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Work Diary, October 21, 2009: The Song Never Ends

8:00 AM – Waking Up to “Music”

I wake up to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” on the radio.  I don’t know it yet, but this song will be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.  Oh, joy.  I think I’d prefer the theme song to Lamb Chop’s Play-Along instead.

8:45 AM – It’s There to Warn Tourists

lamb-chop-puppetOn my way to work, I pass by a disturbing billboard in Times Square.  Of course, there are hundreds of billboards in Times Square, usually featuring Hawaiian Tropic girls and Calvin Klein models in their underwear.  This one, however, has a magnified picture of a bed bug.  It appears that bed bugs have become such a big problem that they warrant their own Times Square billboard.  I love New York.

10:21 AM – Wrong Number…

I get a call from an unknown number.  When I pick up, the guy launches into his pitch: “Hi, my name is Andrew Porter. I love the morning show.  I’ve noticed that Al and Matt dress in different suits every day.  Well, I own a custom clothing company… Wait, this isn’t NBC Today?… You’re not Al Roker’s assistant?… Can you direct me to Al’s assistant?… Well, goodbye.”  Click.

1:29 PM – Guaranteed to Suffer Injury Due to Karma 

a-rodIs it cruel to wish bad things onto other people? …Probably.  But, what if that other person is Alex Rodriguez?  I have an animated discussion with a co-worker about misfortunes that could befall A-Rod:  A-Rod breaks his leg.  A-Rod gets hit by a taxi.  A-Rod gets a shard of glass in his eye after an aggressive mirror kiss…  We’re not bad people.  But we’d just rather cheer for the Taliban than for the Yankees.

4:34 PM – That’s What She Said

We are having our monthly operating review with one of the senior executives of the company.  We reach a slide about demographics, which shows our increasingly male base.  Our concern is that we are driving away females.  The COO studies the slide for a minute.  Then she asks: “So, are women not coming at all, or are the men just coming on top of women?”  Pause.  “I didn’t mean it like that.”  Awkwardness.

TOTALS: 6 minutes lost trying to convince Mr. Porter that I was not Al Roker’s assistant, 100+ songs played to try and rid my brain of Miley Cyrus, and 1 extremely awkward meeting in which I strain a muscle from holding in laughter, because clearly — given my choice of music — I have the maturity of a 15-year old.

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Work Diary, Sept. 30, 2009: The Daily (Bump And) Grind

24, female, Midtown Manhattan, working in corporate finance.  She often wonders if she peaked already, and is now just racing downhill in a speedboat full of misplaced ambition, yuppie angst, and terribly bad work habits.

8:15 AM – Rough Morning

I wake up feeling like there’s a small Mexican toddler in my belly.  That’s what a night of fajitas, rice, and sangria will do: impregnate you.

hpotter11:05 AM – He’s Actually a 12-Year Old Boy

I have a meeting with an IT guy who has action figures on his desk.  There is a GI Joe next to the family photo of his three kids.  I’m not judging… but, he also has a WWE folding chair.  I sit on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s face as he (the IT guy) explains the statistical properties of data matching.

11:45 AM – My Office Romance

Like many companies, we have to touch our ID card against a scanner to get into the office.  I have become so lazy that I’ve taken to hipchecking the scanner, because it’s too much work to pull out the ID from my pocket.  And when I have my ID in my back pocket, it’s like having a little bump and grind with the scanner: turn around, love tap, access granted, feeling good! 

…Of course, I only do this when I’m by myself.  Or else it would just be embarrassing.  

12:01 PM – Why I Haven’t Left Finance Yet

great-depression-soup-lineI walk outside to go to lunch and there is a huge line stretching the entire length of the street.  People are filling out job applications while they wait.  It harkens back to a Depression-era bread line, reminding me once again that jobs = food.  And even though I may dislike my job, I love food. 

12:40 PM – My Work Oasis in the Elevator

Back from lunch.  I love when I get into an elevator alone.  Usually I do some stretching.  Sometimes I sing.  “I Will Survive” is a favorite, especially given how rickety and slow the elevators are.  And because there are no (visible) security cameras in here, I feel completely justified in my elevator activities: everyone needs an outlet.

TOTALS: One hour of data mining, two work projects completed, six elevator rides, one elevator ride alone (“I’ve got all my life to live, I’ve got all my love to give”), and three love taps, with one interrupted by a co-worker who I can no longer look in the eye.

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Work Diary, Monday Sept. 28, 2009: Going to Hell With Angelina

9:15 AM – I Hate Tim Tebow

timtebowA few co-workers are talking about Tim Tebow and his concussion.  I chime in, saying that I have an irrational hatred for Tim Tebow.  They ask me why.  Well, it’s irrational; therefore, I can’t explain it.  (I also hate Tobey Maguire, but I have no good reason for that one either.)

One of my co-workers says, “He does all of this charitable work outside of football.  How can you hate the guy?”  I respond facetiously, “Maybe I just hate altruistic people.”  They look at me like I just punched a baby. Facetiousness doesn’t translate in the office.

I try to dig myself out of Satan’s hole by telling them that I like Angelina Jolie for her charity work.  Well, they hate Angelina because she’s a homewrecker.  Just can’t win.

10:00 AM – My Future

This morning, my manager asks me what my work plans are for January, after my program ends.  Well, officially, I will be working on “blank stare.”

12:30 PM – You Wanna Start Somethin’?

onionringsI have lunch with a couple of friends from college.  We’re talking about entrepreneurship: if other people can come up with stupidly simple ideas (eg. Snuggie, ShamWow), why can’t we?  I share with them my vision of opening a restaurant that serves chicken rings and onion fingers.  No one’s biting.  But in case it blows up, you heard it here first.

2:24 PM – Don’t Read If Eating

olestra-pringlesWhile on Sametime (our company’s instant messaging system), my co-worker mentions that her new favorite word is “fecalexplosion.”  I’m not sure where to take this.  It reminds me of the FDA putting “anal leakage” warnings on cans of Pringles.  I use the word “fecal” about six times throughout the remainder of our conversation, partly to test whether our Sametime messages are being monitored.  Haven’t been flagged yet!

TOTALS: One official ticket stamped to hell, about 20 awkward pauses during my “career/life” conversation with the boss, 10+ references to bodily waste, and one billion-dollar idea that is all dependent on processing chicken to form concentric circles.  It was a slow day.

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Work Diary, Sept. 24, 2009: Babies and Marriage

Female, 24, Midtown Manhattan, working in corporate finance.  Just a note: I include “waking up” and “getting dressed” as part of my work day, because if I were unemployed, I would do neither of these things.  Well, I might wake up, but definitely not at 7:30 AM.

7:30 AM – Fired Up to Start the Day. This morning, I awake to a marriage proposal on the radio.  This is pretty much how it went:

Man: “Will you marry me?”

Woman (matter-of-factly): “Yes.” (Silence)…

Radio show hosts: “What?!?” and then proceed to berate the woman for her lack of emotion.

“I just woke up,” she insists, saying “I’m excited…” with all the conviction of a death row inmate heading to the chair.

But girlfriend, I’m with you.  If my hypothetical boyfriend asked me to marry him on a radio show, I would say “Yes” as icily as possible, if at all.  A marriage proposal by radio is almost as insulting as proposal by email or proposal by ballpark jumbotron.

duanereade8:15 AM – I Definitely Have to Do Laundry Tonight. I’m down to my last pair of underwear.  (Sorry if this is TMI.)  I briefly consider buying underwear just to delay the laundry…  However, I immediately scrap that idea, since there are no clothing stores on my direct route to work.  (I must admit I contemplated going to Duane Reade.)  I still have swimsuit bottoms though, so I might make it to the weekend.

9:35 AM – First Thought of the Day on Leaving Finance. My co-worker sends me a WSJ article about a Wall Street trader-turned-waiter.  He and I talk about career issues all the time… We’re like third-graders: “How cool would it be if people could fly?? How cool would it be if people actually liked their jobs??”

drawings11:12 AM – Clock-Watching. Today is just crawling.  Our internet is down, so I take my allotted “online browsing” time to doodle and to eavesdrop on my co-workers’ conversations instead. 

1:30 PM – I’m Thinking About Weight Watchers. I meet the President of Ad Sales at a diversity fair, which I attend because there is free food.  I shake his hand while trying to balance my heaping plate of pizza, pasta, salad, and fudge brownies.  I hope that my firm handshake will distract him from my pile of brownies, inadvertently drizzled with Caesar dressing.

2:07 PM – We’re No Longer Friends… One of my best friends sends me a message over Gchat: “Something for you to write about that annoys me: co-workers responding to e-mails and ending them with ellipses. WTF.”  I realize I do this all the time…

 4:46 PM – Not a Fan of Office Baptism. Maybe it’s just me, but I always feel really awkward when someone I don’t know brings a baby into the office.  Showing off a baby at the office has become a sacred ritual.  Everyone gathers around the baby, as if it’s the second (or third?) coming of Jesus.  They all coo over the baby, and tell the parent how beautiful the baby is, even if it looks like a wrinkly prune.

officeToday, one of the salesmen brings in his baby.  I hear the festivities in the hall, with the usual “Oh my God!  He’s so big!” comments.  But since I don’t know the proud papa, I feel strange about joining the crowd.  At the same time, it seems sacrilegious to avoid baby Jesus.

So, I play it by the same rule that I employ when I meet people at bars: if he doesn’t come over to me, then he doesn’t exist.  As the baby never made his way over to my desk today, he didn’t get the pleasure of my company.  Take that, baby.  (I’m going to end up old and alone, with cats, aren’t I?)

6:36 – I May Be Out of a Job Soon.

Right before I’m about to head out, my redheaded Irish co-worker pings me on our company instant messaging system:

giantbabyJM: this will be your child [he sends over a link to this picture]

Me: thanks honey

Me: but won’t my baby have red hair?

And with that, I sign off.  I love sexually harassing co-workers at the end of the day.

TOTALS: Two non-encounters with babies (one imagined, one real), three Facebook Scrabble games finished, four brownies guiltily consumed, two inappropriate messages to co-workers, one possible case of sexual harassment, and the omnipresent gnawing feeling that I’m going to end up old and alone with cats, unless I say “yes” to marriage on the radio.

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Work Diary, Sept. 22, 2009: Old School Pants Day

Female, 24, Midtown Manhattan, working in corporate finance.  Career schizophrenic, occasional train wreck, and solicitor of any advice that convinces her to leave finance.

8:15 AM – I wake up late to a John Mayer interview on the radio. I can tell this day is going to be terrible already.

pants8:45 AM – I still haven’t done laundry, so I’m forced to wear a pair of black pants that I’ve probably had since high school.   The pants are made of a lovely rayon/polyester fabric, and they’re from Old Navy.  The bottom hem is completely worn off, but I’m not going to spend more money on a tailor than I spent on the pants.  So, my solution has been to staple the hem together.  Today, I check the pants to make sure the staples are still in (they are!), and I’m good to go.  I always manage to pull off that classy work chic look.

9:00 AM – While I’m walking to work, I often check myself out in the windows that I pass by.  I don’t really know why I do this at all.  I mean, I just saw myself in a full-length mirror 2 minutes ago, when I left my apartment.  Nothing has happened since then.  And it’s not like I’m going to see my reflection in the window of Bagel Stix, become startled at the look of my makeshift stapled pants, and then turn back home to change.  It’s not gonna happen, even if it should.

Chitty9:30 AM – At work today, I have to train a group of IT folks on one of the weekly reports I put together.  When I was in LA, I had to train two Indian gentlemen on how to run expense reports.  It was going fine… until one of them told me that he used to go online and pretend to be a 15-year old girl.  It was hard to concentrate on T&L after that.  So needless to say, I’m pretty wary when training people.  However, no one seems all that creepy today, even though there is one guy whose last name is Bang.  I wonder if he’d ever name his child something like “Big” or “Chitty Chitty.”

healthychoice4:15 PM – I miss a meeting to discuss the company’s changing healthcare plan.  But apparently, the new benefits plan is called “Health Choice.”  Is it just me, or did we get lazy when naming this new plan?  Will we be getting medical advice from Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her Tomato Chicken Café Steamers?

5:12 PM – My co-worker informs me that it’s my turn on Facebook Scrabble.  I have six vowels and an G.  Could this day get any worse?

6:49 PM – Before I leave, I forward along two resumes to my HR rep.  Misery loves company.

TOTAL: Six IT professionals trained, three incidents of near violence due to work frustration, one sweet respite thanks to Facebook Scrabble, one old healthcare plan replaced, one new Healthy Choice plan gained, and zero staples lost, all in a day’s work.

 

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Work Diary: Sept. 17, 2009… The Routine

Female, 24, Midtown Manhattan, working in corporate finance but disillusioned… would prefer to be a writer, but doesn’t have the balls to pull it off yet.  Somewhat related to the ‘female’ part.

7:30 AM – Waking Up

Monday to Friday, my alarm goes off at 7:30 AM to the cacophony of Z100’s Elvis Duran and the Morning Zoo.  As with any quality FM morning show, I’m immediately thrown into a state of utter chaos: yelling, laughing, arguing, screeching, and the occasional clip of turtles having sex (one of the Morning Zoo’s favorites).  I’m not quite sure why I allow my brain to get filled with celebrity gossip, stupid news, and turtle copulation every morning.  But perhaps I just need some dysfunction to prepare myself for the day.

8:15 AM – Getting Dressed

talbots

It’s sad that choosing an outfit for work will be the most important decision that I make all day.  Most of the time, I simply try to look “not homeless.”  I have a rotating set of acceptable, uninspired work outfits that I choose from.  So my important daily decision comes down to whether I want to look more Banana Republic, or more J. Crew.  But given my stellar (lack of) fashion sense, whatever I choose and however much I try, I probably end up looking more Talbots than anything.  Evidence?  I own corduroy shorts.  They’re not cute.

8:30 AM – The Commute

nyccommuteOutside of war victims and child prostitutes, NYC commuters are the most miserable, despondent people in the entire world.  On my walk to work, I’ll see at least twenty pigeons, at least ten piles of overflowing trash, and if lucky, a couple  of rats.  But I have never, ever, seen a smile at 8:30 AM in the morning in New York City.  If I were to see someone smiling while walking to work, I’d probably pass out right there from shock.

8:45 AM – Getting to Work

Even if I’m dreading work, for some reason I feel compelled to get there as fast as possible.  I’ve learned to dodge tourists, puddles, and dog crap with astounding alacrity.  But once I actually make it to the office, I get the sinking feeling that I just arrived early to my own waterboarding session.  Why did I run through a blinking stop, hipcheck an elderly woman, and narrowly avoid death by taxi…so that I could be on time for work?

8:46 AM to INFINITY – The Work Day

While every day is different, here is an example of how I spent today, Sept. 17, 2009, written in the spirit of NYMag’s sex diaries.  (I would write those if I had an exciting personal life, but clearly, the only romance I ever encounter is the symphonic turtle kind):

  • 9:15 AM: I need to get a new ID card, since my old one stopped working.  The woman tells me that she does not have my current ID photo on file, so she has to take a new one.  nicknolteOf course, this is the one day that I had planned to be a hermit at my desk, avoiding people at all costs in my “I need to do laundry” outfit.  My new ID photo comes out looking like I just got hopped up on acid with Nick Nolte.  I manage to have a droopy eye and a double chin.  It’d be a perfect mugshot if I were getting arrested for crystal meth.
  • 9:25 AM: I run into a co-worker in the elevator.  The elevators in my building could rival the ones on Grey’s Anatomy for the “Slowest Elevators in History” award.  (Also, I always seem to run into the EVP of the company in the elevator bank.  Of course, I only see him on days when I’m getting in late or leaving early.  I never see him otherwise.)  Our elevator is packed.  Above another guy’s head, my co-worker asks me how I’m doing.  I say I’m doing well.  Then she asks, “Living the dream?”  “Every single day,” I reply.  The entire elevator lets out a collective guffaw.  At least I’m not the only one.
  • 10:41 AM: I get an email asking me to put together a few slides for investment bankers, because part of our company is expected to go on the market.  So basically, I’m being asked to do something that may lead to my ultimate firing, once the company is gutted and sold.  (It’s like asking me to sharpen the axe that will chop off my head.)  Still, I happily oblige.
  • 1:06 PM: I get an instant message from a co-worker, lauding me for one of the “most genius accounting jokes” she’s ever heard.”  This is the joke I wrote, in the spirit of Chuck Norris: “Keith Sherin can always recognize revenue, even from far away.”  I contemplate becoming a stand-up comedian for accountants… but then I remember that most accountants don’t have a sense of humor.
  • davematthews3:10 pM: I discover that there is a co-worker in another office named Dave Matthews.  I spend ten blissful minutes hypothesizing as to What [he] Would Say about about our Satellite operations.
  • 4:01 PM: I overhear a woman who sits next to me say, “My motto is, no one’s life is that fabulous.”  She’s obviously never met Tina Fey.
  • 4:02 PM: I get an email in my inbox from the head of HR, telling us that health benefits are changing.  I blame Max Baucus.
  • 5:25 PM: A co-worker tells me that she’s doing SOX testing.  I ask her what she thinks is better, wool or cotton?  (This is the second time in my life that I’ve made this joke, sadly.)  I chuckle silently to myself.
  • 6:45 PM: Heading home.  Another day, another dollar.

doughboyTOTALS: Two accounting jokes, one reference to healthcare reform, one fantasy about DMB in corporate finance, 50+ instances where I questioned what I was doing with my life (excluded above, since that just gets annoying), and one new ID photo in which I look like a drugged Pillsbury Dough Boy.

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