Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mickey Mouse + Chain Saw = Printer Sounds

I don’t know why, but I think the printers at work are rodent serial killers. And no, I don’t think they are little pests that dress as clowns and drown people in their basements. I think the printers are serial killers and they are killing mice.

That is the only rational explanation I have to explain the noise that is emitted from them on a daily basis. The office can be in the throws of a rare moment of silence (i.e. no phones ringing, sales people gabbing, or repair men hammering away in the suite above) and it is shattered by the squeaking that whines out of the printer.

It’s more than annoying. It makes me want to reenact that scene from Office Space where they take the printer/copier out into a field and go mobster on it with a baseball bat. It makes me want to hand write everything so I don’t have to print. It makes me want to lock myself in a room with Fran Drescher.

But sadly, none of these options are acceptable. So each day I sit at my desk and cringe, my co-worker stating the obvious with a “That’s annoying” or “Can you hear that?”.

We send e-mail after e-mail to IT, hoping for once that a competent repair man will show up and save us from the screeching noise that is like baboons in mating season or teenage girls when they see Zac Efron.

Unfortunately, none of the repair men are able to actually fix the problem. They spend a lot of time on their Nextel walkie talkies (which as almost as annoying with their little beeps) trying to talk to the “home office” about what the problem could be. An equal amount of time is spent staring at the printer with their hands on their hips.

My favorite explanation was that the noise was because of “paper dust”. I snidely asked if this was similar to “pixie dust” and sadly the guy didn’t get it. I asked if there was a way to occasionally clean the printer. He told me yeah, but it requires a can of the spray air. Oh good lord, such a rare and cherished thing, I thought. Where would we ever find something so exotic? Answer: Half the company has one on their desks to get the crumbs out of their keyboards.

So I just sit here and silently put up with the squeaking. I make up stories about it. I vent about it here.

But if one day you hear about a lady being locked up for attempting to kill a printer repair man by shoving a can of air down his throat, think fondly of me as I rock away in my straight jacket in a padded room.

The Office Scribe

Difficult Phone Calls aka Stupid Questions

I know I have done an entry on here about phone calls where people mumble or don’t really pay attention during the phone call. But seeing as I just got out of an hour long training session on dealing with difficult clients, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite calls I have received from clients in my duration here:

1) I once got yelled at for not being a mind reader. No joke. The lady asked me why I never mentioned the option of visiting a certain city in Thailand. I replied that I didn’t even think of it since it would be adding another three days onto their tour. Her answer: Well you should have. I thought your company anticipated what I might consider doing while traveling.
2) Having to explain to people why they “lose” a day flying from Los Angeles to Sydney. See, you cross the International Date Line and just lose that day. So, if your tour starts on the 24th, you need to actually leave LAX on the 22nd. The 23rd goes bye bye. This makes people ask really dumb questions like:
- Are you charging me for that lost day? Because I don’t think I should pay for something that doesn’t exist.
- Does that mean it is a 48 hour flight?
- Where does the day go? Do they actually have Thursdays in Australia?
And so on and so on.
3) People who complain about the food that was on their tour. My personal fav was the comment about how while on a tour of China, there was “too much Chinese food”.
4) A client once accused me of trying to ruin their trip because I couldn’t get the make or model of Rolls Royce they requested in Italy to pick them up.
5) Quite a few clients don’t understand why I need their passport numbers, even though we are the ones booking their tour, hotels, air, and processing their visa. I, personally, would give as much information to the people that I was entrusting with my life while I spent two weeks in a foreign land.
6) The clients who don’t understand why we don’t have tours to Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, or Sudan. But when I point out we do have one that goes to North Korea, they say “Why on earth would anyone want to go there?”

I guess this is just part of dealing with people in any industry. Anyone else have any fun stories about phone calls?

The Office Scribe

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Flu Season aka The Time of year I want to come to work dressed as Darth Vader (or an extra from Outbreak)

People around me are coughing. And it is making me nervous.

Every year around this time I hear people from all over the office start to sniffle, cough, clear their throats, sigh heavily, and make other noise which alerts me to the fact that people are getting sick in my office.

Let me start out by saying I am not a germiphobe. I will eat food that has fallen on the floor after yelling out “Five second rule”. I don’t hover above toilet seats. I have been known to use someone else’s toothbrush if I can’t find my own.

But when I hear people getting sick in my office I want to buy one of those inflatable Christmas Snow Globes that grace so many front yards during this time of year, get a lap top, and set up shop within. Ever see the movie “Bubble Boy”? Yeah, I want that to be my cubicle.

Why? Do you ask, would I want to surround myself in heavy gauge plastic? Answer: I hate being sick. To me, there is nothing more miserable in the world than laying in bed without the energy to even get up and close the blinds when the sun shines in on you. I know there are some people out there who are like “I love sick days”. Yeah, I do too. But only when I am suffering from diseases like Spring Fever and I need a mental health day-itis.

Last winter the stomach flu was going around my office and I was lucky enough to get it. I was down for two days (24 hours my ass) and during that time I wanted to die. The only place I felt comfortable was lying on the cold bathroom tiles. At one point, when the bathroom was occupied, I actually went outside and got sick off the deck. My mom came out a few minutes later to find me nearly unconscious in 40 degree weather, a smile plastered on my face because I felt “So much better”.

I want to avoid this feeling at all costs this year. But I refuse to use hand sanitizer. In my department last year everyone used this magic gel that burned paper cuts like lemon juice, swearing up and down that they would be fine.


Everyone got sick. I believe there is going to be an outbreak of some super plague and it will be caused by the over sanitation courtesy of Johnson and Johnson.

So this year I am going to consume more Vitamin C than an orange tree can produce, drink lots of water, and avoid talking to my co-workers at all cost.

Unless we go out for drinks. Gin protects you from the flu, doesn’t it?

The Office Scribe

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We'll Be Back After A Brief Break

I just returned from a day off. Actually, because of the Thanksgiving holiday and the weekend, I haven’t been at work in 5 days. Coming back to work even after a brief leave is really difficult. It is as if everything I knew, that I had learned in the past year or so of my employment here, was sucked out of my head as I was away from the office for 5 whole days.

It started when I got in my car this morning. (Okay, not my car. My dad’s car because my car need to be fixed after I was hit by a rather large SUV a couple weeks ago. Yeah, tons of fun.) Anyway, I sat there and I didn’t even have the energy to turn the key. I wanted to stay at home and watch bad daytime TV and not have to get out of my flannel pajama pants and a t-shirt.

But I had to go to work. A little voice deep down in me was telling me that the proper thing to do was to just get to work and get back into my routine.

On arrival at work, I found it difficult to get out of the car. I wanted to stay and listen to talk radio and not have to deal with everything that I knew was waiting for me at my desk.

But again, that little voice started chiding me for being lazy and told me to get out of the car and into the building.

I took the elevator because the stairs looked too daunting. A brief wave to one of the receptionists and I was in. People immediately started asking how my time off was. My pat answer “Nice”. I didn’t want to tell them how awesome it was to sleep in as late as I wanted to and not have to think about what I was going to wear. How my mom and I hit up the mall yesterday when everyone else was at work. About discovering the restaurant that serves martini flights with my cousin. No, instead I just told them it was “Nice”.

At my desk I cringed when I saw the red light indicating messages on my machine. Another when I saw the 30 or so e-mails in my Inbox. (P.S. – Thank you Outlook for your Out Of Office Message that never seems to work on my computer.) And yet a third as I dragged myself to the coffee bar and saw that the coffee pot with the duct tape on the handle was empty.

So I made another pot, when back to my desk, and did what was really important: checked my personal e-mails, Facebook messages, and how I was doing in my celebrity fantasy league (2nd place).

It is after lunch and my day is crawling along. I don’t want to answer important e-mails or return phone calls. I have tried to occupy my time with the Internet, but even that is starting to get old.

So yet again, the little man inside my head has started whispering about the stack of work waiting for me on my desk. It is with a bit of sadness that I stare at the pile and know I am back at work.

Luckily I have every Friday off in December so life isn’t that bad…

The Office Scribe

Making Your Mark

There is nothing like running into another employee in the lunchroom and them asking you if you are a new employee because they haven’t a clue about who you are. I still see people and go “who is that?” only to find out they have been here since the company was founded in the 1960’s.

If you find that you are one of these lost souls, do not fret. There is a way for you to get noticed and make your mark on your fellow co-workers. Actually, there are a lot of things that you can do that will get you noticed and remembered. But the trick is to not become water-cooler gossip. Before I give you the solution, take note of what you are NOT TO DO when trying to get noticed:

1) Get drunk at an office party and dance to a non-existent reggae band.
2) Fall asleep while leaning against the copier because it is the only place in the office above 37 degrees
3) Talk really loud on the phone about highly personal problems with a medical professional
4) Eat smelly foods so often that you become “that person”
5) Wear clothing that makes you look like a lounge singer on the Titanic

Here is the solution: As someone way back when said “A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Well, “The way into a co-workers memory is through a candy dish kept on your desk”.

It’s cheap, easy, and you don’t even need to make its presence known. Word of mouth will pass from department to department. Soon your desk will be more popular than the coffee pot or the bathroom. Even if someone works completely on the other side of the building, they will find a reason to be over by your desk.

Candy puts a smile on people’s faces. It relieves the tensioned developed throughout the day with its waves of sugary goodness.

So head out to the local drug store and stock up. Because the holidays are on the way and the people that decide on your Christmas bonus might just be a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Junkie.

The Office Scribe

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Finally, my office is closed for a few days

It seems like almost every other day we get e-mails at my office in regards to one of our foreign offices being closed from some reason or another. Most of the time, these are holidays I have never heard of. I sometimes think that they are making things up to have a few days off and dupe the American head of the company.

But finally, finally we have a few days off. The e-mail went out to the company as a whole and it made me smile. So while I am in a good mood, here is a list of things that I am thankful for, in regards to work, of course.

- My location, which is close enough to a window that I can see the weather outside, far enough away from my supervisors office so I don't feel like I am being watched, and only a hop, skip and a jump to the fire exit on the rare occasion we have fire drills.

- The coffee pot with the duct tape on the handle. New people need to be informed of the black death that dwells in this pot. The tape is an indication to whomever is making coffee that instead of one packet of year old ground coffee, this pot gets two (or three depending on who is making it). It is a godsend on a Monday morning.

- Casual Fridays because I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of gal

- My flat panal monitor which I have positioned so I don't have to stare at the back of my co-workers head.

- The David Hasselhoff Walrus that perches on my tape

- My co-workers shared love of all things edible. No matter what department you walk into, someone has food to satiate those 2:30 munchies

- My penguin water dispenser, which holds all eight glasses of water a person is suppose to drink a day and has been the envy of my office since the day I got it a month ago.

- T-pins. They are the only sharp object short of a drywall screw that will hold a scrap of paper to our cubicle walls.

- Pledge Multi-Surface, which lets me spray eveything on my desk at once without a care in the world.

- My Jim Thome Bobblehead - He keeps watch over all the other randomness on my desk. Because, seriously, sometimes I don't trust my green army men.

- And finally my co-workers. Without whom I would be without a place to vent and complain about horrible clients and, also, without whom I wouldn't have anything to complain about to my clients.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

The Office Scribe

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Morning, you have a call from Mumbles McWhisper

Everyday I get phone calls from clients and agents. 99.9% of these people are professionals, which mean they are speaking to me from a phone in their very own office, which is most likely nicer than mine.

What I don't understand is why these people never learned to speak clearly. It reminds me of that Dane Cook routine about working at the BK Lounge and not being able to understand what people were ordering because of their failure to speak clearly. But I don't work at McDonalds. People don't speak to me on speaker boxes from their cars with traffic and nature making all kinds of noises in the background. These people speak to me from their phones, land lines and cell.

These are quality pieces of technology in most cases. High end digital phones so clear you could hear a pin drop (thank you Sprint). Which is why I don't understand why I get phone conversations that go as follows:

Me: Good morning, how may I help you?
Them: mmmmppphhhrrr Bob Smitheerssrf, for salad.
Me: Excuse me, I didn't catch your full name.
Them: Bob Smitheerssrf. From Alabangany.
Me: Okay sir, how I can I assist you.
Them: (((whispering)))
Me: Okay, are you all right sir?
Them: Yeppers. I need salad regargling Alabangany.
Me: Okay sir, well she is on the phone with another client at the moment, can I put you through to her voicemail.
Them: Message 765-093-93JJ786
Me: Okay sir, you have a wonderful day.

(Note: The above message is a glorified example of what I am talking about)

Or another good type, aside from the incoherent baballing, are the people who are on the phone with me, but are much more interested in carrying on a conversation with someone in the room with them.

Me: Good afternoon, how can I help you?
Them: I told you I didn't want that crap.
Me: Excuse me?
Them: Seriously, I mean, how many times do I have to tell you. I'm going to make you walk all the way back down there and pick it up and drive it back to whatever pit you got it from.
Me: Can I help you?
Them: Alfred, put the cat down. Mommy is trying to make a phone call.
Me: Would you like to call back at another time? I am here until 5:00?
Them: No, why would I want to do that?
Me: Okay, so how can I assist you?
Them: Thst's it. I am sick of dealing with you. Go away.
Me: Ummm

I don't undertand why it is so hard to carry on a decent phone conversation in today's world. Whatever the case, I don't see it changing anytime soon.

And don't even get me started on e-mails. I'll save that for another day.

The Office Scribe

Monday, November 19, 2007

Awkward Bathroom Encounter

Everyone knows that for a company to be really productive and successful it must have a diverse group of people who can do a bunch of different jobs. For example, the company I work for is in sales, so we have sales people, but we also have IT, accounting, marketing, production, HR, and a bunch of other people that I don't know what they do.

The thing is, my company is divided into two very distinct groups: sales and everything else. When you enter, if you turn right you see all the sales people (including me at my lovely L-shaped grey desk) chatting with clients on the phone or typing away. It's noisy and loud. But if you enter our suite and turn left, you find yourself in a silent area, where people look like they are working but it is so quiet it is hard to tell.

The only time I actually see these people who dwell beyond my border is in the ladies room. See, we only have one for the whole company and it is located near reception, right in the middle of the two wings.

And I don't mind running into people I know the the bathroom. Hell, I am a girl, I have been known to carry on full fledged conversations while one or more of my co-workers are peeing the the stalls next to me. But whenever I swing that door open and see an unfamiliar face, my normally brash behavior turns nervous and I feel weird about peeing where they can hear me.

Or I feel embarrassed when I exit a stall to find several of these "Others" staring at me in the mirror, the same questions playing out across their face as mine: Who is this person? Do they work here? Did someone wander in off the street just to use our facilities?

To remedy this, I think my company needs to hold just more than two whole-company events each year. Two days out of 265 is not enough to get to know a person well so that you feel comfortable sharing a bathroom with them. Wouldn't you agree?

The Office Scribe

Monday, November 12, 2007

Welcome to my blog

Welcome everyone to my blog. I have always wanted to start a blog, and I have tried a few times, but now I really have something to write about. My job in an office.

When I was a small child, I wanted to own my own restaurant and be a marine biologist. Other kids wanted to be firemen, fighter pilots, explorers, etc. No one in their right mind as a child had the dream to sit in front of their computer all day long and try to look busy while secrectly plotting to get their co-workers fired and work out a way for it to always be "casual Friday".

But here I sit, with a degree in Creative Writing, at a desk for 8 hours each day. Why? Two words: Health Insurance. My dad told me I had to leave my happy little retail job which I had for nearly 9 years to find something that would get me health insurance (and a more stable salary.)

So until I can make it as a writer (which at this moment the WGA is not making easy with their strike and everything) I will work at my desk, do my job, and blog about what happens in my typical American office.


The Office Scribe