Saturday, December 15, 2012

Did You Know?

Did you know that cool people like the Adventures of the Mold Girl Facebook Page? It allows them to easily stay abreast of all the latest Mold Girl updates and shenanigans. Just sayin', you want people to think you're cool, right?
No she doesn't.

What a Strange, Strange Day

Yesterday I had a job that was bizarre from start to finish. I was asked to test an apartment in Tudor Village for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). If you can believe this, the people who request VOC testing are even crazier than those I meet for mold testing. Residents demand this sort of test when they are certain that they smell some sort of chemical odor (of course I have yet to perform this test where anyone other than the resident could smell anything). The concerned tenants are convinced said odor is toxic and will kill them. In one case, I met a woman who described in great detail all the reasons she believed her neighbors were purposely trying to poison her. That's a whole other story to be shared at some point. Anyway, I have performed roughly twenty VOC tests during my career and have not once found anything of concern. This particularly investigation involves three separate tales of strange:
Zip up your space suit and buckle on that helmet, things are about to get weird
Tale of Strange Part I
VOC sampling involves large, awkward metal canisters. When I have to haul these puppies around the city, people always stare. The canisters are suspicious looking and give me some terrorist vibes. I hopped on the 1 train at 28th hauling this embarrassing equipment and an old woman grabs my attention. She asks me whether I'm pregnant and if I needed her seat. First of all, unless a woman is clearly about to pop, you do not ask if she is pregnant. No. Just no. Everybody knows (or should know) this question is a serious social faux pas. But more importantly, DO I LOOK PREGNANT?!?!? I do not consider myself as having a prego bod. I kickbox, zumba, and do pilates each at least once a week. Clearly I need to start going more often. Oh man, I just googled pregnant women and am starting to hyperventilate a little bit. They just are SO BIG! It looks really uncomfortable! Why is nature so cruel? Aghh!

The pregnancy question is an especially sore subject for me, because about a year ago I was also asked this two or three times within a span of a few weeks. I swear, I've worn the same pant size since seventh grade. I do not go around with a pained expression on my face and my hands supporting my lower back shouting, "where the hell are my pickles and ice cream?!?". I was doing my best to appear normal and not pregnant. My friend who shall be known as Denile Daboo tells me I have an awkward posture that may make people think I'm pregnant. Ugh, I know I have weak back muscles. I'm working on them, 'kay??
If I WAS pregnant, I promise I would not post photos of myself and my baby daddy like this
Or this
My response to the woman was, "Ummm... No. Or at least I hope not..." She defended her question with something like, "No, I'm serious. I always like to ask, just in case. Because, you know, a MAN would never ask. OR get up for you". Interesting. I consider myself a hardcore feminist but that was way extreme even for my standards! I'm guessing she must be some bra-burning, second wave feminist, although does this woman really ask every female on the subway if she's pregnant? I find that difficult to believe...
Here's an idea, let's castrate all the men! I'm serious. Never again would I be asked if I was pregnant!
Tale of Strange Part II
After this exchange, I move further into the train car. A bunch of people had made eyes with me to silently laugh (or smize à la Tyra Banks) about the absurd situation. One of them leaned in and whispered to me, "You don't look pregnant. She must have noticed your glow". Our conversation continued on from there and was particularly interesting because this person was from Australia. Red Coats are a dime a dozen in this city, but I have rarely ever met an Australian. Pretty much everything I know about Australia can be summed up by Men At Work's "I Come from a Land Down Under":
My one burning question - do Australians really eat vegemite? Okay, my second burning question - what is vegemite??
This person seemed rather interesting and we made plans to reconvene Friday night. WHICH THIS NAMELESS INDIVIDUAL FLAKED OUT ON (yeah, I'm calling you out :p). 

Tale of Strange Part III
Finally, I arrive at the job site. The apartment's resident is Italian. Very Italian. As in a flirty old man with rather limited English skills.
He was what I imagine Chef Boyardee to be like, just minus a couple of teeth
Despite his lack of English skills, this man was quite a talker. At one point he says something that I don't quite understand and I just nod and smile in response. Then he goes to the fridge and I hear him say "arancia" (orange in italian). I got all excited thinking that he was about to serve me that San Pellegrino knock-off of Orangina. He steps away from the fridge with a bottle of Tropicana. 
HEY! I'm eating for two here and my raging hormones require aranciata! STAT!
So even though I did not particularly want a glass of orange juice, I was stuck drinking it. While sipping, or I guess gulping–the man tells me to, "Slow down! Relax! You Americans do everything too fast!"–he then proceeds to discuss Italy's relationship with orange juice. Allegedly,  the world's best oranges are grown in Sicily, although it is rare to find real orange juice in Italy. If you do find it, the juice is very expensive. According to him, the Italian mafia owns all of the country's orange groves. Whenever anybody attempts to produce orange juice, the mafia quickly "teaches" them to find a new line of business. And now you know. #Learning! Should I have been honored by his gift of such a delicacy?
Tale of Strange Epilogue: Appreciate the little things in life while you can. Like orange juice. Because you never know when the mob is gonna ruin it for everybody.

Photo credits:, DC Comics: Strange Adventures, phem.or, Men at Work, Chef Boyardee, San Pelligrino, The Simpsons

Friday, December 14, 2012

Do we need a Meeting with HR?

My company is far from the most politically correct of organizations. This being my first big girl job out of college, my feminist self was shocked at the rather serious amount of sexism that pervades the office arena. Here I was thinking that had all died with the seventies. Unfortunately not. For instance, a colleague repeatedly told me when I first started working here, to stop flirting with all my clients. Umm, excuse me? This is how I talk. This is what friendliness and cordiality look like, asshat. We had to have several sit down conversations about what is and is not okay to say to me. Problem has been (mostly) solved.  
I can show you what it looks like when I'm NOT friendly. And trust me, you won't mistake that for flirting!
This isn't to say that I am the pinnacle of professionalism. I'm probably the most inappropriate and obnoxious person at my office. I tell myself I'm obnoxious in a totally adorable way? The other day a package came for a coworker. I accept all packages and mail, (the UPS, FedEx, and USPS guys are totally my BFFs). Printed on the box was the phrase, "miscellaneous toys". I couldn't let that one pass without making a completely inappropriate announcement to the office. Apparently inside was a figurine of some Mets player. Allegedly. Although I think that actually might be the more embarrassing package of the two options!
"Due to anonymous complaints, we are required by law to host a sensitivity seminar at the office"
A friend/colleague called me out and said I was a total asshole in response to accidentally humiliating the "miscellaneous toys" guy. He also sent me the following picture:

At the office whenever my friends (or, let's be honest, mostly me) say something inappropriate, the typical response is, "do we need to have a meeting with HR?". Well joke's on you, suckers, we don't have an HR department! No sensitivity training for me! :)

I am told this literally every day
Photo Credits: someecards, Division of Labor, The Office

Subway Sightings: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

New Yorkers come across all sorts of people when riding the subway. Most are normal and keep to themselves or give a quick smile. Unfortunately subway passengers are sometimes forced to deal with a bit of commentary that we'd rather not hear. Frequently people take it upon themselves to proselytize the  "word of God". Jesus loves you! You are all sinners! The devil is a homosexual! One man seemed obsessed with the word "butts". WOMEN: YOU NEED TO COVER UP THE BUTTS. MEN: YOU NEED TO STOP STARING AT THE BUTTS. BUTTS BUTTS BUTTS. Ugh. Obviously somebody has some serious hangups regarding the booty region.
I guess that man could not be trusted!
Announcements unrelated to religion or the standard requests for food/money are much less common on the subway. One of the most unusual rants I've been exposed to falls within this miscellaneous category. The speaker was an attractive young woman dressed in stylish clothing. We were on the 4 train, although she could easily pass for your average L train rider. Nothing too weird about her. At least until she started talking. This woman informed us all that she makes body parts. Body parts. If I understood correctly, she makes them of people and for people. It was difficult to determine whether  it was a good thing or a bad thing to be her subject matter/inspiration. Sometimes she referred to the body parts in a spiritual way, "those who are enlightened, don't need to ask what it fucking means to 'make body parts'. Our souls have communicated and they already just know". Sometimes she spoke of them as some sort of voodoo curse, "I make body parts for fucking whoever does me wrong!". I think she liked the word "fuck". 
Is this what she meant? Because I'd love her to make me some body parts lollipops come Halloween.
Or maybe she was thinking more along the lines of this. Do you think she knows Inside Out Boy? I bet he likes body parts too. 
I loved the reactions of my fellow passengers. The girl next to me laughed, "Why did I just spend money going to the movies when I'm getting all this entertainment for free!". I especially liked one guy who got off at my stop, "It's poetry, man. Poetry". I thought that was a beautiful way to think about the situation. I mean it's better than what I was thinking. I was worried she'd whip out a knife and start demonstrating how she makes her body parts!
Photo credits: Spirit Halloween , Nickelodeon: Inside Out Boy, someecards,

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It's Raining Mold. Among other things...

Question: How does a fabulous mold inspector such as yourself test for mold?
Answer: I use this bad boy right here:

BOOM IN YOUR FACE — A Zefon Bio-Pump Plus complete with Air-O-Cell Cassettes
Although I'm sure you all are highly interested in a blow by blow account of the mold sampling process, I'll keep my description of what I do short. The above sexy little gadget is a vacuum pump. It sucks air into a cassette sample for a period of five minutes, trapping microscopic airborne mold spores on a gel inside the cassette. During every inspection, I sample the indoor areas in question, and follow with a sample taken outdoors as a control (FYI, if you didn't know that airborne microscopic mold spores are flying around at all times, everywhere, now you do). A lab in Powhatan, Virginia (best city name ever) examines the samples under a microscope and counts the amount of spores trapped in each cassette's gel. Okay, we all still here? Explanation over!

Today I was asked to inspect a locksmith located on the Upper East Side. Apparently the business has a history of sewage flooding. Yeah, sewage flooding. And  yeah, I had to get all up in that. Yummy. As part of the inspection, the shop owner was very adamant that I test inside the ceiling access panel where the sewage had specifically leaked. 
Originally this was just a ceiling. They added the white access panel so that they could easily access the sewage damage since it flooded so often.
A GIF to properly express my reaction to this news
To open the access panel, I had to climb up a tall, rickety ladder. After almost falling off the ladder several times during my attempts to pry the stubborn panel off, the hatch interior revealed a layer of pink insulation. This insulation needed to be removed for me to see inside of the cavity. I reached directly above my head (while still on top of the rickety ladder) to pull the insulation down. Next thing I know, I've showered myself in...stuff. Not sure what kind of stuff, although it's probably best that I don't know. Below is a picture of the insulation after I had removed it. The photo does not do it justice. Trust me, it looked way grosser in real life. The dirt pictured below is only about half of what fell on me. I did count 3 dead cockroaches stuck to the pink fibers. *shudder*
Because the interior of the ceiling was so gross and scary and probably swimming in sewage particles, I was afraid to set my beloved air pump down inside the ceiling cavity. I therefore was forced to hold the machine near the ceiling opening. This meant holding it above my head, standing on my tiptoes on a rickety ladder, for five straight minutes. Talk about an arm workout. I will say, it felt like a serious John Cusack moment à la the 1989 classic Say Anything. Except minus any romance. Or complicated family drama. Or boomboxes.
Just like this, except not at all
Photo credits: Say Anything, Sesame Street,