No, I Don’t Want to Go to Happy Hour

I have my own stuff to do. I have to go to the gym. I have to make dinner. I have to go to the grocery store. I have to take a look at my portfolio’s performance. I have to do dishes. I have to catch up on my reading. I have to balance my checkbook. I have to check my email. I have to surf the net. I have to play guitar. I have to watch TV. I have to relax. I have to go to bed.

I don’t want to listen to you complain about your job. I don’t want to listen to you complain about your spouse. I don’t want to listen to you complain about your financial troubles. I don’t want to listen to you complain about your body. I don’t want to listen to complain about sports.

I have my own stuff to do. After work is my time. Don’t get me wrong; normally I would love to go out after work and delay all the things I have to do just so I can spend some more time with my awesome team as we sit around buying overpriced beer and appetizers and watch everyone put on their happy face as they complain about their job, their spouses, their financial troubles, and their bodies. No really, that stuff is very interesting to me. I think it’s awesome that you used to be able to bench 500lbs in college when you were the all-star quarterback yet now you have trouble walking up a flight of stairs. It’s also enthralling to hear you talk about how you’re upside down on your car loan and your spouse is talking about leaving you because you’re never home anymore since you work 80 hour weeks. I empathize with you. Really. And if I didn’t have my own life to live, I might even want to buy you a beer to comfort you.

And to my managers: this doesn’t mean I’m not a team player; it just means my work day ends when I leave the office. Sorry!

Don’t Lie; This Meeting Isn’t Going to End On Time, Either

Have you ever been to a meeting that ended on time? I haven’t (not including meetings that I run). I should note that if you ever have the privilege of being in a meeting that I am holding, you will be kicked out when the meeting is scheduled to end, if not earlier, because being forced to stay in a meeting that is going longer than expected is the most annoying thing in the world.

It wouldn’t be so bad if you weren’t already overworked, but when you are already going to have to stay late, you don’t need to waste another hour listening to people pretend to be engaged in a two-hour meeting that was only supposed to last 15 minutes in the first place!

The reasons meetings run late are almost always the same:

First, no one can stay on topic. Say your meeting was scheduled in order to discuss streamlined, mission-critical releveraging protocol designed to drive quality-assured excellence. As soon as someone makes reference to something, anything else, the meeting will derail into a 30 minute discussion between two people that will invariably end with one of the parties saying “oh, well let’s discuss this offline.”

Second, if you’re unlucky enough to have any corporate cheerleaders in your meeting, you will have to listen to them argue back and forth about which one of them loves the company more. Each one will continually try to one-up the other by trying to get the last question in. Remember that in the corporate world, you show interest and loyalty to your company by asking questions in meetings. Corporate cheerleaders love their company so much that they can’t stop asking questions during meetings. It doesn’t matter to them if the meeting was scheduled to be over at 3pm, and now it’s 4:45pm; they will keep asking questions.

Finally, most people don’t seem to care. They don’t mind staying an extra hour past the (unpaid) overtime they were already planning on putting in that day because a meeting went long. You can easily identify these people during the meeting because they are the ones that don’t look more and more pissed off with every tick of the second hand on the clock past the meeting’s scheduled end time. They are the ones who smile when someone asks a question when the meeting was supposed to be over 30 minutes ago. They are the ones who enjoy staying late, and therefore don’t care if meetings last forever.

Here is my list of guidelines for making sure your meetings do not take longer than they are supposed to:

– If the meeting covers more than 2 subjects, print out outlines for everyone. You can use these outlines to keep people on subject.

– Immediately shut down any side discussions that are unrelated to your meeting topic. Do not wait 30 minutes for one of the people involved to say “let’s take this offline.” Instead, after 10 seconds of listening to their banter, say “I think you two need to take this discussion offline” and immediately go onto the next point in your outline.

– Immediately shut down unrelated questions. They’re not related, and therefore have no purpose being discussed in your meeting. As soon as the corporate cheerleader asks, before another one can reply, you must reply with “you know, that’s a good question, but it’s outside the context of this meeting. So as I was saying…” and then continue. It might be a little rude, but which is more important: being polite, or leaving work on time?

– When the time is 1 minute before your scheduled end time, say “alright, it looks like we’re out of time…”. At this point, you have 3 options. 1) If the meeting is over, then you’re done. 2) if for whatever reason you didn’t get through everything on your agenda, then continue with “…I will send you another invite so we can continue this later” and then end the meeting. 3) if the meeting absolutely must keep going, then continue with “…anyone who has to leave can leave, because I don’t want to keep you from getting your work done while you stay here in this annoying meeting contemplating boredom-induced suicide.”

Again, which is more important: being polite, or leaving work on time?

I rest my case.

Please, Stop With the Corporate Cheerleading Already

I love corporate cheerleaders! They provide endless amusement when I’m having a boring day at work. A corporate cheerleader can be anyone, male or female, who goes around the office singing praises of the company. You can’t even stop to ask this person how their day is going without getting an earful about changes to management policy, or new distribution nodes, and how it’s all wonderful or something of that sort.

The place where the corporate cheerleader really shines, however, is in meetings. At my last job, once a year everyone in management would be sent to this “retreat” for a week to relax and socialize or whatever, but they were actually being pumped full of new propaganda to come back and disseminate. (note: even though I was in management, I always scheduled really important stuff during that week so I never had to go. Can you imagine being surrounded by management-level corporate cheerleaders for a week straight? They’re hilarious in small doses but competely intolerable after more than about 5 minutes). Anyway, after one such “retreat,” we were all in a meeting together, and the best corporate cheerleader I’ve ever seen in my life made the following comment (italics added on the words she emphasized):

“One of the things that leadership mentioned last week that really
hit home for me was when they said, ‘before you make any decisions,
think to yourself: ‘how does this benefit the company?
When they said that, I was just like *gasp* [at this point she put
her fist up against her heart], ‘wow! That’s so meaningful!'”

I wish I were making this up. It was literally like that scene in Office Space, which made it ten times more hilarious than it would have been if she had just gone on with some normal corporate cheer.

the is this good for the company scene from the movie Office Space
the "is this good for the company" scene from the movie Office Space

I bet at night they sleep in pajamas emblazoned with the company logo.

If You Go to Work When You Are Sick, You Should Be Fired

There are few things worse than going to work while sick. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some people whose jobs are so important that they do need to go to work even when they are sick. But if your job title doesn’t begin with “President” and end with “of the United States of America,” or something of that caliber, you probably are not in that group of people.

People who come to work sick:

a) feel like crap, thus reduce the efficiency of their own work

b) spread germs, thus make other people sick, thus futher reduce the efficiency of the company

c) suck

I understand that some people are in a position where they are not allowed to call in sick, which is a ridiculous policy in itself. But if you’re not in the upper echelons of your company (or your country), stay the hell home when you’re sick. The common response to this is “but I’ll get behind in my work!” And my reponse is, if missing a day or two of work is going to screw you that badly, your company has much larger problems than sick day policies, and working for such a shitty company probably sucks worse than being unemployed, so quit. Better yet, call in sick, which is the correct thing to do anyway, and let them fire you. It’s easier to get unemployment that way.

People at my last corporate job were always sick. It wasn’t because the work was high stress; it was because they weren’t allowed to call in sick. As a result, the following was a common occurance. I would get a call at my desk from another coworker, and the following conversation would ensue:

Them: “Can you come help me?”

Me: “Sure”

(I arrive at their desk)

Them: *cough* *wheeze* *gag* “Sorry, I have a 103 fever” *cough, cough, sneeze* “and I vomited this morning” *cough*, “can you show me how to do such-and-such in this program?”

Me: “That requires touching your SARS mouse after I’ve breathed your SARS air. I really don’t feel like dying. Sorry.”

If I ran a company and someone came to work sick, I would fire them. The preservation of public health trumps your call center meeting its daily quota.

The Only People Who Don’t Mind Staying Late to Work Unpaid Overtime Are Idiots Who Hate Their Families and Their Lives

Nothing pisses me off more than having to stay late and work unpaid overtime (especially when it’s the result of poor decisions by company leadership), but the one thing I’ve never figured out is why everyone in the world doesn’t share that same opinion.

When the frequent announcement was made that we “need to stay late” to finish some project (an announcement that usually came around 4:45pm when you were starting to think about getting ready to go home), you might think that there would be heard a collective groan mixed with varying levels of profanity, but you would be mistaken. Instead, one of the most amazing and disturbing social events I’ve ever witnessed transpired:

People would get excited.

Excited to stay late and work for an unknown period of time until the project was complete? (Not knowing when you are going to get to leave is the worst. It’s actually psychologically similar to some forms of interrogation and torture.)

Excited that they weren’t going to have to see their families tonight? (That sucks… unless you hate your family!)

Excited that they were going to get home late and not have time to do anything productive or fun before they go to bed and have to get up the next day and do it all again? (That’s… pathetic.)

Or excited because their lives were so empty and boring five minutes ago before they were given extra work tonight by a company that they think actually gives a shit about them and wouldn’t replace them in two seconds with cheaper programmers in India if it wasn’t already at its Indian quota?

Hawaiian Shirts Don’t Make Work Fun

Want an easy way to find out who all the idiots are at your company? Make the following announcement:

Next Monday is Hawaiian Shirt Day!!!

Anyone who gets excited is an idiot. Wearing a Hawaiian shirt doesn’t change anything about your job. It’s like if I told you I was going to punch you in the nose, and you got upset, but then I told you I was going to let you wear a Hawaiian shirt while I punched you in the nose. Would that change anything? Would it make getting punched in the nose fun?


It’s Too Bad a College Education Doesn’t Teach You How to Use the Bathroom

As much as nearly every aspect of corporate life annoys me, there is one thing that never ceases to completely dumbfound me: no one in the corporate world, not even those in the upper echelons of management, knows how to use a toilet without making a complete mess.

At first I thought this might be an isolated event; I thought perhaps it’s just this particular bathroom on this particular floor near my desk. I thought I must have just had bad luck in that the bathroom nearest my desk is the messy one.


I realized this was not the case the first time I ventured to the other end of the hall to use that bathroom. I walked in, and what did I see? Shit on the toilet, toilet paper on the floor, and perfectly clean water in the bowl! I don’t even know how it is possible to miss by that much. It’s like they got everything backward.

But it wasn’t just at that company (a large, international firm with stringent entrance requirements). Every company for which I have worked, and even every corporate office and campus I’ve visited, has had bathrooms that looked as if they were used by baby chimpanzees.

Even private bathrooms on the top floors that are reserved exclusively for company owners, presidents, and CEOs are exactly the same! You would think they would be cleaner, since in some cases there are only 2 or 3 people using that bathroom and by basic deduction it would be pretty easy to figure out who made the mess, but no.

The other component of basic bathroom etiquette is hand washing. Now, it’s pretty gross in general to not wash your hands when you’re done in the bathroom (despite the laundry list of reasons people give for not doing so), but this goes ten fold in a corporate environment. Not only do I not want you to touch me or any of my stuff if you haven’t washed your hands, but I really don’t want to get Hepatitis C from the guy who shit on top of the toilet, either.

But what frightens me the most is that I’ve heard the women’s bathrooms are even worse…