Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Party Planning Joys and Sorrows

This is the time of year where friends and families get together to celebrate the holidays. Christmas, New Year’s, even Boxing Day for us Canadians is a celebration of sorts.

But it is also a trying time, for those that have to plan and orchestrate these parties.

Who do you invite? Where do you go? How long in advance to you make reservations? What about those that you invite that never show up?

Planning a party can be fun, but I’ve done it in the past couple years and I’ve grown tired of it.

What really annoys me, is when you invite a bunch of people, and the same people you invite every year bail out on you and your party at the last minute.

That’s not only rude, but disrespectful.

So this year, I think I’ll leave the planning to someone else. Or at the very least, who says you can’t enjoy the holidays alone, with a good bottle of wine, and unlimited choices of movies on the movie networks?

I love a good party as much as anyone else. But I hate having to organize the food, the drink, the list of attendees. Especially when many of those attendees decide at the last minute to do something else.

SO – this year will be different.

Where’s my wine?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Time Is Money – Except When In Lue

I’ve worked an excessive amount of overtime on my current contract. Usually I don’t mind too much, as I get paid by the hour. So the more I work, the more I make.

On my current contract I don’t get overtime pay. I did my usual objection to this when I first signed, but they assured me there wouldn’t be any need to worry – there isn’t that much overtime required.

Yeah right. The cheap bastards ripped me off.

When I get paid hourly, the more I work, the more I make – but also the more the client pays. It works to my advantage not just in more cash in my pocket, but as an incentive not to overwork me – because it’ll cost the client more.

Instead of overtime pay, I get time in lue. Time in lue is supposed to allow for every hour I work overtime, I get another hour paid off.

I’ve taken a few days in lue so far, because of the excessive overtime due to mis-management, or in most cases no management whatsoever.

Problem with lue time, is it is hard to take with this client, as nothing is managed, so everything is always rushed. As everything is always rushed, I find it hard to take time out from the busy day to take the time I am owed back by the company.

Also, without any form of incentive to keep their costs down, they just keep piling on the work.

Bad management and time in lue make a deadly combination. It makes for overworked, undervalued employees, that have excessive stress due to excessive overtime, and not enough time off.

I’ve done the occasional contract with time in lue – usually it works out okay. Although I don’t get paid for overtime, the amount of time spent above and beyond my normal working day is minimal.

But all it takes is one bad apple to sour the batch. Thanks to my current client, I will never do a time in lue arrangement ever again. If anyone is unwilling to properly compensate me for my time – which is anytime above and beyond a normal working day – than I will simply refuse to work for that company.

As it is now, I will no longer put in overtime on my current contract – regardless of what comes down the pipe. I’ve worked long and hard and have learned the hard way that this client has taken advantage of my diligence and strong work ethic.

They have imposed themselves on my personal time, and I don’t believe I will ever fully make up the time I’ve spent working overtime. I am even debating shortening my hours at the office, to make up for the excessive overtime.

Either that or send them a bill for my time. My time is valuable to me. My time is when I get to be with friends and family, do my housework, or simply rest and relax. When I don’t get my time, I get very annoyed, and the less time I have to myself, the more burnt out I become.

A burnt out employee is not a good employee, as you make more mistakes when you are tired. Also, the more time you are expected to work, the less time you want to spend doing a good job, so you quickly lose interest in your employer and the tasks at hand.

Lue time is not the wave of the future – at least not for me.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Relaxation By Chore

There is something strangely relaxing about housework. Washing the floors, dusting, vacuuming, even doing laundry have a certain calming effect on me.

It is a lot of bending, stretching, getting wet and soapy, and dusty. But the satisfaction of a job well done, a nice sparkling shiny home – that’s the ultimate reward.

I enjoy taking down my recycling, dusting the furniture, and vacuuming the floors. Then I typically wash the floors and clean out the bathroom.

You can learn a lot about a person by how clean they keep their bathroom. A bathroom which is filthy says a lot about the living habits of the person. So too, does a clean and shiny bathroom.

But there is more to it than personal pride – there’s relaxation.

It really is soothing to not have to think, not have to type, not have write. There are no emails to go through, no meetings to sit through, and no piles of paper to read.

Doing housework is mindless work, and I think that’s why it doesn’t appear to be work to me. It is like down time for my brain. It allows me to just focus on shining up the sink, or shaking out the dust in my area rugs.

I think I even clean my place better when I am really stressed at my job, because this isn’t my job. It’s housework – which has to be done. But it isn’t like work where you have unrealistic deadlines, set by non-thinking managers that don’t really know anything about management.

I think I’ll go clean out my tub now. . .

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Adjusting to Change or Just Being Lazy?

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to the ideals, values and workplace methodologies at my current gig.

My contract ends in a couple of months, and I know they are leaning towards keeping me on past my current contract.

Problem is – I don’t feel that confident in the company to continue beyond my current contract.

Finally, after months of my nagging and complaining about the lack of project management, management is starting to admit to me that there is no project management at the company.

Usually when I nagged or complained about the lack of project management, management would always shoot me down with a snarky – we’re working on improving it, or in the case of the top dog, the president actually named someone in the call centre as being in charge of managing projects.

Funny though, when I asked the president why then, have I never seen a project plan, he simply refuted back that none of the projects I’ve worked on have been under project management.

My manager says I can adapt to this lack of project management system they have in place. She even claims she has books which discuss it.

That really surprised me, because most MBAs would tell you project management is the only acceptable way to run an effective and efficient business. Without project management, you have – well – you have what I experience every day.

Chaos. Confusion. Frustration. Exceptionally high levels of stress – and a never ending pile of work which just gets dumped in your lap, despite already being overloaded with more work than one person should be reasonably expected to complete.

So, one of the big questions I have been exploring is this – is it possible to adapt to a chaotic, unmanaged system of running a business, or is just those that choose to work under such a system have other reasons to give up the methods used in most successful businesses?

Why would someone give up something which is known to work better, in place of a less effective system?

I know most of the employees have been around forever. For many of the staff, this is the only job they have ever known. Right out of school, for the past decade or more, in terms of employers, my current employer is all they have ever worked for.

For the “old schoolers” as they have become known at the company, it is understandable that they adapted to this chaotic system. They have never experienced the efficiencies provided by a properly project managed system, so they think all offices work as scatter-brained as this one.

But then there are others who have worked elsewhere, most likely some of these people have seen the light, and know there is a far better way to run the shop. Why are these people here.

I’m starting to wonder if these people haven’t so much adapted to a less effective system, but instead just gave up trying to find something better.

Looking for work isn’t always easy. With more people than there are good jobs, it is easier to just toss in the towel and take whatever you can find, regardless of how stressful it really is.

And working under a chaotic system is very stressful. In all my working life – which is probably well over 15 or more years – this contract has been the most stress-filled experience I have ever endured. It may even be the most stressful thing I have ever lived through in my whole life – and that says a lot, because I’m not exactly a spring chicken.

People who give up and just accept where they are, regardless of whether it is the best practice (and project management is a best practice) probably aren’t very good at what they do. Getting another job isn’t easy, but if you’re that concerned about finding work that you’re willing to work someplace which one day may cause you a heart attack or a stroke, chances are you know you’re not very good at what you do.

There’s another possibility – pure and simple laziness. Managing anything takes energy and effort. It requires work. People that are lazy will find every reason in the book – and some that aren’t in the book – to avoid doing more than they absolutely have to, to get the job done. It may be done quickly, and it will be a shoddy job – but it will be done.

That’s pretty much how all projects are “managed” where I am now. They just happen, as fast as can be completed, and usually are full of errors, bugs and noticeable problems, that would have been caught had the project not been rushed, but properly managed from the beginning.

I think I’ve discovered the fatal flaw of this company – laziness. People don’t adapt to something of lesser value, they see their leaders slacking off and do the same.

So, now the real question – do I continue past my contract with a bunch of slackers?

Stay tuned . . .

Saturday, November 17, 2007

She’s Got A Great Personality

Funny how whenever someone tells me some woman they are trying to fix me up with, as soon as I hear them say “she’s got a nice personality,” then I know she’s got little else.

Personality is an important thing – it’s part of what makes us who we are. But when a guy tells another guy she’s got a great personality, usually it means she’s not pretty, she may not even be smart, and she may have other fatal flaws.

The same can be said for workplaces.

Everyone at my work is really, really nice. Doesn’t mean it is a great place to work, just means the people are very nice.

When I hear everyone tell me how nice everyone is at the office, it is the same thing as someone telling me a person has a great personality.

I’ve figured that out after living the experience – as we often do. The people at my work are really nice – but the work environment itself is not.

There is no management of any real kind – no project management, little to no executive leadership and although the managers are really really nice, they don’t really lead their teams all that well either.

Leadership comes from the top down in any company. Without it, you won’t have any leadership at the rest of the levels, and you certainly won’t keep the top performing employees on your pay roll – we notice these things.

Although everyone is really really nice, without any leadership, there isn’t enough to keep me at this gig longer than my contract allows. My contract ends in less than 90-days, and I’m already looking forward to moving on.

Though the people are really really nice – that won’t keep me there.


Well, here’s a good example – the other day we had an executive meeting for a conference we’re putting together. The conference was a week away (or less actually by a day or two) and everyone should be ready – especially the president and CEO.

He admitted the night before the meeting, that although he knows the importance of this conference, which is less than a week away – he still hadn’t written his speech.

Wait a sec – you’re the leader – the TOP leader – the big fish leading all the other smaller fish, and you can’t be bothered to lead by example and have your speech ready on time?

We’re all busting our buns to get this conference going without any problems and you don’t have the decency to get your stuff together at the very least?

I’ve been working outrageously excessive hours for the past month trying to get my stuff done for conference on time – what’s your excuse?

When your employees put in 12-hour days, to be ready, but you don’t – that’s not leadership. That’s dropping the eight ball and hoping it doesn’t make a lot of noise when it come crashing down the hole.

This is just one of far too many examples of the lack of leadership at this company. It is going to be hard to leave in some ways, because the people are really nice. But I’d rather work with assholes that got the job done, than nice people that don’t do shit all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why Home Made Burgers Rock

I love to cook – it’s a great stress reliever and is healthier than buying crap made in China. Actually, doing it yourself is a lot better than anything made in China these days.

I made some of my world famous home made burgers today.

The secret to a good burger is the stuff you mix with the meat.

First, nothing forms the basis for my home made burgers other than pure, extra lean Grade AAA beef.

I occasionally make chicken burgers, beef and veal burgers (yum!) but those are special. When I’m making traditional hamburger patties, nothing but pure beef. No fillers here.

Some people swear by bread crumbs. Filler – if I wanted bread in my burger, I wouldn’t need a bun!

Once I get all the beef in one bowl, I then add all the dry ingredients. Salt, pepper, and other spices.

I shred – shred, NOT chop – shred a sweet onion and toss it in. By shredding it you get a finer consistency and you also get more onion juice – which mixes better than if you chopped, diced or just sliced up an onion.

I love bad breath – I chop up a handful of green onions too. Can’t have too much onion!

Garlic rounds out the dry ingredients, then I go for the wet.

Some liquid eggs go in (to keep the meat solid on the grill), some teriyaki sauce for flavour, and then some olive oil.

Olive oil? In burgers?

Yeppers – the olive oil does a few things. Here’s cooking science 101 . . .

Olive oil has a lower flash point than many other oils. That means it heats up faster than other oils. It can burn faster too, but inside a burger, we’re going for the heat. So the olive oil will actually help the burgers cook faster, because they get hotter inside and out quicker.

Olive oil is also a great lubricant. It keeps the burgers from sticking to the grill – which is important as we want to eventually get them off the grill to consume.

And, Olive oil helps lower cholesterol, so it is actually good for you. That and it adds some flavour too.

Olive oil is a great thing to add to burgers.

Now comes the fun part – getting dirty. Roll up your sleeves and dig in – it is time to mix all this stuff together, by hand! No mix-masters or other kitchen gadgets here – just my two hands.

The feeling of the ingredients at first is somewhat slimy, but after getting used to it, you actually start to get into it. And that leads to the best part of all. . .(other than actually eating the burgers) . . .


Nothing gets out my frustrations from work more, than moulding, shaping and pounding out round beef patties. It’s a great way to beat out the anger built up over years of pain, anger and . . .


You’re not my therapist!

Bashing burgers creates a uniform – or somewhat uniform – shape, while releasing tensions from life.

Then it’s off to the grill, for some fire. Fire makes everything better – just ask any arsonist.

Okay, maybe not – but unless you like your burgers raw, I’d suggest a good BBQ. You can bake burgers, or pan fry them – but nothing tastes better than a home made burger freshly BBQed off a hot grill.

Mmmmmmmm burgers!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Xmas Shopping Already?

I enjoy shopping for typical guy things – computers, stereos, and other electronics. But it seems every year the malls put out their Christmas decorations out earlier and earlier.

Already, most malls and their stores have the fake snow, the Santa dolls, and posters with elves out.

I enjoy the holidays – it means time off work and with friends and family. But every time I go into a mall and hear that Xmas music ---arrrgh!

It’s too soon.

I feel sorry for those that work in the mall and have to listen to it every day, all day. Imagine listening to “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” all day? I’d go mad!

Which is probably what some mall employees do – because working under those conditions isn’t the best. Sure it is fun, and it is a nice time of year. Everyone is supposed to be nicer to each other, and the holidays make people feel better.

But what often happens is you get people so frustrated, they aren’t nice at all. They push and shove there way through crowds, to get those holiday gifts.

I remember way back in the 1980s when Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage. There were riots by grown adults (mostly women) fighting to get the specific Cabbage Patch Kid that their kid had requested.

It was on all the news programs of the day – I still remember the images to this day, of parents kicking and screaming over some dolls for their kids.

These types of silly riots still occur, just the toys are different. These days, the latest “in” toy is Tickle Me Elmo.

I don’t know about you, but Elmo isn’t worth dying over.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Two-Week’s Notice Guy

We all want to be two-week’s notice guy from time to time. When work gets you down, and there is no end in sight, sometimes I just want to go into my manager’s office and say:

“F*ck it! I QUIT!”

And then I’d swiftly walk out, never to return.

Two-week’s notice guy probably would do it better. He probably has thousands of exciting, interesting and fun ways to leave our places of work. He’s probably scribbling innovative ways to tell the boss where to go as we speak.

I wish I was two-week’s notice guy. I’ve got big issues with where I work.

Actually, I’ve had big issues for a while now, but thought I could somehow manage to fit in – just as others are doing.

The problem is, there isn’t any form of project management at all. There doesn’t appear to be any management of any kind on any real level. They do have an executive level and a managerial level – what exactly these people do I often wonder, because it certainly isn’t “management” as I’ve experienced it at other companies.

One day my manager tells me project X is the priority and to focus on that. They very next day, she gives me a completely different priority, knowing full well she told me to already focus on something else.

I tell her the previous priority won’t get done, can’t work on it, if while I am working on her new project. She tells me she knows this already – just do it.

I shift gears, only to be tossed around to other priorities as they pop-up. Nothing really ever gets done until the very last minute. And because everything gets done at the very last minute, there is always something shoddy about it. It is never correct the first time around, simply because everyone is rushing around like their lives depend on it – so mistakes happen. Always. And everyone sees these mistakes, and accepts them as just part of the normal way business is done.

This has been going on since I started at this place several months ago. I’ve discussed project management with managers, executives and staff. They all tell me different things – but no one really knows what I’m talking about.

Turns out, the company (which has been around since the 1960s) has had most of the same staff since it began. And, this company has always done things the same way, forever. So, those working at the company don’t know any other way of doing anything. They think the “just drop everything and do it” approach is how all companies operate.
But many executives have supposedly come from other companies, where they do have sophisticated project management systems in place.

What’s there excuse?

I think I’ve figured it out – it’s their style.

Some people feel restricted under the riggers of good, solid project management. They know it is a necessary evil, because without it, the whole works falls apart.

But, when you go into a company where the majority of the worker-bees don’t know any better, you have an “a-ha” moment and realize that at very last, you can get away without letting on your knowledge about how to do things better. You can finally work under the style which you’ve always wanted to, even though you know it isn’t very effective.

A lot of very creative people hate being managed. But they know it is better to have some form of official management in place, to provide structured substance to the creative process. Without this process, things fall through the cracks, and you end up with burnt out employees, rushing around to get things done, producing shoddy projects, where everyone can see the mistakes.

I wonder what excuse two-weeks notice guy has to get out of this mess?

I’m highly creative, but I know the benefits – hell it is a necessity as far as I’m concerned” to have a formal project management structure in place. I’m looking to get out of this mess, so that I can breathe, and once again enjoy doing my work – without the heart attack never ending rush of priority one assignments.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Rude and Ruthless – The New Canadian Way

People are so rude these days – when I’m walking from point A to B, if someone is in front of me, I don’t push them out of the way to get past.

Yet that happens all to often these days when I’m walking down the street, entering or leaving a building or any of a zillion other things I do daily.

People used to say “excuse me” or even “sorry” when they stepped on your feet. These days, they look at you like it is your fault for being in the wrong place at the wrong time – even though you may have just been standing still.

We’ve all heard about road rage, where people lose control and get into fist fights because someone cut them off on the highway.

Now we have sidewalk rage, where people get into fist fights for stepping on someone else’s toes.

Our society isn’t what it used to be – and it is very sad to have lost the innocence of being Canadian. Canadian’s used to be known as the world’s ambassadors, the most polite people anywhere.

Thanks to over-immigration from countries with far lesser values, our society has changed for the worse. Instead of saying “excuse me” or “sorry” people swear, threaten violence, or even just take matters into their own hands and punch, kick and even bite.

What kind of country have we become, when we allow biters in to our mists?

In order to fit into our narrowing and less welcoming society, good ‘ol Canadians who used to be polite, now have to be just as verbally abusive and violent as those we let into our once happy land.

If you’re not strong enough to be aggressive, you’ll be eaten alive – thanks to our changing society and its twisted values.

It would be nice to be able to go back to a more peaceful time, one where people held the door for you, instead of letting it slam behind them. A time where people were nice to each other, instead of mean, rotten to the core and potentially dangerous to one’s being.

But we’ll never be able to go back, so long as we continue to let the world’s rejects come and call our once peace-loving land home.

Immigration is good in controlled numbers, from selected sources. But when we let drug dealers, terrorists, and other rift-raft into this country as we have been, we lose our way and become no better than the rift-raft.

I remember a time not that long ago when it was very safe to go for a walk after dark in the city. These days, if you do that, you stand a very good chance of not returning home in one piece – if at all.

We never had sporadic gang shootings in the streets, guns in schools, drug loads buying up luxurious houses in well-to-do areas to grow their crap, and terrorists plotting their next strike, from the house next door.

Nope – those are all new “benefits” of our new society, where if you have a pulse, you’re welcome here.

Maybe we need to re-think that policy.

Funny, people come here from other countries to live in a better, safer, cleaner and more profitable place where they can actually have lives. But these very same people give a big F U to our Canadian values system, and continue to live their lives just as they did back home. This tarnishes our Canadian values, and makes the whole reason of their being here pointless – why live in another country, if you’re just going to do exactly what you did in your native land?

That’s why we see more guns – some countries, even kids as young as 10 carry concealed fire arms. That’s why we see more drugs – some countries, drugs are the easiest and quickest way for the poor and starving to make enough for basic food and shelter. That’s why we see more crime – in many of the poorer countries of the world, people are so desperate they will do anything to survive.

Because we let in anyone these days, they do whatever they want – and make it hard for good, honest, hard working Canadians to survive.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I Bleed No More

I bought a new razor on the weekend – electric.

I used to always use electric razors, the Phillashave ones with the rotary heads. Then I switched to manual razors.

Manual razors give a nice close shave, but there is so much involved. You have to use cream or gel and you have to be alert – otherwise you can lose some skin too.

I’ve lost lots of skin over the past few years. When I wake up, I’m often still groggy, so giving me a sharp object isn’t exactly the best of ideas. Also, you have to keep buying replacement blades, which is a hastle.

So on the weekend I decided I had enough of the spurting blood, the constantly buying of shaving creams, the mess of cream and hair in the sink – I went back to electric.

I was looking at all the razors – there are so many to chose from. There are rotary ones, microscreen ones, ones which have beard trimmers, ones in funky colors, there are even ones which dispense aftershave or lotion to moisturize and refresh the skin after a shave.

I bought a really snazzy razor too – a Remington Titanium Microscreen. It is a rechargeable razor with a six-hour running time (that’s 20 days worth of shaving according to the box!) And it is washable – I can rinse it under the tap. The things they have these days!

When I was younger, we were always taught never take anything electrical and get it wet – but these new razors are washable! How cool is that?

It is sleek and has a great contour for holding and a three-position trimmer, for those nasty nose hairs.

I was so eager to try it out, I wanted to right out of the box. But alas, it says it needs a 24-hour charge when you first bring it home. After that it will only take 16-hours to charge.

They had quick charge razors too, but I figured who needed that? How often does one really shave anyway?

So, as I sit here typing this, it is charging away. But hey, I get to read up on the 30-day money back guarantee!

Yeppers, it says on the box “try it risk free for 30 days.” I like this 30 day trial period because razors are one of those things which may or may not be just the right one. Most stores won’t take back a razor once used – they can’t sell it again – but it is one of those things which is nice to try before you buy. I’m glad Remington razors come with this selling feature.

But until the thing is fully charged, I may still bleed – damn manual razors.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Everything is Priority One

I’ve written many times about the lack of project management at work.

Everything stems from the top-down, and obviously working under any of the standard professional project management methods isn’t a high priority for management.

What is a high priority is everything.

My manager will tell me one week that my high priority where I should focus all my work efforts is on one thing. Then the next day, she’ll just drop a bomb on my desk, telling me that is my high priority.

When everything has to be done now, right away, no exceptions, you end up with burnt out staff, and mistakes in the things we do.

Little tiny mistakes that normally would be caught, go out with a deliverable, simply because we’re too damn burned out to notice.

All this, because the executive doesn’t believe in project management.

Project management isn’t a hard concept to grasp – there are life cycles or stages of development for all projects. Every person knows where, when and what needs to be done at each stage, and time lines are created to accommodate those needs for each stage.

See – if I can describe it at a basic level in one paragraph, you’d think some high-brow executive with years of experience not only knows about this, but knows the consequences of not using it.

The consequences are evident throughout the organization – laziness, unhappiness, and the biggest complaint of all – there is never enough time to do anything.

The reason there is never enough time to do anything is because without project management of some form, everything comes out of nowhere, and needs to be done now, right away – priority number one.

But if everyone already has several priority number one’s – when do they find time to do them all? How do you ensure the jobs get done correctly? How do you test and re-test to ensure there are no mistakes?

The answer – you don’t.

Garbage in equals garbage out – an old saying with lots of truth to it. In comes more trash, just to be shovelled out as fast to make way for new trash. There are no checks or balances to ensure the projects get completed well, or even on time.

And because everything is so rushed, people stop caring. I don’t know how many times I have heard my manager say she doesn’t care about quality, just so long as we get it done. “We’ll worry about that the next time” or “we’ll fix it in the next release” are very common phrases my manager uses.

These phrases indicate the projects she does do, don’t matter anymore, because she’s burnt out just like the rest of us.

But those things that were supposed to be fixed in the next round – don’t get fixed, there isn’t any time. Garbage in, garbage out.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Hellooooo Is Anybody There?

I remember going shopping with my mom for clothes when I was a kid. I never really liked shopping for clothes with my mom – we’d have to try on everything.

It was a whole procedure – my mom would pick out clothes for me and my brother and then we’d go to the fitting area and each go into the teeny-tiny rooms they had the nerve to call change rooms. Then we’d come out, and my mom would give us the once over – twice or more.

“How does that feel?” she’d ask – knowing we’d always say “fine” even if it wasn’t. We just wanted to get out of there.

But she looked us up and down and made sure everything was in the right place and that we were comfy.

Although I dreaded those small fitting rooms, and the hours of trudging through the mall looking for clothes, there was always some happy smiling face working in the area to help out. There was always someone there to go and get another size, or take any of the clothes we didn’t want back to the shelves for us. There was always someone around just to ask “can I help you?”

These days, there never is anyone around. I was shopping today for a new electric razor. I’ve been using a manual for a while, and felt after losing enough blood over the years, it was time to go back to electric.

First I went to The Bay. The Bay always has higher prices, but they usually can justify those prices by having sales staff that really cater to your needs.

Not today – I found the grooming section where they had razors, hair dryers, curling irons and other things.

There were a lot – and the expensive ones were locked behind a glass display case. I looked at the ones out on the shelves, and I was trying to look at the ones in the glass display, but it was really hard to see. But there wasn’t anyone around to offer any assistance. I looked up and down the aisle, and said to myself “F-this – I’ll go elsewhere.”

And with that, I went to Sears. Now Sears used to have great customer service – I love shopping there. I’ve got many household items from the Sears Robuck Corporation – my air conditioners, my wireless phones, even socks.

Surely there would be someone around to offer assistance.

Nope. Not a freakin’ pimply-faced teeny-bopper in sight to even offer to unlock the glass case, let alone find someone that had hit puberty to help a grown man find a shaver.

So, I went to Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart isn’t known for their customer service, but they are known for their rock bottom prices. But surprisingly, I was shocked – delighted in fact – to find several people able to help me in my quest for the close shave.

One Wal-Mart associate unlocked the case, another pointed out the ones on special. A third sales person happened by, saw what I had in my hands, and told me the one next to it is exactly the same razor, but much cheaper (the one I was holding had a bronze and fancier lettering on it, upping the price.)

I thanked all the sales staff for their help, and bought my razor from a store that actually helped me out. The other stores lost my business, because they appeared to not really want it in the first place.

Low prices are great, but being served by a knowledgeable sales person is also important. Sure they can be annoying sometimes – especially when they hover around you hoping you’ll buy from them. But I’d rather have someone hovering over me, so that I can ask questions, see products and make an informed purchasing decision – than having no one around so that I can’t make any decision at all.

I was pleasantly surprised that the store claiming to have the lowest prices, also had the best customer service. Maybe you don’t always get what you pay for?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Break Not For Me

Often I’m too busy to make my own lunch for work – or too burnt out. So, I rely on the fast food in the area.

Problem is, where the office is there isn’t really anything close by. So I often am forced to decide between two mom and pop shops – the cafeteria in the basement, or the cafeteria in the building across the street.

The cafeteria in the basement is closer, and it has a big screen TV. But it is also much dirtier and the food is very bland.

I had to eat there twice in the past week and it neither times was it enjoyable. In both instances the food was so bland, hospital food would have packed more flavour. They are very friendly down there, and they recently got a new menu addition – gourmet pastries from some high-class vendor. Nice muffins.

I also ate once this week at the cafeteria across the street. It is cleaner, and the food has more zing, but it still doesn’t compare to the big fast food shops.

Not that eating at fast food places is a healthy alternative, but when you’re faced with two poor choices, even McD’s would be nice.

If any of the fast food places is reading this – move into the area! You’d make a killing – there are nothing but office buildings in the area and there aren’t any satisfactory places to eat.

I prefer working downtown – lots more places to eat and there are even places to go with your home-packed lunch, so at least you can get out of the office.

The office I’m at now has a very small lunch room – so small it is often very crowded and very noisy. It’s also not the most comfortable of places to be.

I’ve been at companies that really have incredible lunch rooms. One place had a couple televisions, big cushioned chairs, funky wild color schemes, several microwaves, fridges, and lots of space for everyone.

Some even have game rooms – been to a few companies which have pool tables, fooze ball tables, arcade games, or even just quiet magazine racks full of things to read while taking a break from work.

I think that’s the big problem where I work – breaks. There is far too much work and not enough competent people to do the work. There are lots of people, but some are other job interview’s rejects. They are incredibly lazy, and lack any real motivation for their careers or their projects. Some have been administrative assistants for over 20-years – can you imagine being a secretary for the same company for that long?!?!? Never moving up on the corporate ladder, never taking any initiative or being given the opportunity to take a lead role. Speak of a professional photocopier.

Because of the office climate I’m in, often I don’t get to take a lunch or other breaks during the day. I’m constantly swamped with oodles of work.

I love what I do, but even I need a break occasionally.

Because I’m so busy – as are just a handful of others that actually have motivation and do the bulk of the work, when we do have a moment to take lunch, we’re disgusted to find the lunch room crowded with the lazy ass-wipes that never leave.

They are constantly taking breaks and extended lunches, to avoid work wherever possible. I guess their theory is if they aren’t at their desk, they can’t be tasked to do something. It must work, because they aren’t at their desks too often.

Maybe my next gig will have a more balanced work-life balance mode of operations – I’ve always wanted an office with a hot tub. . . or maybe my own kitchen in my office. I bar fridge, a microwave and a sink would be nice .

Then although I still might not have time to take a break, at least I won’t be stuck in the same room with the demotivating lazy-asses that have been in the same role for ever.