|8.20.02 - Don't
Say It, and Don't Spray It
So, I was reading the news
today, and I spotted a story that might interest you: It seems that
yesterday, Deutsche Bank lowered its target price on the Anglo-Dutch steel group
to 55p from 65p and advised clients to buy rival Arcelor on the grounds that the
merger is not designed to form a global production alliance and therefore will
not tackle Corus's intrinsic cost problems in Europe. Of course, that
story doesn't interest me in the slightest, so I thought I'd talk about
Peeing! We all gotta do
it, and we all gotta do it outside the safety and comfort of our own bathrooms
from time to time. At work, for example.
Women, I know you have it tough
in restrooms. You have to sit, which can be icky. I get it.
But if you think being able to stand and do your business is some great gift,
allow me to disillusion you.
Yes, it is nice for us chaps to
be able to pee without having to sit on something roughly a million foreign
butts have squatted upon. Still, problems abound. First off, the
thing we fellows whizz into has some design flaws. Aim a steady stream (of
whatever) into a curved metal grate submerged in a half-inch of (whatever sort
of) liquid, and you've got a little sprayback action. Sometimes, a
lot. Nothing like a fine mist of urine (your own and whoever else's
happened to be floating around in there) to make you regret wearing your fine
It gets worse.
Technology, which is supposed to help us, once again fucks us over, as
self-flushing urinals turn out to be the HAL 9000 of the modern restroom.
I guess it senses when someone leaves the urinal, and automatically flushes
itself, but often it will flush just as you step up within range, issuing forth
a great plume of frothy water and other water. Great. Thank
you. Thank you so bloody much.
Add in the fact that we are
pressed in as close as possible to these wall-mounted horrors, and it's not just
the slacks you regret, it's the very fact that you own a bladder.
This begs the question:
Why not stand back a little bit? Simple. WE CAN'T. We have our
PENISES OUT IN PUBLIC. If ever there were a time for insecurity, it is
Some of it is probably
homophobia. As we all know, any of the other guys in the restroom could be
gay, and, as we also all know, gay men love other men's penises SO MUCH
that they won't be able to resist STARING at ours, even when we're doing
something as unsexy as taking a leak. Makes sense, huh? I know that
I, a hetero male, am constantly trying to catch a peek of a woman taking a
tinkle, even going so far as to kick open restroom stall doors, camera in hand.
So, we get in nice and close to
avoid the other men seeing our dinks, which is even possible accidentally, as
(and this is the real reason that men's restrooms suck, and indeed the reason
the ability to stand and whizz also sucks) the urinals are spaced about six
inches apart. Yes, we are men, we conquer all, we stand, we pee, and
unfortunately, we have close-quarter company while we do it.
Some restrooms have little
between urinals, but on the whole I'd say 95% don't. There's really no
privacy, and as bad as it is for women to have to sit on disgusting toilet
seats, at least you can close the stall door and enjoy the billions of wriggling
germs in relative solitude.
Just try doing your business
with someone next to you. I mean, right next to you. I don't
really like brushing elbows with complete strangers anywhere, least of all in a
bathroom. Not to mention: Guys are weird, especially when they
relieve themselves, and there are a few categories they fall into.
The Chatters: I
know, people love to talk, but c'mon, man, I've got my dick in my hand,
here. And so do you. Do we really need to talk about the traffic or
sports or the memo you just got? It's somehow even more disconcerting when
you actually know the person, I find.
Chatters don't just talk to
people in the bathroom anymore, however, thanks again to technology. In
the past year I've pissed next to several guys who were busy chatting away into
cellphones. It's still pretty distasteful, but at least I don't have to
keep up my end of the conversation.
The Grunters: I
guess maybe these guys have prostate problems, or something, but there's a lot
of grunting going on in the bathroom, and it's a little disturbing. I know
there are masturbation jokes to be had here, but I'll just skip to the sound
effects, as if that is somehow better. Basically, you get:
(pause... pause... pause...)
This goes on for a long, long
while. Weird, whatever it is.
The Farters: I know, I
know, the bathroom is the place for it, but sheez, these guys must be storing it
up for week beforehand, because it sounds like the Titanic leaving port.
Please, keep in mind, while the
activities of said gentlemen are occurring, they are standing less than four
inches away from me. Okay, ladies? That stall looking a little
better to you now? I thought so.
In closing, let me just say
that, yes, I'm aware of the device you can order online, that looks like a
little funnel thing and allows women to pee standing up. So, no need to
forward the link to me. And women, I'd think twice before ordering one for
yourself. Might not be worth it.
|8.19.02 - A
Greens to an End
pepper?" the waiter asks, brandishing what appears to be the mast of the
whaleship Essex in the direction of my salad. He seems slightly
disappointed when I decline, and, hefting the enormous timber over his shoulder
with a grunt, he departs.
I don't really get this
"pepper" thing. First of all, pepper is evil. Pepper
shouldn't be something we put on our food. Pepper doesn't add flavor to
things, pepper is a flavor. Salt is different. If you add
salt to food, it makes the food salty. If you add pepper to food, it makes
the food: food with pepper on it. Pepper doesn't blend, or enhance,
or mingle with other flavors. It stands out like a sore thumb.
Covered in pepper.
Mainly, though, I'm baffled by
the need to have these enormous wooden peppermills aimed at me every time I
order a goddamn side salad (about twice a year). I think they're getting
bigger, too. The one that was leveled at me today looked like something
that should have been floating down the Mississippi while a couple lumberjacks
tried to knock each other off it.
Since these things can
obviously hold about 739 metric tons of pepper, how fresh can it be,
anyway? If you want to convince me that that the pepper is fresh, put it
in something that looks like it might need to be refilled more than once between
Papal reigns. Or does the "fresh" pertain to "ground"
instead? The pepper could be decades old, but the grinding is before my
eyes? If that's the case, instead of asking "Fresh ground
pepper?" they should ask "Old pepper that I am just now grinding into
acrid dust with my medieval battering ram-sized grinding implement?"
While I'm tackling such
important and meaningful topics such as pepper, let me also bitch about the
state of restaurant salads these days. As I said, I'm not much of a salad
guy anyway, but I'm certainly not going to be won over to the Green Party by the
plateful of weeds that are currently being served up. What the hell ever
happened to lettuce? Lettuce was fine! Crisp, simple, not altogether
unpleasing. Now, though, chances are you'll get a tangle of vegetation
that looks like it's been yanked from between the cracks of the sidewalk
outside. Chewy, bitter leaves of some unrecognizable plant, and some weird
reddish inedible curly tendrils that look like they might be Satan's pubic
hairs. Thanks, but no thanks, I think I'd rather gnaw a few splinters off
that caber the waiter is lugging around the restaurant.
My distaste for all things
salad probably comes from my childhood, where salad was not only forced upon me,
daily, by my mercilessly cruel parents, but it was served after our
meals, instead of before. "There's always room for salad,"
they'd say, and they were right, since I probably hadn't eaten much of the main
course, which seemed to routinely consist of eggplant something-or-other (I
can't abide eggplant, and I'm not fond of something-or-other) or spaghetti with
Brrr... clam sauce. Sure,
let's take something wonderful, like spaghetti, yet rather than lumping on
delicious meatballs and wholesome tomato sauce, let's drench it in snot instead!
Having somehow survived dinner,
I was always faced with the salad. For a while, the salad wasn't so
bad. But then came the endive days.
You know endive? You know
that stuff? It's that whitish, gritty, amazingly bitter plant that must
only grow in pitch darkness at the foot some ruined black castle in soil
poisoned with the blood of a million evildoers. Hell, perhaps!
Anyway, my folks got on the endive bandwagon and regular lettuce was phased out,
and for years I went to bed, crying softly, with the vile tang of endive in the
back of my throat.
So, back off with that tree
trunk, waiter-boy. I've got issues. If I want my slimy weeds covered
with gunpowder, I'll let you know. Okay?
Well. A Topic Heading Might Be Nice Here
Are your temps giving you
trouble? Do they come and go as they please? Can't get them to do
your bidding? And you're TOO SCARED to do or say anything about it?
Well, all those troubles will
be left behind once you subscribe to our:
IMPROVED PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE WIMPCONTROL® TEMPTEACH© TECHNOLOGY!
Now with even
That's right! Just a few
easy lessons and you'll be able to take charge of your temp, without ever even
having to SPEAK DIRECTLY TO HIM!!
Here's how it works! Your
temp (let's call him Chris) is sitting at a desk nearby. The countertop
where people drop off interoffice mail is getting a little messy, because no one
has sorted the mail in a few days. Now, remember, you haven't actually instructed
Chris to do anything with the mail! And Chris probably won't go through it
without being told, because he's not a goddamn psychic! He's had no
instruction on who anybody is or where their mail goes and he probably figures
it's not his job anyway, or someone would have said something to him by now!
So! A simple solution
would be to just say to Chris "Chris, would you sort the mail and
straighten out the countertop a bit?" But as simple as that is, it
means you actually have to have a single shred of backbone and possibly even
some sort of confidence or people management skills! Or maybe the ability
to ASK SOMEONE TO DO SOMETHING!
Luckily, now all you have to do
is go and perform the task you would secretly like Chris to do yourself,
but while you're doing it, describe the task out-loud (but not too
loud!) and cast several pointed (but not too pointed!) glances in his
direction! Here's a sample to get you started:
YOU (pretending to suddenly
notice the mail-strewn counter): "Oh, my! Well.
Just look how much unsorted mail there is, just sitting
here! Someone (glance) really ought to do something about
it... well, I guess I'll just tidy it up since I'm here... let's see...
I'll just make a stack heeeeeeeere... (glance) that's better...
and I'll sort through this... these all are for Margaret
(glance), so I'll put these in her box, which is right over heeeeeeere...
and theeeeese are for Mr. Holdenbladder, and he doesn't like his
mail in his box (glance), so I'll put it on his desk, which is
over heeeeeere... ahhh. There we go! This looks much
(glance) nicer now. Mmm. Much better. It looks
better because it's neat and it didn't take me very long to do
(glance). Someone (glance) (glance) really ought to do that at
least once a day."
See how easy it is? It's
like telling someone to do something... WITHOUT THE HORROR OF AN EXTREMELY MILD
And that's just one
example of our amazing program! There are many more uses! Let's say
this temp, during his first few days on the job, always asked permission before
taking his breaks and going to lunch. And you never seemed to care when he
did, you always just waved him out the door. So, figuring he's just
bothering you with it, he now just goes on breaks and lunch without asking
first! This is a PROBLEM®!
But that's where our amazing WIMPCONTROL
technology comes into play! In order to make him start asking your
permission again, make a big show of how he should behave by
play-acting... PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVELY... with your co-workers!
Let's say you are leaving your
desk to use the restroom, or to get some coffee... or even just to walk across
the room to the file cabinet. Follow this little script with your
EMPLOYEE #1: Say, I need
to leave my desk for a few moments.
EMPLOYEE #2: Okay!
That is not a problem!
EMPLOYEE #3: It is
not a problem for me, either!
EMPLOYEE #1: Great!
Well, I just wanted to check first, before I left!
EMPLOYEE #2: Well, thank
you for checking! I really appreciate it!
EMPLOYEE #3: Yes!
By checking with us first, we are aware that you are leaving your desk, and will
not have to wonder where you went or for what reason!
EMPLOYEE #1: Right!
That's why I asked!
EMPLOYEE #2: Thank you!
EMPLOYEE #3: It was most
thoughtful and considerate!
Sure, your temp may
groan! He may roll his eyes! He will certainly have no respect for
you! And he would be willing to do whatever it is you would like him to
do, if only you'd just ask him directly! But that would make a little too
much sense, wouldn't it? And in these senseless times, sense makes no
sense, so sign up right away for our amazing program, by calling our toll-free
number and beating around the bush about the fact that you'd like to
subscribe! Call now!*
*Please note: Side
effects of this program may include pissing your temp off, causing him to go out
of his way to ignore your stupid lame passive-aggressive instructions, tripling
the number of unannounced breaks he takes, and providing him with material to
use against you on his website. To determine if this program is right for
you, ask your doctor. Or at least drop hints with him.
One of the many (few (only))
advantages to temping is that in the course of your travels, you will be plopped
down at a great many computers, some of which will be loaded with software
programs you've never used before. And, when you're done with that job,
you've got something new to add to your résumé.
The problem is that you may
only spend a day or an hour or even a few minutes using this software, and the
second problem is that you may never use this software again. Yet there it
is, on your résumé.
For example, my résumé boasts
experience with Microsoft Access, which I only used at one job, used it
primarily to accidentally delete a faculty database. I also have Lotus
Notes listed, and my past experience with that program consisted of opening it,
staring at it, and closing it. Schedule+ is also included, and although I
did use it for a number of months at one job, it was quite some time ago, and I can't
honestly say I am still familiar with its scheduling features, nor its +ness.
So, at my current job, here I
am, plunked down in front of a computer and expected to use Lotus Notes and
Schedule+. Lotus Notes is a complete loss for me, in fact, my second day
there I somehow made it so no one can actually reply to the e-mails I
send. Not that this is really a bad thing. Still, I felt if I played around with Schedule+ for a bit, it would
jog my memory.
Schedule+ is, by the way, like,
a scheduling program. It has a calendar layout, so executives can type in
their upcoming meetings and get little reminders and things like that. Ha
ha! I'm only kidding, of course, executives can't type in their
meetings. Executives can't do a damn thing for themselves. That's
why they have admins.
So, I'm filling in for a few
days as admin for an exec, a stern, gray-haired, humorless woman who I haven't
even been introduced to. On the computer I am using, I can access her
calendar, so, in the event I'll actually have to schedule something for her, I
decide to do a little practice run.
I click on the day in question,
today, open up a little box, which represents my practice meeting, and type the
first thing that pops into my head. Which is: "hi".
What can I say, I wasn't feeling all that creative.
It works. There's a
little meeting from 3-4pm, and it's called "hi". Easy
enough. I click on it again to delete it.
Only I don't, see, because my
mouse pointer doesn't actually, you know. Move. At all.
My screen is frozen, it
seems. Um, hm. And right now, on this executive's calendar, which
she can see from her own computer in her office, she has a "hi"
meeting from 3-4.
I do the usual technical things
one does when ones screen freezes, namely swearing, hitting the Escape key, and
clicking the mouse buttons approximately 750,000,000,000,000,000 times.
But nothing happens. Finally, I switch off the computer and turn it back
on (which is the actual technical thing a technical support person would tell me
It occurs to me I could quickly
run into this executive's office and delete the "hi" meeting from her
own computer, and I actually stand up to do so, and then I smile, nod, and
actually say "hi" because said executive is in fact passing me
at the moment, heading into her office.
As I watch her sit down at her
desk, I wonder what she's going to think when she sees this meeting on her
schedule. Obviously, she won't think she actually has a meeting from 3-4pm
which only entails that she speak a simple greeting, and then sit there for the
remaining 59:59. At least, I doubt
it. Since I'm the only one with access to her schedule, it'll be obvious I
typed "hi" into her calendar, but what will she take it to mean?
Maybe I'm just being friendly? Do I not know how to use e-mail, and think
this is how messages are commonly passed around? I sit there, while my
computer slowly grinds and whirrs back to life, staring into her office, while
she uses the phone. I can see her computer screen from here, I can see
that she even has her calendar open, I can see her individual appointments for
the day, and, well, I can't see the "hi" but I can see a little black
dot which I know is the "hi."
My computer is back up! I
whirl around to delete the oh wait no I can't because it's asking for the
password for this computer. Which, you know, I don't have. I guess,
I actually guess that the password is "password", and wouldn't
you know it, the Temp Gods are smiling down upon me, and the password is not
"password." (The Temp Gods hate my ass, hence the smiling.
Pricks.) So, I guess "1-2-3-4-5" and the name of the company,
neither of which work, and then I spot some pictures on the cubicle wall,
pictures of hunky Oakland A's starting pitcher Tim Hudson, and I guess
"Hudson", and BITE ME TEMP GODS I'm right this time (this is another
temp skill, though it can't really go on the résumé, sadly).
So, I delete the "hi"
meeting and spin around in my chair, and she's still on the phone.
Whew. Problem solved. Crisis over. Disaster averted.
At least until she asks me to
use Lotus Notes.
Diversions this week: Emu
Lander! Can you land the nigh-flightless emu on the landing pad?
(That was a rhetorical question; I don't really care if you can or
not.) Also, Soap Bubble, sent in by Laura. Do you possess
the skill to guide the fragile bubble through the dangerous mine? (Again,
I have no interest in knowing whether or not you can.) And finally, Marbles,
a collapse-like game, but slightly different. How high a score can you
get? (I really don't give a shit.) Links on the bottom left-hand
box. Sheez. Why don't I just put the links in this paragraph
already? (Don't answer that.)
Week on Not My Desk!