chemaccino good, but not good for you

Wednesday, March 31, 2004
I'll be back Tuesday.
Maybe later.
But not before.

I have long weekend of fun, learning, and manual labor ahead of me.

The continuing saga of Tardy Marty
This morning around 9:25, one of TM's lawyers asked me where Marty was, and do I know when she gets in, usually? I gave a hapless shrug, and explained that I don't always notice when she gets in, but she's usually in by ten.
She was in at ten, on the nose, which I guess is good?

In other news, she is starting to get on my nerves. Our desks are separated by a sort of a cube-wall, but it's really more of a Friendly's-style partition, which is to say that the bottom 18" are cubicle-style fabric, and abotve that, the rest is glass, like a picture window to the other person. You can't really see their desk, because the desks extend on both sides of the partition. If one wanted to look at the other person's desk, one would have to stand up, lean forward, and kind of peer down through the glass.

Yesterday I was immersed in work ...well, blog-reading or IM'ing, more likely... and I was startled to notice that Marty was doing the peering thing over her desk into my cube, as though trying to read my computer screen or check out what's on my desk.
How long has she been doing that?
WHY is she doing that?

I looked up enquiringly, and she pointed to my desk and asked if I was using my document stand and if not, could she borrow it?
I said yes, but the peering thing has happened again since then. And the doc holder is not the only thing she's borrowed since she's arrived. There have been repeated borrowings, with and without permission, of my Big Black Binder of contact info, and today she begged my office supply catalog.
You can borrow it once, but please pursue obtaining one for yourself.
And stop with the peering.

I am developing a penchant for elevenses
For several work-days in a row now, I have found myself hungry at 11:00am. Since the lunch I bring to work each day basically consists of little snacks, I have started partaking in what you might call elevenses. Lovely. Perhaps with a spot of tea? Too early for tea, no thank you, I'm actually in the mood for a little water with my fruit snacks.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Oh, yes, Dieter. I am a happy as a little girl.

Yes, I kinda needed ...okay wanted a new, smaller-size purse that was more fun than plain black but usable year-round. But this sweet little thing is pure decadence. I actually walked into Claire's hoping to find the HK bowling bag purse, but they didn't have it and this one just spoke to me. Well, HK can't speak, she has no mouth. But you know what I mean.

Honestly, I'm very frugal, usually. But Hello Kitty. Who can resist?
She will be appearing at my side at all social functions in the near future.

Some of you already know that I'm a big fan of Judith Martin, a.k.a. Miss Manners.
She amazes me.
Here's a quotation from her latest piece, which addresses the Superbowl Half-Time Show. All emphases my own.

Now we get to the tricky part. How do you shield some people without suppressing others?

By custom. The mannerly principle of not deliberately provoking others, which is the foundation of civilized living, supplies a sense of etiquette about what is permissible where. If you attend orgies, you cannot complain of indecency; if you stumble upon the same activities in the grocery store aisles, you should. The vulgar have their venues and should not expect to be allowed to set the tone everywhere.

Read the rest here.


I'm not so sure they're right, but I really like the graphic.
(via boo)

The Exploits of Pre-Written Email Man: Bad Checks

Dear [NAME],
Would you kindly forward to me a new book of checks for Account No. [CHECKING ACCOUNT #]. My current supply is rapidly running out.
Please feel free to call me if you have any questions.

Dear [NAME],
I recently received your shipment of [PRODUCT (S)], which we ordered on [DATE] Since I am familiar with your reputation for quality; I was taken aback to find that [STATE NATURE OF BAD QUALITY]. [STATE WHAT WILL OR HAS BEEN DONE WITH CURRENT SHIPMENT.]
I have enclosed a copy of the sales receipt.
I must request that the order be canceled. [STATE REASON]
I am certain this is an isolated incident and therefore I look forward to continued business with you in the future.

Dear [NAME],
I certain the following will be of interest to you. I have always known your firm has high standards of quality and service. I was therefore all the more astonished at my experience [DATE] with your [POSITION], [NAME]. [MENTION CIRCUMSTANCE OF BAD SERVICE]
I will not delve into the details of the conversation, as it will serve no practical purpose. I do though hope, that you will be concerned of the possible loss of business that may occur if clients are treated in this manner. Given that I know you wish to uphold the good reputation of your establishment, I trust this information will be of concern and use to you.

Dear [NAME],
Please close the following accounts I have at your branch:
Savings ____________
Checking ____________
Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Exploits: #0 ... #1 ... #2 ... #3 ... #4 ... #5 ... #6

The Exploits of Pre-Written Email Man: New Girlfriend

Dear [NAME],
I must say that as first dates go, last night's was first class.
I had a really good time, I hope you did too.
I would like very much to see you again sometime soon.
Waiting to hear from you,

Dear [NAME],
You are so sexy, you drive me wild.
I wish I could be with you right now, but good things come to those who wait.
In the meantime, close your eyes and imagine me softly kissing your lips...

Dear [NAME],
Well, babe, you've finally reached it - the epitome of teenagehood - Live it up!
Have a wonderful birthday full of fun and surprises, I wish you all the best.
Happy Sweet 16!

Exploits: #0 ... #1 ... #2 ... #3 ... #4 ... #5 ... #6

Monday, March 29, 2004
Just a little note about these pre-written emails:
I have IN NO WAY altered them. I have only pasted them in particular orders to create story arcs. This means, among other things, that THE TYPOS ARE FOR REAL.

The Exploits of Pre-Written Email Man: Suggestions Welcome?

Business thrives on opportunities. Whether it’s an opportunity to better serve our customers, to enhance the working environment, or to expand into a new market, they are all highly valued.
I am writing because I know that you are often in a better position to perceive these opportunities than I am. I therefore would like to encourage you all to voice your suggestions. [STATE HOW SUGGESTIONS SHOULD BE SUBMITTED] [MENTION INCENTIVE, IF ANY]

I would like to thank you for your helpful suggestion [SUGGESTION]. It is precisely these types of suggestions that we value greatly.
Thanks again.

Please be advised that [NAME] was terminated as an employee of this company on [EFFECTIVE DATE OF TERMINATION].
We request that staff not communicate with [NAME] regarding matters which are confidential to the company.
[FIRST NAME]’s responsibilities have been taken over by [NAME OF PERSON ASSUMING RESPONSIBILITIES].
Please contact [FIRST NAME OF PERSON ASSUMING RESPONSIBILITIES] if you have questions.

Exploits: #0 ... #1 ... #2 ... #3 ... #4 ... #5 ... #6

The Exploits of Pre-Written Email Man: Friend's Amputation

Dear [NAME],
I was very distressed to hear of your recent accident. I am confident, though, that your strength will lead you to a speedy recovery. Please accept my sincerest wishes that you get better soon.

Dear [NAME],
I know you're in a tough position, and you don't really know what to do.
So I wanted to let you know that no matter what you decide, I'm behind you 100%!
Sometimes in life we have to make very hard decisions, but these are usually the ones that really count.
So take a deep breath, clear your head and weigh each choice carefully.
Know that I love you no matter what, and whatever you decide to do I will support you in every way possible.

Dear [NAME],
Now that you are home, you're officially on the road to recovery.
It's not over yet, but you've conquered the worst and come out swinging.
Keep up the good attitude and the incredible willpower - you're a real fighter.
And please, GET WELL SOON!!
Wishing you only the best...
Best regards,

Exploits: #0 ... #1 ... #2 ... #3 ... #4 ... #5 ... #6

The Exploits of Pre-Written Email Man: The Dumpee

Hi Babe,
Haven't heard from you in a while. I hope you're well and that everything is OK.
Things here are pretty much the same, nothing too exciting.
Drop me a line sometime and let me know you're alive.
I miss you!

Dear [NAME],
Please don't go and leave me all alone!
I won't be able to make it without you.
You are my oxygen, my air to breathe.
Without you no soul would be left in my empty body.
Please, please don't go...
I love you forever,

Dear [NAME],
I hope all is well by you. Things here would be better if I didn't miss you so much! It's hard getting used to life without you here. I miss seeing you every day and hearing your voice. Our long conversations have now become holes in my day. I'm sure it will get easier as time passes, but it is still hard for me to imagine getting used to life as it is today.
I miss you so much!
Forever Yours,

Dear [NAME],
You can't begin to imagine how much I miss you.
You were the light of my life, the center of my universe, and now you are so far away.
I wish you lots of luck in your new life, but know that you have left a gap in my heart.
I love you always.
Forever Yours,

Exploits: #0 ... #1 ... #2 ... #3 ... #4 ... #5 ... #6

The Exploits of Pre-Written Email Man: Bad Day At Work

Dear [NAME],
What's up? How's everything by you? I'm doing OK.
My job has got me down a bit but I guess it could be much worse.
Call me when you're free, we should talk for real.
It's been too long!
Miss you,

Dear [NAME],
Want to go for drinks after work?
It's been a terrible day, I need to drown my sorrows in a few beers...
And I could definetly use a friend.
Talk to me.

Dear [NAME],
I wanted to say I'm sorry, it's just been one of those days.
It started bad, deteriorated to very bad, and at this point is at an all time low of 'can't get any worse'.
So please forgive how I acted, it wasn't meant to hurt you - it was just my misdirected anger gone haywire again.
We'll talk soon!

Exploits: #0 ... #1 ... #2 ... #3 ... #4 ... #5 ... #6

Use pre-written messages to say it best
This computer has this annoying extra toolbar across the top of every window I open in Microsoft Outlook, or Internet Explorer. It's called a "Hotbar", and it gives you options based on what you're doing. So, when composing a message in Outlook, it suggests Stationery, Animation, etc. I don't use that crap, but today I poked around on it and found an option where you can choose a PRE-WRITTEN EMAIL.
That's right, folks! Has writing original prose got you stumped? Choose from our vault of hundreds of greetings, for every occasion!

This calls for the creation of: THE EXPLOITS OF PRE-WRITTEN EMAIL MAN!
I am going to create an ongoing saga, for as long as it amuses me to do so, made up ONLY of these heinous pre-written emails.
Work is slow.

Exploits: #0 ... #1 ... #2 ... #3 ... #4 ... #5 ... #6

Friday, March 26, 2004
...did he just say he's off the the patent prom?

yes. yes he did.
It's a dinner of some sort.

Doo, doo, doo, looking out my back window
This morning there was a tabby cat prowling around outside my window when I was getting dressed. My first thought was, whose cat is that? because the houses around here are really spread out, so it's quite the traveler. My second thought was, I really want to go out there and catch the kitty and pet it! which would be bad, because I was topless and there isn't enough leaf cover yet between me and the kids living next door. But then my sad third thought was, That would be bad anyway, because I am especially allergic to orange cats.

I just need to vent my inner six-year-old and say this:
Kitty! kitty! I want a kitty! One that doesn't make me sneeze!!

Marty Update: 10:14am arrival time today.

Casual Friday: what not to wear
First of all, let me say that I really have NOT figured out how low I can go on the casual scale for Fridays. We can dress down, like, a notch, and so far, I've been conservative by saving my khakis for Friday.
There was a time for me when khakis were dressing up.
What amazes me is that I have come so far in my ...I don't want to say 'fashion sense', so I will say my 'losing of my lack of fashion sense'.

This loss of lack of fashion sense is not shared by those around me, specifically by Lawyer1.
What the HELL is that sweater?
Why is it attacking that man?
JesusAllahBuddha, even if it was a gift from your kids, have the decency not to subject us to it.

How do I explain this atrocity, this assault to all who behold it?
Let me first say that it is not nearly as bad as a "Christmas Sweater," you know, those terrible things middle-aged women wear that have sparkles and candy canes and such. But for the most part, people who wear Christmas Sweaters have the good sense not to wear them to work, or if they do wear them, at least the season has prepared us for it.

We are unprepared for this sweater which has invaded the office today. I will attempt to explain it, but I don't know that I am a sufficiently talented wordsmith to convey the weirdness of the sweater and how I can't look directly at it for fear of giggling.

It is a crewneck pullover.
It is knit with semi-thick cotton.
The colors include white, blue, and two shades of green.
It seems to be an artist's rendition of a country-side landscape, consisting mostly of long, skinny triangles of color.

I can't say any more, because I keep having to look away.
I'm not being overly dramatic; I truly and honestly cannot look at this sweater without feeling giggles creep up on me the way puke creeps up when you're sick.

UPDATE: (12:15pm)
It's a golf course. I got a good look at the back when he walked by just now.

Thursday, March 25, 2004
adminho: Meee YOW!
adminho: did it just get COLD in here?
friend: perhaps i would know, if i was in the same room as you.
adminho: suck it, Trebek.
adminho: a catfight!
adminho: mad menopausal matrons make war
friend: MMMMW?
adminho: Marty came in late again and it's TOTALLY PISSING OFF Betty.
friend: betty = former betsey?
adminho: yes, and they just had THE MOST ice-cold exchange
adminho: ice-cold, I say, and it didn't have to be. It was just about how to maintain people's calendars.
adminho: it wasn't so much a fight, as an informational exchange gone bitchy.
adminho: Betty's pissed, and Marty knows it, and they don't confront it, but it's just so..... cold.
adminho: and uncomfortable.
adminho: "meow, meow! mark the calendar when he's busy!"
adminho: "meow, hiss! I do mark his meetings! he just doesn't want to meet then!"
adminho: "meow, spit, meow! so mark that time as busy!"
adminho: "meow, how?"
adminho: "hiss! there's a way to do it in Calendar!"
friend: l4m3
adminho: what's so sad is that this could have been a totally mellow and pleasant conversation.
adminho: for instance, Betty doesn't dislike me, and if she had this issue with me, she'd be all,
adminho: "Hey, from now on, make sure he's marked "busy" when he doesn't want a meeting"
adminho: and I'd be all, "Oh, oops, I didn't know to do that. Sometimes he changes his mind, but I'll do my best to keep up. How do I do it?"
adminho: And she'd be all, "Here, I'll show you."
adminho: and then we'd totally make out.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004
I missed ANTM last night to talk with my boyfriend on the phone, figuring I'd watch it tonight instead. Just now, I went over to elfcakes! And even though I immediately clicked away when I saw the title, I fear I KNOW TOO MUCH!!!

I just went to check the TV listings, and it's NOT ON TONIGHT!!! I missed it!
My boyfriend Totally Owes Me. Sure, it's not really all his fault, but still, it is. He's the one who wanted to get to sleep early. And he owes me.
Hear me, buster? I don't care if it IS your birthday this weekend.

You. Owe. Me.

I guess origami will have to wait longer, as I check various review sites to find out what happened.

Transcript From My Brain This Morning (abridged)

What is up with that big bar on the front of that school bus that swings out when picking up kids? Is that to make a line, or something? It seems like an added danger, like a kid's gonna get clotheslined on it eventually.

This purse I bought last night is totally excellent. It is exceeding expectations.

Damn, that guy on Queer Eye last night was kind of an uptight jerk. They said he was Ivy League; he seems kinda Yale-y.
Oop, no, Google seems to indicate that he's a Columbia grad. And they called him a jock? Dude, I do not know how much GOLF is a jock-type sport.

Oh, hey, check it out. Marty is less late today. In before 10.

Awww, crap. Now I have the damn Columbia song in my head. Except I don't know it well, so I just keep thinking to myself, "Fight on for Knickerbocker beer..." Please, people, don't ask why. For anonymity purposes.

HA! You know what would be funny? If someone called me right after I post this, and whispered to me, "Have the lions stopped roaring, Clarice?"
Oh, I guess that wouldn't be funny now that I've mentioned it in the post.

Thanks a lot, Bryan. Now I've spent half the morning reading archived Miss Manners columns. And I meant to spend the morning looking for origami instructions. No, seriously, I did.

WTF, Daniela is taking an early lunch from 11-12? I said, Oh, ha, ha, you're taking a brunch. She thought that was funny. No, seriously, she did.

Wait, is it a purse, or a handbag? If it's kinda big, and usually slung over a shoulder, what does that make it? I just don't understand these things.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Today's The Big Day!!
WOOOOO! Today's the day I USED UP THE PHONE MESSAGE BOOK!!!!! That's right, 300 messages in only 25 work-days!

Oh. When I put it like that, it doesn't sound like so very much, only 11 or so messages a day.
WHATEVER! I will not be denied this sense of accomplishment!!! Bring on Book Two!

In other, funnier, news, last night I did my nails in a polish color much darker than usual.
I usually do something that makes my nails lighter, not darker. But last night, I went with a dark peach-type color. And today, every so often, I see my nails with my peripheral vision and think I'm bleeding. It's made for a morning that is comical, but only comical in my MIND.

Oh, man. So, as you already know from the IM transcript posted earlier, Marty the new full-timer is chronically late to work. Today I pushed the other secretaries on it a little, and the outcome is very exciting.

This morning around 9:20, there was a call on Marty's line, and since Betty was away from her desk, I had to pick up the call. When I finished taking down the message, I turned to Daniela and asked her

A: Does Marty work different hours? Do you know when she'll be in? It's just that this person asked, and I wasn't sure. I mean, I know she stays 'til 7...
D: Yeah, I don't know, I think she comes in later. But I don't know if anything was worked out.

So just now, at 10am, I get a call on my direct line. It's Marty, calling to tell me she'll be in in a few minutes, in case anyone asks. I hang up with her, and turn to Daniela's desk, where she and Betty are talking.

A: That was Marty. She says she'll be in in a few minutes.
Do you know why she calls me? It seems like I'm not the right person to call, since I'm only a temp. Shouldn't she be calling you, Betty?
B: Oh, she knows better than to call me.
(slightly evil giggles from Betty and Daniela ensue.)
B: But yeah, she should probably call someone like Daniela.
A: It's just that ... I'm not even an employee.

Case Study: The Effects of Tardy Marty on the Workplace
This Marty woman is just not understanding the best way to make nice with her coworkers. Of course, the whole system is screwed-up because hiring decisions are made based only on interviews the candidates have with the people they support (lawyers and paralegals), not the people they spend all day with (fellow secretaries), and also, their performance will be based on their ability to support their bosses, and not their ability to get along with coworkers in the office environment.

I find this really interesting, because it seems like the logical conclusion of this structure is that Marty will get no comeuppance unless her lateness causes problems in how she serves her bosses, and they tell her to change it.
To her bosses, her lateness is okay if it doesn't disrupt the end product of her work for them. And since she's been getting in at 10am and staying until 7pm, she gets that extra evening hour of uninterrupted work-time that's increasing her productivity. But by coming in an hour late, she's creating this situation where the other secretaries are forced to cover her ass (read: cover her phones) for that first hour in the morning when the phones need to be covered and Tardy Marty hasn't come in yet. Thus, Betty (and myself when Betty's away from her desk) becomes marginally less productive, because she spends the first hour of every work day covering twice as many phones as she's supposed to.

This is establishing a structure of resentment, as Marty will appear to be doing as good or better a job as a result of her self-imposed flex schedule, and the other secretaries know that the reason for this is that they're carrying her for part of it.

In a way, I want to see how it all gets resolved. Will Marty start keeping regular hours? Will a secretary find someone effective to complain to? Will there be some big problem with one of the lawyers Marty supports that goes down at 9:15am that Betty will have to do her best to fix, that will highlight the problem created by Marty's lateness? Or will it go on indefinitely, with resentment wafting through the hallway like sulfur fumes from an underground hotspring?

But in a way, I do not want to see the resolution, because for me to see it means I would have to play some part in the drama, by virtue of having to see it from this particular job's vantage point.

In other news, while writing this, Marty was taken into a closed-door meeting with one of her lawyers. History has shown that this is not necessarily a performance-related discussion, but a girl can dream.

Monday, March 22, 2004
Original Source Material
I am groggy and lazy today, so instead of an original post meant for you-all, I'm just going to cut-n-paste from the email I sent my boyfriend today. Consider it "original source material", only with the names changed.

I am so irritated by the not-until-next-weekedness of the interview and thus, the consequent NUNWedness of my ability to imagine what I can/will do this summer.
In other news, there's pressure around these parts to figure out what's to happen with me. I need security clearance to do these guys' expense reports, but Betty and I don't know if it's worth the hassle if I'm just going to go.
I called OfficePimp and the girl accidently hung up on me so I called back only to be put on hold and by the time she picked up my line, she was sorry to report Justin had just taken another call.
So things are terribly uncertain and will remain so until further notice.

Friday, March 19, 2004
Irrational Exuberance
I am in such a good mood today. My car was easy to clean off from all the snow this morning, and I was so excited by that and by my upcoming, last-minute roadtrip this weekend that I gave two "Woo!"s, Steve-Martin-hosting-SNL15yrs-style, in the car as I rolled out on my way. (What do you mean, you don't remember what Steve Martin did on the SNL15yrs special? It was only 10+ years ago.)

Even the weird sound my car made halfway through my commute didn't bring me down; I just called the dealer and made an appointment for lunchtime.
Who knew bad gas could be the cause of a shit-eating grin, I thought to myself as I walked back to my desk after my lunchbreak. AND I got the oil changed, thankyouverymuch. I am ready. I am so ready.

friend: i got a weird wrong number message.
friend: this guy in staten island will be waiting for me in the parking lot.
adminho: eeep!
friend: but it's ok if i can't make it in, you know, because of the snow and all.
friend: so he was just wondering, you know, where i was.
adminho: ha ha.
adminho: omg, the new ft person who replaced Bitchy Temp is kind of crazy.
adminho: there's so much to say, I'm putting it all off.
adminho: first of all, though, and this is germane to your phone call, she comes in late a LOT.
adminho: today, she called me (why me? I'm a temp!)
adminho: ...she called me at 10am and she says she thought the office would be closed because of the snow, but she'll be in within 20 minutes.
adminho: why would she think that? All you have to do is call the main number and listen if there's a message about a closing.
friend: gimpy.
friend: and you were like, uh, i don't care
friend: you should have said "take the day off honey! you deserve it!"
adminho: it's not the kind of thing one just decides on one's own.
"Oh, I say the office is closed and I don't have to go in."
adminho: The other temp she works with, "Betsey", is kinda getting pissed, I think, because this woman is so frequently late.
adminho: and then the lady stays until 7pm. Look, lady, get to work on time and you won't HAVE to stay late!
adminho: this lady comes in late every day.
adminho: I think her fake name will be Marty.
adminho: Marty comes in late every day.
adminho: we're supposed to be in by 9am.
adminho: when she's going to be later than 10am, she calls with a reason. Otherwise, she just comes in some time between 9-10
friend: I've always thought that a secretary's job is to, like, BE there during office hours.
friend: that's lame
adminho: It's driving Betsey NUTS. b/c she has to cover Marty's phones and everything.
adminho: I think I'm going to start calling Betsey "Betty" instead. She kinda looks like an older Betty Rubble.

Bagel Friday-related Program Activities

So last night on my way out, I shared an elevator to the lobby with Heather, the funky, friendly Records Room chica. She reminds me of Parker Posey's character in Party Girl. So, we're in the elevator, and she tells me that it's her turn to bring bagels the next day. She said I'm in for a treat, because she is not about plain and boring. I believed her, and as I walked to my car, I feared for a morning of only Everything Bagels and imported onions.


Sure, she brought in bagels and lox and cream cheese and tomatoes and onions. But she ALSO brought in huge catering trays of scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, french toast, and hash browns.
And a (low-frosting-content) CAKE.

Bagel Friday.

Thursday, March 18, 2004
Read on, and decide for yourself.

-----Original Message-----
From: [guy3]
Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2004 4:34 PM
To: [adminho]
Subject: FW: [case]

Hi [adminho]
I know you are busy with all of this. We would appreciate receiving the contact information as soon as possible. We would like to send some documents before the meeting tomorrow. So, if you are still compiling the contacts, can you send us the contact information?

-----Original Message-----
From: [lawyer1]
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2004 4:46 PM
To: [guy3]
Subject: RE: [case]

[adminho] should be sending you contact sheet per my request below. Let me know if you don't get it.

-----Original Message-----
From: [guy3]
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2004 5:41 PM
To: [lawyer1]
Subject: RE: [case]

[blah, blah]

-----Original Message-----
From: [lawyer1]
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2004 4:41 PM
To: [guy1], [guy2]; [guy3]
Subject: FW: [case]

[blah, blah, body of letter]

[adminho] - can you forward to above the contact sheet you put together. Can you update information before sending. Thanks.

Rock on. If this were real, it would be extremely popular.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004
A Pantoum for the People
Damn, it's been a long time since I wrote a poem for chemaccino. Please forgive my need to rhyme; I know it's not necessary in a pantoum, but I can't stop myself.

Cheap Suit

This twenty-dollar suit from Sears
will not last me for many years.
Although its cut is flattering,
it causes deadly static cling.

Will not last me for many years?
Or maybe it will outlive me.
It causes deadly static cling;
one shock left ringing in my ears.

Or maybe it will outlive me.
Although its cut is flattering,
one shock left ringing in my ears.
This twenty-dollar suit from Sears.

Although its cut is flattering,
it causes deadly static cling.
This twenty-dollar suit from Sears
will not last me for many years.

The Four Distinguished Gentleman Callers
Last night, I had some visitors. They arrived together in the same vehicle, a shipping envelope. They were wrapped in bubble wrap, and enclosed was a printout of This Previous Post, and a handwritten comment, "Per your Request."

Misters Scharffen-Berger, Ghirardelli, Cadbury, and Jameson are welcome in my home anytime. I regret to inform, however, that Mr. Cadbury is no longer with us.
I plan to party with Mr. Jameson this evening, as is befitting his Irish heritage, and the other two will be invited as well.

Many thanks to my friend and sometime-contributor (Mr. My Documents is still wreaking havoc) out in San Fran who knows first-hand the insanity of admin life and knows I wasn't being rhetorical in last week's call to candy and alcohol.

Planned Obsolescence
The past two days have been relatively quiet at work, which is to say that I have successfully procrastinated low-priority projects. Instead, I have focused my efforts on updating the little booklet called, "Temp Instructions". It's this little 5-pager that outlines everything a temp needs to know when covering for a day or two. Like, how to answer the phones, etc.

Loyal readers will recall that I had a day of training with the previous full-time woman, so for the most part, this book did not apply to me because I learned it first hand. But I don't have perfect memory, and so I'll refer to the book (all 5 pages) regarding tasks that only occur every so often. The book was created as a solely utilitarian effort, with no artistry.
I changed that.

The "Temp Instructions" booklet is now a full SIX pages, and uses clear headings and sub-headings in different fonts and sizes. There's a small table of frequently-used phone numbers, and there are several bulleted step-by-step instructions. This just makes it easier to read than a paragraph of the same information.

By using Microsoft Word's heading formatting, I was also able to create an automatic Table of Contents on the last page with two-click updating. It's no big thing to do it, but the result is so much nicer. It's easier to find what you need when you need it, and easier to skim the document for an overview.
Here's a small overview of this boss ToC:

Scheduling Conferences and Calls…3
Conference Calls…3
Reserving a Conference Room…4
Travel Arrangements…4
Planes, Trains, Automobile and Hotel Reservations…4
Limousine Reservations…4
Taxi Reservations…4

In a way, this is like planning to leave, and could be construed as pessimistic. But since the book is geared for a short-term temp, it can also be interpreted as planning to stay. After all, if my car breaks down again, somebody will be at my desk all day, and if she (or he, ha ha, yeah right) has the tools to do more work while she's here, that's less piling up for me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Unwell and unwelcomed
I'm feeling a little queasy after reading dooce's labor post. It's a sweet, touching, slightly nauseating tale. This might be exacerbated for me by the fact that I was unable to go to lunch today because the temp covering for Daniela took even LONGER for lunch, because she had a doctor's appointment.

Also, a trend is developing around this job as folks get used to me being around; a trend of coworkers saying things that upset me. They don't necessarily mean to upset me, but that's what happens, because, I suppose, they are trying to connect with me but they don't necessarily think about how what they say will actually affect me.

Last Friday, it was the (just curious) paralegal who was kind of asking me why I wanted to work as a secretary and kept trying to convince me that if she were single with a Bachelor's degree, she'd be traveling and she'd get an exciting job and she'd visit Italy. Why am I not in Italy, she wants to know? Why am I here, trying to get a secretarial job? Why don't I get a job as a teacher or something? Maybe teach in Italy?
I think she stopped because she saw the tears welling in my eyes.

Today it was the (well-meaning) co-worker who told me about how her brother purposefully had children early because of his diabetes and my boyfriend is how old? And he expects to have children some time in the future? Seriously? My vague assent elicited an expression of equal parts skepticism and pity.
I could tell she was about to delve into the topic of impotence, but then her phone rang.

I could really go for some fresh air. Maybe if it weren't snow-storming out.

Monday, March 15, 2004
It's like crack, or maybe heroin.
The past few weeks, I have been driving around, looking for parks where I could walk at lunch. Work is near the shore, so I figured there would be many local parks, but I had only found one that was closed for construction. But then, on Thursday, I found It. The Big One. A huge park that requires a parking permit between Memorial Day and Labor Day. One with separate paths for pedestrians and bikers. So, the past three work days I have had lunch at this park.

And in the past few days, I have been much more productive in the afternoon at work. Productive, efficient, and in a better mood. I attribute it to the mind-altering effects of....fresh air and sunshine. Even if I just sit outside, it works its drugtastic magic. Maybe, if I get really bold, I will institute Rollerblade Fridays. But I'm the World's Worst, so I'd have to be sure to wear all my protective equip. so as not to muss the work clothes.

And no, I haven't spotted a convenient place to change yet,
so yes, I keep on my work clothes.

Friday, March 12, 2004
Oops, I did it again
I forgot it was Bagel Friday this morning and I had two slices of raisin bread. But it's the Best Raisin Bread Ever, so it's no big tragedy. And now that I'm living at my parents', it's not like I'm saving money.

In other news, I picked up my car this morning and they said they replaced a bad relay, but they don't seem very confident that they fixed the problem, so I just have to drive it around until it breaks again.

Thursday, March 11, 2004
Pant excitement
I am so excited about my new pants, I just can't hide it. They are made of a soft fabric that's thinner and more pliant than regular cotton pant fabric, and they're pretty roomy (a little shrink in the wash wouldn't hurt). They feel like I'm wearing pajama pants.

But they're not slouchy, oh no. They're Gloria Vanderbilt Grayson pants, in black with burgundy embroidery. I couldn't find a photo of them, but here's the same cut, without the embroidery. Now, if only I had more shirts that matched them.

I bought them for $9.99 at Macy's, so I'm not sure why Kohl's has them for $25. Isn't Kohl's supposed to be less expensive?
Department stores frighten and confuse me.
Except for when they have $10 office jammies.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004
After reading that dooce link yesterday, I've been getting nervous that a simple Google search of my name would bring up my site, which I have tried hard to keep anonymous for obvious obvious reasons. So I googled several versions of my name, and was pleased to find that not only is this site not listed in the first few pages of any of those searches, but most of the links aren't even about ME.
Hurrah. May it always stay that way.
Maybe they're about that woman with my name who works for the last place I temped. Maybe.

'Nuff said.
Thanks to Candied Ginger for the link.

You're Les Miserables!
by Victor Hugo
One of the best known people in your community, you have become something of a phenomenon. People have sung about you, danced in your honor, created all manner of art in your name. And yet your story is one of failure and despair, with a few brief exceptions. A hopeless romantic, you'll never stop hoping that more good will come from your failings than is ever possible. Beware detectives and prison guards bearing vendettas.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

There are 64 possibilities. Which are you? Tell me in the comments.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Silver Lining
The bad news is, with all the problems with my car on my lunch break, I didn't eat.
Here is what I've eaten today: raisin bread, two slices; mini-bonbel cheese, two rounds; coffee, three cups; and a snack-size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. Realizing this, I just bought myself a Diet Coke and a bag of Cheez-its from the vending machine.

The good news is, the vending machines are cheap! My can of Coke was $0.50, as was the bag of Cheez-its.

I don't want your pity... ...send candy and alcohol instead.

My car broke down during lunch. I figure it will take me a week to make, temping, what I will have to pay to get it fixed.

Besides a chilling warning not to blog about your job, dooce has a great line-up of answers to her question:

What is the most insane thing your boss has ever said to you?

Run, don't walk, to read some shocking responses.

Oh, great! There's a flu going around this office now! Daniela's boss left early on Friday with it, and now Daniela's all illin' and will probably go home early. Time to start the obsessive-compulsive handwashing again.

In other news, my car broke down on the way to work yesterday. I apparently have bad car ju-ju these days. (see also the demise of my previous vehicle)

Friday, March 05, 2004
Onions. Again. I guess it's what they're supposed to bring in.

I'm coming out
I want the world to know.... I enjoy watching high-stakes vocational competitions.
Specifically, The Apprentice and America's Next Top Model.
I like to comment about The Apprentice on elfcakes.

There. Now you know.

And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street
If by "Mulberry Street", I mean "my commute." Here are a few of the sights I have encountered:

BUNNY! I saw a bunny the other day, sitting in the freshly-thawed grass next to the parking lot. He thought I couldn't see him, because he was in the shade of the streetlight, but I see ya there baby, wigglin' that nose. With those cute cute perky little ears.

At lunch the other day, a guy on a motorcycle totally cut me off and stopped at the light completely in front of the stop-line. I was sorry a big truck didn't make a wide right so he'd have to back up, but then I realized that this guy wasn't getting a helmet, so it's just a matter of time before he gets his.
Dude, you give cycling a bad name.

On my drive home last night, I had to stop for an opossum crossing the road. It gave me a better understanding for why they tend to get run over so much: this 'possum kinda got scared (who wouldn't?) and started waddling down the street away from my car instead of crossing. Stupid fat little possum. Waddle faster.

This morning on my way to work, I saw this guy riding a bicycle and smoking a cigarette at the same time. And, he had a totally 80's look, with big amber sunglasses. Hilarious. I immediately thought, "This guy needs to be saluted in a Budweiser commercial." Specifically, one of the Bud Light Real Men of Genius radio spots.
Mr. Rides A Bike While Smoking A Cigarette, I salute you. Especially because you kept both hands on the handlebars at all times.
How do you breathe? Have you considered putting this breathing technique to work for your local wind ensemble? Perhaps the oboe is your instrument; you may find the double-reed is the closest approximation to a Marlboro.

Thursday, March 04, 2004
Menopause = Men! oooh, pause!
Bitchy Temp and Betsey like to discuss menopause issues together. I think they swap supplement secrets - B12 for this, how much estrogen, etc. I'm not really sure, because they're not really near me, and they talk quietly. I think it's so sweet and so cool that they're comfortable talking about it with each other. Betsey told me this morning, though, that she really can't bring herself to discuss female issues anywhere NEAR men. She just stops talking if a man walks by.
That's cute too.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Navel-gazing: My thoughts as I walked to the bathroom.
OK, to be fair, I wasn't gazing at my navel so much as at the ass of the guy walking in front of me, just because I could and it's subversive and naughty in the workplace! And also because I feel like it evens things out, since the young women around here are probably always being checked out.
For the record, it was a very boring ass and made me appreciate my boyfriend's even more.

I need some new bras.
Could I get them at lunch? No, probably after work is better.
What's with this guy, now I'm following him?
Oh, he's going to the men's room.
Eeww! He brought reading material.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004
A few thoughts from today

I love the security dudes at the building's check-in desk. They are the nicest, sweetest guys.

Please, please friends, please do NOT IM me messages like "How's your shitty job?" I know you want to be sympathetic, but these pop up unexpectedly on the screen at work, and sometimes someone else is looking at my screen. Please understand that I am an assistant with no privacy whose desk is located in the hallway. I DO want to hear from you, so IMs like "Hi there" or other neutral greeetings are appreciated.

I can't believe I still trip on the carpeting here. What is WITH that? That's Kama Sutra #6.

It's kinda hot and sticky today for March.

Offices make me so sluggish. When I drink coffee for the caffeine, it tastes so nasty. I feel like my mind is a smooshy mush I have to wade through to focus on simple projects.

That woman Daniela is totally spying on me to see what I'm working on, or whether I'm working. You are so busted, woman, cut it out.

Back from lunch. What the hell is all this crap on my desk? Am I supposed to know what to do with this stuff?

I can't believe I actually have to schedule the interviews for the other candidates for this job. It's like the office-secretary version of those women whose husbands were killed and roasted, and then the wives were forced to eat the flesh.
Maybe not. But I dunno, it seems cannibalistic.

Monday, March 01, 2004
I am useless and stupid today
It's not like this job asks for much. Just answer the phone, transfer calls, take messages, and schedule meetings and travel. But I swear, I have found more ways to fuck this simple shit up within the past week.
Based on the past 5 working days alone, I could write ...

The Kama Sutra of Fucking Up a Secretary Job:

#1 Get time-zones mixed up
Keep them perfectly straight throughout your entire dealings with all the involved assistants, so the meeting becomes perfectly planned. But when you send out the emails to the actual parties involved, confound which time is the Eastern and which is Pacific.
#2 Write the wrong day with the correct date, or vice-versa
In emails asking about or confirming teleconferences, refer to the correct date, with the wrong day. Today's real-life example: I said that Lawyer #2 was busy on Friday, March 4th. This was unhelpful to the assistant trying to schedule the conference call, and you can see why. Friday the 5th? or Thursday the 4th? I suck.
#3 Make reservations with Travel, but don't confirm
Confirming reservations means they get ticketed and your lawyer-boss can actually print out the tickets at a convenient airline kiosk. But if you don't respond to the email from the Travel Dept., it means your lawyer gets an unpleasant last-minute surprise.
#4 When transferring people to voicemail, transfer them instead to... nowhere
After all, they don't know their party's extension, so they certainly can't do anything from the main mailbox. They will have to call you back and patiently treat you like a child and you will deserve it because you should know better by now to press the damn # button after dialing the extension number. Seriously, it's not that hard, and it just makes you feel worse that they're so nice about it and let you try again.
#5 Spend 10 minutes just looking for the mailing address for a division of your own company
It doesn't seem that hard to find the mailing address, after all, there must be a list of all the addresses of the division in that big big black binder. But the binder is not indexed. and everytthing is unstapled. There are no sections. And the division listings, once found, are in no discernable order, like, state, or whatever.

I have done all this and more. I feel pretty uncapable and useless. Trained monkeys would do a better job.

High-maintenance phone coverage partner
The reason I have my lunch break from 1:45pm-2:45pm is because I have to cover the phones while Daniela goes to lunch. And Daniela has to ferry her son from school to day-care at 1pm or something, so she has to take lunch from 12:30-1:30. She's the secretary to the boss of the lawyers I am secretary to, so that kind of makes her kind of a boss to me. In any case, she's been here a long time, and I think her opinion of me is important to the people who do the hiring.
But she's so high-maintenance! Today, I must take lunch before 1:30, because she has a doctor's appointment. Why didn't she mention this Friday? What if I had a doctor's appointment? It's totally not a big deal, but nothing is ever a big deal in an office, and that's what makes the little things all that there is.
And that makes them big deals.
And so, my lunch break is at the mercy of this woman's errand needs.