Tag Archives: #officetalk

If it makes you feel better…

This week hasn’t been the best for me. I understand that there are several differences between the German and the American mind. I get that I should not be offended if you tell me something to my face that I wouldn’t even say to my best friend even though I barely know you as my coworker.

I get how I must sound like a hypocrite for supporting HAES and FA when I’m for all appearances a normal-weight person. I get how I must sound like a hypocrite for advocating self-made people when it seems like I don’t have to struggle for most achievements (I do, though. You people don’t see the amount of all-nighters I pull!).

Why do you have to hurt me to make you feel better, though? What is it in this country that has people sniping you down from every small high you manage to create for yourself?

Three situations over the past few days have made me want to cry… Continue reading

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I’m… *hic*… OK

Alcohol. The main staple food of a herd of lawyers gathered together in a small space (or not-so-small).

Tonight, we had a celebration for a job well done- it was finicky and difficult, so I came fully prepared to savor the fruits of my labor.

If only there had been fruits. The fruit platter (a single, sad affair on a forgotten table by the door) was empty twenty seconds after the ravenous hordes arrived. From then on out, it was alcohol only.

There is nothing nastier than a bunch of overworked, underfed, dead-drunk people in close proximity. I don’t like being touched by most people. I don’t like off-key singing. I have sensitive hearing. I have a sensitive sense of smell and am easily offended if the person I’m talking to smells of beer and vomit.

Sooo… I refused any and all drinks. I don’t drink in public, period. One exception: a single cocktail when out for a night with the girls, at a bar we choose, with reason and thought. I was promptly labeled the party-pooper and avoided by the increasingly infantile congregation of drunkenness.

Here we are asking our teenagers to please not be stupid and drink, and as adults we can’t “have fun” unless we are drunk? Name one celebration among adults (who are not AA) that doesn’t include alcohol? I’m so sick of it all. Get a grip! If I didn’t know better, I’d say nearly all my colleagues are borderline alcoholics.

The hours are brutal in our job. It’s a rare day that I’m home before 10pm. You do need some form of escapism.

I chose my own kind of entertainment- ditching the drunk party and going for a nice midnight run along the canal. It’s started getting cold again, but I’m building up some nice speed right now so I don’t feel it all that much after the first 2k.

There’s been a change in runners, too- we now have a lot more students running where I do. Plus I’ve extended my route so I’m now up to a 10k three times a week, which is a lot more work than I thought it would be. I’m not a very good endurance runner… *sigh*

Anyway, back to the workplace tomorrow. Gonna be fun seeing all the bigshots nursing their hangovers 😛

TKD’s picking up once more, too. Going to be on the tournament circle this winter after all. At first I didn’t want to due to my weight, but I was convinced otherwise. Chubby person in the ring? That’s me!

Goodnight all!

I’d rather…

How often have I heard this phrase this week? Too often, that’s it!

“I’d rather be outside now!” “I’d rather live in the Caribbean!” “I’d rather my boyfriend weren’t there tonight.” “I’d rather…”

Many of those I’d-rather’s were the usual unattainable dreams, but there are a few instances where I’m furious people don’t just do something instead of complaining all the time.

“I’d rather not be freezing all the time,” is what I was thinking today. So I stepped up my exercise program which will help even if it won’t eliminate the problem.

“I’d rather be reading right now.” While sitting on the train to work. Guess what? Today I brought a book. I actually think I’m going to get into the habit of carrying around a book on my person at all times again.

“I’d rather my boss would stop making these sexist, annoying comments,” upon making the mistake of wearing a skirt suit (costume? Sounds wrong!) to work today. I talked to him telling him that I don’t believe that our attire should influence his attitude toward us as long as we kept to the business dress code.

“I’d rather be anywhere but here!” Researching in the library. So I left for an internet cafe and am perfectly happy right now.

By the way: I’ve always been skeptical of step aerobics as a sport due to the rather uninspiring classes I visited until now, which were a gossip club but not exercising. Colleague talked me into going to one yesterday. (“I’d rather be doing some real exercising,” I grumbled) TOTALLY different from anything before. I was out of breath one minute into the third power-sprint of the class. Hopping up and down a foot-high step makes the difference!

Do something about your I’d-rather’s! It’s a lot more fun than persistently complaining 😉

One more word and I’ll scream

Someone at the office let the results of the stupid IQ test I took in college slip. I make no secret of my hatred (yes, real hatred. Not dislike, not displeasure, not anger, true hatred) of the word “gifted child” (it was the bane of my existence as a kid), or my contempt for IQ tests (which are really nothing but a measure of how good someone’s rote learning skills are).

Anyone repeat that phrase in my presence again (or the German equivalent which is “hochbegabt”, yes, I can learn dammit!) and I’ll scream. For real. Loudly.

And then I’ll launch into a tirade on how normal everybody who’s been “diagnosed” (like we’re actually ill) with “being gifted” is. Over the office intercom system.

You brought it unto yourselves, people!

Hair and the office

I have rioting red curly hair. Seriously, this stuff on my head starts a revolution every morning before I even wake up and isn’t done going on strike in the evenings. All through high school I maintained it at waist-length, complete with half-hour combing (or trying to comb) sessions every morning and evening. It took me two hours to wash and blow-dry my hair.

I cut it all off to two inches once I went to college and donated to Locks of Love. My family was horrified. I felt three pounds lighter (in reality, I was about three pounds lighter). My friends hated me for cutting my hair radically like that. Apparently, the red hair they had made fun of was a source of envy- ha, ha.

I’ve been growing it out again since uni, went through the required triangle-haired period and am comfortably maintaining a mid-back length now since I discovered the miracle that is cutting out layers of hair. I’m even down to one hour for hair-care!

Today, at the office, I left my hair open for the first time ever. Now, I have big green eyes (Irish heritage), and with the red hair there’s more “Call 911! There’s a fire in the office!” jokes than hair on my head. My co-workers seemed vaguely horrified that I was looking so un-businesslike (never mind that most female lawyers leave their hair open two days of the week). Maybe it’s the curls- my hair curls in every direction and won’t lie flat even if you threaten it with a straightening iron. I’ve heard more comments about my age, presumed incompetence, weird attitude, ability to deal with clients, source of my success, doubts about my exam results and plain insults to my face than I can deal with. Just now, during lunch break, I fled to the ladies’ room and put my hair in a bun. It seems the source of vexation is back.

I don’t know what it is that makes people hate red hair- it’s like there’s an automatic “pick on this person!” attached to it.

I just know that I don’t feel like being a punching bag all day long, or leered at by those “middle-aged” partners of ours. I’ll just wear a disguise during the day and leave the open hair for the evenings when roomie and I are all alone in the apartment (though she’s told me more than once to “control that menace on your head!” whenever I’m shedding as much as a hair).

Can you ever be yourself as a curly red-head? Apparently not.

Last workday of the year

Hell-lo! It’s not even 10pm and I’m home! Looks like my resolution’s working!

Well, actually, no. Today’s work was just going through whatever cases we had this year and either categorizing and filing them or piling them on our desks for whenever we come back from our Christmas breaks. Still, a good way of observing office dynamics.

Fascinating how such a lot of women keep checking their hair and makeup every time they have a reflecting surface near them. It’s especially hilarious if said reflecting surface is their desk. I’ve never seen a partner make so many crazy faces at her face before!

Our one-kitchen policy is working out well. Gossip-o-meter is ever increasing now that secretaries and lawyers have just one common meeting place.

“Is there anything I can do for you, love?” is the most common question I’ve heard today. Who knew that leaving your hair open would garner such a response? What’s a little creepy: I’ve had no less than five men trying to touch my hair. Seriously, what’s up? It’s not different just because it’s loose! No more open hair days!

Christmas cookies are addicting. More than half the work-force is lamenting their weight-gain in regards to them, though I believe it’s more likely that said weight-gain is related to above-average consumption of sugary alcoholic beverages known as Gluehwein and Feuerzangenbowle. A lack of movement might contribute as well. I haven’t gotten any tennis invitations recently!

Running tonight is going to be difficult. I try my best to invent some new routes but they are a lot less interesting than my usual along the canal. I also don’t like running on asphalt, but these walkways are at least snow-free.

It’s starting to be a little warmer now, after way below freezing temperatures for the past few days. I might be able to achieve better times now that it won’t hurt so much to breathe.

Tomorrow is the office’s Christmas party (a German tradition, I’ve learned). Means lots of drunks, lots of food, lots of drunk speeches and probably Karaoke. Uh-oh! Well, I’m off to pack now! Hooray!

Watering hole

Did you ever walk into a conference room in a law firm before any of the other participants arrive? Maybe it’s because I’m from an absolutely lawyer-free background (scientist family for generations, me being the aberration) but I simply love observing the “rules of engagement”. Take for example everybody’s favorite consultants- I keep calling them The Talkers, or just The Blahs in my mind. Now if you have them entering your domain, beware! oh brave traveler through the uncharted courses of business law! For you will meet with lions, and hungry they shall be, and coffee and cookies their target!

What that means? Well… I usually just hang back and enjoy people in nicely tailored suits (they’re almost exclusively male, those Blahs) jostling and elbowing through the doors. Not happening, you say? Look closer! The Blahs have perfected looking innocent while stabbing their own packmates in the back. Once they’ve established the pecking order, the one who has won First Through The Door will inevitably scout the conference table: Where is the closest access to cookies and coffees? How well stocked is that access? How does the supply line look? And try to take the most advantageous position at the table.

The alpha-Blah might enter a little more sedately, among his peers grudgingly giving way to his superior powers of verbosity and deception… err… persuasion. Should the position that First Through The Door-Blah has occupied please him most of all at the table, he will destroy that poor Blah’s new-found happiness with a well-placed “HMM!”, making him give up his hard-earned position. The Blah-pack will then jostle and fight with posturing and glares for the next best places, ending up in annoying little Blah clusters all around the table. The spectacle is made so much better by offering at least two “watering holes” for the Blahs to fight over, however, the sheer fact that you, the legal consultants, would have to split your team to accommodate the scattered Blahs will send you into a tiny little snit- unless you use this nifty trick:

You draw the Blahs into one cluster at one end of the (normally horseshoe-shaped) table by moving- and this is important- both the cookies and the coffee. The Blahs, unwilling to give up their easy access to the watering hole will move with the bait, not noticing their proximity to the other Blahs that have been kept unaware by strategically distracting them with important sounding mumbo-jumbo chatter with a (hopefully) recently appeared colleague. Once the Blahs are all concentrated in one spot you should quickly gather a squadron of your own forces and move in to claim the newly vacated spots, thereby ensuring a coherent assembling of your group.

The Blahs, thus forced into their own company, will once again attempt to prove their own superiority not only to your team but also to their packmates. In the ensuing confusion you should strike with well-placed suggestions and take advantage of their disharmony to ensure the best outcome for yourself and your client.

WARNING: Do not try using this strategy on the Lone Stranger Blah. The Lone Stranger Blah is most likely very competent and sent as a troubleshooter to correct the mistakes of the Blah pack! He is not easily fooled and very, very dangerous if met alone in conference. He is a workaholic and well-versed in all matters of the business! Ensure a definite superior force of both talent and numbers and you should have the means to contain him. The best result you can hope for when meeting a Lone Stranger Blah is a Mutually Pleasing Agreement.

Note: the Lone Stranger Blah sometimes travels with a symbiotic hanger-on called an “aide”. That one can safely be ignored in conference but must be watched at all other times since its eyes and ears are sharper than one is led to believe, and the Lone Stranger Blah will not hesitate to take advantage of gossip being fed to him by the Aide.

Well, I had fun at work today. Still, I’m ready to call it a day now. Wrestling with a pack of Blahs is not really my idea of a good time- talk about obstinate pig-headedness!


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Listening to: Hayley Westenra – Ave Maria (Schubert)
via FoxyTunes