Shimoniac Jones

I didn't lose my mind – it fled in terror.

Archive for the month “February, 2013”

Things I’ve Actually Said At Work

In honour of my second-favourite blogger in the whole wide world, BrainRants, I’ve put together a post of things that I’ve said at work that are less than politically correct.  This is not a complete list because my memory isn’t that good and the sheer number of things in that category is too large to enumerate.

I didn’t used to be a ranty type.  I was a security guard for a while and we were told that low-key behaviour was desirable; that was OK, low-key was my preferred M.O.  Working where I work now, I’ve changed over the years.  I’ve found that ranting and insulting trusted co-sufferers is a good way to build team spirit and blow off steam before you explode and take off on a three-state killing spree.  I’m still not as in-your-face as some of my co-sufferers, but I’ve still pulled one or two out in recent memory.

Before you try any of these at home, or the office, make sure of your audience. Some people will be amused, some will be offended, some will try to punch your lights out.

Your results may vary.

A temp worker, who is apparently a fruit, nut, and twig type, (talk about you are what you eat) decided on his own to take me to task for my admittedly less than perfectly healthy eating choices. Since I don’t remember asking his opinion, or advice, I told him, “You know, you can take a fuck off out of petty cash.” Amazingly enough, he was offended by my offence and complained to the supervisor that I had used abusive language on him. Compared with what some of my colleagues might have said, I was mild, even restrained.

The supervisor later took me aside for questioning. When I related the entirety of the proceedings, he laughed, told me not to do anything like that where he would hear, and sent me on my way. The temp in question just happened to get cancelled at the end of the week.

Just after New Year’s the senior setter at work had to take over as supervisor after our previous one quietly and mysteriously disappeared; as the setter put it, all of the hassle and none of the pay. Actually, from what I’ve gathered, he gets paid more than a supervisor. Needless to say, he was under stress from having to do two jobs at the same time and started taking it out on the rest of us. Needless to say, I asked him, “What’s the matter, Pumpkin? They discontinue your favourite brand of panty liner and the new ones chafe?”

I was floored when he just looked at me and said, “Yes. As a matter of fact, they do.”

Then this past week, the QC was complaining about actually having to do his job. I’m afraid I was less than perfectly sympathetic. I said to him, “You know what, Buttercup? It’s time to take a deep breath, change your tampon, and actually do your job.”

This was the same guy I once told, “Stand back, I’m about to be impressed.” I thumped my chest a couple of times, faked a belch, and said, “Sorry, just gas.”

Recently, I sniffed ostentatiously at the air after a colleague’s snide remark remarking, “I smell sarcasm… Oh, it’s you.” Good for a laugh.

Fate knows that a good laugh helps get you through a difficult time. 😉

Religious vs. Spiritual

Ever since I was a young iconoclast, I’ve been thinking about this topic and pondering over it. I vacillated between the tags of religious and pious before settling on pious because pious has a certain feel. Piousness seems more extreme than mere religiousness. Piety, in fact, suggests, at least to me, zealotry; a definition of which is: fanatical partisanship. I’ve always been a little cautious of zealots, they’ll do anything they think they have to do to achieve their aims.

Case in point, a couple of weeks ago my mother and father went to a doctor’s appointment. In the lobby of the office building that held this doctor there were a random selection of magazines and other reading materials; Dad said that it looked as though most of them were forgotten by previous visitors.

One of the magazines that was there was an Evangelical Christian example. It was a slim publication, a medium grade periodical. Inside were a series of articles aimed at helping the reader live their life the way the authors thought they should. I managed to read less than a quarter of it before the cognitive dissonance almost ruptured my skull. The two main thoughts running through my head, chasing each other in circles, were: “How stupid are they?” and “How stupid do they think I am?”

There wasn’t a topic that was safe from their rigid, blinkered, dogmatic approach. I saw articles denouncing evolution, linking secularism with social and financial ruin in Europe, and one comparing the Titanic disaster with not believing sufficiently in God. There were ten articles in it but I could only stomach three before my personal limit for intolerance was reached. My father, Archon’s Den, actually managed to get all the way through it without having a stroke or killing anyone.

Clearly the writers, editors, and publisher are very religious people. Perhaps it’s unfair, but personally I can see some of them presiding at a witch hunt or book burning; the remainder would just watch.

There was a local man of God, now deceased, who wrote a weekly column in the local paper about a variety of topics usually based on some happening in a local church or in the wider religious communities. He was broad-minded and attended services for other denominations and even other faiths. He also studied them and applied lessons learned from them into his own life and sermons.

Now, being militant agnostic, I read his columns religiously. I think it’s always a good thing to know what they’re up to; it’s like with children, when they get real quiet, you know they’re doing something they shouldn’t be.

The topic of one of his columns was about how religion could be a force both for great good and for great evil. The column was, as they almost always were, intelligent, well thought out, and insightful.

He wanted to find a way to encourage the good and negate the bad. The problem of course was that he was inside the very box he was trying to examine the outside of. I wrote him a letter after reading the column. I was disappointed, but not surprised, when I didn’t get a reply. For a supposedly retired minister he was a busy man and surely received dozens of pieces of mail each week as a result of his columns, his ongoing activities, etc.

This is a letter I wrote him; it’s from about eight years ago.

Dear Sir: I am a regular reader of your weekly column and I always have to admire your self-honesty and your struggle to find greater truths in the familiar. This past Saturday’s column was a prime example of both and I would like to share with you an insight I had several years ago on this subject.

Please pardon any apparent errors in word usage that you may find. I have found that certain words mean different things to different people, and the words that I use have a particular meaning to me. So, to you these words may not mean the same as they do to me, but I think that you will be able to determine what I mean by context, if not by denotation.

I have found that there is a difference between being “pious” and being “spiritual”. It may sound self-contradictory, or even counter-intuitive, but I have perceived a difference.

Pious people burn books, and people, because they are closed-minded and afraid of any idea that hasn’t been given them by a religious leader. A spiritual person reads those books and listens to those people because there might be truth to learn from them.

Pious people have and will commit the most heinous atrocities because `those people’ don’t believe what we do and are therefore, by definition, evil and beyond the pale. Spiritual people will only try to persuade and teach by example the correct path.

Pious people are certain that since `unbelievers’ are evil, they will go straight to Hell to suffer all the pain and torment; the pious even experience a certain malicious pleasure in the thought of the “heathens’” suffering. Spiritual people believe in their hearts that people of good intent, whatever their religion, will go to Heaven, Paradise, Nirvana, or whatever, and that people of evil intent…, well the Spiritual hopes they get better soon so that they can join the party.

Pious people blow things up and kill people to make their point. A spiritual person will, at the most, lecture in a firm voice, or set themselves on fire to make their point, making sure that the flames won’t spread.

Pat Robertson and Osama Bin Laden are both, to my way of thinking, Pious people. Mother Teresa and Mohandas Gandhi are both, also to my way of thinking, Spiritual people. Therein lies the difference. Pious people believe that people serve the church. Spiritual people believe that the church serves the people.

Perhaps that is all that needs to be said, all the rest is window dressing.

Yours etc.

Shimoniac

Snow Day

Here in this part of South-Western Ontario they declared Friday February 8th 2013 to be a snow day.  The radio broadcasters talked about Snowmageddon and other such hyperboles.  The flat truth is that it’s been a pretty energetic storm.  We got twenty-five to thirty centimetres of snow in less than twenty-four hours, which for this area in the past four or so years is an impressive total.  If you’ve gotten more than that, I don’t want to hear it, what I got is more than enough as far as I’m concerned.

Local residents with snow-blowers and entrepreneurial spirit have been able to augment their income by servicing neighbours driveways and sidewalks.  Local malls and other businesses, usually open later on a Friday, closed early and sent people home at about 18:00.  The region I live in declared a snow event, which bans parking on the street and encourages residents to curtail all unnecessary travel for the next twenty-four hours.

That’s not the best part though.  After work Friday morning, I came home, shovelled four inches off the driveway, ate anything that didn’t move too quickly, and went to bed.  As a reminder, I work the night shift so my days and nights are reversed to most people.  I got up about 13:30 to get a drink of water, but it was still way too early to get up.  While shuffling back to bed, my mother called my name from the other room.  I was dimly confused by this call; she knows my schedule and knows that, although I was vertical, I was still sleeping.

I mentally shrugged and shuffled over to answer her hail.

“Grmpph?” I asked.  Translated, this means, “Yes mother, you called?”

“Work’s been cancelled tonight.” She replied, “We got a call about 11:00, saying they’ve cancelled the afternoon and night shifts today on account of the weather.”

“Cool.” I replied.  Meaning, “I’ve heard your report and will begin processing it as soon as system resources come on-line.”

I then reversed direction and returned to my bedroom, flopped back into bed, pulled the covers back over me, wiggled to find the warm spot, and relaxed.  It was at about this time that the three or four neurons previously responsible for navigation and motion, released from their previous duties, began to process the recently supplied announcement.

Boing. 

My eyes opened, ‘Snow Day’; instant three-day weekend.  Thursday night some of us had entertained ourselves by counting the days until the next one and now we have an unexpected free one.

Score!

I bounced up out of bed, short of sleep or not, I’m not going to waste a free day off by sleeping for pity’s sake.  I’ve read some books, petted some cats and a dog, drunk some hot chocolate, surfed some internet, and generally goofed off.  In short gentle readers, I’ve had a wonderful mini-vacation.

So, assuming continued electricity here, I’ve got nothing to do and an extra day to do it in.  If you’re in the same boat, here’s a salute and pass the popcorn.

Temporary Workers a Permanent Pain

The company I work for uses `casual labour’ to fill out the workforce. The usual term is `temps’, for temporary worker. These are contract workers from employment agencies. There are six full-time machine operators on my shift, and there are at any time from six to ten `casual labourers’ to fill out the roster.

That’s right, full-time workers are out-numbered by temps.

Now, in theory at least, contract workers are supposed to put in 480 hours of work, and then either be hired or let go; that works out to three months. That’s how it worked for me five years ago; I started in the spring, was hired in the summer, and worked out my probationary period by autumn. The reality is that in a surplus labour economy such as currently exists, the company might simply extend your contract and keep you at temp wages and no benefits for as long as they see fit.

One co-worker called temps ‘goldfish’. When I asked why, she said it was based on their transient nature and ease of replacement, how they only last fifteen minutes then they’re gone and you go get a new one. Now that I’ve been there five years, I know what she’s talking about; I’ve found myself, more than once, referring to a new temp as New Guy right to his face.

A couple of weeks ago I was training two new temps at the same time, I called one `New Guy’ and the other one ‘Other New Guy’ to their face. When ‘Other New Guy’ mildly complained, I told him that if they were still there in a week I might bother to learn their names. It’s a couple weeks later, they’re both gone and we’ve had others come and go in the meantime. I do wonder from time to time if my open lack of respect of them actually makes them move on, then I remember, ‘goldfish’.

Over the years here, I’ve lost track of the number of temp workers who have come and gone. I lost track in the first year, four more just add to the blur. Scores easily, hundreds probably, have come for a day, a week, a month, nine months, then they’re gone. The problem is that every one of them needed and got training on however many jobs they were assigned to, taking up hours of my and other workers’ time, and now they’re gone and the training time is wasted. There have actually been times I’ve wanted to just tell some dim-witted, slack-jawed, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breather to simply stand there out of my way while I did the job because they weren’t going to be asked to come back.

Although, in the blur of bodies, there have been a few who did manage to be memorable, though not often for positive reasons. There were two different older gents, who went code blue on us and required an ambulance to be called. They didn’t die, they just passed out. There was the jittery guy who we’re pretty sure was on some illegal stimulant, because a baggie containing some white crystalline powder and a rolled up piece of paper was found on a table kind of behind his machine. It might have been sugar, but it got tossed out anyway. There was rooster-crow guy, who would, at random, emit a startlingly life-like imitation of a rooster. Then there’s the clone of Richard Simmons who actually left in the middle of one shift literally crying and accusing the most inoffensive lady I know of ‘destroying his confidence’.

We had a temp last year who had his contract fully extended twice and wound up working for us for nine months before realizing that he wasn’t going to get hired; it was even his second round of working here as a temp. I think it was the fact that three or four other temps were hired in those nine months that finally clued him in.

I actually felt bad for him, he liked to do a particularly s**t job that no one else likes, and did it well. I felt that we should have hired him on that basis alone. I think it was his background in automotive that did him in. He wanted, and expected, to do the same job day in and day out for months or years. However, the Powers That Be, feel that all workers should be able to perform a majority of the jobs before being hired, and he was kind of a one-and-a-half trick pony.

In my experience the majority of temps want to move into a full-time position. Those are usually the ones you want to keep around as long as possible; hopefully have the company hire on full-time. Then you get the ones who seem to make a living, marginal at best, by drifting from place to place. They just want to skate by and collect a pay cheque. Those are the ones you desperately hope get arrested, strip-searched, and deported; preferably to some third-world country where they get thrown in jail.

The most difficult temps to deal with are those who do want to make it through their contracts to a full-time position, but just don’t have the candle-power of a brain-damaged chimpanzee. They need special handling. On the one hand you reassure them that the company does actually hire temps, but on the other you think to yourself what a hypocrite you are for raising their hopes when you know they don’t have a chance.

I have a kind of code I use to rate temps: clueless, useless, hopeless, worthless, and pointless. All temps, by definition get clueless; they’re coming into a job they generally know nothing about. I was that way when I started out here. Useless temps are those whose cluelessness is persistent and/or permanent. Hopeless indicates persistent clueless and useless behaviour in spite of all efforts by the temp in question. Worthless is someone who is all of the previous and isn’t even trying.
Pointless should be self-explanatory. They’re the ones you want to slap a label on reading ‘Contaminated Scrap. Discard at once. Do not reuse. Do not recycle.’

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