Sunday, 27 August 2017

It's A Cruel Summer

It is a given, when dealing with the public, that one will encounter all manner of douchebaggery. What buggers the mind is the stultifying magnitude of the public's willful stupidity, hostility, ignorance and entitlement. It is never easy or pleasant to deal with, even if, like me, one is able to find a modicum of humour in all of that crap.

And this is why it is doubly disappointing when there are people in one's office who *are* the public and behave just like them. Way back here, I blogged about Bananarama, who has turned out to be, alongside Oscillating Fan, one of the worst offenders. Her behaviour has been an ongoing concern for the clerks, our supervisor, Bananarama's supervisor and the other adjusters. She is a bully and an asshole such that she has been *required* to take the Respectful Workplace workshop twice. But I think Bananarama is made of teflon, because it isn't sticking.

Bananarama is, like OF, immune to social cues and feels entitled to your time, no matter what you happen to be doing or how busy you are. Her files are to take precedence over all other files and whatever other tasks you might have before you. There is a process for the adjusters if they want changes or updates to their files. They are either to send an email with instructions to a specific mailbox (in which case the changes are made within two days) or put the physical file in a specially-marked bin. We always have at least one clerk, often two, dedicated to such miscellaneous requests.

But Bananarama regularly brings the file directly to the last clerk who looked at it to explain how we fucked up (even though her instructions about certain procedures vary from week to week). She utterly ignores the established protocol and sails into one's office to demand special attention. And when one says (through one's sandwich), "I'm on lunch", she responds with, "Okay, but I just want to show you this one thing..."

We have a new director in our department, and Bananarama hates him with a passion. This is, quite possibly, the best endorsement of his capabilities that we might have, because if Bananarama hates him, he's probably not putting up with her shit the way the former director did. The former director was a rather studious, stooped, slender man with a shock of thick white hair and a gently wry sense of humour. He always reminded me of a medieval monk. He was an excellent leader, but he was older and tired of his work, and one could see that he was just looking forward to hitting the links in Arizona. Which is what he is doing right now, and I wish him joy of it.

The New Guy *might* be forty years old, comes from the public sector, and is as bright and shiny as a new penny. He is shy and awkward like a schoolboy, but has been vociferous in defending his new department against the usual municipal bureaucracy, makes an effort to make a personal connection with each of us at least once a day and remembers little details about us from conversation to conversation. I think he is fantastic, and the only one who seems to have an overt issue with The New Guy is Bananarama. The rest of us would marry him tomorrow.

So this past week, the office was short-staffed. My supervisor is away for two weeks, the awesome man who oversees the adjusters is on medical leave until September, and Pancreas (one of the three clerks) was on holidays. And it was a brutally busy week.  If I opened one claim, I must have opened sixty or seventy (which I assure you is a lot) in addition to my other duties. In fact, because Pancreas didn't open a single claim last Thursday or Friday (when the Clueless One was absent), I was still working on claims from last week on Monday.

So, whatever, right? It is what it is, and the only thing one can do is put one's head down and get the work done. 

Except on Monday at 12:15, Bananarama came to my cubicle with a file in her hand and asked if I was opening claims.

"I am after 1:00," I said."Right now, I'm on lunch."

She moved further into my office to stand next to my desk. "Okay, I just want to ask you if you'll open this claim for me right away."

"I can't. I'm still working on claims from last week." (This is against policy, by the way. We clerks have been told we're not permitted to tell the adjusters "no". But my experience with Bananarama is that if you give her an inch, she'll put a battlecruiser in it.)

"Yeah, but this woman has already been waiting a long time and blahblahblah."

Now to clarify, this woman had been waiting a little while, but not because we were behind in our work. The claimant had not gone through the regular channels, and therefore all Bananarama had was a collection of emails to her from another department. But as usual, she felt that her file should be opened on a priority level. Rather than argue with her, I told her that I would try to get to it as soon as possible, and she finally left my office.

She came to me the next morning to ask if the claim had been opened yet. I said "No". So she came back again at 1:00 to badger me further about it. I felt harassed and bullied, so took the fucking file and opened it right then and there. Unfortunately, in my haste (and resentment), I sent the wrong acknowledgement letter to the claimant. 

Bananarama lost her mind. She came back to my office to point out the error in no uncertain terms, insisted I resend it with an apology, and then, on her way out of the office, she stood in the hallway and said, "You guys (i.e.clerks) really need to pay attention to what you're doing."

The rest of the week was equally challenging. By the time Friday rolled around, I was ready to rage-quit. And the day started shittily when I discovered that the Clueless One wasn't coming in because of some issue with her mommy (not medical). I was, therefore, the only clerk on duty.

Now I will take a moment right here and now to say that the other adjusters pitched right in. They knew what kind of week I'd had and both Ruby and M. offered to open their own claims and generally do whatever they could to lessen my load. It was really nice and I absolutely appreciated their offers. It is people like this that keep me coming back to the office at times like this.

I had a busy morning, and decided to take my lunch a few minutes early. At 11:45, I went to the kitchen to heat my pasta. When I came back, Bananarama was seated in my chair at my desk, writing instructions for me on a file she wanted me to work on that afternoon. She didn't say anything except "hi", and proceeded to sit there at my desk, forcing me to stand and wait for several minutes while she wrote a note. Then she wanted to explain what she had written.

I was, by this time, seething with rage. I almost told her to fuck right off. Seriously. Only the spectre of my fucking mortgage kept my tongue still. But by that time, I had had enough. So I choked down my lunch, and spent the rest of my lunch hour composing a long and precise letter to The New Guy about what had happened this week and over the past few months with both O.F. and Bananarama. Let me tell you, that letter compiled an exhaustive list of their various transgressions, and I did apologize for bringing the concerns to him, but in the absence of absolutely everyone else, it went to him by default.

His response?

"Please never feel that you cannot come to me with your concerns, that is what I am here for.

"We will fix this."

So for a while I felt a little better, especially when he sad he wanted to set up a meeting with me next week to talk, and that if Bananarama came to me at all that afternoon, he was to tell me and he would provide an intervention. And I do hold out hope that The New Guy can effect some kind of change or standards so that this culture of bullying will stop. We will certainly see what happens in early September after our departmental meeting.

But on Friday after work, the Fragrant Missus and I came home to discover that some addict had been in our garage and jacked some of our shit, some of which will be difficult to replace.

So, I'm not in the best space right now, kids. I'm thinking there isn't enough Prozac in the world to make me feel right about people again. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Oscillating Fan: A Mighty Wind

Last week during our weekly clerical meeting, the subject of the Oscillating Fan came up as a general grievance. Specifically, it was suggested that our supervisor ask OF to turn down the volume on her cellphone ringer, as it is very loud and very distracting, especially since we are all in rather cramped quarters.

This was duly done. After our meeting, we all went back to our desks and our supervisor went in to see OF and had a very appropriate, very discreet chat about the volume of her cell phone. Although I sit directly outside OF's office, I wasn't able to hear this conversation.

But I know it happened because mere moments after our supervisor left, OF came out of her lair in a towering fury and complained loudly and longly to Marianne Faithfull about the audacity! How dare anyone! ANYONE! complain about the volume of her ringer! It's not loud! Some people just like to complain obviously! SHE doesn't complain (at which point, I almost choked, that's all she fuckin' does, is bitch and whine), but she is certainly going to start NOW!

And I confess I was very disappointed to hear Marianne Faithfull get right in there with the whinging. She completely supported OF, saying shit like, "People's music drives me crazy (Clerk 3) and blahblahblah, but I never say nothin', but I guess that's gonna hafta change."

And this very public exchange was done directly in front of my cubicle, so that all three of us clerks could hear it. It was aggravating to say the least to have them bully us in this manner for no better reason than we find OF's ringer loud. But we were left in no doubt as to where we stand in that office.

Or rather, *I* was left in no doubt. I mentioned in a private message to the clerk I shall call Pancreas that I deeply resented their attempts to belittle and demean us in this way.

But apparently Pancreas hasn't an ounce of critical analysis in her body because she said, "They don't have status over us!"

Uh, honey, I don't know how you can miss this, but they DO. Have you seen their paycheques? Their offices? Their other benefits? Their cellphones? Pancreas, not only do they have status over us, THEY JUST RUBBED OUR NOSES IN IT.

But I digress.

I asked the Clueless One and Pancreas if they felt comfortable going to our supervisor about it, and they demurred, saying, "Nothing's going to change" or "I don't want to make trouble." But I went anyway, cuz FUCK THAT and FUCK THEM. As usual, I found my supervisor to be extremely receptive to my complaint, she made note of it for future, correctly identified it as bullying (without being prompted) and thanked me for my time. Like, genuinely.

And then later in the week, OF was standing at the door to Marianne's office when OF's cellphone rang. And like the adult she is, OF said, "Oh, my phone. I better get it before it gets too loud."

I had to fight to suggest she stick it up her ass sideways. But both my supervisor and OF's supervisor are away for the next two weeks This means the likelihood of me getting written up for insubordination is distinctly lower than at other times, so it might just happen.

Watch this space for future updates.

And now, it is time once again for

The Claim Of the Week

Sometimes, when I try to imagine the inner mechanisms of my client's minds, I get an image of a repellent, moist slug oozing its slick, slimy path over a barren brainpan, eyestalks waving blindly in the dark, searching desperately for a glimpse of its own intelligence.

I'm not inclined to summon the slug image, though, because I rather find slugs fascinating in their way and would not intentionally offend them with comparisons to the shitbags that call my desk.

Instead, I usually imagine two, maybe three, brain cells, one of them gripping a mostly empty bottle of wood grain alcohol, stumbling around in the vast, black, empty cavern of their skull, pinging off the walls and each other in a more or less random fashion. And they hum tunelessly or shout non sequiturs, like, "He shoots! He SCORES!" or "ZUCCHINI!"

That's typically how I imagine them, dipshits like the windowlicking motherfucker who called me this morning. I start at 8:30, and by 9:00, I was ready to sign off on the entire race.

Jurassic Dork called up to ask me how to go about filling out a claim form, because on Friday, he made a turn and hit some barricades that were on the sidewalk with the result that he damaged his own car.

"So, just let me clarify a few things," I said. "You hit a stationary object on the sidewalk with your car. Is that correct?"


"Well, the City of Buttfuck is not going to pay out that claim."

There was a startled pause, while PeePee Cheeks attempted to process this unexpected response.

"Why not? They were your barricades!"

"They are stationary objects."

"Yeah, but..."

"Let me ask you this; if your car was parked and another vehicle hit your car, would you expect to pay for that car's damages?"

"So, you guys just put up barricades wherever you want and then walk away?"

"Are you suggesting that the barricades require supervision?"

"No, but they were sticking out into the lane! What do you expect me to do if the barricades are sticking out into traffic and there are cars in the other lane?"

"The City of Buttfuck expects you, as the operator of a motor vehicle, to slow down, stop if necessary, wait for the traffic to pass, and then proceed in safety without striking a stationary object."

"So, you're not going to do anything about the damage to my car, even though they were your barricades and they were encroaching on traffic? I mean, why didn't you push them back?"

"Because the barricades are placed where they are for safety reasons. They are there to stop motorists from driving into that area for safety reasons."

And at this point, the remaining functioning brain cell in this cheeto-dick's head clearly passed out in a feotid pile of its own entitled vomit, and he hung up on me.

Which was, I have to admit, imminently satisfying and a complete victory for me. It was also timely on his part, because I was about to remind the deadshit dicksack that the City of Buttfuck is not his personal Demolition Derby, and furthermore, I'd be retaining his contact information in case we needed to speak to him about recovery to damaged barricades.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

I'm Not A Fan

Most of the time when I post about my Place of Employment Not Enjoyment, I am fulsome in my contempt of the whiny populace, who seem content to wallow in vast seas of entitlement and ignorance, topped off by the frothy foam of verbal abuse hurled at those paid inadequately to serve them.

And that hasn't changed. Why, just last week, I opened a claim for some stunned bitch who feels that the City owes her the replacement of her tires because she ignored the decline of the entrance to the alleyway and drove over the curb. She instead drove into the hole where the City was doing work on the sidewalk. Her reasoning for why we should replace the tires? "I just had them replaced a few months ago." Right. Because you drive like a fucking asshole, bitch. DENIED.

Or I've had to log various incident reports from the rec centres, where young men (what is it with MEN, all-fuckin-ready? Y'all need to GROW UP as a gender, for realz) sneak into the facility without paying and then, when confronted by the staff, call the employees "faggot" and throw basketballs at their head with force enough to injure.

So, yeah, the crippling stupidity/ignorance/general dipshittery of the public continues unabated.

What has dismayed me profoundly over the last month or so is the same behaviour exhibited by one of the adjusters in my office. I call her The Oscillating Fan, because she is prone to standing around and yapping inexorably about nothing of any substance. It's really just air. 

This woman is so fucking annoying that I have had to rescue other adjusters from her endless monologues. I am famous on the floor for inventing reasons for going into the offices of these hapless victims in order to get her to move onto someone else's office (because she rarely goes back to her own). I will even go back to my desk and phone the adjusters, posing as a claimant, just so they have an excuse to get rid of her. (I will say, however, that these other adjusters need to grab a pair and start telling OF in no uncertain terms to fuck right off. Mind you, there have been a few that tried and she just talks over them, so there's that, too.)

Part of the problem with OF is that she is about as thick as two planks nailed together. She simply doesn't (won't?) pick up on social cues. People can be avoiding eye contact, looking at their screen and answering in monosyllables, and she just carries on blabbing. She has come into my cubicle at noon hour (more than once) and seen me sitting there with headphones on and YouTube on my screen and food in my face. Does she pick up on the signal that I am ON A BREAK? NO. She still asks me to look shit up for her or whatever. And when I tell her, "Can this wait until 1:00 when my lunch is finished?", she gets this look on her face like a break is a novel concept. Clearly, I am there to serve, lunch hours be damned.

Unfortunately, my cubicle is directly across the hallway from her office, so I am able to hear exactly how much she shags the canine. And, believe me, if OF is gifted in anyway, it is her ability to avoid work. It is truly staggering how much time this woman devotes to personal concerns during work hours. Because at least if she she was talking to these other adjusters about work-related issues, it would be an easier pill to swallow. But, OF comes in (late--she's already been disciplined for leaving early), and immediately goes into Marianne Faithful's office to talk about the weekend, or her daughter (not surprisingly, OF is a helicopter parent), or her sister living with dementia, or dogshit.

I cannot begin to surmise how many hours (no, literally, HOURS) OF has spend on the phone with another City department, talking about how one particular patron of the off-leash dog park she goes to doesn't pick up their dog's doodoo. I don't know how or why this issue requires hours of her attention, but it does, and when it is quiet in her office, she is usually texting her family on her cellphone. 

Also, she is a passive-aggressive twat. A couple of weeks ago, she was on the phone doing some actual work on a file when Reception called to say that OF had unexpected clients who wanted to see her. Rather than interrupt her while OF was doing rare and genuine work, my colleague left a note on her desk, explaining the situation. OF stayed on the phone for another twenty minutes, and when she emerged from her office, she said, "Well, someone could have taken (a document) up to these people for me."

Fuck you. Do it your damned self. Are we supposed to read your tiny mind? I'm glad I can't, because I don't think I could handle that profound a void.

Of course, we complain. OF's lack of a work ethic is well-noted with her supervisors. And when her immediate supervisor (who absolutely rocks, she is lucky to work for so splendid a person) has chats with her about her behaviours, you can hear her screaming at him beyond the closed office door. It is truly appalling. Let me tell you, people, unless it is someone like the streetside preacher I've mentioned previously, I don't talk to anyone like that (without serious provocation). I seriously don't know how that bitch keeps her job.

But it is completely demoralizing to work so hard and do the best we can, putting up with the steady levels of ignorance and shit from the public, and have to watch OF fuck the dog egregiously with no consequences. She makes the good bucks, she has a nice office with windows and a door (which she should use more often), and many other benefits as well. Meanwhile, I make considerably less, have an indoor cubicle with no door and work my whole entire ass off with civility and true dedication to supporting all of the adjusters (even the ones that need a good solid kick in the box with a frozen mukluk). And this bitch can't even respect the ONE HOUR I take for myself for lunch without interruption.

I am reassured by my supervisor that there is a department meeting coming next month during which these concerns will be addressed, but I am not sanguine. OF is one of these people who thinks "I wonder who they're talking about" when allegations of fucking around are raised. And as we've seen, she has absolutely no respect for her boss. (This guy is so rockin' he deserves his own praise-worthy blog post. Serious.)

It's like I said to a couple of the adjusters last week. In a department like ours, support and mutual respect goes so far in getting the work done and maintaining a harmonious workplace. Seriously, we're all just trying to help each other get home. But people like OF? They want to get there first, not to open the windows and get some food going for the rest of us. They just want to nab the best spot in front of the fireplace.