Friday, January 12, 2007

Apparently it IS rocket science

One of the things that drives me demented about the office I work in is the through traffic.

On any given day, at any time, someone who is not part of the office team will come in to do some admin work. As far as they are concerned, anything more technical than a calculator is to be treated with extreme caution, and must not be operated without establishing the correct procedure. This procedure is clarified through a series of fucking stupid questions.

Hapless Non-Admin Person: Um. How do I use the shredder*?

Me: ……………..

HNAP: Um. Oh! There’s a button here. Do I press the button?

Me (Gritted teeth): Yes. Just press the button.

HNAP: Um. So is it on now, then?

Me (breaking off from biting desk): Yes.

HNAP: So, do I put the paper in this bit? Oh! The paper goes in here! (at this point the shredder bin invariably becomes full so shredding grinds to a halt halfway down the second sheet of A4). Oh [standing helplessly in front of shredder]. Is it broken?

Me: Grrrraaaaaahhhhhhhhh!! For fucks sake!! Are you stupid?! It’s a FUCKING SHREDDER!!!!! How HARD can it BE???

Well, that’s how it would play out in my fantasy SG-goes-postal-and-offs-colleague-with-a-copy-of-the-stationery-catalogue scenario. In reality, I either pretend to be on the phone or just get up and leave. I know it isn’t fair. I know maybe office equipment fills people with dread and it’s like some horrible out-of-body experience where first there’s nothing and then you suddenly come to and there you are, sitting in the pilot’s seat in a Boeing 737 that’s full of happy orphans travelling to see Santa and you don’t know how to fly a plane. Or something.

I just think that if you are over thirty and cannot photocopy a memo you might want to think about residential care.

* See also printer (um. Someone sent some printing through last Thursday. Will it have come out yet?), photocopier (er, do I put the paper on here [points to glass] or do I just press the button and it will copy it?) and, somewhat randomly, filing cabinet (so, I just open that drawer then and the files are in here?). Gah.


Blogger Murph chimed in with...

Sound like more of an experiment than a workplace.

12 January, 2007 13:38  
Blogger Doris chimed in with...

When I left my last place of work I later had to compose and email them an incredibly detailed document entitled "How to Use the Scanner", after a heartwrenching telephone plea from a HNAP.

12 January, 2007 17:15  
Anonymous stagedive chimed in with...

As a potential HNAP myself, I declare on this day that I mended my own shredder so that it auto feeds again ..

Does that make me a rocket scientist?

12 January, 2007 20:13  
Blogger claire chimed in with...

Funny you should mention a shredder. I had no idea how difficult they must be to use since a HNAP in my own office, that actually happens to BE an Admin, has now destroyed 3 shredders in the past 2 months due to mis-feeding. The first puffs of smoke did not deter her from continuing to feed huge amounts of paper through it until it finally sparked and ground itself to death.

People are ridiculously stupid.

12 January, 2007 20:18  
Blogger Arabella chimed in with...

I will always remember that plummeting sensation in the stomach, working behind the university library counter when the photcopier breaks down. The bleating of students, the futility of attempting a repair. And it happening again and again....Ooh dear that was a bit glum.

12 January, 2007 20:29  
Blogger First Nations chimed in with...

I am death to office equipment including my own and including all items more techinically complicated than a pencil. a wooden one.
it's not that they are so terribly complex; its that if they are thinking about breaking, they will when I am operating them. my record in one day was one EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE laser copier/bindery, a printer, an electric typewriter, and the computer network for every city government office in Bellingham. and this as a mere volunteer. imagine what i could have achieved as a paid employee!!!!!other victims include printing presses, staplers in their hundreds, compu

12 January, 2007 21:46  
Blogger Annie Rhiannon chimed in with...

Oh god, I am one of those people. I am crap with office equipment. I had to send a "fax" recently and nearly went into a panic. Well, who uses faxes these days anyway?!

But I make up for it in other ways, I hope. I'm a whizz at Photoshop and various other design programs. I think. It's just the hardware that causes me grief.

12 January, 2007 23:25  
Blogger Melissa chimed in with...

Actual conversation I was lucky enough to be involved in: You want that two-sided? See the button here, that says "two-sided"? Press it. There you go. Nice. Now hit "start".

There's a note next to the copier suggesting people should come see me if the copier jams. I did not put the note there. It may just go missing soon.

13 January, 2007 02:19  
Anonymous kristy chimed in with...

I had a boss who once asked me as he stared darkly at the fax machine, "Kristy, what does it mean when this light comes on that says 'out of paper'?"

The man is now the CEO of a major American airline. We should all be afraid.

13 January, 2007 07:42  
Blogger soph chimed in with...

As an intern over the summer at the museum, every day was a new adventure into the dangerous world of office equipment. Apparently, they were all amazed that I could operate the photocopier, stapler and scissors ON MY FIRST DAY, as it would usually take people weeks to pick up these skills. Obviously my humanities degree will have its practical uses...

13 January, 2007 08:07  
Blogger violetforthemoment chimed in with...

I am constantly close going on the rampage with one of those stapler-taker-outers in my office as even people who have been there for years, grimly hanging onto a job they hate, don't care about and barely know how to do, can't work office equipment or complete simple admin tasks without ringing me up three times to ask me how.

I used to be an administrator in the same organisation I am now an actual talking-to-people-officer in, and take great pleasure in responding to admin people who say 'but you don't understand how much pressure we're under' by bellowing "ACTUALLY I DO because I did your job for THREE YEARS and WRITING A LETTER when the computer system generates it AUTOMATICALLY and the officer who's forbidden to send it on their own has FILLED IN A FORM WITH ALL THE INFO ON IT is NOT THAT FUCKING DIFFICULT." But there are too many polysyllabic words in that rant so they just go 'huh?' and get on with eating their Muller Lights instead of working.

Sorry, I think I need to get one of those squeezy stress balls or something.

13 January, 2007 11:03  
Anonymous Stu Savory chimed in with...

Our motorcycle club had a competition last june. We rode to an agricultural museum,
one room was full of tools(?) a mere 150 years old, from which I had had the curator remove the explanatory notices in advance. The competition was to name the numbered tools and say what they were for and how used.

Average score? Only 12 out of 20. Some folks (and remember these were mechanically aware bikers [i.e. no Harley types] ) only managed to get 7 right. NOBODY got over 18.

So I for one would not be ashamed of asking how to use a piece of equipment properly with which I was unfamiliar. Ever tried a japanese toilet?

13 January, 2007 11:04  
Anonymous Anonymous chimed in with...

Some people are born for office work. They are natural administrators. They have an affinity with photocopiers and other such devices. They engage in long conversations about post-its or think that "what is your favourite form of stationary?" is a viable opener for a conversation. There's small talk and then there's small talk.

One girl I worked with would tell me every day without fail what she had for breakfast, and every day without fail it would be Bran Flakes. She was as regular as clockwork. Our job was to sit at a desk and just be there. It was a well payed and skilless job. One person would come to ask us something every four hours or so, and we would then perform some mundane and perfunctionary task. It was low impact and meant I could earn money whilst writing my thesis. My colleague however operated at an amazing highly stressed out level, and although had the natural flair for banal small talk, simply could not operate any hard ware in the office. Photo copiers would fox her, computers would bamboozle her and shredders, well, least said soonest mended. She would turn puce with frustration, and combatted it by declaring herself the supervisor (a lie), delegating tasks (to me) and officiously contriving reasons why she was too busy to do anything - it was something to do with her being the boss and receiving 'special' orders. Entirely bemused, I would watch her and unquestioningly perform the superfluous tasks she set me. Until one day she did not come to work at nine; this happened a few times. I would sit and study, until she arrived. One day she arrived at midday and furiously rang the boss, saying that I was sat in her seat. That in her unauthorised absence, I had opted to position myself on the comfier of the two chairs. Outraged, she explained to him how she had started coming to work later and later, and now I had taken this liberty of sitting in her chair even though she was the boss (still a lie). Listening to her, the boss fired her, there and then. It was very surreal.

I'm not sure what my point was with this rambling comment, but maybe that these idiots come unstuck, or don't eat Bran Flakes, or something.

13 January, 2007 14:23  
Blogger Tabby Rabbit chimed in with...

You should tell HNAP that the shredder won't work unless it has an item of their clothing placed into it to 'activate' it. That should solve the problem / add some hilarity to your day.

13 January, 2007 17:22  
Blogger zorak163 chimed in with...

I wandered over to your blog from the King of Ramble and have enjoyed my visit so much I've added you to my links... your writing style is very much in keeping with the way that I think about things. I'm glad to have found your blog.

14 January, 2007 01:22  
Blogger Spinsterella chimed in with...

Please don't hate me...but I am one of those hopeless poeple.

You work in one place for a while and become a whizz-kid at using all the machines.

But then you go to a new job everything is different and baffling and nobody will help because they're all thinking, 'dumb bitch can't even use the printer'.

14 January, 2007 16:47  
Blogger Geosomin chimed in with...

I feel your pain.
I recently got a call from a supervisor to come and discretely turn on their computer...because they wanted to check their email and didn't know where the power button was...

15 January, 2007 16:50  

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