Saturday, January 13, 2007

One More Thing I Hate About Working in an Office

The Box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts.

Read the other things...
A Mouseclick for My AAP
Re-Imagineering dug up this cool quote from Walt Disney...

"Americans are a sociable folk, we like to enjoy ourselves in crowds, at sports arenas, at picnics, fairs and carnivals, at concerts and at the theater. Above all, we like to laugh together - even at our own shortcomings."

Regardless of the revisionist history of the man, Disney was an icon of mine when I was a kid in the sixties. He was pretty much the sole purveyor of high quality imagination and fantasy experiences back then.

"We like to enjoy ourselves in crowds..." I'll remember that over the next couple of weeks.

Friday, January 12, 2007

What Are You Selling?
Just had a run-in this morning with FedEx. Last night I sent a package to the chair of our board. This morning I tracked it and it showed up as undeliverable. "Wrong Address" was the reason noted. So I called Fedex.

The first call: Customer Service Rep (or CSR1) said "We're showing the zip code as having changed, and the recipient as moved."
"That's his address," I said. "He hasn't moved. And I don't think the zip code has changed."
She then proceeded to get a bunch of info from me, info that's already on the Airbill. Then she asked: "What's the recipient's phone number?"
"You don't have that?" I asked.
"It's not showing on my screen."
"But you should have it," I said. "It's on the Airbill."
She got huffy and I gave it to her. She said the package would be delivered by tomorrow.
"Tomorrow's not good," I said. "If it's tomorrow then it might as well not be delivered at all."
"I'm sorry sir. I'll see what I can do," she concluded, a shortness in her voice.

So I hang up and call the board chair.
"The zip code they're talking about is on the west side of Manhattan," he said. "My zip code hasn't changed."

So I call FedEx back and get CSR #2.
"Yes, we're showing the zip code as changed sir," she said.
"How can that be?" I asked.
"You'd be surprised at how many people don't know their zip code," she said.
"I assure you, my 'boss' knows his zip code," I said.
Then things got interesting.
She said the package might be delivered tomorrow.
"Is there someone else I can talk to, because if it's delivered tomorrow I don't think I should have to pay for it."
She told me there was no one. I insisted. After five tries, she said she'd find someone for me to talk to.
I'm put on hold.
Then she comes back.
"Sir, it seems that the package will be delivered. The delivery station got mixed up on the zip code and may have entered it incorrectly."
"So, this is a problem at your end?" I ask.
"Yes, it does seem so."
"So why, on two phone calls, was I told that the problem was at my end."
"I never said that."

Blah blah blah. I won't go on.

FedEx, solve my problem for me. I had to call twice and insist on getting answers, all the while being led to believe it was me (and those around me) who didn't have their act together. It seems that a little investigation on your part would have saved me a bunch of aggravation. It's Friday, we're closed on Monday, and the chair needs a ton of materials by Tuesday. Certainly I'm under the gun, and stressed out. Are the CSR's at FedEx not trained to think "the customer is probably getting flack from all sides, and we are here to help reduce his stress?" FedEx, you're not selling me overnight delivery. You're selling me my weekend!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Am Sooo Ready To Go Into Business For Myself
Mainly because I am sooo tired of dealing with drama at work. Today I thought, "If I have to deal with people like this, I want to be PAID for it." I'm tired of the "corporate culture" in which you have a job to do, but before you do it you have to figure out HOW to maneuver around the people who are going to get in your way as you try to get that job done.

Or to put it more clearly:
A. There's the job you do.
B. There's the job you have to do in order to get to A.

I think I spend most of my day either motivating myself to the next task, or figuring out how to ask somebody for something they are required to give me. It's not that I'm shy. It's just that I'm tired.

So I've been jumping about some "entrepreneurism" blogs, picking up energy so I can answer the question: "What Am I Going To Do?"

I really enjoyed this post on Escape from Cubicle Nation: "Bob Knight: the perfect mascot for "The No Asshole Rule."

And I gathered a bunch of positive vibes from "8 Outdated Notions of Entrepreneurship" from Brazen Careerist.

They're helping chip away at my old, tangled, notions, taught to me in the 60's - you know the ones:
Winning is everything.
Work really hard -- and you'll get ahead.
and my favorite from the 80's:
If You Build It, He Will Come.
(but I'm not a farmer and I don't watch baseball...)

But I'm still left with: "What Should I Do?"
(and even though I like "don't worry, be crappy," I'm not sure how it fits into my life at the moment...)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Why I Don't Own An Ipod
(or any other mp3 player)
You'd think I would own one. I'm a music freak (self-proclaimed). But I don't own an Ipod because Ipod hasn't directed any of their marketing at me. Not that I go out and purchase anything just because I've seen it on television. And it isn't so much that Ipod has their sights on the younger hipper customer. It's just that I've never seen an mp3 player advertised expressly for the classical music loving listener (and by classical music I mean anything from early Gregorian Chant through Berlioz and Britten and on way past Steve Reich, with a smattering of film and Broadway thrown in.)

Oh sure, I've thought about buying one, but those thoughts haven't turned into desire.

I've even investigated classical music mp3 sites. But these sites haven't taken my knowledge and needs into their operation. Just today, in preparation for this post, I checked out one site, just to see if what I'm saying is still true. And I could find tons of composers. But orchestras and conductors and recording dates aren't right there with titles. In one case I did manage to find the ensemble performing - it was a download for Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb - but I was taken aback when that ensemble was listed as some high school chorus! I'm not going to pay for that!

Other sites advertise "hundreds of songs," but songs are the unit of measure for current, so called "popular" music. In the "classical" world, songs refer usually to "art songs" or even "arias." In the classical world, a composition can be less than a minute long (Webern) or over an hour (Mahler). Ipod's not speaking my language, and the classical mp3 sites aren't either. I supposed this is because there's a very small market out there for this type of music, and the people who listen to it are too old, in the mp3 worldview.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

AAP: Attitude Adjustment Period
In preparation for the upcoming Atlantis Cruise aboard Freedom of the Seas (and its accompanying madness), I am slowly replacing my usually wary winterized DC-attitude with a more expansive view of people (i.e., guys.) I'm being helped by a host of online positive reinforcers, and I include some of them below...

from the "Hello, My Name is Scott" blog post "19 Things You Need to Know About Shyness"

2. To increase your attitude of approachability, assume and expect that people are friendly and will welcome you into their conversations and lives.

4. Shyness is the result of thinking that losses outweigh the gains in an encounter.

8. Change your attitude = change the way you act = changes the way people see you = change the way you see yourself.

11. Passion = approachable and attractive. So, find a way to get on the topic of your passion in every encounter. People need to see you talking about and doing what you're really good at and passionate about.

13. Avoid telling people that you're shy or introverted. They will believe you and it will become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

14. Don't Suffer a Toothache = I'm too tall, too shy, too low in company hierarchy, too busy, too important. Don't let these self-limiting beliefs stand in your way of approaching someone.

15. Being told repeatedly that "you only have one change to make a first impression" and other pressure/fear based warnings will cause someone to overly concern themselves with first impressions, and as a result, make mistakes.

from veteran Atlantis Cruiser Steve Kleine's "10 Rules for any Atlantis Cruise"

Second Rule: Smile and say hi to EVERYONE you run into. One of the things I have noticed on these trips is that people relax their attitude. Smiles are everywhere so it's easy to say hi. People will normally reply back with a "are you having a good time?" you reply "How could you not?" and just look around at the thousands of your family enjoying themselves. Natural conversation almost always flows from there. So don't be afraid to say hi to that hottie...and don't be afraid of guys that you find unattractive...say hi and you'll be amazed at how people will open up - most of the time sharing something of interest. I have made life long friends by following this rule. Diversity is good! This is a great chance to meet people outside our scene...hell I even sold my house to an older couple I met on a cruise.

Seventh rule: PARTICIPATE!

and just in case:
When someone acts mean or crudely to you, it's because:
o He thinks you dislike him; or
o He is threatened by you; or
o he is a jerk to everyone; or
o You've given him a reason to dislike you.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Things I Hate About Working In An Office

The Birthday Card. "Could you sign this and pass it along?" The card's always "from all of us!" And whether your the giver or receiver, there are only four types of statements inside: "Happy B-D!," "Have a great one!," "Hope it's Happy!," and "Go for it."

Somebody Finish That Last Brownie. Whenever someone brings in a box of candy or a tin of baked goods (cookies, brownies, etc.), there's always a miniscule portion left in the box or tray when everyone's had some. This portion will stay there for 2,000 years, because nobody wants to be accused of "taking the very last piece."

Going Anywhere En Masse. Say you're taking someone out to lunch for their birthday (before or after the Giving of the Card.) Everyone mills about the outer office area in their coats. Then a few people get on the elevator. Then you mill about the lobby. Still, it beats sitting at your desk.

How Was Your Weekend/Vacation/Holiday? There's only one answer to this: "Great!" No need to provide details, because even if you played tennis with Arnold Schwarzenegger, nobody really cares. Never, ever say "It was good...quiet." That means you spent the whole time alone because you are a loser and have no friends or family.

Gifts Received. It's never what you want. It's most likely something you have dozens of. And you always have to put on your best game face and say "Cool, I can really use this!"

Gifts Collected For. Almost always for a wedding shower, wedding gift, or baby shower. Which means if you're anything but a 20-50 year old woman, you will always be diving into your wallet and never opening a present. Not to be confused with the Leaving To Take A Better Job Gift, which is no longer given, as the departing employee is usually hastened out of the building before he or she can sabotage the payroll.

Can I See/Speak With You A Minute? If said by your supervisor and followed by a closed door, it means you're being laid off. You'll most likely be able to collect unemployment, as your ex-workplace wants to have nothing more to do with you and does not want to be involved in a "he said, she said" brewhaha over unemployment insurance. Which is why nobody ever gets fired anymore. But this is always an awkward moment, as you rapidly devise a strategy to find another job, and your supervisor wants you out of the building as fast as possible.