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?

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.

Please.

Laborious Labor Day

Labor Day here in the U.S. is on Monday… but gluttons that we are, many Americans tend to start celebrating sometime late on Friday.  Keeping that in mind, I want to wish all of my U.S. followers a very happy, enjoyable, and peaceful Labor Day weekend.

Now with that said, I must confess that Labor Day is one of those holidays that has always confused me… mainly for its contradictory nature.

I mean on Mother’s Day, we celebrate mothers and gift them with the present of doing nothing all day (not that many mothers get away with actually using the gift).  Father’s Day is the same way. We encourage fathers to do “their own thing” on their special day. The effects of most holidays coincide with the original purpose behind said holiday.

But not so Labor Day.

“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Now, one would think from this description that workers should have the day off to relax and reap the rewards of the labor they’ve given to their employers and to society as a whole. And indeed, many employees do in fact have the day off. However, many of the hardest working people do not. On this day of celebrating their contribution to the world as we know it and to the workforce in general, they are instead forced to work.

Retail workers bear the brunt, just as they do at Thanksgiving and Christmas, given all of the sales that crop up on Labor Day. But they’re by no means the only ones. Military, police officers, firemen, food service, paramedics, convenience store workers, gas station attendants, all manner of hospital employees… to name a few.  And yes, many of these good people are essential personnel and life is much better and much safer (for the rest of us) with them in their respective jobs, even on holidays, and God love them for it. Others not so much. Retail, food service, convenience stores, grocery stores… there’s no reason to not let these people enjoy a much deserved day off except… except… that it cuts into profit.

So when all is said and done, Labor Day has been turned into a perverse contradiction of its original meaning and rather than truly celebrating the worker, it has devolved into just another way to take advantage of those who cannot afford to lose their jobs by protesting a holiday shift.

Such is America.

click pic for origins of Labor Day (including quote above)

The Faults of Facebook

So, here lately, I’ve been thinking about Facebook and social media in general.  While an amazing feat of modern technology that allows news to spread in the blink of an eye, social media also has its pitfalls. There’s the obvious cyber-bullying issue… that’s too great of an issue to discuss in one blog entry. But there is something more insidious at work here. People get lost down the rabbit hole of social media never to return. My ex was – and remains – mired in the faux-emotional muck that is Facebook. The 5,000 close friends, the groups, the pages touting the benefits of the radical survivalist communes you long for (you know, as one does), all of it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy my daily foray into Facebookland as much as the next person. It’s just that so many people are on Facebook and other social media, spending their time trying to impress (aka convince) an online audience that their life is perfect… to get the attention, the validation, and the “approval” they think they deserve.  Many of these rabbit hole divers have family or spouses or significant others at home who would love to be a part of that perfect life portrayed online, but are ignored … because, Facebook.

Some people use Facebook as a time-killer (that would be yours truly), but others live on it as a reality-killer. Or rather, a reality enhancer. It just boggles the mind, truth be told.

Generally speaking, Facebook posters fall into several broad categories.  We all know at least one from each.

The meme sharer:  Also reposts lost pet photos.  This is the person who has such a mixture of friends on Facebook that posting anything at all personally will offend at least a third of them, so they play it safe and post generic memes.  I would … ahem … likely fall into this category. I save my demented mental-meanderings for you, lovely readers!

The vague status: “I can’t believe it.  I’m so heartbroken.”  This generates a flurry of concerned responses from people far and wide, to which the next status update is “Thanks for all the concern, I’m so touched.  I just don’t want to talk about it.”  The obvious question would be, if you didn’t want to talk about it, why the hell did you post anything at all?

The perpetually sick person:  This is the person who posts every sniffle, papercut, broken fingernail or stomach cramp for the world to see.  And no matter how inane the medical “issue,” the support is overwhelming.  “Unreal. I have a hangnail (picture of offending hangnail covered under eight layers of bandages).  And the comments roll in. “Oh, no! (sad emoji) Feel better soon!” “I’m so sorry! (sad emoji) I hope it clears up soon!”

The knower of a perpetually sick person:  “Prayers, please.  My friend has a hangnail.  It doesn’t look good (sad emoji).”

The offender:  Posts deliberately annoying and offensive comments just to get notifications on his phone.  “Clean air is stupid.” “Drinkable water is overrated.” At some point, this person will be placed in Facebook Jail for a week, unable to post, and then brag about it when he comes back.

The sharer of fake news:  No matter what your political beliefs are, fake news abounds.  The sharer of fake news will defend the most ridiculous and unsearched “news stories” as truth.  “Aliens landed in downtown Hollywood today and while wearing kilts and playing kazoos, they spirited away Grauman’s Chinese Theater! The. Entire. Theater. No, really, it’s true!”  Eventually someone will blow her out of the water with the definitive Snopes judgment, and then the circle begins anew as everyone debates whether Snopes is actually impartial.

Perpetual Optimist:  Just wrecked my car, but I saved my fuzzy dice! Life is GREAT!

Perpetual Pessimist:  Just won the lottery.  Great big gobs of money.  Life stinks.

The new reality for many is that social media has become their fountain of validation. They prefer the adulation of hundreds of friends acquaintances people they barely know to the love of their own family. I mean, really, with untold hours spent connected to the internet perfecting their online persona, who has time for loved ones?

I would say more on this, but I gotta go. My notifications just went off and it looks like my friend’s dog’s mother’s uncle has a sprained pinky toe. Boy, I sure hope he feels better soon.  (Sad emoji)

Rush Hour Skirmish

Some of those out there among us need to hear this. Consider it a public service announcement (you’re welcome). Turn signals are your friend. I know it might seem like it at times, but letting the rest of us know where you’re going and what you’re doing while putting on your breaks suddenly (for no apparent reason because, you know, turn signals) in a 65 mph zone is not sharing your plan of attack with the other side.

Oh, I can understand not wanting to fraternize with the enemy during rush hour traffic but think of this as more like an organized retreat with all sides taking part. We just want to get home. Just like you. We’d like to arrive home not in your backseat – our inevitable place in the world as you come to an almost complete stop while unexpectedly veering to the right towards that off-ramp, because again, you know, turn signals. I mean, that would be silly wouldn’t it? Because then, we’d be at your home, not our home. And where’s the fun in that? You don’t have my comfy jammies or my fluffy pillow or my favorite ice cream.

So, please. I’m begging you. Repeat after me. Turn. Signals. Are. Your. Friends.