30 June 2008


Rice to Riches
37 Spring Street
New York City

Every Fourth of July my aunt has a barbeque and without fail, rice pudding is served- not as “a” dessert, but as “the” dessert as part of our freedom celebration. “I remember how much you like rice pudding so I made it for you,” she gushes. What my Aunt doesn’t know is that each year I take an obligatory bite, smile and say how much I love her rice pudding. Then I wretch behind the shed.

As I grow older, it’s been more and more difficult to hide, let alone stomach, the truth: I hate rice pudding. With all the Independence Day barbeques, friends waxing nostalgic, now Rice to Riches, the trendiest “specialty” shop in SoHo…I can’t escape rice pudding.

Recently my friends forced me into the softly-lit, futuristic eatery on Spring Street. My stomach turned as I reluctantly scanned the vats of rice pudding. I silently wondered how there could be so many varieties of rice mixed with cold goo? “Peanut Butter Pick-a-Peck”? “The Edge of Rum Raisin”?

Succumbing to intense peer pressure, I chose the one option that I felt wouldn’t make me gag. There were no sheds here. “Sex Drugs and Rocky Road” was my choice. Can’t go wrong with chocolate. “Rocky road” prepared me for the texture. “Sex” and “drugs,” too? Everybody’s doing it, so why not?

Once I had the serving in hand, I took a tentative bite using the shoe-horn-like spoon they provide me. With that one bite, I felt —- no, I knew —- that I had it all wrong. I don’t hate rice pudding. I don’t hate rice pudding at all! I hate MY AUNT’S rice pudding. I loved this rice pudding with its soft and smooth texture, the rice playing over my tongue again and again. Oh, I loved, loved, loved rice pudding.

I’m still going to make annual trips behind my aunt’s shed, but I intend to make more frequent visits to Rice to Riches and maybe even pick up some edible rice pudding for my Aunt to sample.

28 June 2008


The next set of entries is from Day 2 of Anne's "spy" notebook.

Last night I memorized the dress code list provided by Best Practice. We are expected to wear well-kept, well-pressed garments. No halters, bare midriffs, something called Reefs, or Birkenstocks (as mentioned before). No problem. My Jones New York suits and Aerosole pumps fit the bill.

To blend in further, I dusted off my briefcase and packed it with my typical supplies (pen, notebook, night-vision goggles, and ortho-chlorobenzalmalanonitrile).

I googled this ortho-chloro stuff. Turns out, it’s tear gas. I seriously doubt Anne could acquire tear gas…right? I realize people buy babies, bomb-making equipment and guns off the net…but tear gas? I’m going to check her briefcase tomorrow.

I have poured over the “deck” that Broken Spirit provided me. The language has struck me as quite foreign, so I have been taking notes on their local jargon. I have quickly found the value-add of clarity by bucketing my surveillance into three major workstreams: targets, storyline, analysis. I will gain key transparent takeaways that can later be synthesized into one silo.

With the exception of the misuse of “silo”, (siloization, of course!), Anne is tracking. In fact, her rapid leveraging of office buzzwords is one of her spikes. Kudos!

I just returned from several training sessions. I will download later as it is now 5pm and avoid raising suspicion, I must leave. But to summarize: I believe I have stumbled on a clue regarding my mission.

I'm going to start skipping some of Anne's entries as this is getting tedious. I'll pull the most interesting from now on.

22 June 2008


I work with a Temp named Anne at a top-ranked consulting firm here in New York City. The lady’s a little loopy: she thinks she’s a spy sent by the Temp Agency to gather information. I’m not sure what information or why…and it seems she’s not sure either—probably because…SHE’S NOT A SPY! She’s a Katharine Gibbs data entry admin who has three cats, rocks Aerosoles, and wears fluorescent yellow reading glasses 24/7.

Once I realized Anne was taking “spy notes” on our day-to-day work activities, I started swiping her journal and transcribing its contents (below). I wish Anne spent as much time working as she does “spying.” Maybe she’d actually finish that excel spreadsheet she started her first day. Anyway, read on for her daily spy reports. I’ve added my notes (in italics) for clarity.

Field Asset: Anne _______
Mission: Unknown (TBD)
Recruiter: Temps Timed Right
Location: _________ Consulting

I’ve just met with my morbidly-obese Human Resources contact, Bonnie (codename: Big Mac Attack). We’ve gone over Confidentiality (ha!), hours, dress code (Birkenstocks – no, sensible pumps – yes), and general office procedures. I believe I will assimilate easily into the culture here at _____ Consulting—which from this moment forward will be known as, “Best Practice”.

I’ve removed the name of our firm as they’d probably prefer to remain anonymous in this context. Plus, after reading a year of Anne’s entries, I’d hate for her to lose her job. She obviously likes her “work” here…and her kookiness makes the days pass faster.

I will report back to the Recruiting Agency about my orientation with Big Mac Attack. They will be delighted to know that I have passed the random drug test.

I honestly don’t think “random drug testing” exists here at the firm. They probably tested her because she seems so whacked-out. Supposedly highly recommended (120 wpm), but whacked-out.

I have been assigned a “number” at Best Practice. The thirteen digit code (XXXXXXXXX8475) applies to every move I make. If I need help with my computer, access to voicemail, to order supplies, buy food from Senseless Web…I cannot shit without divulging my thirteen digit number to a third party. How will I conduct surveillance when I am attached to this numerical identification code? I will consider changing the digits up to throw them off.

Lol. Anne wrote “shit.” And no, Anne, as you’ve probably realized, changing your number doesn’t work. It’s your corporate DNA. You are now owned by Best Practice.

After meeting with Big Mac Attack, I was transferred to my new department: Knowledge Services. Score! Minimal surveillance necessary: knowledge is at my fingertips.

I just liased with my buttoned-up, Ivy-educated immediate manager, Cheryl, (Codename: Muffin) to whom I will directly report. Muffin is Manager of Knowledge Services. I will surely gain pertinent information from her, but in due time. During this first meeting she showed me photos of her horse and donkey farm upstate. Maybe her title should be “Manager of Ass” instead. (Ha. Ha. Ha. I will try to keep my witticisms to a minimum, but couldn’t pass that one up). I will continue to feign interest in her equestrian pursuits to gain information that will satisfy the Agency. If I can’t crack Muffin, the mission will be lost.

Personally, I pretend to care about Cheryl’s horses and donkeys to get a raise, not to “crack Muffin”.

My cubicle is adjacent to a mousy twenty-something intellectual, Sarah (codename: Broken Spirit). I put on my glasses to appear vulnerable and sympathetic, an ally to this sallow, withdrawn creature. I plan to win her trust.

So that’s me. And the reason why she wears her reading glasses all day long.

Broken Spirit has provided me with printout of Best Practice’s overall firm statistics and practices. Score! She has already come across as more knowledgeable than Muffin.

Damn straight!

Best Practice has over 400 Consultants and 200 Executive Assistants in the New York City office alone. Worldwide: over 9,000 members. They continue to hire Consultants as in years past: over 160 new Consultants from top Ivy schools will be hired on premises this year. Yet Team Assistants are now outsourced to Mozambique and Peoria. Will look into this practice more in-depth as surveillance continues.

Yes, Best Practice has leveraged the 50% of Mozambicans (and 23% of Peorians) who are literate and know how to turn on the supplied IBM ThinkPads, to coordinate all things related to team consulting.

I’m going to stop here for now. All of the above pertained to “Day 1” only. Anne has notes recorded for almost every hour of each day so you can imagine the task of transcribing the minutiae. I’ll post again after the sensation returns to my fingertips.