chemaccino good, but not good for you

Thursday, May 29, 2003
I am the Ninja Queen of Complicated Copying Tasks!
I am kicking these staples' asses. If they had asses, consider said asses to be thoroughly kicked. And yes, it is the recovered Swingline staple remover with which I inflict my damage. Oh, it is so satisfying just to look at the pile of mangled staple-bodies on my desk. These little broken-backed staples are my bitches!
Quiver before me, wee metal bits!

And now, to put my Mad Ninja Skillz to work...
First, I hide out in my Ninja Lair, and plan my strategy.
Then I attack the copier with force and efficiency!
When the task is finished, I cover my tracks (by hitting the "Panel Reset" button)
and return to my Lair, where the copies and originals will be correctly collated,
thus minimizing my time at the copier, leaving it available to others.

Strangest. Tchochke. Ever.
Approximately once a week, I have to cover for the receptionist while she goes to lunch. Today, for the first time, I noticed a Very Strange Item sitting on top some file cabinets, acting as a bookend to some binders. I will endeavor to describe it to you, Dear Reader.

It seems to be a desktop lamp-type contraption. The base is made of blue plastic, and is an oval that is about 6"x10". In the backside is the lamp-bulb, a clear, round bulb. In front of where the bulb goes is an upright circle of white plastic, to serve as cheap frosted glass, I guess, to diffuse the light. In front of that circle is a smaller circle, also upright. It has a decal of Hello Kitty's head, with a text decal underneath that reads "Hello Kitty". I know what you're thinking right now: you're thinking, this just sounds like a Hello Kitty light. Well, it WOULD be, if not for the finishing touch: In front of the two circles and decals is a silver wire sculpture of a stick figure riding a bicycle.

1. What do Hello Kitty and silver, bicycle-riding stick figures have to do with one another? ...and what makes them a good pair for a lamp?
2. Why is it here, on a file cabinet, as a bookend?
3. What does it all mean?

Wednesday, May 28, 2003
I'm usually a fan of personality quizzes -- at the least, for the entertainment value of them. But this one at colorgenics is just bizarre. I mean, I was dubious to begin with when it claimed that it would give an accurate read in 20 questions, but it gets worse... so much worse.
Here are just two of the questions you will be asked:
Which shape owes you money?
Which shape wants to kill you?

Indulge your morbid curiosity.

Disturbing: listening over headphones to a dictation tape where the speaker is constantly shifting in a leather chair.
Disgusting: listening over headphones to a dictation tape where the speaker is eating while dictating.
Degrading: being the one who has to wear the headphones and transcribe these speakers' words.

One day I'll fly away...Leave all this to yesterday...

Tuesday, May 27, 2003
It's hard enough to return to work after a nice, three-day weekend. Nobody needs to listen to me bitch today. Instead, play this fun, odd little Dilbert game. Do we get bonus scores for pointing out misspellings? Play to win; there's nothing quite like dancing on the grave of your nemesis.

Friday, May 23, 2003
Memorial Day Feature: The On-Site Company Picnic
Well, it's the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, and that means that companies all over are engaging in the pseudofestivities of the on-site Company Picnic. What a great way to turn a regular lunch break into a half-assed holiday event! At my current workplace, in a suburban office-park environment, this basically amounted to a few grills set up in the parking lot cooking the company-bought burgers and hot dogs. It's rainy here, as WeatherPixie will attest, so the rest of the picnic was set up in the cafeteria: an array of side dishes provided by employees who were good enough to sign up earlier in the week to bring these majestic works of carbohydrate.

I helped myself to a company-issue burger, some tortellini salad which looked as though it was probably purchased pre-made, and (to get into the spirit of the thing) a scoop of a homemade rice dish with peas, corn, and some odd kind of mystery meat mixed in. They were little dark-pink-with-speckles wheels, too small in diameter to be pepperoni, but too thin to be sausage. What is this new meat-product, I wondered to myself. Perhaps I will like it.
Not so much. It tasted like... nothing. With an aftertaste of buyer's remorse. I avoided the rest.

This experience with the employee-made rice dish made me wonder briefly about the liability aspect of having employees provide the food. What if I get sick? What then?
I also wondered about why having people bring in food seems like a good idea. Sure, it's a cost saver. Sure, it lends a family feeling to the event. But the people who actually make these side dishes are probably people who have to cook for their own families all the time and therefore are not going to be exactly inspired in their cooking an extra dish for their company or their spouse's company. Exhibit A: Rice Dish with Mystery Meat.
Do we really want a family-type atmosphere in which we must regard the side dishes with trepidation, skepticism, and disappointment?

There's no such thing as a free lunch.
The cost of today's: a general sense of unease.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Lament of the Lost
A Thousand Petty Gripes

Where have all the paperclips gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the paperclips gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the paperclips gone?
Clipped to paper, every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

My apologies to Pete and Arlo.
Seriously, I just re-filled the paperclip holder thing not even two weeks ago. Again. And today, I'm down to five. How is it that they don't all come back to me? Where do they go to? Are they partying with our stray socks in the world of Magic Jo?

Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Most people who drink chemaccino are strippers
There's a lot of good stuff to be had at, But the most fun that I've found is this little toy which divines your personality from your preferred Starbucks beverage. Now, I haven't been able to afford Starbucks in over 18 months, but I was still able to have some fun with this. (see title, above)

Friday, May 16, 2003
R E D E M P T I O N through D R A M A !

Oh, MAN, did shit go down here this afternoon! This is intense! I mean, I can't make this up, this is so far from what I could ever make up. I wish I could make it up, but even then, it's so unbelievable. Okay. I must calm down so that I can report this as best I can.
Please keep in mind that the following OVERHEARD statements and conversations are only what employees here in the office were saying. I never heard anything the crazy guy on the phone said.

From President's Office:
...Did you just hang up on me? Now, ...No, now you listen. If you interrupt me again, this conversation is over. ...No, YOU were the one who... *click*

From Front Desk Area:
I just had to hang up on that guy. I don't want to talk to him. If he calls, just hang up on him.

[Customer Service Lady #1, covering phones]
Good afternoon... I'm sorry, no he's not available., I'm sorry ...I'll be forced to disconnect this call....

Good afternoon ...No he doesn't want to take your call.. ...I apologize, but he will not take your call, sir. ...I'm going to have to disconnect this call. ...No, I am not on a personal call. ...He will not take your call.

Good afternoo-- ..No, I cannot-- ...He has instructed me not to take your call... ...Yes, he has. ...Excuse me? ...The president of the company has instructed me not to accept your call. ....No, I am NOT on a personal call. ...No, I cannot transfer you.

Good afternoon... no I cannot transfer you there. ....I'm sorry. I cannot transfer your call. ....He told me not to accept your call....No.


[Customer Service Lady #2]
Let me do it for a while, you look riled up.

Good afternoon... you're the one calling us. ....You may have said something to bring him to that... ...alright, you can speak to the attorney general's office if you... no, I can't transfer you....

[President, returning to the Front Desk Area]
Here, let me take it.

Hello. Yes, I'm the manager. Yeah, the general manager. I'm Paul Bunyan.


Look, just hang up on him. Don't waste time, just hang up.

[Customer Service Lady #2]
Good afternoon.....please hold...


Good, that's the way!

[Customer Service Lady #1]
Good afternoon, ....certainly, hold on please.

Good afternoon.....yes, please hold...

Good afternoon, ....hold on please.
Good afternoon.....please hold...

Good afternoon.....yes, please hold...

Good afternoon, ....certainly, hold on please.
Good afternoon.....please hold...


[Purchasing Dept. Lady]
His company has 22 complaints with the Better Business Bureau. ...Yeah, I'll take the next call from him.

Good, 22 complaints to the Better Business Bureau? And you're still calling us? Listen, you've called us 20 times. ..Yes. You called us. ...20 times. ...Hey. ...Hey! ...Hey, stupid! Stupid, listen to me! The POLICE have been notified....
Psycho. ....PSYCHO.


[Customer Service Lady #2]
Good afternoon.....what supervisor do you want?... any supervisor? ... the supervisor of the IT dept?... or the supervisor of the trash compactor?... or the supervisor of janitorial suppiles? .....well, I wouldn't talk, I'm looking at your record. 22 complaints filed in the last 26 months.


He stopped calling pretty soon after that, which is too bad, because the HR Lady had just found out how to trace the call so the police could track it. But I think we've all learned a valuable lesson today:
Don't Fuck With Purchasing.
No, wait, we also learned that my boss is Paul Bunyan. Who knew?

Today is Full of Little Disappointments
A Thousand Petty Gripes
Let me count the ways...
(1) Someone has absconded with my bitchin' staple remover. It is nowhere to be found, and I have staples what need removing, and now I will have to use those stupid jaw-clamp things that aren't nearly so bitchin'.
(2) The receptionist-temp had to leave today suddenly, and it looked like a bitchy little snipe-fest was about to fly around about it after she left, but instead everyone was all nice and understanding. Something about her daughter having a seizure. Poor thing. If today hadn't been her last day anyway, we all know she'd be in on Monday sitting in the HR lady's office.
(3) The copier is out of its special staples. This means using the shitty hand-held stapler that is so cheap, I couldn't even find a picture of it at Where did they get these, a flea market?
(4) Finally! Ready to print that forever-re-edited letter. Oh. Printed it onto an envelope. Shit.

Trump Card
Who can stay grumpy on a Friday? It's Friday! And I'm going to be taken to a nice restaurant for dinner! Aces!

[update: added Tuesday morning]
The staple remover has been recovered. Rejoice!

Thursday, May 15, 2003

The people we need to worry about are the people down in [town name here]. They're incompetent and stupid. We should be in touch with them, on conference call, every day. ... The ones you want to watch out for are those turkeys down there. They screw up everything they try. ... Make sure you talk with them every day. But watch out, they're a bunch of idiots, down there.

It's inspiring to be privy to this kind of employee motivation. Warms the heart. "Make sure you are in constant contact with the idiots." I sure do envy that job.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003
All day, the office has smelled vaguely like cedar wood chips, the kind you use in pet cages, like for rodent pets. The smell has been on and about for hours. It's giving me flashbacks to my horrible childhood guinea pig, who used to push its little butt up against the side of the cage so it could spray its pee as far away from the cage as possible. We'd have to newspaper the entire blast zone. So I've been feeling a bit of nausea all day, between the smell and the memories....

...and hey, WHY does it smell like wood chips around here? What's going on in the lab? Should I be worried? Was there a spill? But I'm afraid to ask someone what it is, because if they don't smell it, then they'll think I'm CRAZY.

Maybe I am crazy. I think I might be going crazy. I just had to take a time out: I went to the bathroom and sprayed a bit of air freshener around my stall, to afford myself a brief respite from that pervasive cedar stink. Ahh..."Seashore"...
But now I am back at my desk and the subtle cedar is once again inescapable. The hell IS that??
This is so not cool.

What Would The Godfather Do?
You come to me... on the day of the Board of Directors meeting... requesting time off...

As a temp, I report to the woman in charge of HR, a.k.a. Personnel. Her office is just on the other side of my cube, and I have learned a lot about the role of the HR person by listening to what wafts through her door and over my gray border. The most striking of these revelations is that the HR person is the Godfather of the company. Employees come to her to discuss their difficulties and negotiate time off. ...or more time off.

Even my otherwise dubious scruples prevent me from reprinting excerpts of this, because I am embarrassed for her that she leaves the door to her office OPEN during these interviews. This means that I only actually hear her voice, since she faces her door, and visitors face in, so I don't really hear about the different aches, pains, diseases and conditions, but it still seems so very tacky. I just hear her try to negotiate appropriate time off. To her credit, she seems to really want to give decent time off to people, but I think it gets a little tense as to money matters.

Those who come to discuss more time off are pretty rare... but they are the gems. Because they make a special trip to the office just for the negotiation, and of course you don't dress UP, because you're trying to show that you're still sick. So they're loose in the hallways in sweats or jeans, and everyone is asking them how they are, how's the [illness], how's the recuperation, and then they have to explain that they're here to ask for more time away because it's been harder than they thought. Here is my favorite overheard excerpt from one such hallway conversation:

You ARE going to get the skin graft, right? Because you know you should... you don't want to get an infection...
Yeah, I...I will. I'm just here to see...
Well. You better get that graft, I'm telling you.

I am sorry I didn't get to hear THAT conversation with the HR lady. I'm sure he's getting the skin graft, but he's probably not allowed to come to work or get paid for work for a few months. And before he can return to work, he'll need a note from his doctor and he'll have to "downsize" Fredo in Accounting.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003
The other temp here in this office, working as a receptionist, is done. I mean, she's here until the end of the week, but she's done with being here all the same.
You know how it is. Or, if you don't, lucky you.
Lately, she and I have shared a few bonding moments. I've been pimped to enough reception positions to feel her pain. Once you get two temps together at one company, it doesn't matter whether you work for the same Office Pimp company or not, the bond of both of you not knowing whether you'll have a job next week has the same strength.

Of course, ultimately, it's best not to get too close to anyone, since companies always suspect the temps first if anything goes wrong, a la Clockwatchers.
Clockwatchers is the movie about temporary admin assisting, and its many pitfalls and indignities. Where Office Space speaks to the permanent employee's experience, Clockwatchers catches the desperation and futility of temporary office work.
I suspect that if this movie had been released today, it would have been much more popular than it was when it came out in 1997, if only because since then, four of the main characters have become so well known.
Parker Posey, Toni Collette, Lisa Kudrow, and Debra Jo Rupp.
All at once.


Hold all my calls; I'm going to go take a nap.

That's right. The boss takes a nap every afternoon. Door closed, lights off. Is that the definition of power? Ability to take a publicly-acknowledged afternoon nap?

Monday, May 12, 2003
Attention, Office Managers of the World
One of the perks (excuse the pun) of working in an office is that there is usually free coffee. Now, this is only a benefit if the coffee is any good, and if you are not the one who has to brew, monitor, serve, and clean it. That is why everyone in offices everywhere should all have Keurig K-Cups. This system proves that the future is now: just select your blend, put it in the machine, put a cup underneath, and press the button. In the time it takes to say, "Tea, Earl Grey, hot," your beverage is ready to go. And yes, that's right, you can have coffee or tea. REAL coffee and REAL tea. And cleanup is as easy as pull-out-bin-of-used-cups-and-dump-in-trash.
I am such a fan.

In a real office, after all, underneath your complicity, you're squeamish over how fake and wrong it all is, and how you're going to lose your mind if you spend another minute in such a sick place.

Heather Havrilesky's Salon article about BBC America's "The Office" almost makes me wish I had cable. But if I got cable, I'd have to give up some other luxury, like food or heat, and the way the weather's been this year, I'm not ready to give up heat. Or food.

Temping is not very lucrative, you know. My mother told me once that one's rent should equal a week's wages. If that were to be true, then I'd have to work this job 57 hours a week, and that's assuming I get time-and-a-half for overtime hours.
However, there aren't a lot of jobs out there for temps. I should know; I'm registered with three different agencies. I called Office Pimp today to talk to them about getting a new position somewhere else, since this current one was recently cut to 32 hours a week. They told me that in addition to my having to give 2 weeks' notice if I DID decide to leave, they could not promise me anything at the end of that time. Basically, they are saying I better stay here if I know what's good for me.

I can hear the HR woman on the phone lining up an interview for this position right now. If the woman she's on the phone with gets hired, do you think Office Pimp will make sure I get two weeks' notice?
Neither do I.

Friday, May 09, 2003
Oh, Sweet Jebus, please do not get me confused with this.

18 Hour: The Next Generation
Oh, sure, everything is more high-tech these days. Blort has a link, for instance, to a page that outlines the latest, greatest bra technology. And let me tell you, it has me sold. As an admin whore, no, as a woman, I am always on the lookout for improving my support system; especially for those long days in the office. Or out of the office. And the Bioform is IT, from what I can tell.

Sadly, IT is very expensive. After all, we are talking about space-age technology and space-age polymers here, and really, $70.00 is a small price to pay.
If your last name is Cheney, Soros, or Gates.

Still. Maybe I should set up an Amazon Honor System where people can donate money right here on chemaccino to buy me this marvel of engineering.

Hmm. That's so crazy, it just might work.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

When are you going to give me that flow chart?

When do you want the flow chart? Do you want the flow chart for the meeting on Wednesday, or can I hold off on the flow chart until the end of the week?

Only just now, overhearing this little exchange, did I realize how similar-sounding the phrases "flow chart" and "blow job" are. In fact, this explains why I tuned in to their conversation in the first place. Isn't it funny now? hee, hee.
Also odd is how often she used "flow chart" instead of a replacement pronoun. It's not my poetic license there - it's her own pronoun phobia. Weird.

The Gauntlet
A Thousand Petty Gripes

Most women who work in an office face The Gauntlet several days a month: the walk from desk to Ladies' room, while carrying a tampon or pad. And we face a quandary as old as Time (or women in the workplace) itself:
How do I carry it?
Everyone has their own take on it. Some bold women just carry their purse with them to the lavatory. These are a rare breed of woman, however. In general, isn't it odd to see a woman take her purse with her on a quick walk to the bathroom? Sure, men don't really notice, but every woman she passes will eye her with a mixture of sympathy, shame, and a hint of pride that she herself is not one of the purse-toter breed.

Some workplaces do have a supply provided free of charge in the bathroom; however, often these are implied to be only used in case of emergency. I say, hey, it's ALWAYS an emergency. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em, they say, and this applies here in its own way. But these free-supply-workplaces are few and far between. Often, the only supply is from a vending machine that charges you 50 cents for one item.

I wish we could all just carry them out in the open. That's the feminist in me, I guess. But it would probably make men feel uncomfortable, and God forbid we make men feel uncomfortable. Otherwise, I'd wave to people with my wrapped Tampax Regular as I took my walk. I'd give tampon-to-tampon high-fives as I passed other women in the halls. It would be glorious! A celebration of womanhood.

Put it in your pocket! think the men who have been brave enough to read this far into this post. As if we never thought of that. Take a moment to reflect on the difference between men's pants and women's pants. Some women's pants still have pockets, and that works just great, especially if the pants and pockets are not skin tight. What has it got in its pocketses? Don't ask.

This leaves the legions of pocketless ladies who are not about to tote the damn purse. We are the Hiders. In the waistband. Up the sleeve. Bra-strapped. Sock-tucked.

Look around your office today. We are everywhere.
And we are packing.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003
Not My Good Pants!
A Thousand Petty Gripes

My 72-year-old boss just accidently got a slash of black ink on the front fly of my khakis in a sudden, tragic, document-signing incident. It could have become ugly if he hadn't caught himself mid-wipe-it-off-instinct.
This is just one of those things that makes you wonder simultaneously:
(a) How did this happen, and
(b) How did this not happen sooner?

Montion To Dismiss Montion
A Thousand Petty Gripes

I have finally been assaulted with editing whatever the replacement for my replacement was working on last week, which happen to be various little legal documents. In addition to the edits noted by el presidente, I keep finding other little overlooked tidbits: underlines where it should be italicized, US instead of U.S., a judge claiming to be horse in the throat instead of hoarse in the throat...etc. They aren't big deals, but it's time-consuming to fix it all.
This morning, I was handed a document that only needed a minor change - just capitalize a letter. But something looked amiss on the draft... shouldn't it be a Motion For Leave, not a Montion? Far be it from me to say; there are many odd latin/legal terms I don't know, and the boss didn't correct it. So I open the doc in Word, and lo! "Montion" is not marked as a spelling error. You know, with the red squiggly underneath? Other words have red squigglies, so clearly, Word thinks the word Montion is A-OK. Really, Word? Any synonym suggestions? No?

I am suspicious about this word. I googled up a few dictionary pages.

*Sorry, no dictionaries indexed in the selected category contain the word montion[OneLook]
*montion was not found in the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary
*The word you've entered isn't in the dictionary. Click on a spelling suggestion below or try again using the Dictionary search box to the right. [Merriam-Webster's Spelling Help]

I think this pretty much establishes that the word "Montion" is a typo. I think I probably could have called that 20 minutes ago. EXCEPT that it's in the goddam Word Dictionary.
She ADDED "montion" to the dictionary.
All y'all adminho's know what THAT means. That means that whenever I, or anyone else on this machine, makes that typo, there will be no red flag warning us of it. This is a harmful thing. So now I am left with the rock-and-hard-place decision of, do I delete the entire "Custom Dictionary", or do I let it stand? There seems to be no way to remove the word from the dictionary, short of removing the entire thing. Damn! For now, I will let it stand.
For now.

[update, posted 4:25pm]
Yes, I know that, in theory, one can Edit one's Custom Dictionary. However, on this particular machine, the Edit button is grayed-out and inaccessible. Don't think I didn't TRY. And please, PLEASE don't think I didn't even KNOW to try.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Post Script
...just so we are clear here, the 11:24 AM Hell referred to was actually plucked from this older post; it is not self-referential to today's post time, which is just happened to work out conveniently well. A little too ironic?

Hell is some time every day at 11:24 AM
This guy, Rob, created a program that pulls poems out of webpages.
I ran this page through it, of course, and here's the profound poetry generated:

chemaccino chronicles of the
replacement for someone else
yes, very quickly,
and all I
should just
the coming Apocalypse.
when? I think they care
whether or what will be made about who
prepared for next four
or will we last meet our
ducks in survival skills...I know the file called
Letters 2003
Are both trying to Microsoft Outlook
a day early,
so a career in
the Day:Oh, and how to do they
have to meet up to myself.
posted by adminho at quickie marts
Admin Whore: lurk this Friday,
Where the rest
of temping is
there so they dare not really
Hell is some time every day at
11:24 AM
premium goods.

Monday, May 05, 2003
mentwhore: the aftermath
When we last met our hero, she was training another temp to replace her for the coming week. There were many obstacles in her way in this training, including the new person's almost complete lack of knowledge about Microsoft Office applications. I am sure all have been waiting with bated breath to learn what our hero came back to this morning.....

Welcome back...Yeah, no, [that temp] was here on Monday, but she couldn't... she decided she couldn't handle the work or something, so they sent someone else in for the rest of the week. The other girl, I forget her name, was okay, but she couldn't type very quickly, and you know [the president]; he likes things done the same day.
...Oh, and all that data that you've been entering on that study, we've just been saving that until you came back, so there's a week's worth of data to enter into the spreadsheets. Can you get it all done by the end of tomorrow?

What?!? All that hard work, teaching that woman how to double-space documents, etc., for naught! Curses!
Ah, well, such is the meaningless existence of the temporary administrative worker. I just need to be Zen about it.
All I need to do is repeat the age-old temp mantra-haiku:

It doesn't matter
I'm not a real employee
and not here for long

Thursday, May 01, 2003
But why should I do all the work, when I can have it done for me?