Finally!…Q&A Response. =)
May 15, 2008, 11:59 am
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So I’ve waited long enough on this post…it had to happen.

I posted this a few weeks ago, hoping that someone would respond with similar feelings about what it had to say…and I finally got a response.  If you’re too lazy to actually click the link (which I probably would be — don’t feel too bad,) this is the general gist of what I said:

I had been searching around on TheNest.com, as brides-to-be are often wont to do, and found an interesting Q&A article on handling vacation time with your job.  It basically just said that you should work late nights and weekends to make up for the time you’ll be missing, just to show everyone that you know work comes first.  Also, give out your cell number so that coworkers can contact you while you’re on vacation, and email the office halfway through the week.  It also states that “you don’t have to take all of your vacation days, but then again a Pina Colada is a terrible thing to waste.”

Here we go:  Why I Hate This Answer.

I can’t believe that we’ve actually reached a point where people actually believe that work is more important than…well, life.  If you’re one of those people to whom your career is your entire life, this article probably works out just fine for you.  Maybe you get bored on vacations.  I know a few people like that.  I’m not friends with any of them, but I know they exist.

I, however, will take my vacations.  Here’s my take on things; I go to work to make money.  If I didn’t need money, I wouldn’t be working.  I show up to work every day with the brightest face possible on, and the company reaps the benefits of my labor and pays me for it.  They also offer me benefits, which I take advantage of because I earn them every day by being a good employee. It’s a give-and-take; I don’t owe the company anything besides my time, skills, and efforts, and they don’t owe me anything besides fair pay and benefits.

I live to be a good person, and to find out what living is all about.  I’m not old enough to know — perhaps I never will — but I do know for certain that living is not all about the place where you punch the time clock.  It didn’t take me too long to figure that out.  I live for my family and friends.  I live to experience happiness, elation, shock, disappointment, sorrow, love and peace.  I live to taste Velveeta macaroni and cheese…again and again and again.

Whether the company I work for believes it or not, work is a very minimal part of my existence.  It’s the five minutes of previews that I have to sit through to get to the full-length feature film that is life.  I’ll always work as hard as I possibly can while I’m there, but only because they pay me to.  If I didn’t work hard I wouldn’t be properly earning the money and benefits they’re giving me, and that’s just wrong.

So, yes — my vacation time is mine.  I don’t need to stay at the office nights and weekends to accommodate for the time off that is rightfully mine.  I refuse to hand out my cell number so people can bug me with work problems while I’m out enjoying my family…I won’t even have my cell phone on me.  Ha.  Take that.

So when I’m out for the next two weeks — you know, getting married — you can bet I won’t be anywhere near a computer or a cell phone!  And while I’m in Jamaica on our honeymoon, I’ll be helping the person who is the newest and greatest part of my life down all the Pina Coladas we want — but not because we’re on vacation.  Just because we can.  And believe you me, if the opportunity to have a Pina Colada comes up on a workday weeknight I’ll be grabbing the bull by the horns and sucking that thing down.

But I won’t let it effect work the next day — the same way I won’t let work effect my taste for Pina Coladas.

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Office Humor
May 12, 2008, 9:52 am
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I hate office humor. Not just a little bit. A lot.

I hate when coworkers respond to any teeny quirk in your personality with a coffee joke, i.e. “Looks like you haven’t had your coffee yet today!” or “Maybe you should lay off the coffee!” I can’t stand when someone responds to “How was your weekend?” with “Not long enough!” I find little signs that say things like “I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day. Tomorrow doesn’t look good either” rude and unnecessary.

The thing that confuses me most is that when I Googled the words “I hate office humor,” only six results came up. Six! Am I the only person out there who finds coffee jokes and Dilbert comics trite and annoying? I thought the movie “Office Space” proved that I was not alone with the infamous phrase “Looks like somebody has a case of the Mondays!!”

It’s fitting, then, that my boss would just happen to have a giant wall completely devoted to all things office humor right in front of my cubicle. It’s a literal gold mine of officey sarcasm and Dilberty delights.

I have photographed it for your viewing pleasure. Please, you look!

Office Humor Hell

See my comments on it here.

And please…if you feel this way, let me know! I know I’m not the only one. I can’t be…can I?



Woah…
May 8, 2008, 4:06 pm
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I’d love to write something thought provoking and great, but I’ve got to tell the truth; I’ve been sitting around and doing practically nothing all day while waiting to get work from clients…which never came.  I can’t believe it’s only 4:00 right now…cannot believe it.  This is indubitably the longest four hours I have ever spent, and I have an inkling that the next hour isn’t going to be a picnic either. I did do one thing today, though — I discovered this gem of a website.

…I don’t think I have to tell you what my afternoon’s been like today.  =P



Something wrong with this picture?
May 7, 2008, 1:42 pm
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As a soon-to-be bride (in less than 3 weeks…woah!) I’ve naturally been heading toward the wedding Web pages lately, just to poke around and look for potential last-minute gems of information or ideas from their articles.

This one site that I’ve been frequenting, TheKnot.com, has a sister site called TheNest.com which is (you guessed it) an after-wedding site with resources for newlywed couples.  After browsing through for a few days and finding interesting tidbits here and there, I came upon this Q&A session and had to see if anyone felt the same way I did about their answer.  Here it is — does anyone find anything strange/off-putting about this clip?

Q: Should I use all of my vacation days, even though everyone else in my office seems not to?

A: Figuring out how to take all your vacation days while still looking dedicated to the team (and boss) is a good exercise in time management. Factor in some late nights or work on the weekends leading up to your vacation so you feel you can go away with a clear mind, and show everyone you know business and your workplace come first.

Ask a trusted coworker to be the point person on any important projects that might require attention in your absence. Let all the key coworkers and clients know who they should contact if they have any questions. And give top superiors your contact info and let them know that you’re available 24/7. If you manage other employees, create a list of priorities for them to work on while you’re out of town. Email the office midway through your vacation and elevate yourself to hero status.

Bottom line: You don’t need to use every last one of your vacation days, especially if you can roll them over or cash them in for some extra dough. But then again, a piña colada is a terrible thing to waste.



Slow down, you move too fast…
May 5, 2008, 12:40 pm
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Commuters on their way to work can be crazy sometimes!

Take one honking, Acura-riding, screaming nut job of a woman who decided to clamp onto my rear bumper this morning on Route 9D in Wappingers. I’m going to go ahead and say that I’m a pretty considerate driver, especially on the morning commute. All right, make that an extremely considerate driver — I’ve been out there and seen the way that these other commuters drive, and it isn’t pretty. Tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, neglecting to use signals and just plain not following the rules are the least of what goes on down in the wretched tangles of I-84 between the hours of 7 and 9 am.

I don’t buy into the game, though — I know where I’m going and (believe you me) I’m in no particular rush to get there. I like to leave on time, though, so that I don’t feel the slightest need to join the weaving hoards. If someone else is tailgating me or looking a little frustrated, though, I can sympathize with their plight and pull into the right lane to let them pass. For the most part, I don’t let angry commuters get to me. I’d rather not have my day spoiled by their ugly ‘tudes.

Which brings me back to 9D. I was driving down the road, minding my own business (while still maintaining traffic’s usual flow of a 10mph speed limit hike) when I decided to be a good neighbor and let a car get in front of me. That very moment, a car horn blared twice from behind me. I wrote it off, figuring that no one could possibly be that impatient, and kept on my merry way. Just to be sure that nothing crazy was going on behind me, I glanced in my rear view mirror to see what all the fuss was about.

What I saw was probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen out on the road before. A young woman, probably in her late 20’s to early 30’s, was sitting all the way forward in her car, banging on her windshield and screaming something that I couldn’t quite make out. It was pretty off putting, but I decided to try and ignore it as best I could. She made the move to lock onto my bumper for the next five miles, which I also chose to ignore, while periodically rearing at my car . . . as if there were any extra space that made it safe enough for her to do that. We ended up both needing to turn at the same point in the road, and we sat at the red light for a grand total of 20 seconds, after which the green turning arrow lit up.

Not less than half a second later, the horn began again — at least 5 loud, blaring honks that began to make me a little more twitchy with each one. I had to look in my rear view mirror again, and what I was was nothing short of terrifying!

The woman was literally screaming at the top of her lungs, shaking her head back and forth and smacking her steering wheel with a fervor that threatened to break the thing right off. I could swear that she morphed into this for a minute:

Hillary gone mad

This was unpleasant.

Actually, it was more than unpleasant. I felt my annoyance turn into anger, and the anger into indignation. Basically, it was like a white hot rage that threatened to consume my very vitals if I did nothing to make her understand that she was being totally irrational — and looked ridiculous, on top of everything. My mind raced wildly, thoughts of the things I could do to express my distaste for her temper tantrum bouncing around in my skull. While all this was going on, she swiftly zoomed past me and the other people in the turning lane — and then she was gone.

Most of the time road rage doesn’t bother me at all, but this time it hit a special nerve. Why do people have to act like that? The worst part of it is, you can’t even let them know how jerky they’re being! (Well I guess you can, but giving the finger is pretty much like stooping down to their level, in my book. Plus, it’s illegal. Believe it — I’m THAT much of a goody-two-shoes.)

The point of my rant? I have found a device that is the answer for frustrated good drivers like myself everywhere! It’s the epitome of mastermind technology today: the very reason that I want to hug Nick Holonyak, LED-inventor extraordinaire. It’s actually an “LED Emoticon” that sticks to the back of your car and broadcasts your disgust or approval to other drivers out on the road. You can choose from one of five messages – a smiley face, frowney face, “Thanks”, “Back Off” or “Idiot.”

I personally would appreciate one that uses a few more choice words, maybe including the terms “ass-clown” and “beslubbering ill-nurtured varlot.” But this will have to do.

See it for yourself here — the catalogue of uses is simply mind-blowing!

…rant finished.



Treat your employees right!

I was going to save this topic for later, but I couldn’t help myself. I feel so crazy passionate about this right now, and I can’t keep it in anymore!

Everyone is always talking about trying to find the perfect business model; how to make their business run smoother and more efficiently. I’m definitely no expert on this, but I’ve had plenty of experience with different kinds of companies both big and small, and I can tell you that there is one commonality that I’ve found with all very successful businesses — they treat their employees right!

I’m not just talking about giving employees decent salaries and benefits; those are super barebones essentials (or they should be, anyway). I’m talking about good pay, comprehensive benefits, unexpected perks, internal PR, and other incentives. It’s amazing how the way a business treats their employees can really be directly related to its success.

The concept isn’t exactly brain science, but obviously most companies think it is. Think about it! When was the last time you heard about someone talking about their job, and you thought to yourself, “Oh, man — I’d kill for a job like that!” Not very often. And if you have heard about an amazing job like that recently, what were you so impressed about? I’m willing to bet that it was the perks that business’ employees enjoy, even over the kind of work that they do.

A few months ago, I was visiting my friend Angela at her apartment in Saratoga. She had been raving for months about her job as an Assistant Editor with McMurry, a marketing communications company based out of Phoenix, AZ, and we went to visit her office to see what the fuss was all about. When I walked in, I could barely believe my eyes — the place was beautiful! High ceilings, bright colors, and friendly photos were everywhere we looked. A kitchen with stainless steel appliances and an espresso machine — and free espresso pods! — completed the sheer Utopian feel of the place.

What’s more, the things Angela was saying about McMurry as we walked around were incredible. She pointed out a wire sculpture featuring the company’s mission statement, mentioning that the IT guy made it for the office in his spare time. She steered us past a large room down the hallway with clothes piled up on each table, telling us about the clothing swap the office had held last week — employees brought in unwanted clothing to swap with other employees, and all the leftovers went to charity.

“This is where we do yoga every Thursday morning,” she said casually as we passed a large empty space on the hardwood floors.

Although I was totally psyched that my friend had found such an amazing job, I felt the green monster begin to creep in a little bit. At the time, I was a reporter at a regional company (the Business that Shall not be Named, or “BSN” as I will refer to it in the future), and life wasn’t exactly picture perfect. I was making $350 a week and working over 60 hours writing practically an entire newspaper on my own, and I received no benefits: no insurance, no sick days, no vacation, no incentives, nothing. I spent easily over $75 to $100 a week in gas driving to and from interviews (a big number for my little Mercury Tracer), and was constantly being called into work on the weekends and late on weeknights. I was always checking my phone for messages from my boss at the dreaded BSN, and thinking angry thoughts about how I didn’t deserve to be treated so poorly…but I needed a job.

The turnover rate at BSN, I had learned earlier, was just over three months for a reporter. Three months. This is barely enough time for an employee to get settled into a job, much less to find out that they hate it enough to leave. The worst part? Almost every person who left their job at BSN went into another field besides journalism! The place turned passionate writers into word hating Scrooges. I was one of the lucky ones to maintain my interest in writing when I left, but that didn’t stop me from applying to a job at a local day care just to get out of there. BSN was, and quite frankly still is, a place for writers who are in between jobs to go and get work.  A jobless shelter, if you will.

All of this was bouncing around in my head as Angela finished up her tour with a cheerful “And these are the leftover beer bottles from our weekly happy hour!”  …and less than a minute later, my phone rang with a call from my boss at BSN (I kid you not.)

The only thing I could think about was what McMurry’s turnover rate must be.  I’m going to wager a guess of at least 3 to 5 years for new people, and maybe up to 20 years for people who stay beyond that mark.  Let’s compare that to three months.  Do you think BSN employees care about the company?  Do you think they feel a personal investment and connection with the company?   And, as a result, do you think their product is the best it could be?  Far from it, and I can attest for that.  In the mean time, McMurry employees are voluntarily working late and taking time out of their own personal lives to create projects for the company they work for.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why — McMurry takes care of their employees.

That being said — I know these are very extreme examples of rewarding your employees vs. forgetting about your employees.  My point is that if you treat your employees well, they will treat your company well…and therefore, you’ll have a better product.  It’s easy.

So if you’re a business owner or HR person who has just happened upon my little blog, I know I’m not a professional — but please take my advice.  Work on your company from the inside out!  The business world would be so much better if companies really did that.  I think a business is just like a person.  You can attract people to you with a beautiful outward appearance, but keeping people interested in what you do takes more than cover-up and empty promises.