Group hug, anyone?

After the unnecessary roadtrip into the realm of crunchy bedsheets on Tuesday and Wednesday, we were dropped into a strategic planning meeting. It was held off-site on Thursday. Knowing where you’re going is important, and a critical part of my job is to guide investment strategy decisions.

Under a prior organizational regime, this was a vile, evil multi-functional process, consisting of two consecutive weeks of Power Point Poisoning, no written documentation, confused and often conflicting purpose (including annual data-collection, program execution evaluation in addition to strategic planning). Dozens of individuals were derailed from actual work to support “chart making” – both the compulsory charts and those used in the freestyle portion of the competition* for resources.

The architect of the new, improved process is none other than the Chief of Operations – and organizational goose slayer – my friend T.  Since the new process is streamlined and focused, it is tying up far fewer human resources. There were many people** who were apparently miffed at being “left out” of the process.

The day before the big meeting, T shipped an e-mail with logistics for the planning session to those involved.  With more patience than i could muster on my best day – soaking in a tub with vicodin and chocolate – he included the following:

ATTENDEES – Division Chiefs, Portfolio Managers, and a few staff members are the only invitees to the Thursday, 8 May meeting. The Portfolio Managers and a few additional players might be asked to come in on Friday, 9 May. Div Chiefs/Deputies, please be sure other division personnel (such as your Technical Directors, Branch Technical Advisors) know that while they are still cherished members of our team they are not needed for this particular meeting.

* i’ve considered sponsoring an annual event known as “The Program Management Olympics” — and one key challenge is to present information to an unknown audience, using materials prepared by someone else… No doubt, i’d be a gold medalist…

** These are, by the way, many of the same people who whined endlessly about having to do the old process…

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How To Get Fired, Part 9

 

On the drive back from Cornhole, TN yesterday, i had an opportunity to share office gossip compare notes with MP, the one colleague* also conscripted for this particular business trip that i was willing to allow in the rental car with me – which i’d rented solely to avoid the Van Full O’Dorks**. 

 

Racing from the meeting at 4:00 pm, our mission was to cover the 300-ish miles in the shortest amount of time possible – and being slightly competitive, i wanted to be the first of the four returning vehicles to make it back.  We left our meeting site a few minutes after the “Executive Car”, driven by The Director, and carrying The Chief Scientist, and P, the Executive Fart-catcher and idiot-boy responsible for trip logistics.  Doing over 80 mph in my rental car*** i expected to pass the Executive Car after the first hour, but we didn’t see them.

 

MP decides to send a text to P – asking their location so we could determine how close we were…  The response told us that they were at least 30 miles behind us!  Not only was i driving faster, but i’d taken a more efficient route back to the highway, and we’d been ahead of them from the outset.

 

Rather than leave it there, MP sends a note to P – “Then that was your car back at the Adult World Sex Superstore” a few miles back…  What did you buy?”****

 

 _________

 

* She’s normal – just like i am.  Yeah, and “normal” as in “twisted, dark, and real”… single Mom, tons of fun.  Works hard, has a life outside the office, and likes beer and trash talk as much as I do.

 

** Generally very nice people.  Kind, thoughtful people.  People who would not be comfortable with my “highway language”, which includes gems such as “Get out of the left lane, you dyslexic motherfucker!” and “Jesus Rock Climbing Christ, where did you learn to drive?” 

*** Cheapest available make/model? An Oscar Meyer Wiener-mobile (aka – “Chevy Aveo”).  Tiny, cheap and shaky above 70 mph.  Top speed tested?  90 mph on the downside of a mountain.  Thought the doors were going to blow off…

 **** Regarding the “getting fired part” – we found out today that P had been reading our messages out loud to The Director and The Chief Scientist.  We also found out today that at least the Chief Scientist found it hysterically funny…

You’ve got to be kidding?

If it’s May, then i’m on the road.  Yet another unnecessary business trip – this one, mandated by The Director for the eight of us with the common job function.  This trip, while of interest, was not time critical.  Given that the eight of us have a rather important product due on Thursday, the timing was pure shit.  Given that this trip requires driving – 300 miles away, with no direct air service – it ends up being two days out of the office.  We won’t return home until late Wednesday… and product delivery starts at 8:00 am Thursday.

The trip was orchestrated by a senior manager, P, who didn’t share our view that this trip wasn’t time critical.  The Director and our Chief Scientist are also along for the visit.  Vans were hired, drivers assigned, and the big ol’ group-grope was underway.

Not feeling particularly sociable, i sneakily made my own arrangements and hired a car.  Told the rest of the group that i’d join them there.  One other woman shares my general world view, and i offered her the chance to avoid the van.  She was grateful, and accepted…

We had a great drive, making amazing time and sharing hardcore work gossip office intelligence along the way.  Arriving at the hotel?  A somewhat run down Days Inn* – a ‘park-at-your-door’ place, adjacent to a decent Hampton Inn, and across the street from a lovely Doubletree Hotel.  i had to double check to make sure i had the right place, where P had booked a block of rooms for the 15 travelers.

Confirming the disaster ahead, we checked in, and were a bit incredulous at the quality of the hotel – a place that i would gladly stay at if i were traveling on my own, but NOT a place i want to be on an unwelcome (and inappropriately mandated) business trip.

After a quick inspection of the rooms, we hightailed it for the nearest drinking establishment.  We sent an e-mail to P – “Have you arrived yet?” and he wrote back “Yes, we’re just preparing to head to dinner.  If you’d like to join us, meet outside the hotel”.  i wrote back:  Are you staying at the “park at your door, bring your own sheets, smoke-filled place, or are you at a hotel with real glasses in the bathroom?”.

No response.

We then hoofed it across the parking lot to meet the departing dinner crew… after just two beers and some unbridled outrage, i was pretty lit, and immediately hit P with “You are TOTALLY going to have to smell my sheets, Sir”.  Just as The Director appeared.  My companion said the look on his face was precious!  We had some more “you can’t be serious” discussion, but once i’d confirmed that P and the senior folks were also staying at the same venue, we let them go… 

Oh, and the fact that we were still carrying bottles of beer from the bar?  Probably didn’t go unnoticed.

We wandered across the street and found a nice bar at the Doubletree.  Glass elevators?  Wow.  While knocking back more beer, we sent the e-mail to The Director and Chief Scientist:

Sirs,

We have indeed confirmed a suitable team-building venue exists at the Doubletree Hotel, should you care to join us after dinner.  It’s left to your discretion as to whether to invite P…”. 

Very respectfully,

daisyfae

I copied P… but only at the suggestion of my colleague.   Getting no response, i vaguely wondered if i hadn’t done a little career Hari Kari…

Ater the drink fest, we stumbled back across the street, and ran into some of the other folks who’d been at dinner.  They said that the e-mail was received and both The Director and Chief Scientist snorted appropriately.  As did P.  And once again, i have delayed avoided termination…

_________

* But unlike the Hilton at Tysons Corner, the Days Inn in Cornhole, TN has GREAT wireless.  For $69.00/night.  Amazing….

Calling tech support

On the road still again.  Tonight?  In a major city that might be the capital of a large North American country.  Staying in an upscale hotel, that might be somehow related to a skanky celebu-tard known to appear in night-vision pornography. 

You’d think they could get their fucking internet to work…

i called the front desk, after attempting to connect for over an hour with an intermittent wireless connection.  Front desk clerk helpfully handed me off to the tech support line for their internet provider.  In Bangalore.  A wonderfully helpful technician, who quickly realized that i was not an imbecile, suggested i call the front desk and ask for a wireless bridge to get a stronger signal.

Without screaming, i did so, and the front desk clerk helpfully offered to have a bridge sent to my room.

Smiling sweetly as the bellman delivered the bridge – 30 minutes later – i was able to get a box full of random wires and electronic gonads connected properly.  And yet was still unable to get a signal that stayed connected for more than 20 seconds at a time.

Inspired by two women of class and restraint (annie and awalkabout) at no time did i scream SUCK MY DISEASE-RIDDLED SCROTAL SACK, YOU WORTHLESS TECHNO-BAGS OF SHIT!  Although i thought about it several times.  Despite the fact that i have been awake since 3:45 am in order to catch a flight at 6:00 am to get to a meeting by 8:30 am that i don’t really need to attend, i’m trying to do a better job with my anger management than i did yesterday morning.

Instead?  i took some of my frustrations out on a wooden coat hanger in the closet.  One of those nice ones that can actually be removed from the rod… and i wrenched the metal crossbar from the wood.  And being a good little nerd-ette, i have managed to fashion a rather nifty antenna from it. 

Weak, but stable signal.

Geeks rock. 

The Hilton in Tysons Corner, Virginia?  Not so much.

It’s a good thing…

My relatively new boss has a sense of humor, and just perhaps understands redneck women…

Frazzled and sleep deprived at my desk this morning, i was halfway through the tempermental web-based process we use for making travel arrangements.  A four-day, two-city trip toward the end of the month, with enough options to require both hands on the keyboard and both active brain cells focused on the task at hand…

The boss stepped into the office at the most critical juncture in my travel preparation process — the moment i was about to hit the “accept” button.  This is the magical make-or-break point when you learn whether the system has arbitrarily hacked up an ether-loogie forcing you to start over, or you get a happy, smiling screen of success.

We all know this dance, and seeing what was on the screen in front of me, he waited quietly behind me as i did a last check for accuracy before pulling the lever on the “Travel Slot Machine”. 

Lemons. 

daisyfae:  “Suck. My. DICK!”*  i said it before thinking.  Took a breath.  Cringed.  Then turned around to face the boss, apologetic look on my face, knowing that it is possible to cross the line.  And perhaps i had just done so…

boss:  “Too much information!” while fighting back the grin… followed quickly with “Did you get the request from…”

He’s ok. 

____________

* Once, while dealing with a freakishly annoying series of asshole drivers, i directed this phrase toward another driver.  With my 16 year old son in the car.  He simply said “Um, Mom… That’s pretty freaky… Can you come up with something else?”

An alarming trend…

My daily lunch break provides respite from mind-numbing meetings, endless annoying interchanges with colleagues* and the general cacophony that is my day-to-day existence.  There has been a frightening trend of late – regularly scheduled “brown bag lunch” meetings – and i must take action.  Nine – ten hours without escape will destroy my remaining nerve.

My Friday two-hour drinking lunch has been replaced with a weekly “seminar” – mandatory persecution and torment professional development coursework.  This will continue through late November, unless the seminar group disbands in a fit of salivating rage at the injustice wrought from far above our pay grades.

Another “informal brown bagger”** has encroached on my Tuesday lunch hour… Within the organization, there are eight of us with a common job function.  Four of us fully comprehend what is expected of us.  The other four special needs children individuals argued for a weekly communal lunch – to “share best practices” and “develop common vision” – both phrases that strike fear in the heart of a burnt out, cynical seasoned professional. 

And the latest?  A Monday meeting, every other week, with a group of young, impressionable colleagues – where i am one of the old fucks “mentors” shaping their professional development, sharing hopes and dreams and imparting useful nuggets of wisdom from my playbook.  Seriously, do you expect me not to be cranky on Monday without a dirty martini in my hand?

The loss of my lunch hour is bad enough.  Even scarier?  Being too lazy disorganized to bring suitable food from home, i am at the mercy of our in-house cafeteria, lovingly named The Ptomaine Palace.  While the helpful tapeworm to assist me with my weight loss goals lurks in the pantry, i would like to avoid contracting something that will lead to a massive colon blow during an afternoon meeting.  There are some incidents in the workplace from which there is no recovery.

On a good day, i dive on the pre-packaged food – yogurt and fresh fruit are sometimes available if i get there early enough.  By mid-week the salad selection is somewhat dessicated – but will do if i’m in the mood for lettuce with the texture of old chewing gum.  The soup is always dicey – recycled lumps of mystery meat bobbing on the surface of grey broth nearly sweats dysentery.

For now there is only one option.  Get organized.  Pack that lunch.  And include a flask… i am supposed to be setting an example for the young ‘uns.  Being resourceful?  Priceless…

* An example?  The senior scientist who will appear in my doorway exactly one minute after i receive an e-mail from him.  He then says “I sent you an e-mail… ” and proceeds to tell me what was in it.  For thirty minutes.

** Not to be confused with at “tea-bagger”.  We have those too.  One particular supply closet is rumored to need weekly disinfection…