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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

You'll Want to Maintain Eye Contact, But Not So As to Appear to Challenge Them

The new girl at work is heartily offended.

She's been describing it to me for quite some time now.

“I’m just not doing it,” she proclaims heatedly. “She can just forget it. I’m not doing it.”

What the new girl isn’t going to do, exactly, is not important.

What’s important is that whatever it is? She’s not doing it.

“Look,” I say, “You shouldn’t take it personally. It just needs to be done, and it falls under your duties. The person who asked you to do it has been here for a long time. I’ve always found her to be easy to work with. She probably has good reason for needing it so quickly.”

“Oh, I’m not taking it personal,” she cries, her feathers visibly ruffling. “I’m a professional.”

I close one eye, cock my head to one side, get a better look at her. The new girl is an unwrinkled, clueless newbie not long removed from doing keg-stands at garage parties. Word on the Acme Grommet and Napkins street is that everything she’s learned about working full time she’s learned from TV sitcoms. I’m starting to see where they’ve gotten that impression.

She’s still talking. “I’m not taking it personal,” she challenges.

I nod at her, careful to maintain eye contact. She’s young, and it’s clear that it’s starting to become apparent to her that the people she’s seen working nine to five their whole lives have not been doing it, necessarily, because they love it but because they have to.

It’s a very dangerous point in her career, and one must be careful not to turn one’s back.

“You’re doing a good job. I can see that.” I am using the voice I reserve for serious children and the adamantly inebriated.

“I am! I’ve been working a long time and I know what I’m doing.”

“Of course, you do,” I murmur. I wonder if I was ever this obnoxious. I decide I was. I wonder, too, if there were older office folk who took me by the hand and helped talk me off the figurative administrative ledge.

I decide there was.

“Let’s see what we can do about finding some alternative ways around this,” I say.

Newbie tosses her hair back. She is enjoying her indignation and doesn’t want to part with it too quickly. “I know what I’m doing,” she says.

“Of course you do.”

“I’m serious.”

“I can see that.”

There is a slight pause.

“Can you help me?”

It’s the first reasonable thing she’s said since marching in and taking root in front of my desk 10 minutes ago.

“Absolutely,” I say.

“I’m just really new,” she says.

“That’s all right,” I sigh. “Some day, you won’t be.”

50 comments:

Jinksy said...

Big smiles at your humanitarian attitude! LOL

Pearl said...

:-) Well, it took me a bit to arrive at it. Really, she needs a beating, but I'm not the one to do it...

Vicki said...

This younger generation just doesn't get it...They are used to having everything instantly. Maybe we (me) as a parent haven't done all we could or enabled these kids. Not sure...

Love your posts!

Big Fat Gini said...

You can't hardly blame her. I mean, she's of the "Rachel Got a Job at Ralph Lauren Without Going to College" Generation.

Definitely proud of you for your peacekeeping efforts though. Seriously, why aren't you a politician? ;O)

Eva Gallant said...

Kudos to you. Such tact under duress...I mean the snarky comments must just have been itching to jump out!

Pearl said...

Vicki, I hear you. I wonder how good a job I've done, wonder what The Boy is like to work with. I like to think he's good at what he does...

BFG, oh, I sometimes say the most outrageous things and have a low tolerance for willful stupidity. :-) Diplomacy is not my strong suit!

Pearl said...

Eva, you got that right! Still, I felt pity for her. Like I said, she's just starting to that odds are not good of suddenly becoming rich and just how long she'll be working...

Simply Suthern said...

We have new guys right out of trade school that have no clue how fortunate they are to have a job and then go and refuse to do something. I'm old school. They are lucky I have no power, real or imagined.

Pearl said...

Simply, I've seen it myself...

haphazardlife said...

Kudos to you for being so diplomatic.

I'm not sure I would've been.

-Jazz

Pearl said...

haphazard, perhaps I should write the blog of what I was thinking while I was talking...

Cheeseboy said...

Ha ha! TV Sitcoms. I have a student teacher right now and every bit of this resonated with me. She's 21 years young and not far removed from that garage stuff you mentioned.

Oilfield Trash said...

You have way more tact than I do. That much is for sure.

Argent said...

Young folks in the workplace are just so darned ENTITLED these days! We had some trainess a while back who refused to do photocopying because they were graduates and shouldn't have to do this kind of thing. They did it though.

There does seem to be a generational difference in attitudes to work.

jenny_o said...

I blame some of the attitude on the current youngsters taking the work-life balance advice too far the other direction. And the rest I blame on a generation of parents who spent way too much of their income on their kids' every wish.

Oooh, seems like you've touched a nerve here ... sorry!

You sound like a kind person and a good mentor.

Glen said...

The stark realization that life is not like TV ruins us all. I'm glad she had you there to help her through it.

I thought I'd learned everything I would ever need through the video.

I didn't have anyone usefully sympathetic around to help me the day I discovered that lesbians don't really like it if you try and join in with them.

It took a long time to get over the shock. It was bad enough discovering that real life lesbians don't necessarily look as nice as they do in the videos, never mind learning that they are basically against the idea of letting the pizza delivery guy join in - and buying that pizza delivery guy costume wasn't cheap! Gutted!

The pizza was nice though - double peperoni and Jalapeno - small consolation but you take what you can get don't you?

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Oh many visions of past indignities spring to mind immediately. When you're young you're feisty and full of injustice. Then you realize that the world isn't perfect and if you won't do something they will just get someone else who will and you lose. So when your boss asks you to organize his vacation or pick up dry cleaning you smile and say, "Sure!" although you're thinking, "Wow, you negotiate million dollar contracts and worked your way up to Senior Vice President, yet you can't pick up your own damn laundry or ask your wife to do it, assmunch?"

You're a good coworker. The words "Deal with it" didn't come out of YOUR mouth once. :)

Susan in the Boonies said...

It's like training a dog, isn't it?

Not aggressive, just FIRM.

Belle said...

You handled that extremely well. My grandsons, when they first started working, would miss a lot of days. I warned them, but they didn't think they would ever get fired. One of them has gotten fired twice, I think he has learned now with his new job.

Jimmy said...

Well described hen, I liked your take on every descriptive word. I was actually there, just you, me, and Ms Turbid.

WrathofDawn said...

You is good people, Pearly-girl!

You can always pee in her coffee later.

Douglas said...

How did you avoid calling her "grasshopper?"

jabblog said...

She'll get there in the end - wherever 'there' is - if she doesn't throw in the towel first. More than ever, some young folks are aware of their rights and less ready to be worthy of them. Breathe deeply, count to a hundred and smile, smile, smile . . . ;-)

Happy Frog and I said...

I admire you immensely. I know I was definitely obnoxious when I got out of Uni and I had to learn the hard way that wasn't OK. She is lucky to have you to help her ease into being a professional gently!

Ruthibelle said...

lol :) keeping hope alive for all of us, i see (me beng a young new worker of sorts too)

Caleb said...

I wish I had your skillz here... seems like they would come in handy while dealing with drunk chicks at the bar.

Wait.. that falls under adamantly inebriated. My bad.

So's I'm just reading along and I'm like "hey... pearl... why is this familiar?" I think I found you like a year ago, and then lost you, and now found you again! Like a McRib. Yay! *up top* Nice work.

Caleb

PS I don't do awards either, and I'm in no way, shape, or form busy or popular. Cantankerous, perhaps. Obstinate? Lazy. Yup... there it is.

Caleb said...

Holy popsicle stick! Thanks for turning off Word verification!!!

I feel like giving you some sort of award! Er... wait. NVM.

Caleb out.

powdergirl said...

You're a patient woman, Pearly Whirly, a very patient woman. And I think its nice that you can be all supportive on the outside while(probably) being all sarcastic on the inside.

Pearl said...

Cheeseboy, reminds me of when I started working at 19. :-) I’m pretty sure I was a twit, but I don’t ever recall taking a break I wasn’t entitled to or refusing to do something…

Oilfield Trash, what I think in my head and what I say are sometimes two different things!

Argent, whole studies have been done on how differently the generations see work… And yes, I’ve noticed the attitude that they won’t fax/make copies/order lunches. I’m thinking it takes most of them a couple months or a couple jobs to figure it out…

Jenny o, thank you, but like I said: what I say and what I think are two different things! And yes, I agree that the work/balance thing may have floated a little too far in one direction…

Glen, good lesson! I am always surprised by how many men think (even tongue in cheek) that lesbians want something to do with them. No, they don’t. They’re lesbians.

Vegetable Assassin, I used to be wildly indignant. :-) It was one of my specialities!

Susan, you got that right! :-) Nice!

Belle, as long as he learns! That’s all we ask!

Jimmy, thank you! I like the idea of you in the room. Adds a bit of gravitas.

Wrath of Dawn, See? This is why you’re here. To remind me…

Douglas, I’ll be asking her to snatch the pebbles from my hand at the grand testing…

Jabblog, very well said. “aware of their rights and less ready to be worthy of them” That’s perfect.

Happy Frog, all I have to do is remember the times I came to work with yesterday’s make-up still on. :-) I’m sure I was a walking case study…

Ruthibelle, we’re here for you, honey, and we’re countin’ on ya!

Pearl said...

Caleb, word verification keeps us from reaching our true potential. Errr. Something like that. And yes. :-) I remember you!!

Powdergirl, it’s one of my many talents. I can also spell like a crazy person and do the splits. I think I can even do them at the same time!

Caleb said...

You do!? *swoons*

I scanned through your posts from last April-June (yes, I have that kind of time and yes, I am that fast) and I couldn't find where I found you.

Curses!

On the plus side, I saved money by switching to Geico. No really- I did. It was the least I could do after that lizard straightened out my British accent.

Caleb

Roses said...

Well done honey.

My dad beat all the silliness and attitude out of me when I started to work for him at his pub.

Hopefully, one day you'll get a card out of the blue that says:

Thank you.

Julie Magers Soulen said...

Oh gosh that took me back!! LOL Love your style.

Cheers!
Julie
Julie Magers Soulen Photography

Crystal Pistol said...

I despise surrenduring my indignation too quickly. I enjoy that you understand the concept. What's the use of getting all worked up if you can't just wallow in it like a pig in poo for a while? Poo is refreshing under the right circumstances. ?

I also enjoyed the voice you use for serious "children and the adamantly inebriated". Calm yet slightly sing-songy in my mind.

Gigi said...

A co-worker and I were talking about the "old" days in the office and how the these whippersnappers don't realize how good they've got it now. Don't they realize how easy they have it with computers and such - they could be having to type that report over from scratch - because the White Out is completely dried out - or after they finished they realized they left out a whole paragraph. Entitled brats.

becca said...

Bravo for handling it so well

savannah said...

Pearl said...

haphazard, perhaps I should write the blog of what I was thinking while I was talking...


i can hardly wait, sugar! ;~D xoxoxoxox

injaynesworld said...

Pearl, you're just so damn charming. You really can't help yourself, can you. Sometimes, it's easy to forget how young and stupid we all once were. Well, not me, of course. ;)

mrwriteon said...

Aw -- po' baby is just scared and overcompensating with attitude. I believe that sort of behavior is encouraged amongst the young these days. In my day we got metaphorically horsewhipped and told to smarten up.

Cloudia said...

Warm Aloha & Gratitude from Honolulu!


Comfort Spiral

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Flea said...

You're beautiful, Pearl. May I send you my teenagers? Please?

K A B L O O E Y said...

Can you be my boss for a while? Nice going, Pearl. But please post your "what I said/what I was thinking." And maybe tell us what the whiz kid refused to do? I'm nosy like that.

lisleman said...

Enjoyed the last line. Yes those young twits will be old someday soon. There is a secret enjoyment in watching over zealous newbies fall on their faces.

HermanTurnip said...

"People she’s seen working nine to five their whole lives have not been doing it, necessarily, because they love it but because they have to."

Preach on!

Every day I wake up and recite the Tom Waits line, "Got to get behind the mule in the morning and plow". It's a sad reality, but until I win the lottery or find myself in the will of a recently departed rich relative I'll have to keep plowing...

On My Soapbox said...

Wow, I wish I was that patient and tactful. Nicely done!

Amanda said...

Brand new nurses are so much better! If then have an ounce of intelligence, their attitude says, "Oh hell, what have I gotten myself into now?"

hoodyhoo said...

any statement which includes the phrases,"I'm a professional," or "I know what I'm doing," is bound to prove exactly the opposite.

the walking man said...

My wife works clerical 15 hours a week every sunday when she goes in there is a stack of "I'm not going to do it's" with her name on it. Funny how she sets down to work and gets 4 days worth of forms and assorted paper work done in 3 hours. WTF would be done if she ever caught the I'm not going to do it's?

Louisiana Belle said...

Getting initiated into the must-work force is a learning curve. You handled the newbie with more grace and patience than most.

Barbara Blundell said...

Did you think of Oscar Wilde " "I'm not young enough to know everything "