Friday, January 14

Flimsy, Inc., Part I

At 10:00 a.m. on the first day of my employment at Flimsy, Inc., there was a meeting. In attendance were:
• Mr. CEO
• me (recently hired as Mr. CEO’s assistant)
• and Melody,* Mr. CEO’s fiancé/ “designer”/ Co-Owner (*There’s just no other name to appropriately convey the aura of this person.)

In this Thursday morning meeting, we discussed some ordinary things. Really simple things. Like producing TWO HUNDRED COPIES of a THREE HUNDRED PAGE catalog composed of THREE HUNDRED ILLUSTRATOR FILES (which were ruined by some non- graphic designer they hired), which of course needed to be printed and bound and arrive in New York by Monday.

After I looked past my eager-to-please first day of work attitude and realized the absurdity of the task, my first step was to call a dozen nearby printing firms, hoping one of them would be insane enough to accept a two-day, over-the-weekend rush print job during the holiday season.

The first place I called wouldn’t budge from $15,000, but said they’d fix the files for me. Kinko’s proudly offered a price of $11,500. The next place settled at $11,000. And the final offer from a guy in the adjacent office building was $10,000.

When I presented the information to Mr. CEO, he balked. “Ten thousand is ridiculous. I’m not paying that. We’ll do it in-house,” says he, owner of a possessed Canon ColorPass printer.

Initial eager-to-please reactions of the first day work environment continue to win. I say, “Whatever you say,” and get to work, only to have my anger win out an hour later, realizing that this is idiotic. So, we negotiate the idiocy and settle on “see if the guy next door will do the cutting, collating, binding if we print them ourselves. What’s the price then?”

When I return with a quote of $6,000, he remains dissatisfied, suddenly claiming that he talked about this job with the guy only a week ago and it was less.

Ok, let’s review: You need two hundred 300 page catalogs printed, collated, and bound by Monday? (At this point, we’d settled for shipping the catalogs on Monday, rather than having them arrive Monday.) It’s now Thursday. If I’m REALLY fast, I’ll maybe have fixed half of these broken Illustrator files by tomorrow, so we could send them to print at the end of the day.

(At this point, they have me “working” on a Celeron processor generously equipped with 128 MB of RAM and a 15” monitor. Raise your hand if you’ve attempted to open 1GB Illustrator files with that kind of machine. Let’s just say I overestimated how quickly I could fix the text and alignment of three hundred files using the provided equipment.)

Still reviewing: I’ve found printers who will do your job, and you say “No”? Now what?

Oh, right, you expect me to fix all the files, print copies of each on your I-work-when-I-feel-like-it laser printer, cut the resulting 15,000 sheets of paper with that ten-sheets-at-a-time paper cutter over there, collate the 60,000 quarter-page slices, and bind two hundred of these on my first day on the damn job. Sure.

Also, if you talked about it a week ago, Mr. CEO, why didn’t you start this a week ago? ... And, why did you claim not to know about this sudden deadline from Melody in that meeting this morning?

“At Flimsy, Inc. we’re all about putting things off. We enjoy unreasonable, self-imposed deadlines resulting from unpreparedness and irresponsibility. We also encourage anger in the workplace and dissent in all of our employees. As we like to say, ‘We micromanage or we don’t manage at all,’ and we feel that the fluctuation between the two puts our employees in the constant state of uneasiness and displeasure that we desire. Above all else, we take pride in the shoddy work that comes from the implementation of these core values.”

How did the printing end up? Late and crappy, like everything else. I didn’t get to fix all the files, but we printed them anyway. We didn’t use the guy downstairs to cut, collate, or bind. We did it in-house. A part-time worker came in to make sloppy cuts, misplace pages, and STAPLE the catalogs together over the weekend. We missed our deadline of Monday by one week, and overall, represented the company in a fine way.

If ever a first day were indicative of my entire stay...

Thursday, January 13

She Returns

I’m thirteen days late to do a New Year’s post, so suffice it to say that I hope you are all happy and well.

Since I disappeared exactly one month ago, the following things (and more) have happened. Please feel free to leave me the play-by-play of your own weeks past.

Prepare ye: there are stories to come.

About:

▪ the job I was desperate enough to take and subsequently resign in the space of five weeks

▪ the still-not-funny-enough-to-write-about car accident I had on lunch break of aforementioned job on the sunny Thursday before the New Year

▪ the colorful mélange of family that assembled in Stillwater, OK this Christmas
(Seriously, it was fun.)

Coming Soon...

Sunday, December 12

More LA Fun

We still can’t figure out why the people here never learned about traffic.



The light is green. The crosswalk is about fifteen feet behind us.

My new standard of driving will be: “Learn how to jaywalk or prepare to get hit.”

Stranded in 1991

The Boy and I had been looking forward to seeing Ocean’s Twelve for almost two weeks, so we booked two opening night tickets on Fandango for Friday night.

When I get home from work, (YES! I got a job not listed here) we head to the theater. Strangely enough, the one we usually go to isn’t showing it, so The Boy chose a Magic Johnson Theater, which is located on Martin Luther King Blvd. in this city with which we are still not yet familiar.

In standard blockbuster-opening-night fashion, we arrive at the theater approximately one and one half hours before the movie was scheduled to begin. Ordinarily, this is accepted and expected, but our behavior was met with the blank stare of ticket-taker. “You know your movie don’t start for like two hours.”

The place is empty, save maybe ten employees, a handful of teenagers, and a hundred very-pregnant women. The theater looks like 1991, white tile everywhere, lots of red and neon. With plenty of time to kill, we walk back outside and analyze the situation. Surely more people will show up, right? We’ve already bought our tickets; let’s just stay. Just wait. They’ll show up.

We walk over to the adjoining mall and waste some time in Walden Books, and head back to the theater. By 9:15 on opening night, the crowd should be building for the 10:00 movie.

Nope. The same bewildered clerk, kids, and very-pregnant women stared back at us, confused.

When we’re finally allowed to enter the theater, the security guard ESCORTS US to it like a secret service agent. The man clearly takes his job seriously, previously telling us “Could you please not stand in the [COMPLETELY EMPTY] hall here, ma’am?”

Up through this point, we had assumed that the inside of the theater would be modern, or at least clean. When we walk in, we find stains on each non-stadium seat that are older than some of my cousins. We sit down in our dingy theater of 300 capacity and look around. 9:45. No one. I’ve been to a lot of movies with only a handful of people (usually art-house crap at the Angelika), but never to one where there is NO ONE.

Silence. Something that sounded like the chirping of crickets.

We look at each other, and whisper about the alternate universe we have entered. Silence. Laughter. Nervous Laughter. “Ok, so we’ll just go ask for a refund.” “Can we do that?” “I think so.” “Ok.”

The two dollars lost to Fandango were well worth escaping the time-warp theater. We leave the place running.

Wednesday, December 8

Priorities

Isn’t there maybe a more important use for the stem cells?




Monday, December 6

Jobs I'm Not Desperate Enough To Take

Almost four months later, I am still in search of permanent employment in Los Angeles, and while searching for my dream job (more accurately: my it’s-ok-for-now job), I come across some terrible listings, usually from Craigslist.

The following postings comprise the inaugural edition of “Jobs I’m Not Desperate Enough To Take”. These are the abridged versions; do you really want to read three paragraphs of a “We’re looking for a team player” boilerplate? I’ve bolded my favorite lines. All names and contacts have been removed as a courtesy (to myself, mostly, to avoid the hate mail). However, all typos and creative grammar choices have been preserved.


Personal Assistant

We require a PA for a production co./law firm run from a home office for a month (future possibilities possible). [...] The job entails answering and making calls, researching the net, getting mail, and some miscellaneous tasks. You must type at least 50 wpm, be very attractive and professional in appearance, and phone voice. You should be patient, organized, and not adverse to dogs. If you meet these qualifications, please tell us about yourself, the hourly rate you charge and why you should be our first choice. The position is available immediately.


I love this one. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to work in a split production company and law firm run from a HOME OFFICE. Also, I’m happy to be judged based on my very attractive, yet professional appearance. Sounds like a great position.




Technical Administrative Assistant / Pay starting @ $12/Hr

We are a small growing computer company that has been in business 14 years.
We are looking for an administrative assistant with a good basic understanding of computer hardware (PC only) [...]. This position requires very good social and organizational skills, as it will entail wrangling the boss quite a bit. [...] We work in a small home office. Please be comfortable with tight, but very friendly, open quarters. Our company has grown over 300% in the last two years, and personal advancement depends on your contribution to the company's success and growth.


So not only should you be a technically skilled person, but you should also be happy to “wrangle” a difficult boss in a claustrophobic environment.




Experienced Executive Assistant

We are looking for an experienced Executive Assistant. The position requires the ability to handle heavy phones, schedule, and travel arrangements. We are looking for someone with an unfailing positive attitude, energized to make people happy, willing to be flexable at all times. Special projects as required, as well as some personal duties. This is a great time to be joining our team! Applicant will be expected to be able to spend long hours in the office, but with very friendly boss.


I’m always suspicious when they describe the boss as “friendly,” “warm with his staff,” “outgoing,” or “flirtatious.” I even came across one that suggested a “massage exchange” with the appropriate candidate.




Personal and Office Assistant

Fun person is required for our daily personal needs, and some office help.
Your duties:
Keep me smiling, Drive anywhere if necessary, Do all household shopping, Organize House, Keep everything clean (including kids), Cook meals (if you can’t cook, you’ll have to think of another skill to wow us), Party planning, Miscellaneous trips and responsibilities, Be available all nights AND weekends.

Applicant must enjoy working hard, pleasing employer, and enjoy a varied work environment. $10/ hour to start.


Let me get this straight. You want me to give up my entire social life, bathe your nasty children, and make any other necessary sacrifices in the effort to keep you happy, for the generous rate of... ten dollars per hour? They don’t provide a single reason why someone would actually want this job.


This next one is long, but so worth it for the last part.



Admin Asst / Office Mgr / and Bookeeper

Seeking Administrative Assistant/Office Manager and a Bookkeeper for world reknown psychic, personal empowerment speaker and metaphysician, John Doe (www.JohnDoe.Org). [Name changed - JEA]

Days/Hours - Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (35 hours) Once-a-month lecture hours: 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Equipment - Xerox Memory Writer 6015, Electronic Type Writer
(Speed: 35 wpm. Generation of tape labels for clients and product.)
Adding machine by sight
Fax machine (Normal faxing and press release notifications.)
Heavy reception phone work/customer care (3 lines – 2 incoming with first line on an answering machine. Answering and returning phone calls, client follow-up, appointment booking and rescheduling.)
Verifone SoftPay Omni 3200 (MasterCard and Visa sales, in addition to hand-written receipts.)
Telex Copyette 1 to 3 Tape Duplicator (Tape duplication for in-house product, call-in/in-person sales, prizes, and lecture night sales.)

Software - Coral WordPerfect Suite 8 and Suite 9
(Continuous timely updates of world wide mailing lists. Printing of mailing labels. Various miscellaneous documents.)
Micro Soft Word (Majority of documents, in-house and press materials.)
Excel (Various financial spreadsheets, (i.e.: payment tracking, monthly budget projections, etc.)
Quattro Pro 9 (Bill just installed this program into the computer. Currently we’re not operational with the new software.)
QuickBooks 2001 (Light bookkeeping, banking reconciliation, check writing, deposits, withdrawals, and in-house billing/invoicing/collecting.)
Eudora 6.1 (Maintenance of world wide e-mailing address books. Timely event notices and press releases. Receipt, response and creation of miscellaneous communiqués.)
Netscape 7.1 (Research, on-line banking, web mail.) [Netscape, really? Is it still 1998? –JEA]
Mailings (Generation and execution of notification of lectures, workshops, events, press, welcome packets, and product. Lectures in Los Angeles are mailed to approx. 1,000 clients monthly. Lectures in NYC, Stroudsburg and Boston are mailed to approx. 150 – 300 clients about every 3 months. London is mailed to approx. 40+ clients once a year.)

Miscellaneous - Office Presentation
(General upkeep and maintenance of waiting area, fish tank, supply room and both office areas. Timely maintenance and availability of in-house and outside press, product catalog and services’ brochure.)
Errands (Bank, post office, printer’s, office suppliers, etc.)
Once-a-month Lectures (Securing facilities/needs, handling of contracts, and location payment. On-site handling of entrance fees, lecture duplication, product sales and distribution, and client bookings.)
Personal Assistance (Various errands and assisting when called upon. Could include watering of house plants, picking up mail, and so on.)

Benefits-
Working with John
Parking
Working with John
Free Readings
Working with John
Chasing Entities Around The Office (or, in some cases, being chased by entities around the office…)
Salary is $10 - $12/hour depending on experience.

If you’re interested, or know of someone who might be, send qualifications in the body of an e-mail: johndoe@example.net, or via snail mail to: [address removed] or fax to: [number].

Looking forward to hearing from you!
- [Name of Frasier Crane’s assistant. No kidding.]


At least they’re specific. But what exactly does she mean by “entities”? His penis?





Thursday, December 2

She isn’t kidding.

Think back to Thanksgiving now, people. It was but one short week ago. Remember wherever you were, and now picture me in New York. Mine seems good already, right?

The holiday itself was uneventful: My mother and I aborted the let’s-go-be-miserable-with-family plans of yesteryear, and opted for a lovely if non-traditional dinner at Gotham.

On Saturday, I went to Jersey City, where my Grandma treated me to some kick-ass baked ziti, meatballs, sausage, and chicken parmesan. She didn’t think this would be enough food.

Yet she loathes cooking now, which I think is the result of all the dishwashing involved in cooking ten thousand meals over sixty or seventy YEARS. Seriously, I remember times when the entire family would be over there, stuffed into the upstairs apartment, eating ALL DAY. Let’s call that twenty-five people eating about ten different dishes for approximately eight to ten hours at least once each week. What you get is a very tired woman and twenty-five stuffed, fat, bossy, and loud family members, each about ten thousand calories richer.

I’m her youngest grandchild, so despite all this, she still makes the ziti when I come over.

She sent me away with some ziti and chicken draped in sauce to take on the plane. She even packed it in what looked like an airline food tray, incredulous at the idea that I could travel for “six hours, Jess, how do you do that?” without real food. Why can’t I just eat the stuff they provide? Because, she says, “it’s not good for you to eat that crap.”

Although I probably wouldn’t go to the trouble of packing my own meal, she’s right about it being crap. I received tons of jealous stares in flight. Thank You, Grams. Delish as always.

The only non-food-related part of the trip was when my Mom and I reworked her newly-single finances. The best was our adventure at Citibank, where we had two perfect examples of how adorable (and infuriating) my Mom can be:

My Mom loves her checks. They’re top-stub and they have a pretty paisley design with a gold imprint at the top. So in trying to move her from Bank of Crappy Staten Island, to slightly less crappy Citibank, she gave the poor new-guy-to-being-a-banker such a hard time. Half-way through the process, she announced, “You know I won’t be able to have an account here if I can’t have these checks.” We finally found some top-stub checks and she settled for a “completely boring” design.

Next came the numbers game. I warned the man in advance that he was dealing with the same woman who once tried to haggle her way into “better numbers” on a NON-VANITY LICENSE PLATE with an unfortunate employee of the DMV.

When Mr. New-Banker handed her the temporary card, I saw her face drop. I tried to convince Mom that there was no way that she could CHOOSE THE NUMBERS on her Citibank card. She was a little dejected, but luckily, exhausted from all the check manipulation she inflicted on the young man behind the desk, she gave up her desire for “more fives and sevens” on the ATM card.

The same morning, I tried this, (not there, but here) and I am in love.


Happy Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, December 1

Answer Me

Exactly who decided it would be a RED-NOSED REINDEER we should all sing about and love?

I Like Him

The Boy is the type of person whose thoughts become charts.

(We still do not have kids [or dogs] to control, so I guess he's just looking forward to the twenty-year decline in power ahead of him.)