly 26 minutes.

I zoom over to Miya’s office and she says, “There it is. Right there, stuck in the glue trap and still alive!”
Sure enough, stuck on an industrial strip of adhesive next to the dishwasher is wispy little auburn field mouse glancing up at us, squealing and clearly scared out of his tiny mind.

“Dead mouse walking,” Arrogant Bob from accounting declares. “Why can’t we buy mouse traps that snap their necks?”

A meaner, more unforgiving Media Guy might use words like wretched, deplorable and maybe even putrid in describing our crummy accounts payable guy's latest inappropriate comments. Have I mentioned how I want to torch the smugness from Bob’s smiling grill with a flamethrower before? Yeah, probably so; back to the mouse.

As explain to Miya that we have to get rid of him, we notice he’s rolled onto its side where the glue’s really locked him down. “How will you get rid of it?” she pleads. Before I can answer she belts out, “I don’t want to know, I can’t stand watching this,” as she throws up her hands and barrels past Allison.

Equipped with a linen napkin, Allison transports the shrieking cargo to the back alley. Once outside Dr. Allison moves into Grey’s Anatomy Mode sizing up the mouse’s medical situation. (I’m glad her Thursday nights watching ABC are productive.) She gives him a gentle prod and it cries in pain. I feel a dull ache spread across my chest. He’s stuck and there’s no way to free him. She says there’s only one thing to do.

Placing him down on the pavement, she covers his head and puts it out of his misery. The squeaking stops. R.I.P. Mr. Wrong Place, Wrong Time Field Mouse. A moment of silence is followed by a quick prayer.

Seconds later, as I’m washing up an inconvenient thought pops into my head. Did we kill that mouse because it was the right thing to do or did we kill it because we couldn’t stand to see it suffer? If I could ask the mouse to evaluate Allison’s Dr. Grey persona, what would his reaction be? He might be unhappy she decided to crush his head so quickly. Good gawd, over thinking must be a family trait.

As Allison and I set up for the pitch, any negative feelings I had about killing the mouse dissipate quickly. He might have been a cute little thing, but he’s got a thousand brothers and sisters waiting to take his place. Carriers of grime and sickness, mice have no place in the office. There’s nothing cute about Hantavirus. A rodent problem can shut scare the bejeesus out of everyone.

In this case I prefer to dwell on the positive, and the excitement that comes with knowing there is no tomorrow, as our rodent encounter illustrated. Onto the pitch knowing that once again when your physical fitness quotient is higher you improve mental focus and reduce anxiety. And your cape flows like it should.

That’s a relief because these food and beverage people are tough to please.