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Friday, December 19, 2008

But I Don't Know Howwwwwwww!

I’ve been working for a long time. A very, very long time. Since birth, I believe it was – straight out of the womb and onto a factory line. Those were good times.

And so I would like to take this blog, today, to talk about one of my favorite job-related subjects: learned helplessness.

One of the first jobs I ever had was working as a busboy (we were ALL busboys back then, regardless of gender, just as we were all paperboys. The sexual orientation of the lower-ranked help was of no interest to anyone but the lower-ranked help, but I digress). There was a waitress at this particularly truck stop who claimed that she could not vacuum at the end of her shift because, and I quote, “I don’t know how.”

You heard that right, people. She didn’t know how to vacuum.

This wasn’t a trick vacuum. There was the canister, the hose, and the on/off button. That’s all it had, technology-wise. It didn’t sweeten the air, it didn’t make anything any freer from allergens – the damn thing barely sucked up dirt.

But she didn’t know how to vacuum.

You’d think there’d be a test for that sort of thing before hiring, wouldn’t you?

Needless to say, I was forced to kill her and bury her in the back with the other brain-dead waitresses.

I mean, that’s how you guys deal with willful stupidity, right?

But lest you think that hand-fluttering, eyelash-batting stupidity comes only in a female flavor…

You ready for this?

Because I came across a similar situation here at work this morning.

“’Morning, Pearl! Say, I need you to make copies of this for me.”

It is at this point that I should interject that I do not support/type for/schedule for/take orders from or give a rat’s ass about this person’s in-box in any way, shape or form. I have my work and he has his. I would also like to point out that this person has been here for a number of years – this is not his first office job.

“Why, good morning, Adolph! The copier is right over there.” Insert mad pointing here. “You put the original on the glass, punch in the number of copies you want, and then you hit the big green button. Voila! Tiny monks working at the speed of light make your copies.”

“Ha, ha, you’re funny, Pearl.”

”I soitenly am, Adolph. Now get away from my desk.”

OK. Maybe I didn’t really tell him to get away from my desk. Maybe I did. Who can tell? I was pretty drunk at the time. But this “I-don’t-know-how-to-make-copies” thing is right up there with “I don’t know how to vacuum.”

Perhaps he felt, my title being “executive assistant”, that I was available for not just the Vice President I support but am available for all, that my secretarial status – like waitresses, bartenders, taxi drivers, and daycare workers – implies that I am here to serve all and sundry…

Perhaps he felt that I would be pleased to have the opportunity to make him copies, since he has no admin of his own.

Or perhaps he’s just another weight on society, perfectly at home with others taking care of the details for him while he potters off in search of leftover donuts and free coffee.


Ann's Rants said...

Pearl, my first job was busgirl too and I could barely lift the damn bus tubs. I was only 13! I think I got paid $3.50/hour. And the kicker is I did it just because I wanted to. I didn't even know what to do with my earnings. I hope you did say that for real. Love the tiny monks.

The Grandpa said...

Tiny monks was good.

I want a job like yours, though, so I can be drunk at my desk at that hour. :0)

My first job was caddying, but my first real job at age 13 was being a busboy/dishwasher. I made 60 cents/hour. After being there three months, I got a raise, and I was making 65 cents and I didn't have to learn how to run a vacuum, either.

EskimoBob said...

As far as blogs go, this certainly is one!

Very astute, and I love social commentary. It's great that you're able to share it will all of us, seems like your feeling better.

Will you post this comment for me? Thanks, you're a regular treasure.

justsomethoughts... said...

if you have a genral idea where you put the first two bodies, i think adolph will make a nice addition to the family.

in other news: a mass grave has been found in a heavily wooded area behind a truck stop containing 172 human remains. authorities have begun identifying the bodies but have not been able to draw any kind of correlation as to motive.

and now for the weather...

Blue Blaze Irregular #1 said...

The funny thing is that I'm sure these people think they're doing something clever by pretending to be stupid. But they're not being clever. And, really, I don't think they're pretending either.

Anonymous said...

What a jerk! Were you tempted..even for a moment..to accept the task..and make a copy of the original, write the word I'M A LAZY ASS on it and copy those for him? Then give him the tainted copies - first putting the clean original on top...Or is that going too far?

derfina said...

This is one of the reasons I no longer work in an office.

Brother Tobias said...

He's been there a number of years, and hasn't done that before? Hmm - that was a try on. You did good to stop it in its tracks. (I like Sweet Cheeks' suggestion).

The Retired One said...

Oh yeah...been there, done that. One of the CEO's of the hospital we had literally came running into my office (I was in Administration, too, in quite a high position)...it was after 5 and he was in a PANIC because he needed copies and "didn't know how". (His Secretary had left for the day.)
I DID show him how, but I humiliated him about it and teased him to death for months after....
You can always try that tactic...say to people: 'I'd like you to meet ____: he's the guy I've been telling you about (who didn't even know how to use a copier!)"

That should give him a hint or two!!

One of my first jobs was working as a maid on Mackinac Island (on the Great Lakes). Yikes...the gross stuff I saw in hotel rooms...well, let's just say....better to be a drunk Admin. Assistant dealing with copy-jerks !! ha
Hang in there!!

Cassoulet Cafe said...

I. Hate. Laziness.

I totally support you!

My word verification is SQUION: someone who can't do ordinary tasks like vacuuming and copying.

Steve said...

Yep, as the wise person above me has identified - it ain't helplessness; it's laziness. Of the worst kind. Not the "I'll do it later" kind but the "You do it for me now" kind. Your response was spot on. Bury him with the waitresses.

Lilly's Life said...

Yes its the title Executive Assistant Pearl. You need to change it. Never give in to these helpless types because it will never be the end of it either. Stay strong and obviously drunk if it gives you the extra courage you need to tell them to take a flying leap out the window....cannot stand people who try and exploit others in any context. Yep it makes me mad even when it comes to photocopying - I think I need a drink now - great post.

Daisy said...

I love the tiny monks. And I have to let you know that I actually worked with someone who did not know how to make copies. She was an elderly lady who used to come in and "help" every tuesday morning, as a volunteer to fill her day I suppose. She put the paper copy-side up on the glass EVERY week. And then I'd see her tottering round to the end where the copy comes out, and gazing in wonder at the blank piece of paper.

Pearl said...

Hey, Ann.
I think that's about what I made, too. :-)

Hi, Grandpa.
It's not a matter of actually having permission, per se, to be drunk at work. I see it more as a perk they're unaware of giving me. ;-)

Hi, EskimoBob.
I believe I am both a regular treasure and an irregular treasure. :-)

Hey, Justsomethoughts.
:-) You made me LOL.

Hi, Blue Blazer.
Ooooh. I believe you are correct, sir, on all counts.

Hey, Sweet Cheeks.
Now why didn't I think of that?!

Hi, Derfina.
If I knew what was good for me, I wouldn't be here, either.
On the other hand, some of the stories I get from work are worth a free beer, so I've got THAT going for me...

Hey, Brother Tobias.
He's like a well-meaning dog. I just slap him on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper every now and then and things proceed as usual.

Hi, Retired One.
Actually, that's a lovely thought.
Not about the hotel rooms (have never done that!) but about reminding him of it for a while. :-)

Hi, Cassoulet.
I believe you're right. And that is one of my biggest pet peeves: laziness. I guess I hadn't looked at it like that but you're right. He just couldn't be bothered. Yikes.

Hi, Steve.
There's always a spot back by the waitresses. :-)

Hi, Lilly.
Thank you. And yes, now that I look on it further, it was also exploitive.
Luckily I didn't really notice that aspect of it or I might've been more aware of the heirarchal implications.
Corporations can be such a drag sometimes.

Hi, Daisy.
Oh, that reminds me! We had a little old woman like that here, too. I would walk by her desk several times a day, where she was either playing solitaire, talking on the phone, or balancing her checkbook. There was a period there for about a month where I was putting in a lot of overtime -- sincerely up to my neck in more work than I could handle. She stopped by my desk to tell me that she could help me. I guess the look of relief on my face was such that she immediately back-pedaled: "Oh, I'm not saying I'll have the TIME to help you, but if I do..." She trailed off, trailed away, and I thought evil thoughts about her for the rest of the week.


Not The Rockefellers said...

Oh Pearl this very post has hit a nerve with me.

My hubby tries to get out of all manner of defecation by using the "I don't know how.." or it's sweeter sister " You are way better at doing that than I am..."

Teach a man to fish...that's what I always say. Well, Jesus actually said that but...

Peace - Rene

Poliag- word verif
A political farmer.

Lee said...

Perhaps he just likes to see if he can get people to jump through hoops?

Braja said...

Your first line reminded me of Monty Python. "Eh, you were lucky..."

Old Knudsen said...

I don't know how some people know how to breathe. You learn by trying and those who say they can't or don't try just don't want to do it. Having been in the army I can sew, cook, clean, iron and kill people. I only had to be taught how to kill people though I had a fair idea.

If yer ever in Southern Callyfornia I'll buy you a couple of drinks, pernod and blackcurrants otherwise known as leg openers xox.

Tracey said...

Please tell me you didn't do them, though!!

Some people are just too, something...

KMcJoseph said...

This is a cheese shop isn't it?

SassyTwoSocks said...

What an ass. Maybe he has a crush on you and he wanted a reason to talk to you....?