Category Archives: At Work

Working Girl – Part Deux

One year and eight months. That’s how long my “vacation” has lasted. Actually, it’s the length of time I’ve been unemployed. They assigned a fancy term to it − “reduction in force.”  But after being loyal to the company for 16 years, I translated it as, “Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.” And I’m not naïve. I’ve always said everyone is replaceable. But HOW RUDE! I’m not! Oh, yeah, guess I am. In came a part-timer to replace me. No benefits or insurance needed. Robotics and repetition were the only job requirements needed.

I may sound bitter. Actually, I’m not. I vividly remember locking myself in a bathroom years ago so I wouldn’t hear my kids screaming or throwing tantrums and getting down on my knees on the pee-stained, cold bathroom tiles and praying, “Dear God, just let me have a moment of peace and time to myself.”  Be careful what you ask for. Sometimes He’s listening.

So that’s exactly what He gave me − one year and eight months of solitude. (Dude, seriously?) I was getting my first taste of “retirement.” But being too young to retire and too old to compete against a lot of young people seeking employment, I was in my own private limbo.

Having recently become an empty nester, I’ve had no one to answer to, no agendas to organize, no mouths to feed…oh, yeah, HE’s still here. And although I haven’t been able to relax completely – having to pound the pavement daily to find a job and appease the unemployment office with my determination and a big smile on my face as I went to various job interviews and got rejected over and over again, I will definitely miss the “good side” of unemployment now that I am scheduled to start my new job in six days.

My alarm clock is a glutton for punishment and has missed being slammed and cursed at. I’m reading all these advice columns about going back to work and how one should start going to bed early and getting used to waking early. Pssshhhhhhhhh. Once a night owl, always a night owl. Get ready for some major abuse, little alarm clock.

I’ll miss having time for my artistic endeavors that I hadn’t had time to pursue as a busy, working mom − painting, writing, sewing, cooking − and afternoons leisurely walking around a fabric or art store, just to touch and feel things that bring me a simple joy. I’ll miss the empty Home Depot store at three in the afternoon, devoid of contractors and the working masses, where I actually enjoy looking for that Fluidmaster flange-y thing The Mister needs to fix our toilet, then getting distracted and oohing and aaahing at the fancy hardware and wishing I had extra doors to install them all on.

I’ll miss my little home office where I greet the morning with my morning cup of coffee where I sit and write and look out upon the neighborhood, where I tell the time by the predictable sound of the mail truck and the screech of the brakes from the man in brown. No need for a neighborhood watch. And I’m watching you, lady in minivan who doesn’t stop at the stop sign.

Traffic. Ugh. I haven’t missed it. My new job won’t require a long commute, but it will entail coming into contact with subhumans again. And I’ll need to add the word, “REALLY??” back into my vocabulary on a daily basis. I’ll have to suppress my astonishment at short people driving in the fast lane (I have a theory about the ratio of length of legs vs. pressure on an accelerator that I won’t get into), people who stop in merge lanes, and people who pull up to bank windows and THEN get out their money or checkbooks.

Lordy, my stress level and blood pressure are already skyrocketing!

But now that I, hopefully, have found a job I think I’ll like, I’m also excited to get back to improving my time management skills (I don’t even know what day it is), meeting old friends for lunch, and basically revving my brain back up which has been sitting in a vegetative state for awhile. I’ll get to wear something besides sweats and fuzzy socks with my hair up in a clip. With the additional income, I’ll get to go back to getting my nails done once in awhile and pampering myself a bit. But my forced frugality has been a good lesson in remembering that everything I have is everything I need.

And now that I’ll be gainfully employed, after a long, hard day, I can walk in the door and say, “What’s for dinner, hon?”

Oh, who am I kidding?

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Did You Say What I Think You Said?

I never took a speed reading course, but since being laid off, I have become adept at reading in between the lines – very speedily, I might add – in many of the employment ads I come across. I’m thinking I might hire myself out to companies to write their employment ads for them – spinning the ads to make them sound enticing by using frilly words and descriptions to make even the most hardened HR Director weep with joy over such alluring content. Why, I could become rich. Such an entrepreneur, this one.

One insult to my quasi intelligence is the ad that details a list of grueling requirements and demands of the job that Schindler himself would be proud of – one that Superman himself couldn’t master with or without a daily dose of Cryptonite – all for the measly pay of $10.00 an hour.

One phrase I often see is, “There is no pay for this job, but you will get recognition for your work.”  Uh, where…in the latest edition of the “There’s-a-sucker-born-every-minute” chapter of the latest Who’s Who?

I’ve compiled a list of translations that should help you save time – even though you have plenty of THAT on your hands – and help you separate the gravy from the yucky stuff while you pursue that new dream career.

They say: You must be a professional required to perform tasks competently, notwithstanding frequent interruptions and competing demands.

I hear: Nobody knows what the hell is going on in this office, and we are totally unorganized.  We’ll interrupt you a lot for no good reason because we’re too stupid to Google something ourselves for an answer, read the instructions for unjamming the copier, or wash our own filthy dishes in the office kitchen.

They say: Please do not apply if you have too many “personal commitments.”

I hear: You should only apply if  1) you don’t have a life; 2) you don’t have children, spouses, pets, plants or hobbies; or 3) you look at porn a lot.

They say: Must have excellent writing and proof reading skills.

I hear:  …because we don’t know how to spell “proofreading.”

 They say: Join our fast-paced company.

I hear:  We don’t have time to train you, ya putz. It’s not rocket science. Be ready to hit the ground running.

They say: Must have good communication skills. 

I hear:  Management communicates. You listen. We tell you what to do. And, no, we don’t want your opinion, feedback or suggestions. Yeah, we really meant good “one-way” communication skills, but we’re too cheap to pay for the extra words in the ad. Communication via body language is a plus, especially when displaying a talent for inserting one’s nose far up management’s ass.  Cheerleaders welcome. Uniforms not provided.

They say: Seeking candidates who have a wide variety of experience.

I hear:  We recently had a reduction in force and laid off three people, so we’re hiring you to replace them…all of them. We need to cut costs, so expect to work weekends and overtime. No, you only get one title.

They say: Duties will vary, and you must have the ability to juggle multiple projects.

 I hear:  Basically, anyone in the office can be your boss at any given time. Choose your battles wisely.

They say:  Great growth opportunity for a recent college graduate in marketing or public relations.

I hear:  If you just graduated from college, we won’t pay you diddlysquat.  And if you majored in [insert airquotes] marketing or public relations, you have generic decision-making skills at best and don’t know how to commit, so we’ll tell you what to do. Besides, you can still live with your parents, so you don’t need any money.

So, there you have it. If you find yourself wondering about hr jargon you read in an ad, submit it to me, and I’ll be glad to translate it for you…for a slight fee, of course.  Always thinking, this one.

And, no, I don’t mean that kind of translating. I’m not multilingual or even bilingual, so for God’s sake, speak the Queen’s English.

Could be why I haven’t found a job…

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Bullies and Benefits

It’s taken me awhile, but I think I know now why I was one of the sacrificial lambs in the recent layoffs at my office. What were they thinking, I ask myself over and over again?  I was loyal, always on time, worked late at times, offered to help other departments…brought in revenue.  It didn’t seem to make sense.

But then it hit me  like a ton of bricks.  I think I was let go under false pretenses.  Instead of the reasoning that they provided – that they have to cut costs and replace me with a part-time employee who will not need insurance or employee benefits – I really believe it was due to the fact that I was an Office Bully.

There is a poll that was taken from a real live advocacy group called WBI, or “Workplace Bullying Institute.” I swear I am not making this up.

Some workforce advocates think that more laws are needed to enforce action against employers who bully someone based on race, religion or sexual orientation. In 17 states, you can now sue an employer for damages due to bullying. But in my case – and if the shoe was on the other foot – and I was the bullier, then what??

Let’s see, if I remember correctly, one of my last conversations with a co-worker was, “If you don’t stop being Polly Perky in the morning, I may have to exercise my option to cut-a-bitch prior to 10 ayem.” It was common knowledge that if I hadn’t had my coffee, I just may kill you.

Another comment I was overheard saying was, “If the server continues to go down, I will be compelled to aim my 9 millimeter at that dark spot on your forehead and you will have to forfeit more than just your lunch hour.”

I became the Kitchen Nazi at times – dumping anything in the refrigerator that moved, grew hair, or smelled like a rat’s decayed ovaries. If an employee was upset about losing his three-day old lunch, I considered myself Florence Nightingale and justified it because I was saving them a visit to the emergency room.

I went into battle with the wanna-be French whore across the hall whose perfume lingered 20 minutes after she passed the copy machine. But in my defense, I was thoughtful, and left a bowl of allergy medication mixed in with the bowl of M & M’s on the snack counter for other employees.  It really wasn’t my fault that the janitor had a sweet tooth and overdosed.

Do we really need an advocacy group to intercede on behalf of employees with no common sense or gonads? It’s one thing when you are in first grade to learn to grow tough skin, prevent altercations with quick thinking and common sense, and to avoid Little Johnny who has just smashed your PBJ into your chest with a double-dare stare.

But as adults, hopefully we’ve learned that Anal Anna is not really mad at us, but has just not been laid in three weeks, and to simply avoid her venemous attacks. I think we are all adult enough now to question making a federal or state case over the day-to-day management of a workforce. Emily Post would be turning over in her grave….

I believe people only bully you if you allow yourself to be bullied.  But if one does, just offer him or her a quarter for some chocolate milk to go with that PBJ.

Sometimes I even  like potato chips with my PBJ.

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Mid-life What?

I’m not sure I like this unemployment stuff. Prior to this week, I always thought pink slips were something you treated yourself to at Victoria’s Secret. And I thought a “reduction in force” was something Julia Child used to do to evaporate all that wine she threw in her cassoulet toulousain.

So here I sit, after 16 years with the company, unemployed, a little bit in shock, and being haunted by that phrase “be careful what you wish for.” I always dreamed of not having to trudge to an office every day, with time to write, draw, garden, sleep and cook. I wasn’t careful what I asked for.

So I am now the dream wifey at home that The Mister may or may not have wished for all these years. Strangely, I feel like my life just went into reverse.  I am now allowed to stay at home with a child – albeit a child of 22. I get to see her take her first inebriated steps, say “mama” [when she asks me for the bottle of Tylenol for her hangover], and wipe that blotch of blush off her face with my licked, wet finger…just like back in the good old days. And although my man child is now full grown and out of the house, I’m still waiting for him to marry me.

All this daytime life force surrounding me is very unfamiliar territory. The last daytime television show I watched was the soap opera, Dark Shadows.  And I’m pretty sure all those actors and actress-wannabes are now at the Motion Picture and Television Fund Country House Retirement Home. I’ m just now realizing that Ellen is gay, that I can shop from home, and that they now make pads with wings. Guess I can throw out that sanitary belt now.

This has also put a strange twist in my relationship with The Mister. Why, just the other night, he actually asked me to take out the trash. I’m not sure I’m gonna like this Domestic Diva stuff. I actually caught myself making the bed in the morning the other day, since I wasn’t rushing to get out the door, yanking  velcro rollers out of my hair, and cursing at the parakeet asking him where my keys were.

There are a few things I really miss about the office.  The most important, of course, being the snack box in the kitchen that the one gal used to bring in (her side job).  I’m learning that a day without Cheetos and Oreos is like a day without sunshine. But I made up for it yesterday as I downed a whole entire wheel of brie and half a box of Wheat Thins. Take that, Costco Girl!

Sometimes I think God invented layoffs to teach us that we are becoming too complacent. Our brain sometimes needs to be triggered to start thinking outside the cubicle box. I did so many things in a rote manner at work that I’m having to retrain myself like a child learning to walk. I really need to learn to stop dialing “9” before making outbound calls to Purple Hearts to pick up my used suits. I programmed my voice mail to say I’m either on the phone or away from my desk, which really means I’m stuffing my face down in the kitchen or I’m filling out unemployment forms, so f*ck off.

Although I enjoy shopping, I still haven’t gotten over the guilt of sauntering through – oh, Target, let’s say –  in a leisurely manner, without looking at my watch.  My daughter and I decided to take a stroll down memory lane the other day and went and oooed and awwwwed in the Barbie aisle. Wow, things have changed.  There were Asian Barbies, Plastic Surgery Barbies with Removable Silicone Bewbies, and Barbies that came with lots of new accessories – AK47s, complete with polka dot belt straps, burkas in an array of colors, and more Louboutins than you could shake a Dr. Scholls foot pad at. I couldn’t help but think I need to write to Mattel, though, and suggest a Mz. Statistic Barbie, one who’s unemployed yet confident, who would come with a transitional 401(k), a COBRA package in a snakeskin folder and food stamps. Meh, I guess moms would hate all those stamps laying all over the toy room.

Since I can’t get into my office email anymore, I’m resorting to following friends and families on Facebook once again. But, like daytime television, I see not much has changed.  I’m still being asked What Cheap Ass Beer Are You? But there does seem to be a lot of farmers on Facebook now. WTF?

So, for now, I’ll just have to treat this like a little mini-vacation, let the dust build up on my alarm clock, and lounge around watching television and eating bon bons.

Oh, wait, there’s laundry to be done.  Are they still separating coloreds from whites???

To be continued….

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Later, slacker.

I’m so excited I could just…well, pshhh, later on that.  I’ve actually found a self-help site for all of us procrastinators.  I thought I was just A.D.D., but ”Ima cured!” Seems jumping from one minor task to the other seems to have an actual purpose, according to Stanford University philosophy professor John Perry. He calls it “self manipulation.”  Hmmm, I’m glad he clarifies that visual for me on his structured procrastination site.

I no longer have to feel guilt pangs about being distracted by doing small, menial – albeit quickly resolved – tasks, like paying that late bill online, or watching my 401(k) take a major dump, instead of attacking the bigger project looming on my desk. Seems breaking down larger tasks to a series of smaller ones (trick here: they have to be useful tasks…not playing Solitaire or watching TV) provides us with a stronger focus on positive goals and provides a little adrenaline rush because we’ve actually accomplished something. It provides little mini-satisfactions throughout the day (sort of like eating those mini-oreos in those small bags), which in turn gives you more deliberation to attack that big-picture project (or the industrial Costco-size pack of Oreos).

OK, I’ve been blogging long enough – now onto that other big project…

Ooooo, shiny object! I’ll be right back…

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Spam-a-Lot

Every morning at work, before I start my day, I grab my coffee, and spend an untold amount of time sifting through the spam blocked by our server, making sure it hasn’t blocked that one e-mail that I just might want…especially the one that says I’ve won a million dollars if I don a burka and just open an account in Abu Dhabi.

Since we have the “firewall on steroids” at our office, sifting through these time wasters has become a daily necessity. Although I’ve trained myself to scan and shudder through them like my eyes are having mini-seizures, my coworker admits she just usually hits the delete key without reading them.

But yesterday I decided to do an experiment and consciously try – without actually opening them (who da fool!?) – to decipher what could possibly be inside these e-mails that makes some technolamo hacker get his rocks off by inundating us with them.

Actually, some of the subject lines made me chuckle, whilst my coffee blurted out my nose:

Women love men with large toolas, get a larger tool today!
(Toolas? (sp?) I wonder if Craftsman Tools knows it has some very “stiff” competition…oh, I didn’t say that)

Russian dating site.
(Why do I envision Ray Charles singing “Georgia on My Mind”?)

From Jesus Cornell
(Oooo, maybe I should open this one, it’s from Jaaaaiizus!!! Praise the Lord! And forgive me for I know not what I’ve done.)

No Pumps! No Surgery! No Exercises!
(You mean if I wear high heels, that I’ll need surgery and exercises?  Yeah, I care.)

Your Job is at stake.
(NOT gonna open this one….well, maybe it’s a safe one. Besides, they couldn’t afford to replace me.)

From Guadalupe Grubbs…
(Sounds like something at the bottom of one of my Tequila bottles…rhymes with squirm.)

Fully automatic sweeping second hand movement.
(Hmmmm, wonder if my neighbor is having her sex toy party again??)

Huge love weapon is never too much.
(Bullshit! And if he EVER brings weapons to bed, I’m leaving..now if he wants to bring that fully automatic sweeping second hand…)

You do not want to buy unknown them in stores.
(?) Poor dyslexic nerd…can’t even get his spam right)

Potenzprobleme? Mit uns nicht mehr
(Guess even Hitler had impotence problems…poor Eva, no wonder she took the bullet)

Back to work…

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