Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I just finished watching the entire first season of 'The Office' (US version) and can’t quite get that ucky feeling out of my gut. Don’t misunderstand. I laughed my ass off and really enjoyed the show but it is almost a little too lifelike in many ways. I guess that is the beauty of it. You watch and relate viscerally on some level based on your past or present experiences in the work-place. Those ugly and dark employee moments one tries to forget every Friday night at happy hour before you go home and have a real life on the weekend.

Here are just a few lovely work related past incidences I wish I could scour from my memory.

-When I was in high school I had a cushy summer job at a nearby town’s city hall. It was not unusual to find yourself sharing an elevator with the mayor. He was about a million years old and used to introduce himself to you no matter how many times he’d done so before. His typical greeting? A bone crushing in-every-sense-of-the-word handshake and a hearty, “You look like a fine group of young lads!” Friendly, yes, but we were all girls and we would be in skirts and blouses with purses and heels. I always wondered what he was like at city political functions.

-Once I made a mistake at work on a film. Not an earth-shattering mistake but a clear mistake on my part. I was spray-painting a pair of boots with fabric paint and I forgot to tape up the soles so some paint dripped under the shoes and got on the bottoms. I had the tape in my hand and got distracted and put it down and forgot to tape up the shoes. I also had a major migraine that day so I was kinda out of it anyway. But not a big deal as I very easily got some solvent and a cotton ball and removed the paint and everything was fine. Or would have been if I hadn’t been caught out by a co-worker. She wasn’t even part of my work area but she flipped out on my head anyway saying that I could get fired for that and if she was my boss I would be out of there and that it was unacceptable to give an article of clothing to an actor in that condition. I apologized to her and said that I had fixed it and it was all good. All day she would walk past me shaking her head, tsking and mumbling under her breath about how I had so royally fucked up. My boss knew about my error and was totally unconcerned so I ignored her. At the end of the day she started up on me again about how even though I was a newbie I couldn’t get away with doing something so stupid as this and wasting valuable time blah blah blah. The ironic part is that it probably took me less time to wipe off the excess paint with nail polish remover than it would have to carefully tape up the shoes and peel it all off afterwards. Nobody got hurt. Filming was not delayed or affected in any way. I didn’t wreck anything or cost the production money. I didn’t understand why she was going on and on and ON! So I turned to her and said, “Listen! I have apologized and apologized to you, which I didn’t have to because you are not my boss and I just don’t know what more I can say to you to convey that it was a MISTAKE! And I have learned from it and it won’t happen again. Let’s all just move on, shall we?” And she said to me, “Ok, ok! Maybe if you just dropped the subject and stopped making such a big deal out of it!”


And the damned shoes never made it on screen anyway.

-Once a boss called me a “Dumb Shit” in front of customers and staff because a co-worker had snuck up behind me and noogied my ribs causing my arm to flail out and knock a box of little doo-dads all over the floor. Then she laughed along with the offending co-worker over his tickling maneuver.

-I had a boss who scheduled an inventory taking day on January 1st. Yes, that would be New Year’s day. At 8am. And said that if any of us were even a minute late we would be fired. She then showed up 25 minutes late, no apology, while we all huddled outside in the cold waiting for her, very hung-over.

-I had a co-worker who, on a daily basis, would graphically describe to me and anybody within earshot what he imagined my breasts looked like.

-One boss berated me in front of my co-workers that the jeans I was wearing were too faded for work-wear. Never mind that my MALE co-workers, standing right next to me, were all wearing faded jeans too. They were exempt, I guess.

-I nearly got fired because my co-workers and I accidentally left the back loading door unlocked overnight. I was spared but not because I had only started working there a couple days earlier and not only didn’t have keys or the code to the alarm or any kind of locking-up responsibilities at all OR that I didn’t even know there was a loading door in the first place. No, I was kept on, as were my co-workers (who had keys and codes and knowledge about that stupid door), because it would have been too much of a hassle to hire and train new staff. I did get a royal chewing out though after which I had them show me the door they were talking about.

So tell me a personal 'The Office' moment that makes your eyes roll up into the back of your head.


eclectic said...

I took a job across the continent on the promise that I would be thoroughly trained for responsibility-specific work they wanted me to do. My first day on the job, I was pointed in the direction of my office, told there were three boxes of files on my desk -- some of which "may be" as much as 6 months behind -- and could I get busy since my boss had to leave for the day? Oh, and be sure to meet with HR before you leave to get a key. Bathroom's down the hall.

That was swell. (Or something that rhymes with it.)

alan said...

Car comes down assembly line hanging high enough to walk under as I shoot brake line bolts. Car has short rubber bungee cord hanging from engine that someone forgot to take off. Employee on next job likes to think he is practical joker. While he is connecting radiator hose and wiring with his arms over his head and back turned, I connect bungee cord from frame to center belt loop in the middle of his back...he goes down line with car on tiptoes trying to unhitch himself while entire team laughs and team leader, who owed him for many jokes, steps in to do his job...

A few weeks later, girl he had picked on who had major crush on him walked up at that same exact point and sent his shorts the other way!

No more practical jokes!


HAR said...

Love this thread but can't participate until I retire.

What a bunch of ass wipes you have had to work with. I have no other comment other than, "I can relate."

I absolutely love The Office. When it first came out I was afraid it was going to get cancelled.

Sharkey said...

After the stories you tell, it's no wonder you want to run your own business!

I don't have any specific stories . . . just the job from hell post that I wrote a while back. Ugh . . . thank God I'm out of that place!

here today, gone tomorrow said...

I've tended to block those events out of my head. And besides, none are as horrid as yours. Geez....I'm so sorry-you've definitely been treated to an excess of assholery. (And I love "The Office".)

candy said...

i can't give any specifics from my current job but one thing i hate is when someone won't let me talk. they ask a question or want help but won't let me get a word in & interrupt me. then, when i do start to talk after letting them ramble on, i'll get a very snotty "can i finish?" or something similar. one woman actually said "well, if i could get a word in edgewise!" after not letting me talk for about 10 minutes.

i had a boss several years ago who, after having someone else train me, would tell me a new piece of information or thing she wanted me to do with files as if i should have known all a long at least once a week. then she'd make me go back thru the old files & change it while making it sound like i was stupid for having missed it. at that same job, i emailed the owner with a question that only he could answer & my supervisor came to me & asked my why i emailed him instead of talking to her so she could ask him. instead of coming to me, he said something to her. he could have just answered the question! he acted like he was too good to stoop to talk to his employees.

i have more but i'll stop now as i'm just ranting at this point :)

east village idiot said...

Kranki - trust me. i could top these stories...just not in the blog world. Those dicks would know who I was talking about.

JP said...

One time I was talking with a person about a project I was doing and they started asking me if I understood a piece of it clearly. They proceeded to point me to a "great" technical paper on this piece which unbeknown to them I HAD WRITTEN MYSELF. So while this person was giving me the in's and out's of the process, I was finishing his sentences. And at the end he asked me my name and once I told him, he was like, "Oh.." =) True story!!

Circe said...

Oh my. Let's see. Years ago before we had voicemail, I was sitting at my desk working on some papers. It was almost the end of the workday and I was the only one of my people present. Suddenly the Grand Exalted Poohbah marched into my office and abruptly asked me if I answered my phone. I was dumbstruck as I meekly explained that it hadn't rung. He proceeded to tell me he had called and called and he kept getting this godawful noise and then it hit him. He had been calling the FAX MACHINE. He left my office without a word of apology. Dumbass.......