‘Tis the Season…

…to be forced into buying crappy gifts for people just to fulfill an obligation. Fa la la la la la la la.

Before you get your Santa suit in a twist, let me say, I love giving someone a gift I know they will enjoy and appreciate. What I hate is spending time and money to buy something…anything…for an acquaintance, even though they will probably hate it, because it is part of a “fun” gift exchange or because they are getting me something so now I have to get them something, only to be filled with the satisfaction and joy that their inevitable look of poorly stifled disappointment brings:

Credit: fusepilates.com

Credit: fusepilates.com

That just warms your heart.

My gut reaction to that look is, “Okay, fuck you then. You get nothing!” Although, I don’t entirely blame them. They are trying. It is just very, very difficult to pull off the perfect ‘I don’t like this at all but I am going to look so genuinely excited and grateful that you can’t tell’ face. You have to be quick on your feet – if you show even a flash of disappointment before painting on a smile, it’s over. But, in your rush to show excitement and appreciation, be careful not to overdo it – that is also an immediate tell. Your level of excitement must be proportionate to the gift. If someone buys you an ugly pair of Christmas socks, you can’t use excitement to cover up your true feelings. Saying, “Yes, socks! I can’t believe it, I love love love these, OMG this is amazing! I have to Instagram these right now,” could only be perceived as sarcasm.

Yes, there is a lot of thought and skill that goes into pulling off the perfect fake response. I myself can’t do it. I fight a constant battle between not wanting to be rude and not wanting to lie, and this internal conflict manifests in my face. The attempted smile is always pulled back by the ‘Yeah, I don’t want this crap’ face and it ends up looking like this:

Photo credit: amorsthoughts.wordpress.com

Photo credit: amorsthoughts.wordpress.com

How about, instead of buying each other shit we don’t want… we do nothing! Let’s just exchange season’s greetings and call it a day. How about you take the money you were going to spend on me, and buy something you actually want, and I’ll take my money, and buy what I want, which I’ve actually been doing all year, because I am self-sufficient and don’t depend on casual acquaintances to buy me things.

Some might argue that a gift card is a way around the gift exchange dilemma. But at that point, why bother? A gift card is almost like giving someone cash, but with the caveat that they can only spend it where you say so. So it is actually worse than giving someone cash because at best, you’ve exchanged bills out of your wallet, and at worst, you’ve exchanged those bills for a plastic card that you can’t use.

A friend of mine was forced into a gift exchange at work, specifically a gift card exchange.  I consider this to be the height of stupid. They are literally going to stand in a circle and trade $25. Why is that fun? “You’ll never guess what I got at work today – after paying $25, I got $25 back!” You don’t even get to unwrap it, and we all know that is half the fun of presents. I did a lot of online shopping for myself last week and I’m very seriously considering wrapping that stuff up just to open it Christmas morning. Maybe taking this gamble with a gift card exchange is fun in the way that Russian Roulette is fun, but instead of not getting shot in the head, your rush of adrenaline comes from not getting the Olive Garden gift card.

Photo credit: knowyourmeme.com

Photo credit: knowyourmeme.com

 

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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.”

background-pictures.feedio.net

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

background-pictures.feedio.net

“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?