Tall, Dark, and Mysterious


Back among the working

File under: Know Thyself, Hubris, Welcome To The Occupation. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 8:48 pm.

Throughout the conference, I was trying to figure out how to blog about the conference without…well…blogging about the conference. And then, on my last night out of town, it came to me in a dream.

On my last night out of town for the business conference, I dreamt that one of my coworkers found my blog. But the blog that he found wasn’t Tall, Dark, and Mysterious as you know it; it was more like what Tall, Dark, and Mysterious would be like if 1) I worked with complete nutcases, and 2) I had absolutely no discretion whatsoever, as opposed to the small amount that I actually have. For instance, in this dream blog, not only did I routinely violate my company’s non-disclosure agreement in my posts, I also violated the non-competition agreement. On my blog. No, I don’t know how that would work, either, but apparently I was doing it.

In this dream TD&M, I was also writing at length about the accountant’s embezzling of funds from petty cash, the receptionist’s costly cocaine habit, the company’s use of migrant workers in the shipping department, and the boss’s affair with the girl who works at the taco stand in the mall. None of these, by the way, bear any resemblance whatever to fact, but the last of these in particular is something my subconscious cut from whole cloth. First of all, there is no taco stand in the mall. Second, the boss just got married, and everything’s all “new wife this, new wife that”, so as if. But third, and perhaps most important, I would bet hard cash that if ever my boss discovered that someone else was sleeping with the girl from the taco stand, he would call that person into his office and say, “I hear that you’ve been sleeping with the girl from the taco stand. It’s not for me to judge you; however, I want you to ask yourself, ‘How is spending so much time with the girl from the taco stand going to affect my performance at work? Is spending my off-time with her really the best thing for the team?’ Because I think we both know the answer to that question.” And I will say one thing for my boss: the man practices what he (fictionally) preaches.

Anyway, that was the blog that my coworker found.

In my dream, my coworker sent me an email telling me that I’d been discovered, and that the boss was on his way to the basement to check out my blog. (I don’t know why he needed to go to the basement to do this, but he did.) I had five minutes to try to delete my whole blog before the boss discovered it! But I couldn’t, and the boss read the entire blog, and I sat in my office cowering as I awaited the inevitable. Half an hour later, the boss sat down at my desk, and said, “I read your blog.”

I sat there, waiting for him to fire me.

But then my boss continued, “I was extremely impressed with your writing; I didn’t know that you could write. And clearly you know a thing or two about webdesign, and blogging software. This is excellent! We have an important project that we’d like to give you. Of course, we’ll pay you accordingly.”

And you know, that’s kind of how the conference itself went.

I am not especially proud of the way that I behaved during the conference. I was not - am not - very good at networking; I spent most of my time with the woman from accounting, with whom I’d felt a kinship ever since she started grumbling about how they were making her go to this stupid, stupid conference, the bastards. I was rather negative about things. I made snarky remarks to people who, I learned the hard way, were either less negative, or (to give them more credit) more tactful than I. In a stunning manifestation of irony, I fell asleep, so help me God, halfway through Get Energized: Developing a Motivated Workforce. In defense of the motivational speaker for that last one, I was sick. In defense of my general crankiness, the activities I was negative about included the one with the big group hug and the candies and the how did you feel when you were handed the candy? Honestly, halfway through that one, I was willing to confess to whatever feeling that that activity was supposed to induce (it wasn’t “annoyed that we have to do this crap”, by the way, as I found out when someone - the woman from accounting, for what it’s worth - gave that answer a little too loudly under her breath; the correct option was “like I was being ignored”) just to get this thing to end. I wrote down the entire activity a few hours after it happened, for my own reference in case I ever find myself wanting to run it. The only circumstance, by the way, in which I can anticipate wanting to run the hug-and-candy team-building exercise is one in which the other activities I had considered running violated the Geneva Convention, if you catch my drift.

I am an introvert, in the purest “people make me tired” sense of the word. Unfortunately, I am a snarky, aggressive, outspoken introvert, so when I am stressed - for instance, when I am being group-hugged, and yes that is apparently a verb, the HR rep said so herself - I start blathering, and I start saying things that I would later come to regret if I were a bit more humble. In other words, I am not at my best during these events, and I was not at my best during this one.

I am, however, at my best at work.

On the first day of the conference, the Supervisor3 sought me out, and told me that she’d been looking for me, because she’d personally taken a look at the project I’d helped manage during my second week of work, and damned if it wasn’t just great. Welcome aboard, she said.

On the second day of the conference, the Supervisor5 provided a bold vision for the company; among other things, he called on everyone in my position to acquire a certain set of qualifications by the end of next year. I have it on good authority that I am the only person currently working in my position who has the soft skills to acquire those qualifications by next year. On the third day, I spoke to Supervisor2 about that, banking on the possibility that he’d forgotten my whining from the previous day. (He had. Now that’s a useful managerial skill.) Supervisor2 confirmed that yes, I was indeed the only person in my position with the relevant skills, and it sure is a good thing they just hired me, because they’ll be needing me for this one.

I’m not very good at networking and schmoozing and team-building. I am, however, rather good at my job.

I hope that that continues to be enough.


  1. Your blog dream reminded me of a story that happened to an acquaintance of mine in real life:

    She was a trainee at a bank at the time and was about to change locations, so she thought it best to delete all the emails in which she had been bitching about and making fun of her boss. Of course, she just baaaaarely missed the “delete” button and hit “print” instead… She spent the next 5 minutes frantically searching for the printer she had sent the print job to, but couldn’t find it, so she thought it had magically disappeared (yeah, she’s not that, err, computer savvy).

    Of course, the next morning, she was called into the boss’s office. He had the printed emails lying in front of him (turns out she sent it to HIS printer!), and the “relevant” passages were even highlighted. ;)

    Amazingly enough, she was not fired. But she works at a different branch now and is in charge of approving/disapproving loans…

    That was random, but I thought you might get a kick out of it. :)

    - daz — 11/22/2005 @ 11:08 pm

  2. I love dream logic. I think it must be part of why dreams are often so difficult to remember in the morning. The happenings in dreams make perfect sence while you’re dreaming, but when you wake up and try to think about them rationally, none of it makes sense at all, because it was based in the dreamworld’s Bizarro Logic. “I had to skateboard on a barbeque to pass my physics class” makes perfect sense in a dream, but when you wake up, the illogical leaps that were “obvious” in the dream seem so absurd that you think, “that can’t possibly be what really happened”, and quickly forget it. At least, that’s my theory.

    Also, your conference reminds me of Frosh Week activities.
    Only with less beer. (Or so I presume.)

    - Geoff — 11/23/2005 @ 1:27 am

  3. On the third day, I spoke to Supervisor2 about that

    Ah, but see, at least you had the wit to do that. I would have kept my head down and hoped someone would “just happen to notice” my mad skillz.

    It may not be hugs-and-candy networking (I would ask, was that for real?–But I’m sure it was. You have to wonder if human resources people don’t all harbor secret dreams of running day care centers), but it is networking, or at least self-promotion. That ought to serve you well.

    - nurse hatchet — 11/23/2005 @ 1:49 am

  4. i’ve heard that one or two headmasters ago at my school, the team-building activity was:

    a long weekend at the school’s outdoor-ed camp. required. no planned activities. no spouses. alcolhol allowed. i gather the idea was to put everyone in a position to be blackmail-able by everyone else, thus making everyone motivated to work as a “team”.

    i also gather there were no group hugs, at least not the kind you endured.

    - Polymath — 11/23/2005 @ 5:12 am

  5. Why were you supposed to be feeling ignored if you got a group hug and a box of candy?

    - wolfangel — 11/23/2005 @ 6:52 am

  6. Daz, that’s a riot.

    Geoff - less alcohol? Ha! Actually, for me the highlight of the conference was the mandatory! surprise!! social event, in which the drinks were flowing. Me, I don’t drink, because if I had a beer I’d be leaving in an ambulance - really - but I spent the entire evening with the woman from accounting (”How many drinks is this?” I’d ask, and she’s reply every time, “Not enough”), who gets VERY VERY talkative when she’s drunk. Talkative about all sorts of inside dirt on the company that I assume most people have to learn the harder way, from experience. (The part that I took to heart was when she hiccupped, “You seem like the sort of person who can smell bullshit. Lemmetellyousomething, that’s a useless skill around here. You smell bullshit, what you do is SMILE and say, “Mmm-mmm! Looks like we’re going to get some BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS next year!”)

    Nurse hatchet - it’s not quite for real; I tweaked a few details to protect the guilty. But I assure you, it’s close enough to what happened.

    Polymath - you know what your story reminds me of? It reminds me of a former classmate of mine in grad school, whose advisor was rather, uh, talkative when sober, and completely inappropriate when drunk. This classmate’s plan was to hang around near his advisor during all of the social events, take notes as appropriate, and then one day several years later approach his advisor and say, “Look, I don’t have a thesis. I don’t even have anything resembling a thesis. But what I DO have is thirty pages of shit you said about every single person who works in this department. I’d like to graduate. You’d like to keep your job. Do we have a deal?”

    Wolfangel - ah, see, the candies we received were selected by our managers, not by us. We had no say in the matter. My manager chose to give me the watermelon-flavoured one, not the strawberry one. I hate watermelon! So this really made me feel like my own input into Important Business Decisions was being ignored. The group hugs came after we learned how to be effective team players. (The funniest thing about this was how, when asked how this all made us feel, the Supervisor had exactly the right answer. And he said it with conviction, too. Do businessfolk actually react in business-approved ways to this sort of crap, or are they just really good at pretending they do?)

    - Moebius Stripper — 11/23/2005 @ 6:58 am

  7. And how did you feel when you were told how you were supposed to have felt? ‘Cause if it were me, I’d rather have someone picking out candies for me than picking out emotions for me….

    - Q. Pheevr — 11/23/2005 @ 8:28 am

  8. I’m wondering about the person who blackmailed that professor, not to say that I’d do it but, did it work? If so, ouch for the prof.

    I went to a retreat a few weekends ago, an awakening retreat. Kind of religious, ok very religious. But it was actually kind of nice. I’m an extravert, so I get along with people really easily and am very friendly at all types of events (I thrive on conferences) but I’m also very emotional and cried during most of the retreat because I thought the talks were very touching.

    Call me wishy washy, but I liked my experience and there was a hug portion. BUT, during our hugs we were blind-folded and didn’t do a group hug, but a “community” hug. It was an interesting experience.

    I’d have to say though no one was telling me how I was supposed to feel and no one picked out candles for us. On the contrary, we got to decorate our own cups and stuff. Every feeling was acknowledged, and it was voluntary so no one was there that didn’t want to be there.

    During tutor training though, that’s a completely different story and that is full of c**p. We had split into groups of “boats” and “planes” and then voted on what group made the best “boat” and/or “plane”. Honestly, you can’t compare them at all when you are making them out of paper. My boss is a weirdo and laughs at people’s misfortune. I’m glad I’m almost out of there and I’m glad you have a better boss than I do.

    - Vanes63 — 11/23/2005 @ 11:13 am

  9. Ok, so the managers . . . deliberately chose candies you wouldn’t like? Ignnored your requests for fake-strawberry, because they knew better than you that you’d actually prefer fake-watermelon? I’m still not sure why this is supposed to make you feel ignored.

    Did you need to play the trust game? I hate the trust game.

    It’s also possible that supervisors have more experience in having gone to these things and therefore know exactly which response to give.

    - wolfangel — 11/23/2005 @ 11:55 am

  10. Is Supervisor5 the super-of-a-super-of-a-super etc, or is that really more of a subscript five?

    - Noumenon — 11/23/2005 @ 12:52 pm

  11. All very interesting, indeed. The bit about smiling when you smell bullshit rings very true for me based on my short and limited experiences in Corporate America. Let’s just put it this way, I’ve seen and heard enough to know that the movie _Office Space_ is a work of total nonfiction. I wish I was kidding.

    Am I the only one wondering about the meaning of the exponents on Supervisor? Is it Supervisor^1 = Supervisor is your immediate supervisor, and Supervisor^n is your Supervisor’s Supervisor’s … etc. (n times removed)? If so, that’s a moderately funny pun. :)

    - Math TA — 11/23/2005 @ 4:07 pm

  12. Well, exponentiation indicates repeated multiplication: 2^3 is 2 times 2 times 2. But we all know from our study of fractions that the mutliplication sign can be read “of” as well as “times”: for instance, (1/4)*5 is “one quarter of 5″.

    Consequently, Supervisor^2 is supervisor of supervisor.

    - Moebius Stripper — 11/23/2005 @ 4:49 pm

  13. I am an introvert, in the purest “people make me tired” sense of the word. Unfortunately, I am a snarky, aggressive, outspoken introvert

    I like this. I think I will steal it to describe myself. Snarky, aggressive, outspoken introverts of the world, unite!

    - M.R. — 11/26/2005 @ 10:01 pm

  14. I dunno, M.R., that idea sounds doomed to me. Wouldn’t you rather spend time by yourself, or in a small group at the very most?

    - Moebius Stripper — 11/26/2005 @ 10:39 pm

  15. Obviously, he means unite “virtually” or whatever, without actually getting up off the couch. To know that there is a meeting of like-minded people going on somewhere out there, which you can’t be bothered to go to. Leaving snarky comments on someone else’s blog. That sort of thing.

    - tabstop — 11/26/2005 @ 10:44 pm

  16. Wouldn’t you rather spend time by yourself, or in a small group at the very most?

    Experience says that time spent with other snarky introverts can be time especially well spent, but yes, only in small groups.

    But tabstop understood. If snarky, aggressive, outspoken introverts of the world were to unite, it would have to be “virtual”. Possibly uniting in snarking about how little sense it makes to unite.

    At the moment I seem to be an incoherent insomniac introvert….

    - M.R. — 11/27/2005 @ 9:56 pm

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