Wednesday, July 30, 2008

:: How much I love technology ::

In my department at work, we have nine computers. Each of these computers is also equipped with an e-mail address, and in some cases, two e-mail addresses. One of these addresses gets many, many e-mails a day, submitted through our company website.

Due to the high volume of mail to this address, we don't have anyone who monitors this account on a constant basis, nor do they send replies back. It basically exists so people can send us information, so they don't necessarily expect a reply, and it would take an extra full-time staff member to do it, anyhow.

However, recently we had two people call to make sure we received their message, as they hadn't heard anything back from us, and we expecting at least a confirmation. These calls are annoying, so we finally came up with a solution: set up an autoreply. (It's amazing it took us 8 months to come up with it).

This autoreply - which many business people use when they go away on vacation and won't, therefore, be answering mail - basically just says "Thank you for your submission. Blah blah blah..."

Good idea, no?

Well this week...not so much.

Turns out that, in a rare instance, someone did actually use this e-mail account to send an outgoing message. No trouble usually, except the would-be recipient of said e-mail was, well, away on vacation, and had set up an autoreply of his own.

So for approximately 19 hours straight, these two e-mail addresses played tag back and forth.

"Thank you for your submission."
"Sorry, I'm away on vacation."
"Thank you for your submission."

"Sorry, I'm away on vacation."
"Thank you for your submission."

"Sorry, I'm away on vacation."
"Thank you for your submission."

And so on and so forth. Overnight.

Needless to say, our tech guys - who just happened to be in the office upgrading most of our computers - were impressed.

And, while we're discussing technology, I'd like to talk about my BlackBerry, if I may. I don't know the name of the default text messaging/typing system on BlackBerrys, but it's the one where you type a few letters and the phone tries to guess what word you are trying to type, and lists a few suggestions. You pick one, and continue. In the beginning, it was incredibly frustrating because you'd constantly try to spell words your phone didn't know, and it was often quite a task to get it to say what you want. You get used to it though, and the phone gets used to you through it's "Custom dictionary."

Basically, every new word you introduce - be it a person's name, website, slang, typo - gets added to the custom dictionary, so the next time you try to spell it, it's available in the list. The trouble is, all kinds of typos, abbreviations and other gibberish get saved in there too, so now and then it's good to go into your dictionary settings, browse your list of custom words, and delete the ones that make no sense. After a few months, there's tons.

I did that tonight, and after clearing out most of the garbage, I was impressed by some of the things I have taught my BlackBerry to spell. Among my phone's new words are:


The fun part is trying to remember how and why I would've used most of those words in a sentence or conversation. The best part is that I taught a piece of high-tech machinery eight different ways to recognize the word 'fuck.'

'Tis a proud day. I imagine it's not unlike the feeling a beaming father gets upon hearing his young son speak his first words. (Assuming, of course, the son's first word isn't douchebag or fuckstick.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

:: How to survive a social function with co-workers ::

So say someone you work with - one of your friends - has organized some kind of weekend pub crawl, and invited other co-workers, yourself included. And say you've decided to go - it'll be fun, you figure, as long as you don't embarrass yourself.

Because it's one thing to make an ass of yourself in front of your regular friends - they've seen you at your worst, and have forgiven you already - but it's another matter entirely when you are with work people. For starters, as close as you may be as friends, most of them still haven't seen you in certain situations. And secondly, if you act like a dick to your friends, at least you only see them 2-3 times a week, tops. Co-workers are there five days in a row. 40 hours a fucking week.

So I hereby present to you, a post work-function survival guide. Think of it as a morning-after pill of sorts. Sure you went out with well-intentioned plans to just have a few and behave yourself, but instead you did four jager bombs, made some decisions and got fucked. Keep in mind these are hypothetical situations, mostly, and while I have gotten myself into a few of these situations, I have never commented on a co-workers cleavage (see example below) because that would just be.... weird.

For starters, upon waking up the following morning, immediately locate your cell phone. Check text messages and call logs. Don't check necessarily for how many times you called your best friend, or your ex, between the hours of 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. - as we've already mentioned, those people understand you, and expect such behaviour.

What you want to check for are phone calls and text messages to the following people: your boss, your fellow co-workers at the bar, and your co-workers' significant others (forgetting for the moment, that you probably shouldn't have your office-mate Bill's wife in your Fave Five anyhow). If you have no messages from that evening's festivities, you are in the clear. However, there is an above-average chance you have messages that resemble the following:

"Heeeeey douchebag, I'm so glad I work with yous guys. You're GREAT!"

And they probably get more creepy and weird from there:

"Hey, remember that shirt you wore on Wednesday? The one that showed your cleavage? You should wear that one more often"

"When was the last time you actually got laid? You should go hit on my friend Teresa. Yeah, she's engaged, so what? Do it!"

If you have text messages - or, God forbid, voice mail - that resembles this in any way, delete immediately. Best to pretend it never happened, and hope to God that the other person is doing the very same thing.

Next, log onto Facebook. If it's 11:00 a.m. or later - and let's face it, it is - there is a high probability that photos from the evening in question are already posted. If they are, you have only one course of action: untag, untag, untag!

I cannot stress this enough. Chances are, if you act quick enough, the non-tagged photos will show up in very few people's newsfeeds, and though they'll still be online, fewer people will know they exist. (Sidenote: While you are sifting through incriminating pictures, be sure to click "save" on the one of you doing body shots off your secretary's know, for your personal collection. That one's a keeper).

Secondly, in an effort to stem the flow of news, perhaps change your facebook status to something false, yet less incriminating. Suggestions include "Joe enjoyed his night at the movies" or perhaps "Steve had a good time at his parents house last night for dinner"

Granted, these statuses work best if your name is Joe or Steve, but you get the idea. Also, while we're on the subject, resist the urge to go over the top with your new status. Bill is back from doing charity work at the orphanage, or Hector spent his Friday night bathing homeless people sounds impressive (and in the case of the latter, gross), but nobody's gonna buy it. Reasonable expectations, people - that's the key.

After you've done your best online work, the next step is to pick up your phone again, and send a text message (assuming you're not still drunk) to one of your co-workers who was at the party. Make it something lame, and generic, like "Great party last night, eh?" or perhaps, "How's your hangover?"

Hopefully, this effort will net you a reply from your colleague along the lines of, "Yep, great night. Wanna get some pancakes?" If this is the case, you are likely in the clear, as your friend is not horrified enough of your actions to avoid being seen in public with you. (Either that, or they really like pancakes).

Worst case scenario is the following responses:

"Fuck you, asshat."
"Oooh, man. You're alive?!"
"Where'd you end up last night? Last I saw, you left the club with that Mexican tranny."

These are all bad. But silence can also be just as damning - or not. On one hand, perhaps this person is so angry and/or repulsed by your actions that he or she wants nothing to do with you (til Monday, when they have no other choice). Or perhaps - and this works in your favour - they are more embarrassed of their own actions, and would prefer to hide out alone in their dark basements until they have to go back to work.

Either way, just make the call and hope for some delicious flapjacks.

And now, I present to you your last option. Your Saving Grace:

Just move away.

Yeah, I know you've got a brand new condo in a nice neighbourhood, and you just took out a lease on that new Kia Hybrid, but fuck it. Sell everything. Get out of town. No goodbyes. No two-weeks notice. Just fucking go.


Because no matter how well you follow my many suggestions above, sometimes there's very little that you can do to save yourself after you've had your tongue down the throat of that married woman in accounts receivable, got in a fist fight with Paul from the mail room, and puked in your boss's wife's purse.

Don't worry though. I hear Budapest is nice this time of year.

Friday, July 18, 2008

:: Park the attitude, bitch ::

My current office backs onto a large, fenced-in gravel parking lot - a lot we share with employees of a large strip mall and a few other businesses. The lot, along with the mall, is called The Courtyard* and is owned by a company of the same name.

Up until about two years ago, the lot was plenty big enough for all of us, with room to spare. However, with recent construction of two high-rise towers right next door, The Courtyard leased two-thirds of the lot to the high-rise development company, so it's employees would have a place to smoke weed during their lunch break.

Since then, our portion of the lot has been a mess, with cars jammed in at any angle in which they can fit. Along a concrete retaining wall there is room for about 12 cars, and there are two large garbage bins at the end. Apparently, the garbage men - who only come on Wednesdays - have had trouble maneuvering their rigs around our many cars in order to pick up the large bins. As such, someone spray-painted "No Parking" on the retaining wall, on either side of the bins, which effectively loses us 3 parking spaces.

No big deal. Garbage has to be emptied, after all.

However, this week, the arrows on the "No Parking" sign have progressively been extended for no apparent reason, thus losing us about 8-10 of the original 12 parking spots. So today I parked my car just beyond where the spray-painted arrow stopped, thinking that the No-park zone had ended exactly at that point. Makes sense, no? Besides, how much fucking room does a garbage truck need, anyhow?

Apparently, however, I was still in the wrong, and to properly convey my befuddlement/annoyance, I will direct you to this recent post by Mike at In It But Not of It.

I was made aware of my apparent mal-parkage when I left the office today at 4:30. As I walked towards my car, I noticed a woman sticking a slip of paper under my wiper blades. No big deal, I thought, as I approached my car. We get them all the time from The Courtyard security people - mostly in the case that our vehicle doesn't have a parking sticker in the window, or maybe we have a new car and the licence plates don't match up with their records.

Sometimes, they'll even give us friendly little notes about car security, reminding us that we left something valuable on the passenger seat, or left our sunroof open. Stuff like that.

So when I grabbed the paper - with the woman leaving but still no more than 25 feet away - I was somewhat shocked to read, scribbled hastily in ALL CAPS across the paper:


I looked up, and though I was still just beyond that professionally-spray painted No Parking arrow, this woman had tacked another NO PARKING sign on the wall, directly in front of my car. (Apparently the garbage trucks need 12 car-widths to pull in and out of a parking lot. 12!)

"Excuse me - did you just put this on my car?" I questioned loud enough so that the woman turned back in my direction.

I walked towards her - my work notebook and pen still in hand - and she began a holier-than-thou diatribe about how I can't park there and obviously have no regard for rules, and if I want the privilege of parking there I better start following directions. Now keep in mind that I have no clue who this woman is - she could've owned the property or simply been the cashier at the fucking drug store in The Courtyard.

As she ranted, I took my pen and scribbled across the top of her note which questioned my literacy.

When she was finally done, I spoke.

"Can you read?" I asked, walking up close to her.

"Of course I can!" she said, in a huff.

"Then what's this say?" I asked, opening the paper to show her my own block letters.

"It says 'Lose the attitude.'"


And then I crumpled the paper, tossed it in the gravel between our feet, got in my car and drove home.

*Not the real name

Thursday, July 03, 2008

:: Some advice ::

When arriving home from any sort of outing - be it a vacation or camping trip, or a business excursion, I will provide for you this important tip: Upon returning home, be sure to "clean up" everything as quickly as possible.

Be sure to put any excess food either in the fridge or the garbage, and make sure all your laundry is done too, so as not to discover a rogue sock four months down the road.

Those two things - food and laundry - are the obvious ones, of course, but there are others, too, which you should know about.

For example, the next time you go away for a few days - camping with rowdy friends, perhaps - be absolutely sure that you've cleared out your wallet of all extraneous material upon your triumphant return.

That way, when you head back to work the next week and go out for lunch with colleagues, you won't open your wallet to reach for your credit card only to find instead two beer can tabs, a condom from a tournament gift bag, and what appears to be some kind of dead insect.

I'm just saying...