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Workplace BS
Old 07-08-2008, 09:14 PM   #1
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Workplace BS

Considering retirement in the very near future, I thought I'd share a few of the things I've heard and seen over the last couple of years that just drive me crazy - all at work, except for the last.

I work for a small environmental consulting firm - with 20 or so employees. We have a VP who's job description appears to be to make us as much like big government as possible. (Just as a sidenote, "Ralph" is one of those guys who does very little real work, but is always buddying up to the brass and making sure they know the improvements he's bringing to the company). Here is a list of 5 events that make the exit option seem like the most reasonable:

1) I am in charge of the IT side of our business. We had a computer shut down one day (our mail server) where email was not available for about 2 hours. About 20 minutes after we found that the email was not working, we got a call from "Ralph". He wanted to know the situation. It was explained to him that it appeared to be a very minor issue, and would be resolved shortly. After we were advised that any downtime is unacceptable, he said that we needed to do a "root cause analysis". The meetings that followed far outlived the supposed crisis.

2) One day, during a staff meeting, we were presented with the new business plan. Right near the top, one statement became obvious: "We are going to become the Coca-Cola of the environmental consulting business". A company of 20 employees?

3) We were advised that the company was going to settle on a formal, official font policy. Thats right, if you use Times New Roman, you are directly violating company policy...

4) During a staff meeting, we got the following the question: "If you have 2 horses that can pull 9000 pounds, how many pounds can 4 horses pull?" Well, we're all scratching our heads, and being engineers and such, figure maybe its 18000 pounds? Nope... "30,000 pounds, because the horses are using synergy"...

5) Lastly, I took my nephew (about to enter college) to my old alma matter - Metro State here in Denver. I guess it wasn't surprising to see that its not just Harvard and Berkely suffering political correctness. As we were walking across the campus, we ran across a sign that read "Service animal rest station". I had no idea what that meant, until I saw a picture below the sign of a dog on a leash. Then I noticed the plastic bag dispenser above. It was then that I burst out laughing. Maybe it should have read "dog crap area"?

What the hell?
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:30 PM   #2
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The root cause seems to be that dogs don't use designated bathrooms.
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:48 PM   #3
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Considering retirement in the very near future, I thought I'd share a few of the things I've heard and seen over the last couple of years that just drive me crazy -

Never worked at MegaCorp eh?
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:17 PM   #4
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Ralph's in over his head, and it won't get better. If you can swing it, it may be time to RE.

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Old 07-09-2008, 01:33 AM   #5
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Just be grateful you don't work for a corporate call center
where your computer, telephone and bathroom breaks are
all timed and monitored from command central and put on
a flow chart.


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Old 07-09-2008, 02:22 AM   #6
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"30,000 pounds, because the horses are using synergy"...
Thanks for my laugh of the day.
(Sorry it's at your expense, though..)
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:28 AM   #7
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It was explained to him that it appeared to be a very minor issue, and would be resolved shortly. After we were advised that any downtime is unacceptable, he said that we needed to do a "root cause analysis". The meetings that followed far outlived the supposed crisis....

...As we were walking across the campus, we ran across a sign that read "Service animal rest station"
i'm aware that many service animals help the blind but i didn't know they can read.

as to the rest, welcome to the corporate ego, where it matters less what you do and more what you make it out to be.
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:41 AM   #8
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oo good catch! I completely missed that! What a moronic sign!
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Old 07-09-2008, 06:15 AM   #9
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Hey cyclone6, you guys need to pass Ralph's name on to a good headhunter. Sounds like he would fit right in with MegaCorp management.

Nothing like edicts from the top to put you in a good mood. My favorite...

Happy hour is at 5:30 pm. You will be there, and you will be HAPPY.
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:02 AM   #10
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Maybe you are not being fair to Ralph - could be he just has a good sense of humor and has been watching "The Office."
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:03 AM   #11
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Sounds like government. Every unit had to write a "mission statement". Hey, it's a police department! The mission is to lock up bad guys! Why is that so hard to understand?
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:28 AM   #12
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Perhaps one day you should ask Ralph why he didn't think of 'service animal environmental stations'. There appears to be a big market from your personnel observation and your company could have boomed on this,

MAYBE EVEN HIGHERED A FEW MORE RALPH'S1
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:50 AM   #13
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1) I've got no problem with this in theory, because the purpose is to prevent future outages. Usually these get bogged down in a witch hunt, or closing the barn door after the horse has escaped, and it sounds like it dragged on too long, but in my opinion it's much worse to pass things off as one-time failures and be exposed to them again.

2) Maybe too lofty of a goal but is it all that bad to set the bar high?

3) That's pretty common for external docs and web pages, style changes as you navigate pages can confuse your customers.

4) That would be worth a laugh to me. If you hear this kind of thing too often it gets old, but a little rah-rah is to be expected.

5) I'm not following, you say this is at your alma mater, does this have anything at all to do with your work?

I think you could have it a lot, lot worse. I think you are ready to retire. Even the small things are getting to you. Not a criticism, but you might want to think about what's really BS and what is pretty standard for a growing company.
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:50 AM   #14
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3) We were advised that the company was going to settle on a formal, official font policy. Thats right, if you use Times New Roman, you are directly violating company policy...
I worked for a government agency that actually has a whole manual devoted to this kind of stuff called the Coorespondence Manual. It includes detailed instructions on fonts, margins, and everything else you could possibly think of. Hard to beat the Federal Government for workplace BS but your office is coming close.
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:54 AM   #15
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Nothing like edicts from the top to put you in a good mood. My favorite...

Happy hour is at 5:30 pm. You will be there, and you will be HAPPY.
Sounds like an invitation to get drunk and puke on the shoes of the idiot who sent taht e-mail.
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Old 07-09-2008, 07:58 AM   #16
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Plenty of workplace BS to go around. There was a guy I worked with for about 12 years, before he retired, that was on the receiving end of plenty of BS. I admit, he wasn't the brightest bulb on the planet, but he worked hard and was dedicated. A good guy but his boss stayed on his a$$. Poor guy had a tough life as his son had MS and died early in life. His wife had emotional problems and was always depressed. Never had an opportunity to travel because of these factors. Oh yes, he was disabled as he lost a leg in a car accident as a child.

Well I attended his funeral yesterday and no one from the company was there. He retired several years ago but there are many still working at the company who knew him well, including the current manager. Oh well, I guess 40+ years of service doesn't mean much these days.
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:05 AM   #17
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Sounds like an invitation to get drunk and puke on the shoes of the idiot who sent taht e-mail.
Assuming 'that idiot' is buying.
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:39 AM   #18
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I was on this awesome project. I'll try and remember some more stories, but I've worked to block a lot of it out. It involved a trip to the ER to make sure I wasn't having a stroke.

1) So I'm in the middle of yet another 110 hour work week in this project. It's 2 AM and our credit card processing servers lost their connections to the database yet again. I called the network on-call to get them to look into the issue. My hunch is that there's a timeout on the firewall between the two zones that's causing the issue and I wanted him to confirm and fix. At least, that's what I meant to communicate.

It went more like "Mike, there's something f*ed up on the network. The database and clients both show open but hung connections after two hours. Fix your s*** now"

He meant to tell me that he appreciated my triage and that he'd get on it. He accidentally screamed "it's not the motherf*ing network"

Long story short. Things got a little heated. He called back a little while later to tell me that the firewall had been misconfigured and it was fixed.

2) "Ben, can you have this done by Monday?" Sure, it's Wednesday now, shouldn't be a problem. That gives me two days. "Well, in my book, Saturday and Sunday are work days too" That's great for you, that's the weekend in my book though. If you don't like it, take it up with someone else.

3) A group of 20 of us sat and watched two managers scream at each other with about an inch between them. Most everyone was uncomfortable. I mean, since we didn't like either of them, do you stay out of the way, egg them on, get in the middle, or start collecting side bets?

4) We had a timeout issue between our app servers and our database server while testing our failover. Ops is on the case, the app vendor is trying to figure it out, we pitch in. We all work together and figure out that it's happening almost exactly at five minutes every time. I get lucky and figure out that the tcp timeout settings on the brand OS we're using are higher than the same default on other OS's. We make the change and everything is cool.... until the next status meeting where one of the less intelligent directors starts yelling about how he can't believe architecture let this happen and that we need to review every OS setting. My director pointed out that it's not architecture's responsibility, there are over 10,000 settings, and he can go suck an egg.

I love corporate America. I'm not sure what you're complaining about... "30,000 because they're using synergy" is the best line of all-time. I'm sure I'll tell at least 10 people that joke today and every single one of them will laugh... although I do feel sorry for your misfortune, thanks for the chuckle!
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Gag Me With A Spoon!
Old 07-09-2008, 11:00 AM   #19
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Gag Me With A Spoon!

I am recently "out of" a similar place. ~20 people, "world class", "industry leader", "premier"... Turns out that they got lucky making an OK product in a niche field that is so small there is absolutely no competition. There are many stories to be told, and I will refrain...

1. The solution should not require "meetings". Technical people determine the cause, propose a solution (requirements, specifications, implementation), implement the solution, evaluate the results. This might sound awfully formal for a small problem/solution, and in the case of a small problem, the whole process might take place in a few sentences over a few minutes.

2. Nothing wrong with setting high goals, but the goals should be achievable otherwise some might not take them seriously. It's probably important for the goal setter to not fantasize when setting goals.

3. Fine, as long as the requirement is clearly communicated and uniformly enforced.

4. Was the question preceeded by an educational discussion about synergy? The guy might have been reading a motivational poster on the wall. Answering that question the way the asker wanted it answered would require engineers to use the side of the brain that they do not normally use when working. Gag me.

5. Kinda funny...
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:01 AM   #20
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"Workplace BS" is a nominee for Redundancy of the Month.
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