+++*

Symbolic Forest

A homage to loading screens.

Blog : Posts tagged with ‘colleagues’

Milk (redux)

In which we get a reluctant refund

A couple of people have, for reasons best known to themselves, asked how I’m getting on with the office milk lady since we fell out. Well, I don’t think I’m any more popular with her than I was. Fed up of there being no milk, and fed up of the woman in question – Administrator Of The Tea Fund – refusing to accept that tea supplies were anything to do with her, I told her that in that case she could give me back the balance of what I’d put into the fund, and I’d make my own arrangements from now on. Which might have been a bit petty, the balance being only 20p, but there you go.

She said “I’ll give you it later.” A few hours later, she phoned me up.

“Have you stopped chucking your little tantrum yet?” she said. “We’ve got some milk in – are you back in the fund or do you still want your money back?”

“I’ll have my money back, please.”

“You’ll be very thirsty this afternoon then.”

“Er, no I won’t be.”

“Well it’s very silly of you, you’re cutting your nose off to spite your face.”

There was a pause. I wasn’t entirely sure what she expected me to say, other than possibly start begging for her forgiveness.

“So are you back in the tea fund now?” she continued, persistently.

“No, I’d still like my 20p back please.”

“Well, I gave you one last chance. I’ll get some change and bring it down for you in a few minutes. You said you don’t want your 20p back?” A nasty little switch at the end there.

“No, I’d still like my 20p back please.”

“Fine. I’ll see you later.”

So, a few minutes later she came downstairs, slammed 20p on my desk, and went away again. And since then, all has been peace and quiet. I can see why some colleagues, those who have to work with her more, don’t like her very much, though, after that conversation. This is someone whose job is to talk to customers over the phone, take orders, and so on – it makes me wonder if she tries doubling back on herself and making quickly misleading switches when she’s on the phone to customers as well as to colleagues.

Milk

In which we upset colleagues

At the office, I’ve been doing more to make myself unpopular. Specifically: I’ve fallen out with the woman who runs the tea fund.

My complaint is this: if you run the tea fund, then you’re responsible for buying tea, milk, coffee, sugar, and so on. If I give you money, to buy tea, then your job is to make sure tea gets bought. Tea Fund Lady – who has only taken the task on recently – did not see things this way. She was there to collect the money. The money sat in her drawer, and anyone who wanted to go and buy supplies could go and get some. Buying supplies herself, though, was entirely out of the question. It was entirely impossible, she said, because she doesn’t have a car. I was tempted to set up a “Stop The Tea Fund Lady Starving!” campaign, because if buying groceries is that difficult I’m not sure how she manages to stay alive.

So, the way I see it, I may as well manage things myself from now on. Have my own tea bags and my own milk, and see how much it ends up costing me. We will see.

Infamy

In which we discover more people read this site than we thought

I went for a drink with people from the office. This may have been a mistake – on the other hand, it’s better to know things.

“Oh, we all read your blog,” said someone from the Accounts department. “Your boss told us he reads it too. We know you change all the names, so we try and work out who everyone is. __ was convinced that she was ‘the cute one from the Accounts office’ and we kept trying to persuade her that it wasn’t her.”

Maybe it’s a good thing I haven’t mentioned work much in the past few months, then. Or, alternatively, now I know they’re reading, that might mean I can mention them more. With it all understood and on the level.

Something for nothing

In which our eyebrows are raised when we learn that Americans all have free healthcare just like us

The scene: the office conversation, a quick conversation with a new member of staff whilst the kettle boiled. He was telling me all about his past, his former history of self-employment.

“… but you can’t do anything in this country nowadays, it’s terrible for small businesses, this government, it really is, they want to get control of every little thing…”

I thought: I know exactly what’s coming here.

“…it makes it impossible to run your own life…”

… any second now 

“it’s this Nanny State…”

BINGO! As soon as someone, especially a certain type of person, starts along that line of argument, they’re going to mention the Nanny State, which rules every aspect of our lives and tells us exactly what we can and can’t do. These are the people who believe that Christmas is being banned, or that the government has banned blackboards for being racist, and that it’s Political Correctness Gone Mad. And I don’t understand them. Do they never look at the world around them? Do they believe anything they hear or read?

He rambled on about how much better everything was in America – how life is far better, the taxes are lower, everyone is better off and lives a wonderful life without government interference.

“Yes, until they fall ill and can’t afford to pay for treatment,” I said.

“No, no, medicine is free in the USA too,” he replied.

“Really?” I said, because that really doesn’t square with everything else I’ve been told about the USA over the years.

“Yes, it’s all free, just as it is here,” he said. I was tempted to ask if the land is also flowing with milk and honey, with dollar bills and chocolate coins growing on the trees, but I’m not sure if he’d have realised where the joke was.

Voodoo terminology

In which we speculate on understanding, and on pretending to understand

There are three types of people that I’ve always had to deal with at work. By extension, there are probably three types of people in the world, because I’m sure that none of the places I’ve worked at have been particularly unusual. There are three types of people in the world, and they can be divided like so: those who know what they are talking about; those who don’t know what they’re talking about, and admit it; and those who don’t know what they’re talking about, but are desperate to hide it.

There are two ways I could look at this. One, being uncharitable: they know they don’t know what they’re talking about, and are just trying to hide that.

The charitable view, though: I don’t think some people realise that words do have meanings, precise meanings. They’ve heard people who do know what they’re doing talking, and they want to fit in, so they string together words they’ve heard other people use, in ways that make grammatical sense, without noticing that they are making completely meaningless sentences. Maybe they think that this is the way normal humans talk. Maybe they think that if they use a word that they’re not sure of the meaning of, its meaning will change to suit them. Essentially, though, they’re behaving like small children: imitating without understanding.

These are the people who brought you the phrase “log on to our website”. They call the main case of a PC “the hard disk”. They will refer to “the system”, and expect you to know exactly what you mean. One colleague today, scrolling through her inbox looking for an email, said: “I know it’s in the system somewhere.” “That is not,” I wanted to say, “what that word means.”* These are the people who call me and say “the system isn’t working! We can’t do anything at all!” when what’s actually wrong is: they have pressed Num Lock and don’t understand why numbers are no longer appearing.** These are the people I have to work with, and the chances are, this is what the people who run the country are like too. These people, who not only don’t understand words, but don’t understand the importance of the right words, nevertheless get into important positions. And that scares me.

* She was looking for an email, because she wanted to print it out. She had called me over because her printer “was not working”. She didn’t have a printer selected in the print dialog box, and did not understand the error message she received, that said: “You have not selected a printer.” When I pointed this out, she said: “That’s never happened before. I don’t understand all these technical terms.”

** Yes, this has genuinely happened.

Shattered

Or, taking some time off

Recovering from a bit of sickness. Fortunately, only a brief illness; I’m pretty much back to myself again.* I was sick enough to take time off work, though, for the first time in a few years. Normally, however bad I am, I pull myself together enough to make it into the office. I’m not going to go into details about what was wrong, for the benefit of emetophobic readers. There’s at least one that I know of.

Talking of the office, Big Dave seems to be up to something. Lots of hushed calls on his own phone. I’m suspicious. He managed to pull a visiting consultant,** but I don’t think this is related.

* “Only sick in the head”, as Big Dave helpfully said.

** Well, got her phone number on her last day with us.

Waiting

In which things get silly

It’s Friday afternoon, regular reader K is texting me at regular intervals to tell me she’s safely driving up to Scotland on her own, and I’m here at the office watching the clock tick around ready for my own weekend to start. Nothing much ever happens on a Friday afternoon. Noone phones up and reports faults; noone breaks anything very serious. The other staff always claim that this is because they’re far too busy on Fridays to report faults; I’ve always suspected that it’s because they’re not doing enough work to break anything.

Room 3B – our office – is full of banging and crashing, as we finally get air conditioning fitted. I’m glad there aren’t any oysters about, because the noisy noise…

An oyster writes: The idea that “noisy noise annoys an oyster” is, as it happens, a common misconception. I myself am a Stereolab fan, and have attended several gigs. The music there, whilst being too melodic to be pure noise, is certainly very loud, and…

A Towers Of London fan writes: Bah!

An oyster writes: Well have you ever been to a Stereolab gig?

The Plain People Of The Internet: Stop talking rubbish! We know there aren’t really any oysters writing to you! They don’t have arms! They can’t speak! They all live just outside Whitstable and Herne Bay! Whoever heard of anyone in Whitstable liking Stereolab? I know silliness makes a change from in-jokes, but … I mean, really.

There’s still an hour and a half left until the weekend. I’m not going to anticipate anything, I’m just going to see what happens. Barking, I know.

Searching

In which we know what you're looking for

It’s the end of the week, and it feels like it; I definitely haven’t been getting enough sleep in the past few days. In lieu of something that needs thought and consideration, here’s some search requests.

what food goes best with strawberry beer: the obvious answer that comes to mind is: MORE strawberry beer. It counts as a type of food, I’m sure, much as Guinness is legally a type of low-grade heating oil.*
girl group harmonies – why don’t you try the Shimura Curves!
land of green ginger is a street in Hull, linking Silver St and Manor St
snog work colleague christmas party – my advice is, “don’t”. It’s not as good an idea as you think at the time.** In fact, before you start drinking, take your best office friend aside and say “I know I fancy [Sam/Lisa/Dave/Amy/Fi] in [Sales/Accounts/Admin/Imports/Alien Abduction], but if you see me going anywhere near [her/him], tie my hands behind my back and lock me in the stationary cupboard for half an hour.”
help posing wedding group photos. Stand everyone together. Fiddle around with imposing-looking camera kit. Spend so long faffing that everyone gets bored, then get someone else to snap them quickly when they’re not paying attention. Trust me, it works.
Edinburgh University posh? Ooh, definitely. When I was there, I was one of the least posh people around.
this aye night fire and fleet and candlelight are lines from the Lyke Wake Dirge, which I’ve written about before. I only found recently, though, that it’s used quite a bit in Neil Gaiman‘s classic book Neverwhere which I read recently for the first time in years.***

Things I haven’t managed to write about this week: the band Montoya – who I have a whole roll of photos of that haven’t been scanned yet – the comic-book hero Scott Pilgrim, the sense of ennui and malaise hanging around the office,**** the effect of Too Many Footnotes, and Big Dave’s latest plan for self-improvement. But that’s enough for today, I think.

* the last bit might be a white lie there.

** if you think about it at all at the time, which is probably unlikely.

*** whilst sitting on a train

**** especially when I get my camera out.

Things people say

In which we hear some shocking hypocrisy

I’ve been surprised before by things I’ve overheard people say at work. I’ve even posted about it: suddenly, someone who looks normal, says something horribly bigoted. The staff over in Another Part Of The Forest still manage to amaze me, though, not just with what they think, but with what they’ll say out loud.

Over there this afternoon, I got chatting to the current office temp. He’s just taken his university finals, and is temping over the summer before he gets a proper job. He was telling me how great his time at university was:

I made some great friends there. One of them’s going into professional sport – he’s going to be right at the top of his sport in a couple of years’ time. I’m glad I met him – he’s going to be a millionaire soon, exactly the sort of person you want to stay friends with!

“Erm … yes,” I said, wondering if he was being as serious as his eyes said. That’s really not why I have friends, and I hope it’s not why my friends have friends; but if that’s the sort of person you are, fine. Later on, though, one of the other co-workers* managed to beat him. The temp was complaining about the number of Lithuanians and Poles living in the area, and she replied with:

Ooh, I know, there’s loads of foreign people living round here. Still, we’re not as bad as some places – at least they’re all white round here. I don’t like this town though. I don’t like living here at all – if I could, I’d move abroad somewhere.

Again, she seemed completely serious. No idea of the big hole in what she’d just told me. I stopped talking and got on with work; it was easier than trying to explain what she’d said.

* A girl of about 19 or 20, hoping to go to university herself soon if she can raise enough cash.

Office gossip update

In which there may be competition

I said on Friday that the homophobic branch manager at the Another Part Of The Forest branch had quit his job. He said at the time that he had another job lined up, but was being rather taciturn and evasive about what it might be.

Well, the latest gossip is that he doesn’t have a job lined up at all as such – he’s going to go out and set up his own business, doing exactly what he’s been doing for us all along; the day before he left, he printed out a full dump of all his office’s sales contacts from the database. His division are all going into a panic, worried all their business in Another Part Of The Forest is going to float away and follow him, just like that. I’m just wondering how long he’s going to last. I know how bad he is at keeping track of paperwork, and I know, from reading his memos, that he has trouble writing an understandable coherent sentence. I’m tempted to open a book, around the office, on how long before his business disappears again.