Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Horse Of A Different Colour

Is it bad that the first thing I thought when I read that a Jersey Shore alum was pregnant was ew!?

You’re probably all with me are you not? That just seems so wrong/gross/insert your own adjective here. Why do people like that get to procreate? Oh yeah, that’s totally judgment that you are hearing.

It might be that I’m just being a cow right now because I’m not in a very good mood.

You’d think that after last night’s nail biting finish to the Canucks’ first round series I’d be flying high! And you’d have been right this morning. But since then, well this place has gotten to me.

I may or may not have been aware that today was Administrative Professionals Day. And as an admin pro, I may or may not have expected some kind of mini fanfare to recognize that I’m an office superstar and this place would fall apart without me. How do I know I’m a superstar? Please!

Last week when I was sick? The faxes weren’t handled, voicemail was left untouched, supplies weren’t ordered,  people didn’t get their mail, and we ran out of shipping supplies. Little things right? But can you imagine if you were waiting on some important mail or a fax to do your job and it just never showed up? Or you went to grab some tool that you needed to complete a project and it wasn’t there? Life would be that much more, needlessly difficult. It’s my job to smooth those daily grind wrinkles out for you. To a point.

But I also expect some respect in return. You may look at me and assume that I’m uneducated, without any kind of experience behind me, or that I’m dumb and deserve to be a Receptionist, but you would be wrong.

I wasn’t looking for a flashy bouquet of flowers or balloons, gift or greeting cards, or a fancy lunch. But would it kill people to say ‘hey you know what? You’re doing an awesome job, thank you” ? It probably wouldn’t.

I had pretty well talked myself down, told myself to get over it and act like a grown up, that no one knows about it and that’s fine, when the Squirrel told me that the entire group of coordinators was being taken out for an extended lunch to celebrate Administrative Professionals Day.

The coordinators, whose lunches I order, whose packages I send out, whose shit I take. They get a lunch and didn’t even think about me.

And then this other a-hole came over to me with an O ring binder in his hand, demanding to know who exactly places the supply order. I told him that technically I placed the order, but that the Squirrel is the one that tells me what to order (which is true- it shouldn’t be this way since the Squirrel is a f*cktard but what can I do?). He starts to yell at me as he’s walking away about how O ring binders are so crappy and we should never ever order them.

This from the guy that once yelled at me about not ordering enough sandwiches on white bread.

I should have just rolled my eyes. I mean clearly this one guy is just an a$$hole and it has nothing to do with me. But added to the fact that today is just another day in office purgatory being ignored by everyone including The Dinosaur (my own manager!), it becomes a horse of a different colour.

Feel free to try and cheer me up. And if you neglected your admin people today, try and make it up to them tomorrow in my honour.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Gratuitous Puppy Picture

In case you were uber concerned about my welfare when I failed to blog about anything last week, rest assured I was just busy dying. I’m better now and am back to blogging about nothing in particular and everything in general.

I always feel nervous when I return to work after any kind of absence. I was off work from Tuesday afternoon until this morning (thanks Good Friday) so it felt like an eternity. Those years of working in cubicle hell where any absence meant questioning looks and a $15 sick note have played havoc with my sense of what’s appropriate office behavior.

Which is why I was so surprised when every person that walked by me this morning asked if I was feeling better, folks came by specially to chat and tell me that they missed me, and one person gave me a big hug and told me how grateful she was that I was back.

And then there is The Dinosaur who has yet to acknowledge that I’m back, that I was sick or that I exist. And The Seagull is spending her day making excuses about all the things that she couldn’t do because she was “so busy”. When I asked her if she managed to get the supply order done she tells me they were “so busy”, I asked about the business card orders on the desk, she couldn’t do them because she was “so busy”- which begs the question: was it so busy because of high volume or because she is incompetent?

We’re definitely going with incompetence.

Oh yeah, I don’t get Easter Monday off. These are the holidays that I wish I had chosen to be a teacher. There are a lot of kids running around the office today- kids that have the day off who’s parents’ don’t. Daycares are closed. It’s kind of funny seeing all these little versions of my colleagues running around.

The good thing about having been sick for most of last week is that I got some extra time with my new puppy. When I got home on Monday The Boyfriend and the puppy came out to meet me and the puppy didn’t even recognize me until I was standing right in front of him. Heart breaking. And even though I could barely sit up, let alone take him for walks or play with him, my presence alone helped the bond.

Since we have had the little monster, we have washed his bed twice, cleaned the floor more times that I’d like to admit, crawled out of warm beds in the middle of the night for potty breaks in the freezing cold, endured night crying (we’re crate training), and spent early, early mornings amusing him.

We’ve also taught him to sit, gotten lots of puppy kisses, showed him off wherever we went and gotten him somewhat used to the car.

Considering he threw up after his inaugural car ride, I personally feel that this last one is a huge accomplishment. He’s also been introduced to a number of different dogs in the past 3 days and is starting to get really comfortable playing with other dogs. Which is hilarious to watch and a guaranteed way to knock him out for hours. Bonus points.
I’d say the good definitely outweighs the bad. I’ll try to collect some puppy stories to share in the near future. Until then you will just have to make do with this most adorable picture:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dirty Secret

I'm going to admit something that's kind of embarrassing: I'm a bit of a slob.

Its the least Dutch thing about me, because Dutch people? Are clean. OCD has nothing on tidy Dutch folk. Raised by a proper Dutch mother, a witness to proper Dutch cleaning all my life (I have an aunt that went to housewife school when she was 13, swear to God), I'm completely lackadaisical about clean.

And while in most things The Boyfriend and I pretty well see eye to eye, on the state of our apartment, our styles tend to clash a little (perhaps he's a little bit Dutch?).

I'm of the why-make-the-bed-in-the-morning-if-I'm-going-to-get-right-back-in-it-again-tonight? mindset; he's all about hospital corners. I throw my clothes on the floor; he folds his neatly on the bench beside the bed. I kick my shoes off the moment I walk in the door, land where they may; he lines his up with military precision.

You get the idea.

I like a clean apartment as much as the next person, but I'm not so down with the process that makes it that way. I have loads of memories of spending Saturday mornings with a cloth and a can of Pledge in my hand. Of whole weekends spent digging through the detritus that made up my tween life (Leonardo, I still love you). Of how much time that all took when I could be outside climbing trees, riding bikes or playing street hockey (those of you that know me now are probably fairly surprised to hear about how I spent my childhood- I had a brother, just the one sibling at the time).

Tonight was the first night all week where after work I could just go home and do nothing. I was so looking forward to it. Then I mentioned to The Boyfriend that The Record was coming over to watch the game tomorrow night and I could just see his eyes glaze over as he thought of the state of our apartment (which consisted of some clothes on the floor and a bit of a messy kitchen). No worries- he had a plan. We would spend at least part of the evening cleaning.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't put up a fight. I grumbled through the whole thing and when asked if I could sweep the kitchen floor for him (I'm always responsible for laundry) I totally balked (must have been a painful Saturday morning flashback circa 1994). I told him I didn't want to do it because I was like that child that is learning how to use a broom and he's Kate Gosselin and there's no point in my doing it if he's just going to re-do it.

He told me if I did it right, it wouldn't be an issue. Just sweep, then swiffer and he can steam mop it.

You heard that too right? The process for a clean floor? Sweep (big pieces), swiffer (dust particles), steam mop (makes the floor proper clean).

We're picking up our puppy on Saturday (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!) and I suddenly realized that a) The Boyfriend is totally nesting and b) this will be his very last clean floor for years.

So I swept and swiffered the hell out of that floor. And our relationship survives another day.

That's right- my name is the Job Snob, I'm a slob and my boyfriend is Mr. Clean.

Add a puppy and life's alright on this snowy April night.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sharing is HARD

According to GoodReads, I’m currently 6 books behind on my reading challenge. I’m only 20% there.

Admittedly, setting a goal of 80 books read in a year that I’m not spending at least partially unemployed, was probably a bit lofty. When I wasn’t working (funemployment), I was sometimes reading 4 books a week! (is there any way, short of winning the lottery, that this could just become my life again? You know, without that whole income issue?)

It’s OK though. I’m not a quitter. I have a plan.

Instead of struggling through books like Daniel Deronda (who I blame for singlehandedly putting me so behind) and Cleopatra: A Life, I will focus on shorter, easier reads like A Little Princess and Bossypants. You’d think that since I already have a tower of books  that I haven’t read from my birthday spree, that I would stop buying books until I’d finished them. You know- to save money since I’m turning into a slow reader anyway and apparently don’t need any extra reading material.

But you’d be wrong there too. I just can’t help myself. I think it’s actually turning into an illness.

My point? Is that those are my books. And I’m not good at sharing.

I got my hands on a copy of Bossypants by Tina Fey this weekend as a sort of reward for slogging through Cleopatra: A Life. (which is well written and good and informative and stuff but I get confused easily with all the ancients.) Knowing that Tina Fey’s hilarity was waiting patiently for me on my bookshelf did actually inspire me to devote some serious reading time to the ancients.

And then? The Boyfriend was all “so I was reading the cover of that Tina Fey book and it actually looks really funny so I thought I would give that a read?”


Immediately I regressed about 20 years.

But that book is mine! I get to read it first! You just got a book (that’s right, one for him, 15 or so for me)- you have to read that one first! (Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand in case you’re wondering.) What is happening?!

I gave in. He pointed out (quite rightly) that I’m sh*t at sharing and to prove him wrong (because in addition to being a book hoarder, I’m also always right) I let him have the book first.

On account of The Boyfriend wanting to start his awesome new book, we went to bed a little earlier. I’m trying to finish off the 70 or so pages of Cleopatra (I got through like 15) and all I can hear beside me is snickering, giggling, chortling and finally full out guffaws. Every few seconds, The Boyfriend pauses to look over at me, checks to see if I’m watching, shows me a funny picture, tells me that Tiny Fey writes 2 lines about her scar, he tells me a joke (only because Tiny Fey included my favourite joke of all time: 2 peanuts are walking down the street, one was a salted- get it? Assaulted/ A Salted? Kills me) etc etc

Sharing is HARD.

I can’t decide if he’s doing it because he wants to share the experience of the book with me or to rub it in that he managed to read it first. All I know is that he wants to get his hands on the travel Karl Pilkington book. And when he does?

Guess who’s reading it first? Giggling audibly the whole time. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

International A$$hole Day?

You know that place between asleep and awake? When you’re kind of dreaming, but it’s more like hallucinating because you are vaguely aware that you are dreaming?

I was there this morning. I was in the middle of a fight between Star Jones and NeNe Leakes. I think I might have been Donald Trump. And then NeNe hit on Ivanka- she was all “I would totally take off a piece of that”. Except Ivanka looked more like Ivana. In a wig. Confusing.

The really messed up thing is that I don’t even watch Celebrity Apprentice, so I don’t even know how this all worked itself into my subconscious. I mean, I watch some sh*tty TV (16 & PregnantTeen MomSister Wives, Keeping Up With the KardashiansThe HillsReal Housewives of wherever are some of my favourites), but somehow Celebrity Apprentice is what worked its way into my head. That’s some powerful stuff.

So after dreaming I was (possibly) the Donald, I woke up to find out that it was International A$$hole Day.

Let’s pretend that it’s your first day starting a new job and you have been asked to show up at 9am for your Orientation. What time do you show up? Probably sometime around ten minutes to 9 right?

Wrong. Apparently you show up at 7:30.

This will happen sometimes. People’s flights show up in a strange city and they come straight here because they don’t know where else to go. I’ll usually try and find a person to take them off my hands, or suggest that they run downstairs and grab a coffee and come back at 9. This morning the guy’s manager was out of the office. He ignored my suggestion to grab a coffee. So he sat and waited. In my reception. For an hour and a half. Around 8:37 he stands up and says “maybe now you can call [name] and let her know that I'm here? Thanks” as if I’m the one that’s been keeping him from his orientation.

First of all, you’re not the only one that’s getting an Orientation this morning. Secondly, the HR rep responsible for your Orientation? Is in a meeting and not available to you. And finally? I’m the Receptionist ok? Not your Receptionist. And if you talk to me like that again, you are going to have a very hard time getting your phone calls, business cards, meeting requests, lunch orders or anything else that I feel like holding back. Mmmmkay?

Now I understand that, this being Reception, things might get delivered here for you. I suppose that you’re not that far off in that assumption. But if something is being held here for you? I will call and let you know. If someone sends you an email and lets you know that they are holding onto your access card for you until you come and pick it up, they have it, not me. I find that reading my emails goes a long way towards not wasting other people’s time. I also find that not acting like a cow is a really effective way to deal with other people.

But that might just be me.

All morning this woman was calling me asking me for access to this “big document”. That was all she would say by way of explaining what she needed. Well there was more, but her heavily accented English made it impossible to know what the hell she was saying. I’m actually pretty good at understanding through accents. Normally. This woman? No. F*cking. Clue. But she kept calling back. I was finally able to figure out (sort of) what project she was after so I transferred her to the other receptionist, thinking that now at least she wouldn’t be my problem.

Wrong. Turns out she got a hold of someone upstairs but they aren’t able to help her and directed her to another company that could. But she wouldn’t take a flipping hint and kept calling, asking how to register, how to access “big document”. I was ready to reach through the phone and slap her. I finally had a pow-wow with the other receptionist and was given the power to hang up on her should she call again. We must have voodoo’d her out by talking about her because she didn’t call  back.

Well she didn’t call me back. Which is really all I cared about.

Since then, I want to say that it’s been pretty smooth sailing. I want to say that, but I won’t because I’d rather not jinx the rest of my day.

At least when it’s over we will all have managed to get Monday out of the way. International A$$hole day or not.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sugar Ray Leonard

Although I’m sure that you all have experienced workplace idiocy, sometimes I feel like I’m the only one that sees it. Probably has something to do with this whole one-way media thing. I talk, you (ostensibly) listen. In order to disprove this notion of mine I give you a snippet of an email The Boyfriend sent me. I’m glad to report that he is fine- it does kind of seem like he is on the verge of a rage stroke in the email…

I just listened to the following conversation.  It took all of my energy not to correct all the mistakes. 

"Hey, so that boxer on dancing with the stars is really good, what’s his name again.  I don't know, but he used to sing like a butterfly, or was light on his feet or something.  Who, Mohammed Ali.  Yes, that's the one, fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee.  Yes, he's a good dancer, good for him for doing that.” 

HOLY SH*T!  First, it's Sugar Ray Leonard who's dancing, ALI has Parkinson’s and although he could probably do a mean shake across the dance floor, is not on DWTS.  Second, it's float like a butterfly, FLOAT! 

It made me laugh. I thought it might make you laugh too. You maybe see a little bit of why we get along so well?

Speaking of things that were overhead, when I went for lunch today I think I overheard (fine was eavesdropping on) a managerial type woman getting some kind of peer-review and witnessed her taking offense to it. I mention it because it brought me back to the days of Amy/Veronica. This would be their exact reaction (actually Veronica would probably have taken it a step further and somehow managed to turn it around so that it was someone else’s fault). The girl who was administering the ‘review’ (I say girl because she was closer to my own age AND she was quite a bit younger than the woman she was reviewing) started it out by going over the positives: how this woman contributes effectively and efficiently to the bottom line, has made considerable strides in meeting team goals yadda yadda yadda. Good job Amy…I mean lady.

Do you think that she actually thought she was doing a perfect job? We all realize that there are things that we could change about the way that we do our jobs that could make us better right?

Not this woman. When the girl then mentioned that some people had brought up that she could maybe offer some more positive feedback more often (instead of only negative, a conversation I had with Amy AND Veronica several times) and that people felt like she wasn’t always available to answer questions and that maybe she could be more clear with her instructions…well you could have heard crickets. The woman was stunned.

And I promise you that Amy and/or Veronica would have had the same reaction. Then the backpedaling began. I could tell that the woman was trying really hard to figure out who exactly in the department had made these ‘allegations’ (so that she could make their life more miserable no doubt) but the girl wasn’t helping her out on that front. Apparently these comments were meant to be anonymous (effective in a large company/department- in a small one like where these women worked, less effective). Then the woman started saying that she has never told anyone that she doesn’t have time for them, that she is always explicit in her instructions, that she hasnever heard that people maybe have an issue with the way that she handles situations.

Sure lady, whatever.

That in a nutshell is the problem with managers though, isn’t it? They think that because no one has ever mentioned anything (directly to their faces), that there isn’t any problem. When in fact, it’s much more likely that the manager isn’t approachable and therefore employees don’t feel comfortable addressing these issues. Sometimes these things aren’t addressed because folks live in fear of the repercussions that they might face should they bring their ‘superiors’ to task for not handling things the right way.

Honestly, we’ve all tried to address these issues have we not? I can’t count the number of times I asked to sit down with John or Amy or Veronica and tried to talk about the problems that were coming up in a completely constructive, non-confrontational manner. And do you know what happened? Nothing. Either an ineffective blanket email was sent out, or the issue was misunderstood or absolutely nothing was done. At all. Not even an effort made to make it look like they were taking things seriously.

And so managers continue to suck at managing, blaming the little people (you) for all the things that go wrong. Not listening, not caring, continuing to make the workplace unbearable for you until the day that you have just had enough and walk away into another situation that, more than likely sooner or later, will turn out exactly the same way.

(Bad) Managers suck don’t they?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Freebie Hoarders

What is the deal with people and free stuff?

Offer something free in your workplace and people will fight to be among the first to shove a choice donut down their gullet, or elbow their way ahead of everyone to reserve a particularly festive container.

For whatever reason my office finds itself the home of excess food or sparkly goodies left out for the enjoyment of all. And people? Lose their minds for free stuff. It doesn’t matter if it’s the sandwiches that no one wanted, the veggie scraps left in the sandwich basket or the festive receptacle from some floral arrangement- people go apesh*t for free stuff.

I’m not even exaggerating here you guys. The following is a list of true-life stories about people that are greedy for freebies.

I was asked to schedule a lunch for a meeting that was being held in the office. I followed the instructions to the letter. One of the guys that was eating the lunch complained about it. Doesn’t like “all the fancy spreads” the place used. Asks me (I’m putting this nicely) to ask the Squirrel what she usually orders because that’s what he likes. Do you know what he likes? White bread. He’s offended because the place we order from doesn’t use white bread. For his free lunch he can’t eat some brown bread like a grown a$$ man, he wants white bread. I was waiting for him to request that I also cut the crusts off. Its free buddy, pick a sandwich, grab some carrot sticks and sit the f*ck down.

Speaking of the Squirrel- she is among the worst offenders, interrupting important client meetings to “clean up” lunch debris  so that she can do the first leftover onceover and keep all the choicest bits for herself. Rumours abound about her cellophane lined pockets and stash of containers to transport her stash. I’ve never actually seen her stuff leftovers into her pockets (although I honestly wouldn’t put it past her) but I know that she is always overly eager to clean up after other people’s lunch meetings.

You think the Squirrel is bad? There’s another one- let’s call her the Magpie. The Magpie likes leftovers but loves shiny things. In the beginning of the new year we kept getting vendors sending 2011 calendars to various people at the company, some that no longer worked here. Magpie was always first on the scene- I thought she was just being helpful, what with me being fairly new at the time. No, no there was a method to her madness. She was the first one there because she wanted to be the first to go through these calendars and see which ones were worth taking. What anyone would do with 10 different 2011 calendars is beyond me, but hoarders just can’t help it. Yeah, I used the H-word. She has a storage container that she pays a monthly rent for, that is filled with boxes and tins. Woman loves tins. And boxes. Whenever we get a complimentary floral arrangement from the building management company, the Magpie is always the first to put her name on the vase. At Christmas she wanted the poinsettia basket. Woman? Is a HOARDER.

I’m waiting for the day when I have to referee a fight between Squirrel and Magpie over some amazing glitter encrusted lunch. The Squirrel is currently rifling through the mail looking for whatever excess magazines/offers she can pilfer no doubt.

I’m powerless to stop the freebie monsters. What am I supposed to do? Tell a grown woman that she can’t have the vase, even though no one else has claimed it? Tell the guy who wants white bread that he will eat what is ordered for him or he can’t leave the table? The Squirrel…well that is an entirely different matter. People know she takes food and they don’t like it. Especially when clients are paying for the food. Plus she’s not a fan of showers so her wandering around anywhere near the food-well that could be strategy on her part. Maybe she hopes that appetites will be lost and she will have more food to choose from. I personally try really hard not to be anywhere near her dandruff-y head before I take off for my lunch.

But that’s just a personal choice.