Office Worker: n. resident of Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell

“Is it just me, or is this whole thing going to Hell in a hand basket?”
“Just wave your magic wand and make it all better.”
“How about a stapler?  I have one of those and I think it packs more of a punch when it hits.”
-C. and Officer Lampost

One upon a time, the parking office, which is not controlled by the police department, had a novel idea.  “Why don’t we,” they said to one another, “do away with this medieval notion of parking permits that you stick on your window or hang from your mirror and instead invest millions of dollars in a new digital license plate reader system that will simply take a picture of the plate, compare the info to a database, and automatically write tickets!”
“Brilliant!” said University Administration.  “But hey, folks, we are in the middle of a recession.  Is this a good idea?”
“Sure,” said the Parking Powers, “it will only cost XXX amount of money, require fewer man hours to run, and reduce costs all around.”
“How economical!” exclaimed the University, “Go for it!”

futilitySix months later…the Office of IT had not even started writing the program, the bare bones equipment was costing three times more than projected, we had to hire even more people to keep the office running, supervisors were not listening to the traffic and parking clerks when they explained what they needed in the new system, no one had thought that perhaps students/faculty coming to this university might be coming from out of state/country and so the program would need a way to account for that, and days away from the new system going live, the office hadn’t even received a prototype of the program to run.

Ergo, this whole week the entire office has been overrun with techie-types (and everyone of them with the stereotypical thick glasses, receding hairlines, and nasally voices…it’s been weird) scampering about frantically trying to patch a program they didn’t know they had to write, written in a matter of a couple of weeks, and left with enough holes in it that it might legally qualify as a sieve. 

Sorry, IT guys, e-card just aren't going to cut it...
Sorry, IT guys, e-card just aren't going to cut it...

The funny bit in this mess is how the IT guys seem to be trying to apologize for their blunders.  The office has spent the week overrun with flowers, balloons, sugary treats, and take out meals.  I would just like to have been a fly on the wall while they were working this out…
“Crap, guys, we’ve screwed it up royally and now we have an office full of women all barking mad to get this thing online and absolutely furious with us.  Brainstorm, quick!  Best way to make it up?”
“They’re women!  Flowers and chocolate all the way, dude!”

I don’t even work for the parking division, but I would hazard a guess that as much as the girls are enjoying the perks of having a dozen erring husbands groveling for forgiveness…they might prefer the new system working instead.

Can you exorcise this stuff? Fingers crossed!

And in continuing office news, after the Rising of the Secretaries  (spearheaded by yours truly) and ample warning, I am wheeling out the guillotine!  Today all unclaimed lockers and uniforms will be confiscated, gear will be redistributed to kids who are actually working, all paperwork will be filed and discrepancies will be punished.  At noon we attack!

26 thoughts on “Office Worker: n. resident of Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell”

  1. Beautiful post. I really like the way you crafted this tale. It really me in from the get go and I found myself reading along anxiously to find out what would happen next!

    As a “techie-type” person I can assure you that we don’t all fit that description. I have an awesome head of hair and I don’t wear thick glasses. I do hate the sound of my own voice, though, but I don’t think I’d describe it as nasally. 🙂

    I like your style and will check out the rest of your blog when time permits. Keep up the good fight! Guillotine? LOL!

  2. Aww Yes. The IDEA. The IDEA that will end world hunger, bring peace to the troubled land, and cause every admin in the world to rise up. Explaining to them why they won’t get what they expect because The IDEA had to be organized, implemented, and cleaned up after.

    You have my deepest sympathies. Can I borrow the guillotine for some errant consultants?

  3. Go, attack secretary, go! Fight for us secretaries everywhere! You are truly our hero! Now instead of expensive parking ticket thingies, how about installing an espresso machine in the break room? I can guarantee the sugar and caffiene will fuel us secretaries for weeks! In fact, studies show a secretary who used to type 50 wpm now types in excess of 100 wpm all because of a triple espresso, venti, caramel latte with whipped cream.

    Great blog! Have a great day!

    1. Thank you. lol. My sister in law suggested also getting a barista to do all the drinks in the break room. Can’t have secretaries working on break to make their own drinks…rofl.

  4. *suddenly reminded of our favorite short Vor*
    ahem. excuse me; what were we talking about?

    My dear,
    I recently wrote a letter to a lady, which seems to have gone unnoticed. That particular channel of communication, due perhaps to disuse, seems to have been abandoned. This is especially ironic when one considers the contents of the letter.

  5. Sounds like a private company might’ve been more up your lane rather than a university, not just because of the quality assurance on the people involved in the project but because of the solid, tested and more importantly, consistent and single organisational structure you’d be dealing with.
    Even then it’s quite possible to overshoot a project’s expenses or deadline, hence they should’ve kept a buffer in mind – it sounds like they didn’t.
    This shouldn’t be your problem but theirs rather, though, as your account illuminates it’s always a bad idea to present a client with problems they have no influence in, it just stresses them out.

    There’s clearly a lesson to be learnt from this post for those in the business, for others it’s still an entertaining, eloquent article, I’ll be following your blog for more 🙂

  6. Probably the most scary thing about this sort of project is that everyone knows that it will cost much much more to bring it to completion (and the actual cost exceeds what they “know” by a factor of 10) yet no-one has the naus to pull the plug until it is way way too late.
    I once worked in a massive financial services company where IT brought the whole Health business to its knees. Because one bald, arrogant IT manager (“Professor” nogal) refused to listen to any calls for caution and review. How many people lost their jobs? The number I heard was 800.
    But did they learn? No…
    Two years later one single anal-retentive almost-actuary project manager crippled a massive IT implementation through his demands for bureaucracy. They pulled the plug as the project was nearing the half a billion mark.
    Sorry to turn this into a rant – your story touched my heart.

  7. I get that sometimes too – people will send me flowers or gift baskets (the best have champagne) to apologize for keeping me from meeting deadlines. Meanwhile – I am still waiting on their stuff. The champagne is appreciated, but in the meantime, how about getting me the stuff I need too!

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