Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Coffee Breaks

Breaks are an important part of any 9-5 job. An opportunity to walk away from whatever crap you are in the middle of for 15 precious minutes.

But while the essence of the break is the same, what a break actually looks like varies greatly across seniority levels.

You have not been told that you get two (2) fifteen minute breaks during one business day, consequently you go the whole day sans coffee, wondering if anyone will notice that you are gone for 5 minutes to use the bathroom. If you have been told that you get these precious breaks, you will not use them. You are there to work. You might as well take them- management doesn't notice that you don't, nor do any brownie points get awarded for not taking them.

You have been around for anywhere from six months to two years without moving up in position. You are the heart and soul 0f any department, the worker bees. Those of us (yes, I am a lowly worker bee) that are underpaid and way overworked. Just look at my desk right now- overworked. As for the underpaid...please see post about my 'raise'. Focusing...Us veterans? We knew we are entitled to our coffee breaks. And we take advantage. But we literally use them to run out of the building, stand in some coffee shop line for a token coffee/tea and scone/muffin/croissant and run back. Because we know that they are timing us. If we are late, there is a very good chance that an email about punctuality and the workplace will be waiting for us. And there is no better feeling than being chastized for doing something you are entitled to do.

These are a step above the Veterans in that they have been promoted at some stage in the game. They do not take their coffee breaks daily. They are too busy for simple coffee breaks. Plus they have all that extra holiday time that came with their title, plus the extra money...they don't need the coffee break like the Veterans. However, when management steps out, on vacation, away at a conference etc. Supervisors must take coffee breaks. It's in their contracts. But they will compound them into their lunch breaks. Thus...two hour lunch breaks. And don't forget about the all important meetings that suddenly come up. Therefore in one short week, a Supervisor will have managed to make up for 3 months worth of missed coffee breaks.

The Holy Grail of administrative work: Management. Once one achieves Management status all actual work ceases. The amazing thing about Management is that one becomes a 'people manager'. Without actually doing any work, the Manager somehow achieves. The Manager holds meetings, runs reports, makes recommendations- but none of these things actually do anything. Well there is the time wasting aspect I guess...Perhaps the best thing about being a Manager is that coffee breaks become a euphemism for not working. Managers get together "over coffee" to discuss projects, progress and reports. Coffee breaks become extended meetings out of the office, where there is no one to overhear the content of your conversation to ensure that it is on topic. The best part of meeting "over coffee" is that coffee purchases become expensed.
So free coffee and free time.

The only question that remains is: How does one become a Manager?

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