Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My paycheck doesn't say Initech, but I'm pretty sure i work there

I had a couple new experiences at work this past week. They're probably old hat for anyone who's worked at any sort of giant globocorp for a while, but that's not me. Law firms are an environment all their own, and my other company was a small privately run outfit. International corporations are another story, because often your boss's boss doesn't have an office on your floor, your building, or maybe even your country. That can lead to all sorts of fun decisions, like the one my group is now dealing with.

If I had written this when it first happened last Wednesday, I probably would have broken my no complaining rule, because I was extremely annoyed. After a day or so, that disappeared and now I just laugh it off. Because that's what you have to do: recognize the inherent silliness in what you're being told, and then deal with it. What are your other options.

For me, this issue was our phones. We all have a button on our phones that we can press which will keep calls from coming in. The idea is to use it when the phones are really busy so you can finish doing what you have to do on the computer before taking another call.

My department doesn't really need to use this silly button though, because our phones don't ring as much. On the other hand, the other side of the department basically needs this button to survive because they get calls non stop. Now, one would think that if somebody at our corporate headquarters saw the difference, they may just ask why, have the distinction explained to them, and everything would be good.

But NO, that would be too easy. They did ask the question, but instead of giving them the answer, word came down from the bosses in my building that people in my department are supposed to push the button even if we don't need to. Sure, I'm not that busy and could take the next call that came in, but instead, I'll push this little button and stare at my computer for a minute and then hit it again.

It's a trivial thing, but sometimes the trivial can drive you nuts. But I'm just going to laugh it off.

The other thing was even higher on the silly scale. We apparently have a new Employee Appreciation Committee on our floor. Apparently, some people at work need a little more of that good old appreciation stuff to get through the work week. Personally, the cash I get in my bank account every 2 weeks is appreciation enough, but whatever. First step in our new era of appreciation was the Taste of Summer party last Friday. I walked into the office that morning to see beach balls on top of people's cubicles, little plastic palm trees and other kind of summer related stuff. Then I found out one of the training rooms had various summer related treats, including the big hit of virgin daiquiris. Finally, and apparently most importantly, towards the end of the day we had a Funny Hat & Sunglasses contest, where the winner got a (can' you wait for it ......) $10 gift certificate to a italian ice place nearby.

Am I being the asshole for thinking this is all dumb? Maybe I'm just getting into this kind of work environment too late and aren't used to it. Whatever it is, I don't really know. I'm happy to talk with my co-workers and be friendly, I'm not some lurking sociopath that doesn't talk to people (that's the guy I had to work with on the values thing), I just don't want to make a giant hat out of construction paper and put a huge Spongebob sticker on it (the winning entry in the Crazy Hat contest).

So I'll just keep trudging along, pushing the buttons I have to push and masking my borderline hatred for all things Employee Appreciation (unless it's Taste o' the Irish kegs maybe). If I ever see a PC Load Letter though, I will take no responsibility for what happens next.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Things I don't Understand - Part 2,763

I don't understand a lot of things. And I'm a curious person by nature, so when I come across an idea, thought, person that I don't quite get, I want to know more. My problem, on occasion, is that I usually just come right out and ask somebody about what they just did/said/dated. And I don't really just leave it at one question, especially if they say something that makes more questions pop up in my head. I think one of the main reasons why people who think I am an asshole actually think that I'm an asshole is because I keep asking questions and make them uncomfortable. But that's just me, and I'm not too up on changing just yet.

Today's thing I don't understand going to a bar to watch a tv show. I write a lot of reviews on yelp and often read the conversation threads when I'm bored at home/work. It seems like every couple of days recently, especially because we were finishing up the TV season, somebody was posting a thread asking if anyone knew a bar where they could watch (insert show I couldn't give a crap about here).

Maybe I'm weird, but who watches TV shows in bars? I get it for sporting events. Live sporting events are cool because they have sports and people and noise and beer. Bars also have people and noise and beer, so they work well together. But why would someone want to go to a bar to watch Gossip Girl? Don't you kind of need to listen to what people are saying? Can't you just grab a six pack on the way home and invite a couple people over who know enough not to talk during the show?

I think this started during the presidential debates last fall. That I also didn't get: if you're going to watch the two people who want to run the free world, maybe it's a good idea to be able to listen to them. But I was thinking about this some more while deciding whether or not to write this and I realized that most people going to those parties didn't actually want to watch the debates. Either they didn't care about politics but wanted others to think they did, they definitely knew who they were voting for but wanted to pretend they were still watching political stuff or they just needed an excuse to drink in public on a Tuesday night. Maybe these other viewing parties are just an extension of that same thing. Maybe people just watch the shows so they can talk about them with their friends, and they go to bars to talk with their friends, so why not combine the two?

There are already a lot of questions in this post, so I'm not going to really go any further. Plus, I just set my alarm for 6am tomorrow to go to the gym before work and my food coma from tonight's ridiculously good dinner is approaching at an unstoppable rate. Who wants to get bloody mary's and watch Meet the Press next Sunday?

Friday, May 15, 2009

I didn't have swine flu, but if I did, I could still work!

I was sick the last couple of days, to the point where I actually took a day off. I never take days off for illness. Maybe once a year, at the most. But there I was Thursday morning, calling into the out sick number at work and sending my boss an e-mail just to make sure. I spent the day with the cure to anything: nyquil, sleep and bad tv.

I know it's really too late to write about swine flu. The fear of pandemic appears to have escaped our national consciousness. Now people are arguing about what Nancy Pelosi knew or didn't know about waterboarding (care?) , whether David Ortiz is finished (wow, Ortiz's power numbers dropped right as steroid testing got tough ... isn't that weird) and whatever it is that is or isn't going on with American Idol.

But write about swine flu I must. Not the disease itself, but my company's response to it. Maybe this is part of being in a big company that I've just never seen before. But right when things were at their apex with this whole pandemic thing, I started getting near daily e-mails from work about how our company was responding to this. My thought: who cares what you're doing? If this is as bad as people on the news are saying it could be, I'm not thinking about work. I'm listening to the news, and reports from the CDC, my work isn't on the list. But there I was, getting e-mails attempting to soothe me:

"Given the extensive media coverage of Swine Flu, I thought it might be helpful to reassure you that we have dedicated professionals within each of our businesses monitoring the situation and communicating locally with specific instructions as and when required. This includes a daily teleconference to ensure we share intelligence and coordinate action as appropriate across the company."

A daily teleconference? Really? How is that making me feel better? Are you all going to find the cure?

The next thing just kinda pissed me off. We got an e-mail from the big boss of our department saying that we hoped swine flu didn't affect our office, but we had to plan in case it did.

Plan for what? Um, if there's a global pandemic and thousands of people are dying, I'll be in my basement with an outbreak suit thank you very much. I shan't be thinking about my job. But apparently, my job not only thinks that I should be thinking about it, but thinking about WORKING. I had to fill out a survey about my internet and phone connections at home in case we were all required to work at home. Who are these people kidding?

Then the final kick in the ass came a couple days later. We received yet another e-mail with guidelines on what to say to customers in case they called in asking what we would do in the event of a pandemic. Again, this assumes that thousands of people across the country/world are dying of an easily spread flu with no known cure. My company provides advertising/publishing. WE DON'T CURE CANCER. The response to anyone who calls in asking if their webpage will stay up during the Black Plague Part II is "Put a gas mask on and get over yourself," not "we are actively monitoring the situation and if necessary, will adjust our continuity plans accordingly."

I guess this is part of the big company mindset: we must, and will, be ready for any situation and our employees will be too. That's not exactly my kind of thinking. I'm more like: I will do whatever I have to do to succeed in my job, unless that involves working through smallpox version II, then you can all go screw.

Oh, and to keep the streak going, read
Cara's blog.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Co-worker who you don't really know all that well added you as a friend on Facebook

There are many good things about returning to the world of the employed:
1. Money
2. Trivial conversations about nothing with co-workers.
3. Health Insurance
4. Money (and in the end, it's really all about this anyway, Method Man knows C.R.E.A.M.)

And one of the weird things is figuring out the extent to which you want to socialize with co-workers/ bring them into your non-work lives. I personally tend not to. I have some good friends that I shared a place of employment with at one time, but none of them were actually people I directly worked with. It's kind of an extension of the don't shit where you eat thing that I strongly agree with when it comes to dating co-workers. Work is the thing I do to allow me to have fun when I'm not at work, and rarely the two shall meet.

But the world of social networking brings a whole new wrinkle into this. I can turn down the facebook request from the random person I never spoke to in high school, but what about the girl who sits in the cubicle next to me, or the guy I send contracts to after I've read them? That's kinda awkward. You pretty much have to accept them, but how much do you let them see? And do you want to know what you'll see on their profile? For example, a girl in our billing department has a good sized, generally unattractive tattoo on her back that I saw in her profile picture. Not information that I needed to know.

This is where facebook's excellent privacy settings come into play. I'm not sure most people know this, but you can pretty much tailor specifically how much of your profile anyone you're friends with can see. For example, I've got a good list of people I'm friends with that I only kind of know who can't see my status updates or my website (which is this blog). I don't really need semi-strangers reading this mess, so now they don't know it exists. I've also got a friend list of my co-workers that blocks them from seeing a couple of things:
1. No tagged pictures
2. No status updates
3. No website (since I may be writing about them, I probably don't want them to read it)

But you can't block everything either, because then it gets too obvious. I'd probably love to block them from seeing my wall, but then they'd definitely know something was up. I spend way too much time on facebook each day for nothing to be there. So you have to be vigilant and be ready to delete stuff at a moment's notice. I don't know these people well enough for them to know that I may or may not have drifted off at the bar on my birthday (sorry, that one had to go). And I know that my boss, another boss type person on his level AND their boss (who runs the whole building) are also pretty active on facebook and at some time in the future may choose to hit the little Add as Friend button next to my name.

Just to be clear (in case any of them ever read this), I honestly do like the people I work with (creepy dude I talked about in the drama post aside). But right now, they're M-F 10am-7pm people. Time will tell if anyone makes it through to the Saturday 10pm-4am crowd.