Friday, July 31, 2009

Double Standards? Not Here!

This week has been quite a roller coaster. We welcomed new people into our office, started learning new processes in preparation for when we are taken over (officially) and engaged in some good old fashioned double standards.

Who doesn’t love a good double standard?

I know that I personally love when 2 different sets of rules apply to 2 different people. It makes it so much easier to keep track of what you are allowed to do and what someone else is allowed to do. For example, when someone in a supervisory role is allowed to take an extended lunch whenever, but regular folk are expected to take 60 minutes, not a second more. Or when personal phone calls are actively discouraged but nothing is said when a supervisor has her iPhone practically glued to her ear.

This week, more than usual, there have been a veritable smorgasbord of double standards. They have run the gamut from dress code, to noise levels, socializing to late starts. Let’s go to some examples shall we?

Did you know, that during a heat wave it is not okay for one team to stray from the dress code? But for the other team, that reports to the same person the dress code does not apply? I was not aware of this either and am also unfortunately on the team where the dress code still sticks. Literally. My shirt is sticking to me.

I also discovered that while it is okay for managers and supervisors to stroll in minutes late, it is not okay for us simple folk to do the same. Even if the reason one is late is beyond one’s control ie. The commuter trains were stopped on the tracks for several minutes or traffic was horrendous. Only if this is corroborated by a supervisor on the same train will this excuse stick. Furthermore, no mention will be made of making up the time for a supervisor or manager but the minions better be reminded that under no circumstances has this gone unnoticed and the 10 minutes will be made up by the end of the day. After all, one needs to be fair to everyone else.

And finally while noise levels are to be kept to an absolute minimum and laughter and the sound of any kind of fun expressly forbidden and punishable for the regular people, it is expected that supervisors engage in immature, ridiculous and loud behavior when managers are off site. Furthermore, pictures should be taken of any kind of tomfoolery (especially involving box packaging materials) to be shown to management when they return so that they can all have a chuckle at what fun was had.

Thank God this is a long weekend eh? Not that I think a long weekend will end the double standards but I could use a break to sort out what rules apply to me!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Office Attire

We are in the middle of an unprecedented heat wave. Seriously, it has NEVER been this hot EVER in our city. Well since they started keeping records anyway. So we are all dying. Our office AC, ever temperamental has decided to call the shots when it comes to keeping cool. This means that sometimes one can feel the soft cool breeze of the AC starting up and at other times, feel smothered and sticky from the sudden warmth.

But in case we all started to think that our business casual dress code would be relaxed to accommodate the stifling weather and lack of AC, an email was sent out to correct this misconception. Office dress code still in effect. Full force. No sleeveless tops, no flip flops, no shorts. No AC? So we’re all sitting here sweating, sticking to our seats, slick beads of sweat in all the wrong places. Nice eh?

It just got me thinking about appropriate office wear. Because lets face it, some people haven’t got a clue. I definitely resent the fact that they aren’t being a little more relaxed since they won’t do anything about the AC. But even when the weather isn’t quite so hot, there are some serious faux pas that don’t seem to matter. Why the crack down now?

Here are some examples of what were you thinking this morning? No mirror?

1. Matchy Matchy. We all like to look put together but there is such a thing as looking too “put together”. Last week I was walking to the bus behind a lady who clearly put a lot of effort and planning into her outfit. Maybe too much. She had on a skirt “suit”, with a garish brown and turquoise animal/safari/abstract print all over it. With a turquoise shirt (of course), turquoise shoes (seriously the exact same colour as the “suit”- she must have picked them up at the same place) and a turquoise bag. It was hideous and enthralling all at the same time.

2. “I’m Going to the Bar Later”. I know that sometimes you want to play after work and you want your outfit to be versatile and work for both. But come on, pick up an InStyle or something and see how they go from work to play. Do not come to work in skirts that graze the tops of your thighs that you can barely sit down in. Or tops that have chains across the shoulders. And if you insist on wearing skyscraper heels, please for the love of God learn to walk in them!

3. Ill Fitting Clothes. So you work in an office and you’ve gained some weight. No biggie. It happens. But when you continue to wear the clothes that fit you 3 dress sizes ago, it becomes an issue. Its just not flattering and sure doesn’t look comfortable. I know that it sucks to have to buy new clothes in a bigger size (boy do I know) but then you either have to do something about it or tell yourself that its just a number (just like your age). It is not ok to have things hanging out all over the place when you could just get something that fits properly and look more streamlined at the same time. I for one try not to look at the size on the label…as long as I can move my arms and legs and everything is tucked in…it works!

4. Mismatched. So there is such a thing as being too matched, but it is just as bad to have given no thought whatsoever to what you are wearing. The result? Coming to work in pants that are too short with some sort o f stripe, a polka dot shirt and a cape. Or a foofy, sequined, ruffled disaster of a dress last seen on Little Miss Diva hopefuls in Texas paired with sneakers. You just can’t have it both ways. (I have actually seen the latter, she would come to work in the most ridiculous dresses, ill suited to both the workplace and her age. We affectionately dubbed her The Dress).

5. Different Decade Dresser. I have heard that the 80s were a good time. I was too young to appreciate the neons, big hair and gross misuse of blush and blue eyeshadow. But I see it every day. Special shout out to the 60+ year old woman with hair 3 times the size of a football helmet artfully teased each day, gloriously adorned in animal prints, shoulder pads, oversized belts, brightly coloured skirts, talon like red nails and spike heels that I for one am really impressed she can walk in. Also, don’t ever let anyone tell you that its all too much- I love your bracelets, dangly earrings, 4 necklaces AND your brooch.

So there you have it. My essay on what not to wear to work. Feel free to add your own! I’m still warm. I still wish they would relax the dress code this week. But at least I still have the energy to judge other people.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hand Holding

For the 50th time in the past week, we had a hand holding session.

One on one this time though.

In the lunch room. Around noon. So people continually walked in wanting to eat their lunch.

I guess its nice to know that they are concerned about how we are handling this change but I have a few questions about this sudden show of compassion and concern, mainly: where the hell was it when I was being robbed of my vacation? Or sick days? Or when I was literally robbed of my possessions? Or when my raise took a year to come through? Or when my grandmother died? Or when I nearly broke my head falling on black ice on my way to work?

At any one of those times a little hand holding would have been nice. It might (no guarantees) have gone a ways towards erasing some of the hard feelings and bitterness that are currently setting up shop over my heart. Those were actual crises, things that affected my way of life beyond these 4 softly padded beige walls.

But now is the time for hand holding. And honestly, now is not a time when I feel like I need it. I object to being pulled away from my desk 3 times a week to engage in a little heart to heart.

How am I feeling about all the changes? Good. Things needed to change.
Do I have any concerns about the change? Just that John will continue to work here.
Have I had a chance to look at the new company website? Yes, but didn’t find any kind of information that I actually wanted.
Do I see myself working in one of the branches, selling to the public? Hell no, then I would be making a career choice as opposed to an employment choice (ie this way I can still tell myself it’s a job, not a career, just doing it for the paycheque).

I’m just a little annoyed that with all the backlog, all the bitching and moaning that things are behind, they somehow find the time to have innumerable meetings. I guess I just feel like they are going through the paces. They don’t actually care if we have anxieties about the whole thing, they just don’t want it to get in the way of our production.

Its still all about the bottom line, they just want us to think that things have changed. Maybe stop saying its “business as usual” then.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Bright Side of Life

I'm the first person to admit that I might have hit my head if I'm writing about the bright side of life. But for those of you coming to read snarky anecdotes of cubicle life, I'm sure I can fit something in. It must just be the heat (we're in the middle of a heat wave, the likes of which has only been seen twice before, once in 2004 and before that in 1928!)--its just too hot to be angry.

Let's start small.

Maurice is wearing his lime green shirt. Words cannot express the joy that this brings me. He's so proud of it too. And I do believe that there are less buttons done up than usual. He's brought his P-I-M-P today. Yay!

We have new people in our office! They started yesterday. And are a far cry from the social morons we had before (Sebastien excluded obviously). They make jokes. Actual jokes. They laugh. They talk to each other. AND they made a reference to drinking. For those of you that work in jobs that you like, with people you enjoy being around, these will all seem like normal everyday things. But to me who has had to endure fake laughter, disapproving glances for voices raised above a whisper and emails about appropriate office conduct, this is all very liberating and hopeful.

We are manager-less today! John and Amy are both away at manager training. Which means I don't have to worry about John sneaking up on me. Or talking to me. Or looking at me with disapproval while simultaneously grinning like the f**king chesshire cat (does he not get how creepy this is? how does he even do it? There must be some serious mirror time involved...although how he can stand to look at his face for more than 2 minutes together I will never understand). Oddly enough, a day sans management makes me work harder, to prove a point-- I don't need you to supervise.

And with the managers away Veronica hasn't stepped in to be the big bad boss. I don't know what the deal is, usually she would be salivating to be in charge, show us all the she has what it takes to be in charge. Maybe she isn't feeling well. Maybe she feels left out--wanted to go to the manager's meeting. But Veronica, you are not a manager. And hopefully you never will be because you would be like Janice in Wanted, stuffing your face and leaning over people, getting them to do your work. Evil b*tch.

And finally--the air conditioning is working. Sort of. I can kind of feel a cool breeze if I sit really still for a minute. Our theory is that the building managers want to impress the new people coming in so they will regulate the temperature for like a month (that's pretty generous) to lull them into a false sense of security that everything works properly in this building. And then BAM! the weather will change and we will all be screwed. But for now, I am content to enjoy the cooler air.

Don't worry, its not all good. I'm being threatened with having to give up most of the rest of my vacation days because John and Amy are bottom line corporate puppets. I'm fighting it. But its in the back of my mind. So I'm sure that that will provide me with things to whine about at a later date.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tori Spelling

My friend Sebastien hates Tori Spelling. Hates her. Its irrational, but its hilarious. To further feed this fire of hatred (I know, bad karma) I would email him links, stories and photos of Tori Spelling. I would leave printed out pictures of her on his desk.

But today- the Tori channels are closed. Because Sebastien has left the office. Sadly he has not gotten a better job (you will though Sebastien, you will). He is just another casualty of our company being bought out. His department stays with our old company, so he had to move to their head office.

I had to walk past his empty desk today and there were no bitchy comments. No Mean Girls quotes issuing from his strangely silent cubicle. Its weird because for the better part of the 3 years I have worked here, Sebastien has been here. He was there on my first day in both roles to show me the ropes. He was there when it all fell apart (for the both of us).

So today, in an effort to remember the positive and not dwell on the negative (look at me! On a Monday no less), I am going to list some of my favourite moments with/things about Sebastien. Hopefully this post pulls at Sebastien’s heartstring (just the one unfortunately—but better than the black stone that used to be there) and he returns to me.

:: On my very first day, as a reward for being such a good student, taking me to the beach behind the branch to eat our lunch. And feast our eyes on shirtless soccer players.

:: Before each company wide “recognition night”, getting drunk together. Martinis and bellinis were the order of the day, and made the company schmooze night less tedious.

:: The invention of Inappropriate Fridays. Although Sebastien spent most of his time being inappropriate, a day was designated for us all to be inappropriate together.

:: Email fights. We both used to be tellers, and I would work at the wicket behind him, so I could see everything that he was doing. He was dealing with a particularly heinous class of member. So I sent him encouraging messages like “she clearly hates you” and “next thing you know she will be burning crosses on your lawn”. We spent the next 10 minutes doubled over laughing, unable to breathe or serve any members.

:: Emails like this: Dear Heavenly Father in the skies above, watching over us sheep wandering aimlessly in the fields of sin,We thank you for the fellowship of good friends coming together in the name of Christ, our Lord and Savior. We thank you for not only providing us with the gift of friendship, but also the gift of carbs, which provide us with the energy to be able to run around and Sin. We also thank you for the whole water into wine thing, as we live in BC, where water is plentiful. We thank you for fat people, who make us laugh, and black people, who make us scared. We thank you for love & hate, and right and wrong (though mostly for hate and wrong) Mostly we thank you for $$$, cuz as we all know, money is the root of all evil, and we’s be some evil EVIL bitches!!!

There is so much more (choosing sleazy celebs to be for the day, catching up on trashy reality TV, mocking others) but I am seriously going to get caught on the internet again and will be in a world of hurt. See what I am willing to go through for you Sebastien?

Sebastien: I can’t believe we don’t work together anymore. But you know I will see you soon (and if I don’t I will take your first child, I don’t care how long you waited) and I wish you the best.

The rest of you: thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Prescription Potluck

The office is in shambles due to an impending move, people are worried about their jobs, still trying to process this whole sale...but don't worry! It will all be fine. We have a potluck coming up!

Apparently there is something about everyone bringing in food and standing around awkwardly that seems to heal all wounds. As long as we can have a potluck, we don't need to worry about whether or not we still have jobs.

I don't know how a potluck works in your office, maybe its a good time. But this is how it works in mine.

At 11am they start bringing out the food. 11. In the morning. Thankfully no one is expected to start eating until noon but in the meantime, smells of all kinds of delicious are wafting through the halls. When we finally do get into the room, there is a lot of awkward standing around. For 2 reasons:
  1. No one wants to be the first to start eating, getting all the best food and largest portions but looking like a greedy pig at the same time.
  2. The group that finds themselves working here are not of a particularly social disposition, so a social gathering of this sort throws them all into confused silence.
At this point, where you sit becomes of paramount importance. Choose wrong and you could spend the next hour being ignored or alternatively, discussing various cat habits. Offices are nothing if not clique-y.

Once everyone has that sorted out, there will inevitably be some speech. Tomorrow will run along the lines of how much we have all enjoyed working together (lies, I don't even know everyone's name, and there are only like 30 people that work here), how we're all embarking on a new chapter in our working lives, and something about staying in touch?

I always harbour some hope that people will lose track of the time and we will get longer than the allotted one hour lunch to celebrate our achievements/new chapter/holiday but that never happens. Some sort of inner manager clock ensures that we are all back at our desks at 1pm sharp. Which leaves us with another 4 hours of work. Not how I like to roll on Fridays.

Send me good thoughts tomorrow as this facet of office culture tortures me once more.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Its a Cruel World

After everything that has happened at work in the past day and a half, I'm not feeling too good about the whole work thing. I have been on and off the job search several times in the past year, without any luck (obviously). I think at this point, I just need to get out.

But have you looked at what is out there recently? Not a whole lot. Maybe I have forgotten how to do this- the last time I got a job by looking at want ads was in 2005. After that it was all about connections. But in my haste to complete a degree, I was making all the wrong connections. I am in an industry that I fell into- the kind that if you look around people have various educational backgrounds: highschool diploma, fashion, psychology, history, english, communcations; ones that didn't necessarily prepare us for a life in a cubicle dispensing any kind of financial advise. 

My point? That after 3 years (give or take) in this system, I know about mortgage rates, insurance, exchange rates, how to wire money, how to set up payments, the 10% savings rule and the best way to go about getting lending- but no actual connections that will get me a job that I like.

That's right, I am settling for liking a job. It will be a nice change from the deep seated hatred I currently show up to work with every day. John actually asked me today how, given the power to change my day for the better, what would I do? I swallowed all inappropriate responses. I ended up telling him that it was pointless coming up with ways that I could improve my day since I have no power and I can't change anything in my current job. That I didn't really see the point in coming up with imaginary ideas that would never take shape.

But I digress. My job search. I think I may need pointers. How did you get your current job? Did you scour newspapers, online classifieds? Did you know the right people? Did you accidentally stumble onto your dream job? Actually, if this happened, I really don't want to know--unless you have an opportunity for me to do the same. Did you join a job club? 

Most importantly, if you live in my area, and you know if you do--do you know of anything I would like? I'm an excellent employee (despite all evidence to the contrary on this blog), a really quick learner, wear snazzy colour nail polish and have a wicked sense of humour. A joy to work alongside really.

Please please please give me the chance to act out one of my fantasies: walking into work on a fine west coast morning with a letter of resignation in hand and a colourful speech about how I am breaking the chains of servitude to the insurance masters, going onto bigger and better things, 100% John-free. 

Dare to dream. 

The Fall Out

You should feel the atmosphere in here today--yes feel. Its tense, heavy, anxious. Amy came in for her morning chat and she was stone faced- its been a while since she has been so stone faced. Lilly asked her if she was going to quit, and she didn't answer. This is not good.

I think we're all feeling kind of vulnerable--yes we have been promised our jobs. But there is a timeline. 12-18 months. Seems like a long time doensn't it? Well it goes by quickly. I should know. Thats how long I have ended up staying here. Course that has felt like a lifetime...but it went by quickly. Does that even make sense? Probably not. I'm discombobulated (but what a thrill to find a reason to use the word discombobulated).

First thing this morning I got a call from one of our reps. Usually a pretty bubbly lady, one of those people that always has a smile in her voice. Today she sounded like she had been crying all night. And while I don't think that she was necessarily crying all night, I do think she had a sleepless night wondering what all will happen. She has heard not very good things about working for the company that has bought us. And she is angry with the company for selling us. Because she belonged to a company that had to merge with us last year--needless to say that did not go smoothly.

And in the midst of all of this, of course, I have another meeting with John today. Part of our ongoing series to find out what makes me tick. Did I tell you that at the beginning of all this he actually told me that he had had no interest in getting to know me? Are you allowed to say things like that, things that betray personal biases, to people that work for you? He must have read that you can, that it increases morale or something, in People Management 101. Regardless John- the feeling is mutual.

Today we get to discuss what I would look for in my next job. I tried really hard to keep the sarcasm out...but it comes so naturally I hardly realize that I'm doing it. I did well too... for a while. I came up with: A more relaxed, less corporate work environment; Variety- working on different things each day so that no 2 days are exactly the same...and then it got a little blatant with: better pay and lower cubicle walls, more of a physical semblance of a unified team

Do you think they will notice the cynicism? Its pretty well veiled right?

It gets better. I'm also supposed to come up with the benefits of staying where I am. Benefits, benefits....oh I know!

A regular paycheque.

For 12-18 months anyway.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Day It All Changed...Sort Of

Today was not a regular day. For those of you that read regularly you will notice that my post is way late. 

Yesterday afternoon we got an email from the president of the company telling us that there would be a mandatory meeting the next morning for everyone. All the offices would close (unprecedented) and we were meeting in a hotel conference room (again, unheard of). Rumours started swirling that we were all going to be laid off. But if they were going to do that they probably wouldn't put us altogether in one room. Might get to be a dangerous situation for them.

Arrived at the meeting bright eyed at 9.30 (I normally start at 8.30 but to be "fair" to everyone I get to work til 5--normally my work day ceases to torture me at 4.30). Thankfully there wasn't a lot of beating around the bush and the company's CEO cut right to the chase.

We had been sold.

All sorts of dark thoughts began chasing each other around in my head. Am I losing my job? Will I be able to find another job? Will it be just as crappy as this one? How long did John know about this (looking at his face, he wasn't surprised, turned out later he had been working on the deal)?

So here's the breakdown of what this all means for yours truly.

"Everything will be the same. But different".

Ok. First of all, who says that? Secondly, I am guaranteed a job for the next "12-18 months" depending on how this all goes down. The company that bought us doesn't have a department function like ours so after everything is said and done, new positions will have to be found for us. This presents a problem for me, because while before there were other options available (being a local company they had all their operations based here: marketing, PR and advertising among them, a good stepping stone), in this new company they are strictly...well let's say that the company I started with owned apples and oranges, and I was not completely opposed to selling apples but was currently stuck in oranges? Now I will only have oranges to work with and I'm not that fond of them.

All of that I have a year to figure out. Here are the things I'm most disappointed about:
  • There were some perks associated with my job. Working in the financial sector I got a free debit account (no paying for any debit transactions) as well as staff rates on loans and exchange rates and a pretty nifty gold coloured credit card. That's all gone
  • That the new company is not local so opportunities may exist but I would need to relocate in order to take advantage and I'm kind of attached to my city. 
  • That the company knew that this was the step they were likely going to take and didn't say anything. That John especially was working on this for the last 6 weeks- the same 6 weeks that he was raking me over the coals, putting letters in my file (just one but still), forcing me to have weekly sitdowns where we talk about feelings and was just a general dips**t.
I'm sure that there are more things...but after a day of talking about it all I can't remember which way is up let alone all the flaws in this system. I think I wrote somethings down as we went and I will be sure to refer to my notes tomorow. For now, I remain thoroughly disillusioned with corporations. 

Especially the ones that smile while they f**k you.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hardly Working

For whatever reason I'm finding it hard to force myself to concentrate today. Cannot focus for the life of me. It can't possibly be that I hate my job, am unfulfilled in my daily working life, can't stand many of the people that I am forced to work alongside or the fact that its Monday again (on a non pay week) so it must be the weather.

Irregardless (did I just do that? I totally did), I can't concentrate. I have however managed to create the illusion of being busy. Through the following means:

1. I updated events on my puppy calendar. How can one resist a calendar of adorable multi coloured Labrador puppies? You can't, its impossible. Unless you are stonehearted. And then--I don't want to know you. My calendar now shows the arrival dates of my BF's parents and my Swedish soulmate, a handful of BBQs, important people's birthdays (Claire, obviously you are listed, not that the date wasn't already burned onto my brain) AND the start of my Dutch class lessons in September. Am ridiculously excited to further my Dutch education.

2. Studied the Labrador puppy pictures more closely. Am disappointed with August's picture. There is something wrong with those puppies...

3. Tried to get the BF to set up a man date. I think that Phil (not his real name, can you imagine?) and Jorge would make a really lovely pair. But its always hard to be the one to make that first phone call isn't it?

4. Caught up on all the weekend happenings. Amy had to suffer through a bridal shower (why are those things always so...awful?), Veronica painted her nails and partied until the wee hours, and my friend got asked out by a 60 year old man. Obviously in light of all this, much discussion was necessary. Will a restraining order be necessary? We determined that its an awkward age because a coffee date can't be under the guise of keeping a lonely old man company...

5. After halfheartedly going through this list I offered myself up to the training gods. Oh yeah, I took initiative. I told Amy that this was never going to get done if they didn't train me properly. I showed initiative and created a solid excuse for why none of this is getting done. Diabolical.

6. Made plans to play my recently downloaded Dirty Dancing soundtrack from my iPhone later this afternoon when 4 people are processing mail. Such appropriate allocation of resources no?

7. Listed for several people my Sephora purchases over the weekend. I know that for many Sephora is old news. But this was only my 2nd time in it ever. The first was in Prague (random right?) and at the time I did not fully realize the amazingness of Sephora. I spent entirely too much money but I can't pretend to be sorry. I am counting the paycheques until I can return.

So that's been my morning thus far. Has yours gone by as quickly? You definitely did not get less done than I. If you have, I congratulate you! And please, enlighten me! I bow down to your genius.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Roller Coaster Team Building?

Today, to take the edge of work, I am planning an excursion. Not an exciting trip out of town or anything, a work team building excursion. To the local amusement park.

Exciting no?

Well in a way I guess. I should add that I was asked to do this, to make myself feel more like a part of a team, more involved. I guess they think that if I'm the one to plan it, there will be fewer 'negative' (hilarious) comments about it? They wouldn't be completely right. I still plan to make some comments, its my nature.

But I digress.

The point is, I'm to choose a Friday at the end of the summer (when I say choose, I mean ask everyone and democratically elect a day) to organize the team to go. And whether we want to work overtime all week to go for the whole day, or work the morning and go in the afternoon.

People are choosing the wrong dates! I want them to choose September 4th and everyone is willfully choosing August 28th. AND for some reason they also all want to work overtime the week leading up to the big day. Why in the name of all that is holy do you want to work overtime to get to spend more time with the trolls we call co-workers?!

Was that too harsh?

Here's what I would do if I were in charge. We would all work a normal week. And on the Friday we would get to go home early with a little cash in our pockets (the price of admission) to buy ourselves something pretty. Alternatively price of admission could be used to buy an extra hour of leisure.

Team building at this point seems pointless. We are already a fractured mess and spending one day in unity getting sunburnt, gorging ourselves on amusement park fare and riding roller coasters til we puke probably isn't going to change that. Because come the Monday following, we will all be segregated in our boxes, barred from conversation.

Why can't we all just go our separate ways?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Cookie

On Monday I attempted to start a new trend. I would be really good about what I eat and go to the gym after work. This was to be a daily thing. A way to monitor what exactly I am eating and a way to work off the stress and annoyances from the office. A good plan. A plan that I have been trying to put into place for the better part of a year, and failing at. I continue to spend day after day sitting on my ass, which is getting fatter every day.

The few times that I do go to the gym in succession (I make it 3 times in a row and I want to throw myself a party) I do really enjoy it. There is a satisfaction about running on a treadmill making yourself all sweaty. But then on the 4th day I manage to tell myself any number of things to stop: I will go tomorrow (tomorrow never comes), I'm too tired (going to the gym gives me energy), I don't have enough time (I have a pilates DVD at home I can do in 20 minutes), I like my body the way it is (lies).

So it is Wednesday. I went to the gym Sunday Monday and Tuesday (the magical 3 days) and Monday and Tuesday I was even good about eating properly (I ate breakfast, and only what I brought with me to work).

But then today, the cookie happened.

A box of delicious baked-this-morning cookies arrived in the office minutes ago. Although I'm sure that their fragrant aroma would have lured me to the lunch room had they been placed there, I feel confident that I would have been able to resist. But no. This amazing box of baked goodness came floating person to person, offered right under my nose. It would be rude to resist no?

So I didn't.

And for maybe a minute of delicious, chocolatey satisfaction I am now riddled with guilt. Why did I eat that cookie? What about that promise that I made myself to be good? Do I mean nothing to myself?

Cookies, cakes, candies- these are the booby trap of working in a cubicle world. Someone thinks to ease our suffering by offering sweets. These sweets are consumed as we continue to sit on our butts for 8 hours of the day. These sweets turn into fat on my ass.

But it was so good.

I guess I am going to the gym again later.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Fate is Sealed?

Today my horoscope told me to suck it up. I think.

Its lame but I am a horoscope believer. I know that they are usually so vague that they can be interpreted however you want to. But my horoscope today was pretty plain.

"You're not giving something a full effort because you are internally resistant. You need to surrender completely".

Is John writing horoscopes now?

Normally I go with it. But this one so blatantly tells me what I don't want to hear, that I will choose instead to think of it a different way. My horoscope is telling me to stop rationalizing and go to the gym already.

So that is what I will do- work it out.

A Day in the Life of a Brown Noser

This post is dedicated to my friend Anna.

No she isn't dead, she gave me the idea for this post. It should also probably be noted that Anna is not the Brown Noser to whom I am referring.

Every office has one. Someone that just can't help themselves. Its a lifestyle really, a choice. You can't just accidentally find yourself up your boss' butt can you? No. You have made a choice to be there. Lately ours has really been irritating me. So with a little nudge from Anna I have put together a day in the life of said Brown Noser.

A Brown Noser is a person that is all sunshine and light to the boss/people with authority, but spews venom and daggers at those unfortunate enough to work below him/her. This Brown Noser takes every opportunity of putting themselves in a favourable light, while pointing out everyone else's deficiencies.

Stroll in 5, 10, 15 minutes late. Blame transit. Obviously was very backed up if you are late, nevermind that everyone else made it on time. No eyebrows are raised and no mention made of making up the time so you get to "work". If someone else is late, make a point of mentioning it loud enough for everyone to hear and ask when that person plans to make up the time.

Go through your emails and messages from the day before, talk through them out loud so that everyone knows that you are very busy and important. Any time that you finish a phone call loudly exclaim that the person on the other end doesn't know what they are doing and they are lucky you can fix their mess.

If the boss comes around perk up, laugh, make lame jokes that you know John, er sorry, your boss, will find funny. Make suggestions for how everyone else can be efficient. Should someone ask you to please help take some work off their precariously piled desk, make a face and tell them that you are far too busy. Then turn around and clack away at your computer before you go for lunch.

Take an extended lunch. You deserve it. You have been busy and important all morning. You will still have plenty of time to do nothing in the afternoon.

If you need to get anything from the other side of the office, or if you need to stretch your legs, never walk, stomp. If you stomp you show that you are in control and are making your presence known around the office at the same time.

Your manager comes over to ask if you could please train a co-worker quickly. You say of course, you would love to. Then don't do it. When reminded, smile brightly, say that you just plain forgot, so much going on, and promise to do it first thing Monday. Then don't. No one will bring it up again, they will think that you are too busy, just don't have the time. Your co-worker is going to be the one that gets berated for not being trained anyway.

Whenever anyone tries to commiserate with you about someone else's incompetence, highlight the complainer's incompetence. Smile and laugh while you do it. Bring it up with your boss later, they will appreciate the heads up about any kind of incompetence and mete out punishment/lectures/department wide emails as they see fit.

Leave the office with one last remark to your supervisor/boss about how much work you got done today and how much more efficient everything is thanks to their intervention. Look forward to doing it all again tomorrow.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Desired Outcomes

Can you believe that people actually say things like this? As in, "let's work towards your desired outcomes."

Do you know what my desired outcomes are? For you to stop harassing me daily. For you to pay me what I am worth. And to cut me some slack. And after all that, for me to walk in with a winning lottery ticket and tell you to go f**k yourself. Or at least a new job offer.

Perhaps I should back up.

A few weeks back I was hauled into a little meeting room with John, the guy who thinks he is my manager, and Amy, who actually is my manager. Clearly the whole thing was John's brainchild though. His issue? Well even though I complete all of my tasks, exceed processsing targets and generally rock, he caught me on Facebook (the bane of the corporate world). One time. Please note that I had been Facebooking daily for about...oh I dont know, the entire time I have been working here (sadly, about a year and half now)?

So anyway, they pulled me into this meeting at 4.05, knowing full well that I leave at 4.30 (4.25 most days, take that John!), and what? Expected me roll over and take it? Please. They obviously don't know me at all. They wanted me to sign a letter that they would be putting in my file (come on-- who doesn't have a letter in their file?) and be done in 20 minutes.

Well that didn't happen.

Here is what did happen. We talked round and round in circles for almost 2 full hours the next day. Nothing was accomplished except to set up another meeting for another time. At that meeting it was decided that in order to achieve some level of contentment in my role here, I would figure out a plan for my "desired outcomes". I asked them what they were going to do for this whole process, I got a "what would you like us to do?" (John wants the process to be a collaborative one--are you gagging yet?). I told him to fill one out too. For himself. He filled one out. But for me.

Anyway the result of all of this is that every week I get a one hour meeting with them both. A whole hour. Do you know that if he had just let me continue to waste time on Facebook and and whatever else, he would have wasted less time than he has with this whole process? Trying to make things better has made it all worse. Every week I also get a "homework" assignment to be completed on work time-last week was to come up with 50 things I Liked about work. This week, based on John's Top 50 things he LOVES about work, to find the holes in my own job experience.

But it has provided me with some gems to post here.

Here are some examples of John's Top 50 Things he Loves about work:
#26: the dress code. It is relaxed enough to allow me to make choices, and does not force me to wear a tie which I really dislike.
#27: I love it when my staff are ‘jazzed’ (have you ever been 'jazzed' about anything? me either)
#41 The day goes by fairly quickly as I am generally enjoyably occupied in my day

Clearly the guy likes his job. Must be nice.

How about an example of what not to say to someone? While he was smilingly berating me for not being positive enough he asks me (and I'm not even sure he's allowed to ask me this but anyway...): "Have you ever had a health scare?"

I have not. Thank God. Touch wood I don't ever have one, thank you very much.

There's more: "Well maybe you should have one, really puts things into perspective"

I'm sure that my mouth dropped to the floor. I did not have anything witty or biting to reply with-- I mean how does on respond to a manager's wish for your health to plummet?

So much time wasted. And I'm not any closer to reaching any desired outcomes. I don't think that the ones that I listed at the beginning of this post would be accepted anyhow. So I will have to lie. Some more.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Movie Version of My Hell

At the urging of my friend, I watched Office Space again last night. I was told that I would think it was a lot funnier than the first time that I saw it. That I would be able to relate. Then we could make Office Space comments together, the way we currently do with Mean Girls- a highly quoteable film, and the last time that Lindsay Lohan looked hot.

But back to Office Space. I watched it last night, ready to be highly entertained. And do you know? It kind of felt more like an extension of my day.

I cringed when Lumbergh lumbers over to give Peter some instructions because that was exactly how my old boss used to talk! He used to think about every word that he would say and even though he's not really telling you to do something, he's not really asking either. MMkay? Great, thanks.

Don't get me wrong, I thought it was funny. It's really a genius movie. But more than that, its so...accurate. That really is what it is like to live in a cubicle. I really do have to account for my mistakes to several different people. And that redhead? The one that says "Corporate accounts. Please hold, thank you!" in a really highpitched annoying voice that becomes the soundtrack to his nightmares? I have a fake laugher on the other side of my cubicle wall. She is on the phone all day (sometimes on speaker so that I have the benefit of hearing both sides of the conversation) laughing her head off. Remember Monica's fake work laugh? Its worse. I just don't know how everything can be so funny! As for the awkward birthday party and cake--don't even get me started. That's a post on its own.

I guess the big question is, if you had a million dollars what would you do? Aside from the fact that $1 million won't go as far as it used to...I think that I'm with Peter on this one: nothing. I would need to decompress from this cubicle hell before I could seriously consider another 9-5 position. The idea of doing nothing really does appeal to me.

I don't want to spoil the ending for those of you that haven't seen it, but I don't mind telling you that it definitely played out one of my fantasies. I've definitely daydreamed about it.

I guess there is still hope for me? I mean if Milton can get his happy ending I sure as hell better get mine.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Lamentable Lunch

I do not like meetings. They are a waste of time, nothing actually gets done and did I mention that they waste my time?

I had made an appointment (to get my bangs trimmed but still) this afternoon on my lunch. I figured that I would have enough time to get over there, get my bangs trimmed, grab a quick bite and be back just after an hour was up.

So my appointment was at 1.45, giving me 15 minutes to get over there. I would need to be back around 2.30. Yes, I was giving myself some leeway here because I didn't know how long it would take and I wanted to be able to eat.

I'm still hungry.

Because at about 10.30 this morning I got an invite. To a meeting. At 2.30. I don't know- can you set up a meeting the day of? Its not like I have any power to say, "actually can you move it? I have an appointment and I might be a few minutes late." No. So now I have to rush. So I booked it over to my hair dresser, told her I had a meeting. She did an excellent job (as always) and then I had to book it back here, getting all sweaty in the process (it's warm out!).

And I never had time to eat.

Do you know what was so important that a department meeting was necessary? Announcing a pizza party for next Friday. Even in elementary school they would have just sent a notice home instead of having an assembly. Because elementary schools know that people's time is valuable. John does not share these ideas.

So now I'm starving and overheated.

Bright side? My hair still looks great. And I have pizza to look forward to in a week.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Co-Worker Madness

I don't have an exciting job. Far from it. Its dull, boring, mindless, uninteresting dredge work. Jealous so far? Yeah, me either. But if the work itself is so boring, the least these people could do would be to have some personality right?


Maybe this isn't as surprising to you reading as it is to me--but apparently my industry attracts 2 kinds of people: the dull, mindless, uninteresting kind, or the whackjobs. For the most part. There are a few bright spots, but they don't last long. I'm hoping to be just one of those fleeting bright spots. Although the longer I stay, the smaller my chances are.

I'm going to break down some of the personality types that I work with-- I'm sure that you will recognize your co-workers in these.

Brainless Twat. For the life of him/her cannot get a grasp on simple processes. Most suited to sorting mail but inevitably gets 'promoted' to something requiring intelligence. Leaves important information lying all over the office, inevitably losing it. Tells pointless stories in the lunchroom, like the time they saw these girls drink a beer with a straw and they looked up and the girls were gone.

Bar Star. Has no concept of office appropriate clothing, the Bar Star comes to work dressed like she is heading out for the night. Heavy eye make up, short skirts and 'bling' are favoured by this co-worker. I could be wrong- maybe she just never made it home last night?

The Oddball. Perfectly nice person but a little on the strange side. Comes in 2 forms. Either really socially awkward, pretending to be stupid so that they don't have to take on extra work, charming everyone with their 'adorable' lack of social skills--for example this Oddball will shave her head on a bet. The other kind of Oddball seems to have perfectly normal social skills, able to work efficiently, but plasters their work areas with posters of Buffy and celebrates Wiccan rituals. May also engage in extreme gaming or fantasy communities.

The Crier. This person is actually in management but doesn't know what s/he is doing. The pressure to perform and the complete lack of any skills to back this up, means that the Crier practically dissolves in front of your eyes. S/he is unable to confront you without hysterics and will inevitably take a leave of adsence due to some hysterical illness.

Cuthroat Supervisory Friend. Beware this "friend". Nothing will stop this person from achieving their goals. The Cuthroat Supervisor stumbled into this job from something menial, with no background or education and will do whatever it takes to get to the top-- including sell you down the river. This person will be all sunshine and light when she needs you to do something, but is the first person jumping all over you for a mistake. This person believes that their s**t don't stink.

I actually work with these people. I used to use their eccentricities to brighten my day but now I look forward to the day when I no longer have to be around their shenanigans.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Joys of...

They say that possession is nine tenths of the law. I have been told that it works kind of the same way with attitude and degree of happiness.

I don't think I'm buying this.

I know that technically if you force your face to smile, you should feel happier. Fake it til you make it right? But what my boss is saying (he's trying to make me positive at work--not happy, positive) is that if I look at all the positives at work, I will start feeling positive about being here.

So, as I mentioned before, he set me the task of coming up with 50 things that I like about work. I'm at 36...and I have been stretching this since 15. But I think his plan is really backfiring. Because instead of making me feel more positive, instead of the "oh wow, look at all the things that I like about work" reaction I'm sure he was hoping for, I'm thinking more "oh my god, I don't like anything here--why am I here?".

(an aside- I'm here because despite earning a none too cheap degree recently, the bottom seems to have fallen out of the world and jobs are scarce)

It's depressing. An example from my list? #26 is that I like office supplies. By #34 I felt the need to be more specific- I like highlighters. I'm thinking about working in my joy of post-its and all the different shapes and colours that they come in.

I have also been enthusiastic about the shape of my desk (#21) and having my own phone (#27).

I think you can see that I am struggling.

It has led me to thinking about all the things that I used to like about work. I used to gush about the people that I worked with. I would tell stories about how hilarious Sebastien was, how on my first day he took me to the beach on our lunch to watch shirtless soccer players. Once upon a time I even got to do crafts at work, AND dress up like a fairy (worked in a crafts store and did children's birthday parties). People were jealous about how much fun I seemed to have at work. Now people pity me.

So good job Management-another failed attempt. Where do they come up with these things anyway? Not only is it a huge waste of corporate time (definitely not working on this at home) but it hasn't even had the intended effect.

Not sure what part of this surprises me...

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Monday Blues

Why is that when you return from a vacation you are more exhausted than before you left?

I just got back from a 5 day mini-break: sunshine, reading, swimming, late mornings, great food. I was relaxed. It was paradise.

But it all unravelled so quickly. I think it started with the hellish drive back. We didn't anticipate too much traffic, leaving relatively early and it not being a long weekend. But traffic was heavy, coming to a standstill when we were still about 2 hours from home. By the time we stepped in the door, we were both exhausted. But we were optimistic that all we needed was a good night's sleep.

It probably didn't help that I was tortured by the mosquito bites all night (I have a fairly severe reaction to them so not only do they burn and itch and sting, they also tend to swell up along my joints and cause difficulty walking. Which is fun), or that that room was stuffy from having been closed up for a week . Not the best sleep. And then my alarm didn't go off like it was supposed to (it was on silent--how was my alarm clock on silent??) so when I did finally wake up I was extremely groggy and needed to rush.

And the first day back to work after an absence, however short, always means catching up. There are emails to sort through, phone calls to return, messages to check. All the things that you missed out on while you were happily occupied with a book and a drink, now come roaring to the forefront waiting to be addressed. It's one thing when the emails are a) for you and b) relevant but there is nothing worse than reading through a bunch of emails that you realize afterwards don't matter because they adressed issues from the week before.

Mondays are already unpleasant- the furthest day away from the weekend, the longest day of the week etc. But a Monday after a holiday? The worst. There are just extra unpleasantaries to contend with: Co-workers forcing you to relive the pleasures and excitement of your recent trip (only serving to remind you of how nice it was to be away and how not nice it is to be back), backlogged emails, the inability to get up to an alarm, the need for a drink before noon--post-holiday Mondays are the bane of a 9-5 existence.