Tag: Office

Wild Woman (Kind of.)

If you have a job without any aggravations, you don’t have a job.
~Malcolm S. Forbes

Uh oh.  My time at the PD is winding down and my inhibitions are loosening their grip on me.  Either that or the early hours are already affecting me…

A patron came in to contest a ticket, and I went out of my way to try and help him craft an appeal, at his request.  I even directed him towards some student groups that are working to change the policy if he wanted to voice his views more broadly.  While answering his questions as best I could this 18 year old kid seemed to decide to make me the focal point of his frustrations.  He gave me a lecture on the subject of university policy, call me dumb, and interrupted and snapped at me several times.  Even the front desk officer was taken aback by this young man.  I really hate patrons like this, but I kept it together.  Until…

He asked what tone he should strike in his appeal, and I recommended, “Well, I understand you’re angry but I wouldn’t be argumentative with the appeals officer about the policy, just lay out your facts as to why this ticket is undeserved.   ”
“Of course I’m not going to talk to him the way I’m talking to you,” he said and rolled his eyes with a terrific sound of disgust.  That brief hacking sort of noise teenagers make when you do something “lame.”

My eyebrow shot up.  “Then why are you talking to me this way?  Why is it appropriate for you to be rude to me, especially since I’ve been trying to help you get out of paying a ticket, but not him?  Frankly I don’t appreciate that. ”
His eyes stretched and he sort of mumbled something before he grabbed the map of campus (I’d provided) and marched off without another word.  The desk officer gave me a discreet thumbs up.

I’m not proud, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a brief rush of satisfaction!  I may turn over a bale of paper next, or run barefoot through the office.  The Revolution has arrived!  But you know, a sensible sort of one.  Properly managed and not too violent, we don’t want to make a fuss.

Memory, All Alone In the Moonlight…

“Every man’s memory is his private literature.”
~Aldous Huxley

Yesterday was a weird day in the office.  Months will go by without incident and then, suddenly, after a series of unfortunate events, a person runs out the doors screaming and hotly pursued by various officers.  It happens.

After the fireworks show yesterday, everyone who watched it go down was asked to submit a witness statement and as I composed mine, I was a bit disconcerted to realize that piecing together events in their proper order (not an hour after they originally happened) was difficult!  I spent nearly a full minute trying to remember if I called someone on the phone or went back to their office to talk to them in person.  I had a great general view of what had happened and could probably tell several good stories from it, but when it came to putting down just the facts, in strict chronological order, every possible detail that I could remember included – I struggled.

An acquaintance told me a story along the same lines a couple weekends ago, about how one of her cousins bore a hatred for a another cousin from childhood.  Cousin number three flat out refused to have anything to do with cousin number two until confronted about it one day in their late teens or early twenties when an explanation was demanded.  Cousin three said that she hated cousin two because when they were very small, two had locked three in a closet.  After a moment of stunned silence, cousin two exploded, “My sister locked both of us in the closet, you idiot!  I was trapped in there with you!”

A near twenty year hatred based on a false memory.  Three remembered the terror of being locked in the dark, and remembered that two had been there, but time (and possible trauma, I suppose) had warped her from co-victim to perpetrator.

The process of trying to tell a story and struggling so much with it had got me thinking: what exactly is floating around in my head that’s either or gross misrepresentation or a flat out lie?

My family, though close and pretty impressive, have had our share of issues to muddle through, several of which hit their peak during my early childhood.  As a result I carried a lot of bad memories into adolescence (where everything is hormonally magnified anyway), but as an adult and in a healthier place personally, my grip on those bad memories has lessened and my good ones are more evenly mixed in.  I’m not sure if this is the result of reality reasserting itself, or if the hard times don’t define me so much anymore and thus are less critical to my sense of self and so have been shoved onto a back burner somewhere.  Maybe both.

Or maybe I just don’t remember things very well.  I honestly don’t think of my childhood too much, unless someone brings up the topic and even then I find I’m embarrassed at how little I can recall.  I have to concentrate hard to pull up things I haven’t thought of in years, and even favorite memories are surprisingly full of holes.  This bodes not well for my twilight years, darlings…

In any case, I now have a renewed respect for my officer coworkers who have to pour through untold numbers of these usually sloppy, often badly spelled, and (as I can now probably personally vouch) less than reliable witness statements.  People’s memory banks are messy places to work!

Are You There, God? It’s Me, C.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
― Albert Einstein

Minions?  Are you still reeling from that happiness bomb that J. dropped on us collectively?  Is your soul still singing with glee?  Are visions of crumpets and home dancing in your heads?  No…just me?   Well, thrills happen but ridiculousness is eternal.  I’ll update you on plans soon, but in the meantime, here’s a cheap laugh at my expense.

In my current fog (plus the fact that I’m a bit thrown off since I worked yesterday on the holiday and my coworkers and I are running on different mental timelines), I answered the phone today to a perky voice declaring, “Hi, I’m Jane Smith, calling from The Universe.”

I’m horrifyingly embarrassed to tell you this tale, but my brain didn’t compute this one very quickly
“The Universe.”  I repeated stupidly.
“Yes, I think I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for a while now.”
“Ah.”  Praise Odin my backup generators didn’t fail me.  “How can I help you?”
“Well we’re working on something big right now, and we’d like some police involvement.”
“Of course.”
“Could I set up a meeting with Lt. Citrus for next week for a brief interview?”

In the area there are multiple newspapers, some of them with laughably grandiose names: The World, The All The News That’s Fit to Print Times Gazette Post, and…The Universe.  I was not, in fact having an existential crisis.  I’m still beating my head on my desk at how long it took my brain to catch up to that.  Wonky holidays and happiness, kitten, make a potent combination!

I’m not proud of this one…

Office Food Chain

“If you have a job without any aggravations, you don’t have a job. ”
~ Malcolm S. Forbes

Things that make me sigh:

When an officer stands at the copy machine for several minutes staring at it before turning to me.
“C., it says open drawer one and add more paper.  Why isn’t it printing?”
“Because you need to add more paper.”
He stands and looks at me for a long moment before I realize what he’s really asking.  At which point I have to leave the dozen files on my desk, the background check, and the wage changes, to walk ten feet to a cabinet labeled, “Paper,” and put a few handfuls of paper into drawer number one.

Things that make me raise an eyebrow.

Said officer watching me do the whole spiel before saying, “Well, that was easy.”

No kidding.

Sense of Humor Restored

“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.”
~ Coco Chanel

Sitting at my desk, I asked one of the officers to review a background check I was running for him.  As I reached for the file I was suddenly arrested by a sound of heavy sniffing behind me.  Puzzled, I turned around and found him with an embarrassed look on his face.
“Sorry,” he said, “I just caught of a whiff of your perfume.  It smells really nice.”
I felt my eyebrows lifting.  “Ah.  Thank you.  But-”
“That was more than a little awkward, huh?”
“Let’s never speak of this again,” he said firmly.
“Sorry, I fully intend to tell the ladies, which pretty much guarantees you’ll be hearing about this for a couple of weeks at least.”
“Damn it.”

Yes, awkward, but really funny if you know the man, and not nearly on the creep scale of this guy.

*For the record, she-minions, Chanel.  The classics (apparently) never go out of style.

Casual Friday

“He looked around slowly at the grimy, squat white monolith, and that was the exact moment at which he realized without a shadow of the doubt that his fridge had begun seriously to lurk.”
– Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

Don’t you love it when tiny little jobs that nobody wants to do, allow you to wrangle  subversive concessions?  For example, lacking anything else to do, I volunteered to clean out both of the department fridges, and asked if I could dress more casually in order to do it.  Our department’s dress code is very professional, even student employees dress nicely, and exceptions are almost never made.  But when one volunteers to exorcise/disinfect the more horrid lairs of one’s office, one can usually negotiate.  Thus I’m sitting pretty in jeans and topsliders on this lovely Friday afternoon, feeling pretty good about it. Heck, I only put on mascara this morning!

I’m also in a bit of a mischievous mood today, so throwing away a lot of things (that could probably be successfully used to teach the theory of evolution…) is a little sneakily gratifying.  The more so when some teenage student officer asks what happened to “that sour cream I had in there one time?” and I am able to retort, “Ah yes.  As it turns out, it went bad in 2009.  I may have just saved your life.”

As per usual, though, I fell into a bit of a scope creep vortex when I finished.  My desk has been reorganized, everything I work with has been wiped down with antibacterial cloths, and I’m currently tackling some of the unnecessary files clogging up our server disk space (I’m not sure if that’s the techie term for it all).

So!  I’m going to take a break from that and share some fun links from around the web.  There is nothing like the internet to take your mind off of serious things, now is there?

New favorite tumblr: dogs riding trains around Britain.  J. and I spend an inordinate amount of time wishing for a dog, so this doesn’t help, but we can all agree they’re pretty cute, huh?

Miniskirts and fascinators have been banned at Ascot!  But what will we judge?!

And, in more Downton Abbey news, I may be cheering for the reform minded Lady Sybil and her Irish bolshevik chauffeur (and I may tear Julian Fellowes from my love and bury him forever if screws this one up), but my heart belongs to the Dowager Countess and her fabulous one liners.

We all judge some people on Facebook.  Here’s a list of some of Those Types.

One of my favorite TED talks, a theory on the origin of pleasure, in which a Nazi discovers there’s evil in the world.  Enjoy.

Mob. Mentality. [Repost]

“People are a problem.”
– Douglas Adams

[Dumplings, it’s that week of the year, when the campus is invaded; it’s also the week that I am processing nearly 200 raises.  Ergo, I’m dead to the world.  Please enjoy this re-post of this time last week, and be assured it’s just as relevant this year.  Upon reflection, this is also the week where my optimism about humanity at large takes a beating…]

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?!

Dear Me, You’re An Unpleasant Person, Aren’t You?

“Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude. ”
~ Maurice Baring

Dear World at Large,

Me again!  You know, if you could just learn one or two of these little lessons I’m trying to get across, we wouldn’t have to speak so often.  You could go along your merry way and I could kick back and return to chuckling benignly at your expense.  But alas, you seem determined to thrust yourself rudely at me, and here we are.

This one will be pretty short:

We salute you, brave barista.

It is an almost laughable fallacy of yours that customer service will get better as you get nastier.  Snarling (literally) at us, calling us foul names, rolling your eyes and making “under your breath” commentary about the person trying to help you (heavy on the word “incompetence”) might be a nice, passive aggressive way for you to make your feelings known, but it will not speed us up.  It will not imbue us with bureaucratic powers we do not currently posses and it will not endear you to us.  Screaming at us will actually make us less inclined to work with you, as we will be primarily concerned with getting you out of our hair.

And, here’s a tip, if you are determined to be a b***** or a b******, being surprised when someone responds to you in kind doesn’t become you.  Because someday, some brave soul not confined to office-job-obligated politeness will let you have it.  And you will find it a harrowing experience.

Just a heads up,

Paper. Work.

“Oh, my giddy aunt!”
– C.

Good.  Bleeding.  Grief.

We are in that inverted paradox that exists on university campuses, the storm before the quiet.  The term just ended and people are scattering like insects, and I am kept busy because lots of them need paperwork done for bar exams, licensing boards, visas, internships, and jobs.  Soon they will all be gone and silence will descend until Fall term – disturbed only by the occasional conference and the heathen invaders those entail.

The great trouble with this need for paperwork, is the propensity people have to leave it all to the last minute.  For example, we have designated times for fingerprinting.  And yet, invariably at this time of year, at 2 o’clock when the sign says we should be done, four or five people fall through the door panting and beg us to make an exception and fingerprint them just this once.  And I inevitably do.  Because I am a nice person, damn it.

But there are some days that this high-minded benevolence mixes with irritation, today was one of them.

This poor girl came in and we spent nearly an hour trying to help her out.  The trouble was that it was awfully difficult to help her, because she’d made a right mess of her job application.  First of all she hadn’t filled out any of the paperwork that needed to be done before I could take her prints, then it transpired that she needed traditional ink fingerprints and not digitally taken ones so I had to beg an officer for help, and then she discovered that she still didn’t have all of the things she needed to send off with said fingerprints anyway!  It turns out she hadn’t actually read through her hiring packet – which, if my job depended on it, I think I would have taken the time to do.

Emotionally stunted, useless lump that I am, I patted her arm awkwardly and promised to do my best to help her as she sobbed all over my counter, but inwardly I shook a schoolmarm-ish finger at her.  “And what did we learn from this, my girl?”

I’m the Doctor

“We do have a zeal for laughter in most situations, give or take a dentist.”
~ Joseph Heller

Accustomed as we are to dealing with characters, you’d think we’d be a bunch of cynic old cranks unperturbed by any but the vilest of persons.  That we would have long ago reached the impossible to amuse, world weary, emotional wasteland of a DMV employee at 4:55pm on a Friday.  That we would have, literally, seen it all.

But let me tell you, pumpkins, when a wizened old man with his pants belted almost up to his ribs marches into your office, slaps his liver spotted hand down on the counter and declares roundly, “Hell, I’m John Smith, and I’m a dentist,” you crack a grin, sit back, and prepare to be entertained.

I'm not sure we can help you. Did you choose the correct police box?

And Doc Smith did not disappoint.  We all sat in rapt attention as he told nearly one dozen jokes in a row (several without a discernible punchline), used racially, sexually, and culturally insensitive language, and told us his life story.  He has been an Air Force reserve colonel and “FBI police officer,” owned his own dental practice (his teeth were more metal than organic, please note) and now owns a few apartment complexes.  Which, in the end, was what brought us to the purpose of his visitation (calling it a mere visit would simply not be adequate).  Apparently some kids who did not live in his buildings were using his parking lot and he wanted it to stop so, enterprising old cook that he was, he took himself to the nearest police station to purchase a car boot.

When we could get a word in between his jokes, we told him we were completely unable to help him, as we could not sell university owned equipment.  The best we could do was google some information for him and wish him the best of luck.  He stayed another ten minutes telling jokes and his adventures as an airline pilot before disappearing.  To parts unknown.

Best customer we’ve had in weeks!