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Lemming Brigade CHARGE!
Monday, 20 September 2004
Promotion Primer for Bureaucrats

If you do a good job for the government you might get a stack of 'atta boys' some cheaply engraved plaques and an endless amount of sunshine blown straight up your butt, however you will not get a raise or a promotion.

There is a significant disconnect between effort and reward.

To promote, one has to wait for a promotional test to be announced. At the lower echelons, this generally happens annually, at the higher levels, every other year.

If you qualify for the test, you put in an application. If you application is good enough you get a testing date (usually 6 weeks later than the notice date, which takes about 4 weeks to arrive). Some tests are oral, some are written, some are two parters, meaning two tests usually given about a month apart.

Two months later (are we counting the timeline here?) a list is generated with everyone that passes being separated into ranks. Employees in the top three ranks are eligible to be hired, but of course they still must wait for a vacancy, put in an application, be interviewed and offered a job. This system works only if the job is in your same Department. Should you want to go to another department there is a whole other rat maze to get through which I am simply too tired to relate at this time.

As you can see, only the infinitely patient or psychotically optimistic can deal with such a system.

I have promoted exactly five times. I wonder what that says about me?


One of my earliest bosses was one of my favorites. She won me over when she told me anyone picking on her employees would get their heads ripped off by her BUT if we lied to her or screwed her over she would, "Kick your ass so hard that I will have shit on my kneecaps."

They just don't make bosses like that anymore.

Posted by sychotic1 at 12:50 PM PDT
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Friday, 17 September 2004
Its Friday and You Really Expect Me to Think?!
My son is sick, which isn't really an excuse, but I will take it anyway.

My Mother, who generally takes care of such family emergencies, has decided that she needs to go see Singapore and Malaysia for the next week (damn her!) so I am relegated to doctor patrol and medicine procument at the Sychotic Compound this week.

Maybe next week I will write a commentary on exactly how a bureaucrat's day is spent, including coffee breaks. That should be fun.

Posted by sychotic1 at 1:31 PM PDT
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Wednesday, 15 September 2004
How To Make Money The Old Fashioned Way
Back when I was working in the IT shop, we had a thief, a computer stealing thief. This guy didn't steal just any old computers, he only stole brand new computers still in the box. Of course this meant that he knew exactly when our shipments were arriving, which sort of ruled out Joe Public.

This went on for some months until we 'caught' the guy. He was escorted out in handcuffs at one point, but the department couldn't make the charges stick so he got to keep both his job and our eternal suspicion.

Over a year went by before the thievery resumed, but how? We simply could not figure out how it was happening as each computer order ended up one, two or even three PCs light.

Finally the mailroom (located in headquarters some 20 miles away) complained to our staff that it was inappropriate to expect their courier (they made two courier runs per day to our office) to move PCs for the IT shop. At first we were mystified (not knowing what the HECK he was talking about) but then it all came together.

This guy would move a PC to the mailroom (which was very close to the delivery area) tagged for headquarters. The courier would pick it up like any other package and drive it to the HQ mailroom where it would sit until our resident thief showed up to "install" it in some imaginary downtown office. Except that office was really the back of his sedan.

Short ending. Thief fired. No more government work for Genius Boy who would trash a 52k per year IT job with benefits for a few Pentiums.


What? Still no conclusion to the Henny Penny story? I promise, I am working on it but the whole darned thing sounds better in my noodle than it does on paper, so it needs reworking.

Posted by sychotic1 at 4:11 PM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 15 September 2004 4:14 PM PDT
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Tuesday, 14 September 2004
Stuff That Makes You Say Huh?
We have a sign in front of our building that reads:


There is an ashtray right next to it.

Is this some sort of test?


My boss found a flyer for an employee's personal business (publishing web pages) on the copy machine. He made an annoucement at the next staff meeting, "Using Governmental equipment for private profit is against the law, and your business is doing so piss poor that you cannot afford your own copies, you should go into another line of work."

Thank goodness he never saw my party maps on the copier. Of course that was only for personal pleasure, not profit.


I used to work as an auditor with a woman who was an investigator. This meant that she is an actual gun toting peace officer (not to be confused with a police officer who might actually have some chance of getting shot at in the line of duty). She looked like someone dragged her straight out of Charlie's Angels (original series, not the movies) with the big hair and the full on make-up and eyebrows that made her look like someone had just given her an awful fright.

Anyway, Farrah would always take her gun with her on audit jobs, which mystified me. When was the last time that you heard of an insurance company breaking out in random violence during an audit review? So, finally I asked her why she, and she alone of the investigators always took a gun with her.

She replied that with the gun, airlines will let you preboard...and here I thought it was for no good reason. Glad I asked.


Once again, sorry for the hiatus. On the bright side give me a chance to accumulate these little nuggets for your wonder and amazement. Nuggets, now there is a visual.

Posted by sychotic1 at 2:45 PM PDT
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Monday, 13 September 2004
Back to the Cube Farm
Sorry for the hiatus, I was parent sitting (my father really hates when I sit on him, but sometimes he deserves it).

I was going to write up the second half of the Henny Penny story, but I lost interest half way through, so instead I am going to put up some musings, ramblings and other assorted b.s. that I will pass for a blog entry.

I promise to finish the story later this week though.

Today is about retirements. Every office has them. We all dread them, but are obliged to attend. Worse, sometimes we get volunteered to actually plan them.

One of my coworkers is retiring in two months. It is my dubious honor to be in charge of his retirement photo album (who dreams up this stuff?) I would have tried to bow out, slipped an extra fiver into the gift fund, but I was threatened with additional, larger and more intricate duties should I pass this one up.

The concept is simple. Take pictures of all the coworkers and place them, along with index cards that have best wishes and cute anecdotes scribbled onto them, into a cute and heartfelt photo album.

The problem is that the guy is a total non-entity. A nice enough fellow I guess, but mostly I know him as an affable do nothing, so I am in a quandry as to how to fill out that evil little index card. Gone are the days when I could scribble something trite and illegible with my it has to actually say something...enough to fill up a recipe sized index card.

I had some ideas:



Okay, so I can't write those things, but I can dream can't I?

This guy plays golf, which might be something I could glom onto, the trouble is that I have never truly appreciated a sport that consists of trying to get a tiny little ball into a tiny little hole far far way. Sounds like the definition of frustration to me. Give me a good game of Hockey over Golf any day. At least there is the chance that a good brawl will break out.

Posted by sychotic1 at 3:03 PM PDT
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Friday, 27 August 2004
Adventures in Accounting
I used to sit next to a lady who looked amazingly like a broody hen. This image was reinforced by her laugh, which sounded a lot like clucking and her mouth, a tiny little bow, that had an almost beak-like appearance.

Some coworkers can be safely ignored. Others can be befriended, but Henny Penny fell into neither category.

As a mildly disgruntled low wage accounting widget, she amused herself by complaining about things, all things. There was no aspect of the work environment too trivial to merit attention and comment. If it wasn't the temperature, it was the lighting or the desk spacing, or the tepidness of the water in the drinking fountain.

What was really maddening was that she never 'did' anything about the conditions she professed to abhor, probably because she was having far too much fun complaining about them.

If a gum wrapper was left lying on the hallway floor she would comment on it, repeatedly. She would comment on its inappropriate location, its inherent untidiness, the possible characteristics of the person who dropped the wrapper in question and she would always close with the phrase, "Someone should do something about it."

I can only guess that she never thought of herself as 'someone' because never, not once, not in a single instance in my 2.5 years sitting next to her did she ever stoop to pick up the wrapper.

Some people will be tempted to jump in at this point and comment that I should have suggested she pick up the wrapper or perhaps I should pick up the wrapper myself. Now those voting for me to confront my coworker have obviously never sat next to a complaining, chicken clucking, Henny Penny before or you would know how deeply such a suggestion would have offended her and how she would give me the silent treatment (not so bad) or how the future complaining would be focused solely upon myself.

As for the people thinking I should pick up the wrapper myself. This might seem an obvious solution that would end the immediate problem at hand, it fails in three major respects:

1. It simply leaves Henny Penny free to start in on the next area of complaint.
2. It ends her fun. (Remember, she enjoys complaining.)
3. It would make me her personal butt monkey, slave to all her future whims and endlessly assaulted with requests.

No, I got my revenge in other ways. Devious and ultimately satisfying ways, which I will relate when I get back from my vacation.

Posted by sychotic1 at 1:07 PM PDT
Updated: Friday, 27 August 2004 10:43 PM PDT
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Thursday, 26 August 2004
A Walk Down Memory Lane
I wasn't always this way...a floater in the toilet bowl of the workplace. I used to be a hard worker. I gave 110 percent. In fact I worked myself up from the lowest level of service to one of the highest you can achieve without actually bossing other people around. I did this without the benefit of higher education or a decent wardrobe, which is no mean accomplishment.

I still do everything they ask of me. I still finish my assignments on time. I have an excellent attendance record and I have over a month's worth of vacation on the books.

So, what has changed? Well, fundamentally I see my job as completely futile and unnecessary where as historically I had only seen it as partially futile and unnecessary.

Civil Service has severed the tenuous connection between performance and pay. Politics in bureaucracy as eliminated any semblance of logic in the decision making process. Upper management are inevitably appointees that are better at smooching someone's backside that running an organization.

Sometimes I wonder why government works at all.

Okay, so that wasn't very funny...hmmm, how to lighten the mood. Maybe I can dredge up an anecdote:

Our facilities person got a phone call from the bathroom (from a cell phone, I know what you are thinking!) asking for a roll of toilet paper because the poor guy was in an embarrassing situation. Bum out with not even a butt gasket to come to the rescue. Now a woman could possibly dredge a few scraps of tissue smeared with lipstick from her purse to help matters out, but men have nowhere to hide emergency butt wiping supplies.

Our facilities person hurried to the supply closet and got a roll of toilet paper for the poor fellow, but he failed to specify *which* bathroom he was stuck in. We were in four buildings with two men's bathrooms in each building, meaning that the hunt was on.

Poor Lisa, toilet paper in hand, spent twenty minutes going from bathroom to bathroom, knocking on the door and trying to hand out toilet paper. She never did find the guy. Maybe someone gave him a hand over while she was searching for him. I like to think so, because the alternative is just too nasty to contemplate.

Posted by sychotic1 at 12:03 PM PDT
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Wednesday, 25 August 2004
Bathroom Stories
We had a coworker that made Felix Unger look like a slob. "Squealy" was so anal retentive that I don't think he had taken a decent dump since birth. The guy would monitor the relative cleanliness of the men's bathroom and make unsolicited reports to my boss, cc'ing his own boss to make sure my boss jumped quickly enough I guess.

Sample of the E-mails this guy generated:



My Boss Wednesday - IF YOU'RE HAPPY, I'M HAPPY




We used to snicker about all these notes, probably because if you didn't laugh you would have to cry.

Finally, one day, Squealy's normally staid and humorless boss had seen enough. So when Squealy passed his manager's office sighting a quick bathroom break, his boss quipped, "What, going to check the soap?"

Bear in mind that this is the guy that would complain if the sprinkler didn't hit every inch of the lawn. After complaining repeatedly about the sad state of the windows (he had a window seat) my boss actually went out there with a squeegie and did the windows.

If he had complained of fish in the pond, my boss might have waded out in hip boots.

I guess the moral of the story is that the squeaky wheel gets the oil...and gets laughed at by his coworkers.

Posted by sychotic1 at 2:32 PM PDT
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Tuesday, 24 August 2004
Work's Embarrassing Moments
Everyone has them*. No one wants to talk about them, but we do anyway. So here they are by category:

I came to work one day wearing two different shoes. Okay, so navy looks like black in the twilight of the early morning. Desk bound for the rest of the day.

Found some really egregious grease spots on my white shirt. Got creative with the white-out and found out that the white of white-out doesn't match the white of a work shirt and that white-out gets crunchy when dry.

Projectile vomited in the bathroom. Actually, I was lucky to make it to the bathroom and even the stall. Thank you cafeteria salsa.

Threw up in the planter on the way out of work with the flu. All the smokers got an eyeful that day.

Faux Pas:
Hit the "Reply All" button instead of the "Reply" button when making a caustic message. My bad.

Referred to a deceased coworker as 'snuficating' when someone told me what he committed suicide by turning on the gas. Damned runaway mouth! It was, to say the least, an awkward moment.

Called my boss, "Useless as tits on a boar," to his face. Okay, so this wasn't embarrassing at all, I just like to share it.

Next week: Other People's Most Embarrassing Moments at Work, as Witnessed by my Evil Self

*except that nauseatingly perfect girl who never gets a run in her nylons, whose hair is always perfect and who never forgets a report. If I was violent and homicidal, she would be the first to go.

Posted by sychotic1 at 2:57 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 24 August 2004 3:33 PM PDT
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Monday, 23 August 2004
Binders 'R Us
I am in charge of the binders where I work. No, not the stocking and distribution of empty binders, but the compilation and distribution of full binders...what they are full of I will leave to your imagination.

I take what is basically the same thirty pages of Departmental Infomercial, fact check the figures, spruce up the graphics and pass it off as original work. These are handed out at the very highest levels of government and they are essentially useless. Someone once joked that the last original work around here was produced in 1982 and we have been cannibalizing it ever since.

The upside is that my search for appropriate .jpegs allows me to surf the web at will.


The word Monday should always be said with a slight groaning sound as a homage to the dragging eternity it represents.


One of my coworkers died last week. There is no news on the cause of death. I feel like a vulture waiting to find out the details, but because he was about the same age as me, he shouldn't be dying of 'natural' causes. Stuff like this leaves me unsettled. I have unanswered questions, most beginning with the word WHY.

We have had more than our fair share of tragedy in the office, there was a murder/suicide, a drive by shooting, heart disease related death, alcoholic death, cancer death, and two more suicides (shooting and gassing). All in all it seems that the environment might border on toxic.

Posted by sychotic1 at 3:41 PM PDT
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