10.21.2008

At least I lived to tell the tale

Went to the 8-hour benefits training thingie for my new job yesterday. By the time I left I'd lost all will to live. Here were the highlights:

"Now that you are an employee of [this public governmental organization], you represent [this public governmental organization]. So all your friends and family will be coming to you for answers to their questions about how government works. (Yeah. Only, see, my family and friends don't talk about lame stuff, thank you. Also we have the Internet.) For this reason, we will now spend 3 hours explaining the executive and the judicial branch with the use of this flip chart, which you will undoubtedly remember from 2nd grade math."

The instructor was talking about different Utah towns and wrote Toole on the board by mistake. Then corrected herself: "Wait a minute, sorry, Tool doesn't spell Too-ill-uh." She fixed it by adding an e. (Tooele.) Yeah . . . only that doesn't really spell it either, see. I love (read: hate) this about Utah. Ask me sometime how Mantua is pronounced. (Hint: it rhymes with Ban-oh-way. Also? I hear its residents are cannibals. That's just what I've heard. Hey, like any of them will (can) read this.)

We got to watch not one but two videos about harrassment and ethics in the workplace. They were about as professionally done as the one Michael Scott had to watch in that episode of The Office.

We had some of the usual characters in the group. There was Front-Row Guy, and there was Aggressive, Tough, Somewhat-Hostile girl. They were not a good combination, since ATSHG was ready to kill FRG by the end. So were we all, but she was the one who actually threatened to do it, right in the middle of the life insurance portion of the day. Because here you had Front-Row Guy, doing what a Front Row Guy does. He asked questions every 5 minutes, restated everything the presenter just said, and kept asking hypothetical questions that absolutely did not apply to him, just to make our lives worse--questions like, "I see this chart only lists the health insurance premiums up to the employee plus two beneficiaries. What if you have more than two beneficiaries?"

DUDE. You are single and you work 20 HOURS A WEEK. STOP TALKING NOW or I will let ATSHG go to town on you with her acrylic nails.

Then ATSHG got increasingly antsy and started not only threatening to kill FRG but also telling the 401K representative that his stock-buying analogy was "retarded." At the break the moderator pulled her aside to tell her she wasn't allowed to say "retarded" in class.

We were asked how many of us have enrolled in direct deposit for our paychecks. We raised our hands and the moderator instructed a volunteer to hand us all a shiny little pin with the [public governmental organization] logo on it. I put my hand back down. She said this was to reward us, and to motivate those who haven't already signed up for direct deposit. Since you know those non-direct-depositors were just kicking themselves right then. Seriously, who do they really think they're fooling with that crap? That's like the time I worked for the Lord's University and we were given polo shirts with the department logo on them and told that we get to wear them on Fridays, as sort of a casual Friday kind of thing

"Cool, we get casual Fridays now?"
"Yeah, only we're calling it Promotional Friday."
"But we get to wear jeans, right?"
"Well, no. But you get to wear this nice polo shirt!"
"Then how is that casual?"
"Well if you're a guy you don't have to wear a tie."
"But I'm NOT a guy."
"Well . . . "
"So this is actually MORE dress code, not less."
"Just take the shirt."

And my friends and loved ones will tell you, those were some hideous shirts. Especially since every year they put MEN in charge of picking them and they inevitably picked something that belonged on a safari jeep and not on an attractive Singleton whose coloring does not support oatmeal-barf-colored apparel. Also there was the one that looked like a NASA shirt (post 9/11, navy blue with American flag patches all over.) Those were my two faves. But I loved how employers try to pretend like this stuff is a privilege or reward. If someone walked up to me and slapped a bumper sticker on my forehead, do you think I'd mistake it for a present? I promise I wouldn't. (Unless it was a bumper sticker that said "There'll be no butter in hell!" I'd wear that.)

20 comments:

Azúcar said... [reply]

The shirt situation got so bad at my previous work places that we women actually went out, bought shirts that FIT us (not MEN) and had them sent away for printing/embroidery.

It's kind of ironic, isn't it, that although men notice that women are built differently than they are constantly, they don't actually understand that shirts that fit men don't fit women?


For the love...

(I'm still processing your training; it's too upsetting for me to deal with, give me a day.)

blackjazz said... [reply]

I've not posted anything for a while so I thought I would in case you thought I'd gone away.

Nothing to say other than I liked this post. Stay mean - it's funny :-)

Janssen said... [reply]

Last year, my former office ordered logo polos for the whole staff. They were, predictably the oatmeal barf color of death. Worse, they were all in men sizes, despite the fact that our office had exactly one man and fifteen women. And a WOMAN ordered them. Two for everyone.

Sometimes life is almost not worth living.

Kelly said... [reply]

Oh, I hate Front Row Guy. That guy was in all my law school classes. He and the professor would go off on some hypothetical tangent that was never going to be on the final and the rest of us would sit there wanting to stab him, especially when what was actually supposed to be covered never got discussed and DID show up on the final. My favorite (read: the guy I hated the most) was the German guy in my Criminal Law class who wanted to compare and contrast everything to the way the criminal justice system worked in Germany. Which, great, but we're learning about U.S. law here. That's what office hours are for, people.

It's worse in meetings, though, because that's the guy who will always actually ask a question when the leader asks "Does anyone have any questions?" at the end And they're always moderately irrelevant questions that he could have asked after the meeting, but they will keep you there for a half hour longer than the meeting was supposed to last.

Audra & Levi said... [reply]

I hate HR meetings. They always treat you like you are an idiot! And yes, I agree, there is always the person who wants to know EVERY detail of something... and I just keep repeating to myself, "If you just shut up and let them get through this then maybe they will let us go home early"! Have you ever been subjected to making skyscrapers out of straws in order to "build teamwork"? #1 I hate wasting time. Don't stretch 1 hours worth of info into 4 hours just to make yourself feel justified in your job and #2 What do they think we are 2nd graders? But then I guess it is people like FRG that validate them in their too-long-and-drawn-out meetings, therefore sensible people have to sit through it and want to give themselves a lobotomy with their #2pencil!

abby said... [reply]

I worked for the Lord's University and didn't get any logo t-shirts. I think the library was too poor for that.

I sat in a customer service meeting that used the example of the clip of the evil stepmother from Snow White. The VP had little girls and apparently watched this movie one too many times. We were supposed to examine ourselves like the witch did with the mirror. "Mirror Mirror on the wall..." As we left the meeting, we were each given apples. It was the weirdest meeting I ever attended.

FoxyJ said... [reply]

I worked in the EFY office for a few years and we had a similar hideous polo situation. I kind of liked the free shirt thing, but I didn't like the colors or the way they fit. Plus everyone thought I was a counselor, and then when they realized I wasn't cool they shunned me.

I had a FRG in a class I was teaching and it was horrible. He taught ESL classes and therefore thought he could teach my Spanish class better than me. It was a nightmare.

Jonathon said... [reply]

Hey, don't blame Utah for Mantua. It apparently gets its name from a town in Ohio. Don't ask me why they don't know how to talk in Ohio.

And my job at the Lord's University has recently instituted polo shirt Fridays, too—for student employees as well as staff members. But they're not doing a very good job of enforcing or promoting it, since maybe one or two of us wear them every week. And at least they're plain white and don't sport any American flags, though they are all huge and ill-fitting (which is probably why nobody wears them).

Cicada said... [reply]

I thought it was team spirit Friday. I felt more like a team on those days. I don't know what was wrong with you. One reason I liked team spirit Friday was that I didn't ever have to actually think about what to wear on Fridays. The other thing I liked was showing up to my classes wearing the same shirt as about 5 other people in my class. It made everyone else in the class feel really uncool.

Jér said... [reply]

"Manaway" is spelled "Mantua"??? I literally had no idea. I had never connected the two. If pressed I would have posited that they were two different Utah towns.

Not to rub this in or anything, but my workplace rocks. The dress code is relaxed and flexible, staff trainings are (relatively) painless and non-lame, and my coworkers and supervisors are fun and fairly with-it.

The patrons I have to deal with can be extraordinarily trying, though, so maybe that balances it out.

Gretchen said... [reply]

Ah... I'd wear the "No Butter Hell" bumper sticker too. Thank you. That reference made my day.

Nerd Goddess said... [reply]

I'm pretty sure that they still have those hideous polo shirts, since the RAs on campus had to wear them when they were on duty last year.

It makes me glad I'm only a lowly early-morning custodian at The Lord's University, and no cares what I wear while I scrub toilets at 5AM.

Sounds like a just dandy training meeting for ya!

taturner said... [reply]

Awesome post! I agree with everything you said. I guess I missed a movie that mentions the various places that butter will be available in the next life, eh? I'll have to check that out, because I do love butter!

coolmom said... [reply]

I had an HR meeting today. It was a teleconference with the higher ups in Seattle. They asked me to start off with the opening prayer and then begin with our assignments, which was to share a spiritual experience from one of the general conference sessions, to which I got to respond, "I forgot." It was a great start. But my prayer was good. It lasted about an hour and then me and my one co-worker in Anchorage got to go to lunch on the tithe payers dime. No shirt though.

coolmom said... [reply]

Wait! The whole meeting lasted an hour, not the prayer, and it was all about finances, the meeting, not the prayer.

Lippy said... [reply]

I could possibly sit through a dozen meetings like this if I knew someone was going to write such a funny synopsis afterward.

I can't remember why I don't come here every day!

Nemesis said... [reply]

Yay, Lippy, we've missed you! :-)

Mary said... [reply]

I liken you to a female, LDS, David Sedaris. Now don't go gettin' all big headed and stuff. But just know that.

EmAndTrev said... [reply]

Sounds brutal! I'm glad you made it through, especially with Front Row Guy in attendance and all. Ick.

april said... [reply]

just found your blog through danalee. great writing/musings on life. i have to give a huge shout out for quoting cold comfort farm. i love that line/scene.

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