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Archive for the ‘At the Office’ Category

Office Party

We are non-stop celebrating the wonderful Holiday Season over here! Our merry department lunch was a week ago, and today is the party for the whole company. Cubicle decoration contests and Ugly Sweater days have taken place. In my previous position I was able to withdraw myself from felicity a while, and simply not appear at the festivities–particularly once they stopped serving wine at these functions.
WHAT A GRINCH, you will be saying.
Well, in my new position it looks like I no longer have that delightful freedom. One is expected to have FUN, and by golly, we’re going to make sure that you have it.
One of my colleagues is taking part in the procedures and came back from the rehearsal yesterday with dire news of ghastly jokes and limp routines. She was horrified at the insensitivity of the waggish quips she is to deliver; I was horrified to find that there would be waggish quips. But it’s only FOUR HOURS of merriment after all.

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The day after celebrating my birthday with a festive morning at the Department of Motor Vehicles (so that I could continue to drive legally) I faced a large and complicated meeting: the RUSSIANS were coming! I will note that the volume of last minute changes was hair raising. This meeting was held at our other, very grand building which is filled with boffo historical items and charming paintings and rooms with windows, unlike the sleek modern building I work in.

Which sleek modern building however has state of the art meeting technology, so very helpful to those running the meetings.
Now it so happened that the presentations the Russians would be giving us were suspected of possibly harboring threats to our network–not anything our guests would do a-purpose of course, but things happen. So I was instructed to use one of our antique and clunky laptops to display these foreign files, which I dutifully did.
And then one of them brought in a CD.
Sigh. There was not of course a CD player on the laptop. We have several CD players at the other building, and could have brought one had we known. But courage! Somehow the file was safely transferred to the laptop, and we were able to watch a cheery video of some Russian spaceman addressing us from the Space Station. Such fun!
High points of the meeting:

  • Our scientific lady president made a little speech about our 2 great countries having so much in common, e.g. the mass of immigrants pounding on our doors. This was not a comparison I had heard before…
  • Despite our going to so much trouble and expense to set up the simultaneous translation booth, every Russian spoke only in English.
  • Including the eminent Russian who gave a long and detailed presentation about the physics of light. Even if he had spoken in the pure tones of John Gielgud, I would have been lost–but with that heavy accent, I could only catch the occasional “the” or “but”.
  • Followed by a reception with treats and open bar!

And then I went home, quite exhausted.

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In my new job, there are meetings JUST LIKE in my old job. However, instead of well meaning people talking about public health, there are well meaning people talking about missile defense. It is at least more entertaining.
Yesterday was just such a meeting. The day began late for me as my alarm clock which I had carefully set for 5:20 PM naturally did not awaken me at 5:20 AM–but, I awoke at 5:45 and by dint of eschewing my morning exercises managed to be out the door and on the road in time to enter the meeting room by 7:30. To find that NOTHING WAS PREPARED. For once our stellar support team had fallen through. Frantic endeavor ensued, made more complicated by the interpretation team, who had to set up the (partly) sound proof cubicle, and link up all the microphones. Except, there were no microphones. But our AV guys found some, or maybe it was the interpreter guys, but in any case, the room–rather small, November is a busy month and all the large rooms taken–was soon webbed with lines and cords and wires, and people were coming in, dodging the lines and nibbling on the lox and bagels we had thoughtfully provided. Except, not the Russians, they were stuck in traffic of course.
Well, well, eventually they came in, large ruddy men, all past middle age–and the meeting commenced. I had never before encountered simultaneous translation–and am still astonished at it. The two interpreters sit in their little booth and speak as the meeting participant speaks, instantly translating the words as they are spoken, into either English or Russian as needed. The participants hear the translation through their earphones, the language according to which button they have pressed on the headset. Miraculous!
My job was to make sure all went well, to put up the PowerPoints (luckily very few, unlike the public health meetings) and make sure the coffee and tea didn’t run out. Mostly, I looked at pictures of my new grandson on my phone.

The world is STILL not saved but a Good Start has been Made. Further conversations will be held.
And the baby is keeping his parents hopping!

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Today

Such a day! Clear and bright as a day in heaven, birds singing, trees standing tall, reaching their arms to the sky, and the bus was exactly on time.
Today I told my boss I was applying for another job, and she took it calmly, didn’t call for armed guards, didn’t burst into tears.
Perhaps after all this world is not doomed to endless night.

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Spring bloom

Today I am enjoying the peaceful quiet of an office empty of bosses. Pleasant, rather.
Yesterday and the day before were quite the opposite, days of frantic endeavour, rising at 5:30 in the morning and rushing to work, where I helped manage a large and bustling meeting–with many participants, many virtual presentations, many guests, and an agenda that stretched until 6 pm on both days.
Not, as you might say, delirious fun.
But done, and nothing disastrous happened–beyond the criminal lemon meringue pie supplied by our caterer. We ate it, being hungry, but there was no joy in it.

However, there was one wonderful thing: having to rise so early, I was outside getting the paper just as the sky eastward turned a golden orange behind my gorgeous cherry tree, now in full bloom. The air was soft and sweet, and the pink cloud of blossoms so beautiful–a good way to start a difficult day.

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Last night I was at last able to recline at my ease, Bertie in my lap, a glass of wine in my paw. Such a day, dear ones! I rose before dawn and took the path more traveled, driving a gas powered vehicle along with my fellow polluters instead of my more usual choice of virtuous public transport. So that I could be of service to public health! Than which, what better way for a lady to spend the day?

Aside from sitting with a cat, that is.
WITH wine, that is.

In order to more ardently serve the Pooh Bahs of Public Health–met in mighty conclave that morning–I needed to be at the meeting place in time to oversee the disposition of the Breakfast viands (was there, GOOD GOD, enough coffee?) —and hand place the tent cards, with their associated badges. I will own that for me that was the high point of the day. The magic died thereafter, what with the countless laborious presentations accompanied by lengthy PowerPoints– 45 slides barely sufficed for a half hour talk!

And then there came that deadly moment in the afternoon when Time Stops. Reminding me of this wonderful Calvin and Hobbes strip:

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My company has recently rebranded, renamed, and renegotiated itself into such a preposterous froth that no is quite sure who we are working for or what name to announce when answering the telephone (I stick to “good [morning/afternoon], this is Hope” which seems to suffice.)
The point which most of us are too polite to make to the rebranding enthusiasts is that no one –outside of ourselves and the honorary members of the organization–has the slightest interest in our internal organizational contortions. But apparently the change has filled those on high with exultant purpose, and many are the wordy emails–teeming with numbered paragraphs and bullet points–that attempt to inspire the lowly serfs with the same fire. So far, I remain completely indifferent.
HOWEVER.
Maria, the little Hispanic woman who so efficiently keeps our halls and bathrooms neat as a pin, was engaged in a puzzling activity this morning, and I asked her why she was examining each cubicle and office as she continued down the corridor. Somewhat frigidly, she indicated a stack of labels, each printed with our new company name. Her job: to find the little cardboard boxes people use to collect paper for recycling, and affix a sticker to each one, covering the old company name.

  1. People stow these boxes in various places–under the desk, on a shelf–and so it was taking a long time to find them.
  2. There are 11 floors in this building–I am on the 8th. She had started from the top, and had seven more to do.

Somehow, I could sense her lack of enthusiasm. There was even a hint of. . .furious resentment.

I was STUNNED. What sort of inane buffoon could have thought this was a good idea–worth spending money on? Was it worth bringing our worthy housekeeper to her knees, perhaps to the point where she considers hurling her mop through somebody’s window?
But no, she is too good and patient to even THINK such a thing.
Hello rebranding zealot person!!! NOBODY SEES THESE RECYCLING BOXES! And most of them are tatty and worn anyway.
In fact, I am no longer indifferent to our rebranding effort. I deprecate it extremely.

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