Tag: Office Work

The Annual Anti-Harassment Seminar, As Told by C.

“Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other.  Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.”
~ Katharine Hepburn

Yesterday, under orders from the University, the entire department attended an anti-harassment seminar.  It didn’t go as well as could have been desired.

The officers, muttering something about cooties, grudgingly trotted off and about an hour later office personnel followed.  When the secretaries entered, a collective groan went up as the men were forced to put away their Vargas posters and NSFW magazines.

The presenter stood up, closing her ears when an unnamed person muttered something about “having to listen to this broad for an hour,” and put on a cheerful face.
“I’m here to talk to you all today about unacceptable behaviors at work.  Luckily there are no [censored slur] here, so this should be easy.”

Things rapidly devolved from there.

“The protected categories of personal traits are sex, gender, religious affinity, color, genetic information, age, and -”
“What’s the difference between sex and gender?” yelled out someone.  “I mean, besides who you’re allowed to hit on?”

Musical Theatre, as seen by some seminar attendees.

“One is your actual sex, male or female.  The other refers to expectations or traits of your sex.  For example, ridiculing a woman for trying to tackle something obviously beyond her scope, like chemistry.  Or a man for studying something that we can use to determine his sexual orientation, like musical theatre.”

“I’m a musical theatre major,” injected one student from the back of the conference room.
“Oooh, look at him,” cooed some of his compatriots flapping their wrists at him and beginning to make obscene personal remarks.
“Then why don’t you put on a skirt and wash something,” yelled a sergeant, diminutive in size anxious to fit in the Boys Club.

You're a girl!

C., enraged at the slur on A) skirts and B) laundry duties, leaped to her feet, climbed up over the seats and delivered a long and inventoried tirade abusing the sergeant’s personal hygiene and evolutionary history.  Hennessy, attempting to restrain her friend, tried to mitigate matters until a student officer told her to “shut up, quit working, and stay at home like she was supposed to.”  Whereupon both Hennessy and C. launched themselves at the student and his companions and frightful blows were exchanged.

“Women can work,” Chief hurried to scream into the fray, trying to calm everyone down, “unless they become pregnant!”
Excuse me?” bellowed Wise planting her hands on her growing stomach to brace for impact before she barreled him over.  Rounding on the company she roared, “Who’s next, you bunch of communists?!”
Susie demanded, “Who’s the commie pig?” whipped off her heels and began stabbing anyone in her way with stilettos

I'll save you, helpless maiden! (or) I'll kill you, helpless maiden!

While this was going on, both a male and female officer had taken refuge under the stage.  “Good thing we’re staying out of it,” said the male officer to a female, nudging her arm conspiratorially.
“Molester!” she screamed and dragged her surprised, hapless victim out where he was quickly devoured by a herd of bloodthirsty traffic clerks.

From the podium, the presenter tried to beat off a student officer with a propensity to stalking with a chair, yelling “Fire!” to make someone pay attention to her plight.
“I thought,” shouted Chief from where he was wrestling with a young female worker who was trying to get him in a compromising position in order to sue the university, “you had to tell someone who – ow! – was annoying or offending you – let go of my leg! – to stop before you could take legal action.”
“Oh no!” responding the presenter, getting her assailant into a headlock, “A behavior doesn’t have to be acknowledged to be unwelcome.”
“Yeah!”  shouted Lt. Colossus, emerging from the brawl bloody but unbowed.  “Watch!”
He reached out to where Lauper was punching an officer and ridiculing him for impotence, slapped her on the bum and collapsed on the ground when she promptly kneed him in the groin.  She was then set upon by a small horde of police officers who beat her senseless, calling her (alternatively) Hindu, Sheik, Protestant, and a variation of African spiritualism  that the editors are not sure how to correctly spell.

Pictured: the seminar room, post seminar.

The brawl was not broken up until both dogs and firehoses were turned on the rampaging attendees.  At which time it was ascertained that four were dead, seven concussed, one was bleeding out, three had lost the ability to walk, and two the ability to reproduce.  Other casualties include a missing eye, several knocked out teeth and, to date, one marriage.  After mopping up the entrails, the mob was deposited at the university’s Equal Opportunity office where the presenter, ashamed that she let the meeting get so out of hand, apologized but was fired anyway because in the future, “keeping track of these [censored slur] would clearly be a man’s job.”

After a strict talking to, the rest of us were sent home with copies of “Men are from Neptune, Women are from Saturn’s Sixth Moon, Titan.”

Crisis Averted

“Ah, Cindy Sondheim, you should have lived in an earlier age.  Things were simpler, less complicated.  Do you know how many women had nervous breakdowns in the fourteenth century?  Two.”
– Love at First Bite

Thanks for all the lovely pick-me-up comments yesterday, darlings.  It was really nice to know how many of you have felt the same way – and as every last one of you have turned out amazing and unbelievably fabulous, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to do the same with a bit more time, a few more naps, and much less stress.

Yesterday was beastly (if you couldn’t tell!).   We’ve heard negatives on some of J.’s  internship applications and are still waiting to hear back on others, which is almost more nerve wracking.

I had to hire a dozen students last minute and despite telling administration multiple times that we don’t have space for any more people, they were still shocked to discover that we didn’t have enough lockers or uniforms/gear for them.  Unfortunately, the ones ending up looking foolish in this situation are your friendly neighborhood C. and Hennessy, who have to explain to several students why they have to cart a pile half as tall as me of gear home with them.

I barely averted a few violations that would have added up to potentially thousands of dollars in fines had I not caught them.

I’d only got four hours of sleep the night before.

So, these and other factors combined into the perfect storm.  Literally!  Just as I was getting ready to go do the laundry run, a massive lightening and rain storm whipped up.  You may recall how often it rains when I do the laundry run, it’s lately become the office joke.  So when I ambled past Susie’s office to tell her I was heading out I glanced our her window and froze.  It was pitch black outside and rain was lashing the pane.

I felt a helpless, hysterical giggle start bubbling up inside of me and a clapped a hand over my mouth to keep it in.  But to no avail!  Both Susie and Wise turned, saw the rain, and started chuckling.  Then Chief poked his head around the corner and grumbled, “Have you done the laundry yet?”

That did it.  I collapsed on Susie’s desk laughing (and nearly crying).  She and Wise joined in, Chief stared at us a minute before retreating to the safety of his office.  When I got home, I put on flannel pants, an oversized sweatshirt, pinned my hair up, and crawled into bed with a book.

All better now.

Rudeness Most Foul

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
– Isaac Asimov

Definately human.

The interesting thing about working at a university is how much information, equipment, and expertise is available to you.  So when a plastic bag filled with large bones is found buried on the grounds, it’s the work of a moment to ask someone from Anthropology to come over and verify that they aren’t human.  Just in case.  Or, less professionally, when one is hungry, one can just scamper over to any of the cafes, food halls, or centers that provide sustenance for cheap prices.

Alternatively, using campus resources can often put one in an awkward situation.

In the library there is a very nice media lab where you can covert anything in any format to any other format you please.  Now I’m pretty technologically illiterate, but even I can appreciate that sort of thing.  And for the first time I got to use it yesterday when Lt. Citrus gave me a sack full of VHS tapes and told me to convert them to DVDs.  How neat, thought I, and off I trotted.

I got a crash course in using the towering masses of machinery and, after snatching a book to keep me company (another benefit of a university setting), I got to work.  There was a lot of loading/unloading tapes, keeping an eye on the screens, finalizing data, etc., but mostly it involved waiting for the tapes to run fully (which could last from a few minutes to a couple hours).  And I even watched a couple: guy holding an audience hostage because God told him he was supposed to be supreme dictator or Earth, rioting at football games, your average wierdos…you know, the usual.

However there was some pretty dark stuff too and when converting those I taped paper over the screens (because I am of the somewhat old fashion opinion that an individual’s personal tragedy is nobody else’s damn business).  During these tapes, I kicked back with my book until I was rudely disturbed but a gentleman marching up to me.

You've been recording investigation documents, vital to court proceedure, medical records, and department case archives, for entirely TOO LONG. You will now be punished!

“You’ve been here for a long time,” he accused.
“Yes, and I apologize, but I am working on something important on behalf of the University.  I’m nearly done.  Do you need the machines?”
“No,” he said snappishly .  “I just think you’re being inconsiderate taking up so much time.”
Not really prepared to handle this sort of time management vigilante-ism (side note – not one person had previously needed to use the machines or asked me when I would be done), I only blinked.
“You’re probably not even doing anything remotely important,” he continued, crossing his arms and turning up his nose.  “What are you working on?”
I felt an eyebrow climb at his tone but answered in a chipper voice, “Well I’m transferring a video taken from a homicide scene investigation.  Then I’ll have to transfer the autopsy tapes as well, care to watch?”

His eyes bugged for a moment and then he slunk off.

Like I said, the equipment and resources amassed here are fantastic, but the ability to see some people in all there snippy, self-important silliness might be my favorite part of my job after all.

Insult, Injury, and Comeuppance

“Sweet is revenge – especially to women.”
– Lord Byron

Good morning, minions.  Where can I get the best real-looking plastic snakes money can buy?

Oh, I'm sorry. I thought work ended at 5.

Last week, after doing the laundry run, I returned the key to Lt. Colossus as per usual.  Then J. and I headed up to the City for the evening.  I’d left my phone at home because it needed to charge, and when we came back I had about half a dozen messages on it that proceeded thus:

“C. this is —- from work, Lt. Colossus asked me to call you and find out where you left the key to the van.  Could you call me back?  Thanks.”

“C. this is —- again, we really need that key.”

“This is Officer —-, I’m not happy.  You know that you’re supposed to turn that key into Colossus when you’re done, it’s not your car.  We need to use it.”

“C., Colossus.  Where the hell is that key?  You know better than to keep it, damn it!  We need it!”

“C.!  Where is it?!”

“C.  Hi…sorry…this is Colossus…I found the key…see you tomorrow.”

The blasted man, after having told all the officers on duty who needed the van that I had absconded with their blessed key,  had accidentally taken it home with him in his pants pocket.  Jupiter Ammon, what is it with men and pants in this office?!

But to add insult to injury, this morning he found Lt. Citrus pressing a uniform in the supply room and cracked, “Shouldn’t you have to wear a skirt to do that?”
Wise heard him and let him have it with both barrels.
“But you girls weren’t supposed to hear that,” he protested.
“It’s sexist whether we hear it or not,” I retorted.
“You just have not sense of humor,” he tried to tease.

See, my my bite far, far worse than my bark.

Foolish, foolish man. I’ve officially lost patience with your mild but all-pervading sexism and your tendency to blame things on me.  And unlike most women you seem to know, I am not of the ignore-it-and-it-will-go-away persuasion.   Also I know three very important things about you.  1 – that you scream like a girl,  2 – that you are terrified of snakes,  3 – your locker combination.

There are many ways to cure sexism and undesirable behavior.  I choose psychological warfare.

Mob. Mentality.

“People are a problem.”
– Douglas Adams

As if we were not already desperately busy, especially with Fall semester looming, this is also when the University hosts a conference open to the public.  For a mere $44 dollars, you can come spend week going to classes about academic topics, theology, personal development, and probably basket weaving for all I know.  This wouldn’t be so bad if it were not for the people.

And we're not leaving without our commemorative mugs!

It is impossible to convey how boorish these invaders are.  You’d think they owned the place!  Office supplies go missing, we have to lock classrooms so that they can’t get in, they knock people down rushing to classes, they yell at everyone…genuine menaces to society.  However, it’s their propensity to complain about everything, usually consequences they’ve brought on themselves by their rude behavior, that really bleaches us of all sympathy.  Some favorite complaints:

I couldn’t find a parking space so I had to park in the road against oncoming traffic.
No.  You didn’t.  That’s like saying, “There were no cigarettes so I had to smoke crack.”  Not at all.  The circumstances are probably aggravating and cause withdrawals and make you irritable (not unlike frustration with parking), but the solution you propose is still illegal.

We paid good money to come to this conference, get out of our way!
We pay much, much more money to go to school here for four years.  Full time.  And do you think any of us get our way?

We paid good money to come here [again, please note $44], so we should be able to park wherever we want.
Hm…not really.  This is, in fact, a fully functioning university 365 days a year.  Which means that we have anywhere between 20,000 and 60,000 people here on a daily basis who are actually working and taking classes who need to park.  To put it simply, we trump you.  You are visitors, we are permanent.

We can’t find anything on this campus of yours.  Don’t you label anything? And where are we supposed to park?
Yes.  You will find them on those handy maps you were given on your first day.  And you can park in any one of the half-of-the-entire-campus-lots we took away from those mentioned in the complaint above this one and gave them to you to use.  For a week.  For free.  Ingrates.

The bishop encouraged us to come so, since the bishop sent us, you should give us food for free, because of the bishop.
This is not the parish potluck!

We drove a long way to come here, why can’t we leave our car in a handicapped stall?
I don’t care if the Vatican called you personally and declared all your sins would be forgiven if you invaded campus.  I don’t care if we get an email from Mecca declaring this the site of this year’s pilgrimage.  I don’t care if St. Thomas a Becket re-capitates himself and orders Chaucer resurrected to write another masterpiece about our humble university town.  You do not, under any circumstances, get to get away with such unpardonable behavior!

(Cutting in front of whole lines of people, including one in a wheelchair, to buy things at the campus store and then snapping at the people who ask you to move to the back of the queue, “We’re with the conference!”)
Who raised you?!

I Saw a Sign

“All abstract sciences are nothing but the study of relations between signs.”
– Denis Diderot

One of my annual duties is to process raises for all of the student employees, all 150-200 of them.  Each of these raises must be individually entered, then individual added to two separate databases (before I hand them off to Susie who enters them into another worksheet).  As you may imagine, this takes quite a bit of time.  I usually clear my entire schedule to work solely on this project so that I can get it done in a couple of days.

These couple of days are brain melting.  I stare at the computer screen without breaks from the moment I get into work until the moment I leave.  By the time I limp out to my car, my eyes are crossing and uncrossing beyond my control.  I swear I’ve developed carpal syndrome in my right index finger.

Note: NOT Dave Matthews.

Funny things happen to my head, such as yesterday when I had to do a double take  because Pandora (which often doesn’t make sense anyway), playing in my peripherals suddenly flashed a picture of King Leonidas from 300…no…wait.  It wasn’t a naked, roaring barbarian, it was Dave Matthews.  I rubbed my eyes and prayed for 5pm.  But it pays off to do it all at once because within three days I can usually get back to my normal schedule only slightly worse for wear.

The only way I am able to get it all done in a timely matter is by carefully cultivating the idea that anyone who disturbs me during this process will be marched out into the parking lot, lined up, and summarily shot.  This year, to facilitate the speedy processing of raises, I put up the following sign:

And, much to my royal irritation, everyone has been ignoring it.  Cretins.

Things You Say That Will Make Me Doubt You

**Don’t forget to enter the Shabby Apple giveaway!  Winner announced tomorrow!**

Now, while some people come into our office and say things that are just plain silly, other people say things that are, literally, unbelievable.  From this week (and it’s only Wednesday morning):

“I have a doctor’s note.  Uh…from…um…a doctor!”  *

“I’ve, uh, locked myself out of my car.  Don’t have my keys.  Could you guys open it for me?”
“Can you prove ownership of the car?”
“Um, no.  Can’t you just shoot the trunk lock open for me?” **

“You don’t understand, you are going to do what I tell you.  Don’t you know who I am?” ***

* I am a rhinoceros.  One of us is lying.
** I’ll bet lunch someone finds a body.  Any takers?
*** No.  I don’t.  And since it’s my job to be painstakingly aware of all requisite movers and shakers, that ought to tell you something.

For Your Saftey…

We are rather busy and terribly grumpy.  We are hiring nearly 30 people, firing about 20, and processing paperwork for all of them, along with giving all our 200 employees an individual raise.  Your complaints about not being able to buy more targets to vaporize in shooting practice, bafflement on how to use the fax machine, repeats of questions we’ve answered dozens of times, or excuses of why your work is late will not be acknowledged, much less tolerated.

Go away.

Postive. Identification.

“Regrets are as personal as fingerprints.”
– Margaret Culkin Banning

Occasionally one of my jobs at the front desk is to help with fingerprinting customers.  Usually Officer Lampost does this but if he’s running security somewhere on campus, sick, or on vacation, I’m your girl.  Fingerprinting is one of those standard services a police department offers, we do them digitally, but I’m convinced that the customers we get are no where close to standard issue.

You get the averages weirdos, the people with really sweaty hands, the older men who lean against you and sniff your hair, and such.  But then, you get the even more bizarre types.

Like the girl who came in, said she needed her fingerprints taken, paid, and then sat down and opened up a book.
“Ma’am, you’ll need to come with me so I can fingerprint you.”
“Oh, can’t you just go get them?”  she asked in surprise.
I blinked.  “Excuse me?”
“Can’t you just go print them off for me?”
“Have you had your fingerprints taken here before?”
“No.  Why, don’t you have them ready?”
“Um…we have to prepare them – ”
“Well, do you need me for that?” she asked, with perfect sincerity.

Then there was the gentleman, about my own age, who needed fingerprints done for a job application.  I’d typed all his information into the program and then said that I needed his right hand to start the process.  His lips compressed but he allowed me to direct his hands and then fingers one at a time to the scanner.  When I was done he shook himself like I was a rodent and turned a religious, baleful eye on me.

Dear, dear. You're assuming WAY too much.

“Do you think what happened just now was appropriate?”
Pen poised above the line for my signature on the form, I froze.  “I’m sorry?”
“You hitting on me like that?  In a place of business?”
“Sir, I’m afraid – ”
“Really, it’s disgusting.  I’m married.”
“So am I, sir.  And I promise that under no circumstances would I ever hit on you,” I said, meaning it with all my heart.
“Pathetic,” he muttered under his breath before snatching his prints and stalking out.

Like I said…weird.

That Time Again

“No supervisor becomes the quarterback in this situation.”
– Richard Hirsch

About this time last year, we organized a meeting in which to hold student supervisor’s feet to the fire about their negligent hiring practices.  The Great Uprising of the Secretaries had some effect since the University complimented our department on having no hiring errors since then.  HA!

However, seeing as it’s been a whole year, and what with some people being raised to the position of student without being trained how to do the job, the fact that some supervisors don’t like to read forms, and that the same supervisors have developed the habit of letting the University auto-terminate their students instead of doing the work themselves (actually, telling us to do the work) and not telling us students have quit…we must again go over the same information we did last year.  And none of the information has changed.

I am imagining throwing this phone at you.

I long to be able to shake a stack of paperwork, uniforms, and gear in their faces and say, “We do all of this.  We get them hired, outfitted, in compliance with state and federal laws, and keep them that way.  We keep track of the last time you, their supervisor, with whom they have contact every day, gave them a raise.  We get them access to all secured areas, programs, and even sometimes personally hand them pepper spray (at great personal risk).  We do this, for 150 of them a year.  Literally all we ask of you is to have this form filled out so we know what timetable to do all this on…please explain to me, WHY IS THAT SO HARD?”