Tuesday, December 30, 2008

But Baby It's Cold Outside...So Go To Work

About an hour after I came into work today I heard a co-worker (A) exclaim that she was going to take a contract out on another co-worker (B). Not because she hates her or thinks she is a horrible person, but because it is the holidays which means half of my department is off and we are all covering for those who aren’t here. And one of co-worker (B) files just went to hell in a hand basket. So for a while I pondered how much money co-worker (A) might give me to “whack” co-worker (B) but then started to think about taking time off at the holidays.

I can understand taking time off if you have kids or the need to travel to see loved ones in far away places like Iowa or Kentucky…but why take time off, in December, when the weather is crappy if you are just going to putter around the house and get caught up on your laundry?

Aren’t those vacation days better used on a balmy May day when Spring has finally arrived and the thought of being a cubicle monkey makes you want to hit something so you call off and head to the zoo instead to look at some real monkeys? Or on a sultry summer day when the lure of the local pool is just to great and you want to come back to work a shade darker due to copious amounts of exposure to lights that aren’t of the florescent type? Or on a rare fall day when Indian Summer swings through town and your favorite baseball team is doing well in the post season and someone couldn’t use their ticket and gave it to you with the pre-paid parking pass?

Those are when you take those extra days off. Not when it is going to be blustery and snowy. When you can’t enjoy the outdoors for fear of frostbite and hypothermia. When the days are so short that you start to forget what natural light looks like.

Crappy days are what work was made for. It’s a place where you can sit away from windows and forget how cold it is outside in a nicely regulated office. Sure the commutes can suck, but it is a tradeoff for being at work when things are quiet, thus giving you a chance to organize yourself for when business starts to pick back up, after the holidays.

So when you don’t see posts on a day when Chicago has some glorious weather you will know why.

~ The Office Scribe

Monday, December 29, 2008

It’s Like I Never Left

Sometimes I don’t know why I even take days off from work.

I wasn’t here for the past five days, it being the holidays and all. And this week I only work three out of five days. And while it is great to get a chance to see family and friends and catch up on laundry, it is almost a bigger pain to leave and have to deal with everything that is waiting for you when you come back than it would have been to just stick around in the first place.

Wow, that was a long-ass sentence.

So even though things are slow due to the economy and the holidays, I still came back to my desk with seventeen e-mails and a rather lengthy list of things to do. Instead of discussing with my co-workers what we all got for Christmas and who has the worst family I have practically been chained to my desk in order to get everything done that I need to since I won’t be here Wednesday and Thursday. (Not my choice. Company is shut down those two days.)

Blah, this entry is getting too introspective and boring. So I will end it on how the Jews saved me from being late to work today.

My parking space at my condo building, while incredibly close to the front door, is located on a slight slant that all the water from melting snow likes to pool in and freeze my tires to the pavement. While I was gone this weekend I really was hoping that I would come back to a clean parking lots sans snow because the temps here were so warm. Not what happened. I went out to my car this morning only to see that it was locked in the middle of a giant patch of two inch thick ice that the Blackhawks could have played on.

What to do, what to do. I had used the last of my melt-ice to get my car out of my spot on Christmas Eve to finish my shopping (I know, nothing like waiting to the last minute.) So I thought of the next best thing: Morton Kosher Salt aka a chef’s best friend. So much better than that iodized crap that people keep in their salt shakers Kosher Salt has a more pure flavor and just the right consistency for loosening the ice around the tires of my car. Within 5 minutes I was out of my spot and on my way to work.

So skip all that fancy ice thawing compounds and heavy bags of salt. Stick to Kosher, perfect for melting ice and brining turkeys the world over.

~ The Office Scribe

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Google – Just When I Thought You Could Do No Wrong

It is my last day of work this week, seeing as how tomorrow is Christmas Eve and all, but instead of it being a festive, carefree day where I could red my favorite blogs and find out what Lindsay Lohan did last night, I am actually crazy as hell and don’t know if I will get everything done that needs to be done before I come back next Monday. (So why am I taking time to write a bog entry? Because. That is the only reason my father taught me I ever needed to give.)

Ever since I came into the office at 10:00AM my desk has been a jumble of papers. I’ve had complicated tour proposals where I’ve had to decipher what my counterparts in New Zealand are saying. Brazil is sending me air schedules that make no sense. And I need pictures of all kinds of crazy stuff that clients are going to be doing. So in my moment of crisis I turn to the one trusted source that has never let me down in the past; GOOGLE.

Ask anyone in this office and they will tell you that I am addicted to the Google search engine. If someone asks me a question before they are even done asking I am typing into the magic little box on the main Google page and generally have an answer for them within seconds. Need a picture of a Mongolian Heardsmen? Head to Google. I even use Google to prep for Tuesday Night Pub Trivia.

But today is a dark day. (And not just because the sun has been blotted out by Chicago’s ever-present snow clouds…) It is dark because Google has finally let me down. All I needed was some information on the Black Range in New Zealand. Just a small blub or description of what someone might see if they were to take a helicopter and spend some time hiking there.

I spent 20 minutes looking for information and all I could find were the geographical co-ordinates in case I wanted to plug it into my non-existent GPS system. I felt lost and confused, like the world wasn’t in order. How could my beloved Google let me down? It was supposed to know everything. I thought it must be a fluke, but then I noticed this little gem on the main page.

Google is always making up cutesy little images that say “Google” but where the “o”s are chocolate chip cookies or the “g” is a snake. Very common thing, especially on a holiday. But I saw this and was very confused. Christmas Eve is tomorrow but instead of having ornaments or pine trees we have an old man and his ward working away in what I can only assume is some sort of Meth lab. Because nothing says “Happy Holidays” like a needle full of Hillbilly Heroin.

So Google, all I want this Christmas is for you to get back on your game. Is that to much to ask for?

~The Office Scribe

Monday, December 22, 2008

Whatcha looking at?

Yesterday was some truly horrible weather in northern Illinois. Not only was it bitterly cold but the wind was blowing so fiercely that there were drifts topping out at 7 feet high. Entire cars we being buried beneath them on roadways. We had a neighbor call and tell us it took them two hours to go about a mile and a half. All in all a great start to “official winter”.

This morning however was clear and bright. Still unbelievably cold, but that’s why god invented car heaters and Old Navy Fleece. The roads only had a few trace amounts of snow on them and since it’s the holidays and all (what, you didn’t get my card?) the traffic was pretty light. Which is good because when I leave from my mom’s place the commute is an hour and a half as opposed to my usual 15 minutes.

All was going smoothly until I hit a massive pocket of traffic on I-90. Now my creative mine started to fear the worst, especially since someone told me they had seen a car completely flipped over on their way home last night. After 10 minutes of crawling at a snails pace I was finally able to see what the hold up was…

A small red card had gone into the center grassy section (which was filled with snow). The guy was out of the car, which sustained no damage, a cop was on the scene and a tow truck was already hooking the car up to haul it out of the drift.


I understand human curiosity. Hell, I am definitely the type of person who will stand on their toes to listen over the cubicle walls of my office to get the latest dirt on a person. But come on, making traffic come to a grinding halt because a car swerved a little too much.

Nuh uh. No more. These are the only acceptable reasons to slow down and look at something:
- There is blood. It’s easy to spot so don’t think that milkshake on the side of the road someone tossed out in anger is a smashed raccoon or accident victim. Only red means stop.
- There was a collision of two rescue vehicle a la “Backdraft”
- The Jaws of Life are being used.
- You can no longer tell what make or model the car in an accident was.
- It was the result of a high speed chase.
- A celebrity was involved. (If it is someone from the cast of “Baywatch” I give you permission to exit your vehicle and take pictures)
- You, yourself, were personally involved in the accident.
- That hitchhiker on the side of the road simply vanished…
- The truck that overturned was full of Omaha Steak gift boxes and you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping yet
- There is no one else behind you

So during the season that causes so many accidents, think a bit before you hit the brake. Because the person behind you might be me and if you prevent me from getting to where I need to be on time we might have another thing for people to slow down and look at*.

~The Office Scribe

*That is, if people want to take time out of the busy schedule to see me chasing you down the highway, attempting to hit you with an empty cardboard wrapping paper tube, because that is the only weapon I have in my car right now.

Friday, December 19, 2008

There’s Got To Be A Morning After…

Last night was my company’s holiday party. It was short, sweet, and simple. An hour and a half in the lobby with some drinks and a some food. There were prizes (I won a $50 Amex gift card for coming in first place in the Second Annual Bake Off). But the true party didn’t really start until a group of us left and headed over the a place called Brickhouse, a new restaurant/bar nearby that was best described by my VP as a “high class Hooters”.

I would say there were about 40 employees who invaded the bar to continue the party, and let me just say, I have been drinking with a lot of different types of people, but no one is more fun to drink with than co-workers.

There were many great moments from last night that I found hysterical but chances are you would have needed to be there to fully appreciate them. (Though the waitress calling a co-worker Clay Aiken is pretty funny to everyone…)

So here’s to my co-workers who went out and held the bar down, dragged their hung-over butts out of bed, drove in the horrible weather and showed up at work today. That is the definition of a dedicated employee.

~The Office Scribe

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Delegating – Spreading the work or a way to slack off?

It has been said* that one of the traits of a quality leader is the ability to delegate tasks.

If this is true then I think I am going to run for president.

When I was younger I never liked to ask people for help. I had to be the best person to be in a group assignment with because I ended up doing 95% of the work because I didn’t think anyone else would be able to do the project right. Sure, it sounds a little mean but I didn’t trust them to not slack off which would lead to me getting a lower grade.

It wasn’t until I reached college that I realized how awesome the art of delegation truly is. I was in a Freshman speech class which started at 8:00AM every Tuesday and Thursday (thanks Mom for convincing me that earlier classes were better…) Anyhow, I was completely frazzled with a group speech that was coming up when I just said “Fuck It” and let go of the reigns and let my partners contribute. At first it was a horrible feeling, not knowing what the complete end result would be. Then I slowly realized that I didn’t have to do the entire project and it felt wonderful. Not having to stress about fitting in the work of 5 people into my already busy schedule.

So from then on I have had no problem sharing whatever duties happen to come across my desk. Especially during crazy times of the year, like the one I find myself in now, a week before Christmas, not all my presents bought, and a crapload of things to get done.

So let me know if you have a free moment because I have something I need you to do…

~The Office Scribe

*Okay, maybe this wasn’t said by anyone famous but I am sure I have heard it somewhere before. Maybe on a popsicle stick or a gum wrapper…or that crappy calendar over by the copier of “Life’s Little Instruction Manual”.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Frozen Pieces of Commuter Hell

About a week ago we got some snow in Chicago. I wrote about how dissapointed I was that the snow wasn't the horrible event it was supposed to be. Let me state right here that the weather gods must read this because they just decided to unleash snow upon the Chicagoland area with a vengence. I feel like the city is a villian in some sort of Kurosawa film. We have done them injustice and they are fighting back with copious amounts of the white stuff.

I heard on the radio that at one point it was upwards of 5 hours to get from the city out to O'Hare Airport. How much fun must it be to sit on a highway for 5 hours as you inch your way along home? And let's hope none of those people drank a lot of coffee today.

So why am I posting this entry at 6:58 PM on a Tuesday when I should be cursing my drive home and the idiots around me? Easy, I am not at work. Didn't go today. Instead I stayed up at my mom's and helped her decorate for Christmas. And even though I took it as a day off without pay, my mom is paying me my normal hourly salary. Except Uncle Sam doesn't get to take any of it pay corrupt politicians.

So thank you weather Gods, for unleashing Weather-Palooza 2008 on a day when I wasn't there to despise it.

~The Office Scribe

P.S. - To my co-workers that did go into work, bless you. Bless you for picking up my slack, staring at my empty desk, and reading this blog when you were bored.

Friday, December 12, 2008

End of the day randomness

I was just checking my e-mail and saw I had received a coupon for "GelPro" mats which are these cool mushy mats that you can stand on in your kitchen so your feet don't hurt. When I worked at the butcher shop we called them "anti fatigue mats". My dad bought a few for my mom last Christmas and we love them. So I thought, perhaps I should look into getting one for myself.

That was, until I saw (A) the price and (B) their color descriptions...

Black is the darkest color in the Basketweave lineup. Rich as coal, warm and alluring. The woven surface texture appears particularly deep in this all-time classic color. Black is never out of style, and GelPro's take on it doesn't disappoint.

How does one even have a take on the color black? Sure there are different names for it; coal, ebony, night, but the overall color doesn't change. Black is black. There is nothing darker and if it were lighter it would be called grey.

So hat's off to the writing geniuses at GelPro.

~The Office Scribe

Why is it called a “den” if I can’t sleep in it all winter?

I have been thinking about the economic crisis we find ourselves in the middle of a lot lately. I mean, how can I not when everyday I am bombarded with news about government bailouts, constant layoffs, and how rap stars are being evicted from their mega mansions for failure to pay their mortgages…

All of this thinking has been making me come up with ways for everyone to save money and thus turn our economy around. And there is only one fool-proof suggestion I have come up with: hibernation.

That’s right. Take a page from the book of bears and sleep for a good 4-5 months. How would this improve our economy? Let me explain:

1) Imagine the money people would save if they didn’t have to eat, use utilities (except for heat), drive, play the lottery, visit Best Buy, etc, etc, etc. Sure some companies would not be doing so hot, but those people they lay off could just go hibernate themselves and not have to worry about a lack of a paycheck.

2) It’s incredibly green. If people aren’t driving and purchasing goods they aren’t polluting the air and filling up the landfills. This would shut the environmentalists up and they could spend less money on poster boards and paints and more on getting a suit so they could get a god-damn real job.

3) It may single handedly solve the obesity problem. It’s basically the easiest diet in the world. Gorge yourself on a bunch of food for a few weeks, sleep for 5 months, lose half your body weight, and wake up a new person. If I could market this I would. Healthier people go to the doctors less so we wouldn’t need to pay out a lot in healthcare costs.

President Elect Obama needs to name me to a cabinet position ASAP. I could have this crisis solved by the spring thaw.

~The Office Scribe

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reason # 548 To Never Leave The Office

I recently had a co-worker mention to me that he felt a little left out because his cubicle was never decorated. See, in my department we have a tradition of posting a sign whenever it is someone’s birthday, anniversary, or they return from an extended trip. We even have two metallic banners that we can hang that say “congratulations” or “happy birthday”.

This is the same co-worker that I threatened with a cubicle covered with pics of boy band members when he returned from his most recent trip. But I was nice and honored his wishes and never decorated his cubicle.

But it is on now. Mention it to me once it goes in one ear, out the other, and I promptly forget about it. Mention it twice and it goes into the vice grip that is my brain and grates on me until I do something about it.

So I decided to try and get some ideas of good office pranks/cubicle decorations I can perform while said co-worker is gone next time. And since I know this is why Google was invented I turned toward my fav search engine and these are the best options I found.

The Shiny Cubicle

Wrapping everything inside of a cubicle with foil could take some serious patience and the end result might catch the glare of the morning result and set something on fire, but it would be worth it to see the reaction on a co-workers face when they realize their sacred workspace as been turned into the “Reynolds’s Den of Solitude”

Post-It Note Hell

Like the foil this would take patience and perhaps an artistic flair should you decided to mix up the colors. But the true punishment comes when they realize that they have to remove each post it not by it’s self, which is a time waster if I ever heard of one. (Reminds me of “forking” in high school”. Don’t know what that is? That’s probably because you weren’t cool enough for it, with your drinking and sexy parties…)

Clown Throw-Up

Personally, I think this one has the most potential. Aside from being the cheapest of the three alternatives I think it might also take the least amount of time and be the easiest to clean-up, thus preventing your supervisors from getting pissed off and you losing your job in the next wave of cutbacks.

Anyone out there have any suggestions? I don’t think this particular co-worker is going anywhere for a few months, so we have time.

~The Office Scribe

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Somewhere A Sheep Is Weeping…

I was in a meeting yesterday with a co-worker who was rocking one of my favorite holiday looks, the tacky Christmas Sweater. Nothing says “Happy Birthday Jesus” like a knobby knit monstrosity bedecked with pom poms and garish colors.

There is a time and a place for these sweaters and they are known as “Tacky Christmas Sweater Parties”. I ended up hosting one of these five years ago when about 7 of my friends all showed up at a holiday cocktail party dressed in their mom’s hottest holiday fashions from 1986. It was awesome.

But wearing one when you don’t see the obvious humor in it is even more awesome. Maybe not for you but definitely for sarcastic (possibly mean) co-workers like me who have to duck into the copier room to stifle the giggles brought about by your apparent lack of awareness.

As of today we have 15 more days until the blessed Christmas holiday graces us with its presence (yes, it is a pun) and I hope to see an influx in the amount of co-workers rocking these looks.

~The Office Scribe

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Illinois Epic Fail

Okay, so this doesn’t have much to do with me working in an office, but since the news almost made me late for work, I figure you guys will let it slide.

So Chicago is known for three things – Pizza, a Basketball Dynasty in the 90’s, and Political corruption. One of these was all over the radio this morning.

As it turns out, our esteemed governor was taken into FBI custody this morning for a laundry list (76 pages) of law breaking goodness. Most notably for trying to “sell” the senate seat that Barrak Obama recently left since he is going to be our new president and all.

But I would like to think the real reason he went to jail was because he was guilty of being a dumbass. The last governor of Illinois, George Ryan, is currently serving 6 years in prison for being a dumbass. Actually, four out of the last 6 governors have spent some time behind bars. So what made Rod Blagojevich (or Bagdonivich as my father used to call him…) think that he could get away with being politically corrupt? Sure, there are a lot of politicians in this state, mostly in the city of Chicago, who aren’t quite on the up and up, but they were investigating Blago for TWO YEARS. You think that after the first whiff that the US Attorney (Patrick Fitzgerald) was poking into your goings on you might back down? But no, Blago kept on trying to make behind the scenes deals like getting his wife a six figure job and threatening to bulldoze Wrigley* if the Tribune didn’t fire members of the editorial staff whom Blago didn’t like.

So today, on this snowy crappy Chicago December day another Dumbass politician is going down, and that makes me happy.

Patrick Fitzgerald, I salute you.

~The Office Scribe

Monday, December 8, 2008

It’s Monday, right?

I had a strange weekend. The kind of weekend that leads me to believe that I may or may not have developed a split personality a la Fight Club. It started with me going to a fundraiser at a friends place for African orphans and ended with me watching DVD’s of Buffy the Vampire Slayer until the wee hours of the morning because I couldn’t fall asleep. In between there I baked a loaf of bread (from scratch), bought bathroom rugs for my mom, and tried to figure out where all the produce in my fridge came from.

I’m not really sure to explain the frame of mind I am in right now. You’d think everything would be a bit blurry on the limited amount of sleep I have had in the past three days, but it isn’t. I feel almost hyper-aware of everything in my office. From the artificial brightness of the fluorescent lighting to the hum of the heating system.

I feel like I have slipped into one of the novels I read in the Contemporary European Lit class I took in college. You know the kind with the crazy inner monologues and strange surrealistic interactions between characters.

It’s going to be a long week if everything I do feels like it was written by Camus…

~The Office Scribe

Friday, December 5, 2008

In this economy, we could do with less of the “green stuff”

So a bit of sad news swept through my office yesterday. Roughly 10% of the staff was “let go”, “laid off”, or whatever other PC term you want to use. I prefer “getting canned”, “handed their walking papers”, or “reason #435 why this will be a shitty Christmas”.

But instead of writing about that, which just makes my face hurt as my muscles alternate between a frown for seeing co-workers leave and a smile for me still being here, I decided to write about a much more pressing topic that swept into my life today while eating lunch…

Shredded lettuce.

I have no idea what fast food genius came up with this idea (though I really want to blame the “Sandwich Artists” at Subway”). And I can’t even attempt to justify its existence with any logic what-so-ever. All I know is that when I get a sandwich with shredded lettuce about 90% of it falls off into the paper wrapping, my lap, or my car seat should I be consuming it while driving. And don’t tell me it is easier to handle than a piece of leaf lettuce. That just isn’t true. That would be like telling me a bowl of spaghetti is easier to cram in your mouth than a piece of pizza. Again, that just isn’t true.

All I ask it that we start some kind of petition to bring back the leaf lettuce. Keep that shredded stuff off my sandwiches, wraps, and yes, even my tacos. I can honestly say there is no place for shredded lettuce in my life.

~The Office Scribe

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Flakes of the Apocalypse

Last night Chicago was rumored to be hit with a snow storm of epic proportions. All day my co-workers and I frequently checked Weather.com to see how close the giant light-blue was to our office. We lifted the blinds so we could see the wall of white when it finally crashed down upon us. People were retelling stories about horrible commutes home and how last night could join them in the annals of drives from hell. I even called my GrandMa and cancelled out weekly dinner because I didn’t want to prolong the amount of time that I would be out on the road.

My normal commute time home is roughly 30 minutes.

Last night it took me 37 minutes to get home.

What. The. Hell.

Where were the sloppy roads full of slush that should have sent my car careening into a lamp post? Or the hoards of slow moving “virgin” drivers who forgot how to drive in the powder since last March?

I didn’t even have to scrape my car off this morning.

Thanks for nothing Mr. Weatherman.

~The Office Scribe

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Previous Post Update!

The Cheeto is gone!

So either we finally got a good cleaning crew in my office or by the grace of god the person who cleans in here reads this damn blog.

Either way, I win.

In my day “Rock Band” was some kitchen pans, a wooden spoon, and a Kleenex box with rubber bands…

It’s December, which officially means several things:

1) If you live in a place like Chicago, where I live, the weather has suddenly decided to jack you in the face with a load of snow which brings out the hordes of slow (in a mental way, not speed) who forgot how to drive in such conditions over the past seven months.

2) Relatives, friends and even strangers start to send you holiday cards with pictures of their kids on it. Like photos of my third cousins seven times removed really put me in the Christmas spirit…

3) You start to feel guilty, even in this economy, about all the stuff you have and feel the need to contribute to the less fortunate in some way.

Lucky for those of you, like me, who work in an office, there are a variety of opportunities to work on number 3. The IT department in my office is holding a food drive. Someone has put up the address for soldiers at Walter Reed so we can send them Christmas cards. And yours truly and the Fun Committee has “adopted” 30 kids that are in need of Christmas presents.

Luckily someone explained to these children about how to fill out their wish list. Most put down clothing and toys, each item not costing more than $25.00. It made me smile when I chose a 2 year old little girl who wanted nothing more complicated than blocks.

This was a harsh 180 from the wish lists we used to get at the church I used to belong to. My mom and I used to run the Christmas Gift program there and were shocked and somewhat disgusted by the items that these kids asked for.

Here are some examples of what kids asked for:
- iPods (not the tiny one either)
- Laptop computers
- Nintendo Wii
- Flat Screen Television (at least 26 inch)
- Cell Phones
- Dirt Bikes

These are kids who don’t have winter jackets and whose parents can’t afford a holiday meal and they are asking for things I wouldn’t even dare to have asked for. (Except the iPod and boy did my mom freak when she found out how pricy they were…)

Which is why I was so happy to read the list this year and find that kids wanted toys that took some creativity and imagination. Sure I had a lot of toys as a kid but I also had a cardboard box fort and loved to color. So if this year you decide to purchase a toy for one of the many charities that are out there collecting, I ask that you go for the simple. This is the year we bring imagination back to children.

~The Office Scribe