Author Archive for: jgates

Underground Magic

22 Feb 2001
February 22, 2001

As we walked through the door she began her incantation. Raising her hands before her, eyes closed, she began:

I wish, I wish with all my heart
To fly with dragons
in the land of heart

I stared, transfixed, as she repeated her words again and again. I knew her chant from her favorite cartoon show. And I took special note of a four year old’s version of an often-heard rhyme.

Her eyelids moved to the beat of her voice. When she stopped her eyes slowly opened and looked at me. “Now, I’ll teach you how to make a wish. If you say it two times, you get to make two wishes.”


I smiled a deep smile. It had been a tough day at work and if this was a sign of things to come, I couldn’t have asked for a better one! I looked around, suddenly aware we weren’t alone. We were on stage, as my 4 year old daughter and I always were, in the subway car on our commute home.

Only one man had taken notice of us. Considering the strength of my daughter’s voice, I was surprised more people weren’t watching. As she chanted he smiled, but stifled it and looked away whenever our eyes met. I was now enjoying both of them. The dance between her recital and his face was something special. When we arrived at his station, he stopped just long enough to say what an amazing spirit she had. I was sorry to see him go.

This was the second performance of the day. On our morning commute, as we rode the slow elevator to the surface, she and I were packed tightly with others. In the public/private solitude, traditional in this venue, she suddenly broke the rules by loudly proclaiming “I love you, daddy!” in her best theatrical voice.

The smiles were audible and I felt like her carnival accomplice, her shill, trying to bring unsuspecting people into our fold. She, of course, knew exactly what she was doing.


09 Feb 2001
February 9, 2001

horoscopeBoy, did this week fly by. But it didn’t start out that way. The first three days were spent in a class in contracting. I’m now an official COTR (pronounced “cotar” as in Cotar the Barbarian). In official parlance I am a Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative. This means that I can be summoned at any time to be the technical rep on contracts. I have no legal power, thank goodness. That’s reserved for the CO (Contracting Officer). But I do advise on the technical parts of contracts that come to our office of the new media variety.

Day 1, 9 am: I am being filled with acronyms and “what ifs” so fast it’s hard to keep up. This is dense! It’s excruciating to think I have 24 hours of class left to go. But, as the hours and days plod on it gets easier to visualize the end. The only way I know how to survive these things is to get totally involved: ask lots of questions and visualize myself living each example the teacher gives.

Not to say that it’s totally uninteresting, especially near the end when we talk about ethics (somehow it’s comforting to know that a federal worker at my level is subject to the same rules of ethics that the President is –Clinton, give back those individual gifts worth more than $20 or gifts from one person totally more than $50 per year!). And we were having a final! An open book final, but still. Just where in the book did it mention patent ambiguity?

I came back to the office at the 25th hour, certificate (suitable for framing) held triumphantly above my head, humming the theme to Rocky. I made it! I am COTR!

What really surprised me is that I started to talk like one! The very next day a group of us interviewed a couple content management companies and I heard myself speaking of process and making sure I got everything we talked about down in writing. My abilities were multiplying exponentially! Even my boss commented on it.

© 2001-2015 Jeff Gates ISSN 1544-4074