Earlier this week, I celebrated my one-year anniversary working for my current employer. I had completely forgotten the significance of the date, until HR wished me a “happy anniversary!” mid-afternoon. An hour later my boss pulled me into his office to give my me annual review. To call it positive is an understatement. Let’s just say it’s nice to feel appreciated. I love the company, and my job is the best!
Things weren’t always this way, though…
Ten years ago, I took a job with a health insurance provider. I’d been unemployed nearly a year, and quite frankly, was desperate for work. Why else would I end up working in a call center for a few bucks more than minimum wage? The office was located in a high-rise in downtown Portland, which was pretty cool, but the commute via mass transit was not. The work was grueling and tedious, and I was miserable there. It’s a wonder I lasted ten months! Anyway, being a call center, I was basically chained to my desk all day long, tethered there with a headset. Even our bathroom breaks were monitored. So when an opportunity arose to tackle a special project for the accounting department, I jumped at the chance.
The work was monotonous – basically, it involved transferring member files – but it was quiet, and I was off the phones for a whole week. That first day I opened the drawer of the abandoned desk where I was working, looking for a pen, and found a CD that had a single word scrawled on it with a blue Sharpie.
I slipped the disc into the CD slot, and listened as a series of soulful R&B tunes played. I did not recognize the artist or the songs, but was immediately captivated by the music nevertheless. Tracks like “The Love I Lost” and “I’m Weak For You” and “Bad Luck.” And a couple of familiar ones: hey, it’s that Simply Red song, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now!” And there’s the disco hit “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” I listened to that CD all week long, and when the work assignment was up, I took a copy home for myself. Listened to it on occasion, and never grew tired of the soulful harmonies and often-inspiring lyrics.
For years, I had no idea who “Melvin” was. A few internet searches yielded no obvious results. This was before apps like Shazam existed. If you’re unfamiliar with Shazam, all you do is press a button, and your smart phone “listens” to the song that is playing. Within 30 seconds, it tells you who the artist is, as well as the name of the song and the album. There’s even a handy link to download the MP3, if you’re so inclined. Boy, that would’ve been really helpful in 2004! Instead, I just enjoyed the music, even if I had no clue who sang it.
Years later, I had the idea to Google a snippet of lyrics, and found they were attributed to Harold MELVIN & The Blue Notes. Only one of the most popular soul groups of the ’70s! I was thrilled that I’d finally made the connection, and solved the Melvin mystery. Since then, we’ve picked up three Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes albums for our record collection, and enjoy listening to them when we’re seeking a respite from our usual rock ‘n roll. It’s good stuff, man. Here’s a clip.
In other news, we woke up to snow today. In fact, it’s still coming down at a good clip right now, and on top of that, we’ve got gusty east winds blowing. It’s not supposed to get above 29 today, which is bitterly cold for Portland. Talk about a blustery day. Remember when I was all excited because our low dropped to 23 a couple of weeks ago? Well, it’s been in the teens since, and this weekend could drop to 10 degrees, which would be the coldest temperature here in 24 years. Portland hasn’t had a low in the single digits since 1950, so if that occurs, it would be historic. This winter is shaping up to be a doozy!
Anyway, even though the snow hasn’t amounted to all that much – just an inch or so, tops – it’s funny, because up until last night, every meteorologist in town was predicting no snow for Portland. It was all supposed to hit Salem and Eugene, leaving us high and dry. I think there’s too much of a reliance on computer models these days. All of them showed the storm tracking south. In reality, it came ashore 50 miles north of where it was “supposed” to, which put us right in the bullseye and gave everybody a surprise snowstorm. The smartest computers in the world can’t predict all the curveballs Mother Nature can throw at you. I like to joke that the most accurate weather model is the GOLU. That’s “Go Outside, Look Up.” That one never lets you down.
With the snow and cold, you’d think we’d be eager to hunker down and stay inside this weekend, but instead we’re planning a trip to the Columbia Gorge tomorrow. When it gets this cold the waterfalls ice over, leading to some spectacular photo opps. It’s a rare event that only occurs every few years or so, and we want to take advantage. We’ll just pile on coats and scarves and gloves and bring along a thermos of hot cocoa, and enjoy the scenery.
Happy weekending, y’all!
- The Shadows of ’73 (jabartlett.wordpress.com)
- Shazam turns music listeners data into profit (sfgate.com)
- “Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes – ‘I Miss You’ (A Tribute to Teddy)” (goodolewoody.me)
- Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes – Wake Up Everybody (hateandanger.wordpress.com)