Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Creativity with Standardized Forms

A rant more than a funny story... well, it's at least ceased to be amusing to me.

One of my many charming responsibilities here is keeping certain quarterly reports. Most of the data that needs to be entered by me comes from standardized forms -- the information for which is filled in by none other than Special K.

Said forms are entirely fill-in-the blank and multiple choice. They were created with the intent to be 100% dummy-proof. I mean, I know what I'm dealing with here. Not only are the forms "dummy-proof," but I've asked Special K to alter them in way she wishes to make them easiest on her. These forms have remained completely unchanged in all the years that Special K has worked here.

And yet, it should come as no surprise to you, fair readers, that every three months when I go through Special K's stack of handwritten forms, it's like each and every one is the first one she's ever seen in her life. No two are filled out in the same way. Different information is left blank on each one, Multiple choice options are either ignored, or more than one conflicting option is selected. Incorrect-- and even impossible-- values are the norm. Extraneous and non-sensical notes are added on the side. I've gotten 2 or 3 copies of the same transaction. You get the picture. It's not funny to me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New Pleasures

All the pleasure in this note makes me uncomfortable.

Mrs. Money called today to express pleasure regarding the paper announcement. She is so pleased and wanted to thank Crazyland. She will unfortunately be leaving town tomorrow and will not be home for another week until the first weekend in October, but wanted to express her pleasure and thanks.

Well Wishes From K!

This just happened, and S witnessed it! I had to leave the office to take M to the airport, and even though S and I are now the only ones here today, I thought I would tell K where I was going (in case she even knew I was here!).

Her response, when I told her I was leaving and would be back?

"Oh, Ok. Don't crash!"

Said without irony as she hurried around a corner.

K Learns Localized Microsoft Word

Special K has been called many things. Some think of her as our receptionist. I've heard mention of her as our Office Manager, which I suppose is not too far off. Our website declares her our Executive Assistant -- a nice way of saying she's The Boss Lady's slave. I like to call her my muse...

Whatever you call her, you might expect that the program Microsoft Word is the linchpin of her duties here in Crazyville. She uses it on her "machine" to create letters for The Boss Lady, to prepare "faxes" with it, to write her loquacious employee review. And yet it will probably not surprise you that Special K does not really know how to use this program. At least not on her computer.

I once walked into my office to begin another enlightening day of work to find Special K sitting at my computer working on a Word document. Her little legs dangled from my chair with her janitor-chic shoes swaying to and fro. She was propping her head up in her hand, as if maybe this skewed angle would provide the answers to her quandaries with the machine, nay, with life. For once she wasn't apologetic -- and hey, shouldn't she have been, she was on my computer? -- but simply told me that she was trying to insert our logo on to a letter that The Boss Lady has asked her to send out.

My first thought (damn logic!) was that perhaps she didn't have a copy of the logo, a problem I could easily remedy by emailing one to her right away, thus getting her off my computer. She mumbled when I suggested that, something about not needing one and how she would be finished in a minute, moving the mouse furtively, legs kicking in time. After a few minutes, during which I procured coffee, I asked Special K if she wanted me to help her. She went on to tell me that she had been shown how to insert the logo by R, but that now she couldn't quite remember and The Boss Lady wanted this document out a week ago. Yes, she had been working on this a week.

This doesn't explain why she is on my computer.

As it turns out, R had shown her how to insert the logo, but with further questioning I learned that R (who used to have my office before I worked here) had shown her using my computer. So K thought that in order to perform this function, she had to be at the exact computer she learned it. For the week prior, K, most likely, had been attempting to sneak into my office to finish the letter, only to realize that she'd forgotten the lesson. I explained to K that Microsoft Word is the same on all the "machines" and that if she learned it on my computer she could easily do it on her own computer. I'm not sure if she understood that or not, but she left my office nodding and mumbling.

A week later The Boss Lady called me and asked me if I could help Special K insert the logo on the now 2-week-overdue letter. I did it, and now this responsibility has been mine for all letters requiring the logo sent out by Special K, since The Boss Lady doesn't know how to do it either.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Special K schedules a lunch; almost pulls a hammy

Speaking of office lunches, I recall a weekly staff meeting not too long ago, when the boss lady-- in a moment of unusual and disconcerting niceness-- suggests that we all go out to lunch together the following day to a little place the next block over. She asks Special K to make to please make a reservation for all of us for 1pm. This is one of the few occasions that Special K has been addressed in any way at a staff meeting, as she is usually resigned to sit at the far end of the room, making weird faces and nodding in agreement to everything that is beyond her comprehension.

The next day we are all ready and excited to go eat promptly at 1pm. Nothing happens. 1:15... at 1:20 or so someone finally asks when are leaving. Special K replies only that she made our reservations for 2pm. Were they booked up at 1? No. She just made them for 2. Just because. Without telling anyone. (Which ironically would be an occasion when one of her EMERGENCY EMAIL ALERTS might actual have been appropriate -- we were starving!)

Lunch was fine when we finally got there. Afterwards, as we were all together walking that half-block back to our building, Special K, without warning, bolts ahead of us, just booking it like she's on fire and runs around though the back alley toward the back of our building. We all actually hardly viewed this as all that odd and I think a quick glance between a few of us was the extent of our acknowledgment of this weirdness. Then, as we arrive at the front door, Special K is there, panting and holding it open for us. She sprinted all the way around the back to open the door for us... like a servant. I appreciate this act, as not any one of certainly could have been bothered to break a sweat be hauling that key fob up to the door sensor, and letting ourselves in. Like peasants.

Special K declines invitation to top secret pizza party

Since the boss lady is out of town, we are having our traditional lunch hour pizza party. Organizing the party involves asking all 5 or so staff members if they'll be here, and using a telephone to order a pizza to eat. I bravely assume this perilous task, as I place the good of all mankind above my own safety. (Yes, we have been "busted" for this before... you know by now not to ask). Sometimes we have gone so far as to take the pizza boxes -- the evidence -- to another dumpster, well aware that in doing so, we too have succumbed to the craziness of this place.

I invited Special K to join us. She declined, citing something about having an "emergency appointment" (sans card) 2 hours after the party. Well maybe she can't eat pizza today for whatever reason (in fact, I've hardly ever seen her eat at all, nor use the restroom -- see previous post), so I asked her to still join us. I guarantee you she will not. This means she will be quietly sitting at her desk and we will all be in plain view of each other. It is weird. But what isn't at this point.

Wait, I told her about the secret pizza party... does that mean I must kill her?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hoy es la noche de las galerias

Special K received a message in Spanish, which of course blew her mind. So she put it in the mail folder to circulate around with a handwritten message:
Does anyone know what "this" says? (please translate to English). Special K.
Thank God for parentheses--I was about to waste my time translating "this" into Russian!

Office full of sluts

So Special K was ill last week, and proceeded to get the half the office sick by trudging to the office in spite of her germiness. I came down with something cold-like by week's end, which reminded me that I had never bothered to go back to the doctor's office after having some bloodwork done a few weeks ago [as an aside, I am convinced that either my possibly moldy 100-yr-old house is making me sick, or just the general atmosphere of the worplace--I am leaning towards weird workplace]. So I made an appointment for Tuesday.

I reminded K on Monday about said appointment, to which she replied, "Well good luck with that, I hope you're not pregnant."

I think this was her trying to be funny, but I thought it a little strange. Is she implying we're an office full of sluts?

"Travis's" are the thorn in the side of society.

This blog has been picking up steam and acquiring new readers and fans. For that, we applaud ourselves, and, well, Special K too. For years, I have had friends who liked to ring me at work to hear Special K's robotronic phone operating procedure. There is a renewed interest among friends and friends of friends in calling the office now.

Probably taken aback by the voice ("you mean that's a person???"), the caller asks Special K if "Travis" is available. Special K, in her signature monotone, answers that "this is a business, not a residence." Caller tries then get directions, which then just flusters Special K to the breaking point.

But let's back up. Special K's immediate response to the request for "Travis" implies that no one named Travis could possibly be employed. A "Travis" could only be at his "residence." Because, you see-- as I've now come to learn-- the Travis's of the world are never gainfully employed. A "Travis" is at home all day on the couch eating cheetos and watching Tyra all day and sucking away at our tax dollars. Damn Travis's! Get a job, Travis, and for god's sake do something with your life! (And quit giving out our number!)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Funny Email Chain

This email exchange took place today, and I got a good laugh out of it. I sincerely wanted Special K to have retained and understood basic aspects of the English language and also the particulars of our place of business. Alas, I was disappointed. I guess all the punctuation is correct. That should have been my first clue.

To all Staff:
I have enclosed a copy of the email (or "fax") that was sent to The Boss Lady yesterday, summarizing our daily office events. She has provided a response to most everyone's comments. Please read the information below that corresponds to you and provide her with the necessary information. Many thanks. Please let me know if you need any assistance.
With best wishes,
Special K

-----Original Message-----(from L)

I think the correct use of quotations (and the realization that there is a difference between an email and a fax, and that calling the email a "fax" is, indeed, incorrect) should be celebrated. I think our little girl is growing up....

Then again, The Boss Lady probably drafted the email and just forwarded it to her. We could celebrate that she was able to cut and paste. That's pretty hard too!

-----Original Message-----(from S)

Now, slow down L -- cancel the pony rides. That first pasted blurb confused the crap out of me until I realized it was written by me in a fax from 2007.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Special K has special friends

In addition to Special K, we have a regular motley crew of contractors who make their way through our doors. Included is a really special computer person, Mack.

Mack is pretty awesome, really. He lives at home by himself with some pet snakes. When I mentioned to him that my mother was sick, he told me he'd pray for her--then assured me he was really devout, and really meant it (uh, PC? I think not). He has breath that challenges garlic cloves for its potency factor. He can't pronounce the names of ANY of our projects. And in general, has a sex appeal that is so completely nonexistant that one can't help but make jokes about it whenever possible. Once I had to have a "one on one" session with Mack, and S found jokes about lighting candles and playing music to set the mood rather irresistable. Today L was sitting in my office chatting when Special K came down to announce that Mack was on the line and wanted to talk to her.

I waited a few moments, and (knowing that L was on the phone with him) sent her an instant message saying, "Mmmmm, Mack."

Her response?

MACK. I can just picture your sausage-like fingers tap tap tapping on my keyboard..

Your bloated whale-neck craning at my computer screen.

Your seductive use of such words as 'pacifically' in place of specifically, and of course 'suposably'

So yeah, we're evil. But you knew that already.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Special K Does What She's Told, Special K's Nose Does Too

It's funny. I've never seen K use the Ladies Room. We're a small office, so you expect to run into someone every once in a while exiting or entering the loo. And so it came to pass that I was in the downstairs (first floor, ground floor for you Europeans) restroom, changing into my gym clothes when in walked K. Woah! She was sniffling, and had been all day, breathing out of her mouth and wiping her nose on her sleeve with so much grace. I said hi, which was an invitation for K tell my why she was entering the restroom, as if she needed an excuse. "Oh, sorry! I'm just getting some tissue so I can blow my nose! The Boss Lady just observed that my nose was running, and sure enough, it is! So I'm just going to get some tissue so I can blow my nose and then maybe that will make me feel better."

K was out sick the next day, but not before she trekked all the way to work and was "observed" as sick.

K Teaches Me a Thing or Three

The following email graced our inboxes this past Monday morning:

To all Staff:

This is a reminder that the building alarm (the alarm that is located at the back door) must be turned on by the last individual leaving the building. Please let me know if you need instructions on how to set the alarm or need the code so that the alarm is in an “on” position while all employees are away from the building. I will be happy to help you.

Special K

With a case of the Monday blues, I lingered in M's office--a respite from the upstairs crazy sometimes--and inquired how to use the alarm. Like most alarms, you enter the code, press another button, and, Bob's-your-uncle--it's set! I then realized I would missing out on a great opportunity if I didn't ask K to give me a lesson, as she claimed she would be happy to do! Also, M and S dared me to, so I had to.

K showed me where the alarm was, and even pretended to press the buttons as she told me the code--how sweet! She also informed me that if I were to enter and forget to turn the alarm off, the building would be very quickly surrounded by firemen, the police and ambulances, and that I would be "very uncomfortable." Uncomfortable like cramps? She further explained that the alarm is absolutely necessary "because of what we do here" (does that mean she actually knows!!??) and, to that end, each and every day she locks the front door. She even took me over to the front door and showed me that it was locked, and demonstrated how it locks AND unlocks!

The building is secure! I can't wait for another lesson.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Secrets of the Server Room and the Trouble with Keys

Every single day since the dawn of time here, the backup tape for the network server is changed daily. This illustrious job has been handed down from staff member to staff member until finally settling on me. Every day might seem excessive to you, but we are actually an extremely productive office, outputting a lot every day (not evidenced by out attention to this blog), and, well, as you know by now things get deleted, misplaced, destroyed, etc. Our server has completely crashed before and we were saved by these daily tapes.

Now, the server is located in a back closet, "The Server Room," which also houses the security camera tapes. This room remains locked at all times. I must use a key each day to access The Server Room and change the daily tape. I had done so for at least a year, diligently and responsibly, with no conflict or cause for concern. Then one random day, I go to open the door and find my key no longer works. Odd... When I went to ask our old co-director about this, he simply said "I had the lock changed. That's how it has to be." Uhhh. Huh? Did I abuse my access to The Server Room power somehow (like the time I took too many liberties adjusting our thermostat-- servicing 3 people, myself included-- that it was suddenly locked as well? Clearly, I am drunk with power). I could not get out of him why he no longer trusted me with access to that room. I mean, if he tought I would even care enough to say tamper with the security tapes or the server, he could certainly have easily verified that this never occurred. Special K would now hold the key to The Server Room and that was that. Ok, so I tell the directors that as key-holder, Special K needed to change the tapes each day. They wren't too keen on her doing it. Or anyone doing it for that matter. And I had to make a grand case for why this should continue to be done (um, remember that time the server crashed? And we would have lost EVERYTHING? Remember last week when Special K deleted a folder? And I got that back?) It was then decided by the higher powers that the switching out of a tape would simply be too much for Special K to handle (and to be fair, they were kinda right), so I would continue to do it each day, and each and every day get the key from Special K and return it to her. We still do this routine to this day, and not a day goes by that I do not lament how retarded this is. Procuring The Server Room key also allows me at least one irritating exchange with Special K each day. Now, we do this same song and dance-- and have done so-- without variation for the past several years. And I'd say about 85% of the time Special K is completely caught off guard when I come to get the key at approximately the same time around the end of each work day. She appears to have no clue why I am there, so I ask her for the key. I ASK. Every day. She mumbles, grumbles, and looks in her desk (it's never there). It might be inside a heavily rubber-banded wallet of hers, or it may be in another bag of hers in the library. If the key in the library, she will rummage for it for at least 5-7 minutes. If I am lucky, she will produce for me the correct GREEN-coded key! Success! Fairly often I am handed a differently-colored, differently-shaped incorrect key, or a medium-sized binder clip.

Pardon moi, speaky-vous le English?

Special K came down to my office last Friday, walking with that brisk pace that suggests someone is chasing her. With her usual "I'm so sorry to bother you..." she launched into explaining to me that a foreign contact of ours has recently departed his position, and our Director wanted to know his replacement. Since I am the one here who can "speak French," she asked if I could make a call this morning to try to ascertain the name of the replacement.

However, in Special K speech, this went a little more like "Well, I tried calling this number, but it was wrong. And I called this one. It was wrong, too, and they told me I should call this one. But she didn't speak English very well, and it was hard to understand. And I wrote down this number. But don't call that one, or that one. Call that one. The one I drew an arrow to. Not the one that is crossed out. Oh, and that's France, that's why I asked if you could speak French. So that's a country code. Don't ask me! I don't ask any questions. But if you could call, that would be wonderful. And this is what you should ask. But call with this number. Not this one. Thanks. Sorry to bother you. Sorry. Sorry. Thanks."

I called the number this morning, and I attempted to see if I could get the receptionist to speak English, but ended up having to use my rusty French to carry out the conversation. I can't stop laughing thinking about Special K trying to have the same conversation outlined above with someone who doesn't even speak English. And people wonder why Americans have the reputations they do...

Arghhhh, me Special K

So Friday is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I think great fun could be had by planning out conversations with Special K entirely in pirate-speak. So far all I am coming up with is "Argghh, ye really ought ta' say 'just an F.Y. Ayeee' a bit more, me darlin'"

Friday, September 12, 2008

Company Policies and Procedures: Volume I

Do you receive mail at your place of employment? I bet you do! Maybe a secretary (I think the PC term is “administrative assistant”) opens it, and put it on your desk. Perhaps an office manager drops it off at your cubicle? At my old job we had little cubbies, and once in awhile there would be mail for me in it—just like kindergarten!

Here at the house of crazy, we get mail too. But I’m guessing you already know our mail procedure is just a little off-kilter. Could it be any other way? You see, we get mail, and Special K opens it, and puts it into a file that says “First Class Mail.” I assume this is so we don’t go looking for the pesky “Book Rate Mail” in the same folder, but I’m not sure. This folder is then passed around to every employee (yes, all six of us) and we each sign off that we’ve read it.

Not so weird, right? Wrong! The “First Class Mail” folder is passed around to us with everything in it. The phone bill? Check! Weird jewelry catalogue addressed to a former director with gold-plate and “pink ice” baubles? Absolutely. The riveting page-turner “Plastics News*” which arrives weekly and always appears well read by the time it gets to me? Why not? And don’t forget invoices that pertain to only one or two people, postcards advertising for sales on paper and toner, invitations to events in our industry in Japan, written in Japanese, and course catalogues for “Management Training Centers—Now Holding Classes Near you!”

I can say with certainty that only a handful of mail items weekly have pertained not only to this organization, but to me specifically. I’m considering bringing in my personal junk mail and passing it around too, as it would have the same effect. What’s more, if you forget to initial next to your name—say, you were caught up reading about items in the lawn care catalogue that arrives at least once a month—Special K will bring the offending folder back to your office to make sure you do sign off. Even if the only thing in the folder is a postcard advertising phonecards!! Your compliance MUST be verified.

*Our work in no way is related to plastic or the plastics industry, yet we continue to receive Plastics News every week. I kind of look forward to it now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

the fire alarm gets tested, mayhem ensues

what i like best about this one is the intricate detail and the overwhelming concern.

To all Staff:

I wanted to inform you that Simplex Grinnell is scheduled to be here tomorrow morning (Tuesday, July 22, 2008) starting at about 9:00 am to conduct the annual fire alarm test. The test is supposed to last approximately 4 hours. I want to warn you of their (Simplex Grinnell’s personnel presence) scheduled presence because you may occasionally hear the fire alarm sound in our building. I do not want to frighten you of hearing this alarm – I just want to warn you that you may hear this alarm. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Special K

a pertinent email

i feel this should be posted as it sheds more light on our blog's title. oh, and also on k's craziness! it should be noted that k often refers to her appointments as "emergency" even when she tells us about them months in advance. she also once walked her appointment card to each office, to show--with hard evidence!--that she really did have an appointment. makes me wonder what all those other so-called emergencies were about!

To All Staff:

R telephoned this morning and will be coming to work tomorrow (Thursday, 7/10/08) instead of today (Wednesday, 7/9/08), as she is not feeling well. I will be leaving early today (about 10 am) for an emergency appointment – and will probably not be back. My apologies for such short notice. A daily fax sheet is set up for all of you to report a daily summary to The Boss Lady(I will probably not be here to participate in sending this fax via email to her) – please email The Boss Lady with any information that requires an immediate response or information that she should be aware of before the end of the day. Let me know if you have any questions.

Special K

Special K Composes an RSVP Letter

How much do you want to bet that Mr. C's lowly day of sifting through boring "check yes or no" RSVPs was brightened by this thoughtfully thorough faxed response to his organization's dinner invitation? I often wonder if Special K writes just as detailed responses for event declines? I bet she does.*

Dear Mr. C:

This is to notify you that the attached email message was sent to me via my computer requesting the names of the two individuals from my non-profit organization who will be attending the Friends of the XXX Dinner to be held on x date. A total of two people from this organization will be attending this dinner.

Mr. J, [full title] at Our Place of Employment, and The Boss Lady, [full title] at Our Place of Employment, (a total of two people), will by attending the Friends of the XXX Benefit Dinner that will be held on x date.

Once again, I remind you that I have attached a two page email message that was received by Your Organization requesting the names and number of guests from our organization who will be attending the benefit dinner to be held in London on x date.

I have also attached a copy of the dinner invitation that was mailed to us, and the written names and addresses of the two people planning to attend.

Please contact me by telephone (xxx-xxx-xxxx), fax (xxx-xxx-xxxx), or by email to confirm receipt of this faxed information (and invitation). With all best wishes,

Special K

* Special office funtime option: Read this aloud and down a shot every time the number of people attending is noted, the date of the dinner is repeated, or the attached copy of the invitation is mentioned. I'm sure Mr. C did.

while on the topic of toner...

i don't like to brag, but i have a printer in my office. not just any printer--a color printer. this is not the case for all six (6) employees of this madhouse. the truth is i have one because i print a lot, and yes, a lot in color. somewhere in a small village in south america, children are losing their ancestral land so i can print an exorbitant number of color copies for this organization.

as m has touched on before, each of us has a very distinctive roll in this organization, so if you were to ask anyone who works here why i print so many of these precious color copies, the answer would be pretty obvious. but not to special k.

and so it goes that while working on a very large project we are launching, i had quite a bit to print. there were multiple edits of my work, the switching of dates, and other integral changes before the final shiny product was born. and then i printed some more. as per s's observation, special k has acquired the toner and ink ordering duties, so i have to go to her--and often--to order my ink. lucky for me they come in a 2-pack--one tri-color and one black. just what i need!

during this print-a-palooza of late, i happened to order two of these 2-packs. why not plan ahead in case i run out? why not, indeed. k took my order, delivered the product the very next day (thanks, staples!!) and off i went destroying native villages, raping sacred grounds, and printing my color copies. as it happened, i ran out of just the color cartridges that very week. crazy!! but given the nature of our business, it all makes sense. i decide to just order color cartridges, instead of the color/black combo. dear god, what a mistake!

i went to k's desk, and gingerly requested new ink cartridges.

"k, i need two color ink cartridges. i somehow managed to run out of just the color ones and not the black, so i won't need those." see how i make reference to the earlier order, thus making it obvious that i know i just ordered some??

her face falls, and her eyes narrow. she says, "well what happened to the ones in the cabinet?" she has a point. i did not check the office supply cabinet, because although there are ink cartridges for 17 different printers, there are none for mine.

"well, i've never seen the correct size for my printer there, so i didn't check."

frustrated, k rolls her eyes and pushes past me to walk--i presume--to the office supply cabinet. i follow in line, but instead of going to the supply cabinet, we go into my office, where k whisks open my cabinet and pulls out the half empty boxes (remember, the black ink is still there) and asks, "what about these?"

"uh. i used those. that's why i was ordering more. i only used the color. those are black. i need more color cartridges."

i see the light bulb of recognition go off, and then k, incredulous, takes one more inquisitive look in my cabinet-- lest i hoard office supplies--and goes back to her desk.

i got my color cartridges two days later.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The toner incident that shook the nation.

How much do you know about copy machine toner?

Not much if you are lucky. As having once been responsible for ordering copier toner, I know enough to know that different model machines take different cartridges.

I remember a story from years back. Special K had recently been given the task -- a promotion, if you will-- of ordering and refilling when necessary the upstairs copy machine toner. Special K consistently ordered the wrong size/type for this machine. We had tons of unuseable ones lying around for ages. This is especially amazing given that we had a maintenance company that not only supplied us with unlimited, free toner but also sure as hell knew what kind we needed. Was Special K simply procuring her own toner on the black market? They fell off a truck? We'll never know. Or care.

When you try to fill the copy machine using an incorrectly-sized cartridge, to put it as simply as possible, the toner compartment isn't going to open properly, so all the black messy toner powder is going to sit out on top of the copy machine. And that's what Special K did. And a giant line of black powder (interesting????) just sat out in the open for I'd say 3 or 4 days. Of course, during this time no one could use the copier or even make real movement around it for fear of disrupting the volitile black powder line. Special K said not a word about it. Maybe no one will notice? No one said anything either. It was just that weird. Finally someone asked her what's the plan here? She was later found crying in the kitchen... I think I ended up calling the maintenance company and had them send someone over to clean up the mess and bring a new toner cartridge. That was the day that the stresses of the office first broke Special K...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Federal Express is NO JOKE!

Call the National Guard! Another FEDERAL EXPRESS package has been mailed -- to a frequent work contact!!!

K's emailed ALERT:

Dear X:

My apologies for distrubing you, however, I wanted to inform you that I have sent a package via Federal Express and it is addressed to you by your address (FULL ADDRESS WRITTEN OUT). The package is actually for L who will be traveling to Parid the week of XXX. I wanted to alert you that this white box does, indeed, have your name atop it with a Federal Express international airway notification attached to it. The box was picked up in our office September 9th [note: it is the 3rd]. The Federal Express tracking number is xxxxxxxx. Please let me know if you have any questions or inquiries.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Special K

Special K gets an 18% raise!!!!

She probably did... however incapable she is of her job, she is an obedient robot servant. To dull the pain of yesterday's shit news, I tried to locate Special K's annual review sheet for a chuckle -- that we each fill out for our Director, as if our achievements and hard work mean anything to her in terms of a monetary reward (or cost of living, for that matter???). But I digress. I couldn't find this year's sheet, but here's Special K's report from last year, saved on the shared drive for all to see:


1) Order office supplies
2) Answer multi-line telephones
3) Respond to email after receiving full response from L
4) Print out daily email messages
5) Travel to locate and purchase office supplies
6) Run off trustee envelopes, labels, etc.
7) Perform duties as assigned
8) Do occasional internet research
9) Warehouse clean-up
10 File clean-up
11) Familiarize staff with office, policies, procedures, etc., when necessary
12) Mail






Thursday, September 4, 2008

a moment of silence

i would just like to have a moment of silence for the raises that i, m, and s did not get today. we had our reviews today--which were glowing, if not down-right gushing--but were not rewarded with dolla dolla bills y'all.

we write on.

if you can't beat 'em, confuse 'em

just adding to the confusing emails; this was always one of my favorites. please understand that these emails are in every way a microcosm of how we operate as a company.

To all Staff:

The management meeting scheduled for Wednesday, April 23 has been cancelled and a date and time for this has not been rescheduled. Also, the staff meeting scheduled for Wednesday, April 30 has been moved and is planned to occur on Thursday morning, May 1 (no time change). Hopefully I will send you a reminder that there has been a schedule change with these meetings (no meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 23, and the Wednesday, April 30 is now scheduled to occur on Thursday morning, May 1 instead). Please let me know if either of these changes create a problem.

Thank you for your prompt attention.

Special K

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Some Assorted Emails

Just a few standard email notices and responses (when K had one) found on my MACHINE (note, K always calls her computer her "machine." It sounds weirder than you might think. Like it's this box from the future that might control our minds one day.) She also incessantly uses the [non] word "supposably," and the (often-misused -- yes, it IS possible) phrase "just an FYI." But I'm getting off topic here:

To all Staff:

I want to alert you that Ameritel (the copy machine contractor) has been called to fix the first floor copy machine (the machine located behind A). The service technician is expected to arrive here either later this afternoon or during the early morning hours of tomorrow to look and repair our machine. I just wanted to alert you to the appearance of this individual. Please let me know if you have any concerns. Many thanks.

Special K

Responses to a request for a Fed Ex tracking number for a lost parcel -- yes, K is responsible for documenting Fed Ex:


I do not have a Federal Express receipt for this CD – however, that does not mean that it was not sent by Federal Express. I just do not have a Fed Ex receipt for this CD (sent around July 21). [Our Accountant] might have a record of something being sent to – on her Federal Express receipts. I’ll keep looking a bit longer for some evidence.


Dear S:

I do not have any mailing information on this disk being mailed around July 21. It was placed in the mail just a few minutes ago (and will probably be picked up by the postman tomorrow, Tuesday, August 11) and will leave here tomorrow, on Tuesday.


The inexplicably detailed answer to the question, "K, can I get the number of books mailed today?"

Dear S:

We sent a total of seven (7) catalogues out today – five soft cover copies and two hard cover copies. Two soft-cover copies of the catalogue were sent to L’s attention at The ---- Club – London. Three soft-cover and two hard-cover catalogues were sent to T (using her address in Paris) – to her attention at the --- *full address written out*, FRANCE, address (per X). I have called and informed the hotel (The ---- Club) that the catalogues were in route to them and expected to arrive at the hotel on Tuesday, 9/9/08 (international economy). They will hold the catalogues until L’s arrival. I was going to send an email reminder tomorrow (Thursday) to them. Should I send one now? I have not yet sent an email reminder to T, but I will. By doing that, I should have a response from her (hopefully) sometime tomorrow.


Nearly all the other emails I had from her were her forwarding me an email sent to the general company address "for whatever action I deem appropriate." She is always very uncertain as to whether the emails should indeed be directed to me or not. The content of these emails--plus the fact that they are, in many cases, addressed to me by name-- make it very clear that she has absolutely no clue what it is I do here and/or cannot read. Neither surprises me. The rest of the emails are redundant and overly verbose announcements of meetings on scheduled meeting days, or that we will not be having a meeting on a non-meeting day. These only confuse and bewilder me.

I am terribly sorry

We have staff meetings every other Wednesday here in Crazyville. It's no biggie, just something I don't especially look forward to. The concept of "every other week" isn't too terribly difficult to grasp--last week we didn't have one, the week before that we did. That meant that today we were scheduled to have one.

I really appreciated Special K's personalized alert to me--it was sent at 9:25 am.

Dear M:

I just wanted to inform you that we WILL be conducting a staff meeting in the conference room this morning – Wednesday, September 3 – beginning at about 9:30 am (per The Boss Lady). My apologies for the surprise, I just learned that one was going to be held. In any event, see you there. Please let me know if this causes a conflict in your schedule. Thank you.


Special K

I especially like that she gave me the opportunity to let her know whether this caused a conflict in my schedule--and gave me exactly 4 minutes to do so. That Special K, always looking ut for us!

Bye bye, Miss M's files...

In our company, we often work years out on projects that may or may not materialize. There will be a flurry of activity--endless emails back and forth, contracts, diagrams, lists, letters. Then suddenly it goes dormant for months on end. Sometimes we resume it, sometimes we get an email saying "The Watkins project is off. Please give all your files to Special K."

A couple of years ago, we began work on a particularly complicated project. Many contributors, many extra facets of the budget--it was a regular pain in my ass for quite a while, but I kept painstaking records in neatly organized files. It went quiet for months, then The Boss Lady called out of the blue and asked for a particular file. "No worries!" I thought, but then opened our F drive to discover, um, Project Malaysia was gone. No sign of ANY of my Word files existed.

Now, Special K has, on occasion, accidentally moved files around. And hey, it happens. I have accidentally mucked things up before, too--I just call our computer person, D, sort it out quickly, and let anyone who might have been affected know. I debated about whether to put Special K on the spot, but after hours of searching my computer and the entire F drive, it was clear that they were gone.

So I begrudgingly trekked up to Special K's desk, and asked "Special K, do you know if there is any chance that you might have moved any of the files for Project Malaysia?" She immediately got defensive and huffy, saying no, that was none of her business and she certainly would not do anything with those files. I guess that in and of itself was a bit of a sign, so I decided to give up on trying to get a straight answer and called D instead.

D came over almost immediately, and she and I started delving into the stash of backup tapes, going back several months to finally find and recover all the files that had been lost. But in showing her the folder and what I suspected had happened, we made a startling realization. Special K was, in fact, aware of this situation well before I mentioned it to her. Special K must have deleted not only all MY files, but her own, as well. Because in a careful, methodical way, she had been retyping each document from hard-copies for the past couple of months. She still had a ways to go, but when I asked D whether we should just bring Special K up to speed and explain that we could restore them, she rolled her eyes and said, "No, if she wants that, she has to be willing to admit that she messed up."

For the next several weeks, any time I walked past her desk, she was dutifully pecking away at the keyboard with two fingers, looking back and forth between hard copies of letters and her screen. Poor Special K, I almost wanted to be helpful and tell her I understood. I never did.

k steals business card, learns email address

one day--just last month--i arrive at work, and as i walk by k's desk she leaps up and presents a business card in her hand. waving the card around like some sort of hypnotized snake, k goes on to explain that she's sorry (k is always sorry, for everything, even things that aren't her fault), but she has gone into my office and taken one of my business cards. she goes on to say that, although she's really sorry (again) for going in and just taking it, she realized that she didn't have one, and because of that she really didn't have my email address. she explains that she tried to send me an email and that it was bounced back, so she just didn't have the right email address and thus needed a card. hmm. admittedly, i have one of those germanic last names with excessive and superfluous vowels. even i sometimes mix up a few letters!! but, how could she NOT have my email address after working here this long? how could she NOT have a sent email she could consult from the droves of emails she sends me every day? how could she NOT have consulted our *new* website?

i want my card back.

the first hint that something was amiss

as m has stated, i'm the newest member of this three-ring circus. although it became evident early on that we operate in a military-like work atmosphere, (no speaking in the hallway, no outside fraternization, etc.) my first real clue that something was up (especially with k) appeared on the very first day! all fresh-scrubbed and eager for my first day at work, i arrive at 8:45. i push the buzzer and am buzzed into our unassuming little building. k has rushed downstairs to meet me--or to ward off would-be robbers based on her urgency--and without saying hello, tells me that "we don't open until 9." thinking she may not understand who i am, i gleefully state my name and that today is my first day. without a smile, and without acknowledging my announcement, k again tells me that we don't open until 9. puzzled, and confused as to whether i'm meant to walk out the door and stand there for the next fifteen minutes and then repeat this process, i ask if it would be ok for me to get settled in my office, "while i wait."

her grimace says no, but she relents all the same. on to my office we go, and along the way she informs me where The Boss Lady's office is, the library, the bathroom, etc. she leads me to my new office, turns on the light and leaves me to wait for the 9am start time. after i turn on my computer, i realize i don't have the password, so i go to k for this information (i now know this was my first mistake). not one to cut corners, and, say, just tell me the password, she escorts me back to my office to visually confirm that i have managed to turn on the computer and that i do actually need the password. i do. she leans up close to me and tells me that my password and the password to all the office computer is *london. yes, she whispers it. i confirm, "london?" she nods.

she then says, "well, i mean, i've never been there, but that's the password. not that it's any of my business!"

that was my first clue.

*m, s, this is NOT our real password. please do NOT start using it. i will be sending out a reminder email right now, one later today, and one a month from now so that you are better able to retain this information. let me know if you need any assistance in this matter, or if you have any questions. i would be happy to reply (once i have a response). let me know if you have any suggestions.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fed Ex International Pouches are CONTRABAND!!!

A couple weeks ago, we seemed to be out of clear pouches for Federal Express -- or "Fed Ex," as the kids say. I asked K if she had any or if she could please order some.

She got all hushed and secretive and informed me that "we are no longer allowed to use the clear international pouches."

Um, they are free and kinda necessary... Did I mention they are free?

I asked K why -- did Fed Ex dictate this rule? Like, are the pouches a choking hazard?

She told me that our accountant said that we are no longer permitted to order or use these supplies. (Did I tell you these are free?) Since I can see no rational reason for being denied my clear pouches, I ask K why our accountant said this, to which she gives her one of her standard flustered reply of "I don't ask any questions. It's none of my business." Actually, as office manager, it is your business. And maybe there are times when you should ask questions. Hey, stand up and MAKE THIS your business!!! You'd think that she was covering up an office affair or something.

Oh, and for the insanely curious, the story ends with the accountant laughing and telling me she never even had a discussion with Special K about Fed Ex supplies.

That's sounds about right.

So very helpful

Special K has a really amusing --bordering on irritating-- habit of being overly helpful and explanatory in her notes and emails. Her handwritten notes or emails to us are often written in such copious detail that they would be incredible helpful if we were, say, first-day employees in a new 84-story office compound -- and mentally retarded.

The contents of a handwitten note found on my chair after lunch:

Mon 8/4/08 1:40pm


DHL (express company) dropped off a box (RH catalouges?) for you. The box is downstairs (1st floor) on the credenza.

-special K

I've worked in an office long enough, and well, don't lived in the woods to know what DHL is (although I'm not certain that "express service" truly explains it).

I was actually impressed that she correctly inferred what the package might contain! Again, I always assume that she doesn't know what goes on around here, what we do here, or even where she is most of the time. Oh, wait. M told her what the package might be. Well, hey. The transfer of m's thought to paper is already above and beyond... Finally, not only do mail and "express deliveries" always sit in the same place, this is a 2-story building. My office is on the 2nd floor. Meaning downstairs could only be the 1st floor. Now, there could be some sort of catacomb area underground here. But if there was, I wouldn't take a torch down the ricketty ladder looking for my mail.