Chronicles of trading in Corporate America for a waitress's apron during my very own quarter-life crisis.

Monday, April 7, 2014

I Finally Talk Cubicle (a.k.a., "The Tango")

I'm pretty bad at dancing.  "You're all elbows," my mother once told me.  I just jerk and bob as if I'm trying to make a fool of myself and have all the prospective suitors in the room think, "nope."  I even took ballroom dance lessons with a man I was engaged to, and the whole relationship ended in disaster.  Coincidence?

I can thank my lucky stars that I chose Elaine Benes as a female role model when I was a kid.
("Role models.  Also see:  Harriet the Spy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Daria, and Saffron from Absolutely Fabulous."  ... These women are not particularly known for their dancing.)

However, this weekend, I seem to have found my waitress rhythm back.  The restaurant was slammed (we were on a wait for about four hours one night), the other servers were in the weeds, and the kitchen was trying to keep up.  I, however, never actually got behind with things to do for my tables.  There were times when I felt rushed, sure: "Time to get a huge tray of drinks for a large party," "Gotta get both salad/soup and refills together for three different tables," and then, "There's the party of six and a party of 11 at the same time... awesome."  Yet, somehow, I seemed to have extra space and time to do my own running sidework, plus restocking and running things for other servers and the kitchen. 

Even Saturday night, when I had a few demanding tables, I may have been a bit busy, but only to the point where my bra straps were bungee jumping off my shoulders every few minutes.  I didn't get the usual panic of trying to keep up.  I hope it stays this way. 

I was "busy" at my cubicle job often, running around with my precious little stacks of paper, but somehow the sense of urgency is more intense in a restaurant.  I feel terrible if someone has a bad meal or doesn't get what they ask me for in a matter of nanoseconds, but at my office job, any failure in procedure was someone else's laziness (hi, Nancy), so I tried to shrug those failures off.  The failure still infuriated me, but I knew I had no control over monumental idiocy, so I resigned myself to 40+ hours a week of dealing with a shitload of failure.  Dream job, right?  

Does it mean I have messed up priorities because I feel worse about a restaurant customer not having everything they want, versus feeling less than "meh" if there's poor documentation because someone ('sup, Nancy) messed up the development of a procedure?  I couldn't feel bad for the ultimate customer in the latter situation because all I could feel was anger with the idiocy of the, well, idiot who handled documents after I did (god, do we hate Nancy) and the reflections could have shown on my work, if I hadn't learned to cover my ass early on.  I didn't have the capacity to feel anything other than disgust and cynicism after about two weeks on the job (yet I stayed for five years), no matter what the "crisis" was going on in the office... and trust me, evvvvverything was some silly-but-somehow-significant crisis.

Director:  "Okay, now, just pretend that you're trying to find the meaning of life between these folders."

And... I don't know how to explain this eloquently, so I'm just going to free-write for a minute and see what comes out (and I'm listening to Rage Against the Machine at the moment, so be a dear and spare me):

At my cubicle job, I wrote standard operating procedures for research and development in the medical device industry.  I can't get too much more specific than that because I signed a buttload of confidentiality agreements, but it was mind-numbing and bored me to tears for the five most formative years of my 20s.  I did occasionally have deadlines, I occasionally had to deal with unpleasant photographs from clinical studies, and people were occasionally up my ass about stupid things... (oooh, full-on rant moment!) they were up my ass about projects mostly all politically beneficial for them within the office, which I never gave a shit about, because I couldn't care less whether you think your project is more important than another employee's project and how such-and-such VIP-whose-name-I've-never-heard-of has said that it's important.  I don't give a shit about your demands for a procedure two days from now, I don't give a shit about preppy VIP what's-his-face; I have seven documents to write for people who have respect for what I do and therefore have requested those documents with appropriate notice, and no, I don't want to have an hour-long meeting scheduled to discuss it when we're already talking about it at my desk, which would take five minutes.  Fuck off with the meetings, will you.  

Also, fuck off with the language you caffeinated business school donkeys love so much:  "Let's table this for now," "This is outside the scope of this procedure," "Why don't we try to visualize the concept of the process," "Let's utilize signage in this area to provide proof of adequate documentation," "In order to proceduralize action items, we should synergize on the fundamentals," etc., etc., etc.  Everyone who talks like this, please listen very carefully:  Go to a quiet room, relax, put on some quiet music, breathe.  And then PUNCH YOURSELF IN THE FACE UNTIL YOU'RE UNCONSCIOUS FOREVER.
(Brought to you by someone with an English degree who wants to punch anyone using corporate lingo but is too much of a pacifist to do it herself.  Also, thanks to the fact that working with you is worse than murdering kittens, she needs to have pretty hands when she's waitressing.)

I'd rather read the fractured grammar on Twitter for eight hours a day than listen to this.

Seriously, *anything* would be better than working under your transparent MBA.

On a related note:  Hey, Maggie!  Hey.  What up, Mags.  You're a tacky, selfish, fake, name-dropping princess and control freak; you don't deserve a dollar of the success you've snaked from other employees, their ideas for improvement, or the way they've been dropping like flies from your department for years.  Speaking of department, I think Nancy flushed the integrity of that down the toilet long ago, because I seriously wouldn't be surprised if I saw her on the news for getting trapped on an escalator.  My own boss didn't see a fraction of what you did, and you knew he wouldn't because he was busy with engineering.  So there's a special "fuck you," just for you, cupcake -- that's for predicting that my boss wouldn't see what you were doing.

Also, Rachel deserves a raise... better yet, give her paid time off for her cancer treatments.  At least let her work from home if she wants to; everyone thinks the whole company is a careless bastard for not giving her everything she needs.  

But it's you, Maggie, who has successfully alienated every single team in that building and within headquarters in Bloomington.  Congrats:  You're the coldest, unhappiest, and lowest person that two thousand people have ever met!  You've won, finally!  We've all watched you work really hard to win at something.  Is looking in the bathroom mirror worth it now?  I sure diddly-do hope so.

God, it feels good to finally be able to write about that place.  I was censored (yes, management used the word "censor") in my other blog; I wasn't even allowed to complain about not talking about work. 

I did my idiotic dance for you idiotic people.  Yes, the medical device industry should be a noble, ethical, and stable work environment -- it isn't.  I'm glad I left you high and dry; I'm just sorry that it wasn't from job responsibilities more "important" than mine, because then I could've left everything pretty messed up.  Instead, I just left an ugly, beige cubicle.  Oh, that's right, and other things that were trying to suck the soul out of me.

But now, I bust my ass for what I do instead of being a marionette puppet pretending to care about millionaires, and it's more satisfying for me to make $95 after tip-out and food for five hours of actual work than it used to be to present a flawless draft for someone who'd just run it up the political flag-pole.  I control my job now.  I manage my customers.  I've learned how to dance -- just not how others wanted me to.  

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