My company has a very strict policy regarding cell phone usage. During my orientation, we were all warned that using our phones during training can and will result in immediate termination. Once out of training, every employee must follow very strict rules regarding cell phone usage. Other than the designated break rooms, the cafeteria, and outside of the building, cell phone use is prohibited. You can’t text while getting coffee or using the microwave; you have to get your food and/or drink and go to a designated break room before pulling out your phone. You can’t throw a post on Facebook while walking through the hallways; any spot but the designated spots are strictly off limits. Because of this, my phone is shut down before I leave for work and doesn’t get turned back on until I’m in my car and ready to drive home.
The cell phone policy is an easy one, thanks to the countless signs posted around the office. We have them above the microwaves and coffee machines, on the bathroom door and on every stall, and in other rooms where people could try to go for privacy. Supervisors give strict instructions that the phones are not to be seen or heard unless in one of the specific zones. You would think it’s an easy policy to follow, but I’ve already seen more than one person lose their job because they’d rather text than pay attention and take notes during training. To be honest, part of me wants to be sympathetic, as I had 4 hours of training and was frustrated and bored; they have two weeks. But the bigger part of me wants to slap them upside the head for being so stupid. Can’t you survive for two hours at a time without a phone? Can’t it wait until you go on break?
People get desperate though without that little device always available to use at their leisure. As a result, the bathroom is a major hotspot for cell phone use during regular breaks or “emergency” restroom breaks. Call me crazy, but I never find myself in a situation that requires me to be on the john and on the phone at the same time. One or the other can wait. As far as hiding places go, a bathroom stall is a last resort in my book; I don’t want to have a conversation in a place where people do their business. But here? People literally multitask, talking in between… well, you get the gist of it. It’s absolutely disgusting.
The amount of dependence we have on these little electronic devices is staggeringly high. When people are at the point to where they would rather go hide out in a cobweb infested abandoned part of campus than just wait until their break to text a friend, it’s a problem. When people are willing to risk their jobs because they absolutely cannot live without Twitter, it’s a problem. This job forced me to go from having my phone always within reach to having it 100% out of sight and out of mind, and it drove me nuts for about a week until I realized how much better off I was without it. I let my email pile up, I get behind on tweets, and I’m cool with it.
Being without a phone, and seeing how people around me refuse to go without, has made me realize how much I was missing by having my eyes glued to that tiny screen so often. What is the point in walking around like a zombie all the time? Is it really THAT important to see who said what on Facebook? Do we really have to document every moment with a selfie or some overly filtered fancy Instagram shot? And please, someone explain to me, what can be so important to make bathroom time become a group activity so you can have a conversation with your mom? Just chill. Unplug. I’m always glad to turn my phone back on when I leave the office for the day, but I’m equally as glad to turn the damn thing off and not deal with it for the eight and a half hours I’m supposed to be working. It didn’t kill me, and it sure as hell won’t kill you.
For almost four years now, I’ve been responsible for handling time cards for a handful of people in my office. I collect their leave slips, their tracked overtime forms, and their travel compensation requests. I check their claimed time against the reports and our attendance report prior to getting all their paperwork signed by our Branch Chief and submitted to D.C. I do this every two weeks, and in the nearly four years that I’ve been completing this task, I’ve only made one mistake which was 50% the fault of the employee submitting paperwork (he forgot a few things, so his leave was a bit screwy for one pay period). It’s a glamorous job, I know.
Due to some issues in the states we assist, which are insanely boring and zero fun to discuss, we have a few people who travel for weeks at a time all over the country. Their absence means that they either have to submit their time card to me while on the road or get it to me before they depart. Easy, right? The first time around, half of them completely forgot about it and had to scramble to fax everything over to me by the cut off time. I’d like to tell you that particular problem has worked itself out, but they still forget on a regular basis, and I’m currently still chasing down one time card submission from an angry guy twenty feet away from me that’s been ignoring my requests. It boggles my mind; when my time card is due, it’s signed and submitted first thing in the morning. I want to get paid on time and paid properly.
Lately, our traveling employees have been trying to be good about submitting their time cards early so I have them on file and ready to go when they are due. Unfortunately, this has also proven to be an incredible challenge. Because many of them work late hours and are still hanging around when I’m gone for the day, I’m not always at my desk when they get ready to turn in their paperwork. Most just leave it on my keyboard or in my chair, but some are less cautious to let papers with their social security number just lie around. Sometimes they give it to my boss (who often loses it, as his office is a crazy black hole filled with random papers and empty coffee cups). Other times they leave it with whoever also happens to be in the office, giving an unsuspecting person a responsibility they likely do not want.
My solution for the crowd that submitted paperwork when I was away and wasn’t comfortable leaving it out was to simply scan and email the documents to me. Every part of my office has a scanner that takes the document straight to a convenient folder on the shared drive. It takes me about five minutes to scan and email all 13 of the time cards I currently process, and that includes time waiting on Outlook to catch up and time spent naming the documents before scanning. To me, this was the best solution in keeping time cards secure while still ensuring I received them. But sadly this has proven to be impossible for one special person. She acts as if I haven’t requested she do this three times in the past (four counting today) and continues to needlessly make my life difficult and jeopardize her own pay by not ensuring that accurate information has been received.
Putting the paperwork together for each time card is very easy and takes only a few moments; I do it for my boss every two weeks. None of our employees are new to the process and confused about how things work. And I don’t care who you are, no one is too busy to take two minutes and complete a couple forms to make sure they get their paycheck on time and in full. My special case constantly waits until the last possible second to submit her paperwork, meaning that she often drops by after 4pm on Fridays when I’m already gone. This is the fourth time she has made her time card an issue by submitting it late, giving it to the wrong person (who thankfully is one of the good ones around here and kept it safe), and ignoring my requests that would ensure I received everything I needed on time.
Most of these people are old enough to be my parent, have worked here for years, and are competent enough to hold their position successfully. They have homes, bills, and other adult responsibilities. They manage to feed themselves while at work every day and always sprint down to the main office when we have a pitch-in or free donuts. And still, EVERY time and without fail, I am chasing half of them down up until the last second to get their time card paperwork so they can get paid. If they fail, I must submit either a basic card for them (80 hours straight pay, no overtime or comp time recorded) or I must submit a card with only the leave I am able to track from their leave slips, if any. This obviously leads to errors in pay that can sometimes take a month to fix. My job is complete so long as each employee has a time card, so my insistence on timeliness and accuracy is solely for their benefit.
I’ve begun to be a tad less understanding with these folk when it comes to their inability to follow simple directions. I hate to come off as bitchy, but being nice isn’t working so a more direct approach is much needed. The feedback I’ve received from my special case’s supervisor is positive, but who knows if she’ll actually have it sink in or if I’ll just be frustrated once again two weeks from now. As much as I’d love to quit playing babysitter to these people, I can’t help but go out of my way to help, as I know how pay issues can really screw a person up. Keeping my fingers crossed that one of these days, they act like they care about their paychecks as much as I do.
I feel as though my tone on here has been too serious for the past few days. There has been a lot going on and my husband and I have been working through and getting past some nastiness that was thrown in our direction. We’ve been heavily involved in a spiritual spring cleaning of sorts since Friday and we’re moving forward with plans to improve on our life in general. It’s been a positive thing overall, but I’m tired of the seriousness. I need a change of pace. For the past couple weeks, I’ve been writing down various quotes from the people I work with. Now seems a good a time as any to post what I’ve gathered so far. Enjoy.
“I’m on a diet, so I’m just having a salad. I forgot sour cream though. Maybe I can have a scoop of ice cream instead?” (5 minutes later) “Well, I put ice cream on the salad, and with the peppers, it turned out pretty good!”
“Oh my God! Facebook is like the Bible!”
“I was trying to save money of decorations, so I made toilet paper bows. You can’t tell.”
“Do you think I need my boobs?”
“It’s hard… it’s like trying to pat your head and clap your hands at the same time.”
“So like, I don’t think it’s actually stalking if the person doesn’t know you’re stalking them.”
“I have coffee Frito breath, it’s disgusting, and I went to talk to Don this morning and it was so bad that he walked away while I was talking.”
Girl: “Why was there a spider the size of my dog in my kitchen this morning?” Guy: “Maybe you need to clean your kitchen?” Girl: “Umm… no! Spiders like it when you mop, it won’t help.”
“Mexican chocolate is darker than American chocolate. It has to do with the atmosphere.”
“There’s a little man inside me. Or maybe my necklace is just on too tight.”
“I love him more than a room full of rocking chairs!”
“Can you send a fax on the fax machine?”
“I think I should get an STD, it would make me more interesting.”
“Cubed chicken isn’t real. You don’t kill a chicken and have it come apart in cubes, now do you? That cubed chicken stuff is all chemicals and plastic. The only real chicken you can buy is one that isn’t taken apart!”
Girl 1: “I need you to tease my hair” Girl 2: “Is that like flossing?”
I work with some people who are seriously lacking in the manners department. My 5 year old son would put these women to shame with his excellent table manners, and this is a kid I have to remind to eat with his mouth closed on occasion. We have about 4 people who use nail clippers in the office at various points during the day, an activity that should be kept at home or at least in the restroom here. There are a couple loud farters and burpers who refuse to say “excuse me” or “sorry” after they let one rip. I hear people loudly crunching chips, smacking while they eat, and talking with their mouths completely full all the time. As I type, the girl next to me is chomping on some Fritos, and I can hear it clearly over my headphones. And of course, there are the gum crackers/smackers/poppers. The worst offender of all the listed behavior is a giant waste of space that sits behind me. I’ve included the pictures below so you can get an idea of what she looks like. If you can imagine combining the two, you’ll get a perfect mental image.
This woman love to gossip and will talk trash about anyone; she is the most two-faced person I have ever met and will just as easily spout off horrible things about her own family as she will her worst enemy. She invented a rumor that I cheat on my husband with one of the most annoying soldiers in our office. I’ve lost 35 pounds in 4 months by calorie counting, something she likes to loudly proclaim would NEVER work while describing her own weight loss methods (she is morbidly obese). She couldn’t find sour cream one day so she put ice cream on her salad. I wish I was kidding.
One of the worst things she does is crack and pop her gum; she will do this all day long and various people have complained. Every once in a while, an anonymous person will print off an article or a note regarding how rude it is to crack/pop gum, especially in a work environment. Yesterday, her immediate supervisor walked over to her and said “I think this is meant for you,” handing her paper from the printer. The paper said, in caps, “PLEASE STOP CRACKING YOUR GUM!” At first she was taken aback, thinking her supervisor printed it himself to give to her (which he may have, we don’t know who is doing it), but after he said it wasn’t him, she proceeded to make a joke out of the whole thing. She added “Whoever prints these needs more work to do” at the top and hung the paper by our printer. A few more things have been added:
It’s pretty much turned into our version of Pam’s microwave note war from The Office, and the point was obviously lost on Paula Deen’s fat clone sister because today she is still popping her gum loudly while proclaiming that the note writer is jealous of her, but regardless of how the message was delivered, it should carry some weight. I don’t work in a park or a street corner where rude and gross behavior is tolerated or at least expected, I work in a government building that won’t even let you in the door unless you have an ID issued by them that you get after passing through various background checks that take months to complete. My office has strict dress and conduct codes; I can’t wear jeans or sandals to work, forget to shower in the morning & show up a stank mess, or cuss people out (even though I think the last one would greatly improve my morale).
Sure, the notes may be a bit juvenile, but is it any worse that the gum cracking/popping, the nail clipping, farting, or open mouth chewing? They are a cry for help from a person who is frustrated over having to deal with disrespectful people who don’t care about how their actions affect and bother those around them. In a way, I hope the notes continue to appear, because at least it means I’m not the only person in this office who would love to see adults acting like adults and not acting like gross teenage boys who just discovered body function humor.