Friday, January 30, 2009

Password 2009

I came into work this morning and logged into my computer as I do everyday and was alerted by the magical gnome who lives inside my computer that my password will expire in 8 days and would I like to change it? Of course I clicked “no” because crap, I have 8 more days until I need to change it. I am a bit of a procrastinator and if they really wanted me to change it the message would read something like “You password is about to expire. You have 30 seconds to think up a new one or your computer will lock down and the IT guys will laugh at you.” That would probably get me to come up with a new password in a snappy manner.

In all honesty I don’t even know why we have passwords that expire, or why we have passwords at all. It’s not like we keep top secret files on our computer. About 99% of the stuff we deal with is on a shared drive that practically anyone in the company can access at any time.

And then there is the fact that we all keep our passwords written on small slips of paper in our cubicles so that if we are out of the office and someone needs something on our computer they can get it. The co-workers who are a bit cleverer than I keep them taped under their keyboards on in some other secret location, but since I don’t care if someone logs in as me mine is boldly taped to my monitor.

By this time next week though I guess I need to come up with at least an 8 character alpha-numerical password to replace the one I am currently using.

How creative does Password09 sound?

~The Office Scribe

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What Does It Mean If I Am Hearing Voices?

All day today I have been hearing voices. Not the clear, strong voices of my co-workers on the phone or chatting with each other about in inconsequential. But when the sounds of the office die down and all is quiet I hear whispers and mumbles coming from somewhere behind me. It sounds like someone has a TV on low volume or, better yet, like that scene in Harry Potter where he could hear the dead people behind the archway. Yeah, that is what I am hearing. Dead people from a Harry Potter movie.

I did a little walk around my department, trying to find the source of the voices but couldn’t find anything. No radios or TVs or iPods. None of our computers have speakers so I knew it wasn’t that. Which pretty much leaves only one rational explanation:

On this, the 29th of January 2009 I have finally lost it.

Most cubicle dwellers know this day will come. It is inevitable. You spend enough time enclosed in way too close proximity to this much fluorescent lighting and bad coffee and BAM! You are guaranteed to go a bit bibily eventually. I just thought I had more time. I’ve only been working in an office for less than three years. Hell I made it through nine years at a butcher shop and never developed the homicidal instincts that come with that profession.

I’m afraid to mention it to my co-workers, the fact that I am hearing voices. I’m pretty sure they already think I am a bit dodgy and I don’t need to give them additional proof.

~The Office Scribe

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Office Three Way

Well, you can go ahead and get your mind out of the gutter right now because if you got all hot and bother reading the title to this post, thinking you’d be reading the steamy details of three co-workers caught in a forbidden act in the copy room, you are sorely mistaken. Though I am sure that happens in some offices but not in mine. Well, I don’t think it happens in mine. Hmm.

This post is all about three way calling, as in conference calls. Much like their sexual counterparts they might seem like a good idea before hand but when all is said and done chances are someone is left highly unsatisfied.

“What are you talking about? Conference calls are great? I use them all the time?”

Really? Then kind sir, I think you are lacking in a great many ways.

The need for a three way call just means that you have some sort of insecurity and that you need a crutch in the form of another person on the line to get you through the conversation. We used to do this all the time in junior high. Girl A would like Boy A but she was all kinds of nervous about talking to him so she would make Girl B do it while she listened in. I know it seemed like a good idea to Girl A; a way to hear her crush and get an inside track into what he likes.

But you know what always happened? While Girl A was in La La Land listening in Boy A was starting to realize how cool Girl B was and the two of them would end up dating (though at the age of 13 I use that term loosely) until they broke up over something dumb, like Pogs or Slap Bracelets.

The same thing happens in the corporate world, without all the early 90’s fad toys.

While you are letting your c-worker explain the details of the situation while you sit all quiet on the other line, that client is no longer thinking you are the top dog. They start to doubt your ability to get things done and before you know it, your clients have run away with your co-worker.

So trust me, no matter what someone might tell you, three ways are never a good idea.

~The Office Scribe

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Well, It’s Official – The Year of the Ox Blows

Yesterday was Chinese New Year which marked the beginning of the Year of the Ox. The Ox, or the Buffalo sign, symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work. If by hard work they mean driving office workers into the ground with annoying phone calls and questions then by god they hit the proverbial nail on the head. Today has been a mess. If I didn’t think it would end with me getting booted from my job I would have refused to come into work today.

My lovely Tuesday started at 5:00AM when a dull pinging noise awoke me from my flannel sheet wrapped slumber. At first I thought it was coming from somewhere outside. But then, gasp, I realized it was coming from inside the apartment! (Exclamation only intended to replace the dun-dun-duhhh that accompanies all revelations like this.) So I stumbled into my bathroom only to find that water was slowly but steadily leaking from my ceiling. Knowing that there was nothing I could do about it at that hour, I threw a couple towels in the tub to stop the sound and went back to bed. Granted it took me almost an hour to get back to sleep because I was convinced the next sound I would hear would be the ceiling collapsing into my tub (which didn’t happen and here’s to hoping that is not what I go home to tonight either.)

But the rest of the day has been just as weird. If I didn’t know better I would have thought it was a full moon. The agents that were calling me were in rare form, being even crazier than the average travel agent. You would have thought we were saving the planet from an impending asteroid attack and not trying to plan someone’s vacation in India.

If this is how the Year of the Ox is going to be I want to state here and now that the Ox is a stupid animal and the only thing it is good for is grilled to perfection over a nice bed of coals.

Take that Bessie.

~The Office Scribe

Monday, January 26, 2009

5 Signs You Might Be Losing Your Job

During a moment of downtime I was reading some of the headlines in Yahoo! News and one caught my attention. It was an article called “5 Signs Your Job Might Be In Jeopardy”. Sure, you could go read the full article (hence the hyperlink) or you could be lazy and let me sum it up for you. (Note: This article does not contain any references to Alex Trebec.)

All five reasons hinged on the ever-growing paranoia that is sweeping through offices across the country, such as your boss downgrading his car or how no one talks to you anymore. Sure, they are all valid points, but perhaps a little too vague for most of the cubicle monkeys in the work force. So to ease the fears of those who find themselves in an incredibly beige workspace, with acoustic ceiling tiles and hypnotic inducing carpet patterns, I have created my own list.

5 Signs You Might Be Losing Your Job

1) The only e-mails you have been getting for the past month are from the nephew of the deposed king of Burkina Faso.

Sure, you used to get important client e-mails all the time. Or your boss would be sending you updates about protocol and how to proceed with new acquisitions. But now Jamal is your only e-friend and he just wants to give you some of his family’s money, if you would just send him a tiny check first. Which reminds me, how do you pronounce Ouagadougou?

2) Someone else is in your parking space

Of course everyone knows that spot 143 is your spot. You’ve only been parking in it for seven years. But then why is the kid from the mail rooms Prius suddenly there?

3) Your keycard has been deactivated

You can chalk this up to a glitch, maybe. But chances are they don’t want you going in the door for a reason. A reason like #4.

4) The contents of your cubicle have been packed up and are waiting for you at the front desk

Something tells me the reason everything is waiting for you isn’t because a kind co-worker thought they would help you move to a bigger office with a view. Why do I think that? Might be the fact that the box is being held by Chuck from security who is there to make sure you don’t do anything crazy on your way out.

5) You didn’t receive a paycheck

In addition to them stealing your red stapler your corporation decided that they would just stop paying you and let the situation work itself out. You know the only solution to a situation like this, don’t you? Hold this lighter while I douse the copier in kerosene.

~ The Office Scribe

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Technology, Meet Toilet

Friday was a weird day at work. Just one of those days where everything was a bit off. You know, overly cranky co-workers, dumb questions, last minute projects that had to be done that day. And I don't think there was a full moon or anything. Just one of those weird days.

But one thing did happen which made me laugh.

Sometime in the morning, as I was busily typing away at my computer because god was I busy doing stuff my co-worker, we shall call her L, appraoched my desk. In her hands she held her brand new Blackberry Pearl, in pieces, on a paper towl. My confused look posed the question "What happened?"

Her reply: "I dropped my phone in the toilet."

Now I have done a lot of dumb things when it comes to my cellphone. The best being when I accidently left it on top of my car when I left my parents house one weekend and didn't notice until I saw it fly off behind me as I did 50 mph. Luckily I was able to find it amongst the weeds on the side of the road and aside from a few scrathes, it still worked. (Thank you Motorola for building a quality product.)

But I have never dropped my phone in the toilet. After the initial fit of giggles I had I couldn't help but feel bad for L. Not because she just ruined her new cell phone, which she has had less than a month. But because when she goes to the store to get a replacement she is going to have to explain to the pimply faced kid behind the counter how she broke it.

And for that I wish I could be there with a camera.

~The Office Scribe

Friday, January 23, 2009

Because I Need More Things To Occupy My Busy Life

I decided to start a second blog today called Away From Her Desk.

It's a place where all the things that catch my eye that have nothing to do with work will be ripped apart like a package on Christmas by a small, sugared up child.

So if you want to wander over and check it out, though be warned, it is in its infancy right now, I will not stop you.

~The Office Scribe

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Girls Are Pervs Too

My office is all a twitter today. And no, it’s not because the Academy Award nominations came out today (I guess I have to update my NetFlix Queue. Damn, and I was so looking forward to Death Race…)

It started the moment I came into work today as was greeted by our receptionist.

“They changed the code on the bathroom.”

Aside from the morning greeting informing of the change and the new code, we received no less that three e-mails regarding the situation (2 telling us the code and the other being all secretive and telling us to contact the guy in the mail room. Which if you didn’t know the guy in the mail room just sounds creepy.)

I know I have mentioned in the past about how the women’s restroom has a key pad on it to keep interlopers out. (Like those bitches on the fourth floor. Yeah, you know who you are.) I do always find it amusing how women’s doors are locked but anyone could walk into the men’s room. I think that is a bias that only men are sexual deviants and would walk into the opposite sex’s bathroom. I happen to know some female sexual deviants (some of my best friends) who would have no problem going into a guy’s bathroom. Hell, I have used a guy’s bathroom. It’s the natural thing that happens when you are at concerts and sporting events and realize the other genders lines are always a thousand times shorter…

And as a girl I wouldn’t care if a guy happened into our bathroom. It’s not like anyone can see anything in there. Women’s bathrooms don’t just have toilets out in the middle of nowhere for all to see. Someone back before I was born invented the concept of stalls which keeps all things private, well, private. And I salute them for their ingenuity.

So guys of the world, I think this sounds like an equal rights thing and you might want to contact the ACLU about it*. Pronto.

~The Office Scribe

* Okay, I might be encouraging this for purely selfish reasons. I don’t know if there would be anything funnier than watching both the women and the men of my office do the potty dance outside the bathrooms as they try to remember the magic code. Inevitable office hilarity would ensue.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Outbreak In My Outlook

Ahh Wednesdays…the day of the week that is as far from the beginning as it is from the end. Otherwise known as the longest day in humanity for those of us who are cubicle dwellers. I don’t know statistics or anything, but I am pretty sure that Wednesdays are my least productive day of the week.

So after working on some small projects and dispensing invaluable financial advice to a co-worker (because my BS in Creative Writing actually does make me a financial analyst) I decided to go ahead and clean up my Outlook. I am a bit OCD in that respect. I hate having old e-mails just lying around, collecting virtual dust and getting in my way. So about once a week I go through and delete the hell out of my e-mails. If they pertain to a client I file it away in my personal folders and then everything is right in the world.

But today I noticed that in the list of, crap, I don’t know what to call them. You know, there’s the Calendar, the Inbox, Sent Items, etc, etc, etc…Anyway, there is also something called Quarantine. Now I think this showed up right after we had that pain in the ass virus that swept through our systems like, well in keeping with the medical references, like some sort of plague. But in the months that have followed I don’t think I have ever seen an e-mail in there.

Which I guess is cool, because I don’t think I would know what to do if by some chance an e-mail showed up in there. We aren’t supposed to directly approach an IT person and ask them a question because too many people were bothering them with stupid questions. So protocol requires us to send them an e-mail. But if I have a potentially deadly e-mail the last thing I want to do is touch my computer.

I guess that only leaves one solution: Should I ever get an infected e-mail I will just calmly pack up my belongings and make a run for it. Because in all actuality, that is my contingency plan should anything go wrong in the office.

~The Office Scribe

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20 – The Day The Earth Stood Still, Almost

About ten minutes ago the 44th President of these United States finished giving his first speech in that capacity. But instead of watching a lovely color feed on my nice 17 inch flat screen computer monitor I watched this historic even on a 5 inch black and white television one of my co-workers brought in. I guess there were so many people in offices around the country who were trying to watch the inauguration live that the internet basically said “No More” and wouldn’t let anyone else on.

So my department gathered around the small TV, like a scene from an M. Night Shamalamadingdong movie where there are reports of aliens or killer trees (did I ruin that one for you? Say hello to your mother for me). But then a few things happened that distracted us from watching history unfold in peace.

The phone rang. Luckily it wasn’t my phone (no one calls me anyway) but that of a co-worker who was forced to answer it. I know, I know. Our jobs here entail us speaking on phones and selling stuff, but what was the person who called thinking? I don’t care what your political affiliations are. Don’t you assume people might be watching the inauguration and therefore don’t wish to speak with you? Kind of like how my friends and relatives know not to call me during a variety of TV shows such as “The Office”, “True Blood”, and “The Amazing Race”. It’s a common courtesy people.

The other really distracting thing was the sudden appearance in our grouping of cubicles of the printer repair guy. I swear to god he came out of nowhere. And he doesn’t even work for our company. He was just there to fix our printer, which stopped working yesterday, and leave. But instead he sidled over and stood with us for like 20 minutes and watched TV with us. I hope he isn’t getting paid by the hour because we shouldn’t have to pay him for that time.

So in 50 years when people ask me where I was during this pivotal moment in history I can tell them I was watching it unfold with my co-workers, the chick on the phone, and the printer repair guy who kept nodding and kinda creeped me out a bit.

~ The Office Scribe

Monday, January 19, 2009

She Didn’t Step Away, You Made Her Run Away

If I had the ability to chain co-workers to their desks thus preventing them from ever leaving during business hours and ensuring I never have to deal with their phone calls I would do so. But according to little things like HR regulations and the Geneva Convention I can’t do that. So occasionally when a co-worker is away from their desk one of their calls will get forwarded to me, and they pretty much all follow the same script.

Me: Good afternoon, how can I help you?

Them: (in an obnoxious tone) You aren’t the one I spoke to.

Me: Excuse me?

Them: I talked to the other one in your office. Where is she?

Note: I work in an office with roughly 180 people, about 90 percent of whom are female.

Me: Do you remember the name of the person you were speaking with?

Them: We were talking about my trip. She’s someone’s assistant over there.

Me: We have three assistants in addition to myself, A, B, and C.

Them: I think it was C.

Me: Well she has stepped away from her desk can I take a message and I will have her call you as soon as she gets back?

Them: Where is she?

Note: While I have sometimes thought I have some sort of sixth sense a Spiderman like ability to know where my co-workers are at all times isn’t part of it.

Me: I am not sure. She seems to have just stepped away.

Them: Well I guess I will have to leave a message then, won’t I?

Note: It is at about this point in the conversation where I want to switch into the sarcastic tone of voice that is not work appropriate but which peppers this blog.

Me: If I could just get your name and the number at which you can be reached…

Note: The conversation can either go one of two ways:

1. The caller mumbles some incoherent name and number with such an attitude that I am afraid to ask how to spell it or for them to repeat it.

2. They tell me my co-worker has the number and hang up on me, no indication of who they were or why they called.

Normally I have no problem handling other co-workers issues and being a team player, but after conversations like that I can’t help but wonder…

Isn’t this why we have voicemail?

~The Office Scribe

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How To Make Helen Keller Giggle

I was watching the news yesterday, during my unexpected day off, and they showed a clip of our glorious Governor swearing in the very people that are impeaching him.  It is a beautiful piece of political irony.  Anyway, I noticed that while Gov. Blagojevich was going through the formalities that a young woman was standing about three feet away from him signing, as in talking to deaf people, whatever he was saying.

And it got me thinking, how do those of us who are not fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) actually know what the signer is saying?  Or how do the deaf people who do know ASL trust that what the signer is saying is what the governor is actually saying?  I think the
re is a lot of room for error in this situation.

Though I think if this whole office job doesn't work out I might go become fluent in ASL, which would be my third language, and get a job as a signer.  (Is signer even the right term?  Hmm.)  Just think of how much fun you could have.  And no, I don't mean fun by messing with the hearing impaired.  I mean adding a lovely running commentary to what you are interpreting to make things more interesting.  It would be like live blogging.

So should this economy tank even more than it is already and I get laid off, at least now I have a back up plan.  

~ The Office Scribe

Friday, January 16, 2009

Why My Post Sucks Today

About 90% of my posts here are inspired by something that happened in the office that day.  I will occasionally go off topic with a nice rant about the weather or a news story, but I generally try to keep it office related.  I mean, there are so many things that happen how could I not find something interesting to write about?

I'll tell you how.  I can't write about stuff that happens while working in an office if I am not in the freaking office!  I woke up this morning and low and behold my car would not start.  Now I understand that in severe cold weather, the kind that has bending Chicago over lately, cars get crabby.  But why my car?  There were many other cars in my parking lot that seem a lot crappier than mine and yet they managed to get started and take them away.

So I come inside and call work to tell them, obviously, that I won't be in. " And then I try and call AAA to see if they can come and get my car started.  You'll notice I used the word "try".  That's because I spent about three hours trying to get through with no success.  And on their website you can log a request for assistance using an inline form.  But of course that feature isn't working either, because that would make too much sense.

Finally I give up and figure that things will warm up in the next day or so, or I will have a friend come over, and we'll get my car started this weekend.  

But then I realize that while the sink in my bathroom works nothing else does.  My toilet and my shower are both sans-water.  So I put a call into my management company and they tell me someone should be by this afternoon to take a look at it.
So now on a day when I could have been at work, gathering information to share with you here I was stuck at home, on a crappy cold day without the ability to go anywhere.

I hate you weather gods.  

~ The Office Scribe

On a positive note, if one can be found today, I finally signed up for NetFlix.  I'll let you know how that goes once I start getting movies.  And I am up for suggestions if anyone has any.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Methinks Me Might Hurl

Right before the holidays we all had our annual reviews and the topic about how to improve our department was brought up. We shared our ideas with our VP and then she informed us that the best way to discuss these ideas would be to meet over lunch. But not just any lunch. A carb fueled Italian bonanza lunch from Maggiano’s. And she didn’t just get some wimpy spaghetti and meatballs. No, my VP went and ordered Caesar salad, Garlic bread and Fettuccini with broccoli and chicken. It was delicious.

After we were done eating I came back to my desk and tried to focus on getting the few last tasks of the day done.

No luck.

As much as I adore Fettuccini Alfredo once I eat it something magical happens. It no longer is a pasta but some sort of leaden concrete that sinks to the bottom of my stomach and makes me feel like I have swallowed a bowling ball. And as any of you know if you are super-full then the chance of you getting anything productive done becomes slim to none. I have a half hour of work left and all I want to do is zone out concentrate on digesting.

I’d write more but even writing about the lunch is wearing on me.

~ The Office Scribe

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Little Johnny Is A Popsicle

Let me enlighten you to the situation that is going down the Midwest right now, specifically Chicago. It is cold. Really, really cold. According to it is supposed to be -9 degrees tonight. Which with the windchill will feel like -25. But even with these sub-arctic like temperatures it continues to snow at alarming rates. This mornings commute to the office was particularly fun. My normally 20 minute drive took an hour and 15 minutes. I had one co-worker who was on the road for three hours. There are a handful of people who didn’t even come into today because of the weather (I know you are reading this entry from your house while wearing sweatpants and I hate you. I might have to super glue your mouse to the mouse pad or something…)

But it wasn’t the bitter cold or the inches of snow that made my commute horrible; it was the school buses.

There is nothing like an entire main road coming to a screeching halt because the local school bus needs to pick a kid up who is moving at a snails pace because he is dressed like an Eskimo. Which begs me to ask the question: Why the hell isn’t school cancelled?

I know when I was a kid the earth had to be in a near apocalyptic state for the powers that be to cancel school, but even I remember a few days of extreme cold and listening to the radio to find out I didn’t have to go. Which meant an entire day of cartoons and Barbie dolls.

And now with the whimpy way kids are raised I am surprised there wasn’t some sort of community wide outcry that sending the kids to school in this weather is a form of child abuse (which is might be but seeing as how that term is a tad overused it has lost some of it potency).

But what did the parents do instead? While the buses will a thorn in my side all of the extra cars on the road because Mom and Dad felt the need to drive Little Johnny to school so he could sit on his heated leather seat and watch “Finding Nemo” on the screen was like me flinging my whole body into the briar patch, naked, and then going for a swim in the Dead Sea.

After my commute this morning I might put on my citizen hat and write a letter to my local school board chastising them, not for making kids go to school but for mucking up the roads and making it more difficult for me to get to work.

~The Office Scribe

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Are You F-ING Kidding Me???

I spend about 90% of my time on the internet looking stuff up for work on Google. Actually I don’t know how I would be able to cope in my present position if it weren’t for this amazing invention. I look up everything: airline information, weather charts for Singapore, how best to see the Northern Lights, square footage of hotel rooms, and pictures of various place for clients who need to see the place they are going to before they actually go there.

In the midst of a search for a picture of a hotel room today I stumbled across the following description which gave me reason to pause:

“There was the most stunning view from the hotel room.”

I have never understood the word stunning. It is generally used to describe beautiful women or rare gemstones, which if you look at the definition makes sense:

Strikingly impressive or attractive in appearance”

But since when did adding a little old –ing onto the end of a word completely freaking change the definition. Confused? Then let me break the word down for you.

The root for the word “stunning” is “stun”. The definitions for the word “stun” are as follows:

1) to shock somebody
2) make somebody unconscious
3) overwhelm sense

None of these have anything to do with being attractive or impressive. Unless you are attracted to or impressed by a Taser, jellyfish or the electric chair.

But wait, there was something else about the definition of “stunning” that bothered me. The use of the word “striking”, which is another word which the definition has nothing to freaking do with the root.

The definition of “strike” in its most literal sense:

1) hit somebody or something
2) deliver blow (and not the Columbian kind)
3) collide with somebody or something

Whereas “striking” is defined as:

1) Conspicuous
2) Attractive or impressive
3) On strike

Okay, I might have lost some people on the third one but those first two have nothing to do with getting jacked in the face.

Where are the laws of definition that by adding an –ing it makes a different use of the root word? Need an example?

DrownDie by immersion in water
DrowningDie by immersion in water

There are so many other examples that my head is starting to hurt from trying to figure all this out. Good thing I am going to drown my confusion and consternation with Black and Tans at Pub Trivia tonight…

~The Office Scribe

Five Friday Months Are Worth Living For

Earlier today I was complaining about how I spent my “entertainment” budget for the whole month this past weekend while out with my friends and a co-worker pointed out to me how this is one of the two months during the year where we get three paychecks instead of the usual two. I was so overjoyed with this news that I wasn’t even sure how to handle it. I completely forgot about the wonderful months where there are five Fridays and therefore I get three paychecks. It’s like winning the lottery without spending my child support payments on scratch off tickets. (Okay, so I don’t actually make child support payments, most likely because I don’t have any children. But I always think that when people are buying lottery tickets that money really should be going someplace else.)

So after this joyous news I am now faced with the conundrum of trying to figure out the best way to use this “bonus money which I earned”. Honestly I should sock it away in the bank so I can actually buy that new car in September, but seeing as it is only January that doesn’t seem like a fun use of it. But saving is not the patriotic thing to do. How are we supposed to turn this economy around if we aren’t out there purchasing things we don’t really need?

The big question is which sector of the economy would benefit the most from the surplus change?

Grocery Store: Sure food is a necessity, but that being said it means it is a necessity for everyone. Which means that others are out there shopping for food which means I don’t really need to be.

Gas Station: Of course I drive my car, almost everyday, to and from work. But I have decided that if the person who parks next to me at my apartment refuses to move their car and allow the place to plow, I am just going to siphon their gas into my own tank, thus saving me from having to buy gas. Oh yeah, and I think the oil companies have enough of my money.

Medical Expenses: I don’t really go to the doctor. I mean, why would we have WedMD if it wasn’t for the purpose of self diagnosis?

So most likely it will go to one of three places: Target, Best Buy, or a selection of bars that I frequent with co-workers and friends. Because those places need to be stimulated.

~The Office Scribe

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mountains of White Stuff

And no, I am not talking about cocaine. That is so 1984 of you to think so though.

Chicago is due to be hit with another blast of snow today. I believe the word that the weather guys keep tossing about it blizzard. You know those horrific storms that sent settlers on the plains running to their cabins and then after the thaw other settlers would come upon their semi-decomposed bodies and see that they had run out of fire wood and frozen to death along with their precise moonshine? And yes, I did read all of the “Little House” books.

My concern is not the blizzard or the fact that tomorrow night is supposed to be -3 F. My concern is what is going to happen with all the snow in the parking lots at my apartment building and here at work.

After it snows there are plows and trucks that push the snow up to incredible heights around the perimeter of the parking lot. It is starting to feel like we are being corralled into some amazing snow fort. I am just waiting for the complex next store to start lobbing giant snowballs over the wall at us in the most cataclysmic of all snowball fights. But aside from my irrational fantasy, I am getting worried about where they will put the snow for the rest of the winter. Here it is, only the 12th of January and we have already seemed to have more snow that we can handle.

I just went and looked out the window of my office building and tried to figure out where they could push all of the snow that is going to fall tonight and I can’t come up with an solution. From what I can see the giant piles (haha) are taking up about 12 parking spaces. If the rate at which snow falls keeps up this pace I think we might not have a place to park within three weeks. (I used some complex formula to come up with this. You know, like v-x over 3y = I failed Algebra II.)

So if we run out of parking spaces, and using a snow mobile to get to work isn’t an option, what are we to do? How can my company expect me to come to work when I can’t park my car anywhere?

I think this is winter’s way of saying we need a few days off.

~The Office Scribe

Expert On Opinions – aka Made Up Job

The Golden Globes took place last night. I managed to watch about 4 minutes of it before I realized that I hadn’t seen one of the movies that there we talking about. And it’s not because I don’t want to, but because they are not out in the theaters. I don’t think that movie companies should be allowed to have their films nominated if they only have them released in three theaters.

But that is not the reason for this post. All day today as I have been checking various web sites and blogs there is a lot of chatter about what people were wearing at the awards and who looked good and who looked like crap. Most of the dresses I really liked this year. Lots of color, fun shapes, whatever.

As it turns out I should apparently stick to writing about work and such because I know nothing about fashion. All of the so called experts hated every dress that I liked. Sure, I know my opinions can be different to a certain degree, but I couldn’t tell what the problem was with these dresses.

And then this question popped into my head: How does one become a fashion expert? Isn’t fashion purely built around personal taste? How can you become an expert in that?

For example: I could become an expert in the country of Estonia if I studied all about it and visited it a couple times a year and wrote books about it. That is what experts do.

Experts do not pass judgments on things they have no control over.

That’s what blogs are for.

So the next time I hear that orange is the hot new color or that pleats will be in style, I am going to tell them to shove it. There is no reason I can’t be trendy in my Old Navy flannel PJ pants and a torn Grateful Dead t-shirt.

~The Office Scribe

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Because One Office Job Isn't Enough

I think it's pretty easy to guess that I am a fan of the TV show "The Office".  For the same reasons I would assume doctors like "ER" and octogenarians like "The Golden Girls".  The shows hit close enough to your real life that you can relate to it but with enough absurdity that you can easily see it as fiction.

So a few years back, while watching an episode of "The Office" there was a commercial for something called Dunder Mifflin Infinity (DMI).  

Created by NBC is was a rather elaborate online community set up for fans of "The Office" to come together and discuss the show.  But instead of just having random chat rooms people who joined actually joined onto a virtual brach and participated in weekly tasks to earn, what else, Schrutebucks.

During my time at DMI I have met some fabulous people, many of whom are faithful followers of this blog (most likely because they take pity on me).  So I promised them a shout out and on this snowy day I thought it was about time I get off my ass and actually do it.

So, I guess, hello to my fellow DMI people.  Thanks for reading this and putting up with my twisted ways and not reporting me to OLC.

And a special nod to the Allentown, PA Branch, the virtual branch that I am a member of.

~ The Office Scribe

Interested in joining yourself?  Head over the and sign up.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Who Should We Eat First?

I live about 15-20 minutes away from where I work. But on days when it snows, which shockingly enough happens quite frequently during Chicago winters, that commute can stretch into a nightmarishly long haul home. I don’t actually blame this on the snow or lack of salt from our cheap government (Sidenote: Our governor was just impeached!) but on the drivers who don’t realize that you can’t drive the same on slushy pavement as if it were a balmy 70 degree spring day.

So today, on a day when the weather guys are predicting 8 inches of snow, I am not looking forward to driving home.

Which got me to thinking, what if we got so much snow we couldn’t leave the office?

Here is how the scenario played out in my head, which granted, is a bit foggy from spending the morning researching some crazy island off the coast of Norway where people can see the Northern Lights. You know where else you can see the Northern Lights? Canada. And it’s a hell of a lot easier to get to.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Crafting the semi post-apocalyptic world where I find myself should I ever get snowed into my place of employment.

So after the blizzard the is reminiscent of the movie The Day After Tomorrow an e-mail goes out from HR about how no one can leave. The snow is covering the doorways and the temperatures have plummeted. But of course, there is a wacky band of employees who decide they have the testicular fortitude of Admiral Byrd and band together to make a go for it. They bundle up, bid the rest of us a fond farewell and are never seen again. There are not missed.

After this departure the rest of us are left to decide the best course of action. Sure, some people want to come up with various committees to decide the best course of action. While all this discussion was going on I would take all the change and singles I seem to have on me, my recycling bin, and head into the lunch room to purge the vending machine of its contents before anyone else thought of it.

So two hours later when the committees have finally been formed and a highly complicated color coded flow chart has come out I am setting up my own store, charging 6 times to going rate for a package of Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips.

Around midnight I imagine that things really start to break down and alliance and tribes are formed. What starts out like a friendly game of Survivor quickly deteriorates to the second half of Lord of the Flies. People start stealing supplies from the mailroom to fortify their cubicles and mark their territory with flags constructed from brightly colored post its.

In the wee hours of the morning things are quiet. Too quiet. The only sound is the quiet woosh of the heating system and the occasional scurrying of employees as they make their way from one of the office to another.

As dawn breaks so do peoples will. No one can get into the women’s bathroom because it has been infiltrated by those chicks from the fourth floor and they are defending it with soggy rolls of toilet paper chucked out as if they were grenades. Defensive fences made of ballpoint pens line the perimeter of the coffee bar. I have run out of Sun Chips but now have a nice down payment for a new car.

Eventually the sound of massive snow plows making their way toward us can be heard and a collective sigh goes up from the now weary workers. As we all trudge out we bid each other farewell, complete forgetting that we will all see each other in a few days and that locked the annoying co-workers in the storage closest….

And my second grade teacher said I didn’t have an active imagination.

~The Office Scribe

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dear Wall Street Journal, You Suck

As per my usual routine I tend to check my personal e-mails accounts a couple times a day while at work, especially the one attached to this blog because I love when people post comments back and I want to read them ASAP. So today I log into Yahoo! and see an article about the Best and Worst Jobs for 2008 as compiled by the Wall Street Journal.

Out of curiosity I click on the article and read all about how being a mathematician is the best job of 2008. Sure, leave it to people who compile stats for a living to determine that numbers make you cool.
And while I wasn’t surprised to see that my profession wasn’t on the list, I was taken aback by what I found on the Worst Job List.

According to this survey one of the worst jobs of 2008 was a butcher (#187). Now before I became a Cubicle Monkey I actually worked in a butcher shop and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t have a fond memory of that place. From the age of 15 to 24 I spent 5 days a week up to my elbows in chicken breast, beef liver, and every other body part that comes from an animal. It was awesome.

Sure, there was some inherent danger that came from working in a butcher shop. All those sharp knives, whirring band saws and fat laden slippery floors could all be considered “hazards”, but you can’t tell me that those are more hazardous that a NUCLEAR DECONTAMINATION TECH, which is the job that ranked one better than butcher.

I am pretty sure that the uniform alone denotes that being a butcher is a hell of a lot better than being a NUCLEAN DECONTAMINATION TECH. (See examples below).

Come on people. Who comes up with these studies? Being a butcher was a great job and I bet others would think so too. I mean, do you think Alice would have dated Sam if he dressed in a HazMat Suit? I think not…

~The Office Scribe

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Like a Plague of Locusts

It is a well known fact that people who work in offices like to eat. And I don’t mean socially. I mean as if they were about to walk the Green Mile and the food before them was the last they might possibly ever consume.

The best example I have ever seen of frenzied office eating has been occurring this week. While the Sales Directors are in the office they have lunch catered for the 6 of them. Whatever is leftover is put in the lunch room and an e-mail is sent out inviting whoever wants the food to go ahead and help themselves. That is when the chaos breaks out. You would have never thought that these people had ever seen food before. I wandered down there yesterday right after the e-mail came out to get myself a cup of tea. On the way I ran into a co-worker who was staggering back, clutching a glass of water like her life depended on it. She exclaimed breathlessly “It’s a madhouse in there” and then disappeared back into her cubicle*.

And she wasn’t kidding. People were so concerned that the free nibbles would run out that instead of hunting down a paper plate they used coffee filters as a way to carry their food back to their desks. One lady was piling slices of pizza onto of her already micro waved Lean Cuisine. Others who were too slow (or worked on the other side of the building) looked distraught when they saw that the only thing left was some sort of strange looking Middle Eastern salad.

I thought that perhaps it was just a fluke. You know, people back from holiday break. Maybe they didn’t have a chance to go grocery shopping yet and the food was much needed. Until the e-mail came out today and there was the same mad rush for the food, this time cheese and sausage.

I wonder how those New Year’s Resolutions are working out?

~The Office Scribe

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Toilet Roulette

In my previous post I explained how I hate running into people I don’t know in the bathroom but I am starting to think that perhaps that is okay. As much as I want to get to know all my co-workers there is something eerie about running into the people who sit around you as you enter/exit the bathroom. The middle schooler in me can’t help but jump into the gutter and think all of those, um, natural thoughts about my co-workers bathroom habits.

But the worst part of running into a co-worker as you enter the bathroom, aside from the inane questions like “How are you doing?” (Answer: Fine, I have to pee.) or the awkward glances that are exchanged when no prattle can be thought of is the following:

Can I pick the stall that the co-worker was not just using?

It’s like the most intense game of roulette that can be played sans gun. Or better yet, like “Let’s Make A Deal” with their famous three doors. Except that the ladies room on my floor has about nine stalls so it is even more of a crap shoot. (Pardon my pun. Wait, on second thought, don’t. I did that on purpose.)

The really creepy part is the only way you can tell if you have lost, aka a co-worker just used that stall, is if the seat is warm. To me possibly one of the most cringe-inducing feelings of all times. I just threw up a bit in my mouth even typing that and now I am covered in goose bumps.

Though I have discovered that the best way to prevent this from happening is to always use the last stall, which I don’t think is handicap accessible so apparently if you are on the third floor, in a wheel chair, and have to pee you are screwed. But I digress. I have found that most of the females in my office don’t have the patience to walk that extra 10 feel to the last stall, making it consistently underutilized and therefore rarely having a warm seat.

Consider this your tip for the day.

~The Office Scribe

Miss Office 2009

The head of my company is in the office today for some major meetings with our Sales Directors. It’s kind of a big deal because she is only here two or three times a year. So I am pretty sure she doesn’t know my name, what department I work for, or if I even speak English. But she greeted me warmly when I almost ran her over in the mailroom today. This little interaction, make that a near collision, got me to thinking: How sad is it that after 2 + years at this company there are still people I don’t know. Or more importantly who don’t know me?

That is why I am going to make it my mission for 2009 to make sure everyone knows who I am. And I am not going to do this the easy way by sleeping with a slew of co-workers or stealing AKI – the Terra Cotta Warrior Stature from the lobby (unless I am fired and then he is mine). No longer will I run into a mystery person in the restroom and wonder “Does that person work here or are they stealing toilet paper?” I want to be able to greet them by name before heading into my stall.

I don’t exactly have a perfected game plan yet, though I am sure my position within the Fun Committee with come into play. Perhaps I will start with the phone list and mark off everyone I know so I have an idea how many people remain to be met.

I’ll keep you updated.

~The Office Scribe

Monday, January 5, 2009

So What Color Are They?

I adore when I get e-mails regarding procedure. And by adore I mean I want to tear off my eye lids and rub lemon juice in the wounds. To me there is nothing worse than coming up with procedures. If people would just balls up and do the god damn job then we wouldn’t have to waste time trying to figure out who should be doing the job.

Today we get an e-mail about how to go about requesting time off. Normally we fill out a sheet, drop it off on our VP’s desk and presto, we get the day off. But apparently too many people were taking time off at Christmas or something and they want the days off spread out. Okay, whatever. I am broke as hell this year and saving for a car so the chances of me jetting off for an entire week is really slim. Most of my days off will be spent landscaping my mom’s house or heading to the zoo when I just can’t take anymore. But the last line of the memo (can it be considered a memo if it doesn’t state that in the subject line?) confused me and about 97% of the rest of my co-workers.

Also, please note that the green PTO request forms are no longer green. If you have any questions regarding the above information, please do not hesitate to ask.

Huh? The green forms are no longer green. You can bet I have some questions regarding the above information. Namely, what color are the forms now?

Either someone isn’t proofing their e-mails or wants lots of employees to come and visit them in their office.

~The Office Scribe

How Very Droll


It’s the first full week back from all the holidays and you would think that seeing as how many of my co-workers haven’t been in the office in a few weeks there would be a certain amount of madness going on as everyone catches up from what they missed. I am sure this would be the scenario if our economy wasn’t in the crapper, but seeing how it is, my office is quiet. Too quiet. Too boring.

So I have taken it upon myself figure out a way to keep myself occupied. It is one of the many talents that were developed from being an only child. Actually, it might be the only talent that came from being an only child. Unless getting out of a parental predicament when there was no one else to shove blame on can be counted as a talent… (Note: It didn’t work too often. The dogs can only be blamed for not turning the lights off so many times.)

My goal today was to work on my various and assorted writings. Sure, this wouldn’t necessarily make me a better employee seeing as how if I actually finish my novel/script/TV show concept and sell it I am out of this office faster than an LA freeway chase, or does it? As it turns out, while looking up stuff for my story I stumbled upon an oft forgotten function of Microsoft Word, the thesaurus. And while it sounds like a cast off from Isla Nublar the thesaurus is an amazing tool for anyone who writes anything for their job. It can turn an ordinary e-mail to a co-worker from a blah memo to a stunning piece of literature all while making you seem smarter and thus better than all of them.

I mean, why use the word “job” when you can use “occupation”, “appointment”, or “duty”. Or how about you turn that “question” into a “query”? And don’t take a “bathroom” break. Step away from your desk to visit the “lavatory”.

See, any normal mundane sentence can be transformed into poetic prose that will stun and delight those around you.

Consider this you helpful tip of the day.

~The Office Scribe

Friday, January 2, 2009

TMI Mr. Personal Organizer

Last week I did one of my favorite end-of-the-year tasks; I went and bought a new day planner. Actually, in this crap economy I bought a cheap day planner that I cut part of so I could jam it into the fancy leather cover from the one I bought last year. I am so green. And thrifty. The cheap day planner though is covered with flowers and water color painting so I really hope I never lose it because the person that finds it will think I am a 90 year old woman looking to schedule vet appointments for her cats and when some cable network is going to do a “Matlock” marathon.

But just in case it does ever go missing, I am responsible and usually write my name and e-mail address someone in the front so the kind soul that finds it can return it to me after finding out how sad my social life really is. So I was a bit shocked when I opened up the Hallmark Channel version of the day planner to find an entire section dedicated to personal information that I can fill out. I assume this idea started with the suggestion that it would be a good idea in case said day planner was ever lost, and then went horribly wrong from there.

Here are the sections included on the two pages of personal information:

If Found Please Return To:
Okay, I understand this. Like I said, I would love to have my planner returned to me of I lost it, but why do they need information like my passport number and social security number. Glad to see that in this day of prevalent identity theft people are being encouraged to put this kind of information in such a non-secured place.

In Case of Illness or Accident, Notify:
Because when I find a person passed out in an airport bathroom the first thing I reach for is their day planner. Actually, I would most likely let the cops handle those pesky details of tracking down the next of kin.

Emergency Medical Instructions:
Blood type. Really? Allergies. Isn’t that what those medic alert bracelets are for? The name and number of your Eye Doctor. Does Lenscrafters count? My Medical Coverage Company and Policy Number. Now here they are just assuming that I have medical insurance…which I do but I’ll be damned if I know the number. That’s why they give me the insurance card, isn’t it?

Important Telephone Numbers:
All of the following pretty much have the same number.
* Police Emergency
* Fire Department
* Ambulence
So you want to guess what that number might be?

Great, so that person you are about to hook up with at the hotel bar can check and see if you are married

Child Care
Where to abduct the little ones from with your van and promise of candy

I don’t believe I am related to my vet so I don’t really understand why this is in the family section…

How many people keep an attorney on retainer or know them well enough to list them here?

Insurance Agent
I think mines name is Dave and that is all I know about him

Um. Yeah. No.

Chances are he is in some mental ward at this point so why bother him during afternoon meds?

Because at all times you need to know, or have the ability to tell others, the number for your General Contractor, Plumber, Painter, Cleaning, Lawn Care and Auto Mechanic are.

I am fighting the urge to fill these out with humorous yet incorrect numbers and leave it somewhere for a person to find and see what the end result is. But then again, if I lose it how I will I know how to contact my “other”?

~The Office Scribe

P.S. – Can you tell things are really slow at work and I am on about 3 hours of sleep? Is that starting to show in my posts yet?

Best Quote By a Co-Worker of 2009 (So Far)

On a lot of blogs the first/last post of a year is either a round-up of the events that happened or resolutions that will never be adhered to. I briefly considered this, but since 2008 wasn’t the most stellar year for me and my only New Year’s Resolution is to send out birthday cards, I was a bit perplexed about how to start off 2009.

But like most great moments of inspiration, they come when you least expect them.

My blogging muse came today in the form of one of the few co-workers that are in the office today. ( It is like a ghost town around here. None of the phones are ringing and only about 1/3 of the staff is in because it is the Friday after New Year’s and the smart people thought “Why the hell would I go in and spend 8 hours staring at my computer when I could be home trying to master Rock Band?” )

So I come into work today, with a headache that is making my eyes water because I am a human barometer. With no phone messages and only two non-important e-mails to greet me, I had a feeling it was going to be an incredibly boring day.

That is, until my co-worker, K, sidled up to my desk and said “Help me I’m stuck.” And by stuck she meant she couldn’t unzip her North Face fleece and seemed to be on the verge of having a mini panic attack. So the maternal instinct in me kicked in, not because I have kids (hells no) but I think from all the years I spent babysitting. With a little finagling I managed to un-stick her zipper and free her from the constraints of her jacket. She thanked me and then went back to her own Fortress of Solitude.

So if this little exchange is indicative of how things around my office might go for 2009, I think we might have some fun here on Asleep Under My Desk this year.

Happy New Year

~The Office Scribe