Four Fun Activities for Your First Day in Solitary

I recently watched the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black and really enjoyed it. But, as is the case with most TV shows I watch, I left with a list of “give me a break” moments. One of them had to do with *mini spoiler alert* Piper getting put in solitary confinement, for like, a day. If that.

Now I don’t want to trivialize how awful that must be, having never been in solitary myself, but I feel like she overreacted. I have no doubt that solitary will drive you mad…eventually. But she was panicked, hysterical, and hallucinating pretty much immediately.

I mean look at her. Her first order of business was to sit on the floor and feel sorry for herself. There are so many things she could have done to occupy herself before resigning to hopelessness. She didn’t try at all!

For example, I can think of one thing most people do that kills 6-8 hours every day and it doesn’t require too much space: sleep! Take a fucking nap, Piper! You probably won’t notice you are in solitary if your eyes are closed and you are unconscious.

Not tired? Do a bunch of jumping jacks, push-ups, and squat thrusts until you get tired! Then sleep. Then repeat. You will kill loads of time, improve your mood by generating endorphins, and burn a ton of calories. It’s win-win-win.

Feeling lonely? Try talking to one of your neighbors. You could play 20 Questions or Would You Rather. Not within earshot of another human being? Seize this unique opportunity! I feel like I rarely have the privacy required for one of my favorite hobbies – singing and dancing like nobody’s watching! Belt out your favorite songs and have a dance party. Once again, your mood will be drastically improved, you will burn major calories, and you will be primed for another great nap.

Starting to get stressed out? Take some deep breaths, do some yoga, meditate. Think of solitary as a retreat. People pay good money to sit in silence for days at a time so they can just “allow themselves to BE.” You get to do it on the taxpayers’ dollar. Take advantage of this opportunity for introspection and self-reflection. You could use it, Piper, because you are kind of a bad person.

I think Piper’s dramatics bothered me so much because she could have done all the things I wish I could do at work every day. In theory you have the freedom to leave when you feel the walls closing in on you at work — which of course you don’t in solitary — but the catch of having a job is that you have to show up to keep it. So you may find yourself similarly confined to a small space for long periods of time. The unfortunate difference is, in solitary, you can do whatever the hell you want. Last time I checked you couldn’t take a nap, lay down into corpse pose, or belt out your favorite tunes at your desk. If anyone should be losing their mind, it’s us poor working stiffs.

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Idiot of the Week: Think Before You Reply (All)

quickmeme.com

quickmeme.com

A belated congratulations to Jen and Gabi for their stellar additions to the Idiot of the Week Blog Hop. I can’t seem to keep up with the demands of a weekly blog hop, so for now I am returning to the old-fashioned approach of complaining about idiots at my leisure.

The most recent idiots to catch my eye did so literally, by sending 13 emails within one minute of each other. Reply All strikes again. It is a great invention, but in the wrong hands, it can only spell disaster. I’m not talking about the accidental use of reply all, where you send that, “Can you believe this guy, what a jackass” email to your whole office. That’s hilarious. (Unless it happens to you, in which case it is a total gut punch.)

No, I’m talking about the nitwits who intentionally reply all for the dumbest and most irrelevant shit imaginable. Have some discretion, for the love of God! Just ask yourself, “Is there any reason whatsoever that I need to share this with my entire office, or is it really only applicable to one person?” It’s that simple.

In my office, if someone will be out sick, a manager will email the whole team with this information. But then every Tom, Dick, and Harry feels the need to reply all with their well wishes.
“Get better soon, Frank!”
“Drink lots of fluids!”
“Aww, no fun! Feel better!”

Why does this call for reply all? I’m not the one who is sick, so why do I need to know what Bob’s advice for Frank is? Why do I need to see if Tom wants Frank to get better or not? I don’t! Leave my inbox alone! It’s not like we all need to be updated on what advice has already been dispensed. Hmm, well, Bob already told Frank to drink water, so maybe I’ll suggest tea specifically, or I could remind him not to play outside in the cold…

I was starting to wonder if I was the only person in the world who understood how to use reply all correctly when something happened that restored my faith in humanity.

I received a mass email from a woman I did not know asking if the meeting was still on for today. I was about to reply to her (just her) to let her know she had the wrong person when someone beat me to it. And someone else. And someone else. Eventually people stopped explaining and would just say ‘ditto.’ I think she gets it by now! No need for us ALL to do a roll call and confirm that she included not a single correct email. She probably just typed in the wrong group name and is now realizing it. I doubt she hand-entered 30 emails for a phantom meeting we all had nothing to do with. Use your heads!

One minute and thirteen reply all emails later, I was ready to throw my computer out the window when the 14th reply all said, “There is no need to reply all.” Then a 15th person replied all, one of the higher ups, saying, “Everyone—please STOP replying to all. Just delete the message.” Based on the font size and color, I really took this last email to say, “You are all so fucking stupid it makes me want to die. Please, STOP replying all like a pack of raging morons, just delete the message and get on with your lives. UGH!”

I was so excited I wanted to run down to his office and scream and pull my hair like he was one of the Beatles.

American screaming Beatles fansI almost replied all saying, “THANK YOU! You are my hero!” but I thought that would undermine the point. So out of solidarity, I said nothing.

Then a 16th person replied all, with the final word on the issue. “Will there be donuts at this meeting?”

And there you have it. My palm was restored to my face, and my faith in humanity…

Would You Pass the Pencil Pickup Test?

I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life long-term. And anyone who tries to help me always asks the same question, “Well, what are you passionate about?” Yeah… I can see why you’d ask that, but I just think the chances are really slim that my answer to that question is going to connect directly with a career. What are you really expecting me to say?

“Well, Sally, I’m really passionate at looking at the big picture, making a list of action items and deadlines to achieve that big picture, and tracking them in Microsoft Access.”

“Omg, that’s perfect, you should be a project manager!!!”

“On the other hand, I’ve also always had this nagging feeling that I want to prepare profit and loss monthly statements, analyze budgets and review them, and compile other financial information.”

“What a coincidence, that is literally what accountants do, you’d love it!”

If it were that obvious, I wouldn’t be in this situation. I’m not a total idiot. “Gosh, I’m so passionate about helping sick people, I just don’t know how to translate that into a career!”

The things I’m passionate about aren’t real jobs. For example, I’m passionate about telling it like it is with a hint of sarcasm and caustic bitchiness. So I’d be great for a job where I stand at the entrance of an office building and harangue people who come in to work dressed inappropriately.

“Elastic-waist jeans…on a Tuesday? Retire. Now. You have obviously stopped trying.”

“You, in the short skirt, come here. Pick up this pencil I just dropped…. And I just saw your ass, you fail the Pencil Pickup Test! Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars. Just go back to the gentlemen’s club from whence you came.”

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The Pencil Pickup Test – I think you know who’s failing here

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“Hey, yeah you pal, in the skinny leg khakis and grandpa sweater. This is an office, not a Fall Out Boy sound check. I don’t want to know what your calves are shaped like, get out of here with that.”

“Hey girl, love that sweater you are wearing – is that a gun with bullets coming out of it? Super edgy. But hey, given the shootings that happen like…every week…maybe that’s not the most work appropriate outfit. Maybe you can go home, pull your head out of your ass, and make a less ridiculous wardrobe choice, mmkay?”

To my knowledge, this job doesn’t exist, but it isn’t a bad idea. I’ve seen some wildly inappropriate outfits at work, but not once have I seen a manager reprimand someone for them. Because that is a very uncomfortable talk for a boss to have. “Candy, now I don’t know much about women’s shoes, but I think what you’re wearing are literally called ‘stripper heels.’ I heard somewhere that only sex workers wear clear plastic heels that are six inches high. We sell insurance here, not our bodies, so I’m going to have to ask you to change.”

Whether it’s telling someone she is dressed like a slut, or giving negative performance reviews, or firing someone, nobody likes to deliver the hard news. But I will do it. I volunteer for this dirty work.

theyvolunteer.tumblr.com

theyvolunteer.tumblr.com

I could be an Efficient Feedback Delivery Specialist – aka blunt bad news bitch.

“Kathy, word on the street is you sleep at your desk all fucking day. I don’t know why in the world we’d pay you for that, so…you’re fired. Obviously. Okay, good talk, take care!”

“Tammy, your numbers are great, but nobody likes that you shout orders at them from down the hall and around the corner, so you’re getting a ‘Fails to Meet Expectations’ for Communication this year. For next year, try to be less of a lazy bitch.”

It would be awesome.

What is your dream job that may or may not exist?

Of All the Gin Joints, in All the Towns, in All the World…

…and you idiots chose to hang out in front of my bathroom.

It seems like every time I go use the bathroom at work, there is a group of men standing right in front of the restroom door, shooting the breeze. Why? Why is this ‘the place to be.’ Do you enjoy the ambiance? Can’t get enough of that refreshing public bathroom scent? Or maybe this is a great place to pick up women?

“So, do you come here often?”

“Yes, about four times a day, ever since I started drinking a liter of water before lunch.”

Can you please.go.stand.SOMEWHERE ELSE!? I don’t know why it bothers me so much. Even though using the bathroom is a perfectly normal and acceptable thing to do, I always feel slightly embarrassed and ‘caught in the act’ if I have to make eye contact with someone as I walk in or out. No matter how hard I try to look normal, my eyes just scream, “I was just sitting on the toilet and we both know it, awkward!” I always blush and have some kind of “Busted!” look on my face.

And it’s not just that these guys loiter around the door. They stand right in front of it, as if they are guarding it. Like they are going to ask me to “answer me these questions three” before they let me pass. So I always have to awkwardly cut through their conversation to get inside. You’d think that would be a wake up call. Like, “Oh, haha, wow I am standing right in front of the door to the women’s restroom, like a fucking creep, maybe I should move over a foot or two.” But no.

Another layer of discomfort is added to the situation if the same group of guys is standing there when you walk in and when you walk out. I feel like the meter is running on me. Like their conversation is going to time stamp my trip to the bathroom. “Wow, she was in there that whole time? When she went in we were talking about Syria and when she came out we were listing all the food trucks we’ve been to.” If you think I am being overly paranoid, you are wrong. If you think I flatter myself that anyone would notice how long I’ve been in the bathroom, think again. People notice. In my first week at a previous job, a male coworker pointed something out to me when a female coworker stepped out of the office. “See that, she is off to take her afternoon dump. 2:00 every day. You’ll see.” I learned two important things that day. 1. Don’t use the bathroom around 2:10 and 2. People notice everything.

Maybe it would help if I said something to these men. Not something like, “Excuse me.” No, something more aggressive and implicative like, “Do you often loiter outside women’s restrooms?” or “Is there anywhere else in this hallway you could stand so that I don’t have to request your permission to use the bathroom?” Or something else intended to humiliate and question their character. I know that would give me a good enough reason to stand somewhere else.

What do you think?