Thursday, May 17, 2007

Subjugation! Humiliation! Misery!

Do you ever feel like you’re living in a Dilbert cartoon?

Ok, maybe you’re a stay at home mom and your life is more like a Baby Blues cartoon.

And so I don’t leave anyone out--maybe you’re a giant great dane and your life is like a Marmaduke cartoon.

Yesterday was a Dilbert day for me indeed.

All of the secretaries had the honor of attending a lunchtime meeting.

What this means is that the firm will spring for lunch and you get to give up your lunch hour and instead learn about whatever is discussed in the meeting.

We had these in Lansing too. Luckily (and this was pre-The Man times) I worked for a great boss who hated these meetings and would do anything to get he or I or both of us out of them.

I’ll never forget the day he came out of an attorney lunch meeting an hour earlier than the rest of the people in the meeting. I asked him how he pulled it off and explained that he simply pretended that his cell phone was vibrating, opened it up, and pretended to talk to a client.

Classic. Someday I’ll use that technique.

But back to yesterday’s meeting.

Over a splendid lunch of desert-dry turkey wraps we got to debate “How To Draft A Letter.”

Now if you’re a weathered Office Monkey* like me, you know how to write a letter.

We went over the basic set up: hit return twice after the date, tab in for the subject line, blah, blah, blah.

And then the real fun started.

The room full of approximately fifteen women began to debate whether or not we should be required to bold the word “Re:” in the subject heading of a letter.

This discussion must have gone on for approximately 20 minutes.

I could have been outside in my car eating my peanut butter sandwich and knitting my sock.

My mind wandered. I wondered if it would be possible to spin paper napkins and knit them.

As the women moved on from discussing bolding “Re:” to whether or not it was proper to spell out “Enclosures” at the bottom of the page or abbreviate it “Encls.” or “Enc.,” I started twisting my napkin under the table. (Yes, I think they could be spun and knit.)

After an hour that concluded with a decision about who was responsible for filing a letter in a file, the meeting concluded.

Thank god.

The whole time I sat there I couldn’t help but think: Why are we wasting time on this???

Everyone in this office writes letters the same.

The only thing that is different are the tiny things like whether or not someone bolds the “Re:”, spells out “Enclosures” or puts a partners' name in all capital letters in the signature block.

And yet they insist on wasting an hour of our lives to make sure these minute details are drilled into our heads so that we can conform.

I believe a certain dictator tried to create a perfect race of people. We all know how that turned out. Do we think we’ll be able to do it with a bunch of correspondence?

Ok, now maybe that’s a bit extreme comparing mass genocide to firm letter writing policies, but I can’t help there’s something more to life than all of this.

I so don’t want my obituary to read: “Bezzie, Former Alaskan and Legal Secretary.”

Can I get a codicil of my Will that tells the funeral home not to follow newspaper guidelines in publishing the "occupation" off my death certificate and stick something else in there?

“Bezzie, Former Alaskan and Weirdo Extraordinaire” has a nice look to it.

In the meantime, Happy Executive Secretary Uprising Day to you all.


*I’m an Office Monkey that does not pee on bananas (see entry #22). I prefer to pee on staplers.



Blogger Magatha said...

OMG, "How to Draft a Letter" OMG Somebody made a boo boo, so you all have to be 're-educated' in the newspeak.
Well, it's a paycheck.

::::Insert correctly formatted soothing words here:::::

6:55 PM  
Blogger weezalana said...

Wow. A whole hour on something someone could send in a two-sentence email. But of course, they'd have to hold a meeting first on whether or not to bold the subject line.

Next time, say you have a doctor's appointment! Or compose a knitting pattern in your head! And if someone asks you a question, just say, "That's a good question. What do YOU think?"

7:16 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Wow. That's bad. Really really bad! They should let you leave at 3 after a lunch meeting like that.

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Connie said...

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8:24 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

My sister is a technical writer and tells me that the type of meeting you just endured is quite common! Argh! For the love of monkeys, someone just make a decision to bold or not to bold and get on with your life! Yikes.....

9:01 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Dude, that sucks. However, the worst part is that they take your lunch break under the guise of a meeting. I HATE that!

9:33 PM  
Blogger Starfish said...

I would have jumped out the window. What a complete and utter waste of time.

11:02 PM  
Anonymous birdie said...

Haha! Oh goodness, I love worthless meetings. I love going to 'poc meetings that have nothing to do with me. I usually draw the people at the meeting. One time, a few of us had a contest to see who could draw the most realistic drawing of the creepy guy at the office, apropriately nicknamed "Chester."
I also love Dilbert. My favorite was one that said "When life gives you lemons, choke on them and die, you stupid lemon eater!" I was feeling quite bitter right before I read that one, and it basically summed up my mood and made me feel a lot better. Haha!
Anyway, you need to get your work email to me, I'll be at work again on Monday...wooo.

2:04 AM  
Blogger Batty said...

Worthless meetings that take up your time are bad enough, but those that also take up your lunch hour? Ugh!

7:08 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Gah. Meetings. I'm so jaded about meetings that I recently had a project with worthwhile meetings and it was culture shock. What--meetings with substance and value? In which real, serious work was discussed, and valuable outcomes achieved? What was that about?

7:15 AM  
Blogger sgeddes said...

Gah! Here thay call them "Lunch and Learn" and the cheap so an so's make us bring our own lunch sometimes.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Cheesy Knit Wit said...

Though I am not a secretary anymore, the same shit happens where I work involving the position I have today.

Companies refuse to focus on the real issues. It is so much easier to pick apart piddly assed shit!

You can spin napkins and papertowels. I have already tried it. :=)

8:10 AM  
Blogger Jo said...

Oh my, Bezzie - been there, done that. I once had to attend a mandatory meeting on choosing what kind of insurance (HMO vs PPO) our workplace was going to have - and I wasn't even eligible because I was a temp! Yet, they took me away from my work for an hour to make me listen to it!

8:20 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Oh Bezzie. I am so sorry they wasted your lunch hour. How I wish you lived in CT and I could hire you to waste time, knit, amuse in my office. We would never ask you to type anything. But we only hire people who can fill balloons with helium and are comfortable with the scary penmanship of pediatricians.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I think you might work for another office of our company. Except we're not lawyers.
I swear we used to have meetings like that here.
Here's an idea. Publish a freaking standardization guidelines document that everyone MUST follow. Now, how hard was that?

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Amby said...

I love Dilbert...I have plans for taking over the world like Dogbert. But most of the time I'm just insanely disgruntled like Alice. :-)

8:46 AM  
Blogger Cindy in Happy Valley said...

Life is too freakin' short for this kind of crap. Trust me, make sure you have an "appointment" then next time such a meeting occurs.

On the other hand, at our last staff meeting (monthly) I asked that certain information be distributed to me right away via an email, in case we didn't have a scheduled staff meeting, and was roundly dismissed. "Here is where we share information!" Never mind that names were wrong, dates were inaccurate, and none of the information "shared" at the meeting had enough detail.


9:01 AM  
Anonymous Susan said...

What a complete load of bullshit to sit through.

I've used the phone trick to get out of meetings usually telling folks that it's daycare and my child is projectile vomiting. Works like a charm.

10:34 AM  
Blogger cpurl17 said...

There's so much I could say but it's meetings like that where I start praying for someone to send me a can of gasoline and some matches.

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Danielle said...

In my old job my boss used to ask me to text him in the middle of a meeting so he'd have an official reason to leave.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

How about a meeting on "How to hold a meaningful meeting". My life is more like Cathy meets Family Circus and winds up in Dunesbury. Just don't kill anyone, I think that's still illegal in most workplaces.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I can not stand meetings!! They are a complete waste of time. You discuss this and that and nothing ever get changed everyone does things their own way. They are more draining than doing 500 boxes of freight at JoAnn's!!! Love, Mom

7:42 PM  
Blogger Alisha said...

Sorry you had to waste precious socking knitting time.....napkins...mmmm...just think of the possiblities LOL

11:31 PM  
Blogger Rain said...

Urgh, we once had a grand debate over whether margins should be 10 or 13mm. Riveting. You should start designing knitwear so that as you draw you look like you're diligently taking notes.

11:57 AM  
Blogger DomesticOverlord said...

Bezzie, I missed this post somehow. Having just noticed it I'd like to say that in the event of your death please inform Dr. Mad Scientist that PK and I will be writing your newspaper obit. I'm sure that will make it as bizzarely truthful as it should be.

7:18 PM  

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