Thursday Thirteen

I’ve noticed several bloggers do different versions of this list each week.  Some are book centered, some are not.  Today I bring you 13 things about the(my) workplace that drive me crazy, from the “I’m Right and Everybody Else is Wrong” department.

1. My co-worker, forever to be known as dumb-boy. It’s a well known fact that a certain administrator hired herself a little bit of eye candy, and he and I are expected to work closely together. The problem? He can’t think his way out of a paper bag. He sent my 40 pages of incorrect statistics this morning. 40 pages.

2. Having to read 40 pages of incorrect statistics. It’s then difficult to want to read anything when I return home in the evenings.

3. The way people flock to free food when it’s offered, as though some leftover bagels or half a cake is a job perk. It’s a literal competition between almost everyone here, to see who can get to the free food first! No wonder there’s an obesity problem in America.

4. The fact that our work place has conditioned us to think of above noted free food as a benefit to compensate for long hours and low wages.

Numbers Five through Ten will deal only with my email issues 

5.  The constant cc’ing on emails. I firmly believe email has created a terrible cover-your-ass workplace culture, and it’s influenced everyone in the chain of command so CEO’s have become micromanagers and no longer trust their employees’ decision-making skills because, well, why should they have to anymore?

6. Email, and how it’s replaced in-person discussion and contact. It simply is NOT any kind of substitute for face-to-face brainstorming, arguments, discussion. And, if you happen to be just a wee bit oversensitive, like me, you have to train yourself against assuming ‘tone.’

7. Email, and how it’s created a level of immediate  gratification in the workplace. Today I didn’t reply to an email for 45 minutes and you would have thought the roof was caving in on the hospital. Keep in mind, folks, I’m the writer. I’m not a doctor. NOthing I do is really earth-shattering at all.

8. Email, and how it’s made us all unable to focus on any one project for any length of time, because it continuously disrupts our trains of thought, and yet we are expected to “always be available.”

9. Email, and how it always crashes just when you need it the most.

10. Email, and how it encourages poor grammar, spelling and casual conversation. A subordinate just told me, via email, that I “totally rock!!!!” – Well, it’s true, I DO totally rock, but (a.) she doesn’t know that, (b.) I only use words like ‘totally’ on this blog and in my journal and never in work conversation and (c.) who the hell needs that many exclamation points?

11. Work dinners. I have one tonight. BUT. It IS at the place with the fried clam and garlic caesar salad, so I won’t moan too much. But most work dinners do NOT “totally rock!!!”

12. Spirit days. I didn’t dress up for them in high school, but mainly because I was too busy listening to Kurt Cobain, Pearl Jam and trying to be misunderstood (which doesn’t really work when you have lots of blonde hair and chubby cheeks, but oh well!) – I don’t dress up for them now because, I’m sorry, I know I’m type-A no fun, but I don’t want to see you in your pajamas or your Tigers hat or your jeans and I really, really, really don’t want to see your toes or feet. At all. Ever.

13. But mainly, I am frustrated with work because this morning I hit a wonderful groove with my short story and I was *this close* to finishing, and you know how that goes, everything is working, wow, you’re actually going to finish something you set out to do, and this is it, this is the story the New Yorker is going to fall in love with because your perspective is so damn refreshing, but – you have to go to work, and lecture (kindly) dumb-boy, and be nice to people you don’t like nearly as much as the ones you make up in your head.

In other news, I’m looking for a novel to read. It’s just, you know, nothing in my stacks totally rocks!!!! I just finished A Room With a View. I think I’d like something that takes me to an entirely different place the way Forster’s novel did, but a bit more modern, either family saga-ish or mystery-ish. Some blood and killing wouldn’t be remiss. I’m going to the library Saturday – thoughts? It’s nonfiction counterpart will be King Leopold’s Ghost, if that helps at all.

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10 Responses to Thursday Thirteen

  1. litlove says:

    I’ll definitely agree with the email comments. Nowadays it’s not at all unusual for a student to email with a really cheeky enquiry (like sorting out their reading list for them, or explaining the essay title) and expect an instant response. I am not a 24-hour help desk. But you’d never guess it. I’d better not recommend any more books! I was certainly one of the people who suggested the Forster, so you should go with a different mindset for some variety.

  2. LK says:

    HAAAAAAHHHHAAA. You know I agree with you, Courtney. On Everything!

    I recently experienced a cc-e-mail brouhaha. I call it the E-mail Cabal. The electronic equivalent of CYA. Anyway, I kept getting cc’d on all these e-mails dithering about content for a flier that I was a) not editing b) simply printing and mailing. Finally, I shot an e-mail to the supposed coordinator of the project and said that I did not want to receive news in dribs and drabs–I just wanted the final copy.

    This started a whole new volley of cc-e-mails, aimed at taking down the coordinator of the project: Who, unfortunately for me, is a VICE PRESIDENT. Which she called a meeting to remind me of. Several times. And someone else e-mailed me and said, “I admire your managerial courage!” Too bad for me, I’m not a manager.

  3. Dorothy W. says:

    Yeah, I agree about the email — it’s a way to hide from people sometimes. And students do say things on email they never would in person. And it causes misunderstandings, and creates fights — basically, I agree with you. Nothing pops into my head for a book recommendation, except that I’m reading The Time Traveler’s Wife right now and liking it a lot.

  4. Amy says:

    I love you Court! Even though we have spent a lot of time together in the last week, reading your stuff always makes me miss you and want to see you now. Hmmm. . . Maybe I’ll email you right now, and CC you, and put lots of !!!!!!!!!!!! ‘s in it.

  5. Stefanie says:

    It’s not the cc’s that are so bad where I work but the “reply to all” that gets used on a mass email to say some inane thing to the person who sent the original. Drives me nuts. We have the food competition at my work too, only I work with mostly women so no one ever takes more than half a donut and then the few men who work there are expected to eat all the pieces.

    As for a novel, have your read Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?

  6. Cam says:

    I was told a few jobs ago that I was perceived as rude and “un-teamlike” (or some such non-word business word) for not sending ‘Thanks’ to people when the followed through on my requests. Like I have time to say “Thanks” to every email I get. While I’m a little more caring than one who believes that “your paycheck is your thanks”, I’m not contributing to the virtual email landfill by replying to all with “Thanks”, or especially, “Thanks!!!!”, every time someone does does the routine tasks of their job.

    I’ve spent the last year taming myself to only read email 3x a day & I was so much more productive. What happens? I get a new job & they hand me a Blackberry already set up to jingle every time I get an email. Everyone seems to have them where I work. Is anything so important that you have to bring your email with you to a meeting? The last time I text messaged someone in a meeting was about 4 years ago and it was to place my bet on when the office loser was going to fall asleep in the meeting. I lost by 10 seconds (yes, we measured that granularly so that it could be a competition.) Yes, always connected is soooo, soooo productive! It totally rocks!!!!

  7. Glad to know I’m not the only one suffering from email insanity -LK, brouhaha is one of my favorite words, and sounds perfect for the situation you were in. Cam, LOL, I must be terribly rude too because I don’t email “thanks!!!” either very often. Although, to be fair, I will get off my duff and thank someone in person, or take them out to lunch, or whatnot.
    thanks EVERYBODY for the support. I don’t feel like such a curmudgeon now! And Litlove, I ADORED Room with a View, thought it was wnderful, although the ending confused me a little. I’ll post on that when I do reading update.

  8. Kerryn says:

    You’re definitely not a curmudgeon. I think what a lot of companies need to do is train their staff in the appropriate use of e-mail. For something that is perceived to be a time saver it is most often the most unproductive tool in the office (along with your dumb-boy co-worker).

    The worst abuse I ever saw of e-mail was the mailing of an invitation to a church function to all 50000 employees of the company I was working for at the time. Within minutes of the message being sent, the number of reply-to-alls had completely bogged down the e-mail servers. They didn’t recover for another three days.

    And I can, like, totally!!! empathise with you on point 6 (and also 10 now that I look at it again), particularly about assuming a tone in what should really be non-emotional communication. Could that be attributed to an awareness of the nuances of the language and knowledge of e-mail etiquette as well as over-sensitivity?

    I really enjoyed reading this post Courtney.

  9. I also loved this post! You almost made me miss work, just for having something great to rant about. The whole email culture has become insane for all the reasons you detail. My dear husband has a blackberry, so he is always available in his 24-hour company, even when he is out for dinner with ME! I laughed about the spirit day and not wanting to see colleague’s feet. Ick. Me neither.
    As for a great escape, I can strongly recommend anything by William Boyd, especially Restless (the female spy story) or The New Confessions for a BIG saga. Hope you have a great weekend.

  10. Emily says:

    Too funny! I agree with it all, most especially your points about email. If you haven’t yet read LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA, now’s the time, it sounds like to me. (But I missed your Saturday deadline, so I’m hoping you’ve already read it.)

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