Bookaholics Anonymous

I love books. I think I’ve mentioned it before. There’s just something about the smell of dusty pages that takes me instantly to other worlds, other universes, fantasy realms. I’m not a book snob though, I’m just as happy with e-books, audiobooks, second-hand paperbacks; hell, I’d be happy to have someone else read to me as I sit back with a glass of wine. To say my house is filled with books is an understatement. I look at it as having a living, growing library rather than hoarding though. Hey, don’t roll your eyes at me! It helps me get through the day.

So yes, hello everyone, this is my first time at Bookaholics Anonymous and I am a book hoarder. No, I don’t have books cluttering up my hallways (well, maybe just a few), but I do have a lot of books. A LOT of books.

Also, just so we’re clear, I will never stop loving books. You know that guy that thought his wife was a hat and he fell in love with the hat?  I fell in love with books, a long, long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away). As Cat Stevens said, “The first cut is the deepest” and I’m ninety-nine percent sure he was talking about a paper cut.

Seriously though, I think everyone is secretly in love with books anyway. I mean, think about it: you go to your local nightclub, everyone’s talking about “picking up” getting “checked out.” Deep down inside, we all love books so much we want to be books. We use the same lingo in a place where we get shhhhed as the place where we say, “Shhhhhiiiit, I’m soooo wasted!” Coincidence? I think not.

Books are good people. No, no, no, wait, wait, wait … I meant, “books are good, people,” not “books are good citizens.” That would just be crazy talk. See the importance of commas, kids?

So, the other day.  I’m in the library, my temple, my place of refuge, my sanctuary where all my friends hang out. Yup, they’re all there. All my BFFs, sitting patiently on their shelves waiting to be picked up, Treasure Island, The Count of Monte Cristo, Great Expectations. And I pick up this book by Alex Kava called Before Evil.

If you haven’t read Alex Kava’s Maggie O’Dell series, just what the hell are you waiting for?? Needless to say, I checked it out.

So anyway, I’m reading this book, and I see that the editor or proof-reader or perhaps both didn’t do as good a job as they really should have. Let’s just say there were some mistakes.  Mistakes even Microsoft Word’s menacing paper clip would have jumped on.

The sad thing is, this is becoming more common, even with well-known authors who have decent publishing houses behind them. And you know what? It’s not such a big deal for me. When I come across a mistake, I simply correct it in my head and move on. I’ll repeat, in my head.

However, the previous reader of this Before Evil book didn’t settle for simply correcting the mistakes in their head and moving on. Oh no. They had taken it upon themselves to correct all the grammar and editorial mistakes with a pencil. In the book.

Now some book lovers might rejoice, and others would shake their head at the idea of writing in a book … a library book of all things. I know that textbooks bear the brunt of a student’s study habits, and that’s all good.  But there are serious moral questions to be asked here. Is this a good thing or a bad thing, making corrections in a book? Should we all be literary vigilantes? We have guerrilla gardening, guerrilla knitting, why not guerrilla editing?

How to play: walk into any library, pick up any book and start correcting. Done. Easy-peasy, right? Congratulations, you’re a guerrilla editor! Better than being a gorilla (I’m told they can’t read, but I think they can and they’re just faking).

Is it bad to write in a library book? It’s not your property after all. It belongs to everyone. Is this person doing a service or a disservice to the readers who come after them?

In this case it was in pencil. So, it could be erased should the librarians choose to do so. But still, maybe someone doesn’t want those editing marks? Maybe for some it will prove distracting? Maybe the mistakes were deliberate and intended as some kind of post-modernist subversive statement? I mean, really, who are we to say?

Maybe the editor was having a tough day when Before Evil came across their desk. Maybe this veteran book editor, normally perfection itself when it comes to editing, was having a flashback to their previous workplace where they were bullied for not knowing the difference between an Oxford comma and you know, that other one, and they see an editing mark and completely flip out… they start tearing up books left and right, jumping on tables, and shouting at the top of their lungs: “You can’t shhhh me, I’m the gingerbook lady!” All to say that maybe, just maybe, they were having an off day in the proofreading department.

More importantly, how much of a grammar nazi do you have to be to do something like this?

But it gets worse … there I was looking at these marks, when I saw that the self-appointed editor had made a contentious decision. In one paragraph, they had crossed out the word “shrubs” and scribbled in “scrubs.”  But here’s the thing … the original word choice from the author was arguably right as the character was in fact making their way through some trees at the time. A person doesn’t dive into some scrubs unless they’re in a hospital and desperately need to get suitably dressed in a hurry to get to their own surgery.

Now there’s a book idea. Forget Before Evil.

Before Surgery.

Anyway, there I was, thinking: do I change the change? Do I edit the edit?

But then, what is the literary world coming to? If people are allowed to make edits all willy-nilly, however they want, will all editing of future novels be outsourced to the readers? What is this anyway, I suddenly asked myself? Wikipedia?

Trolling Fate

While out and about yesterday, I found my soulmate. Well… not my soulmate exactly, rather, I found their vehicle. And no, I didn’t wait around to see who returned to the Jeep. That would just be creepy.

I know, I know, I threw my destiny right back in fate’s face. But, better alone than a creeper. Heyyyy, I bet there’s a country song in there somewhere.

 

I’ve Got an App for That

Tomorrow’s Monday. Ugh. With Monday, comes work… with unerring frequency, I’m afraid. Equally unfortunately, with work, comes annoying coworkers. Or clients. Or customers. I think we can all agree that at some point in time, we all experience annoying people at work. Some more than others.

I’m sure that you will also agree, annoying people are the bane of everyone’s existence. Our lives would be so much better if they jumped into a McDonald’s ball pit and were somehow sucked into the Phantom Zone (go read Superman comics, people).

We’ve all had to deal with annoying people, whether we want to or not, and I can’t help but think, there must be a solution to our shared problem.  We have apps for almost everything else, why can’t we come up with one for this? I mean, for Pete’s sake, there’s an app to help you breathe when you just “can’t even” anymore.  Why not one for dealing with annoying coworkers? Because if there’s one thing that can make us “can’t even” anymore, it’s annoying coworkers.

So, here’s my pitch to developers everywhere … and thanks in advance for the forthcoming royalty check.

Short Answers: An App for Over-Sharers

Anyone who has ever worked in an office … or just with other people … know at least one conversation hog – aka over-sharer. These are the people who will give entire speeches to the simplest of questions such as “how was your day?”

Instead of settling on, “good, you?” they’ll expound on every topic in the book from every little event in their dog’s life to which state in the United States the rash on their back looks like. The worst part about these people is when you try to change the subject to literally anything else: they’ll just open a whole new box of topics. Don’t want to talk about rashes? How about that oozing infection on their left pinky toe where the nail used to be? Simply asking an over-sharer how the weather is off limits as it will somehow lead to a topic about how they had extreme gas before lunch.

That’s where the app “Short Answers” comes in. While interactive, it does cut down on the whole “you should’ve seen what my kid did to his diaper this morning!” conversations. The app is tuned to the voice of its owner, and much like Siri, responds to a key phrase, such as “over-sharer incoming.” Once activated, all you need to do is ask your question, and when the app registers more than a set number of words in reply from someone other than its owner (for instance, you can set it to 5, 10, 15, etc.), it bursts out with a loud air-horn level alarm that will drown out any continued response until the owner of the app inputs their thumb-print.

The Short Answers app basically ensures you’ll never have to hear another story about your co-worker’s cousin’s daughter’s friend’s wedding where the dog was the ring-bearer and the cat was the flower girl, and well, you know how that turned out. And while you do indeed know how that turned out, because you’ve heard the story 500 times already, in the past you would get to listen to the story over and over again … but no more with the Short Answers App!

The Pin Sound: An App for Those in a Self-Righteous Bubble

Those who walk around the office in an almost impenetrable bubble of self-righteousness need to have their bubble burst from time to time. The Pin Sound app is the perfect solution to passive-aggressively pop their bubble, leaving them to question what exactly it was that you just did. Imagine the whiplash sound app to suggest someone is whipped, except it simply makes a bubble popping sound.

The app comes in three sound settings: bubble pop, balloon pop, and a snow globe being crushed by a hydraulic press. In order to really drive the point home that they’re trapped in their own moral or ethical bubble, the app also the option to broadcast a hologram of a pin with a halo over it. The pin will have eyes … not unlike the paperclip from the old Microsoft Word who told you that you were doing everything wrong.

The different sound settings on the Pin Sound app can be used for different situations. If a coworker joins you in the lunchroom and starts to lecture you on your food choices (but you know they just downed 6 of the 18 donuts that were put out in the break room), then use the bubble pop sound. If you’re talking to another coworker about how you take what little free time you have to go to the gym and they start preaching about their twice daily CrossFit routine, then hit them with the balloon pop sound. Finally, for that peer-level, non-supervising coworker who just loves to delegate work and tell you how to do your job, hit them with a snow globe being crushed by a hydraulic press sound. If you really want to drive the point home, maybe throw an actual snow globe at them… you know, for visual effect.

The Phone Zapper: for People Who Won’t Put Them Down

You’re in yet another lunch meeting, but the coworker you’re seated next to simply can’t put down their phone. They’re taking photos of the catered lunch, of the speaker, of the view outside the window, the obligatory selfie. On top of the infernal click click clicking in your ear as they navigate social media to post said photos, you’re also subjected to their tittering and gasps and exclamations as they watch videos that you’re pretty sure aren’t work related. Unable to filter out this assault on your senses, you just missed an important part of the presentation.  Now, you’re faced with asking the speaker to repeat themselves, thereby coming off as the one not paying attention, or just smiling, nodding, and keeping quiet, thereby unknowingly agreeing to finish a 10-day project in just under 5 days.

Well, have I got an app for you!  The Phone Zapper is the perfect app that turns your coworker’s own obsession against them. This app harnesses just enough phone-battery power to give the user a small electric jolt as they play on their phone, forcing encouraging them to temporarily put down their phone so that they can come back to reality and be a decent person.

I’m telling you; this is an untapped market. I’m sure that together, we can come up with a litany of apps to put into production. This is a chance to make millions, people. Millions.

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?