Monday, August 31, 2009
That was seven weeks ago. She might have said, “We’ve decided to hire you,” or “We’d like to offer you the position.” Whatever the phrasing, it was 10:30 am and the phone had awoken me from a late slumber. I answered in a sort of falsetto to hide the sleepy frog lodged in my throat. That was a Tuesday. I went in on Wednesday for training, and was working on Thursday.
I felt nervous like it was the night before the first day of school. Only I didn’t have a new outfit laid out or a backpack with my Trapper Keeper and Lisa Frank pencils. Instead, I was armed with a blank yellow legal pad, a pen that wouldn’t write, and a nagging fear that I was in over my head. Rather than wondering where my locker was, my fears were more of the “How do I work the copy machine?” sort.
My official title is technical writer, though I do more editing than writing (which I prefer, anyway). It’s good to have money again. A purpose in life is also good. In fact, my noose is safely packed back into storage. The best part of it all, though, is that I work in an office. A for-real office. Cubicles. Coffee machines. Memos. Offices are hilarious. There’s a reason that when advertisers want to make a funny commercial, it takes place in an office. Or when television producers want to create a hit show, they center it around the bizarre-o world of an office. Offices are entirely unnatural, yet once you find yourself in a that setting, it all seems normal, and you take it all very seriously. Yes, it is a big deal that Rhonda didn’t recycle the boxes last night. The end of the world is indeed upon us when the server goes down. And let’s not even bring up the issue of paper messes left in the copy room.
Cubicle life is a first for me and I sometimes feel like I need to leave the room to get my giggles out. There’s just something so odd and silly about stuffing dozens of people into a room, separating them into tiny little boxes with removable walls. We think it’s okay. We bring photos of our families. We print out comics about silly work situations and stick them into the gray cubicle walls with thumb tacks. It works. We all think we have our own little space in the company—our own little private world. So when Chris’s wife calls about perpetual vomiting, he talks her through it loudly and openly. He then calls the doctor. He then calls the pharmacist. He then calls the wife back. He then complains about the entire situation to a nearby coworker. And the rest of us listen intently. When the receptionist hangs up the phone after a conversation with her lawyer and whispers, “Shithead” under her breath, we all start laughing. When someone sneaks a candy bar out of their filing cabinet and tries to quietly open the wrapper, everyone knows.
Staff meetings leave plenty of room for hilarity. A particular staff meeting comes to mind.
First topic of interest: Dirty coffee mugs in the sink.
“They’re in the cupboard,” says Susan.
“Oh, fine. Okay.”
“No, they’re still dirty. They’re just in the cupboard now. Brian was sick of dirty mugs in the sink, so he put the dirty mugs in the cupboard,” Susan says. “So don’t use the mugs in the cupboard. They’re dirty.”
Second topic of discussion: Appearance. It would seem that an office conversation about appearance would simply include a reminder about closed-toe shoes. Apparently my co-workers and I need a pre-school level explanation of appropriate work appearance.
“Well, we should make it seem like we practice at least some base level of hygiene,” Adam says.
(It’s a good thing this came up before my greasy hair made its debut at this office. The debut has since come to pass, and its presence is a common occurrence. Had this topic come up, say, this week, a bit more emphasis might have been placed on the importance of showering at least once a week.)
We then discussed each and every clothing item in existence, spelling out each situation in which it would be appropriate and each situation in which it would not. We came to the following conclusions:
Ripped pants? Bad.
Short skirts? Bad.
Long shorts for girls? Good.
Any shorts for guys? Bad.
Flip flops? Bad.
Any sandal that flips and flops? Bad.
Birkenstocks in the confines of your own cubicle? Good.
“Well,” pipes in Adam again, “They were definitely more socially acceptable for men in the early 1900s. Pork pies, fedoras, bowlers. However, they don’t seem to hold the same social context, so I think they’re generally less acceptable.”
“What’s a pork pie?”
“You know, the hats with the brims. People used to wear them…”
Hats in the confines of your own cubicle? Good.
Hats when meeting with clients? Bad.
Wife beaters? Bad.
Hot pants? Bad.
Aloha shirts on Fridays? Good.
Our conversation then went on to include any and all forms of business etiquette you could possibly imagine.
Offering your client a drink? Good.
Filling your client’s glass with vodka? Bad. (Though I think I said that depends on the situation.)
Fanning yourself in a stuffy meeting while remaining attentive? Good.
Fanning yourself like you’re hot and bothered? Bad.
Offering to also fan your client in a stuffy meeting? Good. Maybe.
Sneezing in meetings? Bad.
Snivvling? Bad. (Not just sniffling, which we also discussed, but snivvling.)
I was tempted to ask about yellow sweaters on Tuesdays and polyester blends on Thursdays, but we were in a time crunch at that point.
Needless to say…
Silly stories about coworkers? Very good.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Word to the wise: When planning a trip to San Francisco, don’t book a room in the Motel 6. This point was more than clear before we even pulled into the parking lot after an entire day in the car. We’d spent some time looking at redwood trees that morning. We wound our way through the windiest mountain pass in existence (10 mph curves are just a bit too much for even the strongest stomach). I was car sick. Alicia was car sick. Ryan was getting car sick. Mind you, he was driving.
“Left on Geary,” says Alicia.
“Left on Geary,” Angie says into the radio.
“So, left on Geary?” replies Steph.
“Yes, left on Geary,” I repeat.
“Right on Market,” says Ryan’s sister.
“Right on Market,” says Alicia to Angie.
“Right on Market,” says Angie to Steph.
Two minutes later: “Did you say right on Market?” Steph asks.
“Yep, right on Market.”
“We missed the turn.”
“They missed the turn.”
“Nothing we can do for you. You’ll have to find your way back to the hotel. Here’s the address.”
"A Most Disgusting and Revolting Experience"
"Yuck, Yuck, Yuck!!!!!"
So, the full day we were in San Fran was the 4th. We did a little shopping, a little walking, a little eating. We watched the fireworks perched in a silly cement “park” at the top of 40 or so mysterious stairs off the street. It was the perfect view—we could see four or five fireworks displays at once—the main ones were twinners shot off barges on either side of Alcatraz. By the time the fireworks began, I counted more than 30 people in the 12-by-12 foot lookout with us. One by one, the groups would arrive at the top of the stairs like they’d just found a little secret. They’d notice the great view and would squish into the lookout. There were some guys from Italy, a couple from the Bay, a couple from southern California (who kindly asked, “Do you guys mind if we smoke…you know, grass?”) No, we didn’t mind. It was all about camaraderie at that point. We shared the secret of this great 4th of July lookout. It was probably the most international 4th I’d ever celebrated. The steep hills surrounding us were filled with bumper to bumper cars attempting to make their way to the pier (which even us out-of-towners knew better than to attempt). Stranded on steep hillsides, they started honking with the fireworks, and continued throughout the display. So our entire firework show was serenaded with stranded honking.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
3. I’ve succumbed to the fact that job hunting can make you feel like quite a loser, even with evidence to the contrary. A bachelor’s degree seemed pretty great in my mind, but it’s not a big deal when every other candidate has one. My measly experience seems decent for a recent college grad, but up against people with decades of experience, it’s apparently inconsequential.
4. The Resume. The Cover Letter. I think that scooping my eyeballs out of their sockets with a rusty spoon is more enjoyable than creating and updating my resume and cover letter. Just list your skills, education, and experience…simple enough, right? The myriad resume tips floating around out there have made me entirely paranoid about every word and punctuation mark. It seems as though every decision, including whether you use Times New Roman or Georgia as your font, may make or break your chance at an interview. "Helpful" Cover Letter tips include: Give them enough information to want to read your resume, but not too much. Impress upon them your absolute desire to work for their specific company (yet don’t sound too desperate). Show your personality, but remain professional. Lastly, express all of this without being too wordy--the hiring manager has better things to do than read cover letters all day. I'm considering the following for my resume (including the smiley emoticon): "Trust me when I say I’m qualified for this position (since that’s what you're doing anyway). I’ll knock your business socks off and rock your corporate world. Call me :)"
5. Job interview questions have become entirely routine and useless. They've turned legitimate interviews into games of facades where "correct" answers and appearances are valued more than sincerity. A job interview with the typical interview questions is the quickest way to learn absolutely nothing about a potential employee. When asked about personal weaknesses, does anyone answer with something like, “Well, I’m a horrible people person. I don’t get along with anybody, and I’m typically known as the gossip of the office.” Or, how about, “I’m a pretty lazy person. I procrastinate. I trick coworkers into doing my share of a project…” Similarly, questions like “Why should we hire you?” and “What will you bring to our company” just beg for insincere, generic answers. Why does every company have a handful of horrible employees—the lazy office sloth that never does their work, the office jerk that rubs everyone the wrong way? I’ll tell you why—it’s because lame, canned interview questions get lame, canned interview answers. I think it would make more sense to just have a natural conversation with a job candidate for 30 minutes or so, throwing in a few job-specific, sincere interview questions. If the person doing the interviewing can’t get a feel for a candidate with that, then they shouldn’t be doing the hiring.
2. Professional firer. Now, this job truly exists in some capacity also, and I have to give Alicia some credit for this idea too, since we’ve discussed doing this together. This job would especially come in handy right now with all the firings going on. Basically, when a company is firing someone, they call me to do it—they don’t have to face the person. I’ll simply enter the person’s office, and say something like the following, “Mr. John Smith? Your services are no longer needed here. You have 30 minutes to clean off your desk. The company will send you your paycheck in the mail.” I'd stand there with my arms folded, ensuring they didn't cause a scene, then I would "see them out." Simple as that.
3. Professional crafter. You’ll simply give me a call when you want a craft completed. I’ll even keep it a secret if my clients prefer. I’ll deliver the carved pumpkins, decorated eggs, or mosaic pot, then they can display it like it was their own clever little project…I’ve gone ahead and thrown in a sample photo of my egg dying (sneaky way to insert my Easter photos, I know).
You might recognize that the egg in the photo closely resembles myself (I might just specialize in Personal Egg Portraits). Unfortunately, there was a mishap when creating some pants for Angie Egg. The face went fine. Hair, great. But when I was attempting to make some cute little blue pants, a slight slip of the fingers sent Angie Egg dunking into the blue dye—changing my skin from a rosy pink to an ill-looking purple…
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Maybe I’m a super jerk. Maybe public consumption of boiled eggs isn’t that big of a deal. But, I dare say that it is a big deal.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
3. Homemade dioramas are bound to make a comeback in 2009. If you're at all familiar with Duchesne County, you'll definitely recognize this one--I think it's remarkably accurate and life-like.
4. Online Boggle and online Scrabble are the best discoveries I've made so far in 2009 (they're gonna be hard to top).
Anywho, just like this boring rant, my life has entered a semi-boring phase, which is a good thing of course. I'm now working full time, doing a 9-5, contributing to society, call it what you will. I'm able to do a little writing, a little editing, a little accounting (okay, that's kinda the bane of my existence, but who can complain with all the "credit crunches," "mortgage crises," and "Dow Jones drops" going on out there). (Though, I'm almost more worried about society's excessive use of cliches and buzz words--but that's just the nerdy know-it-all speaking.)
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
"Have a nice life" seemed hugely appropriate for last week. It was my last week of college (barring any surprise course failures) and the last week at my dental office job. It's crazy that life can drastically change so quickly. Last week I was contemplating driving off a cliff (which is usually the case at the end of a semester), and wondering how it would feel to know that I no longer worked at the place I've been for almost four years. Fast forward a week, and school's done (feels like history already), and my now full-time job at the Wasatch Journal feels as natural as can be. (It helps that I've been at the WJ in some capacity for months now.)
I'd like to write an introspective, intellectual summation of my college experience, but for now I'm glad it's done, and I'm licking my college-induced wounds (being, of course, a constant sense of anxiety over incomplete assignments, perpetual drowsiness, and a year's worth of dirty laundry). Healing will come, I'm sure. And when I feel like it, I'll share my words of collegiate wisdom. And if everyone's really lucky, I'll share some of my favorite college tales: that of my boiled-egg-eating arch nemesis and the tale of my compliment-showering stalker. Another day...