Debate that makes my head hurt

Once upon a time, Miss Cleo worked for someone we will call The Walrus. The Walrus was an unscrupulous man. Not just by Miss Cleo’s standards, either.

The Walrus had a girlfriend who lived with him. And he had a girlfriend who lived a few states away who he denied being involved with, but everyone, including his Live-In Girlfriend knew the real score. Miss Cleo liked the LIG and felt bad that the Walrus was an asshole to her.

One day, the Walrus went on a road trip. He had the LIG’s cell phone with him. He knew he couldn’t call the other girlfriend directly from the cell phone because then his LIG would know he’d been a bad, bad Walrus. So, he called Miss Cleo at the office and had her conference in TOG. Miss Cleo felt very, very unethical doing this. But she knew she’d lose her job if she didn’t. This was, however, the last straw and it was what pushed Miss Cleo to start looking for another job.

One day, Miss Cleo was on the phone with Ms. Pushypants, someone who was a minor acquaintance of Miss Cleo’s and a good friend of the Lawyerdude. Ms. Pushypants was prodding Miss Cleo about why she was looking for another job. Miss Cleo explained the lack of ethics and morals of the Walrus and Ms. Pushypants asserted that when you are “on the clock” you MUST do WHATEVER your employer asks of you, no matter if it is against your morals or not.

For the record, Miss Cleo is vehemently against this point of view. Your boss has a reasonable expectation that you will perform the job you were hired to do. My job for the Walrus was “Secretary” and never in any job description Ms. Cleo has ever seen has it said “and the Secretary will assist the Boss with cheating on his Girlfriend”. I hear you saying “But, Miss Cleo, couldn’t that fall under “other tasks as assigned”” and Ms. Cleo would have to admit that it might but will assert that you, as an employee, have the right to not do things that are unethical, and this is where I believe the legal term “reasonable person” comes into play (The reasonable person standard is often used legal term that originated in the development of the common law. The “reasonable person” is a legal fiction which represents a reasoned outlook on a legal question. The perspective of the reasonable man is intentionally distinct from that of an “average” person; contrary to popular misconception, the reasonable man is not necessarily average. The question of how a reasonable person might act, or what judgment they might make under the circumstances performs a critical role in legal reasoning . For example, the crime of sexual harassment is deemed to have occurred in some legal jurisdictions when the conduct is unwelcome and when a reasonable person would have considered such conduct sexual.) Miss Cleo would argue that per the reasonable person standard, being asked to help one’s boss cheat on their LIG would be out of the scope of a secretary’s duties. If you argue that ANYTHING can fall under the “other tasks as assigned” clause, then I submit to you that you would be beholden to commit murder if you were “on the clock” and your boss asked you to do so and, really, how many people would actually DO that? If you walked in to work tomorrow and your boss said “I have the person you love the most in the whole world in the conference room tied to a chair, here’s a gun, you will go kill him/her now” would you actually do it? What if you were told “you will be fired and likely shot yourself if you don’t do it.” Does that change anything?

My point in all of this is that we all have free will and I exercised mine in deciding to look for another job. I was being asked to do things I was not comfortable doing. I didn’t ask to not do those tasks, I chose to seek other employment.

The reason this came up again was someone in a forum I read asked if it was wrong to refuse to serve alcohol to an obviously pregnant woman. I’d say that a wait person should have to right to refuse to do so. There are probably other people on staff who would not have a problem doing so, so the customer could still be reasonably accommodated. If you are told by your superior “you are never to refuse alcohol service to a patron”, you then have the decision to make as to whether you want to continue doing the job. I know that there was an issue at some grocery stores where Muslim cashiers would not handle/ring up pork products and I believe they made accommodations for those folks.

So, does your boss have the right to ask you to do whatever he wants when you’re on the clock? I’d say that sexual harrassment laws point at “no”. So, is it only ok for him to ask you to do anything UP TO actually breaking a law? Well, I know that once upon a time there weren’t any sexual harrassment laws and that they came into being somehow. More than likely due to someone not liking behaviour they were expected to put up with. Is cheating on your girlfriend illegal? Certainly not. But it’s not something I want to have to be party to at MY workplace and I have the right to that opinion. Ms. Pushypants, I disagree with your assertion and make a mental note to never work for you.

Interviews are exhausting!

I am very happy I don’t have to go to interviews every day. I would be dead of stress/ exhaustion before the first 2 weeks were up.

I had an interview this evening. I did extensive research about the company, which allowed me to ask an absolutely STUNNINGLY CLEVER question of my interviewer. It’s for what boils down to an assistant manager position working for a manager who has never really run a business before. Sadly, this means that while I have never held the TITLE of manager before, I seem to have more working knowledge of how businesses run than the person who would be my boss. She did admit that she’s not so much for the whole “computer thing” and “paperwork things” which are both my strengths. However, I am also capable of being Ms. Saleswoman and don’t need to call the manager if I have to deal with a pissy client, either. I may have to go to the bathroom and cry after dealing with a pissy client but I’ve lived through actual psychotic episodes (THE CLIENT’S EPISODES, for the record… not my own…)

Now I must go wash off the makeup and play the waiting game. I do not like the waiting game. I want the potential employer to fall in love with me and cancel all the other interviews because they know they will not find anyone as wonderful as I am. That never seems to happen, though… and I am starting to take it personally. I need to find a job working for one of the people who either a) reads my blog or b) writes a blog that I dig. Or I need to win the lottery. Either way, I need a new gig and I need it soon, so wish me luck!

The Joys of Being a Contractor

I had planned to bring you gently forward from those first work-related experiences to the present day. However, given news I received today, I will yank you all forward in time to the present!

I’m currently working as a contractor for Medico Mecca. This was to be a six-month contract but Jolly J kept saying that they were going to keep us until the end of the year. Did you know September has now become the end of the year? I say that because to say otherwise, at this point, would be to imply that Jolly J is a liar.

Jolly J is not exactly “supportive” of my tenure at Medico Mecca. She frequently gets her panties in a wad and does her best to get me similarly hysterical over things that the managers at the Mecca sortve derisively snort at because while they certainly love to CREATE drama, they don’t particularly seem to like resolving drama. I can pretty much sum up the management style as “If we just ignore it, it will go away”.

Jolly J also was very pushy about me doing my part to make sure I got my 6 month review. I was nagged daily to do this “completely voluntary” paperwork which I finally submitted under duress. Yeahhhh, ummmm, guess who hasn’t had a review yet (which is fine with me).

Anyhoozle… Jolly J emailed me today to let me know that my contract is ending in a couple of weeks, for budget reasons, not because of performance. Oh yay. So, I was told that I’d have a job through the end of the year and now here it is, if I am reading my calendar correctly, only September. She’ll be by on Thursday with my paperwork.

I did negotiate a couple of points with the Medico Mecca Manager (ahhhh, alitteration). First, there will be no announcement to the group of my imminent departure (so they don’t get a treat day out of the deal). I head you gasping at my heartlessness. Hear me out. There were 5 contractors to begin with. 1 got fired, one just left to take a better job, two got hired on (I was told that because I don’t have a degree, I will NEVER get hired by Medico Mecca because the doctors insist on being supported by EDUCATED people). So, yeah, I was good enough to come and do the work every day, but didn’t make the cut when they were hiring. That makes the old ego just burst with pride, let me tell you. Secondly, my co-workers have gone out of their way to make sure that the CONTRACTORS were reminded at every opportunity that they were CONTRACTORS. (As in, “oh, we would have invited you to happy hour… but that’s for EMPLOYEES”). My second negotiation was that on my second to last day there is a 7:30AM meeting and I am working 9-6 that week. I will NOT be going in early for that 7:30AM meeting because I love my sleepin’! I will stop short, however, of stamping my feet about all of the money I’ve donated to the Holiday Committee towards the Holiday Party (because, in reality, it’s less than $20) because I knew in my heart, right from the start, that Jolly J was bullshitting me about the contract going until the end of the year.

In the beginning…

I think it’s only fair to start this blog about work at the beginning… not my first “for pay” job, but back further than that. Because I think so much of my attitude about work was shaped by that early work experience.

I refer, of course, to “chores”. I’m providing a definition here:

chore //

(chôr, chōr) n.

  1. A routine or minor duty or task. See Synonyms at task.
  2. chores Daily or routine domestic tasks, especially a farmer’s routine morning and evening tasks, such as feeding livestock.
  3. An unpleasant or burdensome task.

Chores, the “character building” tasks given to children by parents. One of my earliest chores, and one that I think set the tone for much of my working life, was picking up sticks in the yard so the lawnmower (a nasty non-mechanized push mower which could probably be the topic of at least one 50 minute therapy session) could get through the yard without having to chew through sticks. We had many trees in our yard and there were always PLENTY of sticks.

I would be rousted out of bed at about 7:30 on a summer Saturday morning by the hideous morning person my stepfather was by him yanking off my covers, ripping open my curtains and having him fairly SHOUT in a sing-song tone “It’s getty uppy time” (the only time you were allowed to be in bed past 8AM ANY day of the week was if you were running a fever of AT LEAST 102). NOT. a. morning. person. I never was. I never will be. And weekends are MADE for sleeping in, ESPECIALLY summer weekends. So, this early rousing to an unpleasantly cheerful morning person did NOT start my day off right.

I’d go out and pick up the big sticks. The really obvious ones. I’d go back in and announce I was done. An inspection would follow. I’d receive a lecture about how if he did a half-assed job like that where he worked he’d be fired (keep in mind here, I was under the age of 10 at the time this was happening). I’d go out and pick up most of the smaller sticks. Go back in and re-announce I was done. An inspection would follow. This time I would be dragged around the yard and SHOWN every single missed stick. More lecturing about half assed work, poor work ethic with a great deal of “back in my day” thrown in and threats to use the biggest stick that could be found to give me a proper “lesson” in doing the job right the first time.

With this setting the stage for me as to what “work” was like, is it really any wonder that I have issues with authority figures? Is it really any wonder that I absolutely DREAD performance reviews?

I promise that future entries will be less trauma-inducing. It may interest you that I resolved early on in life to live in apartments so I would never have to take care of a lawn. When I got older I figured I would at least have to be the level of rich to be able to hire people to do my yard work (I am informed that I got an early start on that, saving up my meager allowance and paying a younger neighborhood kid to do the work for me…I don’t remember doing that, but it really sounds like something I would do…)