Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Flattery will get you nowhere

I'm in a list making mode. I'm also a little ticked off.

Today's topic is a list of "What Not To Say to Me If You're Within Arms Reach"

1. "Fine" (it is not an answer to a question that requires more thought)

2. "Whatever" and roll your eyes

3. "I know" after I remind you to not do something - after you've just done it

4. "I don't want to hear about it" (and mean it, when I want to tell you something)

5. Use the term "The Wife" in any sentence

6. "deal with it"

7. Talk extensively about a topic you know nothing about (unless you proceed your thoughts with "I don't really know anything about this, but...")

8. More than two acronyms in one sentence

9. "I know I've been complaining about problem X for years, but I'm still going to walk away from the opportunity to solve the problem..."

10. "I'll call you when I send the email"

11. "I've sent you an email - did you read it yet?"

12. "It's imperative that we get this out this week and our entire business with this customer depends on it, but just do what you can..." (it's one or the other people)

13. "That's not my job"

14. "Price check at cash #4" (when I've already played cashier roulette and guessed that you are the most efficient cashier)

15. "whatever you want to do" (when I know there's a good chance you are not going to like my decision)

16. "doesn't matter to me" (see #15)

17. anything that implies that your time is more valuable than mine (see post on wanders)

18. "Ma'am" (by anyone)

19. "Sweetheart, honey, darling, dear" by anyone other than my husband or people 70+ years old

20. "I had no choice" (you ALWAYS have a choice)

No doubt there are many, many more - but that will be enough of a purge today.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

if this is as bad as it gets...

Last night I called one of my long-time friends that I hadn't talked to for months. This may not seem like a big deal, but we live in the same city so it shouldn't be so hard to connect. Unfortunately our schedules and lack of motivation often get in the way. The time doesn't seem to matter though.

When I called she recognized my voice right away, which I took as a good sign. Then I asked if it was a good time to talk- she has three kids and her husband is away for 4 months on military training - so odds are something is going on. For the next ten minutes she told me about the salad she was prepping for a playgroup picnic the next day. That expanded into a rant on some of the moms in the group ("who brings Timbits to an International-theme potluck?!") and then, after all this, she said, "hello".

It didn't matter that it had been months since we had spoken or got together. There was no hint that I hadn't called in awhile and no excuses were made as to why she hadn't called me. What a complete relief to talk (listen) to her.

She's an amazing mom, a very intelligent person, and a very loyal friend. I've know her since grade 8 and she's been with me through all my highs and lows and I've stood beside her during hers. She remembers what I was like before success went to my head (ha ha) and I remember when the group of boys following her were older than us (although not much more mature than the ones she has know). We lived and breathed 90210 and friends together. We were bridesmaids at each others weddings.

Seriously though - she's my hero. The woman has been through so much and still manages to shrug it off and say, "if that's the worse there is, then it's not too bad". The first week her husband left for training, her youngest got an ear infection, her middle child had stomach flu, and her oldest was found to have pneumonia. Oh and she does daycare for 5 kids. All in the first week. Her comment - "yeah it was hell, but she figured it could only get better". Seriously - I would be making a phone call that would go along the lines of - get your ass home right now or I'm sending you papers.

I like the fact that I can say, "you what he's like" when I refer to my husband and she does know. She likes that I know all about her ex, so she can bitch without having to give me the background.

After an hour of talking we planned to get together in the next few weeks. No date was set and there was no pressure. We'll get around to it - we always do. What's a matter of weeks...

So when I look at all the BS here at work and roll my eyes because of the inane emails I get, the complete lack of direction in my group, the hypocrisy of the company's principles, the bizarre things my co-workers do - I have to think, if that's the worse there is, then it's not too bad.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The word you're searching for is "unbelievable"

I have to share this just b/c it is like a scene out of The Office.

My (cubicle) neighbour is a very predictable person who likes routine and lives by his schedule. He finishes work at 3:30pm. Not 3:31pm. He is locking up, Febreezing his work shoes and shutting down so that he is walking out of the office at 3:30pm.

It is not unusal for him to drop off a report for me proofread at 3:25pm, with a request to leave it on his desk for the morning. I'm okay with that. I like helping out and I've taken out stocks in red pens since I've started doing this. So last night, when he comes rushing into my cubicle (remember, it's 3:25pm and there's a 5 minute looming deadline), I wasn't surprised. But surprise me he did.

This month is safety month at work. In addition to refresher courses we have been given weekly activities, like crosswords, to work on. This week it was a word search. I don't really find these challenging so I didn't do one. However, my neighbour did find it challenging and was taking it seriously.

Last night, I was asked if I could do my neighbour a favor. Not just any favor, but a really big favor. He had struggled to get the word search done in time, but he missing five of the words and the deadline was tomorrow. He said he worked on it during his half hour lunch break, but couldn't quite get it all done. I am confident in saying that it probably took him the entire day to get where he was. Unfortunately he would be out of the office and not able to submit it. He was willing to let me put my name on it and would share the prize - should he win.

Yup - he asked me to finish his word search and submit it for him. It took him 3 minutes to tell me this. It took me 3 minutes to find the words - while he stood in front of me. I still submitted it for him since he had to leave and making the slight detour to the submission box would have put him past 3:30pm. I did not add my name to it.
Thinking about this still cracks me up and what cracks me up more is that I can picture my manager sitting at his desk struggling over the same word search.

Generation Huh?

So, I'm reading the book "Please just F* Off: it's our turn now..." (see sidebar). I'm on page 40 and not sure how I'm going to feel about it at the end. Actually, I shouldn't say that - it's interesting and it's likely to be informational, but it's got me thinking about where I fit in the big scheme of things. I realize that the book is written by an Australian ex-pat who is commenting on the state of his native country, but the message be applied to most countries.

His comments, what I've read so far, are that anyone born post-1970 is considered part of the Generation Y/ Next/ X/ whatever. To summarize: we all have many characteristics in common, one of them being a distrust and hate-on for the baby boomers and their lifestyles. Many a thing he's written had me nodding in agreement, but then he starts to describe the life of post-1970s and that's where the lines get blurry for me.

You see, I am post-1970 (Gen Y), but I don't still live at home (b/c of student debts), I have never moved backed in with my parents (b/c I've been laid off), I'm in my mid-30s and married 12 years (not just thinking about it), I have two kids (and am done my family, not starting), I've worked at the same company for 8 years (not moved around every year or so), and (here's the big thing) - it's all been by choice.

Now, I'm not slagging anyone for their choices in lifestyle. Okay, maybe I have a hard time with the still living at home thing. But for the most part I don't seem to fit the mold. I know there are a lot of other people with similar circumstances to me, but most are almost 10 years older or in living in Louisiana. Getting married at 22 and not pregnant - what?!

We are supposedly the most educated, particularly tertiary education, generation ever- I do fit in here.

We are the most technologically advanced generation - I'm a little behind here. I like new developments, but I'm not at the front of the line waiting for it. I like things to become mainstream before I consider buying it.

I've only had a cell phone for about two years, but it does not have web access, take pictures, or text message.

My internet at home is (*gasp*) dial-up

I have only one phone and one tv in my house.

I was initiated to the Internet after I had my daughter (going on ten years now) and I was looking for some new-parenting advice. I came across a virtual "playgroup", which sounds incredibly cheesy now, but was a god-send then. It was posting boards for new moms and it was grouped by the month and year your baby was born. This meant that you were talking with people who had kids the exact same age as yours. This was an amazing source of information and reassurance to me. The sad thing was I didn't know a single one of those women and would likely never meet one. I didn't know anyone my age that had a baby and the neighbours that did have babies were light years away in terms of lifestyle and attitudes.

When I read a schedule of a "day-in-the-life" of the author, I recognized it as similar to many of my friends and so completely different from my own. So, what happened? Did I fall off the generational turnip truck?

I am working on becoming a more aware and responsible person. I would like to move from the uninformed to informed category when it comes to politics and global issues. But at what cost? At the cost of bashing boomers (hey, I don't like a lot of what they have/ are doing, but they are a product of their upbringing...have it all...take it all...)? At the cost of rejecting anything that smacks of being endorsed by previous generations?

All this and I'm only on page 40...must be a good book.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I wonder while I wander...

I've been at work less than an hour, after a day of rejuvenation, and already I've got my back up. Lately, it takes almost nothing to get me irritated (just ask my husband) and something as simple as the layout of our office shouldn't be a big deal. But it is. Actually, it's not so much the layout of the office than the fact that I am in a cubicle with absolutely no privacy. Yeah, that's a bit more specific.

I like people - on my own terms. I do not enjoy listening to others peoples phone conversations. Actually, that's not true. I like eavesdropping on personal calls, but I don't like listening to crowing (male posturing) that goes on over the phone in my neighbour's cubicle. I find drawer slamming and excessively loud sighing annoying, unless it's my own. And worse of all, I don't like the fact that there is no door to stop people from just walking in.

Apparently being housed in a cubicle means that at any time, anyone can:

a) lean over the divider and start talking to you
b) walk in and start going through your filing cabinets
c) wander in and just start talking (see blurb below on wanderers)
d) check out what's on your monitor and/or who's calling on your phone (call display)
e) see the moment you arrive in the office and time their first request about 30 seconds after you've taken your coat off
f) use your computer when you're not sitting at your desk
g) comment on your choice of personal "flair" posted on your walls (seriously - telling me that Picasso was a nutjob is not going to make me take down a photo of his work)
h) add in comments to the phone conversation that you are having, from another cubicle

Realizing that only grunts work from cubicles, it may be unrealistic to expect more. I'm a hopeless optimist and dream of them day when everyone can work in perfect harmony and respect my friggin personal bubble.

So I wonder, why the wanderers of the world manage to get away with what they do. You know who they are - the people you work with who always seem to be standing in others' doorways and chatting. I'm assuming that they are repeating the same shit to everyone or passing along information that they got a Office/Cubicle A to Office/Cubicle C. New information justifies the wanderer's job since they then have to start over to tell the first people about what they've learned from the last people they talked to. If you can manage to do this for the bulk of your week, not get it trouble, and get paid to do it - then go for it. The problem that I have is that many of these people are not very good at reading the social cues of others. If you come into my cubicle and I listening for a few minutes, then start glancing at my monitor, then start typing, and resort to saying "uh-huh, hmmm..., really? and that's interesting"...then it's time to move along. That's not an invitation to sit down and continue.

The funniest thing about wanderers is that they like to comment about the movements of others - particularly other wanderers. They say things like, "what does that guy do?" "all he does is walk around and talk to people", and "they should say something to him". Meanwhile, I'm thinking in my head, "what does this guy do?" "all he does is walk around and talk to people", and "they should say something to him".

That's the beauty of the blog. Say it once and be done with it. Well, I'm done with my e-wandering for this morning.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Everyone has that one (or more) skill that they need to work on. I fall into the "or more" category, but the one that I'm focused on today is asking for help. Apparently I'm not alone in this struggle.

Last night E broke down in tears after trying for several minutes to get his t-shirt over his head. I came in and reminded him that all he has to do is ask for help - there's no reason to get completely upset over this.

A few days ago, A is trying (unsuccessfully) to get E to leave her room. Her request becomes a demand. The demand progresses to yelling and then it gets nasty. At this point I step in to help out and remind A that if she's having trouble dealing with the situation - she should come and ask us for help. Why didn't I step in sooner? Because I'm trying to teach them to work it out on their own.

So, then we come back to me. Do I take my own advice? Do I ask for help when I'm frustrated, when I've hit the wall, when I don't know what to do next, when I feel overwhelmed. Rarely. Why is it such a hard thing to do? Is it really a sign of weakness when you ask someone for advice or to lend a hand. I know the answer to all of these questions and yet I still struggle with it.

What is it? Pride, stubborness, independence...

Then I wonder. Should we always have to ask? In the case of the kids, should I let them struggled and/or duke it out or should I step in and offer help. How much easier would it be if someone came up and asked me if there was something that they could help me with. It would be much easier (on my ego) to say yes than to have to actually say the words, "can you please help me".

At work, I'm notorious for taking on too much. I take on what I can do, but I take on too much. I want to be able to show that I can handle anything and everything that I am challenged with. The problem, which any dummy could see coming a mile away, is that when you have too much on the go - you can't possibly do a good job at all of them. This is where I find myself right now.
Aside from the general dislike of my job, I am having a hard time facing all the tasks that I need to.

On the flip side, I am looking at getting out of here. This requires updating my resume and penning a brillant cover letter that will land me an interview. I want to run my credentials by a co-worker whose opinion I value, but for some reason I'm hesitating. Other than writing my inner thoughts out on the Internet, I'm typically a private and guarded person. Showing my co-worker my work experience and history makes me feel like I'm saying this is who I am and having them go "that's it?!" Of course, having the feedback could be totally beneficial and give me some ideas. I relate this back to asking for help.

So, I'll take an uncharacteristic leap of faith and ask for help.