4-27-01 - Monkey Whines
First of all, that banner you see up there was created for me by wabewalker. I totally dig it. And yes, that's me on the left, although I'm fairly sure I wasn't naked when I made that face into my webcam, so I suspect some clever Photoshopping was involved. Thanks wabe! Really made me laugh. (If you're new here and don't know why two people are sticking their tongues out, just click the banner).
Also, lots of people have been sending in art and buttons and things, and I will be putting them all up next week so everyone can see them, and giving props and links where needed.
My current assignment.
(Um... What follows is a fairly long, unfunny, completely pissy work-rant, which I generally try to avoid here. But this time, I'm just gonna go ahead and do it. I need to vent. If you're not interested, that's quite alright, there will be lighter stuff here next week).
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was working for a guy, Tod, who was suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, acting as his "hands", sitting at his desk, clicking what he told me to click, clicking how he told me to click, and clicking when he told me to click, for seven hours a day.
Demeaning? Sure. Stressful. Extremely. That's why I took the vacation from the site, because everything I tried to write about the job was coming out laced with anger and bitterness and it was just plain unpleasant. You'll see what I mean below.
And it was only getting worse.
Tod, you see, started developing annoying new habits, such as grinding his teeth with a lovely skkkkrrreeeeeek skkkkrrreeeeeek sound, right into my ear, and, more recently, gesturing at the monitor with a sharpened pencil, the point of which, since he was sitting or standing right behind me, would come within a few inches of my face and eyes on a regular basis. A little nerve-wracking. At one point he was jabbing at the screen while clutching a piece of paper, and the edge of it was zipping past my face at an alarmingly close proximity. I was having nightmares about sustaining a papercut in my eye. Visions of Un Chien Andalou.
His constant monologue of "Click there. Click there. Click there," got worse, too, as he started becoming even more specific. If he needed an e-mail attachment opened, instead of saying "Open that," he'd say "Okay, right click on that attachment. Now choose Open." And if I opened 50 attachments in a row, he's still give precise, explicit instructions on how to do it.
Also, whenever I would print something, a little network window would pop up (telling me that the document had printed) with a "Close" button on it. Just a button that said "Close." No other buttons, no other options. "Close."
What would you do if confronted with such a window? I'm guessing you would click "Close." In fact, you'd have no other choice, other than let the window remain there for the rest of your life.
Tod didn't seem to think I would click "Close," because every time that window popped up, he would tell me to click "Close." Every. Single. Time. No matter if we spent an hour printing things. For a while, I tried to beat him to it, to click it before he told me to, but I gave that up and just sat there, acting stupid, waiting for direction.
And those are just a few examples.
At the same time, Tod was growing less and less happy (and he was, when I started there, a fairly cheerful guy), as his carpal tunnel got worse and worse and the company seemed to want to do nothing about it. Last week, he told me they were trying to transfer him to Chicago, and early this week, he told me they were trying to transfer him to Denver. Sounded to me like they were trying to make him someone else's problem. The guy was in a bad situation, and it got even worse when his boss told him that he had to keep a detailed log about what he did all day (such as noting time and duration of phone calls, files worked on, e-mails sent, etc.). This is generally not a sign that your employers are happy with you, and Tod became absolutely miserable.
Imagine that, me feeling sorry for someone other than myself! Weird! But it didn't last long.
Tod began having me compose clandestine e-mails to co-workers, asking them to meet him somewhere so he could fill them in on the latest indignities he suffered. He did this a la Woodword and Bernstein, sorta, by writing on a piece of paper what he wanted me to type into the e-mail (then instructing me to click the "Send" button, of course), so people in adjoining cubicles wouldn't overhear. Even more fun, he would sit there, sometimes for minutes, clutching his hands and muttering under his breath, while I sat staring into space and trying to figure out just how I had gotten myself into such an uncomfortable situation.
Besides these ulcer-inducing circumstances, being Tod's helper monkey (as my friend Anderson put it) was not turning out to be particularly lucrative for yours truly. Tod had a lot of therapy sessions and doctors appointments, and I would be forced to leave early or come in late, cutting into my hours. Not that I wanted more hours, because I despised the job and it was slowly killing me, but I have rent and bills to think about. So, I told Tod last week that he needed to guarantee me at least 35 hours of pay, regardless of whether I actually worked those hours or not. Otherwise, he should have my agency send a part-time temp over, and I could move on. He wholeheartedly agreed, and promised me 35 hours, and said he understood if I felt a need to find a new assignment. No problem.
So, this Monday afternoon, Tod told me he'd be taking Tuesday off, and I didn't need to come in. He's sorry, but he can only pay me for a half-day. Hooray. Way to keep a promise, dick. I went home, called my agency, and told them this would be my last week.
Thursday morning, I showed up for work. Tod seemed incensed that I was quitting the assignment (my agency waited three days to give him the news for some reason, maybe because they suck), and acted all pissy and sarcastic and stormed away from the desk. About an hour later, he told me I was done. That's it. He sent me home at 10:30am, paid me for three hours on Thursday (the minimum, he said), and told me not to bother coming in Friday.
Fine, fine. Whatever. The pay isn't worth it. I'm broke, but I'm finished there, and I'm glad. It's over.
Thursday afternoon, the phone rings. It's my agency.
Shortly after sending me packing, Tod resigned, they tell me.
The company apologizes for his behavior, they tell me.
The company is offering me Tod's job, they tell me.
Man. You can't make this shit up. It's not over. Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in. But hey, at least I won't be a monkey anymore.
(Also, a cartoon I drew out of frustration.)
Next week: Less bitching and more fun things! For starters, an original article written for Not My Desk by none other than Mary Jo Pehl! Whoo-hoo! Also, I may have something special planned for Friday, depending on my work situation at that point. Have a good weekend, and remember: click what you wanna click.
4-26-01 - Jonesy Loves Nazi
Continuing our look at how movie henchmen mirror temporary employees! This time guest-written by A.E. Anderson of LeisureSuit.net.
Henchman of the Week: Toht
Featured in: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Indy and the Sherpas are engaged in manly hand-to-hand combat. Marion is cowering behind the bar. What is Toht doing? Like any good temp, he's hanging back hoping that nobody will notice him and give him more busywork. He does manage to ignite some spilled
whiskey and create more confusion as Indy and the shaggy goons keep slugging it out. Toht then sees his chance to grab the unguarded headpiece, but forgets that it's METAL and gives himself one hell of a burn. He runs outside and sticks his seared hand into a snowbank, no doubt mentally composing his worker's comp claim.
Constructive Criticism: Overall, Toht does a decent job on this assignment. He's properly obsequious, always keeps his tie straight, and really knows his way around an archaeological dig. Unfortunately, though, his nervous giggle and his amazing perspiration problem keep him from being a really effective leader.
Toht is played by Ronald Lacey, an English actor who appeared in such films as Red Sonja, Yellowbeard, Valmont, The Fearless Vampire Killers, and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai. He also makes an uncredited appearance as Heinrich Himmler in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Lacey died in 1991 of liver failure.
To read more of A.E. Anderson's work at LS.n, follow the links below.
4-25-01 - Happy ______ ______ ______ Day!
Henchman of the Week will be presented tomorrow in order to bring you this important message:
Happy National Secretary's Day!
Er, no. Wait, it's not called that anymore. Um...
Happy National Administrative Assistant's Day!
Much better! It's longer and more awkward. Although maybe...
Happy National Administrative Professional's Day!
Not bad, not bad... still... could be even longer and more clinical sounding...
Happy National Personal Administrative Professional Associate's Day!
Eh, whatever. It's your day, secretaries, and I hope you choke on it.
See, as a temp, I'm always working somewhere on this day, and I always see all the permanent secretaries or assistants getting cakes and flowers and being taken to lunch by the boss, and what do I ever get? Jack squat!
Wait. I see them getting cakes... and flowers... and getting taken to lunch.
By the boss.
I don't want any of those things! Maybe this isn't so bad!
Still, we temps need our own Day, don't you think? Sure, I know there's a National Temporary Help Week, but that's lame. Plus, it's in October, and I'm grouchy now.
We need a real Day. A Day where we can call in sick and still get paid. A Day where we can surf the net without having a work document at the ready to hide our browsers behind. A Day where our supervisors will just be honest and say "I need you to scrape hardened Wite-Out off my desk" instead of saying "I've got a new project you can help me with."
I think I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say, tentatively, that Friday, May 4, will be National Grouchy Temp Day. And I'll see if I can cook up a little something for all you temps out there. Because, dammit, we deserve it.
I mean, technically, we don't, but this is America. Adam Sandler is a multi-millionaire. Angelina Jolie has an Oscar. Tom Green got to marry Drew Barrymore.
I think we temps are entitled to one measly Day.
4-24-01 - Past Food
I'm working in a somewhat swanky part of town. High class. Refined. Expensive.
I hate it.
This area seems to be populated entirely by homosexual men, as I found out the first morning of my assignment. I was a little early getting there, so I stopped at an outdoor cafe and had some coffee (for a two bucks a cup, sheesh). Lotsa gay men. Tons. If you live in the Bay Area and felt a tremor on April 2, that was just the shockwave from the combined force of roughly 40,000 male eyebrows raising in my direction at the same time.
As for the women in this part of town, they all seem to be dog owners. I sense a connection.
As for the swanky part, it's pissing me off because I can't find anywhere to eat. I just want some fast-food, but as I leave for lunch and walk 67 blocks in the same direction, I only pass patisseries and smoothie shops.
Smoothie? Da hell is a smoothie? "Oh, yes, please, for lunch I would like a smoothie. I wish to sate my ravenous hunger the same way my ancestors did, with some blended fruit in a cup. Here's eleven dollars."
Dammit, I need a Wendy's or a Burger King. Even an Arby's. I need some grease! I need some fries! I need animal flesh! I NEED SOME HOT JUICY BEEF!!
Oops, set off the eyebrows again.
Since I'm feeling kinda short-winded today (for once), check out these two articles on temping over at LeisureSuit.net.
They're both written by William S. Repsher, and were sent to me by my friend Anderson, a Senior Editor for LS.n. Them's good peeps.
4-23-01 - Smokie's Choice
(Diversions this week: You know you love Air Hockey, so don't even bother saying you don't (requires shockwave). Also, want some stress relief? Sure, we all do! Except billionaires 'cos their lives are so dang easy. Anyway, torturing a goldfish in the Stress Relief Aquarium might make you feel better (requires Flash, and may also open a pop-up window, sorry. Also not sure if torturing a cartoon fish is good for your karma). Finally, for the plug-in disadvantaged, there's always Choose Your Own Damn Adventure over at brunching.com. It's fun. Links, as always, are down on the sidebar.)
(On a side-note, hi! I've missed you.)
I'm standing just outside the door to the office after work. I'm trying to make a choice. Actually, the Choice. And it's a tough Choice. The reason I'm making this Choice is the toothless old man who bummed a cigarette off me the day before.
I was on my second break of the day, walking around, smoking, as I always do on my breaks, unless I'm curled up in the fetal position somewhere, whimpering and developing new, more powerful ulcers. As I was strolling along, a toothless old man walked up to me and asked to have a cigarette. I gave him one, thinking it would stop him from talking to me, which it of course did not. He proceeded to follow me around, yammering away, trying to make conversation while I tried to ignore him, until I finally just cut my break short and went back to the office.
Today, as I peer into my box of Marlboro Lights, I am regretting giving him that cigarette, for the box is empty. I had a full pack at the time I gave him one, so I didn't care to lose it, which is the sort reasoning that I now realize is flawed. I mean, if you think about it, anytime you give someone a cigarette, you are, in effect, giving them your last cigarette. You just won't miss it at the moment.
I'm missing it now. I always need a cigarette between work and the bus, to take the edge off the crappy afternoon and prepare me for the horror that is public transportation. But in giving the old man one, I am now one short, and I have to make the Choice.
See, I can go to the bus-stop, where I know there will be a bus just arriving, and I can get on that bus without having my preemptive nicotine fix. Stressed and irritable already, I will now be in for the longest, slowest, most horrible bus ride I've ever had.
Instead of the usual forty minute ride, there will be two hours of snarled traffic, insane, chatty passengers, at least six screaming children peppered around (one having its stinky diaper changed), and a man feasting on a pork rib dinner directly behind me, chomping and slurping and sucking his fingers and breathing pork-breath on me. And, when the bus finally reaches my stop, and I stumble off, and make my way a few blocks to the ATM, and find that it's out of service, and then make my way to the other ATM, and wait for the woman using it to finally finish deciding what all those numbered buttons do, and then wait for her to meticulously scrutinize her receipt for the transaction as if it were printed in Sanskrit, and finally get myself some cash, and get to the store, and buy smokes, it will simply be too late.
But at least I'll be home.
So, what I could do is skip the bus-stop and go to the store now, and wait in line behind the woman with four children, each clutching a bottle of Sprite, each demanding to pay for their own Sprite separately, simply because that's what the oldest child did and no one wants to be left out, and then wait for the other guy in front of me, who decided he had the thirty-seven cents in change after the check-out clerk had already closed the drawer, and now needs the key to open it and figure out how much cash to actually give back, and then finally tell the check-out guy "Box of Marlboro Lights", and have him wander timidly off in search of the other key, the one to the cigarette cabinet, only to have him return and present me with the cigarettes, at which time I tell him "Those ain't Marlboro's those ain't lights, and they ain't in a box," and have him repeat the whole procedure, only much more slowly.
At which time I will be able to go outside and enjoy a cigarette before I head to the bus stop, knowing full well that now a bus will not come for a good two hours or so and I'll be stranded in Oakland until well after dark.
But at least I'll have cigarettes.
"Damned if you do, damned if you don't" sounds like it should be an easy choice. But it ain't.
All material © 2000 - 2001 by Christopher Livingston. Yeah. That'll hold up in court.