Archive for the ‘Workplace Behavior’ Category

or,

How Many Verizon Employees Does it Take to Connect
a Wire?

Congratulations, Verizon. I know you’re honored to receive this award. In case you don’t know how you happened to be chosen, allow me to tell you my story.

I finally made it into the millennium and got a smartphone, which is infinitely smarter than your customer service people seem to be. I cancelled my landline service, with corresponding re-routing of the internet service on my laptop to “dry loop” (does that mean the wires on a phone connected to the internet are “wet loop?” Sounds kinda risky to me). This re-routing process, as the customer service rep who took the information (and at least five subsequent tech support reps) informed me, is supposed to happen automatically with no interruption in internet service. Which it did, if “no interruption” can be defined as “bit the dust for eight days with thirteen (literally; I counted) hour-long phone calls to Verizon in vain attempts to fix the problem, with the complete impossibility of speaking with the same person twice.”

Every day on the phone (often after more than twenty minutes to even find my account in the system), it was like the calls before never happened, and I had to start from scratch every time, like in “Groundhog Day.” “Put on your booties, ‘cuz it’s cold outside – it’s Verizon Clusterf*ck Day!”

The highlight was the day when, after ten calls and twenty minutes of waiting for the twit on the other end of the phone to find me in the system, he finally came back on the line and said, “So what’s the problem again?”

“Okay,” I said. “I think I need to hang up now, because I’m going to lose it.” I put the phone down and hollered into the sink.

When I finally spoke with a supervisor who seemed at last to figure out what the problem was (my internet service was apparently still connected with the landline phone number that no longer existed, and a missing wire also seemed to be involved), he promised that my service would be back up the next day. It wasn’t. Since he actually told me his last name and location, I tried to contact him to see what happened, figuring I might have better luck with someone who at least seemed to have decent critical thinking skills and already knew my situation.

Alas, my efforts to locate this person were in vain. The office he was in, in Andover, Massachusetts, I naively thought would be easy enough to find via Google or Smartpages. But as I soon discovered, Verizon, any actual offices of yours seem to be in an alternate dimension on the time-space continuum, like the island on “Lost.” I know it must be there, but I can’t ever get to it. Perhaps it’s stuck in 1974, before the internet existed.

The 12th call finally yielded an allegedly scheduled visit from tech support the next day, in one of those 4-hour blocks (this is done so that the tech people can catch up on daytime TV in between appointments, without having to stick to an actual schedule). Yes, I said “allegedly scheduled visit.” This is because they didn’t show up. And when I called around 11:15 (call number 13), I found out that, after the 45-minute call the night before, the person I talked to figured out that something needed to be connected in the office (a few brain circuits, perhaps?), so they didn’t need to come out. Of course, no one called to tell me that.

Finally, the supervisor I talked with checked into the Grand Clusterf*ck and, miracle of miracles, got my service back on (thank you, Karen – you were a beacon of light in the depths of the abyss).

Thank you, Verizon, for giving me a few more gray hairs in my eyebrows to pluck. Keep up the good work – if you play your cards right, you’ll torture enough customers to put the company out of business. One can only hope….

Advertisements

Julia explodes in the office one morning while drinking her coffee, her big toe landing on a co-worker’s desk. Detectives Silver and Jarwin are baffled. Is it spontaneous human combustion, or murder?

Explode

a comedy thriller by
Laurie Holman

CHAPTER 1

The day Julia blew to smithereens started out pretty much like any other day.

It was 8:30 a.m. Julia’s little red Honda crawled down the busy street lined with industrial buildings.  A small, perky redhead in her early 30s (but not so perky as to invite disdain), she was  stylishly dressed in a narrow gray skirt and belted deep blue sweater. She took a dainty bite from her lowfat blueberry muffin. A lone balloon drifted in front of the windshield,  tapped on the glass and popped.

The light turned red. Julia pulled up next to sporty red Porsche. She glanced over. A blonde twenty-something woman chattered on a phone while applying lipgloss. The car behind her slid into her bumper, and the tube of gloss went up her right nostril. She sneezed, and a cloud of pink exploded onto the dashboard. Julia snickered and looked over at the car on her other side. An elderly woman who appeared to be texting drifted perilously close to the car in front of her. In the car behind her, a distinguished-looking man who looked to be seventy or so played Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” on a saxophone.

The light blinked green, and Julia peeled out.

Arriving in the parking lot of a building painted in crayon colors, Julia emerged from the car and hurried up to the door, which read ”Dolly Balloon Company.” She pulled janitor-sized set of keys from her purse, swung the door open and stepped inside.

Julia strode rapidly past a huge warehouse-type space with a rainbow of colors zooming down a multitude of conveyor belts. She passed a cluster of cubicles.

”Hey Stevie. Having a good morning?” she tossed over her shoulder at a slick, too-perfect-looking type in his twenties. He looked up from his desk with bleary eyes. ”Bite me,” he responded amiably.

”You wish,” Julia said as she breezed past him.

She passed an athletically-built man in his forties standing outside an office door looking down at some papers. He glanced up, and their eyes met.

”Morning, Jim.”

”Hi, Julia.” His eyes followed her briefly as she continued down the hall. She entered her office, decorated with the same colorful balloon motif as the rest of the building, tossed her purse into a drawer, and hurried back down the hall. Entering the kitchen, she poured herself a cup of steaming coffee, greeting several fellow thirty-somethings milling around the machine. Paula, a slim, stylishly-dressed woman in her fifties, breezed in.

”Hi there. What’s up?” she said to Julia as she filled her mug with “Menopause is Adolescence With a Smaller Bladder” written across it.

”Hiya. Is it hot in here?” Julia pulled a paper towel off the rack and fanned herself vigorously.

”Not really. Hot flash?”

”God, no. I’m not ready for that yet.”

”We never are, honey, believe me.”

They all walked out into the main office. As they passed Steve’s desk, Julia took a sip of her coffee. Suddenly, BAM – she exploded into pieces. A smoldering toe landed with a thud on Steve’s desk. He stared at it, dumbfounded, then leaned over as if in a trance and gently blew on the toe, extinguishing the flames.

Julia’s co-workers all stood motionless, in shock. Slowly, they all looked into their coffee cups, and tossed them over their shoulders onto the lime-green carpet.

Intrigued? Look here to read on….

Okay, we are all human and have emotions. Well, most of us, anyway. But that doesn’t mean we should just emote all over the place when we’re at work. It’s distracting, uncomfortable and can undermine your professional mojo – especially, dare I say it, if you’re a woman. That glass ceiling is slippery when wet (from tears, of course. What did you think I meant??).

So here are a few workplace drama don’ts:

  • Try to avoid crying at work. Yes, it happens. I’ve had a couple of  sobbing sessions in the ladies’ room in my past work life myself. But unless you come to work and discover one of your favorite co-workers is dead, it’s generally considered unprofessional to bawl in the office. If you feel yourself losing it, excuse yourself as quickly as possible and go cry in private. Or you can try clearing your throat, which I’ve heard stems the flow (haven’t yet tried that one).
  • Don’t blow up. I’m not talking about spontaneous human combustion. Not that I would advise catching on fire at work, either. Or anywhere else, for that matter. But I digress…. Yelling or throwing a chair at your colleague’s head is not okay. I grew up with a time bomb, otherwise known as my sister, that went off at unexpected moments. It was quite unnerving and stressful, and you don’t want to be the trigger for your co-workers’ traumatic childhood memories.
  • Rein in the crazy. Being a bit eccentric or odd can make a workplace more interesting, up to a point. However, you don’t want to be known as the office wacko. If your workplace is casual and welcomes creativity, wearing a Three Stooges tie is probably okay. Wearing it around your waist instead of pants is not.
  • Don’t overdo the touchy-feely. Some offices are more okay than others about expressing affection to co-workers, but the whole sexual harassment thing warrants some caution. Even if you don’t think a hug will be misinterpreted, your co-worker might still prefer you keep your distance. Especially if you have tuna-breath.
  • Keep your passionate political and religious opinions to yourself. Don’t share your agitation at work that your hero, George Bush, couldn’t serve a third term, or that God spoke to you when you got up to pee at 2 a.m. and told you to stock up on freeze-dried beef patties to prepare for the apocalypse.

In case you have no idea what the hell Dunder-Mifflin is, it’s the fictional paper company in which an array of bizarre and often socially obtuse characters spend their workday in the sitcom “The Office.”

“The Office” characters frequently demonstrate behavior that, while funny on a sitcom, in real life would likely get you booted out the door so fast you’d be sitting out in the parking lot with your coffee mug in your lap and a dumb look on your face before you had time to say, “Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.”

Here are some big fat don’ts if you want to keep your job in the real world:

  • Tell a racist joke while attempting a Chris Rock impersonation.
  • Volunteer the info that you’ve been trading sexual favors for a discount on office supplies.
  • Kiss a gay co-worker on the mouth in front of the entire staff to demonstrate your lack of homophobia.
  • Have sex in the stockroom with a co-worker during office hours.
  • Tell your employee she gives you a boner.
  • Fake thousands of dollars of website sales.
  • Pelt a client’s office building with eggs because they didn’t buy your products.
  • Toss messages from your boss in the trash without reading them.
  • Share an employee’s confidential info with everyone else in the office.
  • Perform a fake suicide to elicit your employees’ sympathy.

CBS awarded Charlie Sheen “Employee of the Year” today for his outstanding level of job performance and dependability, stellar work ethic, and teamwork. Former winners of this distinction are Kenneth Lay from Enron, Bernard Madoff of Bernard Madoff Investment Securities, and former U.S. President Richard Nixon.

When asked how he became such an outstanding employee, Mr. Sheen responded, “Winning, duh. ”

“I’m very honored to receive this f*cking award,” Mr. Sheen further commented. “I thank these idiots from the bottom of my tiger heart. Of course, I totally deserve it, since the rings around my Saturn molecules make me superior to all you earthling trolls.”

When co-star and esteemed colleague Jon Cryer was asked how he felt about Mr. Sheen’s award, he responded, “No comment.”

Happy April Fool’s Day.

Here’s an excerpt from “What Color is Your Straitjacket? – A Pocket Guide to Getting and Keeping a Job Without Going Wacko” available as an ebook, http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/what-color-is-your-straitjacket-a-pocket-guide-to-getting-and-keeping-a-job-without-going-wacko/14601180

GIVE ‘EM WHAT THEY WANT – MAKE YOURSELF LESS LAYOFFABLE

In general, your employer will want to keep you around and you’ll be much less layoffable not just because you smell good, but because:

  • you have a positive attitude – no one wants to work with Whiny Guy
  • you’re flexible – not flexible like you can wrap both legs around your neck, but rather like you’re willing to go with the flow and do things outside your job description, like clean the john when the company can no longer afford a maintenance person
  • you’re dependable – you’re there, you’re ready to go, you’re the go-to guy; the one everyone automatically turns to with really dumb questions that have nothing whatsoever to do with your job
  • you give a crap about the company and your co-workers
  • you’re easy to get along with – you aren’t more than mildly irritating, you treat everyone with respect, and you don’t bitch-slap your boss when he annoys you
  • you’re honest – you don’t steal your co-worker’s lunch from the fridge when you think no one is looking
  • you’re presentable – you don’t embarrass your boss in a meeting with clients by telling jokes about whores
  • you refrain from getting involved in office gossip – don’t spread those rumors about the director hitting on an employee in a trannie bar
  • you have unique skills the company needs – you’re the only one in the company who can figure out how the old toaster oven works
  • you take initiative – don’t wait to be asked; think up stuff that’ll not only keep the company from flushing itself down the sewer but even help them make lottsa money
  • you keep your skills and attitude current – if you’re still referring to your PC as “that confounded machine” you may be gone a helluva lot faster than it will
  • you’re eager to learn new skills – eager in a professional way, of course – not eager like a cocker spaniel puppy panting to go take a whiz in the yard

straitjacket guyA comedic look at job search and success – “What Color is Your Parachute” meets “This Is Spinal Tap,” if you will. This combination of comedy and advice gives helpful tips to anyone who is searching for a job, or hoping to hold on to the one they have. Topics include contemplating your navel to find your life’s work, idiot-proofing your job search, online disasters, strategic schmoozing, resume do’s and don’ts, interviewing horrors and how to handle them, how to hold on to your job, reflections on bizarre jobs, and weird work stories.

http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/what-color-is-your-straitjacket-a-pocket-guide-to-getting-and-keeping-a-job-without-going-wacko/14265245

So you have a job – woo-hoo! You want to do your best to keep it. Here are some things not to do if you don’t want to skate too close to the edge of the unemployment line:

  • Wear clothing in the office that suggests you’re going straight from work to an audition for Sex and the City 3. While you don’t have to dress like a refugee from a convent, if you want to be taken seriously at work, keep the girls tucked in and save the nip action for a hot date. Not to mention the Sharon Stone-in-Basic-Instinct thigh cleavage.
  •  Spread nasty gossip about your co-workers. It’ll come back to you, and not in a good way.
  • Be a clock-watcher. “Is it five o’clock yet?” Even if you stand all day on an assembly line with a hairnet on your head putting the caps on beer bottles, it’s not a good idea to imply that you think of your job as a prison that you can’t wait to be released from. If you do, I’m sure your boss will be happy to release you. Besides, if you feel that way, why the hell are you still there?
  • Scoff at the recordkeeping stuff. Hey, so you’re the creative type. We know you don’t care about all that boring data entry. Regrettably for you, though, that stuff almost always determines whether the organization makes or loses money, or keeps its funding if it’s a nonprofit. So if you screw that up, you not only screw yourself, you could screw the entire organization, which isn’t as much fun as it sounds.
  • Make racist, sexist or ageist comments. I’m going to assume you don’t work in an environment where ignorance is actively encouraged. Assuming it isn’t, any of the above could get you tossed out so fast your head would spin around like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist.”
  • Spend a lot of time texting your friends or shmoozing on Facebook. At this point in human evolution, employers don’t reasonably expect their employees not to touch their iPhones or look at non-work-related sites during work hours at all, but if you’re spending more time during the workday getting your friends’ opinions on your match.com photo than actually working, don’t expect to be promoted any time soon.
  • Blatantly flirting with your boss, your staff, your co-workers, or your customers. Most of us flirt a little bit, without even realizing it. And co-workers do often date, even though a lot of companies frown on it, and it can certainly complicate your work life, especially if you break up and at least one of you doesn’t act like a grown-up (of course, if one of you turns out to be a psycho-stalker, that makes it even more difficult, but let’s leave potential restraining orders out of it for now). The thing is, if you sidle up to a colleague and whisper in her ear or grab your boss’s crotch under the table at a meeting, you can get yourself in pretty big trouble. Not only that, but you’d be perceived as ridiculously ignorant, since all you need to do these days to hear about sexual harassment is turn on Lifetime TV.

I did a guest post on my friend Andy’s comedy/atheist blog:

http://laughinginpurgatory.blogspot.com/2010/08/god-and-sexual-harassment.html#more