Tag Archives: work

Unique codifier

I’m not really a fan of hugely unique names for children. I think naming your child ‘Apple’ or ‘Lourdes’, even if you are a celebrity, something akin to child abuse. I’m never too sure some of the old names that went quaintly and quietly out of fashion bouncing back was a good idea either, even if I like a sense of history. (See the host of Rosies and Emelias and Gerties and Noahs that popped up for awhile)

I am starting to see the merit in giving children not too common names, even if not too unusual, as my parents somehow succeeded in doing. I also really like my surname more than Plus One’s. I tried to explain to him this is because it is far more unique in the world than his.

Lately I’m really valuing the merits of this. I am finding the projects I’m working a through pain in the backside because so many of the names on the projects are repeated. It’s inconceivable how many times a Dave and a Mark and Smit and an Addams or whatever has been repeated. Sometimes the first names. Sometimes almost surprisingly the surnames too, or variations thereof. So Smit and Smith and Smuts. Not really the same but similar enough for someone like me with an auto fill function to my email to hit the wrong person. Likewise for the first names.

Sometimes I get lucky and the wrong first name still has some relevance to the email. Sometimes the person is so out of context in terms of project and job function this results in quizzical emails back with the person on the other end clearly questioning my competence.

I exaggerate slightly quite how often this has gone wrong but if you ask me, once is one time too many.

I fully understand now why my old boss said, after we hired someone with the same first name as him, after three months of misdirected calls and a really delusional misdirection aimed at a twentysomething just starting out life with an active social life instead of a staid director in the prime of managerial hell, ‘We are NEVER employing someone with the same name as me ever again. No,’ (to the other director trying to placate him) ‘If that person really appears to be so AMAZING you want to hire him, he can bloody well change his first name if he wants to work here.’

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First World Madness

So there is a big turning circle near my house. If you were going slowly enough you could probably get five cars into it. The water suppliers in their intelligence are digging up the road nearby. This has resulted in the turning circle turning into a something like a five way stop. All roads coming into the circle have to be on a traffic light system but some tributary roads have also been affected as they come out very close to the circle so are also on the light system.

Most of the time this is semi automated with these lights they set up portably that flip automatically from light to light in sequence, while irritating the other three or four lines of road users because if you jump a light you get to a point where the traffic is one way and you can’t cross, you are just stuck in the circle.

Except the other day there was a really bored guy standing there switching the portable traffic light on and off. And he’d have to communicate with his mate on the other side via walkie talkie to ensure they were in sync. Not unlike the proverbial waving the red flag guy with a bib who knocks off for lunch and evenings so roadworks have to be done in the day.

So England reverted to being like SA only with a bit more technology.

Health and safety.

Like today.

The fire alarm went off. This is an usually big office. So fire wardens have sticks with signs on and hi vis jackets and you find your sector and your floor.

Turns out the photocopy guys in the basement have their own sign,  they seem to have lost the jacket. The thing is, there are TWO of them. TWO. If they can’t tick off a list with two I don’t know. Especially as they are like the master and the sith, it is more likely they are both at the pub or dead together in the building. But that’s procedure for you…

 

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Secrets to Getting Ahead

I think I’ve said before I suck at office politics. I was reading a really interesting article by another blogger on Google interview questions though. And I went to this strange management thing where they discussed recruitment and how you test people for suitability in a group interview process. (I don’t know what I was doing there as I’m not ‘management’, I’m just the disruptive odd cog in the clockwork.) Which got me to thinking about how people advance their careers.

So my advice in moving ahead, not that I follow it, as it goes against most my principles, morals, patience and ethics not withstanding:

  • I think I’ve mentioned this before on a post. Say back in slightly different words after a ten minute interval what the big boss just said. For some reason bosses don’t seem to realise you just mimicked them and often think you are very clever for coming up with THEIR idea. Either way, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they seem to fall for this easier than one would expect
  • If it is a person of the opposite sex (or even the same sex if they are that way inclined), flirt. Subtly. But never go for drinks or anything with the person concerned. Just drop a lot of hints in meetings and around photocopiers about your abilities
  • Create a posse. Gather everyone on your level and below and make them feel good about themselves. Have them reporting back to you as your eyes and ears to all possible developments you can abuse. Also, they are handy at covering for you when you are late/hung over/bad at your job.
  • Bring food into the office. People really are that shallow. You have to be tactical in that you ‘just love baking’ or ‘was just passing the store at lunch and thought we could all do with a little lift’ but some people do really mistake a few biscuits for generosity and your being a team player even while you are busy stabbing daggers into a coworkers back
  • Don’t come in late but it doesn’t really pay to come in early. Rather hover around and try outstay your boss by a couple of minutes a few times a week then rush out the door when they have left. It makes them think you are a superhard worker.
  • Run don’t walk to meetings, this also deludes the boss you are really busy and packing your hours in.
  • Volunteer for whatever after hours activity suggested, no matter how stupid, whether a team sport or babysitting the boss’s kid
  • Ask people a lot of questions about themselves and nod in deep interest and agreement. Never sound like you know the answer to what they are saying but imply they are vastly superior in knowledge and experience, no matter how stupid or novice they are. (This flatters senior management AND the posse you are collecting)
  • Always look eager to please.
  • Dress as if every day you are going for a job interview.
  • Cultivate an interest in whatever sports/teams/hobbies your boss and colleagues partake/follow so you can make general silly small talk with them at any point.
  • Kiss a lot of ass. It shouldn’t work as well as it does, but sadly it does…

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Filed under modern living, motivation, Uncategorized, work

Smalltalk

I am notoriously bad at small talk, I hate that business in England requires even as you don’t look people in the eye or wait for an answer small talk is required.

So conversations evolve thus:

(Person X wants Person Y to type up minutes and photocopy ten copies and bind them)

‘Hi, how are you’ (don’t really care how you are, please reply with fine thanks and you)

‘How about this cold weather we’re having, hey’ (yes, because it’s generally cold in the winter and you can’t really change that beyond dressing warmly or not going outside or emigrating. commentary has no effect on it, what do I come back with, ‘yes, it is, isn’t it’)

‘So you been keeping busy lately?’ (is this personally? does this matter in the business context? is this busy in the office? in which case you are saying I have too much to do/not enough to do? that I’ve taken too many coffee breaks?)

‘Can you please type up these minutes then print and and bind ten copies for me’ (why do you bother to use ‘can you’? this implies there is choice. obviously one could refuse but when it is part of one’s job description, refusal is generally not taken in a favourable light)

This backwards forwards bantering of meaningless prose has made me cynical about conversation in general unfortunately.

I have a friend who, upon meeting him for the first time, someone said to me, ‘he’s rather intense isn’t he?’

I can’t tell if he read some self help book and totally took it to heart, if he is just programmed for great politeness or if he just sees silver linings in everything, even when it is not possible to have a lining because it’s a cheap summer jacket from Mr Price. I actually suspect it really is the latter but that just makes him more weird to me.

Every time I see him sometime in the course of our conversation, usually within the first ten minutes, he will surface with a banal comment like, ‘LC, your hair looks great today’ (this genuinely was the last compliment he paid me after I’d come in from a small hailstorm, a huge amount of rain and a near on gale force wind) or ‘LC, that’s a really nice sweater’ or ‘LC thank you SO much for forwarding that email of kittens playing the piano to me, it really made me smile.’

I wish there were more people with such a shiny outlook to life to neutralise the cynicism of me. But I fear the shine tarnishes when too many people like me are looking at you funny trying to work out what your motive is.

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Work secrets

 

So there is this guy that has been doing my head in the last few months in our office. The type who makes this funny slurping noise before he speaks, looks permanently ungroomed but is geared for greatness to the frustration of his equals (minions) and undying support of his managers (equals). I can see he has some very good points but not really good enough for his role.
Currently I’m trying to be the bigger person – yes, me, and its working because I put on weight on holiday so I AM bigger…
So on Friday he went for coffee for half an hour then came back and crashed around cleaning his desk for an hour then left to go on a long weekend at 11am. I probably wouldn’t really have noticed except he really WAS crashing around.
Open desk. Shut desk. Lock desk. Open desk. Shut desk. Lock desk.
He did this about ten times and the office was a tomb at the time so after the fourth time I realised something was up.
WHO locks their desk anyways? If you lose the key you have to break it open to get back in and its not exactly the best security system. I only do this when I go running and I don’t know who the cleaning staff/security are after hours and my purse is full of money. Which isn’t often to be fair. The running or the money thing.
So I asked, what is in his desk (natch at the pub at lunch).
‘I’ll give you three guesses’ says my colleague, ‘because I know what is in there’
It turns out the answer is SHOES. SHOES!!!
When he was made permanent and promoted, he bought a pair of shoes worth £500 and for some inexplicable reason stores them at work in his drawer and then locks them in…. even when he goes to the toilet. I’m unsure what shoes we are talking about as I would guess his most expensive pair to have cost maybe £120 at the most but hey. We dispute if its the blue suede ones or the 90s Freedom looking ones. Or the brown brogues. None of them look that expensive.
I think an iron and a haircut and shave would have been a better investment.

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I am a worrier

I wish I was one of those people who lived blissfully calmly through life’s ups and downs. I am just not one of those people. I’m one of those people who leaves for work then spends the next four hours worrying I forgot to lock the door behind me. I have actually gone back and CHECKED halfway to work whether it was locked.

I stressed once the fridge door was open when I went away for a weekend.

The only thing that saves me from dying of an early heart attack (although this could still happen) is that I am also extremely forgetful. It’s like early onset dementia. I watched a movie yesterday I saw on the big screen not even a year ago. I swear I’d never seen it before but plus one rather irately pointed out he’d paid for tickets to take me to see it. Whatever. It was a revelation for me plot wise. I went with the BBC Sherlock Holmes quote that I didn’t have the time and energy to keep useless stuff in my head so something had to depart.

Currently I worry I fluffed a job interview as I was a bit wishy washy so he wants to stay in touch  but didn’t convert to an offer.

I worry that I will not get further interviews.

Or that I will and have to lie about going to them.

That I have been offered within my company to change teams which I dearly want.

But that if I do I will have to work longer hours.

But if I don’t that I will die of boredom.

It must be interesting to be one of those people who just lives and doesn’t over think things.

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Moving up in the world

I went to a networking party last night. It was sponsored by a group of recruiters who had managed to get hold of many crates of cider, beer and wine. For some reason they accumulated a tent like structure and a DJ but no snacks. I get the feeling someone owned the tent already and one of the hosts may freelance in music so it was all a bit on the fly.

I felt a bit like I was at a teenage house party. Zinc baths of booze and people crowding the stairs and corridor spaces guzzling out of bottles and plastic cups. I do not particularly miss those days.

It was a pleasant enough event and as they work in a fairly flexible space, groups of randoms not associated with the industry were also drifting around which was a pleasant distraction.

I did think though I really need to accelerate my career somehow. So that when I’m networking I’m in a nice hotel with canapes served by waiters wearing little dicky bows and its champagne not white wine.

We can all dream right?

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Similarities between managers, parents and English speakers

As you get older you become less flexible, especially if you are a parent with a child who is unable to compute putting their shoes away even though they are now actually taller than you.

Fact.

As you rise up in the food chain you get more accustomed to people fulfilling your every command.

Fact.

If you only speak English you assume everyone else really wants to speak it too to communicate.

Fact.

So this is how it works if you fall into one or more of the three above catagories.

Someone says something to you which will impact on your life. One of three things occurs.

  • It is not what you wanted them to say as it seriously inconveniences your life in some fashion because they have just stated they either can’t do what you want or won’t do what you want when you want it done
  • You don’t actually believe or understand what they just said to you
  • Everyone jumps to obey your command

If the third option does not happen your solution is to:

  • Say it louder and slower
  • Say it louder and slower and more insistently when the person keeps going ‘no missus, is not possible’
  • Ignore what they are saying and reply, ‘So it’ll be done by tomorrow, yes?’ and walk out to end the conversation in complete bliss that everyone will jump to your command in your absence

And you know what really irritates me in this situation?

The problem is STILL THERE tomorrow. Just because you commanded that tomorrow the moon needs to orbit the sun because an eclipse would suit you does not mean your minions/children/slaves can achieve the task, even if they stay up all night. Or in fact that they want to even if they tried.

I don’t understand how it is the people who are meant to be running things are often the most oblivious to the reality.

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Just another day at the office

Feeling worn down by this office in general at the moment. It’s made me nostalgic for the old days.

I remember my second ‘permanent’ career posting years ago. The company was expanding at an exponential rate. I spent the first two weeks sitting on a temporary desk point as the person who was usually there was on her honeymoon. I had her slip slops under the table and a pile of paper on the side of me she hadn’t cleared before leaving. I could just about fit between her belongings as she had nested in there.

Moving onto my ‘proper’ desk was a relief as there was now a space for my own little pile of paper, even if the desk wasn’t very large. The office expansion had also meant that they had run out of phonelines to cater to the number of staff members. Squashed between me and a director was a new guy who turned out to be an ex pat from SA as well.

One of his favourite stories on meeting new people when I am present is to recount how he had a barrage of noise on either side of him from myself and the director. The director was particularly fond of loud screaming matches with people on the phone or in front of his desk while I just like to talk.

My colleague and I would literally eyeball each other before grabbing simultaneously for the phone we had to share due to the lack of phonelines. Often, having won the thing, you would dial for an outside repeatedly over ten minutes only to hit an engaged signal. There were more phones despite the sharing than lines going out.

We, at least, had a system. An old timer had a new guy put next to him when they ran out of space and shuffled all the desks round to put in extra people. They too shared a phone. The first time it rang reception placed the call without asking who had picked up.

‘Hello, Jay speaking. No, I’m sorry, there’s no Adam here, this is Jay’s phone. I’m sorry, you must have the wrong number.’

‘Did you just say that there was a call for Adam?’

‘Yes, wrong number.’

‘Adam, I’m Adam you fool. That used to be my phone, we have to share it. When you pick up and they want to speak to Adam, it’s ME, Adam, the guy who introduced himself to you this morning as Adam.’

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Office Lunch

The problem with modern technology is just how cheap appliances have gotten.

In some parts of the world you still have an office tea lady/cleaner. But even if you don’t have her anymore (it is about 70% of the time a ‘her’), you can still invest in a dishwasher and a microwave at very little cost.

So practically every place I have worked at has had some form of kitchen(ette).

In my last office this was taken to ridiculous heights because they were located in this huge old country house. This meant that in addition to two tiny microwave/sink points, they had a full kitchen downstairs.

Some of the guys used to put frozen pizzas into the oven at lunchtime.

This was also partly because the country house was, well, in the country and finding a variety of meals in walking distance was not going to happen.

In my current office we have a number of people with odd dietary requirements.

So called ‘fitness freaks’ on low carb high protein diets exist. They microwave frozen vegetables in their packet to keep up with this diet. When you open them up the entire place smells like old farts and cabbage, broccolli being one of those vegetables that does not steam/boil/microwave well.

Others seem to think microwaving raw fish is a good idea.

Or just buying fish from down the road. Or really strong curry. Or smelly soups.

All of this wouldn’t be so bad if there was a designated seating area you ate this in. A sort of equivalent to those horrible smokers holes where the smoke hovers in the air as they puff frantically away, nicotine sticking to their clothing, the secondary smoke alone bringing about a contact high. The same could be done with a dining area where all smelly foods would hover in the air like a venue where Gordon Ramsey meets a dumpster.

The fact of the matter is a lot of offices do not have allocated seating for eating. So even if you inherit a machine from someone who only ate sandwiches you are likely to discover your keyboard is full of dried crumbs.

But there is the unhygenic-ness of a scattering of old bread and then there is the plain rudeness of foods that noone should eat never mind smell polluting public air.

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