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The Cozy Spot

7 posts categorized "workplace 'fun'"

July 07, 2008

Caring, Sharing and Prioritization

I'm far from being a self-improvement guru or a pro-blogger but there is one nugget that I have filed in my high priority cabinet, and it's something that I have always taken time out for. It's also happens to be one of the most explicit rules that wealthy people follow, and if there is such a thing as a trade secret, it can be summed up on one line:

Choosing when to give a shit and not giving a great shit about trivial things.

Continue reading "Caring, Sharing and Prioritization" »

June 25, 2008

Cat Swallowing Cream

I’m currently reading or - depending on how others see it - working through Are You Alright Pet. I’ve answered the key question: which animal shelter animal would I be? I thought this was fine until today. Today I felt differently. The closer I get to this final occupational meeting of mine - I’m presuming it to be the final meeting for the simple fact that I’m fed up with the fatheaded corporation - I alter my view.

I considered myself a feline. One of the key reasons I picked feline is because felines cannot be conditioned under Pavlovian guidelines. I thought, ‘okay, that would be how I’d view myself,’ until I had to reschedule the last minute already rescheduled meeting. It was already rescheduled. I agreed to earlier in the week, I received no confirmation via email, to receive one that coincides with the day I will have guests at home. I can always provided dated photographs or a live webcam stream if the hellish workplace doesn’t believe me…

Today I can be Miss Dobermann. I keep looking at the email that contains the sentence ‘alleged breach of conduct’ and I become more incensed. It will certainly open up sexual discussion with my shrink when he asks “what is happening now?’” It’s a little like karma. He tried to avoid the sexual issues relating to Zoloft at my last session, but now he has no choice but to hear me say something like, “they were in a tizzy over alleged SEXUALLY EXPLICIT word documents on my computer. I say, did you hear that doc?”

Continue reading "Cat Swallowing Cream" »

June 24, 2008

Fart Flambé

Alleged. Interesting word, much like the other stupid word within the English language - ‘should’. There are days when the English language is about as rich as a fresh dollop of horse manure.

When something is ‘alleged’, it is asserted to be true either without proof or conviction. The word reentered my immediate world today after I received confirmation of yet another work related meeting relating to an ‘alleged’ breach of company conduct. I felt like firing off, to the effect of: it either is or it isn't, stop wasting my goddamn time you bureaucratic shits!

That is what an ‘alleged’ small number (less than six) of word documents can be - a breach. I don't even remember what the hell they are supposed to be, but I swear, if the documents are a bona fide short story I emailed myself (that was on The New Yorker), I am going to have a diva hissy fit).

What does one say during such times? I’m willing to bet that half of the corporation has a bunch of dirty jokes sitting in their email inboxes, and they could also be a ‘breach of conduct’. A code of conduct is an expectation. If one is found to have items that are against the desired expectation, then it is a breach. In my three years within a company I’ve been sent dirty jokes via email. Such jokes have been passed around from one workstation to the next. There have been semi naked images, and questionable MPEG attachments that have always originated from other people, but four (or five?) word documents that are allegedly (I’m beginning to like this word) saved on a personal - and password protected - hard drive, are a breach.

And I - allegedly - farted. Which is what I ought to do during this upcoming meeting just to prove a point, and I may even consider using my cigarette lighter for Fart Flambé.


In other more exciting areas of my life, look out for updated content here over the next two days.

June 23, 2008

Birthday Wishes & Quitting Time

It's a scene that some people may dread. They are within a work environment that makes the Exxon Valdez oil spill a health spa, and their birthday approaches. This event, as many are aware of, is the office birthday or the day where you cannot outrun your birthday because the office, or department, out of a show of faux friendliness decides to gather all birthdays to show that it cares. I

If you try to outrun your birthday by calling in sick, no worries, they'll make it up the next day; you walk in, faced with silly decorations around your cubicle, thinking 'oh no.' Should your birthday fall on a weekend, you can always look forward to Monday, having people who go through the motions to wish you a happy birthday, before they hand you a K-Mart gift voucher – depending on how much money they have gathered from the other staff on the floor. If people have a beef with you, they won't donate to your birthday or farewell party, as I found out last year when I was gathering monies for a co-worker that was leaving. The moment miffed me so much that I added money from my own funds (the person was also a friend of mine) to buy a decent present for if I left it up to the office drones, I too would have been faced with the glamorous choice of a twenty to thirty dollar shopping voucher/gift certificate, and nothing confirms a lack of imagination more than a gift certificate as a birthday/farewell gift.

Continue reading "Birthday Wishes & Quitting Time" »

June 21, 2008

Workplace Headaches, Insights & Pervy Content

I can't say that I'm obsessed with the mysterious word documents that are apparently in my personal drive on my work PC, but last night as I was washing the dishes (that may be the focal point of all inspiration and insight - followed by the bathroom or the 'throne') I remembered a short story I did email myself to read during the late graveyard shift and that short story was my Ian McEwan and I briefly skimmed it at home, and thought I'd save it for graveyard shift. After all, there are people who flagrantly flick through magazines, and novels out in the open. Is a word document any different?

The short story isn't what I'd class as pornographic, but it did relate the story of a couple's first time after a long awaited marriage, and the story appeared in the online fiction section of the New Yorker. And if this is the 'sexually explicit' item they're referring to, then I can't help but laugh at it all. Then again, it's not as though I've had the pleasure of working alongside any literature buff at work. The biggest office literary event, by word of mouth, was The Secret - and I wouldn't call that literature.

I went through the official work leaflet on all that is considered inappropriate, almost choked on my coffee (fits of giggles), and noted the ambiguity of the document. Apparently it is up to the line manager to issue warnings to people, however as my line manager was an avid online user of non-work related material, then she isn't in the position to hand me a warning. As I have been away from work for six months, I'm wondering if they're going to hand me a formal 'warning' about the four word documents next week - which will be amusing, considering I haven't been in the office for six months.

Next week will certainly be amusing. Now I'm wondering if I'll receive a warning for a Ian McEwan short story that may be on my PC. Seriously? I can't even recall what is on my PC. I can recall work related spreadsheets, but I can't recall other documents, and not only this. If they are able to access my PC during my absence, then that also leaves the door open to the possibility of anyone adding content to my PC in my absence - a point that I will certainly be raising, because I do recall two days I was away sick, for me to be called by the said line manager requesting my password to access a work related email from a client. So that is another tasty subject to discuss during the meeting.

Washing the dishes can only be a good thing. Other people meditate with fragrant candles and fancy music. Me? I splash around in suds, with my iPOD playing housework appropriate tunes (Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, basically any song that is infused with chaos and social dissension).

June 20, 2008

I'm a Pervert Now?

Sex and work don’t mix. Rather, sex and offices don’t mix and tend to create more hassles. I attended the meeting today to see what would come after an investigation into claims I made, and at the end, after an hour and a half, they tried to throw the supposed bombshell.

I thought things would be sorted after today, but no...corporate bureaucracy is amazing. Sir David Attenborough should do corporate documentaries.

It could go like this:

“This is the habitat of the office worker. The gray environment - from carpet to partition- is significant as it symbolizes monotony, compliance and conformity; creativity is not ideal for this small population of the species. Note, there is minimal décor. In fact, the only glimpse of décor - wall hangings, prints and paintings - can only be seen in foyers and hallways. This is akin to camouflage. The corporate entity masks its creative reluctance with such images. The small group at the far corner are ideal examples. They speak in soft tones. Like their quadruped counterparts, if they raise their voices, they will alert others who are not meant to be part of the conversation. This is dangerous, and soft whispers serve to propagate a standard office behavior - backstabbing.”

I'm thinking that the bombshell was supposed to be (in their mind) the corporate equivalent of Hiroshima:
“We found four word documents in your hard drive. They were sexually explicit.” After six months, especially after I raised issues regarding workplace bullying, among other things, that led me to request two transfers, and go on extended leave.

Maybe someone else would have reddened, freaked out or experienced a few palpitations. I sat there and thought, ‘yeah and?’ Compared to the work related behaviors I’ve raised, and complained about, four word documents are nothing in comparison. I can’t even recall what documents they were referring to, and if there are documents there, none of my co-workers could access them except for me due to individual usernames and passwords, and then I stumbled upon the real bomb: if they could fire me based on four word documents, they would, but they couldn’t. And I thought ‘ah-a!’ but I have yet another meeting to attend to discuss these documents.  Yes, I may be an official pervert, who really knows?

What I do know, and have proof of, is that I didn’t download anything from the internet, because I never had internet access at work. I now think that it is highly possible that I emailed myself a few word documents, that related to the magazine site, and anything erotic is considered explicit or ‘sexually explicit.’

Do I care? I don’t. Housemate, after the meeting ended, told me to just focus on other forms of work, because it’s becoming a pain - six months already, and no real resolution, but more meetings. I told him that if they had any grounds to sack me immediately they would have done that weeks ago or even today. “Wow, four or five word documents in three years,” I said, shaking my head. If I compare that, to all the internet time managers rack up, that is not work related, then I’d surely be on the lowest rung in terms of non-work related computer time.

And when I didn’t give the desired response, or what I guess to be the expected response (the freak out), the words were repeated, ‘sexually explicit,’ and I felt like saying, ‘hey maties, I deal with the sexually explicit on a daily basis, you think it’s going to make me shit in my pants?’ It’s not like my job earned me a six figure income. I’m talking about minimum wage here. After salary tax and goods and services tax, you have minimum wage. For me, it was all about the principle, about managers not getting away with behaviors that undermined staff who were there to learn and make an effort to develop themselves. Besides, at work, I always put my work first above everything else. The only extra-curricular things I did, were away from the office during my lunch time or my evening breaks (if I were on a later shift).

I told housemate that I’m going to be upfront even if I can’t recall the exact origin of the supposed documents.

“I’m going to bring in everything that I’ve had published, and even show them the business card I have for the magazine, and then they can try to say that I did it during work time -because it’s highly probable I saved the documents during my break times, only to work on them during my breaks -away from the office at the internet café a block away from the office.” This and I doubt that four word documents (one page each) take up a three year equivalent of work hours.

It’s highly probable that I will out myself next week, at the place I least expected to out myself and if they want to paint me as a depraved pervert, that is fine with me.  But there is no law against having another pastime away from work. It didn’t take over my day job. If it did, then I wouldn’t have the completed workload as proof. So my additional agenda this weekend, like I don’t have other things to do, is gather all the stuff to take in with me. They’ve had their own files, and I’ll show them my file. I’m not uncomfortable with it, and you can only be uncomfortable if you allow yourself to be. I decided (today) that I'm through with the pussyfooting around. Housemate told me to focus my efforts elsewhere - on things I am currently doing (writing, etc) - and to just tell them where to shove it. I'm not going to be all 'embarassed' and 'ashamed' for something that has been the only light within my year. If I didn't work on the online magazine, I would be morose. The magazine may not give me a full time ordinary salary, but it is a positive thing, that can be positive for many other people - not just me. I, after lighting my second cigarette at the Downing Centre cafe, shook my head:

"Who do they think they're talking to? Do they think they're going to make me shake in my bra?"

"It's just a convenient way to find something against you."

"Wow four word documents that are password encrypted, and inaccessible to everyone else. Big deal. Compared to all the time what's her face spent emailing her potential dates, my word documents are nothing. Not only that, it's not as though I called people to my PC to show them the documents on my personal hard-drive - unlike some."

"That may be."

"I'm not backing out of that meeting. I'm going to bring all my stuff with me," I said. Housemate paled a little, "screw it, they can think what they want to think - pervert, depraved, whatever the hell. But the idea of me caving and shitting myself is a joke." Not when I've worked overtime. Not when I've taken extra shifts, or subbed for someone off sick at the last minute.

I find it really unbelievable on many levels. In one way, I feel insulted to think that they think that their 'hot' revelation is going to freak me out. I've experienced so many things in my life, during many jobs that did expand my mind, that this workplace is like a kindergarten. I told  housemate that it was like a cosmic joke: I've worked in the usual areas of hospitality (restaurants, kitchens and bars - facing customers head on), and I've tended the sick, and the dying, have experienced things that did leave an imprint, that were more shocking, and I'm going to freak out about four word documents that could be anything from a one page short story, to a paragraph? There is nothing in my work contract saying that I can't write freelance, that I can't work on the genre of my choice, and there is nothing saying that I can't send myself documents - that I don't use during work hours. Four pages in three years.

Such was my Friday. My personal workload at home (magazine, etc) will have to be put on hold for a day now, so I can gather all my bits and pieces for next week's meeting. I don't know what is going to shock them more, the fact that I've written erotica and publish others' erotica, essays and art, or the fact that I write (freelance, etc), and that I'm published. Some corporations don't like that.

And I no longer care about what they like. I know what they do like - according to my personal experience over the last year - and that is (by way of managers) to quash any individual thought or initiative, even if it relates to their company benefit. After eight or so years working in companies/offices, I'm really through with that attitude and/or micromanagement. You can't have great productivity if you continually put people down. As far as I'm concerned, my day job was unrelated to writing, and I don't plan on continuing in the same industry as my day job. I'm quite over it because it's like having a sociopath boyfriend: clients are treated like morons, certain staff make out they know everything when they know nothing, and they're 'always right' for the sake of being right, and on it goes. As far as I’m concerned, I got what I wanted: I got one of my concerns, the main concern (rumors created about me behind my back about my supposed 'sexually motivated' presence at work), proven, and that was what mattered to me. As for the rest. I couldn't care. Because if sex were my main motivation to turn up to work, I wouldn't be stupid enough to work in an ordinary drab office, I'd work in a brothel and earn more money. Trust me, I'm not a romantic to consider an office relationship. I'm in a workplace because I want to learn, make something of myself and progress. It's about being ambitious, not about being some vagina or pussy for a 'hot guy' or any guy. I couldn't care less about that.

June 18, 2008

It's Like Having a Baby

Tremendous - mind boggling - waits are like pregnancy. In my case, the wait for a work resolution has been more unpleasant than pregnancy (and childbirth). Moreover, the final push and pants of labour are more pleasant than the workplace bureaucracies. The truth of the matter is that it has placed me in a type of limbo. Even though I do busy myself with other projects (online and writing wise), this work situation is still at the back of my mind. The reason I had to go on leave, wasn't totally about stress, but also the amount of self-esteem my workplace (thanks to a few idiots I worked with) took from me - with my consent. It may seem absurd, but one does consent if one tolerates things one normally wouldn't tolerate. There are always alternatives for many - especially in the western world. I spent the first three months, from January to March trying to regain that. In February I had my first consult with a therapist, and decided - even though nervous - to go on medication to minimize the nervous bundle of anxiety within my chest (and even now, journeys to the city unnerve me: I wear sunglasses just in case I come across work colleagues). From March to May, I've had to adapt to the 'new me,' and it is a new me, or a me that I am reacquainting myself with, and it can take time. The limbo - waiting for the workplace resolution - is the final step.

I received email confirmation about an upcoming meeting, and the resolution will unfold during the meeting. Hip-hip-frikkin'-hooray, I thought. Six months. A half year. I read an online careers article a few days ago. The article appeared in the CareerOne section of Fairfax online, and it made me laugh. I asked myself who wrote those articles and if they had any real facts or experiences. The article was about toxic workplaces and what one could do to rectify the situation without resigning or quitting. One of the suggestions included requesting a transfer. Hence, my laughter. I've requested two transfers. The first transfer was requested last year, and when I was moved to request a second, I reached the point where I was almost frothing at the mouth where my idea of 'self-help' was smoking a pack a day, imbibing crazy amounts of coffee (trust me, I know the quality of every coffee in a five block city radius), and counting to ten five times a day. And the thing isn't self-help is it? But you can reach a point of no return, where the lines blur and you give the immediate world (including some co-workers) the one finger salute. That is how I felt. I couldn't endure work for the sake of the 10% nice people within the floor. These were people who sacrificed their self-esteem and everyday sanity for their long-service leave, and I hardly accumulated any long-service leave to give others the luxury of smiling through jibes, asides, control-freakdom and so on.

I called housemate after I saw the email. I thought it was a trick at first. Surely it would take longer. What is six months? I expected eight, nine or an entire year to go by. I'd told my shrink that I'd wait it out, sounding like a paranoid person: "They want to break me but I'm not going to start nagging them like a harpy. Nope. I can wait as long as it takes...a year...two...they can keep on going but they are going to have to explain their slow response if it takes that long."

Even housemate expressed surprise.

"This week."
"You're kidding. I'll go with you."
Yep, although I'd like to say I'm a mature adult, I'm no stranger to hissy fits when people drive me up the wall with polite denials and roundabout explanations justifying things like improper managerial behavior, backstabbing, work sabotage and nonchalance. The thing that peeves me off the most, which peeved me off the most, was having my balls busted (when my work attendance was fine) about projects when I wouldn't be given projects by 'superiors' on purpose. I thought, hey you're busting my chops about projects when you know that no one is giving me any? At the last meeting I attended, I expressed this in a relatively reserved manner: "I like it when my manager feigns ignorance and stupidity."

If housemate hadn't been there, it would have been, 'F$%ck this crap. I'm outta here because you're feigning deafness!" The meeting prior to the last, I did storm out and when I returned home, I told housemate that it was an alternative form of self-help. Any more time in that meeting and I would have been up on an assault charge, because I was gazing at the heavy folder in front of the chatty (and stupid) rehab consultant contractor thinking: How would it feel if I swatted her with it? She was bugging me something silly:

We don't accept certificates from your specialist, only from a GP.
I'm sorry, but we can only go by your GP's certificate.

Then the regional manager stepped in and tried to convince everyone that another section (on the same floor) was an entirely different department. But the problem was he couldn't convince me, and he didn't like it when I confronted him directly with something like, 'how could it be different when we all work together (dickhead)?'

I return this week for another meeting, but I'm 100% confident that I won't return to my old job. No one really appreciates a person who brings issues out, who makes a complaint (EEO or otherwise) or addresses issues that people prefer to avoid in workplaces. One thing I have learned in my three years within an uber corporation, is that despite all the EEO laws and anti-discrimination acts, coworkers who are part of the 'peer' group don't appreciate observations or valid complaints. If any discrimination or victimization is experienced, a person is best off looking for another job straight away rather than going through the company process.

I'd say that this latest development, the resolution meeting, is the best thing to happen to me this week - even if I have to spend time preparing for it (so to anyone who is waiting on me for things - apologies in advance if I'm a wee bit late). It will finally be over and I can finally move on from the worst workplace nightmare in my life.

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