Jerkoff of a Job

Posted: November 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

I promise you this is all true.

I took a job recently to have some income while I found a good job. Nothing could have prepared me for this experience. When I was a teen, my mom made certain that my brother and I were part of a program that placed kids in summer jobs to make income and learn to be, well, useful. I always remembered being warned rather sternly that we had to be on our best behavior because we had the ability to make my mom look bad and she had spent many years having a good reputation. I took it to heart and I actually learned a great work ethic from my mom. The point was that I have been in a variety of work environments since before I could shave (I shaved late).

When I was called for a job interview, I had a hard time finding the place. It was close to the house, but it’s in a warehouse area. It was a warehouse, but rather nondescript. If you look closely you can see the faded name of the company on the wall. When you open the door to the building you’re faced with a wall and there desks on both sides of you. On both sides there was a female sitting, staring at me. None of which offered to point me anywhere or ask me anything. I began to explain that I was there for an interview but was cut off and was told that the owner was busy and that I could sit on the couch while I waited.

The location of the couch is interesting. The back of the couch is flush with one of the desks, so while you sit, there’s someone typing away staring at the back of your head. I waited and waited. Eventually I was told that I could see the owner. The owner (let’s call him Ron because that’s his name), has so much clutter in his office that I couldn’t figure out what in the world he was hoarding. I waited for him to offer me a seat and realized he wasn’t going to so I sat. He seemed nice enough and he interviewed me for a long, long time. By the time I got home he had called to make me an offer and I was eager to get started.

The following day I showed up to work. Upon arrival I was told “this is your desk” and I proceeded to sit after I nudged a dead cockroach which was laying on it’s back. It was rather large and well fed. Maybe I had stumbled upon the office mascot. I immediately realized that cleanliness wasn’t a huge priority. I realized that I had two options: pick up and throw the cockroach away or wait for someone else to do it. I decided I wanted to see how long it would take for someone to pick up Carl the Croaked Cockroach. It took 4 days.

I met the three other people in the office. All females. I wasn’t told what they do or the hierarchy. It was almost a social introduction. The person who seemed to be my trainer was a bit unfriendly and was rather casual about explaining what I needed to do. I feverishly took notes so that I wouldn’t have to ask the same questions, but it was hard to keep up. This female (let’s call her Mary), didn’t hide her displeasure when I asked questions or asked her to repeat herself. I wondered if she thought it would be better  for me to make mistakes and not ask, but I chose not to mention it.

Now, unpleasant people in the office I’ve dealt with. It’s not too hard, really. Coming from where I’ve been, I feel bad for them. I don’t know their personal lives, but I feel for anyone that is that burnt out and bitter. That would turn out to be a minor thing because the strangeness was about to start.

My training on office procedures started. I found out as I stayed there that usually it started with “Here in this office, we…” “In this office, the way we do things is..” I tried to not roll my eyes. See, “here in this office” when you need to deliver a message to someone (mind you, we’re all so close to each other that I could throw a stapler at any of them with great accuracy – in my mind I’ve done so) it must be written in yellow pad paper, it must include the date, your name or initials, the name of the person and their company, their phone number and/or email and the reason for their call. Then it must be placed in the correct person’s inbox. Most places are going paperless. I didn’t understand why you couldn’t shoot someone an email with all the information. This provides you back up, automatically has the date and time and is retrievable. “Because that’s not our procedure.” Fair enough.

I suddenly became confused about placing an item in an inbox. See, one of the ladies turned out to be the wife of Ron. Let’s car her Selina. I asked which box I needed to place her message into and I was told that Selina wears two hats. She does accounting and purchasing. If the message is related to accounting, it goes in one inbox. If it’s purchasing, well, you have to put it in the inbox of the other desk on the other side of the office. You see, she sits on one desk when she’s doing accounting and she sits in the other when she’s doing purchasing. The logic escaped me. “Well, except for this message. This message could go to either one,” Selina said. “Well, it wouldn’t have to if you sat in one desk rather than two” I thought, but did not say. The absurdity was laughable.

The only person who arrives before I do is Ron. One morning I explain to Ron that the computer is extremely slow and they may want to look into that as it severely affects productivity. It’s a mission to even get online. I was told that I should leave a message (in yellow paper) for Selina in the accounting desk. Naturally. I later found out that in order to save money, Selina did some minor research and had purchased all the components to build the computers herself. I’m all for being hands-on, but I think some things are better left for better trained people. She never got back to me about the computer.

My ego stung a bit when I was told that I needed to punch in upon arrival, out for lunch, in when I return and out when I left. I was told that if I missed a punch, my card had to be initialed by someone from management. I stopped to think… Not counting the warehouse grunts, there are 5 people in the office and one is the owner. Everyone else other than myself was “management”. For the life of me I couldn’t determine whom they managed. I secretly now dubbed myself Supreme Commodore since everyone else had cool useless titles.

I arrive to work regularly 15 minutes earlier than I’m scheduled to. I figured that if they had an issue they could approach me, but I prefer to be early and get things done. One Friday it’s literally 4:59 and one warehouse worker freaked out when he saw me punch out. I was informed that “they” don’t mind if you’re early, but you positively can NOT leave early or punch out before 5:00. I said thank you and left. They would have to have nuts that drag and leave a path in the sand to approach me about that. Besides, I didn’t quite see why everyone feels the need to stand around the time clock and wait until 5:00. I mean, you’re no longer working, you’re standing and staring. I didn’t see how that was preferable nor would I worry about it (The office DOES close promptly at 5:00 so nobody really stays to work late).

On transferring phone calls:
This was interesting. I answered a call and paged the extension of the person in the warehouse whom it was for. He didn’t reply so I took a message and walked to the recipient with all the information. Upon my return, Selina tells me that “in this office” I need to page the extension, wait a while, page the extension again, wait a while, then page the entire office, wait a while and then and only then I can take a message. I pointed out that I reached the recipient right away, but I was told that’s the way things are done there. When in Rome, do as the imbeciles do, I guess.

Computer Usage:
In the past I’ve worked doing graphic design. In this office I was issued the slowest computer I’ve used in ages. I found out that this was put together by Selina. She blew me off when I stated it was hampering productivity. I was also expected to provide ads and fliers in Word. I was told that a good designer should be able to put together ads with anything available. That’s like saying a surgeon can perform with the tools available. Can he? Maybe but that’s not what those tools are made for.

Open Door Policy:
Messages must be in yellow pad paper so despite the fact that the owner’s office is close enough to hear me on the phone, I wrote everything down and brought him the information. I was told that “in this office” it’s rude and disrespectful to walk in to the office because you have no way of knowing how important it is what is being worked on. Looking up takes more effort and more distraction than just replying to a page. Incidentally you have to page him if he’s with someone or if he’s already on the phone. I would know. He took a long phone call during my interview process. I wanted to page him to tell him to kiss my ass.

Inmates:
Ron can’t be bothered to fax (I’m right by the fax machine) so he will walk up to me and ask me to fax something because “when the inmates work here we have to send this.” I thought he was kidding, but when I read the fax I realized it as a permission to work for inmates. I’m sure they’re not quite as rude to them.

Assistance:
Mary walks into the office one morning and without even saying good morning says “get XXX person on the phone for me.” No please, no information. Nothing. “I’m not your personal assistant and you haven’t even sat down so I know you’re not too busy” is what I wanted to say, but didn’t.

Staff meeting:
The instant Ron and his wife leave, everyone congregates and complains about work, being screamed at and being talked down to. EVERYONE was absolutely miserable.

Management:
Selina was a giant bitch. She couldn’t be bothered with questions. An unclear task was issued to me and when I tried to ask her about it, she interjected and told me to set things aside and only bother her once so that it was streamlined. I only had two questions. I also found it funny that everyone in the office was “management” except me (incidentally I think I was the only one with management experience). I couldn’t figure out WHOM they managed so I secretly gave myself the title of Supreme Commodore.

Information Confirmation:
At one point I was assisting on some permitting for a City. I called and spoke with someone and provided Mary the information I was given. Mary then says “call him back and confirm that information.” I ask Mary “Mary, you’re asking me to call and confirm with XX guy?” “That’s what I said” she grumbled. “I know that’s what you said, but I told you what HE said and now you’re asking me to contact him and ask him to confirm the information he just confirmed with me and that makes no sense” I explained. She stayed silent and eventually told me to not call.

Cleanliness:
In the office area there’s one bathroom only. It’s labeled for women, but as there was no other one I used it.  I bumped into Ron when I exited. “Using the women’s bathroom now?” To which I said I didn’t realize it was the women’s bathroom. “If you had read you would have seen it says ‘women’ quite clearly” said Ron. “I did read, but I also looked and since I saw no other bathroom and it has one stall so one person can use it at a time, I figured it was OK.” They pointed me to the men’s bathrooms. They look a little different.

jobbers bathroom

jobbers bathroom 2

jobbers bathroom 3

We have now parted ways since it “wasn’t working out”. I have to believe it was because I find it unprofessional and unacceptable to have anyone be rude and condescending. I did want to say goodbye though.

Email from Lee to Ron:

I wanted to share a few things over my brief experience with you. Selina in particular has made my working there absolutely intolerable. I’m uncertain why she thinks she can be rude and condescending, but she’s mistaken. Not only is it not conducive to anything productive, it’s also highly unacceptable. I can be asked by someone to find pricing on a product and when I get as much information as possible, I get a rude response that this was not what I was asked to do and I didn’t follow instructions. Another  person can ask me to find pricing and when I get only the information they requested, well, I’m not following instructions (incidentally, Selina actually had the gall to try and ask me to read the form that states what information is needed. She may have overlooked the fact that I’m not a child – which is fine, I’m a little short).

Yesterday I took some phone calls. When I paged the recipient and there was no response, I simply walked to the warehouse and let them know. It’s faster and more direct. Selina decided to ride my ass and tell me that the proess is to page once, wait a few, page twice, wait, then page the entire office.. then and only then should one take a message. Mind you, I had cut down this process simply by taking 5 steps and opening the door to let the recipient know. Also, note that if I page the warehouse many times they respond by yelling a response as they’re not close to the phone. That seems to be an acceptable form of communication, though my walking to them is not. This is backwards.

You may or may not know this, but you have an office FULL of unhappy employees. They only say so out of earshot.

I’ll leave you with some observations/advice:

  • Most offices are going paperless. Requiring that all messages be done in yellow pad and placed in an inbox wastes time and money. That’s what emails are for and emails are trackable. It’s also incredibly inefficient to determine just which desk to place messages for Selina since she takes offense to messages being placed in the “incorrect” desk. She did tell me “Oh, this message could have gone to either desk” which should have pointed out that a glaringly inefficient process. It didn’t.
  • Create a standard form to request pricing/information. Scribbling names and numbers on a piece of paper is difficult to decipher to anyone without technical expertise to know what you’re referring to – nobody in your office area has that. The idea that if someone asks a question we have to do a conference call is not productive. Either have the person with the technical knowledge make the call or simply provide ALL details on the request.
  • Most offices have an open door policy. You clearly stated that you do not. You prefer to be paged despite the fact that you’re only roughly 6 steps away from the other desks. You found that looking up was both disrespectful and rude. This does not create a good work environment. You can’t act like you’re running Microsoft, but then run the place like a third world country.
  • Speaking of work environment, the tendency is for offices to promote a workplace that employees can be proud of. It may be time to invest some time and money into repairing the bathrooms. The bathrooms are in squalor, have exposed wires, missing lights and yet, when I used the women’s bathroom by accident (as nobody had told me where anything was) you took offense to it. That bathroom screams liability and anybody can claim an injury and issue a lawsuit.
  • The computer is too slow. You can’t expect productivity with hardware like that. You also stated that a good designer should be able to work with any software and create ads or flyers. Wrong. I’ve done graphic design for far larger companies as well as freelanced. The reason no graphic designer does it in Word is because that is simply not what it’s meant to do. It lacks capabilities. Don’t bother purchasing it for this computer: this computer can’t run that size of software. I’m willing to bet I can’t even play World of Warcraft on that (although I see the other 2 computers run Facebook and games very well. It also streams video on there very well when looking at movie trailers).
  • Mind you, this is just a brief overview. I’m certain that if you take the time to look around you can deduce there are other deficiencies. Hiring an office manager with experience and a small budget should resolve this. Perhaps encouraging more professional interaction from Selina would do it too. I suspect you have a high turnaround due to her. Have a great day.
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