I will be out next week for the SharePoint Products and Technologies Developers’ Conference in Redmond, WA. I won’t be able to post from there, nor will I be getting email. Keep that in mind if you email me something “urgent” - I know last time I was out some folks either didn’t check the blog for the notice or disregarded it entirely and sent me some time-sensitive stuff. Sorry if I didn’t get back to you in time; I won’t get back to you next week, either.
Jenn went in for her cast yesterday but it turns out she has some weird burning/itching rash going on under the ACE bandage holding the splint on. She now has a different splint on and will be going back next week for the cast.
The doctor said he’s “never seen a break that straight.” I dunno. I’ve never really seen a break. I scanned her x-rays and will try to get them in here at some point. Kind of interesting.
Until she gets the cast - and probably even during the whole “cast time” - she gimps around the apartment, the one-armed bandit, only able to do a few things. She’s starting to get used to it, but shaving both armpits is apparently difficult if you can only use one hand. I had to laugh at that.
Since I’ve bitched enough about not getting any training, I think I may have worked myself into actually getting some more of the training classes I’ve been looking to get. If it all works out, I’ll end up legitimately trained to do the stuff I’m already doing. Why take classes on stuff I know a few things about? One, to fill in the gaps - I know a little about a lot of stuff, but I’m sure that a lot of the stuff I’m doing there has to be a better way for. Two, to solidify my current knowledge - I do things “my way” but if there’s a better (or even a “recommended”) way, I’d like to know.
Anyway, hoping that will make things easier.
Jenn and I are going tonight to see a sneak preview of Malibu’s Most Wanted, the new Jamie Kennedy movie that I think looks pretty funny. I figure, even if it’s not all that great, we’re getting in for free, so I really can’t complain too much.
I went to the bead store on Saturday. At least, I think it was Saturday. Honestly, I don’t remember. The time really wasn’t important, though - the thing I’m going for here is that at some point over the course of this past weekend, I was at the bead store.
(I’m working on this project at home involving a hat, some beads, and some tassels, and I wanted to look around and see what sort of shit I could throw into this thing.)
Now, before I went to the bead store, which, might I add, is in that “liberal” part of town where the hippies still grow and thrive, I called ahead to verify they were open. The voice that answered the phone sounded more like that electronic voice phenomena thing than a human - sort of waify and weak.
EVP Girl: …yeah, hi, Beads Forever… Me: Hi, can you tell me your hours today? EVP Girl: …I’m… uh… open… ten to six today… eleven to six tomorrow… Me: Riiiiiight.
So I get to the bead store (“Beads Forever”) around 11:00.
How come chicks with dreadlocks always work at the bead store? Is wearing hemp a requirement?
I also noticed that there was a French remake of the theme from Shaft playing in the background. How surreal is that?
Anyway, I looked around, picked a couple of things up, and then proceeded to wait for 20 minutes while another bead shopper checked out and shopped at the same time. Have you ever seen those movies or TV shows where the person who already owns too many clothes just leaves their credit card with the salesperson and as they’re trying on clothes calls out “Ring it up!” from the dressing room? That’s what was happening here. As fast as the clerk could count these beads and/or weigh them and ring them up, this lady shopper would go and come back with more beads to buy. I had like two things. One would think I could slip in and leave. But, no. Gotta wait for the Beadinator to check out.
And then, just as abruptly as I had entered their world, I left. It was sort of like…
…entering another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.
It was The Bead Store Zone.
Sunday morning I woke up reasonably refreshed. It was daylight savings time, so I had to set the clock by my bed an hour later, which made it closer to 9:30a that I woke up. That’s not to say I was terribly refreshed; there’s something about Sunday morning that just doesn’t jive with me. It’s like my body realizes the weekend is already halfway over and rebels against the thought of going back to work by not allowing me to feel like I slept well.
Of course, it also could be that my tiny Xev cat was bawling her heart out right outside the bedroom door. She’s a bad, spoiled cat. She wouldn’t get away with that stuff if she wasn’t so damn cute.
Sunday progressed along at a leisurely rate. Jenn and I watched some TV, ran to the store for groceries, got me some new pants and shirts at the mall, and played some Dynasty Warriors 4 on the PS2. All in all, a pretty relaxing day, being what it was.
At 6:30p we packed up our stuff and left to go to the Skate World in Gresham. Jenn’s in charge of a Job’s Daughters group and the activity that evening was a two hour skate-a-thon for $2.
I’m down with the skating thing. I’m not terribly coordinated or anything, but there’s something I dig about throwing some old-school skates on my feet and getting out in the rink. Perhaps it appeals to my not-so-inner child.
We got to the place around 7:00p and met the rest of the group. There were (I think) four girls, aged around 14 - 16 years, and four other adult leaders. Actually, it was more like some adult leaders and their husbands/wives/friends, etc. Anyway, we totaled about 10 people. Everyone paid their two bucks, and we were in.
(Aside: There’s one of the girls there who looks just like Laura San Giacomo from Just Shoot Me! and Suicide Kings. I think her name is Brittany, but I never remember. I always just refer to her as “Maya.” One of these days I’m going to be all, “Hey, Maya!” Heh.)
I got my skates - size 13’s - and exchanged my shoes for them, putting my shoes into a locker with my coat and Jenn’s stuff. Somehow I always get the skates that have no insoles in them. I think I’d have a better skating experience if I owned my own skates, but I don’t skate enough to justify it.
Jenn and I gathered back around the table that everyone was posted at in the snack bar area, made sure all was set, and then jetted out to the rink. It took me a couple of circles, but I started to get the feel for it again. Jenn went around a couple of times, too, but had her legs tensed up so bad that her shins started to hurt, so she went and sat down again for a while.
I continued to skate, watching the folks that you know have skated more than you can imagine, and just sort of having fun. After several more trips around the rink, I skated out to find Jenn and see if I could convince her to come back out.
Jenn skated her way back onto the rink, did a couple more laps, and that was about all I could get out of her. Too much strain on the shins, I guess. She went back to sit down while I continued to circle.
A couple of minutes later, John, one of the adults from the group, came over and told me that Jenn had hurt herself. I skated off the rink to find her lying on the bench in the snack bar holding her arm - never a good sign.
Apparently, she was like two feet from the bench, ready to sit down, when a kid skated right up in front of her and fell down. Being unable to stop, Jenn went down too, but on her wrist.
I got her some ice in a bag and some water from the snack bar. A firefighter who happened to be in the rink at the time came over and made her an impromptu sling out of folded cardboard and a baby blanket. I gathered up our stuff from the locker, came back, and the firefighter told us how to get to the nearest hospital ER. I listened to the directions, which made sense, and we left.
Jenn insisted she was okay to drive, so she drove. I’m a better navigator anyway.
We followed the directions to the hospital and ended up completely lost. Jenn said she was reasonably familiar with the area, but I didn’t recognize a damn thing. We ended up stopping at Fred Meyer to buy a map of the area (Jenn doesn’t ever seem to have a map in the car) and finally got on the right track to the local hospital.
At the hospital, we got in, filled out the registration form (once we were able to find the English version… sometimes I think the multilingual thing has gone too far), and sat down in the waiting room. I don’t mind saying I felt conspicuously caucasian in the room full of hispanics. I guess that’s what the multilingual forms were for, eh?
A sign on the wall said something about “if you haven’t heard an update in 30 minutes, let us know and we’ll tell you your status.” Thirty minutes after registration, no update, so we went and asked about the status. What came back was basically, “Blah blah blah really busy tonight blah blah stacked up back here blah blah blah probably several more hours blah blah…”
Several HOURS?! This is an ER for Pete’s sake! We picked up and left, going to a larger hospital closer to downtown.
At the larger hospital we got in to see the triage nurse within 10 minutes. Within 30, we had a room where a nurse practitioner was looking at Jenn’s arm. By that time, it had swelled quite a bit and was really hurting her. The nurse left to get an x-ray tech.
Time passes. The x-ray tech shows up, takes Jenn to the x-ray room, zaps her arm, and brings her back. Moving that arm around to x-ray it didn’t make Jenn feel any better, so we quickly got the ice back on it.
More time passes and the nurse returns to show Jenn that, sure enough, she’s broken her left wrist. Well, that explains it, doesn’t it? A sling/split will be put on the arm to hold it until a full cast can be put on it.
Eventually John (not the John from the skating rink), a med tech with a British accent, comes in to put the splint on Jenn. But he can’t do it around the shirt she’s got on because the sleeves won’t go around the splint; instead, she has to put on a paper shirt. This thing was probably the most entertaining part of the evening. It’s like wearing a big Brawny paper towel in the form of a scrub shirt. It’s even got a pocket sewn in the front! Too much.
So John’s got some fiberglass-based casting material between two gauze strips that he basically folds around Jenn’s arm. The fiberglass was then wrapped with an ACE bandage, which not only held it in place well, but also helped to form it to her arm. Around all that went a sling to hold it all in place.
We left with a prescription for Vicodin and Motrin and went to the closest 24-hour pharmacy, a Walgreens reasonably close to our apartment. By this time, it was nearing 11:00p, and not only was I tired, I was damn hungry. So what’s good to eat at Walgreen’s? I wasn’t really in the “snack food mood,” soooooo….. Pop Tarts. To wash it down? Pepsi Blue. Good enough.
Jenn eventually got her pain killers and we went home, to bed. It was good to finally lay down, though I can’t say Jenn or I slept all too well last night.
And that tiny Xev cat needs to shut up.
Just when I had begun to convince myself that the world of Dilbert was really only a joke, that Office Space was funny because it was a caricature of real life, I was smacked upside the head with the most insulting, meaningless thing I have come across yet in my career: the Professionalism Seminar.
It’s hard for me to even begin explaining what I find wrong here. Not because there’s so little I have a problem with about it, but because beginning to explain how pissed off I am about this whole thing is sort of like beginning to write a thesis paper: There’s so much to say that it’s hard to pick a starting point.
I guess I’ll start at the top and work my way down.
A couple of weeks back, the entire body of the company got an email from the President/CEO proclaiming a new, mandatory seminar for company “associates” to learn about professionalism.
Reading this, I already got pretty pissed off for more reasons than I can imagine. First off, since when am I an “associate?” Don’t “associates” work for fucking Walmart or something? I’m an employee, but I’m not an associate. And I need to learn about professionalism? What the hell is that?
Professionalism, in the context they put it, implies something regarding the behavior of a company employee towards customers. But what is a professional? Someone who gets paid to do something, right? So I could be a professional plumber, right, and come to work with my pants halfway down the crack of my ass, and I’d be exhibiting professionalism in a plumber context? “Professional” is one of those words that has lost any real meaning and taken on a power-tie, work-through-lunch, rhetorical feel. It means jack-fucking-squat. What the seminar should be is a “customer service seminar,” not a “professionalism seminar.”
I decided the instant I read that email that not only was I going to actively rebel against it, but would also definitely need to bring my GBA with me to entertain me while the drivel rolled out of the presenter’s mouth.
Just to be sure, I asked my supervisor whether I was required to go to this seminar. I mean, I don’t actually interface with anyone outside the company except for contractors. If there’s any actual customer interaction, it’s done through some customer-facing person. Besides which, I get commendations on how easy I am to work with all the time (not that you’d be able to tell by reading this, right?). What am I going to do with a seminar?
Yes, I was required to go.
A week or so after the first email we got a second email where “associates” could sign up for a seminar session using the little Outlook voting buttons. I scheduled my session for this morning at nine. Clicking that Outlook button was the least painful/insulting part of this entire process. Admittedly, by clicking it, I felt like I was registering for my own doom. My expectations did not fall short.
This morning at ten to nine I packed up my jacket, my GBA, and my bad attitude and went down to the meeting area. They had some Costco muffins out there so I grabbed a poppy seed one in hopes that not only would I be able to go through a professionalism seminar, but would also be attacked with a random drug test. Hey, let’s make the day complete, right? I took my muffin and sat in the back row with the guys from my department.
Nine o’clock rolls around and the meeting starts. I thought there would be more people here, at least people enough to sit in front of me and block the direct view between the presenter and my GameBoy. Sadly, this was not the case. There were three empty rows in front of me, leaving me in plain sight. No GameBoy today, even with the volume turned off.
The presentation was exactly what I expected it to be, which is to say, insulting, patronizing, and less than inspiring.
Insulting because my presence at this thing implies that the company doesn’t feel I’m doing a good enough job with customer service, and rather than tell me to my fucking face they would rather hide behind a what’s-good-for-the-goose-is-good-for-the-gander style mass education. Mass education has always felt insulting to me. This was just worse.
Patronizing because the content of the presentation seemed to me to be geared for teaching fourth graders how to work together in groups. Helpful tips like “be courteous” and “do your best” came to light. Man, I was unaware that being courteous and giving my best effort would be a good thing! Thanks for bringing that to light!
Less than inspiring because… aw, shit, man - anything insulting and patronizing is implicitly less than inspiring.
During this thing we got to do a “customer service exercise” where you have this worksheet with a circle in the center and four circles surrounding that. In the center circle, you write your name. In each of the four outer circles, you write the name of someone you interact with and how/what you communicate with them.
I’m honestly not sure what that was supposed to accomplish. Was I supposed to gain some sort of perspective from that? Maybe try to remember the names of the people I work with every day? I don’t know. That was the exercise. They called it “The Big Picture.” I call it “The Big Waste of Time.”
The presenter also brought about several interesting analogies. For example, do you know the difference between incompetence and laziness? I didn’t, until now. Here’s how you know: Pretend someone has a gun to your head and asks you to do something. If you don’t do it because you don’t want to, that’s laziness. If you don’t do it because you don’t know how, that’s incompetence. I’ll have to remember that next time I’m shitting my pants while someone has a gun at my head.
The presentation was closed off with us getting to see the new customer service mantra. Or, I guess they’re calling it something like the “Commitment to Excellence.” Here, you’ll love this:
I will provide premier service to both my internal and external customers. I will treat my customers as partners and will provide value in every interaction. I will hold myself and my team accountable for customer satisfaction and will do so by setting an example of professionalism, creative problem solving, innovative thinking, follow-up and follow-through. I will positively impact my customers and my company every day.
What kind of fucking rhetoric is that? It sounds like something that Cold War-era East Germans would all state out loud in a group prior to doing morning calisthenics and going to work in a government factory. Like some sort of Hitlerian pledge of allegiance.
To top it all off, we got to sign cards with this statement on them, then the President/CEO of the company will sign the cards, too, and we’ll get them back in shiny wooden frames, reminders of our commitment to customer service and the two hours we wasted hearing about it. And how many thousands of dollars went into that effort?
In the end, it was five minutes of common sense packed into a two hour meeting. They’re going to have more of these seminars to provide us with “additional skills,” but thank God they’re not required. I might be forced to quit.
There was a comments sheet to fill out as we left the seminar. What you see here is pretty much what I put on the comments sheet, except that I used both sides and pretty much ran out of room. Oh, and I gave them some recommendations, like using proper terminology (“customer service” not “professionalism”) and potentially targeting the content of each seminar to groups within the company since listening to how you should talk to external people really didn’t “add any value” to my already busy schedule. I’m pretty sure they’ll know which one’s mine because I’m the only one who seems to ever really bitch about stuff around here. Oh, well.
I’m sure this isn’t the only company that’s pulled shit like this. It’s my first experience with it, though, so I felt compelled to share (along the lines of “The power of Christ compels you! The power of Christ compels you!” sort of). I’m hoping the company doesn’t continue to become a mockery of itself, but I’m remembering now back to another email we got a while ago that told us about the new “reward system” where you can get a plaque that says “You Make A Difference” on it… and I’m realizing that we have no hope - all is lost already.