Friday, August 29, 2008

Identity crisis

Special K sometimes gets a little confused taking phone messages. Often the names are hysterically misspelled. Sometimes it becomes abundantly clear that she has no idea what the hell each of us does in the office (we're an office of 6 people with distinct roles--it's not that difficult).

One day I returned from lunch to find a "While You Were Out" slip on my chair. On it she wrote

Ben Thomas called. He is or knows Dave Gilligan. Please call him. XXX-123-4567

Now, I could be wrong, but I think if the guy is Dave Gilligan, he can probably identify himself as Dave Gilligan. There's no need to offer up another name to throw me off. Somehow this didn't strike K as strange, and that worries me...

What the hell is a Daily Fax Email Blog?

You might have been wondering about the title of the blog. You see, here at crazyville, we have a lot of specific forms that we use.

Because The Boss Lady is out of the office on long work trips at least a few times a year, a form was created back in the day to keep her aprised of the goings-on in the office. It was given the name "The Daily Fax" because it was a fax--one that was sent (gasp!) daily during her stints away from the office. It is really a way to make certain that we all actually show up, since without a daily blurb describing the mundane crap we'd accomplished that day, she imagined we'd be sitting around in jeans (a no-no), having pizza parties (another no-no--office fraternizing is frowned upon) and doing basically nothing. And that is, of course, mostly the state of affairs when she is away, but we're clever enough to put in little snippets that make it sound like we're slaving away while she traipses Europe.

Now, the company isn't especially "modern." You might have guessed that when you read that a fax was sent to her each day--who faxes anymore?! Well, we're working on joining the 21st century, and recently the fax has given way to--you got it--an email. Pretty progressive thinking on our director's part.

But we're just not to the point of abandoning the name. How can we? She has asked for The Daily Fax for so many years that it would be an utter travesty to lose the fax entirely. So now each time The Boss Lady is away, we get a pert reminder from Special K to contribute to the Daily Fax Email. Even better is that we actually do go to the document on our F drive, type in the day's news, then save it. And Special K has the big task of attaching that document to an email which she forwards to The Boss Lady (this alone is a feat for her).

So what could be more fitting for a blog title than referencing the redundant antiquated way in which we operate?

Whoa, that's a person?

Special K has a special way of not being able to perform most of the tasks that would normally be handed to a someone in her position. This means that we all get to take on really fun, menial tasks for her. But one thing she does do is answer all incoming calls to the office. Now, some people have told me that our receptionist was "delightful"--she has a sing-songy phone voice, and Special K is always eager to please. But the sing-songy-ness is a little over the top. So over the top that I don't really give out this number to friends. But one day my cell phone was dead, and I emailed a friend to tell her to call me on my office line so we could make after-work plans over the phone.

She did. And after Special K put the call through, I asked Jen what she thought of our whacko receptionist. Her response? "Whoa, that's a person? I thought that was a recording!"

She gives Amtrak's Julie a run for her money.

hidden in plain view

it's getting late on labor day weekend's eve, and i'm starting to think we won't be let go early. too bad? yes. but it gives me a chance to share yet another story that will enlighten others (and my coworkers) to the predictably bizarre environment in which we spend our days.

this starts like many other encounters with k. i'm sitting at my desk, "looking busy," as i do, when k walks in to my office all atwitter with a question, her eyes darting from my computer screen, lest she catch me looking at something offensive or even innocuous. she presents me with a document (that i was copied on and delightfully received in both electronic and hard copy forms!!) that asks whether k should make file folders for my department. my boss, quick to be both efficient and precise, has answered said question on the very document she is handing to me stating that my department would make our own files. for obvious reasons. this makes her current query, restating the original question regarding the file folders, puzzling to say the least.

if only it stopped there!

k shows me where my boss has indicated that we will take care of our own files (all 3 of them) and that we only need the official name of the client, once it has been made available. that's all! and it says on the document that i have been alerted to this, do not forget that! when k gets the client name, she tells me, i make up the files pertinent to our department--magic! but not so simple to k....

she proceeds to restate the original file query, bringing additional documentation that includes the lists of files other departments need (m, s, i saw yours) and asks me whether i knew the other departments needed these folders. i nod. (always nod with k, always nod) she then goes on to say that she knew that my department uses blue folders, looks over to the lovely blue folders, stacked like little soldiers in my office, and then tells me she just wants to check to see if that is still true.

apparently, yes, k. but i don't say that! i nod.

k then tells me that m is going to need quite a few folders, and that "supposably" an intern might be involved in that, but that she didn't know because it is "none of my business." i'm still shaking my head, at an ever increasing pace. even though i don't want to get back to work, i don't want to sit here in this nonsense world with k, nodding until my head pops off, agreeing to whatever she has to say. i eventually just turn back towards my computer, while k gathers her papers apologizing for taking up my time and mumbling to herself on her way out. she crossed something off her to do list, and if it was "confuse coworker" she certainly achieved that task.

i am still not sure what k was asking me, but whatever it was, i'm sure she has it covered. supposably.

It all "began" with "a" door stop

This is a blog written by three girls who spend their professional lives in a very weird office. S has been here the longest of the three, with more than 6 years under her belt. I have passed the 3 year mark. And poor L is a newbie, still getting used to crazyville. After a few months of working here, L finally got up the courage to ask if she was alone in feeling that Special K (our director's assistant) was, well, nuts. That's when S and I had to tell her about the "door stop" email, which I reprint here:

To everyone:
Has anyone seen the “rubber” door stop that is used to “prop” doors open in the warehouse (it usually sits by the warehouse door – the door closer to the front door that leads into the warehouse)? If so, please return it to its designated area. We have a second door stop that is made from “wood,” but does not always seem to do the job as well. Any additional ideas would be greatly appreciated. It has been suggested to me that a second rubber door stop be ordered for our use if the other “rubber” door stop is not “discovered” within the next few days.

Pretty much all of her emails are a bit off-kilter, but this one was especially fabulous. The unnecesssary quotations, the passive aggressiveness, the gravity of the tone of the email about a $3 door stop...

It was with the sharing of this email that we finally came to terms with the fact that it is, indeed, ok to laugh. And I should explain here that Special K has had a rough go of things. She had a brain tumor, and to get rid of a brain tumor, you inevitably remove part of the brain. Thus it is totally un-PC for us to make fun of her, but damnit, it's funny. Actually, dealing with her is infuriating and makes you want to bash your head into the wall on a regular basis, so trying to find some humor in the situation is really quite therapeutic. And necessary.