Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sharpening the Pencils to Death....

I think today was what you call "karma" in the office. After my blog yesterday that gently poked fun at the Weight Watchers, it turned out today that I was the only member of the "anti-Weight Watchers" in the office. I did not relish the thought of sitting in the kitchen, eating my salad that had real fresh pieces of leftover bacon on top and having the Weight Watchers ask me what I was eating and make "The Face*," so I ended up running errands and eating my not-as-healthy-as-I'd-like-but-really-tasty salad at my desk.

(*Definition of the face: Picture the food that appeals to you most in the world. Picture how it tastes and smells. Then picture a big metal cage being placed on the food so that it's unreachable. Yet you can still smell it and imagine how it tastes... but you can't eat it. Now look at your face in the mirror. That...="The Face")

I didn't really mind too much. It was that type of day, anyway. It was, in short, a typical Thursday; a day in which I got much done but my mind was looking forward to the weekend.

Then again, there's nothing much new about that, is there?

Still, I can't complain. Today went by pretty quickly. My boss has not spoken to me in two days, not since the meeting we had on Tuesday. I'd say I'm heartbroken but in actuality, it's actually quite nice. My boss does this thing that my coworker and I call "Drive-By Managing." For the most part, he ignores our existence. Then, every now and again, he'll come out of his office and take turns to stop by our desks and say, "hey, how's it goin'?"

And that's it. He just stands there, waiting. We usually say, "Pretty good." And then he stands there some more. So then we launch into a description of what we're working on. He still stands there. It's like he wants to chat but has no idea how. With the males in our area, he stops by their desks and talks sports. They can do that for hours. Yet with my coworker and I, both of us females, it is in a word...awkward.

This is the type of 'awkward' that should be muttered or whispered in two syllables- "awk. ward" - while looking out of the corners of your eyes down at the ground. If you don't know what I mean, try it. You'll understand.

I want to chat to him, don't get me wrong. Yet when I do, he looks fearful, as though I'm going to say something sarcastic. I've mentioned this before: He thinks everything I say is sarcastic when, in actuality, only about 50 percent of what I say to him is intended to be sarcastic.

No, I've actually tried to engage him in real conversation, to ask him about his kids, his wife, his name it, I've probably tried it. Granted, it's getting a little personal but when you have the type of boss that walks up to you and says, "you look nice. Why are you so dressed up? Do you have fancy social plans?" it doesn't seem so out-of-the-question to try to take an interest in who he is as a person aside from who he is as a boss.

It's just plain...awkward. The most frustrating part of it is that we have bi-weekly meetings to discuss what our area has been doing. We go around the meeting table and say what we're working on. Compared to the programmers, I'm pretty dull- I could go into great technical detail about what I've been doing but the way I look at it is that no one really cares. Unfortunately, some of the programmers do not feel this way and feel that it's necessary to break down into intricate detail exactly the work they've been doing down the programming code. It's not that I'm not interested because I am. Yet when it gets down to when they're naming every single phone call they received and the answer they gave and the respondent's reply to their answer and then the follow-up emails that occurred...well, by then they've lost me.

Yet, since our boss does take notes at these bi-weekly meetings, I suppose what I hope is that he actually listens and makes a note of what we're doing. However, two days later, he's standing by my desk saying "hey, how's it goin'?" and I have to recap what I'm working on which, most likely, isn't that different from what I said in the meeting.

I forgot to mention, during this time, he's fiddling. He's a fiddler, my boss. If he's standing by my desk, he's got to be touching something on my desk. Sometime it's my name plate which he knocks down quite a lot. He usually does this when he's trying to perch on my desk. It's the perching which actually alarms me. My desk really isn't perch-able. It's a got a decent work top but it's got two cubby-holes above it with overhead lift-up lids. They sit pretty low. Thus, perching on my desk means your shoulder can't quite fit comfortable with these cubby-holes. Also, my desk is a little slick. Since I've never tried to sit on it, I can't say that I've experienced sliding on it. However, seeing as how my boss takes a little bit too much of a slide every time he tries to perch, I have to assume it's a bit slippery.

So, the perching ends up with my boss looking slightly flustered because he's either knocked my name-plate over, gone sliding or whacked his shoulder on my cubby-hole. So, usually, by this time he's on his feet, trying to think of the best escape plan so he can save a little face.

When he doesn't perch, he's usually looking at some of my toys- either my Geico Gekko statue or my Green Day SuperAction figures. It alarms me when he picks up one of my Green Day men and 'fiddles' with it. He doesn't know he's doing it. It's a bit of a violation of my space. Also, I don't think Green Day would appreciate quite the manner in which he's trying to remove Mike Dirnt's chicken from his hands. Trust me, you have to see it to understand quite how odd it is.

So, long story short, days upon which my boss doesn't speak to me are actually not that bad at all. Since he has absolutely no clue what it is I really do nor what it is I actually am capable of, I tend to get a little annoyed with him in general anyway. I've tried repeatedly to have him take me seriously, to listen when I suggest something or to at least understand that I'm not a complete twit. Nothing seems to work.

Yet he is a 'drive-by' manager. I can't decide if this is better or worse than a micro-manager, someone who wants to know everything I'm doing all the time. I think it's probably better although at least with a micro-manager, he might actually realize that I'm constantly having to find my own projects to work on because otherwise, I might stab myself in the eye with a pencil out of boredom.

I don't want to stab out my eye. I quite like having my eyeballs. I also quite like my pencils. I've kept those away from my boss when he comes to 'perch' on my desk. My pencils are very personal to me. I mean, think about it, a pen runs on its own ink. A pencil...a pencil must be sharpened in the palm of your hand. It becomes personal the first time you sharpen it. Each turn of the sharpener serves to make it work better for you.

Yet, really, you're slowly slaughtering the pencil in order to make it more efficient.

Not terribly unlike my company, when I think about it. Or most companies, for that matter. Eek gads, what a thought.

But it's Friday. That's a better and slightly less dark and twisty thought. I think I'll stick with that, what do you think?

Happy Friday and have a good weekend!

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