Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Commander and Farty McFarterson - A Love That Lasts

A certain coworker of mine that we will call The Commander has a special kind of relationship with a certain coworker that you know as Farty McFarterson.  This relationship can best be described like this:  The Commander ABHORS Farty, like in the worst way possible.

Exhibit 1 - Recently, we underwent a departmental move.  Teams were reorganized spatially in order to maximize efficiency, teamwork and communication.  Bossman, stupidly, assigned Commander and Farty cubicles in which their faces would be gazing upon each other's all day long.  This initiated an hysterical fit from The Commander.  Long story short, her seat was moved away from Farty.  Farty, none the wiser.

Exhibit 2 - Two years ago Farty made the mistake of boasting about an exceptionally successful day on his part.  Not realizing that the Commander had an exceptionally awful day, he joked and laughed and teased and taunted to the point that we all knew the invisible line separating harmless teasing from overwhelming harrassment had long been crossed sending The Commander into full blown attack mode. 

"One more F-CKING WORD and I swear to God I will throw my shoe at your head!"

Us on-lookers knew the severity of those words.. and the honesty of them.  We backed away slowly towards the cubicle partitions which we then hid behind until safety was attainable. 

But, Farty, in his ignorant glory, kept laughing and antagonizing.

Bossman was behind The Commander signalling Farty to shut up, but he misinterpreted the hand gestures for "Encore!" or "Bravo!" because he just kept going and cackling to himself.

Within moments The Commander had been pulled into a conference room with the Bossman.  Several minutes later she emerged.

"Farty, I'm sorry for saying I was going to throw my shoe at your head, but you should have shut up."

We all knew that was the most sincere apology The Commander could offer and were quite impressed.  We emerged from our safe havens and mindlessly went back to work.

I, myself, have a special relationship with Farty.  He has an ungodly attachment to Bossman.  (i.e. Dwight Schrute).  Since I am Bossman's assistant, Farty believes I know EVERYTHING that goes through Bossman's sick, twisted and mostly empty cranium.  On a daily basis Farty asks me 3-4 times if I've heard if he's getting fired.  We now have what I call the "stop sign".  If I put my hand up in his face with no words spoken, it means I don't want to hear it, keep moving.  It's amazing how well it works.  He's like a really well trained Jack Russell Terrier.  I'm sure it would be even more successful if I tossed a treat his way with every obedient gesture.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Paddle...

Every year there are 2 major events that take place in our office.  One is specifically for my department, and for the sake of anonymity I’m going to omit the actual title of the event.  This affair is planned with the intention of uniting our team. They herd us all to an off-site location, lock us in a room and commence a series of so-called “activities” that more so reflect medieval rituals of torturing transgressors until the life literally runs from their bodies screaming for redemption.  That is what this one day every year symbolizes to me. 

Last year the “committee” had a brilliantly schemed event, or so they thought.  Animal House.  I, myself, have never seen this movie, nor do I have any desire to, especially after what happened on that day.  The day began with presentations and pep-talks… lulling the majority of us off into catatonic states in which we found our happy places, pretending as if we weren’t being held against our will inside a corporate torture chamber.  I had just about drifted off into the oblivion of fantasy when the music started.


For the love!  Not just any karaoke, but Animal House karaoke.  Being that I had never seen said film, I reluctantly stood on the stage, arms crossed, lips pursed and fury disgorging from my baby blues while the rest of my squad, under the austere instruction of our captors acted like brainwashed POWs with a sudden onset of Stockholm Syndrome.   

Next came a series of “drinking games” that were guised as team building activities.  We played water pong, corn-hole, threw fake fruit through a clown’s mouth, miniature golf and something else that must have been so harrowing that I completely expunged the recollection from my mind.

I haven’t yet mentioned that the center pieces for each of our tables was a wooden paddle.  I didn’t get it, but apparently it’s something to do with the movie. 

So the day carries on and I feel the life inside me slowly being chiseled away.  The activities were complete, no more presentations, but still no permission to leave.  Someone decided (in the midst of their disillusionment) to try and have fun.  One person grabbed a paddle, someone else a ping pong ball and we started batting things around the room.  Minding my own busy, scurrying after stray ping pong balls like a 4 year old, I felt a sudden burning sensation in my derriere.  FREAKING OUCH!  What the heck???

I turn around to see a Director from another team grinning from ear to ear, paddle in hand.  The suffering was no longer focused on the group, but on individuals.  I began running.  I had to escape the evil pursuing me.  Running for my life, dodging ping pong balls that were pelting me, plastic fruit wailed past my face as I attempted to lead the evil Director through the crossfire to his demise.  Finally, he found another target.  This carried on for about 20 minutes.  Hostage after hostage succumbing to the vengeance of the wooden paddle.

When I thought I couldn’t take anymore, that the force inside me one calls life had come to an end, my eyes beheld something so beautiful and surreal.  Sunlight.  The doors had been opened.  Our freedom granted.  I quickly grabbed my belongings and joined the mass exodus as everyone attempted to squeeze through the door to taste the sweet sensation of fresh air and independence.

It was over.  And no one ever spoke of it again.

A week later, this second event was to take place.  A dinner, to recognize and applaud employees who have committed to lifelong servitude to the company.  We dress up, act dignified and pretend to enjoy each other’s company when we aren’t getting paid to do so.  It’s almost unbearable.  My one ally and I had made it through the evening with grace, well, except for when she almost knocked over a tray of about 50 mugs and saucers because of too much wine, but we made it, nonetheless.  We had agreed to meet some others at a bar not far away and were walking through the parking lot to the car.  We were among the last to leave.  The parking lot was relatively empty and almost completely dark.  We wobbled across the asphalt in our stilettos.  Half way there. 

That’s when we saw him.  Our paddle-wielding captor.  In the distance he looked harmless.  Nothing to be scared of.

But then, suddenly, his gaze set in our direction, he began to acquire speed.  His suit did nothing to nullify the evil he resonated.  He ran toward us and as he passed under a street lamp, that’s when we noticed… THE PADDLE… in his hand. 

“RUN!!!!”  I screamed to my Ally.  We ran.  Or wobbled at a slightly quicker pace than we had previously.

It was no use.  His determination and thirst for the kill had overcome our desire to survive.  Bracing myself for impact, I threw my hand behind me to protect what little butt I have. 


The paddle hit my wrist.  I blacked out.  I don’t remember anything else until we were in the car.  All I remember is saying “Drive…. Drive…. Drive…”

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pay No Attention to the (wo)Man Behind the Curtain...

Last year at almost exactly this time, the VP of our department tendered her resignation.  She just happened to be the umbrella that sheltered Bossman from all the crap-rain that he would bring down on himself.  As a result, he never suffered any consequences for the complete disregard of his responsibilities as a Director.  When she left, the position remained vacant up until about a week ago, leaving all mid-level management spiraling downward in a frenzy of “who are they going to promote”, power trips and mass chaos due to a lack of watchful eyes holding anyone accountable.  In other words, the past year has been absolute anarchy in the realm of management.  Of course, all existing managers were anticipated to vie for the position. 

A few were solid candidates in our eyes.  They had experience, favor, education and the overall drive to accomplish the task.  Then there was Bossman.  Bossman was never around when anyone needed him.  Never answered any of his multiple cell phones if you attempted to hunt him down.  Responded to emails weeks after they were initially sent.  And was generally defiant to anyone in authority exceeding his. 

Of course, he pursued the position of VP. 

A certain co-worker of mine who doesn’t often bite her tongue addressed the palpable fact that he was going to interview for this position.
Bossman’s response was, “Of course I’m going for it.  I owe it to this company to be the Vice President.  After all they’ve done for me, it’s the least I can do.”

OH OKAY.  You’re doing us a FAVOR by promoting YOURSELF.  Of course!  That is so selfless of you! 

Needless to say, weeks passed by with no word of their acceptance of his selfless offering to fill the position.  Bossman’s mood steadily declined toward a dark, mulling, brooding, festering and angry disposition.

Cue reality check.

It’s been a few months since the rejection hit Bossman and now the position is filled.  The VP will be starting on Monday. 

What’s been taking place since the announcement is quite hilarious, to be honest.  Bossman wants to make a good impression, because now he realizes his umbrella is gone and he’s left standing in the pouring rain, susceptible and defenseless, with no one to make excuses for his absences and his inappropriate derision.  He’s been cleaning his disaster area for 4 days now and I swear it’s getting worse.  I guess it’s like bronchitis… your cough gets way worse before it gets better. 

There are now small towers of documents on the floor surrounding his desk giving it the feeling of Mordor in LOTR surrounding and encasing the evil that dwells inside it’s boundaries.  There’s even a pile of dirty towels behind his chair.  I don’t know where they came from and when I asked him he just said, “I use those a lot.”  Well, obviously… there are dark smears all over them, but WHY are they in the middle of the office floor and what the heck do you use them for??

Bossman has also taken a sudden interest in EVERY aspect of my job.  He now wants to know everything that I do (which is way more than he even thought).  Frankly, it’s downright irritating, but he has to know in case the new head honcho asks.  His awareness of my duties has also led to him taking credit for the things I do.  There’s an obvious guilt that comes along with this, though, because last week he says to me:
BM: “You know I give you credit for things when you’re not around?”
Me: “Um, did I say something to make you feel bad?”
BM: “No, I just want you to know I give you credit.”
Me: “Well, obviously something has you feeling guilty, did somebody else say something?”
BM: “No! I just want you to.. never mind!”
Me: **snickering**

I accepted long ago that I remain nameless/faceless in executive meetings that revolve around work that I’ve done.  I’m okay with that.  People will realize soon enough after I am long gone and Bossman suddenly has “forgotten” how to make flowcharts in Visio, calculate complex formulas in Excel or even simply save a file to his desktop (yes, seriously, he doesn’t know how to do that) that I was the brains behind this operation.  I’m the man behind the curtain. I, my friends, am the Wizard of Oz.

Secrets Secrets Are LOTS of Fun...

One thing I’m sure EVERY work place deals with is the viral spread of any and all rumors.  Generally, I’ve found, that gossip spreads most quickly when it pertains to certain individuals lacking in the arena of positive popularity and thriving in infamy.  I believe, however, that rumors always have a tiny amount of truth hidden amidst the bull crap.  I mean, it had to start somewhere, right?

Not too long ago, Bossman was the epicenter of the gossip circulation because of his alleged break-up with Satan’s Mistress.  For about a week everyone in the office, and I mean everyone (even people in other departments that have a certain detestation for Bossman) was approaching me about the rumors buzzing around the halls.  People ignorantly assumed that I, being his assistant, had the inside scoop.  WRONG.  I am the last person to know anything about his personal life.  1. He knows people are going to come and ask me.  2.  I don’t give a crap. 

Of course, I played dumb.  The kicker was when the Pres’s assistant cornered me in the hall asking for details. 

Everything she said was accurate:
-          All the photos of Bossman and Satan’s Mistress had been removed from BOTH of their desks.
-          Satan’s Mistress had ceased wearing her engagement ring

I informed her I noticed the same things, but I had no idea what it meant.  Quickly after the conversation ended a switch flicked in my brain.  I had just been baited.  Our Pres despises rumors and gossip.  If he catches wind of something, it ends right then and there.  They were trying to see if I was the originating gossiper!  Luckily, I had kept my mouth shut when she asked me what I knew.  What I didn’t tell her was that for weeks I had seen Bossman searching endless listings of homes for sale and that I had also found (completely by accident, I swear) a journal entry saved on a jump drive describing in detail the frail segments of their tumultuous relationship and his longing to be the center of her affection.  (Bossman had inadvertently saved it to a drive he and I share…) 

That afternoon Bossman and Pres were in a meeting for 3 hours.  Immediately after, Bossman instructed me to reserve a conference room and schedule a meeting for first thing in the morning.

The next day Bossman locked us all in the room and began his investigation of who started the rumors and why people can’t keep their mouths shut.  He said the rumors were false and we all need to stop talking.  Okay.

An hour later, Farty McFarterson confessed to being the drive behind the rumor mill which then followed with extreme paranoia from him the rest of the day over whether or not he was going to get fired for it. 

A month later was when Bossman told us all they had actually broken up. Duh.

This is what happens when you have an office romance.  Whether you like it or not, your relationship is open to the public of the office.  Especially, if you’re one of the ding dongs that wears their heart on theirs sleeve, like Bossman.  He thinks he’s slick and evasive of our observations, but he’s not.  When he’s not happy he micromanages.  When he’s happy he makes fun of us.  When he’s miserable he takes 3 hours lunches, comes in late and leaves early.  When he’s in a good mood he gets here early, stays at his desk and works and acts like an attentive and caring manager.  We all know the signs of his good/bad moods. 

I don’t want you to think I keep my mouth shut to protect Bossman.  I don’t have allegiance to him like that. No way.  I do it to protect myself.  I only care about his well-being in regards to how it affects me.  I just wanted to lay that out here… my intentions through all of this are completely self-serving.  Capiche? 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"I Love My Thoughts"

So many happenings in the past few months that I don't even know where to begin!

Bossman has had some personal issues which have resulted in him actually being pleasant at work.  It's amazing.  Bossman has experienced a devestating split from the mistress of Satan aka my arch enemy.  Seeing as to how he is a 12 year old trapped in a 46 year old man's body and she is a 13 year old tramp with sagging orange skin that wears tutus with leggings and $15 four inch heels, I imagine the break-up happened something like this:

Since his devil of a fiancee (or now ex-fiancee) is no longer an issue, it means life has been easy-sailing for me.  Bossman and I have developed a more lighthearted rapport in which we actually joke around with each other.  Here are a few short stories about my recent days here with the Bossman:

1.       Since his desk has been declared a disaster area by the federal government, I've decided to have some fun with it and hide arbitrary objects in and on his desk weekly.  Last week, a wire hanger inside a file, which he only found today.  Amazingly, upon discovering said hanger, he sincerely believed it was his that he had put there... no questions as to why a hanger was inside the folder... only, "Oh, I found a hanger in my folder."  Which he then walked over to the closet and hung it inside.  Tomorrow, I'll bury a tampon somewhere deep in the depths of the desk abyss.  It will be fascinating to see whether or not he questions it's presence when he finds it.  It's quite compelling for me.  The only reason he even found the hanger is because he smacked his head off the brick wall yesterday after tripping over a box of plastic dishware sitting behind his chair and decided it was time to tidy up. 

2.       A few days ago Bossman asked me how to spell "girth".  As punishment for the ignorance of the spelling of such a simple word, I told him, "G-E-U-R-T-H".  He decided that spell check was wrong and I was right and sent the email.  Not really sure who the recipient was, but I'm sure their opinion of Bossman lessened slightly at the sight of GEURTH.  It's the little things in life, ya know?

3.       Just a few moments ago I made a suggestion in regards to a workflow.  Bossman responds, “Well, here’s the thing.”  He then picked up his coffee and walked away.  He still hasn’t told me what the “thing” is.  Maybe he has Adult ADD or Dementia or a loss of blood-flow to his brain.  There’s no telling why a man can suddenly stop a thought, walk away, and carry on like the conversation never began in the first place.  I'm perplexed.  I'm not gonna lie. 

4.       Then, earlier today, the Pres of the company walks over and says, “Bossman, do you have a second? I need to get your thoughts on this.” 
Bossman replies, “Oh yeah!  I love my thoughts.” 
I snorted accidentally and caught the attention of Bossman and Pres.  Bossman raised his eyebrows as if to say, “I’m so funny and I love me!”  Pres raised his eyebrows as if to say, “Good lord almighty, save us.”   This, my friends, is the leadership of my company.  The people I'm supposed to admire and strive to be like.

Now I must share this with you.  This Dilbert strip is the perfect depiction of my relationship with the almighty Bossman.  I’ve shared this with him, too.  His response was “My head is not fat.”  Okay, Bossman. 

I need you all to understand that it is very difficult for me to filter through all of the stories and experiences I have, breaking them down and deciding which to include in my posts.  There are so many to choose from and often, writing them down helps surface memories of more stories.  So if things seem to not be cohesive and disconnected at times, forgive me, because I sometimes get overly enthusiastic about telling you what geniuses I work with.

The End is Near.

Yes, things have been undeniably silent around The Punching Bag lately, I know.  For a while, there was such an overwhelming amount of drama encompassing this "job" of mine that I couldn't quite lay it all out in my head in an organized fashion.  Now, though, it's time to release the Kraken.

I'm not entirely sure if I ever came out and said this, but it is my belief that 90% of the torment I endured here was because of Bossman's fiancee a.k.a. Satan's mistress.  She, also, works here and seems to think that everyday is a competition with me to see who can dress better and be skinnier.  (I, however, do not compete in this game because frankly, I've already won.)  She's at least a decade older than me, has tanned way too much in her lifetime resulting in skin that doesn't quite fit her scrawny little bod, and walks with way too much "look at me right now before I stick my stiletto through you calf" in her step.  Honestly, it's just downright annoying.  If she keeps up the way she's going now, she'll look like Camille Grammer in no time.

The trends I choose to follow, she shortly thereafter adopts, forcing me to find something new and abandon the previous fad.  First it was chains, then it was flowers in my hair, then it was belts, then it was patterned tights.  On the bright side, it's keeping me creative with my wardrobe, trying to stay in front of her and her mimicking ways. 

Anyway, everything I've ever been reprimanded for has been the result of a dirty look from her.  She gives me a dirty look, I know I'm getting pulled into a room.  It always begins with, "You haven't really done anything wrong, that's why HR's not involved, but..."  Really?  Seriously?  OMG.

Now back to what I really want to talk about.  About a month ago I get pulled into a conference room with the Bossman.  Sure that I was going to get reprimanded for something I didn't do wrong, I hesitantly followed him.

"I need to tell you something and I'd appreciate it if it stayed between us," Bossman says to me.
"Of course..." looking puzzled, I responded.
"Satan's mistress and I are no longer together."  Staring, fidgeting.
Long pause on my part because what I really was feeling was relief.
"I'm sorry..." I finally blurted out, "But at least you're happy."
"I never said I was happy."
"Well, I mean, at least you have a chance to be happy now."
"What does that mean?"
"Um... I don't know, I don't know what to say really."
"Uh, okay."
"It's just sometimes even if you love somebody, they can't make you happy.  You have to know when to let go."
"Okay.  Just don't tell anybody."

With that, Bossman exited the room.

Hands down, the most awkward conversation I have ever had with him. 

The following weeks have proven to be quite interesting.  He no longer hovers.  I no longer am chastised for menial things.  He actually asks how my weekends are.  We joke around.  It's freaking WEIRD. 

Now, I in no way enjoy my job. I just want to make that clear.  He has 3 years of being a meanie to make up for.  But things are improving slowly.

The other day he asked me how to spell "girth".  I responded with "G-E-U-R-T-H".  Once he realized I lied, he actually laughed!  Baby steps.  I've also started hiding random objects on and in his desk.  It's such a catastrophe that Obama has actually declared it a natural disaster.  Today he found a wire hanger I hid inside a file.  It only took him a week and a half to find it there.  Tomorrow, I'm hiding a tampon in his pencil cup.

No more Satan's mistress = a happy Bossman. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's Been One of Those Days... Now get off your butt and go vote!

It’s been one of those days.  Everything is just off.  I woke up early to get to the polls before work, all excited to make my tiny little contribution to our democratic civilization, and they couldn’t find me.  No worries, they only have 3 different poll stations in the same building.  Third try was the charm.  Then I couldn’t figure out the stupid ballot thing, despite the fact that I haven’t missed an election since turning 18, thus earning my legal right to have an opinion.  I went back and forth in the ballot for about 10 minutes trying to figure out how the heck to end it before I saw the giant red flashing button that said VOTE in bold white letters.  DUH.

I go along my merry way, with extra time to spare because apparently, not as many people care about this election as I think should, resulting in no lines at the polls.  I decide to treat myself to Starbucks.  **cue mouth watering and "mmmmmmm"**  I don’t drink there much, but only because of the absurd amount of calories per tasty treat, not for economical purposes.  I’d rather eat a giant bowl of pasta soaked in olive oil and garlic to spend my calories rather than a delicious soy caramel macchiato that I leave 1/3 of behind because I have a slight phobia of backwash… even if it is my own.

About one minute from Starbucks, a lightning bolt of intelligence strikes my dense skull and I realize I left all my school books at home.  (Something I never mentioned before, I’m a full-time student in addition to the position of full-time Douche bag Assistant).  Crap.  I drive home, grab the books and try to ignore the pathetic dog in his cage in my basement crying for his mama.  **sniff sniff** 

I actually made it to work early, not that it matters because I’m always the first to get here anyway.  Bossman promptly shows up 30 minutes late, as always.  15 minutes later he puts his coat back on, grabs his back pack and starts walking for the door.  (The backpack goes everywhere with Bossman, but he never opens it.  EVER.)

Me – “Are you leaving for the rest of the day”
Bossman – “Uh, I have to go close my garage door.”

Keep in mind, Bossman lives at least a 30 minute drive away.

Me – “And you need your backpack for that?”
Bossman – “Well, you never know.”

So that leads to Mystery #2 – WHAT IS INSIDE THAT FREAKING BACKPACK??

Once again, the foremost consensus in the office is junk food.  But, I disagree.  He’s still losing exorbitant amounts of weight which is evident by the loosening of his waddle.  (def: Waddle – the flabby gathering of skin under one’s chin (any Ally McBeal fans will know what I’m talking about)).  Does the backpack and the truck time have a correlation?  We may never know.  I’ve pondered sneaking a peak into the pack when Bossman is M.I.A.  Perhaps one day I’ll summon the courage to do so. 

Now to give you my shpeel about voting.  This society that we live in, this land of the free, it's about choice.  Everything SHOULD be about choice.  So yes, it's a choice to vote or not, however, if you DON'T vote, you're giving up your right to choice, because in essence, by not voicing your opinion, you're saying you don't care.  In my opinion, if you don't care, then you have no right to complain or make demands of our government. 

So do your part, tell them what you think.  You get to live in this country with all of its freedoms and all that is asked of you in return (besides a gazillion dollars worth of tax money) is your opinion.  Whether you think so or not, your one little voice can make or break an election.  I don't know about you, but I'm insanely grateful that I even have the chance to say what I think.  My freedom to think is something I will never take for granted.