3/18/10 - Back when I was gainfully employed, I worked with a bunch of fun-loving statisticians. Among these good people was Suzanne. When I was new on the staff and getting to know everybody, I asked Suzanne where she was going for the winter holidays, during which the operation closed down for two weeks and everybody disappeared. Suzanne answered, "oh, just Vienna." I thought "Wow. These people really get around." Sometime later, I discovered that she lived in Vienna, Virginia, and her reply meant she was staying home that year.
Holiday travel notwithstanding, Suzanne turned out to be one of the most energetic and adventurous people I know. She was working on her PhD in statistics, in addition to holding a full-time job and tending to the affairs of several kids.
I was working as the secretary for the Big Boss, who was himself new in his position. He was also working (although sporadically) on a PhD in labor relations. He was fascinated by management theory, quality assurance, conflict resolution, team-building, and various other organizational culture disciplines that were floating around in the early 1980s.
Suzanne taught an aerobic dance class at the YMCA near our offices. Several women from our office attended the class, including me. The Big Boss found out and urged me to pay close attention to what the class participants said and did. He told me the class was part of the informal organization and expressed hope that I would report back to him about its behavior so he could be better in touch with this all-important aspect of the working environment. I didn't mind working as his secretary, but I didn't like the notion of spying for him. I suggested a more direct way for him to get this information: put on a pair of sneakers and join the class. Anybody who remembers the guy's imposing stature like might enjoy the imagery.