Monday, August 6, 2007

Aunty Christ is buying some new pants, because these aren’t smarty enough for her

A few weeks ago, Rich and I were out riding our bikes on one of the main thoroughfares between our new home and the rest of Eastern Saskatoon, our biking mini-unit broken by an interloping woman bicyclist, who was, I think, attempting to catch up with the boy she had been riding with before we turned onto the street, breaking up their biking mini-unit. “Lesbians!” yelled a passing motorist. And yes, as we all know, one hallmark of being a lesbian is indeed sexual attraction to other women. Another surely is the act of riding a bike in close proximity to a complete stranger. Now that the details of my sexual preference have been made clear by street-yellers, I shall be turning up my nose to further offers of dick, thank you.

Oh, anyway, can’t we just yell thoughts out of windows at the people who inspire them? “Lesbians” being one example. “Ugly!” being another. Or “Fat middle-management douchebag!” Or “Skinny tattooed hipster!” “You who are not better than I!” Whatever.

Yelling things out of car windows at strangers sure is fun. A few months ago—I think it was Mardi Gras or St. Paddy’s Day or something—Rich told me to yell at a group of dressed-up chachis milling about in front of a discotheque. “I hate you! I hate you so much!” I yelled, which, owing to the Doppler effect, surely ended up sounding like a walrus belching the alphabet into a down pillow. But it was sure fun for me, and that’s what matters, I think. Fun: Not as good as drinking™. To be fair, I did hate them. Soooooooooo much. So yeah, that was me, in case you didn’t recognize me. I hope you’ve taken the criticism to heart and have turned your life around or whatever. You’re welcome.

Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh right. My job. My jizzob, as the snot-nosed babies who work in teh office with me say. See how I roll? There are a couple of things wrong with these job things all the kids are getting these days, and one of them is, of course, the traffic that one encounters in the getting to and going home from the office. Oh fuck. Speaking of bicyclists, which I was not so very long ago (pay attention!), I will make a deal with you, Bicycling Community of Saskatoon: If you do not get in my way or pretend you are anything other than a vehicle, such as a balloon or a cow or a zombie, I will not mutter darkly about you beneath my breath. Furthermore, if you do not ride two or three abreast in the narrow bike lane, I will not muster whatever resources I have against you, or, you know, get kind of frustrated. Oh, I know, we all have to suck biker cock now, and I’m happy to share the road with bicyclists most days, as I will come out of an accident with one of those completely unscathed. What I really hate about driving during rush hour is that apparently—well, by now we’ve all heard of National Take Your Daughter to Work Day? Also, not on my calendar: National Drive Like Crap to Work Day. On certain, unannounced days, everyone on the streets of Saskatoon decides to do that thing, by which I mean, of course, toss regard for human life out the window, like a still-smoldering cigarette butt. Oh, me? I drive like shit every day, due to my long-term disregard of human life, and my ADD. But that only works if other drivers are paying attention.

Something else that sucks about the commute: The sun. If it could not always shine in my eyes, that would be less sucky. Thanks, Sun.

The thing that makes all this maddening hell worthwhile, though, is the sexual-harassment video that employees of large corporations are required to watch every now and again. As a new employee of a certain large corporation, I was recently required to watch a corporate-produced sexual-harassment video, which particular video chronologued the curious office relationships of a certain hapless computer repairman, named Frank. “Whaaaat?” he said, again and again. “I was only complimenting her body. Women like that, right? Alls I said was, ‘You look really nice in that sweater. You been working out? You’ve really lost the baby weight—except where a lady’s supposed to be big.’ ” Am I right, guys? Zing! Zow!

Much better was my former employer’s harassment video, which was wonderfully offensive on multiple levels. “I hate the premise of this video,” said the company rep who showed it to us. “It makes all us HR people look bad.” The offending premise was that a group of employees were supposed to have a meeting with an HR person about harassment and offending language, but the HR person failed to show up, so they sat around a table and looked at the pamphlets she presumably had left for the meeting and talked. And learned. By the end of the discussion, the astonished HR rep hurries into the conference room, just as the others are leaving. “No thanks,” they say to her offer to guide them through the materials. “I think we got the message” (jocular elbowing, winking). So, yes, if you are an HR person, you could get the feeling, in watching this video, that someone in your company, deep down, believes the entire HR department might be adequately replaced with a stack of meeting outlines. As a matter of fact, if you are an HR person and you feel that the rest of us disagree, I should point out that you are deeply delusional. But then, you probably have to be, given, you know, what you are.

The best part of the video came early, though, when one employee—a walking stereotype, no doubt, perhaps a woman of color and size but with a spunky (read: annoying) personality, wearing a brightly colored blazer—was rounding up her coworkers for the scheduled meeting. “Hey, I don’t know if you remember, Juan, but Linda from HR is meeting with us in five minutes in the General Custer Room.” Oh please, tell me you did not just say that you are holding your goddamn diversity workshop in the goddamn General Custer Room. But no, there it was, decorated with watercolors of headdresses and crying Injuns. Strangely, it was never brought up in the diversity discussion. Lots of “When you made fun of my accent, I felt bad, but I felt too uncomfortable to bring it up,” but no “The fact that our corporation has seemingly embraced the government’s systematic destruction of my people kind of makes my tummy ache.” Oh whatever. Whiners.

The man who’s training us—I think I said this before—is ex-president of two companies, in his early 70s, and—despite some problems between us early on—kind of hilarious, which is something every office needs, probably: An old man who uses “Balls!” as his expletive of choice (to the great amusement of my young coworkers), eats a hot dog every lunch hour, and says of the work load we are given, much more often than he says anything positive about anything, “This is crap. That county is crap. What a pile of garbage!” Even better, every now and again, he feels compelled to share his views on just who, exactly, is going to burn in hell. “Child-support liens last forever if they’re not released,” he reminds us. “I don’t know who these guys are, who have these kids and don’t pay for them. You know who ends up paying for these kids? The taxpayers—that’s you and me. These men—they’re garbage!” On the prevalence of tax sales and foreclosures: “Oh, these lenders are going to hell. Convincing buyers to sink every last penny into their house, irresponsibly advising them that the market’s just going to keep going up—when they know that it’s not!—giving them 100-percent loans at a variable rate. They’re rotten. They’re garbage.” It’s a pleasure to work with someone even more irascible than I am, and, goddamn it, at his age, he’s earned the right to hate. If I’m 70 and am forced to travel to the neighboring state for the privilege of living in an Econolodge and working 12-hour days, please shoot me. I believe, however, that I may have said a similar thing when I was in my twenties, about what should happen if I ever managed to mess up my life to such a degree that I was in my 30s and working a dead-end office job, only to come home each night to a pile of dishes and a mountain of laundry and dog hair.

Oh, it’s hardly ever worth it, this life of ours, but when it is, boy is it worth it. And that’s all I have to say on the subject.


David Rochester said...

I love your trainer -- I want to be him when I grow up, which will, I fear, be never.

Aunty Christ said...

I'm growing to love him--we're kindred spirits, really. I was going to say that you could have met him last week, but perhaps you did meet him? Some of Your Kind were invited over to the office for some kind of meet and greet--a commingling that surely signals the end times, I'm afraid.

Junk Thief said...

As a middle manager, perhaps I should be on guard. All the same, I must admit I agree with your observations. It would be fun to see a bunch of Native Americans stage an uprising in the General Custer Room. Man, what a work place that one must be. Is that General Mills or something that has an obsession with Generals? Bet there are General Pinochet and Franco rooms there too.

I dig being sexually harrassed unless it's done by someone ugly. I'm a tall guy, so I'm not easily intimidated and will just shout out "Ugly!!!" if it's not working for me.

David Rochester said...

I avoid meets and greets like the proverbial plague. My fave title officer is always trying to take me to dinner to thank me for my business, and I'm always like, "Do your job; that's all I really want."

stevo said...

Your 70-year-old co-worker is me in 40 years. I can't wait.

unbonhomme said...

Sensitivity training rocks! I once caused my entire agency to have to undergo that traumatic experience in the form of a "sensitivity refresher" by personally having two "HR incidents" in a single week.

Monday: Whipping a coworker with a network cable to make them move faster.

Thursday: Using "strip club 60018" as an example of a Google local search result.

I'm a bad, bad person.


Shannon said..., I'm soon facilitating "Essential Manager Conversations" - but, damn it, they really DO need to learn how to communicate with other humans? And, a "Stress Mgmt" class b/c I'm-not-their-psychologist-and-can't-deal-with-their-shit-everyday class in Dec.

I'm in HR and have been for 15 years... I love it, but admit openly that I've met scant few other HRers that I respect... I think it's a little like being a lawyer.