Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Excel Spearhead Sheets

Behold, dear readers: a member of my staff who is the very, very proud owner of an "MBA in financial management"....yet another testament to depths of Sand Landian talent pool.

------original message------
from: Joe Fuckwit joe@fuckwitteryinc.com
to: Ms. Adventures wickedwitch@fuckwitteryinc.com
date: Sun, Nov 28, 2010 at 1:57 PM
subject: Spearhead Sheet

Dear Esteemed Madam,

I take this opportunity to thank You for Your valuable suggestions about my Spearhead Sheet. It was really great to know Your requirements and I shall do my level best in furtherance of the accomplishment of these works. I have made the necessary changes and You will find two sample entries on the Spearhead Sheet which is attached herewith.
Please suggest.

Thanking you,
Joe F.
------original message---------
to: Joe Fuckwit joe@fuckwitteryinc.com
from: Ms. Adventures wickedwitch@fuckwitteryinc.com
date: Sun Nov 28, 2010 at 2:14 PM
subject: Re: Spearhead sheet

Hi Joe,

I've made a few changes to the file. Please proceed using the attached version. Please note that this type of file is called a "spreadsheet" - not a "spearhead sheet."

Ms. Adventures

------original message------
from: Joe Fuckwit joe@fuckwitteryinc.com
to: Ms. Adventures wickedwitch@fuckwitteryinc.com
date: Sun, Nov 28, 2010 at 2:26 PM
subject: Spearhead Sheet

Noted, Madam. Thank You for the changes to the Spreadhead Sheet.

Thanking You,
Joe F.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Off-Site Part 2: "Whose Feet Are These?"

(If you haven't already done so, you may want to read "The Off-site Part 1" before reading this post.)

Half an hour after the tour company called to say my out-of-town guests and I were being re-routed to "The Tourist Camp" instead of "The Desert Dunes Fantasy Wonderland Resort" I'd paid for, we turned off of the main road and onto a gravel path. The gravel path quickly gave way to a vast expanse of sand dunes.

Rufus revved the engine and guided his rusted out Land Cruiser toward a large dune. "We do dunes now, touristers!" he proclaimed, bobbing his head like a cocky hip-hop star on MTV.

"Oh sweet, this is gonna be like a roller coaster!" the guy riding shotgun yelled.

"Weeee!" we all screamed as we barreled toward the top of the dune, our utter disgust for Rufus giving way to child-like glee.

KA-THUMP! The Land Cruiser lurched to a dead stop.

We looked out the window to see that the bottom half of the front wheels were stuck in the sand. Rufus floored the accelerator, which only succeeded in causing the back wheels to fish-tail and drive the front of the car further into the sand.

"Ok, touristers. You too heavy for car, you get out," he said.

We climbed out and stood at the top of the dune as he tried flooring it a second time. Sand sprayed everywhere and the front bummer of the Land Cruiser disappeared into the sand.

"Ok, you dig, touristers!" he called, rolling down the window and pointing to the back of the SUV. We took shovels out and started to move the sand away from the front wheel. Then the guys got behind the SUV and pushed as Rufus accelerated. After 15 minutes, the old beast was free.

We climbed back in and coasted down the dune and head for the next dune.

"Alright, here we go!" called shotgun guy.

But the same damned thing happened when we got to the top. We all groaned and got out of the vehicle. I called up The Tourist Camp and proceeded to have my second Susie Greene-esque tirade of the day (again, Ms. Greene is NSFW). The Tourist Camp said they were dispatching "Kumar" ex poste-haste.

"Uh, dudes and dudettes, I don't think homeboy here has engaged the 4 wheel drive," shotgun guy said as we watched the wheels spin. How shotgun guy knew this I have no clue, but anyway...

We were digging out the rust bucket when one of the ladies pointed toward the horizon and proclaimed "Look! Help is here!"

In the distance, a white Prado raced towards us, negotiating the dunes as deftly as a gazelle bounds across the African savannah. A man dressed head to toe in khakis hopped out of the car, waving to us as his Yasser Arafat scarf billowed around his neck.

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman. I'm Kumar and I'll take you to The Tourist Camp," he called, motioning for us to get in the Prado.

We dropped the shovels and grabbed our overnight packs without giving Rufus and the rust bucket a second thought.

As we walked toward the Prado, Kumar muttered something under his breath. One of the visitors, who spoke Hindi, did a triple take.

"What did Kumar say?" I asked her.

"He said something like 'How many times have we told them not to send that stupid sisterfucker here'?" she translated, blushing.

"Damn straight, Kumar! Gimme five!" I said, high-fiving him as we walked to the Prado.

Kumar took us to The Tourist Camp, expedited our check-in and then chauffeured us on an extended dune bashing excursion. Kumar of Arabia had some serious dune bashing skills and we had a grand old time.

Things were going good until it came time for dinner. As we sat in a circle on the floor and ate from a communal plate, I saw the color drain from Mr. Adventures' face.

"What is it?" I asked.

"Um, he's baaaaack," Mr. Adventures, said pointing at someone behind me.

I turned around and saw Rufus stumbling toward us, brown-bagged beverage in hand - *WASTED*.

"Hi touristers," he said, plopping down beside us.

As we looked at him in scornful silence, he dug in. Then he stood up, reached across the communal plate and took a can of beer out of one of the ladies' hands.

"You are nice girl, you should no drink. Never!" he said, smiling sweetly.

"Alright, Rufus," I said, snatching the can from him. "Why don't you go back and hang out with the other guides. We're busy."

"No," he laughed. "I like her. I want her not to drink. She is nice lady. I want her marry me."

The poor woman almost choked on her food.

"Rufus, go! Now!" I said through gritted teeth, pointing toward the tent's opening. He got up and scurried over to his crush victim.

"I can have dinner with you?" he asked, trying to put his arm around her. Food was flying as we tried to keep him from the hapless woman.

One of the guys stood up, put his arm around Rufus and escorted him away.

"Ok, I don't think he'll bother us again," the guy said, returning to the group.

But how wrong we were...Later that night, we were sitting beside a camp fire as a group of men performed traditional Sand Landian music and dances. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Rufus sitting a few meters away screwing around on his mobile phone.

Rather than making a scene, I pretended to ignore him. After a few minutes, when my attention was wholly focused on the performers, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I caught a whiff of stale beer as I turned my head. Rufus was peering down at me.

"I not  bother you. I have just question," he said defensively.

"What?" I asked glaring at him.

"Have look at this," he said, handing me his mobile.

As I took it, he asked "Whose feet are these?"

I looked at the screen for a second and recognized my silver nail polish.

"They're my feet," I said, starting to hand the phone back and shooing him away.

"Hey, wait, what the hell are you doing taking pictures of my feet, you creepy-ass freak?!" I screamed, ripping the mobile out of his hand. I deleted the picture of my feet...and the one of his prospective bride's feet...and the one of Mr. Adventures' feet and hurled the mobile phone into the darkness.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Off-Site Part 1: "Look that, a animal!"

Awhile back, my company played host to a corporate delegation from abroad. The small group was in town to check out Sand Land and assess the possibility of entering the local market. When I got word that our visitors would be in town over the weekend, I decided to organize a desert excursion for them. What's the point of coming to Sand Land if you can't get your "Lawrence of Arabia" thang on, right?

Sand Landian tour operators are, in the words of Forrest Gump, 'like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get." Some guides are amazing and others make the clowns I write about look half-way competent. I called up a company that I'd had luck with in the past and told them I wanted to: (1) take my guests to one of the "five-star" desert camps; and (2) I wanted to meet/approve the guide beforehand. The next day, "Dave" a polite, well-spoken guide with a degree in Middle Eastern history was in my office planning out the trip with me.

But things pretty much went to hell in a hand basket from there...

On the morning of the trip, I got a call from the tour operator. Dave was down with the flu. Not to worry, they were rustling up a replacement. 45 minutes later, a disheveled man named "Rufus" screeched into Fuckwittery, Inc.'s parking lot at the helm of an ancient Land Cruiser.

I could waste your time by painting a detailed picture of Rufus, but suffice it to say, if they ever make "Deliverance Part II: Sand Land," Rufus could aptly portray Mr. Squeal Like a Pig's Sand Landian alter ego. Back in elementary school, my friends and I would have gleefully labelled him an inhabitant of "Weirdo Town."

"Good morning, touristers!" he called, hopping out of his rust bucket. He proceeded to greet each person and spent an uncomfortable amount of time shaking the ladies' hands while his eyes were fixed on our chests.

"All you go to car now," Rufus instructed.

"Hey guys," I said as the visitors started for the SUV, "Why don't I call the tour company and see if they've got a better - uhhh - vehicle?"

"It's no biggie," one guy said. "We've already wasted an hour waiting around. Let's just get going."

"No, really," I said, glancing sideways at Rufus. "We don't want to ummmmm...break down in the middle of nowhere."

But the visitors insisted it was cool. They were bored and antsy from waiting around and just wanted to get to the Desert Fantasy Wonderland Resort.

So we hopped in the Land Cruiser and set off for the dunes. Rufus didn't speak enough English to answer the visitors' questions about Sand Landian history, but he made up for it by singing to us. The visitors stared out the windows in uncomfortable silence as a "this guy is a creepy freak" klaxon alarm rang in my head.

After an hour we stopped in an old farming town to stretch our legs. As the visitors snapped pictures of the abandoned mud brick houses, Rufus got into tour guide mode by helpfully explaining, "Look that, a animal!" as a solitary goat walked by. And with that, the guided tour of the town started and ended.

A Animal!

We piled back in the SUV and continued on our way to the camp. When he was finally hoarse from singing to us, Rufus asked us if we'd like to listen to "his favorite music." Sure we said, thinking we'd get to savour some traditional Sand Landian melodies as we snaked through a series of farms and villages. He fished around in the glove compartment for a cassette.

"Yay! I love Middle Eastern music," one of the girls said, as she gazed out at some villagers walking beside the road.

Rufus popped in a tape and cranked up the volume. Static crackled from the speakers for a few seconds, and then...

"Just BEAT IT! BEAT IT!!!!!! No one wants to be defeated,"shrieked Michael Jackson.

At this point, things were simply a "we'll be laughing about this over beers tonight" weird. But when we stopped for lunch, things took a turn for the cringe-inducing bizarre. As he chewed on his chicken shwarma, Rufus looked intently at the chest of one of the female visitors.

"Do you have babies?" he asked, his mouth full of food.

"No," she replied.

"Oh, I think you should have baby," he said, pointing to her chest. "You should breast feed."

I stared at him in slack-jawed horror. How in the hell did a guy who didn't know the word "goat" know the term "breast feed"?

But Rufus was on a roll. Without missing a beat, while everyone was still staring at him in shell-shocked silence, he pointed to another lady who was half African, half European. "If I no be in sun, I have a more light color than you," he boasted, pointing to his dark skin.

My husband and I exchanged deer-in-the-headlights looks and dragged him to the parking lot as the visitors choked on their food.

"What the hell's wrong with you, you sick pervert?!" I yelled.

"I no say anything to you because husband is here," Rufus countered.

"What the fuck's that supposed to mean?" I screamed, embarking on a tirade that my husband says bore a striking resemblance to the bat shit ravings of Curb Your Enthusiasm's Susie Greene (don't click the "Susie" link while at work, within earshot of your kids or if you are offended by copious deployment of the F-bomb). After a few minutes, my husband stepped in and calmly instructed Rufus not to direct any further comments to the ladies in the group.

As Rufus and Mr. Adventures had their man-to-man chat, I got on the phone with the tour operator. They apologized profusely and said that they'd arrange for another guide to meet us at the camp and take us back the next day. Reluctantly, the group climbed back in the SUV and we headed for the camp.

Five minutes later, my mobile rang. It was the tour company. The Desert Fantasy Wonderland Resort was overbooked and we were being re-routed to something called "The Tourist Camp."

To be continued...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Not Happy With Your Job? Get Your Mommy to Yell at Me!

Keeping Fuckwittery, Inc.'s reception desks staffed is a perennial problem. The average receptionist's tenure is comparable to the lifespan of a fruit fly. Finding people who communicate effectively, are polite, report to work on-time and are willing to work is a tall order.

For a few fleeting months, I thought this problem was solved after I got a call from a marketing person at one of the local training colleges. Would I be interested in hiring a courteous, punctual, articulate young person who had undergone extensive training in front office tasks?

Before I could finish doing the Happy Dance, the marketing rep was in my office extolling the benefits of the 8 month training program. Each Rockstar Receptionist interned at a local hotel for a month - learning in the trenches! If a Rockstar Receptionist showed up late to class more than 3 times they were booted from the program! All Rockstar Receptionists manned the training college's front desk for a minimum of 200 hours!

"Halle-fuckin-lujah. I'll take ten," I thought, fighting the urge to fall at the marketing rep's feet and kiss the ground she walked on.

The next week, she brought a young man named "Felix" to meet me. If I agreed to employ him, his training would be subsidized by the government. Before signing, I asked if I could interview Felix one-on-one. The marketing rep wasn't thrilled, but she eventually consented.

Me: So, how are you doing, Felix?

Felix: I go training for company.

Me: Uh, ok. What work experience do you have?

Felix: I go training for company.

I called the rep back into my office and told her that while I was interested in sponsoring a trainee, it didn't appear that Felix had the communication skills necessary to be a receptionist. Not to worry, I was told. The English language component of the curriculum was so intensive that he would be fluent when he started working with us in 8 months. They all start out like this! So stupid, naive, fresh-off-the boat me took her word for it and signed up to sponsor Felix.

I started to get a bad feeling about 3 months into the program when I was invited to the college for a progress report. A horrific accident snarled traffic that morning and I tried to call the instructor to say I'd be late. But the guy answering the phones hung up on me. I tried a second time with the same result. On the third try, I was placed on hold and subjected to what can only be described as "circus music from hell" before again getting the shaft from the receptionist.

Arriving at the college, I saw none other than my man Felix standing behind the reception desk. Never to worry, I was told. Felix still has alot of training to undergo...blah, blah, blah.

Fast forward five months and Felix - newly minted Rockstar Receptionist - is now officially onboard full-time. He graduated from the training college with flying colors, "one of the most talented students in his batch" gushed one instructor. Seeing his esteemed credentials, our office manager placed him at the reception desk. An hour later my mobile was burning up:

"Dude, who the hell is that asshole that keeps hanging up the phone?"

"I asked the receptionist to transfer me to you and he put me on hold for 10 minutes, then transferred me to accounts payable, then hung up on me! I spoke to him in English and Arabic, WTF?"

I called the office manager and Felix into my office to find out what was going on. Felix explained that the callers "weren't talking properly" so he had no choice but to hang up on them. I told the office manager to get him off the phones and give him some photocopying work. I then emailed the training college to figure out what to do with him.

Later that morning, the office manager came by to tell me that Felix was AWOL. "Whatever," I thought as I turned back to my spreadsheet.

An hour later I was told a lady wanted to speak to me about Felix. Thinking it was someone from the training institute I told my assistant to send her in. A large, irate woman lumbered in - brow furrowed, nostrils flaring.

"Are you boss of Felix?" she bellowed.

"Um, I'm not his immediate supervisor, but how can I help you?" I said, sheepishly.

"I mother of Felix!"

"Ok. What's the matter?"

"You should not be mean to Felix! Felix is professional!" Momma Bear snarled, plopping down in a chair.

"I wasn't aware that I had been mean to Felix."

"Felix is professional receptionist! But you not let him answer telephone? You have no right for this. No right!" Momma Bear yelled, wagging her finger at me.

"Well, considering Felix was hanging up on every caller, I certainly do have the right to stop him from answering the phones."

"No you don't, bad woman!! He went training class for telephone. He is professional," she screeched as she banged on my desk. Momma Bear hissed like a snake and pointed her finger at me, "You are bad!"

Momma Bear's on the case:
Kickin' ass, takin' names!
Oh Felix, you pathetic little twit. You spent 8 months studying how to answer telephones, yet emerged unable or unwilling to do so. I kindly gave you a less intellectually taxing assignment, which you decided was not sexy glamorous enough for you. So you literally run home crying to mommy???


You have got to be kidding me, dude! Sand Cat - my feline sidekick - deals with perceived maltreatment in a more emotionally evolved manner. (Her MO is thumping the offending party on the forehead...hey, at least she's fighting her own battles, playerhaters!) 
Sand Cat:
"Come get your thumping!"
Friends, please indulge me while I jump on my soap box for a moment:

Felix, Momma Bear et al, the fact that you attend a training program means nothing to an employer if you are unable to apply anything you've learned. If you cannot put into practice that which you studied, then you may as well have stayed at home all those months playing Grand Theft Auto. One (or one's mother) cannot simply go around pounding his or her chest whilst exclaiming "Training course! Training course! Me went training course!"

Whew, now I feel much better. Hopping off soap box.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The "We're all gonna die" Chain Mail Epidemic

I'm starting to feel like I've been teleported back to 1997. Fuckwittery, Inc. is in the midst of a full blown chain email epidemic - but we're not talking about cutesy stuff like dancing babies or hamsters. No, ours is an epidemic of fear. As I write, death stalks Fuckwittery, Inc.'s cubicle farm, callously waiting for some unsuspecting schmo to answer their mobile phone, fire up their laptop or pop an over-the-counter pain relief tablet.

Since Sunday, ominous chain emails have swept through the office like a prairie fire, leaving pure, unadulterated terror in their wake. So far this week, we've learned it's virtually certain we'll die from one of the following:
  • Mouse shit residue on soda cans
  • Dried rat urine on soda cans
  • Exploding mobile phone batteries
  • Mobile phones that incinerate when you answer a call while they're charging
  • Laptops that spontaneously combust when turned on
  • Laptops that catch on fire if left sitting on a bed
  • Panadol and Tylenol, as they are stored as poison in your liver
  • And, my personal favorite, being electrocuted while taking flash photographs when you happen to be standing on top of a train.
Nightmare on Fuckwittery, Inc.'s cube farm
In the Sand Landian workplace - or, at least, my Sand Landian workplace-  the senders of such emails are hailed as life-saving heroes. Back home, people may have been annoyed by such emails, but in Sand Land sending "We're all gonna die" emails is one of the fastest and easiest ways to gain the admiration and adoration of your colleagues. If you wish to raise your profile in the office, firing off one of these emails is pretty much a sure bet.

Here's a quick how-to guide for sending "We're all gonna die" chain email to your Sand Landian co-workers:

#1. Get your hands on a "we're all gonna die" email. This shouldn't be hard as these things are plentiful, but I've attached a sample at the bottom of this post, just in case you're busy or feeling lazy.

#2. Make sure the email will grab your co-workers' attention - this is serious information, afterall. The email should be written in a scare-mongering manner. It should also employ attention grabbers like garish colors, a crap ton of exclamation points, 24+ font size, or ALL CAPS - preferably all of these.

If you don't believe your chain mail is panicky and strident enough, take a few moments to embellish it with some underlines, RED ALL CAPS, etc.

#3. Gather as many email addresses as you can. Sand Landian workplace etiquette dictates that you copy the entire company email directory from MS Outlook and paste it into the "To:" line of your email.

If you really want to be a good Samaritan, try to track down the emails of all your company's customers, suppliers and business partners. I mean, how shitty are you going to feel if, after warning your co-workers about mouse shit residue on soda cans, you come to find out that the accounts manager of your paper products supplier has succumbed after cracking open a Redbull??

#4 Add your own screechy warning at the top of the email. Something along the lines of:
THE PERSON IN THIS EMAIL WAS A FRIEND OF A FRIEND OF MY BROTHER’S WIFE’S COUSIN! THIS IS SERIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS REAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
#5 Hit Send.

#6 Run! Run for your co-workers' lives!!! Quickly dart from office to office, cube to cube exhorting your co-workers to click "Send/Receive" until your email shows up in their inbox. Tell them to drop what they are doing and read that email - stat!

#7 Do a quick check. As you roam about the cube farm getting people to read your email, take time to make sure no one is engaged in the very behavior you are trying to warn them about. For instance, when the "rat urine on soda cans" email went around, the sender found me sitting in my office happily swigging from my ever-present can of Diet Dr. Pepper.

#8 The Intervention. If you find an employee courting death by doing that which your email warns them against, it is your duty to stop them. Follow the lead of the Rat-Urine-on-Soda-Cans-Whistle-Blower:

RUOSCWB: "Muh - Muh - Muh - Madam! Please stop doing that. Now!!!!"

Me [jumping in seat]: "What? What am I doing?"

RUOSCWB: "Drinking out of that...can! Haven't you gotten my email? There's rat urine! Rat uuuurine!! Hit send/receive, hit send/receive! Now!!!!!"

Me [clicking send/receive]: "Oh, um, ok. Rat urine on soda cans, eh? You know, I've been drinking diet Dr. Pepper out of cans all my life. I think I'll be ok."

RUOSCWB [neck muscles straining, eyes popping out of skull]: Noooo!! Please, please stop. Give it to me. I'll put it in a glass for you."

RUOSCWB trots away, holding my soda can at arm's length.

#9 Foment mass hysteria. Once you've gotten everyone in the office to read the email, go to the chattiest, loudest person in the office and start talking in an animated manner about what a miracle it is that neither of you have died from rat urine on soda cans, etc. Your co-workers will be drawn to the two of you like moths to a flame and a collective freak-out will ensue.

#10 Pat yourself on the back. As you stand in a sea of panicking co-workers, give yourself a mental pat on the back. You have saved not only their lives, but the lives of countless others. Once the mass panic dissipates, your coworkers will scuttle back to their desks and spend the remainder of the workday forwarding your email to everyone they know.

At the end of the work day, your co-workers will peel out of the parking lot seatbeatless and hit a fast food drive-thru for the second time that day. On the drive home, they'll tail-gate the car in front of them and run a red light or two...all while basking in the knowledge that they're gonna live to 101 now that they know not to talk on a mobile phone while it's charging.

"We're all gonna die" Chain Email Sample:

BEFORE READING THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This incident happened recently in North Texas . ITS A REAL STORY
A woman went boating one Sunday taking with her some cans of coke which she put into the refrigerator of the boat. On Monday she was taken to the hospital and placed in the Intensive Care Unit. She died on Wednesday.

The autopsy concluded she died of Leptospirosis. This was traced to the can of coke she drank from, not using a glass. Tests showed that the can was infected by dried rat urine and hence the disease Leptospirosis.

Rat urine contains toxic and deathly substances. It is highly recommended to thoroughly wash the upper part of soda cans before drinking out of them. The cans are typically stocked in warehouses and trans ported straight to the shops without being cleaned.

A study at NYCU showed that the tops of soda cans are more contaminated than public toilets (i.e).. full of germs and bacteria. So wash them with water before putting them to the mouth to avoid any kind of fatal accident.
Please forward this message to all the people you care about.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tales from the Resume Slush Pile: The Skillionaires

In both school and the work place, I've always motivated myself by keeping in mind that there are many talented people competing with me for the same opportunities. Most of these people are probably smarter than me and a good many are probably more hardworking. So if I want to get into a decent school or be gainfully employed, I'd better work hard and acquire marketable skills.

Perhaps you job hunters here in Sand Land will also find this mind trick useful as you work toward landing that dream job?  Well, please allow me to assist you by giving you an idea of what you're up against. Straight from the Resume Slush Pile, I've gleaned a sampling of the skills your competitors are sporting.

A word of caution before we proceed: In all likelihood, you do not currently possess talents comparable to those of the "Skillionaires." In fact, prior to stumbling across this post, you were probably unaware that many of these skills exist. Seeing the stiff competition you face may cause severe anxiety, so it's best to avoid comparing your present self to The Skillionaires. At this stage of the game, simply use The Skillionaires as inspiration - an insight into what might be if you work really really hard and persevere.

In order to avoid feeling depressed or overwhelmed by The Skillionaires, you'll need to get yourself in the right mindset before scrolling any further. Do a few push ups, watch an episode of He-Man, put on the "Rocky" theme or "Eye of the Tiger"...whatever helps you get pumped up. As you behold the prowess of The Skillionaires, keep telling yourself: "I, too, can become a Skillionaire if I exhibit virtue, dedication and courage. I have the POWER! RAAAWWWRRRR!!!!!!!!"

You most certainly do, job hunters of Sand Land.

(1) Expert in the Encoderation of the Desk computer.

(2) Can efficiently communicate with other nationals verbally and in written.

(3) Full license to do international computer driving things.

Ummm...uhhhhh....jiggah what??????

(4) Able to perform any kind of Dancing

Me [lighting cigarette and buzzing secretary like Don Draper]: "Hey Joanie, send in the dancing girls, it's been a loooong day. And get me an Old Fashioned while your at it."

(5) Able to do Pilates, Tae-boo, Aerobics

Darn, we at Fuckwittery, Inc. are only interested in people who can participate in our lunchtime Strippercize and Jazzercize classes.

(6) Academic qualifications can't do it

Yes. This is real - and most probably true based on my experiences with Sand Land's education system.

(7) Excellent ability for pleasuring customers with gratitude

Cheeky, cheeky, cheeky...

(8) I can do the counts and I also can do the multiplix

Wowza! This sounds like complicated shit. I've never even heard of "multiplix" - it must be something you get to after Differential Equations. I didn't have the bandwidth to venture past good ol' Diffy Q...

(9) Always soar the company to better hites assuming the cooption of the work mates!

Fair enough, but what happens when the work mates don't coop with you?

(10) Far reaching knowledge about the day- to day activities of any job

Word up, job hunters! My humble advice is to put this exact phrase on your CV. Front and center. This is pretty much exactly what every employer is looking for.

Hey Mr. Any Job, mind if I clone a mini-army of you? It would really make my life easier...and more fun! To start with, I could take the Resume Slush Pile to the beach tonight, set it aflame, cook s'mores over it and dance around it. Then I could take an extended vacation while you and the gang hold down the fort.

(12) I am always Carving the winning edge for teh Organization

(13) I have the skills of exercising an "executive view" and decision making ability, or so to say, I traffick in operating skills.

You know, it's funny you mention that. When people tell me they're capable of making decisions, I always find myself thinking: "Self, this person must be another one of those 'operating skills traffickers'." Great minds think alike, huh? :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Definitive Guide to Submitting Your Resume in Sand Land

Are you new to Sand Land? Looking for a job? Well, before you unwittingly commit a job search faux pas, allow me to offer a word of caution: The etiquette for submitting your resume to a Sand Landian organization is quite different from the process you might have followed back home. But don't fret, Ms. Adventures is here to help! Today, I'll walk you through the whole process step-by-step. I've even included a real life example for future reference.

Ok, we've got alot to cover, so let's get going:

Step #1: Create a Resume that Gets Noticed:

In all likelihood, you'll need to toss out your existing resume and start anew - the end product will bear no semblance to the resume you used back home.

It is of vital importance that your CV begin with an "infodump" - a list of personal details such as:
  • marital status
  • spouse's name
  • parents' names
  • religion 
  • gender
  • passport number
Folks, I simply can't stress enough how important is it that I know you parents' names and your religious beliefs when I'm considering whether to hire you. But please note, it is not considered acceptable to include things like your telephone number and your email. If you must list some contact information, put someone else's...preferably that of a relative or acquaintance working elsewhere in the region. (More on the reasoning behind this later.)

 Next, you'll need to elaborate on your previous experience. Lengthy stream-of-conscious paragraphs are preferred. If you really want to stand out, make sure you use a few different fonts and font sizes. In Sand Land, this signifies to the an employer that you are a veritable expert in MS Word - sticking to one font is the hallmark of the novice who is ignorant of the fact that multiple fonts exist. Discerning use of the Comic Sans font is a sure fire way to get yourself noticed.

Above all, do not use concise bullet points to summarize your work experience. This is too sparse for the Sand Landian employer's aesthetic. Should you have any trouble at all coming up with verbose paragraphs detailing your experience, simply hop on the internet and use the old "control c/control v" trick. Nothing screams "I'm an honest, upstanding employee" like a sprinkle of plagiarism.

(Note: This "control c/control v" technique also proves extremely handy should you need to claim experience that you don't actually possess.)

If you find that there are hyperlinks embedded in the text you've lifted from Wikipedia, by all means, leave them in. The underlines will help draw the recruiter's attention to key words and phrases that are sure land you the coveted interview.

Ok, so next up are the all important hobbies - or as some Sand Landian job hunters say, "hobbs." Much like your religious beliefs and your parents' names, these are a critical piece of the puzzle for the Sand Landian employer. You may even want to consider placing them directly below the infodump and above your work experience. We prospective employers have unlimited time to pour over your resume and you definitely want us to waste use some of that time learning what you like do when you're not at work.

A final word of advice on creating a killer Sand Land-style resume: DO NOT proofread or spellcheck your creation. Little typos here and there lend an air of whimsy to your resume.

Step #2: Save Your Resume:

When saving your resume, be sure to label it something vague like "CV" or "resume" or "want job." Avoid including your name or any indication of the post to which you are applying. This sounds counter intuitive, but trust me - much like omitting your email and telephone number from the resume, there's a very good reason for this that I'll get to later.

Step #3: Print Your Resume:

When you find a job for which you want to apply, you might be tempted to simply email your resume to the point of contract listed in the classified ad. But, no, no, no, my friend. That's not the way we kick it here in Sand Land. You should print your resume and proceed directly to Step #4.

Step #4: Allow Your Printed Resume to Age Nicely, Like a Premium Cut of Beef or a Fine Wine:

As soon as you're done printing your resume, put it on your kitchen counter for a few days. If you spill tea or coffee on it, all the better! Your prospective employer is likely to be a caffeine junkie, too. The presence of a coffee or tea stain signals to them that not only are they getting a new employee, they're also gaining a coffee break buddy - who can resist a twofer? Not me.

Step #5: Fold Your Resume:

After aging your resume, fold it in two places, much like you would fold a letter that you intend to put in an envelope. But don't put your resume in an envelop or any other protective cover.

Step #6: The Hand Off:

Give your folded resume to your spouse (or parent, or friend or neighbor) and ask them to take it to work with them. Specify that you want them to put it in their back pocket or shirt pocket until lunchtime. This will give your resume a rumpled appearance that is much prized amongst Sand Landian employers.

Step #7: Lunchtime:

Instruct the person in possession of your resume to eat lunch over it. Fresh food stains will signify that you're a discerning foodie who is capable of making delectable contributions to the company potluck.

Step #8: Scanning and Upload:

After lunch, your resume's caretaker should proceed with scanning the document. It is best to do this one page at a time and to upload each page separately - do not combine the pages into a single file!! If this seems illogical to you, think back to your childhood. Did you want one present or *many* presents for your birthday/Christmas/whatever-holiday-you-celebrated? If you were like me (a greedy little shit) you wanted boatloads of presents. Garner some goodwill from your prospective employer by turning your resume into the gift that keeps on giving.

Tell the person that, when they save your resume, they should employ the same vague naming technique you used in Step #2. "CV1" "CV2" "CV3", etc.

And if you really want to spice things up, make sure some pages are scanned in a different direction. It shows that you were one of those rebel kids who colored outside the lines (and who generally grow up to be kickass happy hour companions).

Step #9: Hitting Send:

Now it's time for your spouse/friend/neighbor to send your resume. Remind them not to include your contact information. From the employer's perspective it is preferable for this person to include either their own contact information or none at all. Allow me to elaborate:

Remember how I told you to avoid putting contact details in your resume? And how I warned you not to name your resume anything specific that might tell me who you are and what job you want? The dirty little secret is that we prospective employers have nothing to do besides sift through the resume slush pile. Until your friend sends me your resume,  I'm sitting around staring at the walls, twiddling my thumbs and generally bored off my ass.

But all that monotony dissipates when I get your resume! Finally I have something awesome to do: Put my amateur sleuth skills to the test and figure out who you are, what you're qualified to do and how I can get in touch with you. Suddenly, I'm the protagonist in a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys novel. Sweet!

Always keep in mind that prospective employers love the thrill of the chase. It is called a job hunt, afterall...as in I'm hunting for you! Recruiters are like the male suitor in a relationship. Most of the fun is in the pursuit. Hard to get = Better! So be coy, be sly, and above all be unreachable.

Now, I know your head must be spinning after all these tips. But take heart, you can always refer to the example below in case you need to double check that you've gotten it right. Happy job hunting!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Punishment File Chronicles: You consumed "alcoholic drugs"

This installment of the "Punishment File Chronicles" features the exploits of "Chuckles," a former employee at my company. (For those of you who are new to my blog, please see this post for the backstory on the Punishment File.)

Chuckles was an affable fellow. He always had a grin on his face and was well liked by his colleagues. But Chuckles' downfall was booze. The man just couldn't resist the demon water's siren song...even when it called his name an hour before work. Throughout his tenure with us, Chuckles' battle with the bottle landed him in the Punishment File a couple of times. Here's a transcription of his first brush with Mr. By Order:

Dear Mr. Chuckles,

It had been observed by the management than you had took the alcoholic drug and came to duty and fallen down unconsciously which created a bad impression to our organization and staffs. Furth to the above matter above the Management herby has decided to suspend you for a period of 10 days starting from 15/8/20XX afternoon to 30/8/20XX morning.

This is first and final warn to you and if this naughty misbehavior is repeated you will be deported without any benefits and to the expense of yours only.

By Order,

The Adminitater

Adminitater? Now I'm picturing Mr. Potato Head penning these letters. Oh, Mr. By Order, whatever you lack in writing abilities, you surely compensate for it with your whiz bang counting skills...

Ok, I know what you're wondering: What pray tell are "alcoholic drugs" and where can I score some? Why am I dicking around with a nightly vodka on the rocks when I could be enjoying alcoholic drugs? Well, from what my sources tell me, Chuckles' beverage of choice was "toddy" a homemade firewater distilled from the sap of coconut trees. I'll keep my eyes peeled next time I'm cruising through the duty-free and let y'all know if I spot some. :)

Alright, so back to Chuckles' infraction. Chuckles staggered into the office one morning, his eyes bloodshot and his clothes reeking of alcohol. He stood still in the middle of the lobby for a couple minutes and looked around in complete confusion. Then he fell backwards, crashed into a potted plant and lay on the floor  unconscious.

But Chuckles took his 10 (or 15) day suspension in stride and came back to work. He was doing ok for a few months, but then the demon reared its ugly head again, as evidenced by yet another citation in the Punishment File:

Dear Mr. Chuckles,

The management had noted that you did again some disbehavior because of consuming the alcoholic drug. The management herby demands that you submit full explanation in the hand written from why you had gone to [a furniture store] and made intimindations to the browsers then done the vomting and sleeped off at that premises.

You did mischief that caused some shame to us colleagues that had to collect you and this shame is also on the company. Again you shall be under suspension on 10 days and this is last warning. The management warns you to put full stop to this mischief.

By Order,

The Administrator

Yeah, I know, this letter's not quite as crystal clear as the last one. I had to do some digging to get to the bottom of this one. Here goes:

After several weeks of sobriety, Chuckles fell off the wagon and failed to turn up at work one morning. Shortly before noon, Mr. By Order got a phone call from a furniture store across the street. Chuckles, it seems, had reported to work there. (Now, if you've ever seen my office, you would realize that in order for Chuckles to confuse our office with a furniture store, he would most definitely have had to be on alcoholic drugs with powerful hallucinogenic properties. Being plastered on conventional alcohol alone would not explain that sort of mix up. The tattered pea-green furniture we used to have in our lobby looked like some kid's microbiology science project.)

Anyway, Chuckles walked into the furniture store and sat down at one of the kitchen tables. He opened his brief case and started bantering to customers, whom he mistook for his co-workers. The store proprietor tried to shuffle him out, but Chuckles got belligerent. This was his place of business, dammit! He had a job to do!

At some point in the altercation with the store's floor staff, Chuckles stood up and vomited all over a nearby couch. Fortunately for them (and for us since we got stuck with the cleaning bill) it was leather. He then fell over and passed out in a reprise of his previous infraction. At this point, the store manager fished out Chuckles' wallet and tracked down his employer. Mr. By Order and his posse were dispatched to collect Chuckles.

You might think that Mr. By Order would have driven Chuckles straight to the airport and sent him home. However, Mr. By Order's ominous letters were but empty threats. While Chuckles was under his second suspension, his brother contacted Mr. By Order. The brother had recently moved to Sand Land and suggested that Chuckles vacate his "bachelor accommodation" and move in with the brother and his family. The brother vowed to keep Chuckles on the straight and narrow by taking him to nightly Bible studies and prayer meetings at his Pentecostal church. Yeah, I know. Poor Chuckles, no one deserves punishment like that...

A few years went by and Chuckles managed to keep it together. He performed his job well and remained popular with his co-workers. But things fell apart when his brother moved away from Sand Land. No longer in the clutches of the Pentecostals, Chuckles once again gave in to the toddy's siren song. His eyes became blood shot, he answered every question with a giggle and disappeared from work for several days.

When he returned to the office after his multi-day bender, he had the misfortune of riding the elevator with me. I smelled the fumes and looked at his pink eyes. "Dude! Chuckles, are you drunk?" I demanded.

"He he he. Ha ha!" he responded.

I took him to my office, shut the door and sat down. "Look, Chuckles, you're completely intoxicated and I'm going to have to let you go," I said.

Chuckles snorted and smiled broadly.

"Chuckles, do you understand what I'm saying? I'm terminating you and I'm going to send you back home."

"Ha Ha Haaaaaaaaa" Chuckles said as he shook his head and slapped his knee.

"Well, at least I've made someone happy. Can't say that most days," I sighed as I dialed up the HR guy to get the termination process started.

Later that day a "Save Chuckles" petition materialized on my desk. I called the supplicants into my office and explained that we couldn't employ people with substance abuse problems under any circumstances.

In a show of solidarity, the employees then launched a "Chuckles Aid 2010" drive to collect money to send him to rehab. It was a touching gesture but seeing as they handed the cash over to him, I'm willing to bet it's now sitting in the cash box of the toddy stand nearest the airport.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stop calling me "Madam," I'm not running a Texas whorehouse!

The offices of Sand Land are hierarchical places. But it's a very different type of hierarchy than I've encountered elsewhere. Sand Landian hierarchy isn't heavy on organization charts, clearly defined responsibilities or well-delineated chains of command. But what it lacks in organization, it makes up for in subservient groveling and courtly posturing.

I’m accustomed to a work environment where you address your superiors by their first name rather than calling them “sir” or “madam”, you don’t jump to your feet and stand at attention when your boss enters the room and you don’t fetch his/her coffee. Despite the lack of formality, it’s still understood that your boss calls the shots. When they ask you to do something, you do it to the best of your abilities, assuming their instructions aren’t illegal or completely insane.

But the Sand Landian work environment is the antithesis of what I’ve described above – at least in my company. From my first day in the office, everyone has addressed me as “Madam.” In those early days, each time someone called me this, I’d say “Please call me [my first name].” The person’s smile would instantly change to a look of horrific discomfort, as if I’d demanded that they punch me in the face as hard as they could. They’d look up at me with Bambi-eyes as they shook their head and whispered “No, Madam.”

The salutations in emails were even more bizarre. Everyone started emails by saying something like:

“Dear Respected Madam”
“Your Most Esteemed Madam”
“Most cherished Madam”
“Gracious and kind Madam” (a raise-seeker, natch)

And it didn’t stop with the salutation; the bodies of the emails were just as ridiculous:

“I most humbly request to meet with your Esteemed person”
“Your excellent self will be please to know…”

Ok, folks. Enough with the “madam” shtick. I’m not running a Texas whorehouse. The term “Madam” makes me feel skeevy and gross – like I should be smoking opium in a red velvet-upholstered boudoir and cutting deals with johns.

A typical day at the office

Weeks of telling people over and over again not to call me madam got me nowhere. So I sent around an email saying something to the effect of “we’re all co-workers and I’d really appreciate if you’d address me by my first name. There’s no need for formalities. I'll be really, really, really happy if you call me [my first name].”

Ten minutes after I sent the email, my phone rang. I answered and the caller said “Hello, Madam. You ask me to call you?”

“Uh, no. I don’t remember doing that,” I replied.

“Oh, Madam, I just got an email from you saying you’d be really happy if I called you.”

I hung up the phone and banged my head against the desk. Mission "A Madam No More" Not Accomplished.

After a few months of continuously telling people how much I hate the term “Madam” only two people in the whole office are addressing me by my first name. A few of the others have started calling me “Ma’am” - which makes me feel 87,000 years old. I’m no spring chicken, but I like to flatter myself by thinking I'm too young to be a “ma’am.”

The vast majority of my co-workers are still calling me “madam” and groveling about me like I’m the Golden Calf.  It makes me wonder what their former supervisors have done to them. A couple of the people in the office are so nervous and fidgety whenever I speak with them that I’m always scared they’re going to pee in their pants, even though I’ve never said an unkind word to them.

But the groveling shouldn’t be taken as a sign of sincere devotion to oneself or the company. From my experience, you could regress a variable entitled “Likelihood to steal petty cash/Propensity to download MP3’s all day/Inclination to misappropriate office supplies” against another variable entitled “Prolific usage of Madam and superfluous supporting adjectives” and you’d come up with a statistically significant relationship.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I've been looking and looking for a white lady!

Since moving to Sand Land, I've learned the hard way that sarcasm and facetious remarks will get you no where. Actually, that's not correct. Sarcasm, sass and snark will get you somewhere - they'll land you in all kinds of misunderstandings and will lead most of Sand Land's residents to believe that you are a danger to yourself and/or the public at large. I'm a snarky smart-ass by nature, so depriving myself of these forms of artistic expression is pretty much equivalent to Monet chucking out his water colors.

But the sarcasm's got to go. At first, the misunderstandings seemed harmless enough. For example, my grandmotherly administrative assistant asked to speak to me in private one day.

"I'm concerned that you're not adjusting well to this place," she whispered.

"Oh, really? Why is that?" I asked, bracing myself for some constructive criticism.

"Well, I just want you to know that nothing, nothing should ever make you want to stab your eyes out with a pen," she explained, referring to a remark I'd made when she showed me the proposed rent increase for one of our employee's accommodation.

I looked at her in stunned silence, trying not to laugh.

"Even if for some reason, you would get some small, small satisfaction from stabbing your eyes - don't you think you'd regret it later?"

I attempted to explain that it was a figure of speech, not something to be taken literally. But I'm pretty sure she left the room convinced I wasn't playing with a full deck...and perhaps she's right.

While these little "lost in translation" moments might be par for the course in Sand Land, I did not expect to pick up a stalker as a result of my sarcastic quips. Nor did I anticipate explaining to my boss that I'm not a pimp.

You see, our office has a small clinic staffed with a GP doctor. A few of the companies near us send their employees for minor ailments and to get sick leave. Sand Land's sick leave policies are fairly strict. Unlike the U.S., you're not allotted a certain number of sick days per year to use as you see fit. If you fall sick here, you've got to go to the doctor and get a permission slip which states that you're to be excused from work for a certain number of days.

At the beginning of the month, this guy from a neighboring company burst into my office in a rage. He'd sprained his wrist and our doctor had given him sick leave for three days. But this was no good, he wanted 10 days of sick leave. The following week, he was supposed to report for duty to a camp in the interior. I failed to understand why this was a problem, so he enlightened me:

"Look," he said, scowling at me as if I was dense. "Eid holidays will fall the week after next and if I get 10 days sick leave, then I can have three weeks of vacation here and not go to the interior."

"Our doctor can't give you 10 days of sick leave if you don't truly need them. Your company may get angry if we're giving people unnecessary sick leave."

"Well, what am I to do then?" he demanded as he picked up one of my business cards.

"Um, go back to work like you're supposed to - or see the doctor again if your wrist is still bothering you after three days?"

He rolled his eyes and stood up without saying another word. When he was halfway to the door, he spun around, a saccharine sweet smile plastered across his face. "Would you like to uhhh....you know, go have coffee with me tonight?"

"I'm sorry, but no." I said as he sat back down.

"Why not?" his face clouding.

"Because I'm married."

"Oh," he chuckled. "That's no problem - wait, do you have kids?"


"Ok, then. So no problem."

"I think it would be a problem for my husband," I said, starting to sound annoyed.

He clicked his tongue and ran a hand through his hair. Then he looked me in the eye and leveled with me: "I have been looking and looking for some British lady or Russian lady to...you know, have coffee with."

"Well, I'm not going to solve your problem because I'm neither British nor Russian."

"You know what I mean. I'm looking for a white lady. Can you help me?"

"You want me to help you find some white lady to go out with?" I asked, starting to laugh.


"And any white lady do?" I asked snidely.


"Oh. Well then, I'm totally on the case. One white lady coming up," I said, my voice dripping with a mix of sarcasm and contempt. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to get back to work."

He gave me a big smile and shuffled out of my office.

"Jackass," I muttered under my breath after he left.

I didn't give the exchange anymore thought...till I started receiving a steady stream of  text messages from my buddy asking for a status update on the white lady he'd ordered from me. I did the passive aggressive thing and ignored them. But then he started calling 6 - 7 times a day. Thankfully, I'd labeled him as "Creepy Bastard" in my mobile and ignored those, too.

After a couple days, there was silence. But then one day, as I was heading out to a meeting with the company's founder, Creepy Bastard accosted me in the parking lot. What progress had I made in finding him a white lady? When could he expect to get coffee with her? Had I found many ladies for him or only one?

I stared at my bewildered, socially conservative boss and wished I could sink through the pavement and die. So there you have it, an episode of epic fuckwittery from yours truly. I'd seen the writing on the wall. I knew that snide, sarcastic remarks are usually taken at literal, face value over here. But did I do the smart thing and mend my ways? Nope!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Punishment File Chronicles: No "hot drinks" for you!

As I've previously mentioned, we're in the middle of a hiring blitz for our new branch. The other day, I asked the HR manager to clear out some of the old file cabinets so we could organize all the applications we've received over the last few days. Before tossing the old files, he brought them to my office so I could make sure we weren't throwing out anything important.

Buried in the pile of old papers was a tattered manila folder ominously labeled "PUNISHMENT." I rubbed my palms together and cackled devilishly. Then I grabbed a fresh cup of coffee and locked my door so I could savor the contents undisturbed.

The Punishment File has proved to be a veritable treasure trove of stories about bad employees gone worse, recreational drug use gone awry and workplace assault. Discovering the Punishment File has badly hampered my productivity over the last few days. You see, the Punishment File is a tease. Her contents coyly hint at stories of epic misbehavior, but the letters of reprimand (penned by a former administrator) are so badly written that you can't quite make out what the hell happened from reading them alone - but there's usually enough detail to jog the old timers' memories.

Today's installment of the Punishment Chronicles features the story of "Skylar." Here's a verbatim transcription of the administrator's investigation of Skylar's infraction:

Dear Skylar,

The management herby needs a full detailed explanation for the misbehavior which you had done at the annual staff meet on 9/1/20XX at the owner's Residence. You had done this misbehavior because the best accounts staff award was not awarded to your brother. You had made bulling, ranged telephone and shouted at the conductors with the local bad words and hitting some employees of our organization.

We need your explanation within 30 minutes in the hand written.

By Order,

The Administrator

Ok, got that? Yeah, me neither. So, here's the straight dope on Skylar in plainer English:

Skylar worked as an administrative assistant, while his brother was a junior accountant. During the annual holiday party at the company owner's house, awards were conferred on high performing employees from various departments. This awards ceremony took place late in the evening, by which time Skylar was shit faced off of screwdrivers [which at our company parties are made of Tang and vodka]. Skylar was confident that his brother would win the best accountant award, but his hopes were dashed when it was given to a more senior member of the department.

Skylar and his (equally drunk) lady friend decided there was a conspiracy against his brother because the brother was away on annual leave. As the best accountant winner accepted his award, Skylar rushed the podium and slapped the award out of his hands. He then grabbed the microphone Kanye-style and launched into a profanity laced diatribe about how his brother had been hosed. As he was shit-faced, this diatribe was given in his mother tongue - which left the majority of party goers baffled as to what was going on.

Upon finishing his speech, Skylar threw his Tang screwdriver in the winner's face and got on his mobile to tell his brother about the perceived slight. The facility manager stepped in and attempted to escort him out of the party. Skylar removed a ball point pen from his pocket and stabbed the man's thigh before escaping to the owner's back garden where he proceeded to rip up petunias and marigolds from the flower bed in retaliation for his brother's slighting.

Eventually, Skylar was overpowered by several men from the office - but not before he'd given out a few black eyes and busted lips.

So, let's get to the punishment. Now what do you think would be an appropriate punishment for such actions? Maybe you'd fire Skylar? Bar him from coming to the office with immediate effect so as to not expose your employees to an unstable lunatic? See to it that he's deported so that you, the sponsor, aren't liable for any bar brawls or assaults he might commit?

Well, if you agreed with any of that, you'd be wrong. Straight from the punishment file, here is the official verdict of the ever articulate administrator:

Dear Skylar,

As a disciplinary action taken by the management you are under suspension from 10/1/20XX (Saturday) to 24/1/20XX (Saturday) a total number of 15 days. During these period you should be in work and salary will not be paid to you for these 15 days.

Also this memo states that you should not drink any hot drinks* in any of our party or in company premises.

If found in any of the occassions stated above or any misbehavior or breech the rules of the company you will be handed over to the police and deported within 24 hours time without excuse.

By Order,

The Administrator

*Hot drinks = A south Asian term for "alcoholic beverages"....not coffee and tea.

Tales from my inbox: You better consider my application favourably

20 / 11 / 2010.
The CEO / The Director,

Eid Mubarak.......

Dear sir,
I reminding to you which I submitted an application for your established Institution. Do you not remember I applied for any suitable post like Administrative assistant or Business development manager, or accounts man?  

I am a man with qualities. I think you better consider my application favourably. Awaiting your positive reply.

Thanks and regards,

Tony Soprano
e mail : XXXXXXXXX

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Grinch who stole Eid

The workers of Sand Land are furious! FUR-I-OUS! Ever since Eid #1 back in September, there's been intense speculation that the government would declare 10 to 14 days of holidays for Eid #2, which falls this week. Even though the Sand Landian workforce normally gets 5 or 6 days for Eid #2, this Eid was supposed to be different...it's gonna be Eid-zilla, the mother lode of all holidays! YESSS!!!!

Eid-zilla was the primary topic of water cooler conversations and smoke breaks for the past two months: Dude, maybe we'll have more days off in November than working days! Book your two week sexcapade to Thailand now while the prices are low - Eid-zilla's a totally sure bet, my cousin's friend's brother works in the Ministry and he says it's in the bag.

But, alas, it was not to be. A few days ago, when the new moon was sighted, the government proclaimed a measly holiday of 3 to 4 days, depending on which sector you work in.

As they straggled into work on Saturday and Sunday before the start of our 4 day holiday, the employees at my company looked more crestfallen than the Whos in Whoville after the Grinch stole Christmas. They were jipped - JIPPED!

Throughout the day, one mournful soul after another walked into my office asking me to grant them a longer holiday (with pay, of course) since they'd fallen victim to those vicious rumors about Eid-zilla and booked a 10 day vacation to Bali/Singapore/Kenya/Thailand. My suggestion that they cover the remainder of their vacation with some of their annual leave (which ranges from 30 - 45 working days per year) was just salt in the wounds.

By 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, a continuous stream of sick leave requests was landing on my desk. Everyone, it seemed, suddenly had the flu/a headache/diarrhea and would have to be out for the remainder of our two-day work week. The few workers who soldiered on bucked one another up by discussing the possibility that more holidays would be declared later in November....Eid-zilla would come to fruition, there would just be a Part 1 and a Part 2. Yeah, that's right. That makes total sense.

Hope, if not reason, remains alive...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My husband's business is failing, give me a raise.

Have you ever decided to ask your boss for a pay raise? What exactly made you feel that an increase was in order? Perhaps you acquired new skills that provided value to your employer? Maybe you became more proficient at your job and took on added responsibilities? Perhaps you were a long-serving employee whose compensation had fallen behind market rates for similarly qualified people?

You probably thought long and hard about whether you truly deserved a raise. You probably worked extra hard to prove your worth. After deciding that you would in fact ask for a raise, you probably spent some of your free time coming up with a rational justification and/or an enticing value proposition for your employer.

To which the workers of Sand Land say: Suckaaaaaah!

Why in the hell would you put forth any more than the minimum effort at work when you could be smoking in the lobby or texting your friends using the company's mobile phone? Why in god's name would you waste your precious free time coming up with  logical talking points about why you should get a raise when you could be watching old episodes of My Super Sweet Sixteen on MTV Arabia?

Live and learn, fools. Next time your paycheck ain't cuttin' it, email (or hand write) one of these handy dandy, oh-so-compelling entreaties:

1. I kindly request a raise because my husband's business is failing. And it is difficult for me to come to work on Thursday, so you please also give me Thursdays off.


3. I humbly ask you, Dear Respected Madam, to give me a raise because my wedding expenses are becoming too much. My fiance's family had asked my parents to book a new marriage hall so they can invite more relatives. I require your help to meet the expenses.

4. I moved to an apartment far away and now my transport expenses have increased, so I will be needing additional pay to cover this burden.

5. I am getting married, so you need to increase my basic salary and give me more housing allowance.

6. My wife is expecting our sixth child so I will be needing a salary increment.

7. I need to do my shopping for Eid holiday. I hereby request that you pay me double my salary for November. Government employees are getting two salaries for November, so please give this to me as well because I am a good worker. I also need you to give me all of my November pay by 9 November so I have time to do my shopping.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Please don't make us wear seatbelts, we hate them

Before I moved to Sand Land, I traveled and studied in many developing countries. I've gotten around Southeast Asia on motorbikes with no helmet. I've taken bus trips in the Himalayas where we were in perpetual danger of plunging down the side of a mountain. Many a time in India, I've dodged cows and elephants and cars driving on the wrong side of the road. But nothing scares me quite like taking to the roads of Sand Land.

In the U.S., we'll hook ourselves up to ventilators and live out our last days in nursing homes - all to stay alive even when our quality of life is abysmal. But the residents of Sand Land are different. Much like the Viking warrior who sought death on the battlefield knowing he'd be welcomed to Valhalla or the kamikaze pilot plunging into the side of an aircraft carrier in hopes of eternal glory, the Sand Landian aspires to go out in a blaze of glory...and by blaze of glory I mean at the helm of their SUV while simultaneously talking on their mobile, balancing an infant on their lap and eating KFC.

This phenomenon is by no means confined to native Sand Landians. Once the expat has passed the road test, they will adapt to their new environment by tail-gating, driving without their headlights, overtaking cars on a hairpin turn and generally using the horn in place of the brakes. It's quite the opposite of what you'd expect because Sand Land's road test is a real bitch. From my informal and non-scientific polls, it seems to take people an average of 8 attempts at the road test before they get a pass.

[Luckily, American drivers are exempted from taking the road test. All I had to do to get my license was  read an eye chart while the attending police officer texted on his mobile. Had I been required to take the road test, I have no doubt I'd be on my 13th or 14th attempt considering that when I took my driver's test in the U.S. I couldn't parallel park and I almost ran over a trick-or-treater]

Recently, I was driving to a meeting with a few co-workers and I noticed that none of them put a seat belt on. I said, "Guys, what the hell is wrong with you? Buckle up!" They laughed at my eccentricity and reluctantly snapped their seat beats into place. As we drove to the meeting, we were tail-gated the whole way despite driving 10 km over the speed limit and we passed car after car filled with children jumping around in the back seat, people driving while listening to their iPods and people merging into lanes without looking or indicating...in other words, a typical day on Sand Land's roads.

When I got back to the office, I issued a memo advising everyone to wear a seatbeat at all times while traveling in company transport. Later that day at a staff meeting, I reminded the attendees that I was serious about people buckling up. People looked around in horrified bafflement as if I'd told them all to get naked and slather themselves with peanut butter.

As I got up to leave, one of the ladies raised her hand. "Excuse me, Ms. Adventures," she said pleadingly, her eyes a tad misty. "Please don't make us wear seatbelts. We hate them."

Despite their apparent disgust for seatbelts, neither she nor anyone else present could articulate what exactly was the problem. I guess it just runs counter to the suicidally brave, badass ethos that embodies the drivers of Sand Land.

And below, for your viewing pleasure, are a couple of videos that aptly capture the "here today, gone tomorrow" spirit of the Sand Landian driver:

We hate seatbelts: Exhibit #1

We hate seatbelts: Exhibit #2

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tales from the Resume Slush Pile: I will exploit myself for you

The company I work for is opening a new branch soon and, in preparation, we've put out the cattle call for several dozen vacancies. Today is Day 4 of our 7 day classified ad extravaganza and the resumes, CVs and "biodatas" continue to roll in by the truckload.

One interesting trend I've noticed is that the vast majority of applicants here don't include a cover letter (or any text at all) when emailing their resume. Virtually everyone simply forwards you an email they sent to all the other companies that they've applied to in the course of their career. That people in Sand Land spend much of their work day trolling for new jobs is evidenced by the fact that these emails are longer than the chain letters you'd receive back in 1997 claiming Bill Gates would give everyone on the email string $10,000.

I can hardly blame them. I remember how much I hated customizing and proofreading cover letters when I was hunting for jobs. But as much as tailoring cover letters sucks, I can safely say that, after shifting through the slush pile these last few days, enclosing a decent cover letter is perhaps the most important thing you can do to up your chances of being noticed - especially when you're responding to an ad.

In honor of the 10% of applicants who did bother to produce a cover letter, I give you the following highlights...or lowlights, really. They still deserve a shout out, because at least they had the pride to try. So, I give you excerpts from the cover letters of the few, the proud, the misguided and/or pervy:

  • If you give me a position in your organization, I will exploit myself for you.

  • Hi, I would like to teleport my job again to your filed and i believe this must be a good chance for me as i have noticed your add in the newspaper.

  • I am a much qualified technition and I will work 4 ur esteemed company if u give me gud job.

  • To rap up my viewpoint, my vision is to empower your imagination so that the impossible becomes nothing - that is to say, the magic of big thinking.

  • I am an expert in "DELIGHT MANAGEMENT" - this Result's in your customers service experience being enhanced PLUS your employee's focus on servicing your customers will be renewed with passion and zeal.

  • I believe I am well suited to the position. Kindly do the needful and let me know when I can be cumming for an interivew.

  • I think you are require any H.R. man or Assistant or  Business Development Manager. Suppose these veccancies are still veccant, then pleace consider my application for the same post.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I didn't steal the money, I took it

When Sand Land's expat workers leave the salt mines and get together for drinks, it generally takes less than 14 seconds for the conversation to turn to the weird and wacky happenings in our places of business. Besides finding most of these stories genuinely hilarious, I also find them comforting because they confirm that Sand Land is a deeply weird place to work and you're not alone, insane or completely incompetent...

The following comes courtesy of the Managing Director at a local hospital:

I got a call from the night-shift administrator at 6:00 a.m. this morning. He was in a complete panic because the cash collection was $675.00 less than the automated report generated by our billing software. "Bobby", our night cashier had left at some point during his shift without clocking out and without turning over his collection for verification.

So we called Bobby. Silly me, I thought I'd hear some vehement denial, but he was quite up front.

"I didn't steal the money, sir," Bobby explained patiently over the phone. "I took it."

"Well, Bobby. I don't see how it isn't theft - you walked out of the hospital with $675.00 that didn't belong to you," the Managing Director countered.

"Look, sir. I am a mullah and I am trying to collect enough money to build a house for my family. I cannot take a loan from the bank because it is haram*."

"I understand you want to build a house, Bobby. But you can't steal money from your employer to do it."

"Stop saying I stole it. I just took it. Since you have asked for it, I'll bring the money back to you tomorrow."

"Please do, Bobby," said the Managing Director. "And please understand that you can't "take" money from us anymore. If you do, we'll have to call the police and file a complaint."

"Here is what I suggest, sir. I will only take money if I need it for something important - like my house. But if you ask me to return the money, I will bring it back the following day, inshallah**."

* haram = verboten! according to the rules of Islam.

** inshallah = "if God wills it" In the work place, inshallah is commonly used as wiggle room when someone doesn't have any intention in hell of doing something. For example: "I know the deadline for these reports is tomorrow, and I'll have them done on-time, inshallah."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Study About Hoomin Resource, Not HR!

Like most countries in the region, Sand Land requires private sector companies to hire a certain number of nationals. Cultivating a skilled, productive citizenry is a laudable goal. Let's face it, the oil isn't going to last forever and people here have grown accustomed to a cushy lifestyle.

The "Sand Landization" policy dictates that: (1) your company's payroll consist of a certain percentage of Sand Landians, and (2) you can hire only Sand Landians for certain positions (like receptionists, drivers and cashiers). Over the past few years, many of the academically suspect for-profit "universities" have started offering "diplomas" in fields like HR, marketing and accounting.

As you might expect, these operations are out to make a buck and don't want to develop a reputation for failing poor students - if the kids think you're hard, they might plunk down their tuition money at one of your competitors. But these institutions also need to demonstrate to would-be customers students that professional glory and riches await at the end of a course of study that, in reality, makes Sally Struthers' home study course on TV/VCR repair look like a neurologically taxing endeavor.  Enter the immigration department - which is now making it harder to hire foreign workers with backgrounds in HR, marketing and accounting.

When my long-serving HR manager moved back to India a few months ago, the immigration authorities predictably refused to re-issue her visa so I could hire another expat. Not to worry, I was told, there are many, many well qualified Sand Landians in need of gainful employment.

So I called the leading local institution of higher learning and asked them about recruiting alumni and before long, I found myself interviewing "Jim", who had graduated near the top of his class. The following is a faithful transcription of our interview:

Me: So Jim, congratulations on completing your HR degree.

Jim (furrowing brows, jerking head back indignantly): I study about hoomin resource, not this HR!

Me (looking from side to side): Um, aren't HR and human resources the same thing...you know, "H" for human, "R" for -

Jim (shaking head vehemently): No! Hoomin resource and HR are different. I study hoomin resource, not this HR. (flicks hand dismissively)

Me: Okaaay, I see. So tell me, what is human resources to you?

Jim: It's working in an office, typing in the computer, talking on the phone.

Me: I suppose you're right. Most HR people I've known have done those sorts of things in the course of a normal day. So Jim, what made you want to work in human resources."

Jim (suavely raising one eye brow and shrugging shoulders): To make the kesh.

Me (hoping my phone will ring): Yup, human resources is without a doubt one of the higher paying corporate disciplines.