Archive for June, 2007

Mr. Panty-Waist Creates a Black Hole of Suck

June 27, 2007

Mr. Panty-Waist had more annoying habits than a fat nun. Somewhere, in the dictionary, under “irritant” is a large, beaming photo of Mr. Panty-Waist, probably dressed in those terrifying khaki manpris and boat shoes he showed up in one summer Friday, bringing the whole of corporate America to a grinding halt and causing the Dow to drop two hundred points.

One of his more obvious deficiencies occurred every time he opened his mouth. Not only did he have a monotone that made David Duchovny sound like a perky cheerleader, but he liked to repeat himself over and over again until you could no longer suppress the enticing fantasy of battering him repeatedly on his unusually large noggin with a ball-peen hammer while screaming “DIE STINKING SHIT-MEISTER”, until his blood covered him, you, the walls and the whole of America.

One thing he liked a lot was to mention the name of the person he was talking to, approximately seventy times per ten minute conversation. I’m not sure if it was to remind himself who he was talking to since most of his thoughts concerned his own giant ego and he lost track easily, or if it was the teachings of some “Get the Best Out of Your Discussions” seminar, but whatever the reason, it was annoying as all hell.

He had phrases he would regurgitate ad nauseum, his most common being “In other words….”, “Am I making myself clear?” and “What I’m saying is…”. You could expect to hear those several trillion times during a conversation on the phone, sprinkled around liberally like pepper. He also liked to drop in official PR jargon in a manner that made you want to jump through the phone, clutch him by the throat and threaten to pull his entrails out of his nose.

This is the sort of conversation he would have. Try to strap your arms down to the chair before reading it because the urge to pound on something till it breaks will be unbearable.

Mr. Panty-Waist: So what I’m saying, Steve, is…we have to give this article some color, some color do you know what I’m saying? Am I making myself clear? What I’m saying is color is the feature we need to concentrate most on here Steve. In other words, Steve, there isn’t enough color and we need more of it, am I being clear? And if we are going to appeal to those stay-at-home-moms we need a new strategy Steve, because, quite frankly, the current strategy is…what I’m saying is…well it’s inadequate Steve and we need color, am I making myself clear on this point? A colorful strategy will make this whole campaign shine, am I making myself clear? In other words color? It’s what we need most. Steve, color will bring this alive. What I’m saying is without color, this strategy is just another strategy Steve, am I being clear on this?”

I always had visions of the party on the other end of the phone putting him on mute and shooting things as he spoke. Smack mainly. Maybe themselves in the kneecaps just to prove to themselves that they are still alive.

Today’s Random Thought

June 21, 2007

How come, in any office, anywhere, people manage to get through enough paper to render a tropical rainforest obsolete in about an hour? Companies are obsessed with paper. It’s as if their whole reputation is being judged solely on the amount of paper it generates. People in offices will pretty much utilize paper for everything from scribbling random phone numbers to photocopying their buttocks. In the age of technology is it really necessary to have hard copies of everything? Seriously, I’m drowning in a sea of paper, most of it unnecessary or useless and I can’t find the things I do need.

You require paper for some things. It’s fairly hard, for example, to wipe your ass with a CD, although feel perfectly free to correct me if I’m wrong, you’ve tried this method and it works for you.

And I concede, you need to print documents for meetings sometimes or the world will stop spinning and topple off its axis.

Also, if you’re me, you need to write in a notebook because you forget things five seconds after hearing them. This is all fine and considered legitimate by me.

However…

My boss is fairly old school about some things. He likes files of the paper variety and everything we do is kept in these files. Mainly tons of paper no one will ever need or look at ever again. Me? I like to keep electronic copies and if I didn’t generate the document myself, then I’ll scan it and keep it on my hard drive. It’s easy to find, fast and it’s paper free. I don’t need space to keep it and I don’t have to spend 30 minutes digging through mountains of archive files, getting paper cuts on my extremities, in order to track it down later. Paper files are, by and large, unnecessary in the numbers they are generated. He’s also a little techno-incompetent and will mis-print a 110 page document, not realize he can stop the print job and let it run its course, producing 110 pages of alien hieroglyphics.

We have a Xerox room on my floor. The room has a wall that is stacked floor to ceiling high with reams of paper. In the course of maybe two days this stack will deplete to about a quarter of its original stock. There are maybe 55 people on the floor tops. Which begs the question, what are people doing with all that paper? Are they having paper airplane swap meets? Are they running origami classes no one told me about? Maybe they are experimenting with papier macher? Who knows? I just know it disappears faster than Paris Hilton at a spelling bee.

I just think that more could be done to conserve resources like paper in the mass quantities we consume it in offices. Maybe more recycling?

I’m now going to go hug a tree.

Socialites In Training

June 12, 2007

There is nothing gets on the collective tits of administrative assistants quite like people who don’t do their homework properly before giving them a job to do.

Case in point, the boss who asks an assistant to get them a set of flight options from City A to City B, which will have them landing in City B at or before 10 a.m., and a return flight, the same day, that will have their pampered, indecisive little butt back in City A by 7 p.m. so they can spend some quality time with their demanding spouse and precocious 2 year old. They also tell you to go ahead and make these reservations and let them know when it’s done. Now at first glance that’s a simple little request that is easy to fulfill because it is specific and concise.

You find the relevant information – Flight A will have you in City B thirty minutes before your deadline, leaving ample room for delays or airport congestion, with no faffing around with plane changes or being routed through some backwoods time warp like say…Omaha (sorry Omaha but really…) and Flight B will have you back in City A in perfect time to placate your soaped-up, screaming toddler who wants to know why mommy thinks work is more important than her bath-time. Voila! Itinerary complete.

When said flight reservations are passed along to boss, they are sent back immediately with a note that says, “Is there nothing returning later than this at all, like say a 9 p.m. flight?” like they’d inquired, or even hinted about later flights even once. I mean what part of, “I must be back home by 7 p.m.” implied you might like a much later flight? Nothing, that’s what, you degenerate, brainless shrew.

And so you rearrange the flights, complete with new 9 p.m. departure (sheesh!) and all the accompanying paperwork, just to be told, “Oh. It’s on American. Wasn’t there anything on Continental? Even if it’s much earlier?”

Then you look up the number for Office Management to see if you can borrow a crowbar to bash her head in until she is dead.

Remembering Nellie

June 5, 2007

When I was still working as a floating assistant within the company of absolute hell that housed Mr. Panty-Waist, SBAS and Cruella, I did stints as assistant to pretty much every ne’er do well the place contained. One guy was a youngish, extremely highly strung man who would turn the color of a ripe, red raddish when he got agitated, which averaged about ten times an hour. The most inane and absurd things would irritate him into apoplexy. Someone talking too loudly outside his office; a client not calling him back about five seconds after he placed a call; anyone having a differing opinion from him. It could be anything. One time the Evil Queen and myself, knowing his predilection for the Boston Red Sox, snuck into his office while he was out at a client’s and stuck Yankees posters and cards all over his bulletin board which sat behind his desk. It was a full half day before he noticed them, at which time he got all hot and bothered because he’d had two meetings in his office since we’d placed the offending items there, so someone might have seen the enemy colors, radiating from behind his giant, soon-to-spontaneously-combust head.

The man had several very real nervous breakdowns during the time I was with the company, one of which caused him to shave off all his hair and don a huge pair of Coke-bottle spectacles that turned his image instantly from “smart company executive” into “nervous, sweating pedophile”. Coupled with the fact his cheeks were generally the same shade as a baby’s bottom if that baby had chronic diaper rash, he was quite a worrying sight.

He worked hard however, which was more than could be said for Mr. Panty-Waist and his ilk. Nervous Nellie would work 78 hours a day if it were possible and then spend another day checking everything twice. He was a big favorite of the beastly Anti-Christ Cruella de Ville, who summoned him most days to her lair to discuss his taking care of her dastardly deeds. He would emerge an hour later, scarlet as a stop sign and exhausted from sticking his tongue down the back of her Prada pants, to bark urgent commands at his meager team of writers, while mopping his brow with a handkerchief.

He could be humorous and cordial if you met him in the corridor or he could be a fire-breathing, foul-breathed dragon from the bowels of hell. It was like pot luck which you got. Luckily, it was easily decipherable by the hue of his face. If a giant, glowing, red moon was facing you from the other end of the corridor it might be wise to change your route immediately.

I heard Nervous Nellie left the Company of Absolute Hell recently for greener pastures and moved to another state. It only remains to be seen if he finds serenity or destruction there.

Trials and Tribulations

June 4, 2007

Mr. Panty-Waist was truly a wonder of humanity. In fact, if there was a zoo full of human exhibits he would be right there, tucked into the corner of a darkened enclosure, a dumb, befuddled look up on his face, under a plaque that read, “The Human Sloth”.

One of his more murder-invoking qualities involved his sloth-induced tardiness for just about everything. I would wager that his mother was probably in labor for a full three months before he slid slowly and grudgingly down the birth canal into that infuriatingly large, people-filled sphere known as “the World”. Even then, odds are fairly good that he tried to crawl back in. (It’s probably also the last time he was that closely involved with a vagina, but I digress.)

In a full work year I counted maybe five occasions that Mr. PW was in the office before 9:30 a.m. Those were times where he’d missed some deadline and a client was burning his ear canals with threats of dropping in at 10 a.m. to review work that didn’t exist or the one occasion his already fragile psyche was being tested by his kid who had a toothache and was throwing a tantrum that had the Richter Scale people concerned. If there’s one thing that Mr. PW couldn’t abide it was kids throwing tantrums. Or indeed kids at all! Not that he fared any better with adults, but with children he was truly out of sorts. To see him talk to a child was painful and not just for the child. Imagine Patrick Swayze reciting Shakespeare and you’ll get sort of close, though.

His tardiness was legendary in the company. He believed everybody assumed he was at the client’s and indeed that was the myth he liked to perpetuate. He’d call me at about 10:30 a.m. sounding like he’d just awoken from a winter’s hibernation and say, “I’ll be in around noon, I’m uh…at the client…reviewing…” and I’d hear some shrieking pre-schoolers in the background screaming some sort of ancient war cries and think, “You took the kids to the client, huh?” In my final year with the company, the phones were upgraded and I got caller ID, a fact that constantly eluded Mr. PW as he still called each morning, still half in a coma, claiming he was currently entrenched in the plush offices of our client, whereas my caller ID rudely contradicted this by scrolling his home phone number across the screen, like one of those ticker strips at Times Square.

Not that I cared where the hell he was. Wherever he was, he was somewhere that I wasn’t and that was always a positive. However, on many occasions he would stroll in around 4:30 p.m. and want to start working on some “urgent” document. So urgent you can’t get your ass in to the office till the end of the day, huh big guy? Bear in mind I worked till six and had spent the day until then, doing nothing at all due to the lack of boss. So he’d stroll in, read the Wall Street Journal and scratch his large, wooden head frantically for ten minutes, then decide he wanted a 50 slide PowerPoint presentation, with full graphics input and probably including several pie charts, graphs and other things that are patently useless but can make a page look snazzy with some effort and of course it HAD to be done tonight. Naturally, that would mean me staying late to do it as Mr. PW himself, as we established many entries ago, was not born of the technical gene. He was as likely to open and create a PowerPoint slide show as I was to break-dance naked on the conference room table at the next company meeting.

These nights always ended horribly, with me wishing for death – usually for him and involving some heinously painful impaling instrument, but often for myself to just make the pain end. I would create the document and print it and he would edit it by scribbling changes all over it so it looked like some four year old had gotten hold of a Sharpie and used it for drawing practice. I would make the edits on computer and reprint it and the whole thing would happen over and over again until my eyes would scoot around my cubicle looking for a power outlet that I could slip my fingers into.

On the worst occasion, I was still in the office at 11:10 p.m. putting the finishing touches to some giant Word document full of crappy PR jargon that we’d been working on all night. As soon as he gave me the last edit, he left, leaving me to make the changes then fax it to the client. Naturally he gave me the wrong fax number and it took me an hour tracking down the right one and I finally arrived home at 12:45 after I’d briefly considered a detour uptown to pipe-bomb his apartment. Sadly, this sort of thing was commonplace. Working late for something that could’ve been done in office hours – not pipe-bombing his apartment, although I wouldn’t place any bets that someone hasn’t tried at least once.