Monday, July 9, 2012

How Altruistic Are Stockroom Clerks, Anyhow?

My 16-year-old son found himself unexpectedly unemployed after holding an office job for a year.  He wants pocket money flowing again, so he's trying to find a summer situation which will carry over into the next school year if he's lucky.

Today he went on a local supermarket's web site to fill out an application.  He asked me for advice about the legal type questions, and then it got really interesting.  After he chose the kind of job he wanted (the overall support tasks -- stock, janitorial, collecting carts, servicing the can/bottle machines, etc.) he was asked to answer a long series of personality evaluation questions -- how much do you agree with this statement, etc.  I have taken this kind of questionnaire before, but I've been working in a professional environment for over 25 years.  Examples:

  • "I put other people's feelings and desires before my own."
  • "Most people want to quit their job more than the boss realizes."
  • "Most people would use a company credit card to buy personal items."
  • "Unfortunately, I would probably have to change jobs again within one year."
  • "Most people make mistakes and I would have no problem making mistakes on the job."
  • "When given a task, I would always seek to do it the way I see fit."
  • "I take pride in performing to the best of my ability."
I guess they want to see whether the answers correlate together to make a common personality type, and whether they think it correlates with the type of job sought.  I sure hope they remember that the applicant is 16 and doesn't have many choices available to him.

The best part:  he had to stop before it was complete so he could leave for driver's ed, so he'll have to fill most of it out a second time.  Sigh...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Nothing Comes for Nothing

This Cryptoquote actually appeared in Wednesday's paper -- July 4, 2012 -- but I haven't gotten around to posting it 'til now.  There are plenty of ways to express this as a terse generality, since freedom is but one example of a desirable and important result in life.  I'll forgive the outdated reference to "men" from the 1700s of course...

Those who expect to read the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.

Thomas Paine

Thursday, July 5, 2012

No Good Deed, Part Two

I'd written a post a couple of months ago about spraining my ankle when heading to volunteer at a soup kitchen.  Pure irony, of course, that I got "punished" for it, unless you believe in divine intervention, but even at that moment, it would've been kind of ridiculous since the soup kitchen is in a church.  

This morning I read a news article which indicates a deliberate instance of someone's being punished for doing a good deed.  A young lifeguard dared to run over and assist in the rescue of a swimmer who was just outside his patrol zone.  The swimmer was ultimately fine, but the lifeguard lost his job because he was perceived to have risked the safety of the people in his own zone.  Two other lifeguards quit in protest of management's decision.

Maybe if our society weren't so punitive and judgmental and litigation oriented, more people would step forward to help others on general principle.  Fear of "Good Samaritan" lawsuits has stopped many people from giving assistance to injured strangers.  Fear of becoming a crime victim has deterred many people from stopping on the side of the road to see whether someone could use a hand changing a tire or calling a tow truck or possibly even an ambulance.

Back to basics would be awfully nice.  This is Pollyanna, signing off.

Monday, June 4, 2012

No Phone Booth Needed

Remember the good old days when a superhero (heroine?) jumped into a phone booth to change into the super costume?  No?   Well OK I'm just admitting to my advanced age here.  Anyhow...

Saturday one of my sons cleaned out his cave of a closet.  Hadn't been done in years.  Among other items, a few old school backpacks were in there.  It was apparently too much trouble to empty them after the mad dash for summer vacation.  We reclaimed several erasers and rulers and glue sticks and pencil cases and pairs of scissors and dozens of pens and pencils.  (Shopping this August should be a breeze.)

Wasn't all buried treasure, though.  One of these backpacks smelled like a wet rodent died in there.  Well maybe I haven't exactly ever come across a decomposing squirrel, but I'm taking a guess.  After the entire bottom of the closet was emptied, and after we were sure said "backpack of death" was double bagged and placed outside the house, we went to work on the closet floor with disinfectants and deodorizers.  Yesterday we continued that process, with the bedroom windows wide open after the rain had ceased.  It was definitely getting more bearable.

Last night, five minutes before bedtime (the kids', not mine) I went to check on the situation.  The closet seemed improved when I stuck my head in (yes, I know, oh the bravery) but the room still smelled foul somehow.  I found that a corner of the rug seemed to be the culprit.  I turned it over, and sure enough there was a brown stain that had seeped through to the backing.  By this time, my son appeared beside me.  I looked up.  "Would you care to explain this?"

"Uh...I think I spilled some iced tea there a couple of months ago.  But I sprinkled it with Carpet Fresh and it seemed okay."  Yuh.  This, from a kid who doesn't realize that his b.o. could sometimes knock a buzzard off a manure spreader.

In a fit of superhuman strength, I grabbed the 9 by 12 foot rug and yanked it out of the room.  The mattress and boxspring had been in the middle of it, but I didn't care.  I managed to roll and fold it so it fit in a large trash bag, and covered it from the other end in another large trash bag to contain the odor.  Son was upset that he had "rug dust" all over his room but again I cared not.  I was too impressed with my super powers and was doing Mrs. America poses in the hallway.  Nah, just kidding about that part.

Let's see whether the room still smells like a sewer tonight.  If it does, we might be able to sublet to one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Or all of 'em.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Lunch Banditry

My office has 100+ employees.  Many of them are very highly educated, holding PhD degrees in science.  Some of the rest of us have degrees in technical disciplines.  I think you have to hold at least a high school diploma to work here at all.  But the sort of thing that's stuck in my craw today goes back to preschool or possibly kindergarten.

When did people begin to forget about "if it doesn't belong to you, don't touch" as a corollary to the Golden Rule or an application of the Ten Commandments or just plain common sense of getting along in the world?  We have people here from various parts of the United States and many countries around the globe.  Are there really pockets of civilization where children are being raised to think that it's okay to take food or drink out of a common refrigerator/freezer without having put said food or drink there in the first place?

I understand that some people believe in "finders keepers".  An unlabeled item might be interpreted as an invitation.  Occasionally somebody will bring in something and put a note on it saying "please take" or "help yourself" and then the invitation is obvious.  But it sounds as though most of the stolen items have been clearly labeled.  If you can drive your car to get to the office in the morning, you should be able to see well enough to read Mary's name on her lunch container or Cliff's initials on his jug of milk.  The Facilities department also requests that we write a date on each item so that, when the monthly cleaning takes place, they will be able to easily identify items that are no longer appropriate for consumption.

All you have to do is ask around to get the waterfall of war stories started. "Who's had their stuff taken from one of the refrigerators?" J found that someone had eaten part of her leftover Chinese food one day.  Not merely rude, but also gross. J had eaten half of the full portion the day before, and so the pilferer acquired J's germs and left some in return.  Sometimes the food is removed from the container, and sometimes the container is taken too.  If it's Tupperware, that's probably a $10 bill to replace it, in addition to the cost of the food and the added time and expense of running out to buy lunch unexpectedly.  I should mention that this is significant because our office is a good 10-15 minute drive from any store or restaurant, and we have no cafeteria on site.  Though we have vending machines, a Cup O'Noodles and a bag of chips is not viewed by many as a nutritious or satisfying meal. Some have medical conditions or food allergies and bring special concoctions from home.  They may not easily be able to go into the 7-11 or pizza joint to get a viable substitute lunch.

We also seem to have big problems with milk.  Several milk co-ops exist, but the participants swear that the milk disappears much more quickly than it should.  Who else is using it?  Some people stock those flavored creamers too, with the same results.  We kid about watching the fun which would ensue if we replaced the vanilla creamer with vanilla Ex-Lax.  But that would be a case of two wrongs.  I can't say I would think it completely outrageous, however, to see someone feel justified to commit a small act of revenge after enduring years of being victimized by petty theft.

Did I say "victimized" when discussing small thefts of food and drink?  Yes.  People feel violated.  Imagine being one of the people whose lunch disappears every so often, and always wondering whether it will happen again today.  Imagine walking around the office and wondering whether this person who smiles and seems friendly is one of the sneaky milk bandits.

I'm not a coffee or tea drinker, and like my diet soda at room temperature (okay so if you've ever read my blog before, you probably know I'm a weirdo already).  I guess it can be risky not to refrigerate milk, and you might be risking your health if you use the "non dairy creamer" in the can on the counter.  As for my lunch and my afternoon fruit, I keep those in an insulated cooler bag which travels to and from work with me daily.  I could keep an ice pack in there if I had a need for a small container of milk.    But should any of this really be necessary?  Why can't people just respect each other's stuff?

Maybe the bandits don't see it as an issue of respect, just a teeny bending of the rules which doesn't really matter in the grand scheme.  Maybe a bandit means to contribute towards the milk co-op but forgets.  Maybe a bandit is a poor planner and gets caught starving with no extra time to run out for sustenance.  Maybe a bandit has no grocery budget to speak of (okay, unlikely).  We might feel sorry for a few people under these circumstances but I would not consider that justification for their acts.  It's possible that there is occasionally intent to victimize someone in particular, but the people who seem to suffer theft often are among those who are generally well liked.  Do we have bandits who just don't give a damn about other people as a rule?  Are these the same people who leave disgusting things behind in the rest rooms?  (Whoops, I'd better remain focused on this rant before beginning another.)

Things may go from bad to worse, as we are enduring a period of construction which has forced the entire office to use one refrigerator for the time being.  Will the Ex-Lax plan be launched at last?  Will someone set a trap with the moldy bread they found at home?  Will people mix their own bodily fluids into their food in order to gain smug satisfaction should it be stolen?  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Con Queso

This morning I decided to skip my usual oatmeal and treat myself to an egg sandwich on the way to work.  I ordered one egg scrambled with cheese on an onion roll.  As I took the first bite while pulling the car onto the highway entrance ramp, something was missing.  No!  Maybe it was just the one edge of the sandwich.  Pulse quickening.  Second bite.  SIGH.  They forgot the cheese.

Eggs just don't taste the same when they're not surrounded by my beloved cheese.  When I get the occasional burger or taco, there's just got to be cheese or, to me anyway, what's the point?  I've often said I'm a cheeseaholic, but there are tried and true food combinations that just should not be separated.  [Imagine that; the spell checker informed me that "cheeseaholic" is not a recognized word.]

Had I been completely impulsive and torn into the sandwich before I'd left the curb, I would've gone back in to the shop...but I was more than a mile down the road and would've had to get off at the next highway exit to make a U-turn and go all the way back and...    Long story short, I just put up with the fact that I had sweet dough with yummy onion pieces and poppy seeds, and a thin flat slab of scrambled egg, not too much but not too little...and no gooey salty sticky cheese to complete the taste experience.

Hey, at least it wasn't raining.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Crystal Clear

Some chunk of something had created a chip, and subsequently a fast spreading crack, in my windshield last week.  A mobile auto glass unit arrived at my office this morning to give me a replacement.  It had been so many years ago the last time I needed a new windshield, I didn't remember anything about the experience.  In case you're curious, I'll share:

  • It only takes half an hour to remove the old one (with a large screwdriver and crowbar) and install the new one.
  • All that holds in your windshield is some really strong glue.  Anyone else find this a mite scary?
  • Two small strips of orange tape provide an assist for the first 24 hours.
  • No driving at high speeds for at least 45 minutes because the adhesive needs time to set, and if you have a collision the windshield may pop out.  (Now THAT'S scary!)
  • No putting the car up on a lift for three days, since the jostling may cause the windshield to detach.
  • Wipers should always be replaced soon after getting a new windshield.
One thing's for sure -- after a couple of rainy days, it's a lovely day to spend a few minutes outside chit chatting with the windshield guy!  Happy Friday!