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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Could You at Least Write It Down, and Just Hand Me the Note?

Only the good blog young. And I’m no spring chicken, dammit!

I’m going to my new office for the first time tomorrow. It’s not really ‘official’ work — that doesn’t start for another two all-too-short weeks. But they’ll be talking about me at my new group’s weekly meeting, and I was invited to attend. So I’m going.

(And really, don’t I have to go? Think about it. For one thing, I’ve got to make a good impression, right? They’ll know soon enough about all the bad shit, so there should at least be one decent memory of me to make them think I have a chance to pull it all together some day.

Besides, how often do you get invited to an event where you know people are going to be talking about you? I was always shut out of the PTA meetings my parents and teachers held, and I never got to hear what my job interviewers or first dates talked about afterwards. I did finally sneak my way into the girls’ locker room in high school, but it turns out they weren’t talking about me, after all. At least, I think they weren’t. I was pretty distracted, actually. They could have been speaking Swahili, for all I knew or cared at that point.

The point is that I can’t turn down a golden opportunity to be present when the conversation is going to revolve around me. It’s all about me tomorrow. Where I’m gonna sit, and what I’m gonna work on, and whose ass I’m going to kiss first. I’m practically dripping with excitement.)

It’ll be fun to get my feet wet tomorrow, and a good chance to meet and greet all the people I’ll be working with. It’s going to be weird being back in an office after a couple of months off, though. It’ll probably take me a while to get used to the place, and classify everybody I have to deal with.

What’s that? You don’t classify people at your workplace? Oh, but you should. It’ll save you ever so much time. Here, I’ll show you the way. Just follow me. Don’t worry; I won’t bite.

You see, there are three types of office workers these days. There are the ’emailers’, the ‘phoners’, and the ‘face-to-facers’. Most people are able to dabble in the areas that are foreign to them, but each person has their one specialty where they’re the most comfortable.

Take me, for instance. I’m an ’emailer’, and proud to be one. This means that if I have a question, or need you for something work-related, I’ll send you an email. I don’t want to hear your voice, and I sure as hell don’t need to see you. I just want my answer, in writing and delivered to my mailbox, as soon as possible. No chit-chat, no screwing around — just the facts, ma’am.

So, of course, I get along best with other ’emailers’. We understand each other. We’ve got this whole vibe going. They know I’ll plop down with them at the end of the day for a beer and twiddle away the evening jawing about whatever the hell they like. But at work, when there’s a deadline afoot, it’s email, email, email. Quick, impersonal, and with a written log of what transpired; just the way I like it.

(See, now usually, I’d say something like, ‘And just the way I like my anonymous sex, come to think of it.‘ But I don’t want to beat you over the head with it, so I’ll refrain. This time. And you’re welcome. Don’t get used to it.)

Anyway, things are just peachy between me and my emailing brethren. But of course, we’re not the only rats in the race today, now are we? No. There are also the ‘phoners’. These are the folks who will receive your question via email, and — instead of replying in kind — will call you up to ‘discuss the matter’, or ‘clarify the issue’, or ‘question your sanity’. They simply can’t bring themselves to type in a well-edited, succinct, clear response to your inquiry. No, they’d rather take twenty minutes out of both your lives to ramble on about the answer to your question, several related-but-useless answers, their current wardrobe, what they had for lunch, and whether you think they have a shot with that hot young muffin in the mail room. These are not my favorite people on the planet. Perhaps I let that slip. Oopsie.

But these are not the most heinous creatures that you’ll find in your local office or cube farm. Oh, no. That distinction is held by the other group of people — the dreaded ‘face-to-facers’. These people can’t even be bothered to call you to respond; they have to trudge down to your desk and hash it out with you in person, for the love of Christmas! So now, they’re tired and pissy from their trip to your office, and you’re all creeped out and bothered because they’re standing there, clearly prepared to have a real-life bloody conversation, when a simple email ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ would have sufficed.

Really now, how fricking long does it take to peck out ‘yes’ on the keyboard? Or at the least, to dial a number and throw a ‘No’ down the line? Is it really and truly necessary to come bother me in the flesh? Don’t I have enough crap to deal with, without these people standing there like a bunch of queued goons, waiting to launch into some convoluted explanation that’s going to turn out to be completely unrelated to the original damned question? Please! Just go back, and send me the damned email — if I need more from you, I can send another email. Really, we have the technology. These modern-day computer doohickeys are amazing; you really should learn about them someday and quit wasting my damned time. Now shoo!

Okay, that’s perhaps a bit harsh. After all, I’m sure my constant emails are infuriating to them, too. They’d rather that I stop everything I’m doing, walk down the hall or stairs to their desk, stand patiently while they finish their spreadsheet or game of Minesweeper, and then ask my question in person. Frankly, I don’t see how in the fuck that’s preferable, but I have to assume that they think it is. Misguided little chatterboxes, aren’t they?

Really, when you think about it, isn’t every non-personal bit of correspondence better via email? You can read it over and over, or save it to cover your ass, and even forward the stupid ones to other coworkers for a good snicker at your colleague’s expense. That’s tough for the ‘phoners’ and ‘face-to-facers’ to do, unless they’ve got phone taps and minicorders set up all over the office.

(And maybe they do. You can never tell these days. So you’d better stop picking your nose while you’re sitting on the john at work. Somebody might be watching.)

And consider this — as annoying as spam is, would you really prefer that the ridiculous ads and offers came your way via another medium? How’d you like it if we had door-to-door salesmen stepping onto your porch to say,

Um, hi there. I’m just checking with everyone in your neighborhood to see if you need a bigger penis today. Is the lady of the house in, so I can get her opinion?

I think not. Nor would most people appreciate it if little Timmy answered the doorbell, only to find ‘Hot Asian Action’ or ‘Lisa Sucking Horse Dongs’ on the front steps.

(Okay, so Timmy might appreciate it. But the rest of the family is unlikely to be as open-minded. Timmy always was a horny little bastard, after all.)

Obviously, I’m convinced that my way is best. Email is the way to go, especially when it comes to work-related crap. So I’ll be interested to see how many people in the new office agree with me. I can deal with an occasional phone call or visit from a co-worker, of course. But if I’m stuck in a whole building full of ‘face-to-facers’, I may have to take some drastic measures to get any damned work done.

I could collar them all, and hook up an electric fence over my office door, for instance. That might deter a few. But, of course, the more persistent bastards would just stand in the hallway, gabbing and yakking as usual. A catapult of some kind would thin out that herd, I think. Nothing too lethal, you understand — maybe something that shoots balls of shredded paper at them. A sort of high-powered confetti cannon. By the time they get the remnants of last quarter’s financial outlook out of their hair, they’ll be out of my hair, too. Which is the whole freakin’ point.

Of course, I have to allow for the fact that some of these buggers might be rather nimble, and thus able to dodge the wads of pulpy waste I’m planning to sling at them. So maybe I should just cut to the chase and chain a guard dog to my office door. Something big and mean, like an orphaned Rottweiler or a K-9 cop German shepherd. It’ll have to be a smart dog, so I can teach it the difference between ‘kill’ and ‘maim’ and ‘just make him wet his pants’.

(Yeah, I’ll have to find a way to abbreviate that last one. In the time it takes to say all that, I could hear enough blather to get really annoyed. Maybe I’ll call it ‘terrify’ or ‘tinklepants’ or something like that. That should save some time and sanity.)

Anyway, I’ll let you know whether I need to resort to such extremes to get my work done. Once I have any work to do, of course. Tomorrow’s meeting is just a dry run, really. I’ll get some idea of what I’m dealing with, but I won’t know how these folks will react in a ‘game situation’. That’ll take a while to find out. In the meantime, though, if anyone’s got an extra catapult I could take off your hands, that would be great. It never hurts to be prepared.

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