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Things I Won’t Miss About My Old Job Now That I’ve Transitioned to a New Position

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People who say, “Wow, you’re really getting a workout today, huh?” when they’re part of the reason I’m getting a workout today.

People who tell me they’re sorry they can’t help me load their vehicle because they’ve got a bad back/recently had back surgery when they’re the reason I have a bad back/will someday require back surgery.

People who unbox/unpackage their purchase in the parking lot and leave the box/packaging behind for me to deal with.

People with no sense of spatial relations who buy items too large to fit in their cars.

People who buy large items or large quantities without first having removed all the shit they’ve been carting around in their trunk.

People whose cars would accommodate the large item or large quantities they purchased if they hadn’t brought every member of their family with them.

People who forget where they parked.

People who point out from a distance, “That’s me over there, the white Toyota van,” as though I can do anything for them until we both reach the vehicle and they open it for me.

People with no sense of their vehicle’s dimensions beyond the driver’s seat and steering column, as regards their inability to navigate it into/out of a parking space.

People too lazy to walk the 10 additional steps to the corral who just leave their shopping cart in an adjacent parking space or propped up on a landscaped median.

People too lazy to walk the three or fewer additional steps required to couple their shopping cart to the train of carts already in the corral.

People who just shove the second cart in the general direction of the corral, which encourages everyone who follows to do the same until there are 10 uncoupled carts in the corral pointing every which way.

People who peel the sticker off something they’ve purchased and wrap it around the handle of their shopping cart like they’re 5 or something.

People who dickishly wrap the child restraint around the handle of the shopping cart and click it in place.

People who use shopping carts as trash receptacles.

People who use the parking lot as a trash receptacle.

People who use the parking lot as an ashtray.

People who use shopping carts and/or the parking lot as diaper hampers.

People who bring their trash from home or feed their family of five then throw all their fast-food trash in our receptacles.

People who apparently drink a 12-pack of beer on our lot and leave behind their empties.

People who throw excessively heavy and/or sharp, jagged or otherwise pointy objects into the trash receptacles, threatening the integrity of the already-thin plastic can liners.

People who buy beverages too big for their bladders and throw the remainder in the trash so it can spill all over the place when their straw inevitably punctures the can liner.

People who are strangling our planet by drinking bottled water but can’t even finish off 16.9 ounces of water from the plastic bottles that are strangling our planet.

People.

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Written by Shepcat

June 30, 2019 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Life, Work

Memorandum

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To: You, the Filthy, Disgusting Citizens of America
Re: Your use of public trash receptacles

Listen up, scumbags.

In March I obtained employment with a major national retailer, in a role whose duties include emptying the trash cans posted at the entrances and exits of the store every evening. I don’t plan to make this a long-term bullet on my résumé, and I don’t presume to speak for the everyday heroes of municipal sanitation and janitorial services who have quite literally seen some shit and who almost certainly deserve more than they’re being paid.

But I am here to speak for the wage-earners who deal with your casual, thoughtless, careless attitude toward any of your trash that anyone but you has to deal with. And that includes kids in fast-food and convenience jobs who are getting paid about half of what I’m making. And no, you don’t get to use “It’s good for them, builds character” as your bullshit defense for making their menial jobs more insufferable.

No one’s asking you to do their job for them, only to do your small part to make their job less of a shitshow. Be a mensch. Use your head. Be part of the solution. It requires less time and effort than you imagine.

And so, a few things for you to consider and file away for future reference:

The Bags
A lesson in simple economics: When Hefty or Glad markets any of their durable, super-strong, high-quality garbage bags for home use, they are selling you, the domestic consumer, security, because they know you are willing to pay for it. And all you’re hoping to do is successfully transport your trash 40 feet to the end of the driveway and not offend your neighbors or the HOA.

Companies aren’t like that. Companies are constantly looking for corners and costs to cut so they can provide more value to their shareholders. So when they purchase garbage bags in bulk quantities, 50 to a perforated roll, 36 rolls to a case, they’ll sacrifice half a mil or more in thickness here and there, because paying a lower unit cost by a few cents now will save them dollars down the line. So the industrial-size bags used by industry aren’t exactly industrial-strength — they’re voluminous enough to hold a lot of trash in theory but not strong enough in actuality to hold the kind of trash industrial-strength maggots like you, their customers, tend to throw away on their premises.

Extreme examples: On a recent shift, some asshole threw an unpackaged circular-saw blade into one of our trash cans. Obliterated the fucking bag, which fortunately wasn’t full when I discovered it and therefore easily swapped out. No, the bag that was full — just moments later — was the one into the bottom of which someone (probably a co-worker) had thrown shards of broken glass which, under pressure from above, completely trapdoored the bag when I lifted it, sending the shards everywhere and requiring me to rebag the broken bag of garbage and double-bag the glass I swept up, the latter of which should have been done to begin with.

Speaking as one who deals with the literal fallout of your misplaced faith in or disregard for thin, cheap plastic: Truly, we won’t mind if you just place any sharp, pointy, heavy or oversize items beside or behind the receptacle if it is safe to do so. We’ll deal with it accordingly and thank you for not springing a trap on us in the form of another mess we have to clean up.

Your Beverages
This is a not-so-extreme example, because it occurs in virtually every bag of trash I’ve handled since I started this job.

Stop throwing your unfinished beverages in the trash. Liquid adds weight and density to the confines of the bag, and in many instances it isn’t going to stay in its cup, which means it goes directly to the bottom of a bag which is otherwise primed to burst at one weak point or another. Here are a few handy guidelines:

  1. Stop buying beverages larger than your bladder or which you have no intention of finishing. When a fast-food joint or convenience store offers you a ludicrous amount of liquid at a low price, stop thinking about value and ask instead, “How thirsty am I, really?”
     
  2. Pour out any beverage you don’t or can’t finish, preferably in an area that people don’t have to walk through. Pour it out in the parking lot, in the street, near a curb, on a landscaped median. Better yet, if you’re near an open area free of people, pets or cars, throw it, scatter the liquid and ice rather than creating a puddle someone might walk through. Do this so you can just throw away an empty cup.
     
  3. Remove your lid and straw and throw them away separately. Particularly your straw. Throw a straw in the trash, and its full length flexes and bends against the pressure of the other trash in the bag. Leave one-third or one-fourth of a straw sticking out the top of a secured cup lid, and it becomes a spike that will inevitably puncture the bag and spill liquid and God knows what else everywhere.
     
  4. Breaking down your cup to its component parts (and crushing your cup) is also more space-efficient.
     
  5. Speaking of which, bottled water — which you shouldn’t be drinking as much as you do, because plastic, however much convenience it adds to our lives, is contributing to the slow-motion destruction of our environment, and your municipal water is typically cleaner and more delicious than you imagine — is often sold in crushable bottles that collapse to take up less space. So crush them after you empty them, or if at all possible, hold onto them to recycle later. Soda cans, too.
     
  6. I mention that last point because, for all their good intentions and talk of conservation and sustainability initiatives, companies like my employer don’t always have the space and resources on site to accommodate proper, comprehensive recycling. We’re sending a lot of stuff to landfills that you might more easily recycle at home through municipal services that your tax and public-utility dollars already pay for.

Indifference
Of course, all of this assumes that you insensate savages even bother to use the trash receptacles at all. As many of you as not use parking lots as trash cans and ashtrays, and while, as of this writing, I haven’t seen ours used as a toilet per se, one of you jagoffs left a soiled diaper in a shopping cart the other day, just roiling out in the noonday sun. Which, oddly, made me recalibrate my anger toward the dipshit who left a full, open, single-serve dish of uneaten coleslaw just sitting there on the apron in front of a parking space one day.

Also — and I can’t think of a better way to put this — don’t leave behind garbage that has no logical reason to be in the venue where you discard it. I realize that at the most basic level, it’s all just run-of-the-mill garbage, but don’t force me to consider questions of motive and opportunity like I’ve come across your trash at a crime scene.

Did the perp(s) who left a six-pack of Stella Artois empties really come to our parking lot just to knock back a few brews?

And who discarded a half-eaten rotisserie chicken (in its lidded container, thankfully) in the small trash can at one of our checkout registers inside the store? Who does something like that in public, in a durable-goods establishment that is nowhere near a restaurant, grocery store or mall food court? I mean, I see a lot of drive-thru fast-food refuse in our trash cans, and I get that: Someone grabs a burger and fries while running errands and tosses their containers when they reach our store. But a rotisserie-ass chicken from a grocery deli? Who in pluperfect fuck are you?

And another thing: Stop smoking. At the very least, stop smoking in public. It’s fucking disgusting. It’s slowly killing you. And at minimum it’s grossly offensive to the rest of us you’re also slowly killing with your secondhand smoke. And you toss the butts everywhere, and guess what: They’re not biodegradable. So just fucking stop it, OK? Asphyxiate yourself at home, litter your own driveway, and leave the rest of us out of your end-of-life planning.

I wrote recently about the dignity of work and my sense that no job should be beneath me if it means earning a steady wage and paying my rent until something bigger, better and more suitable to my talents and experience comes along. And I believe that. All things being equal, even collecting your garbage wouldn’t be so awful if I could just tie off a bag, replace it with an empty bag, and cart the full bag away without repercussions.

But you thoughtless, vile troglodytes need to consider the dignity of the people doing that work, picture them on the receiving end of that trash bag. Better yet, picture yourself on the receiving end. Maybe you imagine that I’m overthinking — idealizing — something as lowly, menial and literally disposable as garbage. But do my job for three days (or three weeks, or three months) and you’ll overthink it too.

If you think about it all, that’d be a good start.

Written by Shepcat

May 9, 2019 at 1:28 am

Posted in Life, Work

The Dignity of Work

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Last Saturday night on the swing shift I singlehandedly — my hands, my arms, my back, no mechanized or human assistance — loaded 27,000 pounds of freight onto two outbound trailers.

That’s a sentence I never imagined I’d write. That’s an accomplishment that can never be taken away from me. But it nearly broke me.

After only three days on a job billed as “light industrial work,” I quit the following Monday because, at 51, a generally sedentary person coming off a year-plus of unemployment, my body would need more than a Sunday to recover from the physical toll exacted by that volume of manual labor.

I’ve been blessed with a college education and a professional life spent alternately in office settings, on a studio lot, and in the comfort of my own home. While I’ve often quipped that I’m the laziest person in my family, I also have my father’s work ethic encoded in my DNA, and I’ve never thought of myself as looking down on manual labor. I’ve even done a little of it in the past, but not enough to prepare me for the situation I entered last week, a little misguided and misinformed, when after a long layoff I decided to reach out for any kind of work I could obtain to be back among the gainfully employed again.

It’s an idea I began taking more seriously last fall when actor Geoffrey Owens, formerly of The Cosby Show, was “outed” by the Daily Mail and Fox News for taking a job at Trader Joe’s to make ends meet between his acting and teaching gigs, sparking a national conversation about the dignity of work. Shortly thereafter, my brother took a seasonal job with UPS, assisting a driver on a daily delivery route, to help pay the bills during a fallow period in his own line of work.

I know I should have explored these other, blue-collar options sooner. The main reason I didn’t is that at my age, I may be entering last-chance territory in terms of finding the kind of job at which I excel, at which I have experience, and which I might see myself doing for the rest of my professional life. During this search I have already been shunned for being “overqualified,” which is another way of being told either that I’m too old or that I might expect a higher salary than an employer is willing to pay when they can hire someone younger on the cheap.1

So I felt fortunate, at the time, to have landed that so-called light-industrial job before real panic could ensue about my finances and day-to-day necessities. Again, though, I was unprepared for the reality of the work itself, and while I adjusted and adapted quickly to the environment, it still proved to be work that I was not cut out to do, for reasons both physical and temperamental.

“A man’s got to know his limitations,” goes an old Clint Eastwood line. And there were a couple of occasions on those three nights of work when I consciously pushed myself beyond mine because I wanted to finish the task at hand and make it to the end of the shift. In the end I don’t think my value to the employer would have exceeded those limitations, to the extent that I felt I was doing the job well but too deliberately to be appreciated. It’s work that emphasizes speed and strength more than contributions like my math skills and attention to detail, so I probably did us both a favor by showing myself the door before they did.

As of this writing, I’m awaiting an interview for a white-collar job that I applied for around the same time. I try not to get my hopes up about these things, even though I need to work as much as the next person, but it would certainly help matters if I could land that job and the salary and benefits it offers.

And if not that job, perhaps there’s another one on the not-too-distant horizon — even a blue-collar job — to which my abilities are better suited. Because I can say now, with a little more clarity and credibility than I might have summoned a few weeks ago, that every job matters in this country and moves us all forward — one person, one family, one community at a time — toward the quality of life we all deserve if we work hard and hold up our end of the contract … and employers hold up theirs.
 
 
 
 
 
1 As someone who spends a lot of time scouring job listings online, this is a particular bugbear of mine (there ought to be a law, in fact): Employers, just tell us up front how much you intend or are willing to pay, and let us, the job seeker, decide whether that represents a sufficient living wage for work we might apply for. Then let us stand or fall on our merits alone.

There’s an old line about job interviews: The first person to mention money loses the negotiation. So when advertising for a job, an employer puts a prospective applicant at an immediate disadvantage by asking for their “salary requirements” or “expected compensation,” when it’s just a way for lazy human resources departments to shrink the stack of résumés they have to consider for a particular opening. If you want someone cheap, say so, in no uncertain terms. Employers have all the power to begin with. Don’t put people struggling in a competitive job market in the position of undervaluing their own skills and expertise so they can underbid other applicants for a job you’re too coy, too lazy and too cheap to promote honestly.

End of rant.

Written by Shepcat

February 4, 2019 at 3:08 pm

Posted in Life, The PNW, Work

You Want Me on That Wall: The Case for Copyeditors

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“God is in the details.”

— Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

 
 
I’m not like you. The great majority of you, anyway.

I can never truly read for leisure or pleasure alone.

By which I don’t mean that I’m incapable of enjoying what I read or of selecting something purely frivolous or escapist instead of Serious, Important Literature. Rather, I don’t merely read anything I read.

I proofread. Everything I read.

Everything. From first-edition books to takeout menus.

I wasn’t always like this. Not even as a journalism major at the University of Kansas, though certainly the seed was planted there. Little did I know when I purchased my first Associated Press Stylebook sometime around 1987 that it would become one of the most important books in my life, alongside Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye and John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany. I recall finding it ridiculous that we were assigned to memorize sections of the Stylebook for class — until some years later, when it occurred to me that, through repeated use, I was absorbing whole entries and sections of the Stylebook into my everyday usage.

My true immersion into proofreading came in my first real-world journalism job, with a national gardening magazine published in Kansas City. We were a small staff, but all four editors proofed every article in every issue, regardless of who was a piece’s primary editor. In this way, I learned from my three experienced superiors every possible way to look at a piece of writing, to notice things that others didn’t, whether as a correction or a callout. Soon I was reading everything this way, as though I was trying to catch an error or an opportunity before anyone else could.

It was an occupational hazard, then, and one from which there was no turning back. But there’s also an element of sport to it, as well as a sense that what we do has great value, even if our rapidly changing world is increasingly blind to that value.

Whether you realize it or not, I and my brothers and sisters of the red pen are teaching you to read and write better, if only by osmosis, if only for the time being. Because whatever you failed to understand or learn or pay attention to in school all those years — or, to be fair, whatever your school systems with their standardized curricula may have failed to impart — we, copyeditors and proofreaders, are teaching you on the sly every day. Provided, of course, that you’re reading something edited or proofread.

If the greater volume of printed or published material that you read in a given day — newspapers, magazines, books, even online publications — has had our eyes on it first, you are learning from us by small degrees to get the fine details right in your own writing. Proper use of an em dash or en dash? That was most likely us. You’re welcome. You know the difference between further and farther? You may have brushed up against it in eighth-grade English, but if you’re my age, you’ve spent the last 30 years or so seeing them used correctly in edited material, and if you’ve paused to think about them at all, it’s because we thought about them first.

Unfortunately the egalitarian Internet — virtually unregulated, predominantly unedited — is taking over the way we consume information. And in many ways, just plain taking over.

Because as the Internet has presented itself as a more efficient delivery mechanism, a leaner, faster alternative to print journalism, it has been eating away at the readership and circulation and, consequently, the advertising revenue of newspapers and magazines, which are increasingly called upon to adapt or die in the face of this new electronic world order. And increasingly, to the great detriment of print, the ax has fallen on copy desks as much as any other department.

Even today’s best online outlets are more blog network than journalistic endeavor1, and they give their content providers free rein to post quickly without policing the quality of the writing before it goes online to be devoured or ignored over a much more truncated lifespan. Even one last read-through by the author would benefit a lot of online content, but in the battle for relevance and exclusivity, writers seldom bother to take the time. Magazine stories live a week? Newspapers live a day? The average online post measures its timeliness by the hour, even the minute, each too precious to worry about the odd typo or bewildering placeholder copy that was never cleaned up.

Text-message abbreviations and emojis aren’t actually teaching us anything about the economy of language. Or about language, period. For all the shorthand, shortcuts and slang we create, the English language is a vast and beautiful thing that still deserves our attention in order to thrive and to challenge those who read it, write it and speak it to better do so, at least on those occasions when it matters most.

A former boss messages me occasionally — though with greater frequency of late — asking why it apparently doesn’t drive me insane when I see social media littered with grammatical errors committed by otherwise educated people who should know better. I explain that I gave up the fight on a personal level a long time ago. Those people are my audience, the ones I hope will benefit from my expertise at some point, whether they read something I wrote (and rewrote) myself or edited on behalf of another, or seek out my assistance with something they’ve written. (It happens occasionally, to my great delight.) My real beef is against those with the reach, the authority and the wherewithal, who abuse their position by cutting corners and neglecting their responsibility to their own audience. In short: anyone who should be paying me (or another capable editor) to make them look good but doesn’t.

To wit, the founder of a small publishing empire once looked me right in the eye after I showed him a copy of one of his glossy newsstand magazines that I had red-lined from cover to cover and told me that proofreading such as I had just demonstrated exhaustively upon his own publication was largely subjective and (the kicker) “not in our business model.” I find it unforgivable that a publisher would be so dismissive about the content he was publishing, that he would care more about collecting your newsstand and subscription dollars than about giving you something of actual, meaningful value in return.

And while his categorizing proofreading as subjective is arguably true on a microscopic level, in the grander, big-picture scheme, his statement is utter bollocks. Good copyediting and proofreading is about thoughtful attention to every detail, applied consistently throughout the larger body of work.2 Because language and grammar are casually butchered every day — in print and online — by well-meaning people who don’t know any better, who don’t have the time, who don’t have an eye for minute or even obvious detail, and their butchery is broadcast to the public at large because there is no goalie in place to stop the puck.

Spell-check, like a condom, is only 98 percent effective. (I’ve disabled it on my own devices; my margin of error is lower.)

Prepositions aren’t interchangeable.

Neither are:

  • and and &;
  • affect and effect;
  • that and which;
  • that and who;
  • who and whom;
  • the aforementioned further (conceptual distance) and farther (physical distance);
  • lay and lie (which no one gets right, ever);
  • fewer than and less than;
  • more than (quantities or populations) and over (time or amounts);
  • like and as;
  • where (location), when (time) and in which (context);
  • to, too and two (yes, really);
  • its and it’s;
  • your and you’re; and
  • there, their and they’re.

Subject-verb agreement misses the mark.

Participles dangle with abandon.

Content may lack the appropriate context.

There’s typesetting minutiae — like correcting the habit of people trained on typewriters to put two spaces after a period, or adding a space where one is missing, or ensuring that an apostrophe that replaces characters (e.g., ’87 for 1987 or rock ’n’ roll for rock and roll) is a “9” and not a “6.” (Yes, that’s absolutely a thing. Look closer.)

And correct punctuation — for which I profess an almost unseemly passion — has everything to do with the meaning of what you’re reading. (First and foremost: apostrophes, motherfuckers.)

All of which only scratches the surface.

These are things I care about. Deeply. All because once upon a time, someone paid me — and not exorbitantly — to care about them, and today almost no one does. This is not elitism; language and grammar belong to the masses, not the classes. I and my compatriots of the red pen toil at a craft, as mathematically precise as diamond cutting and as basic as masonry, and we toil for all. At the end of the day, don’t you want us to be the ones teaching your children — by tiny increments, in nanoseconds that leave valuable data imprinted on their gray matter — to master, or at least better appreciate, the language that is their birthright? Or would you rather entrust that duty to whomever or whatever’s on the transmitting end of their smartphones?

Whether you know it or not, you want me on that wall.
 
 
 
 
 
1 Worse still are the aggregators. Consider a site like The Huffington Post, which began as a source of rigorous journalism and insightful political commentary but has since mutated into an uncontainable Hydra of global content aggregation, posting everything from world-news stories to celebrity nip-slip photos from across the World Wide Web. HuffPo still generates original content, but these days its bread is buttered by redirecting users to articles and features by other content providers that seldom exercise the same editorial standards, hence cheapening the brand of the aggregator.

2 And here, especially for those outside the journalism and publishing worlds, I cannot stress enough the importance of an internal style sheet, particularly if your company or organization is in a business or industry that speaks its own specific language or jargon that requires proper usage or throws around a lot of acronyms that require definition. Perhaps most importantly, though, an internal style sheet should be explicit about the small stuff — such minute details as whether your company prefers “US” to “U.S.” and “UK” to “U.K.,” whether or when certain proprietary words should be capitalized, or whether there should be a space on either side of an em dash.

Written by Shepcat

July 20, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Work, Writing

Well, That Was Certainly Humbling

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Thursday morning, the culprit responded, via e-mail1:

Thanks for the update on my “disgusting freaking Kleenexes”. If you go back to day you will find another “disgusting freaking kleenexes” on top. Please note that that is not mine…..as far as the plastic wrappers etc. Please fell free to come by and check my trash….you will see that I do use the correct container….I would like to talk to you “man to man”, but I think you like to send e-mails….anyway I am sorry that you have to dig through the trash. I will do my best to watch to see if I can remember to do your request as I should. Brent thanks again for the update. C—

Tail between my legs, I replied in kind:

If I’ve accused you in error, then please accept my apologies.

The fact remains, though, that on the most recent occasion I found kleenexes in the recycling bin, they were mixed among the KC scan envelopes. Whether someone else is responsible for handling those envelopes after you, or someone is merely clever enough to single you out as a fall guy, I only want to put an end to this as soon as possible.

I handled this matter by e-mail — however badly — in the interest of discretion. Thanks for your own discretion, and again, my apologies.

Brent

Whether I truly wronged C— or he was merely reacting as anyone would when cornered, only time will tell. But I dropped by his desk a little later to apologize again, this time man to man, and the fact is he was an absolute mensch about the whole matter, extending his hand in diplomacy even before I was finished apologizing. We chatted. He exhibited genuine understanding about the situation and promised his continued cooperation. We parted on friendly terms.

Now I find myself in the awkward position of refining my investigation and retrenching against the other, actual culprit without blowing my cool and making another accusation short of presenting hard evidence and perhaps DNA analysis instead of the admittedly circumstantial evidence on which I based my case against C—.

I don’t like being wrong even once. I refuse to be wrong twice. And now I feel particularly beholden to C—, to clear his good name (at least for my own peace of mind) while handling the second, decidedly final sting and takedown as quietly and discreetly as I attempted to handle the first, and much more intelligently at that, because I realize that this episode shines a spotlight on me as the embattled, self-righteous, by-any-means-necessary employee that I all too often am in the workplace.

That said, if it turns out that C— was lying to me just now, I’ll flip him like a cheese omelet.

UPDATE, 12/4/09: Friday afternoon, in a totally unrelated conversation which touched upon our co-workers’ collective disregard for signage posted throughout our office, another of my longsuffering compatriots remarked, “…And then there’s C—, who always throws his kleenexes in his recycling bin and then dumps them back there. He knows he’s not supposed to, but he does it out of spite. I’ve never actually seen him do it, but I know it’s him. I just know it.”

Suddenly, I don’t feel quite as bad about what may have been a rush to judgment on my part.

1 Feel free to insert your own mental [sic]s as you read along. I did not want to interrupt the visual flow of C—’s e-mail with my editorial meddling.

Written by Shepcat

December 3, 2009 at 9:23 am

Posted in Work

Of Course You Realize This Means War

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Some of my readers are familiar with my ongoing struggle to explain the concept of recycling to my co-workers. In addition to incidents I may have reported here, a certain sharply worded — and quite witty, I thought — e-mail missive, one of two I’ve composed to explain the process, made the rounds among some of you awhile back.

Recently my powers of deduction caught up with a certain repeat offender in the office. As quietly and discreetly, but forcefully, as possible, I called him out Tuesday. I’ve experienced some other issues with him recently, unrelated to recycling, and I thought now would be the ideal time to illustrate for him that, though, like him, I’m among the lowliest grunts in our office, in my mailroom and in my warehouse I am the law and the lord of all I survey. Hence the following e-mail message:

C—,

Having ascertained that you, in fact, have a trash can in your cubicle, right there within arm’s reach, I would like to encourage you to use it.

Having determined that it’s your plastic food wrappers and used kleenexes I keep finding in the recycling bin — and I know this because I find them mixed in with [your] Kansas City Region scan envelopes — I must insist that you start using the aforementioned trash can to dispose of such items and other non-recyclable matter.

Often I have to dig into the recycling bin to remove other items that people have discarded there in error. Occasionally, people recycle old magazines that others sift through for reading material. The last thing any of us need is to contract swine flu or hepatitis or whatever other communicable disease you might be blowing into your kleenexes.

I’ve sent two explicit e-mails on this subject already. I’ve posted explicit signage on the bins themselves. And because you seem to have heeded none of these requests to date, I must now ask you man to man, please — pretty please, with sugar on it — separate your trash, and particularly your disgusting freaking kleenexes, from your recycling.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Brent Shepherd
Mailroom Supervisor

I’m a reasonable man. I’m generally non-confrontational. But I intend to exercise what little authority and autonomy I have been given within my sphere of endeavor and the parameters of my position.

It is my sincere hope that C— is just smart enough to interpret the subtext of the correspondence reprinted above, specifically: Do as I say, old man, or so help me, I’ll take off my shoe and beat you with it ’til you’re unconscious. If he’s not, then I’ll have to say it to him out loud in just so many words, and that’s when complaints get filed and supervisors get involved and people start throwing about phrases like “abuse of power” and “hostile work environment.”

To which my only reply is, You have no idea.

Written by Shepcat

December 1, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Posted in Work

Some People Never Learn

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The remedials who work in shipping at the Staples warehouse are apparently still employed, still plugging away, still straining to wrap their minds around spatial relations. I suppose we’re making progress, though, because this time, at least, they didn’t send me an empty box.

No, today they shipped me a single 50-count sleeve of Solo 12 oz. paper drinking cups, measuring roughly 20¼” tall by 3½” in diameter, and they packed it in a box measuring 21” x 14” x 12”. No AirFill bubbles or packing foam this time. Just a single sleeve of cups rattling around in a box large enough to hold at least a dozen. And this time, instead of sending it out on one of their own delivery trucks, they (or we) paid to ship it via UPS Ground.

Why we needed only 50 paper coffee cups or how they managed to short us 50 on a previous order, I can only speculate.

Again, I must come to grips with the idea that I can’t be in more than one place at a time, can’t be the brains of every operation — at least, not without staging a coup d’etat and deploying my own goon squads to enforce the newly decreed laws of the land. Instead I’ll just settle for my consolation prize: a nice, sturdy, reusable cardboard box.

Written by Shepcat

August 28, 2009 at 9:40 am

Posted in Work