When a fish dies, is there a wake?
When a crustacean dies, is it shrimp toast?
When a whale dies, does it blubber?
When a dolphin dies, is there any porpoise left in life?
When the tide goes out, does it wave goodbye?
I Hate FaceBook
I know, it's probably the hippest place to be for people that can't get up the energy to actually go anywhere in the physical world. And posting there is probably the most popular thing to do since picking your nose was invented. But I hate it.
Every time I log on, I look at all the crap on my page about what all these other people are doing and I simply don't care. I don't care where you went to lunch. I don't care that you're flushing the john. And I certainly don't care that the weather is either nice or sucky where you happen to be.
I know it's old-fashioned, but when I want to know what a friend is up to, I'll actually ask them. I'm not saying I'd pick up the phone and call them; that's a bit too 1950's even for me. But I'll sure shoot them an email or an IM. Now maybe someone posting that information on FaceBook makes it less work for me, but that assumes I actually wanted to know what they had to tell me. And that I can wade through the rest of the junk on the page to figure it out.
I feel like the grumpy old man on the court, yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off his lawn.
But dangit, it's my lawn and I don't want your dang graffiti and tomfoolery messin' it up. Now git!
Your office is a critical part of your image. It's an important part of the façade, like the shrink wrap on fancy cucumbers or the wax coating on otherwise soft and dull apples. Or like an exciting picture on the jacket of another dull mystery novel. Your office needs to clearly state, "This is who I am. Kneel Before Me in Awe. And bring me a donut."
On the corporate battlefield, it's not about what you do, but what people think of you. In fact, this was ever the way of war. The greatest generals thrived on reputation, not results. Witness what happened to Custer, when he left his tent a slovenly mess that morning, bedecked with sports pennants, rock and roll posters, and old dirty laundry piles. The myth is that his opponents slaughtered him, but the reality is that it was his co-workers.
So how can you improve your office?
First, you need to be clear about your goals. You are striving for an air of casual yet total dominance, justified arrogance, divine right. You want to appear approachable, but only to the worthy. Like a smiling pope. Or an asylum escapee with a tazer.
Of course, this is harder in today's corporate environment, where your office is apt to be more like a phone booth or even a cubicle. But if you think size matters, just consider the power wielded by Napolean. Or tiny bikinis.
Let's step through some of the important elements in the office of today's Corporate Warrior.
Chair of Authority
First, you'll need a throne. You want a chair that says "I am King. You are not. I might let you live if it's to my advantage. Or you bring me a donut." Of course, getting a real gold and jewel-encrusted artifact can be tricky, as can hauling it up to the third floor and squeezing it into your cube. So you'll have to make do with what you have. You might have to convert your existing office chair into a makeshift throne. Make sure that there is some glitz to the chair, that it is raised on a kind of altar, and that it has wide arms for you to rest your elbows as you ponder the cases of supplicants. Also, make sure that you remove the casters from the chair, which prevents people from trying to move it out of your cube, stealing it for their own or for some meeting in that conference room down the hall that never has enough chairs. But it's your throne, not theirs. Remember to put your name on it. Use a permanent marker. And use your laptop cable lock to secure it to your desk.
You no-doubt have some pathetic modular furniture in your office now; a desk with cheap melamine veneer, maybe a small table. Toss them out. Literally - throw them out of your cube into the hallway, making a statement as well as some room. Bring in a large oak or mahogany desk, preferably larger than your cube so you'll have to expand your cube size (thus taking more turf, a crucial tactic in war and airplane armrest scuffles). You want the desk to say, when you don't have the chance to say it verbally, "My desk is so large because I'm so busy. I have to have enough space to put all the stuff I'm working on."
Co-workers will probably put up pictures that their kids drew and place some framed picture of their smiling spouse on the desk. If they're pushing the limits of levity, they'll have a "You want it WHEN?!" cartoon on the wall, inviting laughter with the corporate credo of endemic inefficiency.
This will not do for you. Pictures of family and personal taste are a sign of weakness, another element that your enemies can use to get at you. Instead, you need pictures that will give the impression of power, authority, and drive.
First, you should acquire some dark and foreboding oil painting of a gruesome battle. Make it one of those from the 1800's, with plenty of blood, death, swords, and horses. And make sure it's big; it needs to dominate the wall space, or even overflow it. This painting will awe your visitors as well as keep your big desk company.
Once the Art category is taken care of, go for inspiration. Put up sayings on the wall that will impart some of your philosophy and work ethic to those who read them. Don't go for those motivational posters with pictures of other people. For one thing, you don't want them to have the image in their mind of someone else doing awesome things; it's got to be you. Also, make sure you go for sayings of power. You don't want anything namby-pamby like, "Be your best, every day," this implies that there is an alternative for you. Instead, go for more convincing and confident tones, like "Be even better, every minute, forever." Or try for a more aggressive tone, like "If you don't have anything important to say, get out" and "I'm busy working for the company - what about you?" Make sure that people notice the sayings; consider getting an animated sign, one with foot-high animating letters.
Most offices today have a low-pile carpet designed for easy cleaning as well as providing decent camouflage of coffee and blood stains. But battles were never fought on carpet, and today's Corporate Warrior can't hope to reach his or her potential on such feeble grounding. Have marble or granite installed in the floor of your cube. Wear shoes with heels that make a clear clack of authority when walking on it. Pace often, and tap your foot constantly. Your co-workers all over the building will hear you being important all day long.
These are just some of the important elements a successful office requires. There are plenty more subtle accessories, such as spotlights and a looping "Ride of the Valkyries" soundtrack, but the basic items above should get you started on the path to corporate victory.
Except "vomit". I think that name would affect the way it smelled.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
But ugly is felt deep in their soul.
Start each day with a fresh, new idea.
Because all of your old ideas haven't really worked out.
We'll all sleep more and hurt ourselves less.
I socked myself in the nose last night, tucking my kid into bed. One little slip when pulling the blanket up and BONK! This kind of thing is typical for me: stubs, trips, paper cuts, shaving nicks, chainsaw mishaps, and on and on.
Meanwhile, every night I pass out in my bed and spend a blissfully injury-free, oh, two hours before I have to get up and go hurt myself in the wide awake world again. Somehow, I manage to get through sleeping every night unscathed (not counting the emotional damage of my recurring nightmare of zombies chasing me with copies of my 5th grade book report on Where the Red Fern Grows).
In thinking about it between incidents of biting my cheek and stabbing myself in the eye with a fork, I realized that we're all much safer sleeping. Sleep keep the accident-prone from running themselves through with the nearest scissors or wooden spoon. Sleep would also keep the evil despots of the world happily dreaming of stealing other kids' lunch money instead of plotting worldwide destruction.
When I am King, everyone will be encouraged to sleep more. Of course, this is easier said than done, and we're still prone to injury walking around in a dark house as we make our way to the bottle of scotch that keeps us company on sleepless nights. That's why the air, water, and critical food products like donuts will be laced with anti-histamines. Also, the clocks will be changed to zip through the day much faster and creep through the night more slowly, ensuring long hours of sleep and shorter days of pain and bandages.
I think I can safely claim that sleep has prevented more owies in the world than anything else since people stopped wearing glass slippers. In fact, maybe death is just nature's way of getting us to stop hurting ourselves (we considered death to be too extreme a solution, however, so we're going with this sleep plan instead).
If you think about it, I think you'll agree. Sleep on it.
There will be more enjoyable messages to listen to while on hold.
I called a customer service number yesterday, wound my way through the whole "For trouble with your boat, press 1. For trouble with your blender, press 2. For trouble with your teenager, press 3..." and eventually ended up on hold.
I spent about five minutes on hold, which wouldn't have been so awful if there hadn't been a series of earnest messages kicking in every 10 seconds apologizing and explaining the delay.
"We appreciate your business and will be here just as soon as possible."
"We know you're busy, and we'll be here soon."
"We apologize for the delay; an operator will be available momentarily."
"We're not sure what's causing the delay, but rest assured our low-paid customer-service representative will be fired if she doesn’t pick up her phone soon."
I don't mind five minutes of silence. And I can get through five minutes of Kenny G playing his 'smooth' interpretation of Purple Haze. But five minutes of an apology loop was more than I could take. To make it worse, the woman that did the recording was just so darned perky.
Why do companies think that we need this constant reminder to us that they're not on the phone yet but they might be soon? We know that, or we wouldn't still be on hold. And why must they hire some overanxious voice-over artist to make it sound like she's actually there with me, truly, truly sorry for any delay that the company might be causing me?
When I am King, companies will improve their automated voice answering systems. First of all, there will only be one choice on the menu, "Press 0 for a human." Because honestly, how many times does your need ever fall into one of the nine buckets they give you? But you have to wait through them all to figure out that you really just need to talk to someone instead. Sure, pressing 0 will put you on endless hold, but that's where you'll end up anyway. Let's just make it quicker to get there.
Companies will also be required to play less annoying messages during the on-hold period. Options will include:
- Silence. Why is silence so bad? With all of the noise and chaos in my life, I could use some silence now and then. In fact, I might call up customer service lines just to get a few minutes of quiet.
- Music. Real music. No more smooth jazz that makes me feel like there's porn on the tube. You want to play a Rolling Stones song? Then play the Rolling Stones, not some pan-pipe interpretation of them.
- Apologies: If a company feels compelled to explain themselves to callers, there will be no more fake tones of anxiousness. I want some real feeling and excuses instead:
"Holy crap! You've been holding for a while. Lemme get someone."
"Man, this place is like a ghost town. I can just hear the ringing, but nobody seems to be picking up the phone."
"Hang on, we're dialing India."
"Sheila went to lunch. She'll be back in a few. You want something from the deli?"
"Hello sir, this is operator #4527b, I apologize for the - AIIEEEYAAAAHHHHGGG!-"
- Jokes. Or maybe just while away the time with some bad jokes:
"What do you call that thing you dialed with? I don't know, but it sure rings a bell!"
"Do dogs have collar ID?"
- Sounds. Alternatively, the soundtrack could just have some kind of realistic people sounds. For example, what about playing the sound of someone breathing and occasionally clearing their throat? Or tuneless whistling? Something to give us the feeling that someone is there, even if they're not actually talking to us. It'd be like most marriages.
The time we spend on hold represents one of the major activities in our lives when added up together. More than the time we spent getting that online degree. More than the time we spent playing catch with our kid, before he went off to juvenile detention. More than the time we spent flossing our teeth that we used to have. Don't we deserve for that time to be enjoyable? Or at least slightly less annoying?