Tales from the Cubicle – Part 3

I’m always amazed by the stupidity you can sometimes encounter at work. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since you can encounter stupidity everywhere in life. But more and more I think of the stuff that just makes no sense when a coworker/boss interacts with you in some strange way. I’ve written about a handful of my own here and here, but I thought I’d branch out and collect some others from people I know (names changed to protect the innocent!).

Consider That A Gift!

One of my friends is beyond dedicated to their job. Whether it is because of their own bit of crazy or because they are actually… cough… dedicated, this person will always go the extra mile for the company. Obviously, the benefit of doing our jobs is the fact that we get paid every couple of weeks, but sometimes… just sometimes, you’d like to be appreciated for what you do.

Cut to a scene many years ago where, we’ll call her Nancy, Nancy has put in a ton of work over the past 2 weeks. Over 90 hours in about 9 days, but had requested that particular Friday off well in advance. Of course, since she’d already put in more than what her hours called for, she chose not to put any PTO down. Her boss sees this, knows about the Friday off and comments that he didn’t see any vacation time on the timesheet. To which she replied, “Yeah because I got my hours in… you know, working on the weekend.”

His reply was “Well… don’t worry about it. We’ll consider it a gift.”

Yep… that guy knows all about employee morale. Definitely makes you want to go that extra mile when you reward a person with something they’ve already earned!

You’ve Got Nothing to Worry About

Another friend was at a company that wasn’t doing very well. Even with his limited experience (this was his first job out of college), he knew that things were spiraling in a downward direction. But one of the big wigs from the parent office was coming into town to help clear everything up and put everyone at ease.

And he did clear everything up. Bigwig told them all that things were a little rough right now, but the outlook was good going forward. It seemed convincing, even if the numbers told a different story, but our hero was willing to believe him in this at the very least.

Until he closed the meeting – “So don’t you worry about it. I mean, I’m not worried. When I hop back on the plane to head home, I’m not going to be worried at all with a drink in my hand.”

Drink in your hand… not worried, huh?

So yeah, the Atlanta office was closed about 6 months later. But there was nothing to worry about.

It’s only sexist if you finish your sentences

That same friend sat in on a meeting where his coworker Vicky was going over one of the clients and talking about how she was experiencing some difficulty with the project manager.

Who was a woman.

I only mention that because of what the boss said to her.

Boss – “Well, you know how it is sometimes with women.”

My friend leaned in, realizing something amazing was about to be said.

“Women don’t always take direction well from other women.”

Vicky was now staring at the Boss, unsure what he was going to say, but pretty sure it was not going to be something he should be saying.

“You know, they’d rather take direction from a man.”

It was only then that the Boss looked at Vicky and maybe the lightbulb went off in his head.

“Because… you know…”

Obviously, trailing off is not only useful in sitcoms but just as useful in the real world too.

***

I’ve been lucky in the last couple of jobs that I haven’t had to deal with Dilbert’s Boss, but it also means needing to rely on the kindness of others for their stories!

***

John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com

Further Tales From the Cubicle

The legend of Floody or how to have a stupid character in the Star Wars Online Game

When Star Wars got into the online gaming experience, many of my friends (me included) rushed out and bought a copy of the game. We loaded it up and tried to coordinate as best we could so that we might adventure together. And it was fun, for a while.

Eventually the fact that you couldn’t just be a Jedi drove many people away. And I slowed playing because when you can only play a couple of hours here or there while everyone else is spending hours upon hours on the game… well, you get left behind in a hurry.

That being said, two of my co-workers also played the game leading to many lunches where we would discuss (or they would discuss and I’d listen) how to do certain things, whether there was a mysterious “quest” you could go on and become a Jedi if only you found certain clues (as far as I know, you could not do this), and just how to make the most abusive characters in general.

One of those friends was able to make creatures for himself and others in the game. Basically allowing you to have a “buddy” with you at all times. Through gene-splicing and bio-something or other, you could make all sorts of super strong critters. One of which was a dinosaur looking guy who he named Floody.

Futurama - floody

To understand the meaning behind that name, you’d have to go and look at another of our co-workers. For some reason, which we could never comprehend, his pants were never quite long enough… and if 3 guys are noticing something like that, there probably was a problem. They were high enough that you might think he was expecting a flood (hence the name). So in casual conversation we started referring to him as Floody.

Now Floody was a strange bird. Peculiar. Nothing necessarily wrong with him, but he’d do things that’d make you scratch your head – ask questions about a project and then, after you answered him, go and find someone else “in the know” to answer the same question. He’d wander around the office looking for someone in power to talk to, not listening to your knowledge of the answer.

Kinda frustrating to say the least.

So when this dinosaur got the name Floody, we thought it funny. Then we realized that the dinosaur wouldn’t follow orders from a character. He’d wander around aimlessly, running into fences and getting stuck. In short, this was not one of the better creations to go adventuring with. But it was so damn funny to see that of all the creatures this guy created it was only Floody who he seemed to have any problems with.

Coincidence?

Probably.

Tripping Incident

At that same company a new sheriff eventually came to town and our corporate overlords decreed that we must have Safety Meetings to ensure that there were no accidents out in the field. And whether you were a field employee or stayed behind a desk most of the time… you needed to attend.

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And hey, it makes sense. We’re out there alongside traffic (high-speed traffic in many cases). We’re climbing down embankments to check out pipes. Places where snakes and spiders and all sorts of other animals might be living/hiding. So being told to wear your hard-hat and vest was a good thing. Being told to pay attention to your surroundings was a good thing.

I say all of this to now say – they went WAAAAAYYY overboard with all of this. We had to have monthly meetings (maybe they were bi-monthly, but they felt monthly) where we’d discuss office style accidents that could happen. And again I understood (though was annoyed), as there was a small possibility of maybe hurting yourself lifting an item that was too heavy.

But the final straw, the one that made me realize they’d lost their mind and traveled directly from a Dilbert dimension, was when we had an emergency Safety Meeting because one employee had tripped…

In her own office.

We had a meeting about that. I’m not kidding.

We had a meeting to try and address why it happened (she effectively tripped over her own feet – something I have done a hundred times if I’ve done it once). Something we’ve all done from time to time. It is called an accident for a reason!

But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was listening as they tried to figure out ways that this could have been avoided.

Ugh!

(Not move once you are at work was the only sure-fire way I could see it working.)

So much time wasted.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

And Here I Thought Dilbert Wasn’t True

I design roads during the day. Unlike Bruce Wayne or Peter Parker (who can run a multi-national company or take pictures for a newspaper), my day job is to sit in an office and (according to my wife) point, click, and write down numbers. That’s not entirely true, but probably truer than I’d like to admit.

Which means that, as much as my hermit self would rather avoid it, I have to interact with others. Or more to the point, sometimes people end up interacting with me. And of course, sometimes you have to scratch your head about what happens.

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Make a Saving Throw Versus Poison Gas

My first job out of school was with a company whose office space was in downtown Atlanta. We were on the 3rd or 4th floor (I no longer remember). It was a very simple and relatively small office: about 12-15 employees max could be set up in either offices (for the senior staff) or cubicles. For some reason the ceiling didn’t have tiles so you could see the duct-work and the piping for the sprinkler system. Not sure if the money ran out at some point when they were building the place or what. I do know that’s how things stayed from the day I started working there until we moved offices a couple of years later (to a place which actually had a ceiling!).

In the middle of the office was the printer and an old-school blue-line copying machine.

For those not in the “know”, the blue-line machine allowed us to make copies of our plans for submitting. For some reason in the early part of this century, something being “only” on White paper didn’t make it official enough for some jobs. Not a big deal though.

However, to make the copies the machine used Ammonia, yes that smell you might associate with cat pee. So when someone got the machine pumping and going good the smell would start to penetrate through the office. Luckily someone was forward thinking and put a vent directly above the exhaust of the machine to take most of the bad smell away.

And that should have been that. One day I was in the middle of a large job copying plans for the better part of an hour or two. I flipped on the vent immediately, but as the minutes ticked past the smell was beginning to get too great for me, and I had to take a break. My buddy came over to complain about the smell at one point, but I pointed to the vent above us.

Remember how I said we could see up into the ceiling? Turns out no one had really taken a long look at where the vent was actually… venting.

No where. It was collecting the ammonia smell and then effectively exhausting it right back into the ceiling where it would then seep right back down into the office.

Sigh.

If I end up with some ammonia-based problems later in life I know exactly what caused it.

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You Don’t Have to Tell Them What You Are Sick Of

Two of my co-workers got the short end of the stick when our Transportation Head moved on to a different company leaving the Office Head as the defacto leader of the group. And at some point there was a presentation needed to be done down at the Department of Transportation (DOT) about a project that our company had done in the past, but no one currently employed had worked on. That didn’t dissuade Office Head and he recruited my co-worker Nick to help with the presentation.

Nick realized immediately this was going to be a problem. Not only did Office Head not understand anything about the project, Nick knew that he’d just deflect all the questions onto Nick… making him look bad in front of DOT. So Nick hatched a scheme. He’d bail on the meeting in question by calling in sick… but not for him, for one of his daughters. And given that his “wife was out of town” he wouldn’t be able to come in, avoid the career crippling meeting, and not give it anymore thought.

James saw the flaw in this plan. Without Nick there (Beth Ann was out of the office that day for client work and I was doing Site work at the time), James would be the go-to guy to accompany Office Head to the meeting. And probably take all the blame.

“Hey, you can’t call in sick because he’ll make me go!”

“You could call in sick.”

“Hey! I could.”

I heard that the meeting went really well… if you wanted to laugh at how much someone didn’t know about a project. I’m just glad I wasn’t there.

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A Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

For some reason the power blipped from time to time in the early 2000s. Looking back I’d like to blame it on the Ghosts in the Machines left over from the Y2K mess, but I’m sure it was just “one of those things”. The thing is with blackouts in the modern age… well, I can’t do my cad work if I have no power. And no, we didn’t have work-station battery back-ups… we didn’t have ceiling tiles!

So when the power went out it was complete downtime for the office. Yeah, maybe you had some paperwork you could do, forms to fill out, notes to take, but when the outage lasted for longer than 15 minutes you sat around and talked to your co-workers. Most importantly though, you are not really billable when you aren’t working, but still at work… and that did not sit well with our Office Head Pooba. No, this was a chance to do some Spring Cleaning. Maybe organize some old plan sets, maybe throw out some things we no longer needed.

Me and my buddy James did a little of this, but it was difficult to see so both of us gave up after a few minutes. I believe our exact words were:

“I can’t see shit.”

“Screw this, I’m going back to my desk.”

Beth Ann didn’t give up so easily, but in dealing with old projects the last thing you wanted to do was throw out something that was still needed. So she approached the Office Head about just that.

“Beth Ann, you need to be apart of the solution and not the problem.” He spoke the words to her and then went back to his office.

The next thing I hear is the sound of many plan sets going into the recycle bins. Loudly. And then more and then more, until both James and I emerged from our cocoons to see what the ruckus was about. What we saw was a full bin and more plans being dropped into it by Beth Ann.

“What are you doing?”

“Don’t you know? I’m being a part of the solution.” As another set was thrown down.

From that day forth we used that line as much as possible.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.