Hell on Earth – Redux

Mandatory training has been ongoing at my office this week. Its only Wednesday, and with Thursday and Friday left on the horizon, I’m ready to flee the country and move to Belize. I don’t care what my bank account has to say about it.

While thinking of a way to accurately articulate the absolute pleasure to be had in a company training room (and not like that, trust me), I remembered that this subject has cropped up before, which brought me to the realization that we had a similarly joyful round of training about this time last year.  I guess I blocked it out … you know, the trauma fun and all.

So anyway, I thought I would remind you of the joy that is workplace training.

(Originally posted on November 9, 2018)

After a recent week’s worth of company training, I thought I would take a moment and give some feedback. Quite frankly, other than the bagels and donuts that so often accompany these events, work place training sessions are a complete waste of time.  I’m sorry, but it’s true. Games, role-playing, team answers to ridiculous questions, and worst of all … participation is expected.  As a raging introvert, I can think of few other anxiety-inducing events that top a rousing “role playing” or “group participation” session.

Seriously though, I’m hard pressed to say which type of training is the least annoying.

Death by PowerPoint:  This involves a computer and a screen. After the inevitable ten minutes of fumbling, the computer operator will have to go find someone to come “fix” the presentation, so the training can proceed.  All PowerPoint presentations follow the same path: the first slide is supposed to be amusing, but seldom is.  Then, the “class” starts where one person stands robotically reading each slide, point by painful point, sometimes with the help of a laser pointer.  When a break is called, people run to the smoking area even though they weren’t smokers when the class started.

The Professional Speaker:  Sometimes, you get the privilege of having a guest speaker.  This person usually brings their own computer presentation, fumbles with the computer for ten minutes, then goes to find someone to come fix the presentation.  The first slide is supposed to be funny… you get the idea.

New Age Co-Op:  These training sessions bring emotions into the classroom.  You start with trust exercises that involve throwing out your back when your trustworthy coworker gets a text at the same moment they’re supposed to catch you, and end with hugging your coworkers and telling them just what it is about them that is so gosh darned special.  Apparently, “You’re special because you’re sleeping with the boss” is not an acceptable comment; I got sent back to my office (which is where I wanted to be in the first place) and banned from participating next year.

Role-Playing:  This is an offshoot of the New Age Co-Op training.  When you role-play, you may have to play the part of a customer, or maybe a manager if you’re lucky.  You are placed in several unrealistic situations and expected to respond appropriately while your coworkers critique your performance.  Again, I am banned from participation for a year when, as a “customer,” I overturned three tables and dumped water on Joe from accounting after being told by the “waitress” that they didn’t have unsweetened ice-tea.  The people role-playing the police department were very talented… had uniforms, i.d., and everything. The car ride was unexpected, but fun.

Team Groups:  In this training process, you are split into groups and given tough questions to figure out, most often in a “Jeopardy” or “Family Feud” format, because nothing says “team building” quite like pitting coworkers against each other – especially when a $5.00 gas card is involved.  Your answers are presented by the “team leader” to the rest of the class.  I was in the restroom and came back to find I had been elected team leader in my absence.  My aforementioned ban was solidified when I stood up and told my best joke instead. No-one laughed. And I’m freakin’ hilarious.

Don’t get me wrong; training is a very important part of keeping workers up to date on changes and evolving processes within the company.  The bad part is that these training sessions could be accomplished in an email thereby saving money, time, and reputations.

Every worker in the world follows the exact same pattern when they have a workplace training session.

  • Try to call out sick.
  • Charge the phone for Facebook browsing and Words with Friends.
  • Pretend to be in the middle of a project and look very busy in the hopes you will be excused.
  • Show up as late as you can and take the seat all the way in the back or position yourself nearest the snacks.
  • Notify your friends to call you frequently so you can excuse yourself because “This is about that big client.”
  • Appear to be taking extensive notes when in reality you are drawing cartoons (my personal favorite).
  • Nod deeply and agree occasionally so the presenter thinks you are actively engaged.

There are, however, a few things that will get you thrown out of work place training.  I have compiled a list of my the most effective ones:

  • Stand up and yell “hallelujah,” “preach,” and “amen” randomly throughout the session.
  • Raise your hand and ask questions about things completely unrelated to your job or the company, such as, is the color orange called orange because it’s the color of oranges or are oranges called oranges because they’re orange, OR how do geese know which goose goes first when migrating.
  • Sneeze and cough repeatedly; more effective if you bring some type of slime from your kid’s collection and launch it across the room while coughing.
  • Write your boss’ name on your name tag and be disruptive.
  • Lean back in your chair and toss spitballs at the screen like the moody antagonist in an ’80s John Hughes flick.
  • Lick the donuts in front of everyone and then slowly put them back.
  • Answer your phone loudly and declare, “I don’t care how much money you have invested in this company, I can’t help you! I’m in training!”

In all honesty, work training can be a valuable tool if it is approached correctly.  Unfortunately, most companies don’t approach it correctly and the entire process is one that is universally hated.  Can I get an Amen?

It’s Raining Ramen

There’s something to be said for knowing how to do things yourself. You know, not just knowing how to sharpen your kitchen knives, catch a moose, house-train said moose, make the moose your friend … you know, as one does, but things like knowing how to iron a shirt, sew a button, change a fuse. Especially in this day and age, when everything is Googleable and we’re all carrying in our pockets these little crystal balls we call smart phones.

No longer do we need to memorize exactly how to house-train a moose. And if you find yourself one day lost in the middle of the woods in the night, starving, drenched in the rain, your feet squelching through the mud, and you do find a moose (no, really, bear with me here) you can whip out that trusty smart phone and ask it “How do I catch moose” and sure enough, you’ll find a YouTube video tutorial explaining the entire process. You can then ride the moose home. Provided that you’ve mastered the “make the moose your friend” step. That part is crucial.

That’s where technology might come in handy. Assuming of course, that you have a waterproof phone and battery and an actual moose.

As for deliberately getting lost? Hmmm … just don’t look at your phone. Easy-peasy, trust me.

Sometimes though, I wonder if we’ve gone too far in turning to YouTube for all our DIY needs. I mean, where do we draw the line?  You might have seen, for example, videos of people fixing things with Ramen noodles. Dry Ramen noodles, that is. Not cooked ones. That would just be gross, and I imagine, incredibly difficult. But seriously, repairs are being made with dry Ramen noodles. Tables, chairs, kitchen sinks, toilet bowls, you name it … apparently, it can all be fixed with Ramen noodles.

Yes, everything.

What kind of a spoiled, entitled society have we become where we actually use the things we’re supposed to eat to fix the things we now use to dispose of the things we eat? This is just getting silly, if you ask me.

Ramen noodles are meant to be eaten. Aren’t they? Right? I mean, I think we can all agree on that, yeah? At least that’s what I grew up believing. So what if they’re not good for you. They’re still a food product. Not a DIY repair-all tool.

Yet, here we are, browsing the interwebs, watching videos of people using noodles to fix everything, and it makes you wonder … how do the noodles feel about this? If I were a noodle, I’d be downright offended. Something dating back to China’s East Han Dynasty sometime between A.D. 25 and 220 deserves a bit more respect than ending up as part of your toilet.

My point is, are we just that bored? Are we really so desperate for novelty that we’ll actually use noodles for fixing tables and toilets? The answer is apparently a resounding “yes.”  Along with a shit ton of professional-grade solvents! Can’t imagine that’s good for us or the environment.

Seriously though. Noodles?

No, I don’t want green Ramen and ham.

And I don’t want Ramen noodle chairs either, Sam I Am.

What’s next? People will be asking you if you want your Ramen soup on a Ramen table in a Ramen bowl?

“And where’s the toilet?” you’ll ask. “Oh, the Ramen toilet?” they’ll reply. “Down the Ramen hall and on the Ramen right.”

You may as well be in a Ramen boat with a Ramen fox eating green eggs and ham (because of course, there’ll be no Ramen left to actually eat, everyone’s using it to fix things).

So how do you fix a table or a toilet without ramen noodles? Ahhh … therein lies the problem. You see, no one knows anymore. We’ve all been turning to YouTube for anything and everything for so long that we now just trust it blindly.

But listen, this where it backfires.

Have you heard of something called ants? What about roaches? Wasps? Weevils by any chance?  Before you go fixing everything around your house with Ramen noodles, just remember: there are plenty of creatures in the world that still like to eat Ramen noodles whether you’ve glued them onto your bathroom sink or not.

One day, you might just come home to find a moose in your bathroom eating your toilet bowl. And you haven’t even gotten to the YouTube video series “Make that Moose Your Friend” yet, so basically, you’re screwed.

No. It stops here, I tell you. Just eat your freakin’ Ramen noodles.

And call the plumber already. The toilet’s leaking.


Take That… Hack

I will apologize in advance for the stupidity of this article. I know it’s stupid. You don’t have to tell me. But I’ve been a bit sleep-deprived the past few days and it’s making me a little loopy. Not to mention, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time watching “5 Minute Crafts” and the like on my phone and it’s starting to affect me. I mean, if you’re on Instagram or Pinterest or even YouTube for any amount of time whatsoever, you’ll see image after image of life hacks that, for the most part, no-one in their right mind uses. In fact, life hacks can be generally annoying. They’re everywhere and it’s kind of annoying that people consider the most basic stuff a “life hack.” Okay, well, fine, there’s no “kind of” about it.

I’m starting to think life hacks are just a way to create clickbait articles doing everyday common-sense things.  Although, to be honest, most of the time, they’re not even really common-sense hacks. They’re more like, what stupid thing can we get people to do just because they saw it on the internet hacks. I mean, if these people were really on the cutting edge of innovation, they’d realize that eating Cheetos with chopsticks isn’t exactly a groundbreaking new idea to avoid orange fingers. I wish these do-it-yourselfers would step outside the box and come up with something truly creative. Instead, they slap together a video showing people the benefits of whipped cream as a shampoo and using nail polish to paint phone cases. Oh, and you want freckles? Yeah, they’ve got that covered too… with a fork no less.

Well, here I am, doing my part to counteract the craziness. I mean, someone has to do it, right?  So, without further ado, here are some life hacks for the lifehackers who do life hacks that are so out of the ordinary they can’t be anything but a hack (go ahead, say that three times fast… I dare you).

And now for something completely stupid…

Coordinate Fans Around the World to Combat Global Warming

People all over the world are talking about global warming. From Facebook to world leaders (well, most world leaders, anyway), people are arguing over science that will someday cease to exist because we’ll all be underwater. Helloooo and greetings from Atlantis! However, if you truly want to be a proponent for change, why not use the power of social media to coordinate an event where millions of people around the world turn on their fans and air conditioners at the exact same time in a bid to stop global warming? Cause… cool air negates global warming. Get it? Don’t believe me, just ask any scientist, they’ll tell you. Not only would you be a hero to the world at large but think of the polar bears. Think of the polar bears, people!

Text a Friend to Stay Awake While Driving

Those of us with working brain cells know that texting while driving is bad. Texting. Bad. We get it. But…  What if you’re falling asleep at the wheel? The naysayers don’t take into account that you’re taking the responsible route and texting a friend to help you stay awake. Maybe they should stop making these horrific commercials of people dying in fiery explosions and make a commercial of how your friend heroically saved you by texting you poop and eggplant emojis. And I will insert here, because this is important, I am making a joke. A stupid joke, as I’ve already explained, but a joke nonetheless. I am in no way condoning texting and driving, so don’t. Just. Don’t.

Free Flowers

It seems like flowers are just getting more expensive every year. I mean, take Valentine’s Day. One of the biggest days of the year for buying flowers, especially roses. Buying a dozen roses at the last minute for Valentine’s Day can set you back the equivalent of a down payment for a new car.  Now you don’t have to worry about that anymore. Simply go down to your local cemetery, they have flowers everywhere!  And just think, the bail you’ll pay when you’re arrested for trespassing and theft is still a hell of a lot cheaper than that dozen red roses at the local florist on Valentine’s Day. Plus, PLUS you’re saving money on that fancy Valentine’s dinner cause, you know, jail.

Poop at Work

I will apologize for the ummm… indiscreet discussion. However, when offering advice, one must address even the less than rosy topics.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you really hate your job and want to stick it to your boss, then take every opportunity you can to poop while on the clock. This lifehack is a two-fer. You get paid for going to the bathroom, AND you can brag about being paid to go to the bathroom. Oh, hey, it’s a three-fer!  Cause you’ll also be cutting back on costly repairs by destroying the plumbing at work instead of at your place.  Now see, this is the handy little hack no one ever mentions in those nifty videos.

Dinner with Friends Sans Wallet

This hack works equally well for those who a) like to live life on the edge doing dishes, or b) simply want a cheap free meal. The added benefit to this is that your friends, such as they are, will start ignoring your calls and avoiding social events with you, allowing you to save even more time and money as you stay home on Friday night to eat mac and cheese out of the pan in front of the sink and then chill… by yourself… with Netflix.

Your Problems Aren’t There if You Ignore Them

The final life hack is one so simple it almost shouldn’t be here: your problems don’t exist if you ignore them. You know those Pinterest quotes that go on about how you just need to ignore all the haters and negativity in your life? Well what are problems if not something negative? Simply pretend like the problems – aka the negativity – doesn’t exist and you put no value into your problem, hence, problem solved!  Arrested for stealing flowers from Cousin Dave’s grave?  Forget about it!  Reaping the rewards of your night out on the town which culminated in three hours of manual labor over a sink and one less friend? Who cares!? Smile it away. Hey, even if the problem is a fiery car crash you managed to escape from because you were texting your friend to keep him awake, just shut off your senses and pretend like you don’t smell the smoke of the burning wreckage that is your life. The life hack to top all life hacks. You’ve got this.

Breaking News… of a Sort

Labor Day, generally speaking, isn’t usually equated with a day of peace… it’s just not the theme for the holiday. But, still, miracles happen, and one such miracle happened in Maryland today. In fact, it’s a day that will go down in history.

Let it be known, that on Labor Day 2019, after a long-standing feud of 10 odd years, hostilities came to a halt, as peace talks, successful at last, brought about a temporary truce between two bitter foes. Weary from battle, these faithful warriors laid down their arms… umm, teeth… and sheathed their claws to meet, on common ground, for a well-deserved nap.

Will this newfound (dare we even say it!?) friendship last once these lifelong enemies have awoken? Or is this truce truly temporary? No-one in either camp is willing to end their slumber prematurely, so the future is uncertain.

For now, let’s simply revel in the unexpected tranquility and contentment reigning over the realm.

Tomorrow, as they say, is another day.