Annexed: Mystery Science Theatre

In this edition of Annexed: a mysterious caller, The real Strangler, a science experiment, scales, and good-byes.

Mystery # 1 – Alan:
On Monday, one of the teams (the one that The Strangler and Bob are on) had a conference call. Seems pretty typical in an office right? Well, what wasn’t typical was that some random guy named Alan called in. He announced himself and then came that awkward moment of, “Who is this guy? Is he invited? Should I know who this is?” and frantically searching your brain for the answers. There were none. No one knew who Alan was. So, the call proceeded. Afterwards, after everyone had hung up, the gang came running out and said “Who’s Alan?” Still no one knew. We determined that it was a Conference Call Crasher. You know, people who dial in to random conference calls just to mess with those on the line. What a fun idea! So we decided to try it. On our  next departmental meeting, Bob announced himself as Alan. It threw our manager off a bit but then he recognized the voice and said, “Bob, is that you?” We’re going to continue crashing conference calls and pretending we are supposed to be there.

  • “Hi this is Alan!”
  • “Alan?….um, this is the XYZ Project meeting. Are you on the right call?”
  • “Yep, Mike sent me.”
  • “Oh. Um, what department are you with?”
  • “[static]I’m with the [static] department”
  • “Oh, ok….”
  • The meeting proceeds…Alan interrupts the agenda, “Hey this is Alan. Are we going to talk about the baseline?”
  • “Well, no, that’s not on the agenda.”
  • “Well that’s why I dialed in. Here let me just tell you that we need to see some dates soon or we won’t support this project.”
  • “Oh well um, we’re not quite there yet Alan but I’ll see what I can do. What department are you with again?”
  • “[static] the [static] department”
  • “I’m sorry what?”
  • “Ok this is getting ridiculous. That’s it, I’m  hanging up and talking to Mike about this!” [click]

Mystery # 2 – The Strangler:
Ok so you all know that I call my British co-worker “The Strangler”. It started as a funny  joke because she can be a hard ass. Well, it’s not so funny anymore. Turns out The Mall has its own Strangler and this person is leaving us morbid notes at our desks!

This was the first item to show up:

In case you can’t tell, it’s a Christmas Card. It’s actually the card that the Brit left for Bob. But, when we came back from lunch one day, Bob returned to his desk to find it like this! How alarming! We all brushed it off as a joke, until this appeared on Bob’s desk the next day…

WTF!? This is no longer funny and we’re all a bit on edge. But, since both items were on Bob’s desk, we all felt solace in the fact that The Strangler (or T.S. ) seemed to have a thing for Bob. Hey, better him than me right? Or so I thought.

This was found on my monitor yesterday…

Are we seeing a pattern here people? Obviously T.S. has a calling card and he’s now aiming his antics at me!

So far nothing has happened today so maybe it was a lark. I’ll keep you posted…

Science #1 – The Experiment
Remember how I told you last Friday that I was going to conduct a very intricate experiment this week? Well here it is. Basically, I laid 3 random objects in various spots around The Mall. The goal was to see how long they would stay before being taken or moved.

Here are the items and their locations:

A quarter: I placed a quarter on the floor, next to one of the planters. It was visible but out-of-the-way enough that it wouldn’t be too obvious.

Post-it Note: I stuck a post-it to the wall next to the cafeteria. It was lower on the wall and somewhat inconspicuous. I wrote “You’ve been Annexed :)” on it.

Candy bar: the last item was a mini, somewhat stale, candy bar. I placed it on the back of a bench.

I laid the items out at about 2:40 p.m. on Monday. My plan was to check on them every day for progress. **NERD ALERT**NERD ALERT** I even made an Excel spreadsheet to track my data!  Late afternoon I was hungry for chocolate and almost went back out to snatch  my precious little morsal back, but I resisted. I didn’t want to taint the experiment! When I left that night around 5, I could see that the quarter was still there. I didn’t go check on the other items. Tuesday morning I came in and could see that the quarter was gone. Around 9:30 a.m. I went to check on the other items and they were gone too.

Conclusions: Either The Mall has a cleaning crew that removed all the items OR Scooter snagged ’em all up and stowed them away in his bathroom-stall-shrine to me. One of these days I’ll send Bob in to the bathroom to check the stall and verify that last point.

Science #2 – The Scales:
Remember how I told you all that The Mall has 2 scales in it? Well I figured it was high time to put them to the test so I  marched out and jumped right on. The first one I tried was the  one downstairs:

I had to search for the coin slot. What’s that? There are directions and arrows clearly marked on the sign, directing me to said slot? Whatever. If I had followed those directions I wouldn’t have found this:

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What a find! Apparently someone had weighed themselves just minutes before I arrived and forgot to take their printout with them! Suh-weet! Naturally I snagged it and here’s what I gleaned:

  1. The person was 232.6 lbs (or 105.5 kg) but should weigh 158.0 lbs or (71.7 kg). Conclusion – this person is overweight by about 75 pounds!
  2. To keep up that weight, this person needs to continue eating 3489 calories a day.  Conclusion – this person eats a lot.
  3. To lose weight, they should eat 2370 calories daily. Conclusion – even if trying to lose weight, this person would still eat a lot!

Now it was time for me to weigh myself. I put my quarter in and stepped on the scale. It greeted me and then asked a series of questions:

  1. Adult or child? (I answered adult. I know this is debatable sometimes with my mental state, but my body is adult sized)
  2. Male or female? (Female, like, duh)
  3. Small, medium or large build? (I went with medium)
  4. Height (5’7″ – I can hear my sister now shouting “no you’re  not – you’re 5’6”!! Hey, it’s my experiment so I’m including the extra inch dammit!)
  5. Social Security Number (###-##-1234)
  6. Username/Password to my bank account (Hahayouwish/notonyourlife)
  7. Did I want to also get my lucky lotto numbers? (I said no because it would have cost me another quarter and I only had 2 – one for this scale and one for the other one. This would be a good time to shout out to Bob for loaning me the quarters! Thanks dude!)

Then it did its little magic and spit out this:

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 Here are my results:

  1. I weigh 140 lbs (63.5 kg) – it says to allow 5 – 10 lbs for clothing…I’m going to allow 10. What?
  2. My ideal weight is 148.0 lbs (67.1 kg). In case you didn’t bother with the math, that means this thing thinks I’m underweight! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Tell that to my muffin top!
  3. If I want to maintain this weight, I should eat 2100 calories daily. Finally I have permission to pig out!
  4. If I want to *gain* weight, I should eat 2220 calories daily. Not only permission, but encouragement! Thank you Mall Gods!

Then it told me to enjoy my day. Are you kidding? I get to eat 2200 calories! You bet I’m going to enjoy my day!

Next I went to the other scale:

I had saved this one for last because it was the cute one with Bugsy on it. No bonus printout on this one so I put my quarter in, and it promptly ate it and didn’t turn on. The damn thing doesn’t work! I could have used that quarter to get my lucky lotto  numbers!!! Stupid bug…

Theatre #1 – Good-byes

One of the Indians left this week. He was the leader of the pack and a royal pain in the butt on many occasions. But overall he was a nice guy and it was kind of sad to say good-bye. It was also the first indication that these projects will not last forever and while I will be happy to migrate back to the west office, a part of me will miss this place. Despite the unpleasantness of the surroundings, our little group has a lot of fun. Someone told me last night that they would love to work here because it looks like we have a blast all day. And we do. But it’s also a lot of hard work. We have to be silly and goofy to get through the other crap. Eases the stress.

Also said goodbye to The Brit today, but this is just temporary. She is heading back home to visit family and friends for the holidays. She’ll be gone for 2 weeks and we’ll miss her terribly. But this also means we can totally dog’s breakfast with her stuff whilst she’s away! [If she’s reading this she literally just had a heart attack because a) I used English slang and b) she’s picturing us touching her things].

Here she is at the airport – making sure she is fully prepared for a trip abroad. She has the basics covered – beer and medication  

Before the beer...


After the beer

Theatre #2 – Zombies

So, we often refer to The Mall as the Dawn of the Dead because it’s so. freakin’. empty. We joke about zombies being around. Some zombie skin even showed up on The Brit’s desk the other day (and it touched her spoon. When she discovered this her head exploded and then she got a new spoon). Well, funny thing – yesterday we were eating lunch at John’s and there was a big family at the table next to us (big as in there were a lot of them, not that they’re fat. Although, John’s food could contribute to that too…). One of the gals had 2 kids with her and when they were done eating she told them to go out in the mall and play, which pretty much meant run around screaming. At one point they came in to get a drink and I heard the boy say, “Next time, can I be the zombie?”  Beautiful.

Bonus items:

Before I wrap up, I have to mention 2 other things. First of all, the Greater Omaha Area Bowling Association put up some holiday decor. Hey, someone’s got to!

And finally, this is what I saw when I walked in to the bathroom after lunch:

Apparently someone didn’t have the $.25 needed and were badly in need of a diaper feminine pad so they broke in and took one. Maybe they should have looked around the mall first. You can sometimes find a quarter or candy bar lying about…

Until next week….you’ve been Annexed!!

Annexed: Odds and Ends

First of all, I have to start by thanking everyone for all the kind words regarding not only the Annexed series, but the blog in general. I started this on a whim because I’ve always love to write and share funny stories about my life, so this seemed like the way to do it. The response has been amazing and I thank you all for the compliments and comments. Please forward on the links to any friends/family who might enjoy as well!

Now, on with the show!

So this week was kind of dull around The Mall. We were really busy at work so there wasn’t any time to walk around and search for stuff. But there are a few unrelated things that happened during the week which I will share.

First of all, the Brit has a new name. From  here on out she will be known as The Strangler. Don’t ask. If I divulge any more information I would be going against my lawyers advice. Let’s just say she’s a hard ass and leave it at that.

The Interview
This week I decided to do some hard-core journalism and I set out to get an interview with Scooter. It wasn’t hard to find him. All you have to do is step outside the office and listen for the whirring sound of his scooter.

[Side story – last week The Strangler and I were doing laps around the mall and happened upon Scooter. He came whizzing up and gave us his usual greeting, “Hiiiii ladies….” We said “hi” back and then continued on our way. He followed us. We walked faster. He sped up. Finally we made a quick U-turn, which was through some benches and stuff that he couldn’t get by on his scooter. He sped up and went down to a point where he could also turn around and then headed back. We were practically running to the office and kept hearing this increasingly loud and fast “whiiirrrrrr” behind us as he tried to catch up! It was scary!]

So on Monday of this week, I headed out to the cafeteria to get a soda and as I exited, there was Scooter. I usually try to avoid eye contact in the hopes that he’ll go away but this time I looked right at him. Here’s how the interview went:

  • Me: “Hello!”
  • Scooter, genuinely surprised: “Hiiiii”
  • Me: “How are you?” 
  • Scooter: “Good, how are you?”
  • Me: “Good. Did you have a nice weekend?”
  • Scooter: “Yes, didn’t do much but watch TV and play with my dog.”

By this point I was back to the office so I said good-bye and headed in.

Let’s see Katie Couric or Oprah get an interview like that! In your face Brian Williams!

The First Stall
So, the women’s bathroom in the Annex is not the nicest bathroom I’ve ever had the pleasure to use. The paper towel dispenser routinely breaks, the ceiling leaks and it smells like “wizzy hobos” (to quote The Strangler). The bathroom has 4 stalls: 3 regular ones and a giant handicapped one. We’ve determined that the first stall has some evil force over it that causes gross and bad things to happen. I’ll try not to get too detailed in case any of you are reading this while eating but here are some of the things that have occurred in the first stall:

  1. The fainting incident (now referred to around the office as “pulling a Sarah”)
  2. The discovery of a used piece of toilet paper left sitting on the seat.
  3. Someone having some major intestinal issues causing them to make all kinds of uh, “noises”
  4. A take-out box with someone’s lunch in it was found on the floor
  5. And there was some residue left on the seat after someone visited a man about a big dog, if you know what I mean

So, I now refuse to use the first stall. Call me superstitious but I’d rather not take that gamble. I fell victim to its evilness once already this  year. And that was enough, my friend, that was enough.

Holiday cheer
Remember how last week I talked about there being absolutely NO holiday decorations in the mall whatsoever? Well this week there was an inkling of Christmas that appeared. The company had their holiday luncheon on Wednesday so the decorations were dusted off. They consisted of red tablecloths, poinsettia plants, a big wreath and a holiday bough on the wall. It wasn’t a lot but it was enough to lift our spirits just a bit. I just hope they don’t hang up mistletoe though. Don’t want to give Scooter any opportunities…

Well, that’s about all I have for this week. Today I worked from the West office because I needed a dose  of vitamin D. Here are some pics so that you can appreciate the difference.

The atrium

The entrance

See what I mean? Wouldn’t you rather work here ^ than at The Mall?

Upper level

Thanks you for tuning in and until next time, you’ve been Annexed!

On next week’s episode: I’m going to conduct an experiment. Now that I’ve done the journalism thing, it’s time to put on my science hat! Stay tuned – it’s bound to be dangerous and action packed. You won’t want to miss it!

Annexed: Ho-hum, Holly and Hotties

Today’s episode is the token sad one. With the holiday season in full swing, I was reminded just how empty it is here at The Mall. Go to any other mall around town and you’ll walk in to a place that looked like Santa and his reindeer threw up all over it. There is stuff hanging from the ceilings, decor lining the walkways and most likely a section cordoned off for The Big Guy himself.

Not here. There is nothing. Not a wreath or string of lights or anything. I guess I shouldn’t expect that there would be. In fact I’m not even sure the management company of this mall does anything at all! But walking in on Monday to find nothing changed – and the dark, drab  hallways still dark and drab – was actually kind of sad.

I took a walk on Tuesday. Needed to get out of my chair and move around a bit so I figured, hey, why not mall walk! Usually my British friend goes with me but she was at the other office. So it was just me. Thought about talking to myself as I walked – I would have fit right in!  It was so quiet that I could hear every distinct tip tap of my heels on the floor and then hear the echo of each one.

Here’s a couple of shots of the long empty hallways. Notice there is absolutely no activity.

Lower level


Upper level

I, however, decorated my cube. Someone’s gotta bring some holiday spirit to this place!! Some of the little holly bits fell off while I was putting it up and the Brit used those to decorate her cube.

Garland running along the top of my cube


Holiday holly on the Brit's cube

Other tidbits:

As I was walking in to work this morning, I saw a guy putting money into one of the dusty candy machines here. I thought, “No, he’s not…is he?” Sure enough, he took the handful of old stale stuff that came out and popped it all in his mouth. GAK! I think I threw up in my mouth a little when I saw it. He was a security guard so I wondered if perhaps it was some kind of training regimen he was putting himself through (like in the military when they purposely gas the soldiers so that they know what it feels like). Regardless, it was nasty.

The Brit, Bob, and I had lunch today at John’s. It’s becoming a Friday tradition. I had spanakopita and fries. John’s fries are awesome! Anyway, we talked about all kinds of things and had a rather lovely time. The conversation ranged from 80’s music videos to age differences in our relationships to gross bathrooms to the military to splitting pants. I believe the word “poo house” was used at one point. We laughed a lot and it was great.

Special guest this week: the Air Force! At today’s lunch, there was a table of Air Force personnel sitting next to us. Offut Air Force Base is not too far from here and I guess they wanted to see what all the fuss over John’s was about. It was one woman and 4 men. And let me tell you, all the guys were hot and the chick looked like Julia Stiles. Not bad to look at over the lunch hour! Hey – I may be married but I’m not dead! 😉

Until next week, consider yourself ANNEXED!

Bonus Annexed: Lennie Lou

Funny story told to us today by one of the consultants up from Texas. Apparently he has a 62-year-old Aunt Lennie Lou who INSISTS on checking her bag every time before she leaves the house to make sure she has 3 things with her: 

  1. A bottle of wine
  2. Her shotgun
  3. $5,000 cash

Ha! Lennie Lou sounds like a hoot to me! Not sure what kind of trouble she thinks she could get in to but I guess it’s always good to be prepared!

Annexed: Land of the Lost

Since this is a short week, and today is technically my Friday, I’m moving Annexed up on the docket. Besides, I’ll have much more important things to talk about on Friday, like all the shopping I did and people I had to elbow in order to snag that good deal. 😉

This week, there wasn’t much activity so I decided to walk around the mall and see what interesting gems I could find. I actually found quite a few! This place is stuck in time and totally feels like a ghost town. It seriously is like a zombie movie where everyone just drops everything and runs, leaving behind a snapshot of how life was before the population was eaten alive.

Ghost Town

Walking around the mall you see all kinds of items that are either broken, dirty or just left abandoned in random places. First example is the escalators. They don’t escalate. They don’t move. They just sit. As if after all these  years of moving up and down, they are simply tired and giving a big middle finger to all the mall walkers who dared to climb on for a free ride. Pish posh! You will climb up and down you lazy bums!

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Then there are the carts/strollers.

You’ll be walking and come around the corner and see a cart there. Or is it a stroller? Or is it both? I can’t tell. It might also be some kind of prehistoric wheelchair for all I know. It is a nice pretty robin’s egg blue though. Also, notice the healthy, full plant directly behind said cart/stroller. Sad isn’t it? That plant is a direct reflection on the state of the mall itself.

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Finally, there is this sad lonely basketball game. It’s one of those where you have to try to get as many baskets as possible in a certain amount of time. Only this one no longer works. In fact, if you look closely you’ll notice that’s not even a ball in the basket, it’s a balloon. Man it would be really hard to win at this game if you were playing with a balloon. I bet this came from a carnival. You know how at carnivals the games are impossible to win because they’re all rigged so that no one can get the big prize? That’s what this game reminds me of. How can you possibly get a basket if you’re playing with a balloon! Damn the man! Anyway, it’s sitting off in a secluded corner, all alone, pining for its former glory days when the kids would come squealing up to it begging their moms and dads for a quarter to play. [tear]


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Then there are  the abandoned shops. Most of the bays here are empty and closed up and they don’t have windows to see in, or else the windows have been boarded up. However, there are a few that you can see in to and it’s totally worth the peek!

First there is the chair graveyard. Not sure what this store used to be but it’s now the dumping ground for old blue office chairs. It’s actually kind of eerie to look in and see all these chairs piled up on each other. On the other hand, it might be fun to break in and have chair races up and down the halls of the mall!

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Next comes the old JC Penney Decorating and Design Shop. It seems that not only did JCP have one of the big anchors in the mall, they also had a design outlet. You can see here the stacks of swatches piled up by the gate. They actually still have signs up at other spots in the mall, directing people to come down to the shop and get 20% off! Sweet! I’ve always wanted to buy my very own swatch book and now I can get one at a discount! I just have to figure out how to break down the gate and get in there….

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Next comes a restaurant that was apparently abandoned in the 80’s because the walls have that awesome sponge painting on them. And it’s even done in turquoise and fuscia. FABULOUS (jazz hands)!  Maybe these owners could have used some help from the JC Penney Decorating store. Guess they didn’t know they could get 20% off.

Anywho. This one really looks like everyone in it just vanished into a puff of smoke. All the tables/chairs are still set up and the counter looks ready to serve (aside from the inches of dust on it). I think the trellis is a nice touch too.


Oddly enough, there is no shortage of places to buy candy around here. There is the GIANT gumball machine, the candy cart and then the regular old collection of candy machines.

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The giant gumball machine is nearly empty so the gumballs (with their “Secret Centers”) must be popular. Or else that machine has been around since the mall opened 44 years ago and it’s taken that long to empty it. At any rate, I’m not sure how old those balls are but they’ve gotta be pretty old. And who wants old balls? I mean, really.

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 Same holds true for this guy. Again, I imagine these candies haven’t been refilled or refreshed in quite some time. Wonder if there is a little expiration date on each one? Some day I will double dog dare one of the Indians into trying one of them. I’ll tell them it’s an American custom or something.

I also like how the candy machine is secured by a cable to the railing. Blast! And I was hoping to take it home and gift it to CJ for Christmas. Sorry honey, no candy machine in your stocking this year. *sigh*

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Candy cart – see comments above. Ditto and ditto. I like the name of it though – Buddy Snacks. That’s very friendly don’t you think? I can see it now….Feeling lonely? In need of a friend? Come on down and get a Buddy Snack! We’ve got all the candy you could possibly want! Never mind that it’s 25 years old and may turn your stomach inside out. For a moment, it’ll make you feel loved and less alone!

Get ya coming and going

I tell ya, they think of everything in this mall. Not only do they have a gazillion candy machines, they also have several scales so that you can see exactly how many pounds you gained stuffing your face (or how many pounds you lost after the candy made you puke).

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 This one is for the person that wants everything. It not only gives you a report of your weight, your ideal weight, and calorie in take, but it also gives you your 6 lucky lottery numbers AND speaks Spanish. You guys, this is frickin’ sweet! All that for only a quarter! You can’t beat it!

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This next one is my favorite. It has a handmade sign, with a picture of a bug on it saying “Don’t bug me about my weight!” The bug is even wearing a collar that says “Bugsy”. HA! Love it! And guess what? It’s still only a quarter! You can’t beat that folks! I don’t think this one speaks Spanish though or gives me my lucky lottery numbers but that’s ok. Bugsy makes it all worth it.

Odds and Ends

Last but not least, we have the other random stuff that can’t be categorized.

Here is a window we found that was boarded up with newspaper. Notice the date on the newspaper – June 24, 2001. That’s 10 years ago! I also like the Ann Landers headline – “Lack of Desire Bedevils Wife”. Tell me more Ann!!

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Directly across the hall from Ann Landers is The F.A.R.M. I had no idea but apparently they do shooting contests here at the mall. Not sure why that surprises me. Maybe “shooting contest” is code for “gang activity”. And the Cryps and the Bloods now belong to a union called The F.A.R.M. Hey, I’m just sayin’…

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Last but not least, we have the mirror framed bay. This bay has actually been turned in to a conference room for our office and the doors are surrounded on all 3 sides by mirrors. Look – there are 2 of me!

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I don’t appreciate how hippy the top image makes me look though. I’m going to go console myself by getting some candy from Buddy Snacks.

Well, that’s it for this week. Stay tuned and as always, you’ve been Annexed!

P.S. On Friday you can find me outside The Mall at 3 a.m. waiting for the doors to open. Gonna get me some good deals! Oh wait, this mall doesn’t have any stores. Ok never mind.