happy labor day

Aside from being slap full of lunatics, my office is a fairly easy place to work.  The dress code is office casual which means suits are not required and I hardly ever wear heels.  As long as your clothes don’t have holes or advertise beer, you’re okay.  We are free to mill about and talk to each other and frequently you will see a group of three or four employees gathered in the break room (drinking free coffee) or around the copy machine (stealing free paper) having a chat.  We have some procedures that are important to follow, but really if you just get your work done in a timely manner no one minds much.  Also, our emails are not monitored and the entirety of the internet is at our disposal whenever we please.    

Until last week, that is.    

Management decided to bring the hammer down and put an end to our little Utopia.  They have the power and they wield it with fury.  Being but lowly employees, all we can do is subjugate ourselves and goose-step in time to our superior’s unrelenting drum beat.  

Yes, my friends.  They did the unthinkable.  They blocked Facebook.   

I suspect that next we will be forced to show identification papers before we can enter or exit the building.  

Ya think the Nazi references are a bit dramatic?  Tell that to the people who tried to stage a full-blown riot at work.  You would think that management had installed a coin-operated coffee machine or turned off the air conditioning.  Before lunch, there was an email sent around to select, trusted employees (how did I get on that list? they obviously don’t know about my blog) with the subject line of “3:00 today – outside.”  The message read:    

All Facebook Friends!  Come one, come all!  Join us for a Facebook jamboree!! BYOP!! 

I soon figured out that “BYOP” stood for “Bring Your Own Phone.”  Yes, people were going to rebel by going outside and logging on to Facebook with their smart phones during work hours.  Grown, adult people.  At work!  I do not know if this farcical demonstration actually took place because, thank the gods, I was scheduled to leave the asylum work at 1:00 that day.    

I actually knew about the block the day before.  I was at work late and before I left I tried to check my Facebook to see if a friend had replied to a message I sent that morning.  I was surprised to see the blocked notification.  The next day, I didn’t say anything about it because, silly me, I would actually have been embarrassed to admit that I was looking at Facebook while at work.  Apparently, other employees have no qualms about wasting time on the company dime.    

Now, I don’t want you to think that I’m a company clone or anything.  I goof-off and play around on the internet (when do you think I write half of these posts?).  But, I know that it is wrong and I also know that if I worked in the “real” corporate world, my every move would be monitored.  Blocking Facebook is the absolute minimum that my office could do.  There are programs out there that record each employee’s every keystroke, so employers not only know where you have gone on the internet but exactly what you have said.  There are also companies that make you clock out when you use the restroom or dock your pay if you are five minutes late.  Talk about Nazis! 

I, for one, am very glad that I don’t work in the “real” corporate world.  I appreciate the level of freedom that I do have and won’t do something stupid like whine and complain when one very small freedom is justifiably taken away. 

That being said, heaven help their mortal souls if they block WordPress.

i finally hear it

The alarm clock makes a small noise before it starts beeping, like an electronic inhale to prepare its circuits.  I am already awake and hit the off button in the middle of the second beep. 

In the shower, the water drums my face, slicks my shoulders and gurgles down the drain.  I smile into the stream and hear a rhythm played against my teeth. 

The coffee maker hisses and purrs.  Hangers scrape against the bar.  For five minutes my world becomes the scream of the hairdryer. 

Whirr of tires on the highway, endless chatter of the radio, something is rolling around on the floorboard and clanking under the passenger seat. 

In the office, the fluorescent bulbs buzz above me and my computer plays a few notes to let me know it’s awake.  There is a screw loose on my chair making it squeak. 

A co-worker passes and tells me, “good morning.”  I answer and am surprised by the sound of my own voice.

things to make you feel better

I fear that I might have mis-represented myself.  See, I may know how to string together some kick-ass sentences and dazzle you with my mad MS paint skills, but in reality, I’m not that cool.  I got quirks.  Crazy quirks, and I’m willing to share them with you, dear readers, so you may feel a little better about yourself.  I want you to be able to stop and say, “well at least I’m not like that girl with that blog,” when ever you start to feel inadequate in any way.  I can’t help it.  I’m a giver. 

  • I do not like my food to touch.  My chicken leg should never make contact with the au gratin potatoes and salad always goes on a separate plate cause if vinaigrette oozes onto my broccoli I get panicky.  During Thanksgiving, I refrain from gravy cause it never stays in the mashed potato crater where it belongs and forget pouring it on the turkey cause that’s just a nightmare.  Up until a few years ago, whenever I ate Chinese food, I would put the rice on one side of my plate and the Mongolian beef on the other.  If I wanted a bite with rice and beef, I would mix it one fork-full at a time.  I will skip dessert rather than place a slice of cake on the same plate that I ate my dinner on.  And, no ice cream on that cake, please.  You can scoop that into a separate bowl. 
  • If I see a drawer or cabinet that is open for no reason, I have an over-powering compulsion to shut it.  I used to live in an old house where one of the kitchen cabinet doors was warped and wouldn’t close all the way.  I almost had a nervous breakdown.  
  • I hate unloading the dishwasher.  I have no problem loading and running it, but unloading it makes me very cranky.  Just to avoid unloading it, I will use the clean dishes out of the washer instead of in the cabinets until after a couple of days there are only a few cups and some silverware left in the washer and the sink is full.  I’m the same way with suitcases.  I love to pack them, but after I come home, it will lay on my bedroom floor for a week.  I’ll use clothes out of it until all that’s left is my swim suit or beach clothes that I’ll never wear to work, then I’ll finally break down and empty it out. 
  • I will not flip over my wall calendar to the next month until it is actually that month.  I don’t care if it is Sunday evening on January 31st, I will not turn the page until Monday morning.  I don’t know why, but I just think it is bad luck to move the calendar forward before the date has passed. 
  • At work, I only have one pen, one pencil and one hi-liter in my desk organizer.  When my pen runs out of ink, I will replace it with one from the supply cabinet.  I can’t stand having multiple half-used pens or pencils on my desk.  I believe in staying loyal to one writing implement at a time.   

Okay.  That’s enough, right?  Do you feel significantly better about yourself?  Good, because I just noticed that there is a magazine on the floor and items that belong on a shelf or the coffee table should never be on the floor.  It’s just wrong.

taking “bored at work” to a whole new level

I am a customer service representative at a large,  independently owned insurance agency.  

I obviously have forgotten anything I thought I knew about blog writing because an opening sentence is supposed to draw the reader in, not make you want to gouge your eyes out with a letter opener.  

Well, as dreadful as it was to read that first sentence, imagine the crawling, unnameable horror of actually living it Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 5:00 pm (with an hour for lunch) for over ten years.  Actually, don’t imagine it.  I like you and would hate to see you to recoil in terror before the Lovecraftian visions of my daily, fresh hell.  

To brighten my day, and make my mood less stabby, I decorate my cubicle with objects that are pleasing to my eye.  I have colorful push-pins, pictures, dog themed calendar, Hellboy and this motivational poster: 

 

(Click on the picture to see others like this at despair.com.) 

I also have Rubberband Ball, who has been with me for about three years now.  

 

He sits in a small foam chair right underneath my monitors (I have two monitors cause I’m from the future).  I used to blog about him occasionally and post pictures of him in various outfits I made him.  Yes outfits.  This is what I do when I am bored at work.  I use office supplies to dress up my rubberband ball. 

Businessman Ball, Cool Ball, Winter Ball, Chaingang Ball and Ball with a Spider friend

I’ve also dressed him up for holidays. 

 

I think I’ve gone about as far as I can with my little rubber friend, though.  I need a new distraction.  Maybe I can make Hellboy some friends and pose them in mock battle scenes around my desk.  Or, maybe I can experiment with making animals out of binder clips.  Or, maybe I can find a job that fulfills me so I don’t have to rely on silly toys to get me through the day.  Yeah.  One day . . .

my optimism may be misplaced

Meh.

That pretty much sums it up.  But, since this blog runs on words, I am compelled to elaborate. 

I seem to have lost the motivation to do any of the things that I enjoy or that normally fill my time.  I’m not depressed or preoccupied and I definitely don’t have a case of the Monday’s.  I’m just disinterested.  In everything.

Work is my largest black hole of motivation right now.  It’s just plain soul-suckingly boring.  I used to try to find bits of joy where I could: a well crafted letter, writing a 3rd request email that doesn’t sound snippy, even spreadsheets were enjoyable since they require a bit of creativity to be easily read and effective.  These things no longer satisfy me.  Even making snarky comments under my breath has lost its thrill. 

However, my optimistic side is finding positive aspects of my malaise.  It’s kinda annoying having hopeful instincts when you really just want to sulk, but it is keeping me from slipping into a coma.  (See?  I can’t help myself!)

At work, I am sharpening some skills that I may have neglected in the past.  Like, Restraint.  I never realized how hard it can be to not roll your eyes at someone.  At first it gave me headaches, but now I can refrain from eye-rolling with only minimal pain.  I consider this a real accomplishment.

Another skill I’m honing is Camouflage.  Monitors full of open windows and scattered file folders are really all it takes to assume the look of a busy employee.  The busier I look the more people leave me alone.  This just lessens the chance that I’ll accidentally roll my eyes at someone (since I am still working on perfecting Restraint).

Then, there is Feigning Interest.  This goes hand in hand with both Restraint and Camouflage.  When I’m concentrating on keeping my eyes still, I can’t just have a blank stare, so I’ve developed a “smile and nod” technique that seems to be working.  Feigning Interest helps with not drawing attention which makes Camouflage that much more effective. 

I am learning to see my lack of motivation in other areas of my life in a positive light as well:

I don’t want to go out = I’m saving money!
Reading seems like too much effort right now = I’m paying for Netflix, I might as well use it as much as I can!
No way am I going to yoga after work today = I can start drinking earlier!
I can’t think of an ending for a short story I’m writing = Life doesn’t have all the answers, just put a period and be done with it!

I realize that putting a silver lining on a thunderhead won’t stop the storm, but it will help me ride it out.  I know this funk will pass one day and all the things I love to do will fulfill me once again.  That’s were being an optimist really comes in handy.

i’m boxed in, like cheap wine

The fluorescents are too bright.  I feel washed-out.  Cave crickets are translucent due to the perpetual darkness.  I am colorless from too much unnatural light. 
Even the furniture is painted and upholstered in shades of non-colors: beige, taupe, gray.  All outlined in stark black like an illustration of something that should be real.  Is this life or the manual? 
(See Fig. 1 – Female Employee slumped over cubicle desk.)
The coffee is flavorless but the creamer is synthetic.  The sugar looks too white to be trusted.  Much like the management.
The steady rhythm of telephones and the copy machine is like distant drums.  When they stop, the silence is unnerving.
Surrounding me are inanimate objects that demand my attention: blinking monitors, email notifications, stacks of folders and papers.  Yet the living avoid contact and look down when passing in the halls.  The only conversation I’ve had today was with my printer, coaxing it to give up a piece of jammed paper. 
Here, all my natural instincts are considered signs of aggression.  I have to remember to speak softly and not show too many teeth.  Sudden movements and off-hand references from obscure movies cause confusion and fear. 
(See Fig. 2 – Female Employee fashioning primitive weaponry from  rubberbands, paperclips and hi-liter ink.)
It is safer to not draw too much attention so I keep my head down.  Documents are strewn across my desk, multiple windows opened on my monitors.  Looking busy is my camouflage. 
I pretend that I am biding my time, waiting for just the right moment to attack and unleash my fury.  It’s a hard ruse to maintain.  For now it is only about survival.  Towing the line while trying not to hang myself with it. 
There is hope, though.  I am preparing a signal fire.  Every day I gather a little more fuel, building it bigger and higher.  When conditions are finally right, I’ll set it ablaze and the smoke will rise above the canopy and  my rescue will come.
(See Fig. 3 – Female Employee dousing cubicle in kerosene exactly three seconds before she realizes that the whole signal fire thing was supposed to be a metaphor.)

don’t. just, don’t.

I am actually a very patient person when it comes to training employees on our agency management program.  This is surprising, because I’m not generally a patient person.  I guess that I love learning new things, so I also enjoy teaching new things to other people.  (It’s ironic because the one career I didn’t want to persue while I was in college was teaching.)  I’m even patient answering the multitudes of questions that inevitably arise after the employee is set out on their own to process something.  

There is one thing that nearly everyone does, though, that makes me so irritated that I want to feed them my stapler through their nose. 

I sit them down and calmly explain that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that they can do in the management system that can’t be reversed.  They can’t break anything, so there is no reason to fear. 

Without fail, the employee will give me a “well, you don’t know me” look and say something like, “Are you sure about that?  Cause I’ve been known to break computers.”

Seriously?  Are you here on some kind of work-release program from The Asylum for the Chronically Stupid But Should Know Better?  You were informed during the interview process that knowledge of computers wasn’t only required, but was a vitally important skill.  There is nothing we do here that isn’t processed on a computer.  Hell, we don’t even talk to each other face to face anymore, we just send an email – even if your desk is only five feet away!  Telling me that you have the ability to “break” computers is like showing up to your first day as a bus driver and after they hand you the keys you say, “Gosh, I don’t know about this.  I have a problem with NOT crashing into schools.”

Apart from physically picking it up and hurling it out a window or giving it a bath, it’s actually pretty hard to break a computer.  Yes, you can have problems getting the computer to do what you want it to do, but you should already have experience with that from dealing with humans, or cats.  Just because the computer isn’t performing to your expectations does not mean it is broken.  And yes, the computer can get a bug, or a virus, or some other system malfunction, but YOU did not break it.  There is no mythical keystroke that will make your hard-drive spontaneously combust. 

Also, why would you tell me such a thing?  Are you proud that you are so inept that computers commit suicide at your very touch?  Is that your superpower?  Sorry.  I didn’t realize that I was in the presence of Zoltard, Destroyer of CPU’s, Master of Spilling Diet Coke on Keyboards, Irritator of IT Professionals Everywhere.  

People need to realize that it’s not “cute” anymore to be computer illiterate (unless you’re over 80, in which case God bless ya for hanging around so long).  Computers run our lives.  You drive a computer to work every day if your car is less than ten years old.  Knowing how to use a computer is a necessary skill like reading or math.  If you aren’t comfortable enough with computers to learn a new program then you should just move to Nepal and herd goats for a living.  Yeah.  Goats.  You’ll look really stupid crawling around a mountain herding goats in that tie and your Kenneth Cole loafers, won’t you?  Uh huh.  You ready to learn this freakin’ program now?  Good.

stayin’ positive

I love it when drivers don’t use turn signals.  It makes my morning commute exciting!

Seeing random chunks of mangled meat and blood-caked fur on the highway really makes my day.  It’s like a game: was it a possum or a raccoon?  Who knows!

I feel so important when people interrupt my work and ask me to remove a paper jam from the copy machine.  If I am lucky, this will happen multiple times in one day!

When an older male employee makes inappropriate comments to a  younger female employee I like to imagine that I am living in one of those sit-coms on TBS, only the laugh-track is just in my head. 

It’s great when I put extra effort into an project and take the time to make sure every detail is covered, but when I turn it in, it’s not just unappreciated but only earns a cursory look.  This makes me want to try harder next time!

I love listening to people discuss topics about which they have little to no experience or knowlege.  It’s like hearing a great story that has no basis in reality.  Everyone loves a good story!

When I load my four bottles of wine and bag of Cheetos on to the belt at the grocery store, I can’t help but smile at the judgemental scowl from the wrinkled sack of bitterness in line behind me.  It’s good to help somone else feel superior, even if it is only for a few moments.

and counting . . .

Today makes five weeks since the Producer I work with has said anything to me in person.  Five weeks, and not one word face to face.  She has only communicated with me via email.  I actually said “hi” to her twice in passing (once in the break-room and once in the bathroom) but I received no reply. 

This whole situation is actually quite amusing to me now.  I wonder how long the silence will last?  What will have to happen before she will utter a word in my direction?  If the building caught on fire and she became trapped under buring rubble and I were the only one around to save her, would she call out for my help?  Or would she just let herself burn to death?  I would try to save her if she asked or not.  I, however, would not accept a “thank you” via email.

death, work and what I won’t talk about

Yesterday I was told I look like a dead woman.  Okay, apparently I look like her before she died, but still an awkward situation.  Am I supposed to take the comparison as a complement?  I have no idea what this woman looked like.  Am I supposed to feel bad that I reminded her of her dead friend?  Well, sorry lady, I was just trying to visit my friend and her new baby girl in the hospital. 

Said friend and her baby girl are the reason I probably will look like a dead woman soon.  I am filling my friend’s position at work while she is out on maternity leave.  Thing is, no one is filling my position while I am filling hers, so I have to do both.  Two full time jobs for eight weeks.  Well, now it’s seven weeks and two days, but who’s counting? 

My one consolation is that I am going on vacation in 28 days (yes, you better believe I’m counting).  But, I can’t talk about my vacation.  Just thinking about it makes my stomach cramp and my breathing erratic.  Talking about it triggers what I can only assume is a panic attack.  I am morbidly certain that something horrible will happen that will either prevent my vacation from becoming a reality or will make it far less than enjoyable. 

Looking forward to the future is an impossiblity for me right now.  I will only feel completely at ease after I have dropped my bags at the foot of my hotel bed and have filled my lungs with warm Caribbean air.