- Show Up: Work is like working out: the hardest part is getting there (although you rarely leave work with the endorphin high and feeling of accomplishment that comes from the gym. Also make sure to get to the gym if you do go to work, because you’ll find that this weird pouch starts to develop in the midsection from constantly sitting. You might not even be eating that different – although copious drinking might occur—and yet puff the magic fat roll starts to gestate in your internals. Offices are the breeding ground for the Biggest Loser). Anyhoo, most mornings my alarm goes off and I’m ‘fuck it, I’m sleepy, I’m staying home.’ Then I remember that I get moneys for going to the workplace, just like how I realize I get to eat even more kit kats if I go to the gym.
Side Note: I had this dream that I was in a production of Cabaret, performing the role of Sally Bowles. But nobody would rehearse my scenes, which sucked because on opening night I realized that I didn’t know any of the lyrics or choreography. I spent part of the dream in a bathroom stall trying to memorize all the words before I had to get on stage. Worse part? I kept remembering that I was a shitty singer and I had no idea how to circumvent that issue. I’m only reminded of this because of kit kat bars. Maybe my love of them infiltrated my dream, but sublimated itself into a production of Cabaret. Side note over.
Wait no, side note back on: I just spent part of my afternoon on YouTube watching Alan Cumming in Cabaret. He awoke in me a new kind of sexuality. Side note for real over.
Jobs and the workplace are pretty unbending about the presence of a body for 8hrs a day, which is strange because who has that much quotidian work to do? Obviously not I. I could leave my office at 2 every day and I wouldn’t be any more productive; percentage wise I’d be more productive because I wouldn’t be wasting time doing fun stuff like this or watching Alan Cumming on my phone – I’d do that when I got home at a decent hour. Sometimes I like to go to the bathroom and take a nap (not on the floor, gross, while sitting on the toilet. I don’t even care what people think about my bathroom habits. I eat a lot fiber. It’s called heart health or butt health or…who cares).
But yeah, offices like to see you there for eight hours, five days a week because it’s a thing that was established in the early 1900s when the government was like ‘um, yeah, so it’s come to our attention that people working forever is bad for their health, unless they have to work like 12 part-time jobs to pay their bills. In that case, work as many hours as you want. We’d like to raise minimum wage so you could have the standard of living most obscenely wealthy people offer their dogs, but we’re pretty sure it’s laziness that makes you suck and also something about the Constitution.’ When I put it that way, maybe being stuck in an office for only 8 hours isn’t terrible. Plus sometimes it’s nice to get paid to play on my computer – if you’re my boss and reading this, I work really hard all the time. Also free AC in the summer.
But god if it doesn’t feel like I’m wasting the best years of my life not being day drunk.
1a. Show up on time?: While it’s always good to show up on time your first week (like a relationship, you should always pretend to be the best version of someone better than you to trick people into thinking you’re amazing in a very safe way. My amazingness resides in the lands of evil wizards and where raining cats and dogs is literal. Hope you brought a sturdy umbrella and iron stomach, that shit gets messy), eventually feel your workplace out. Some places are pretty strict on the whole showing up on time thing and some places even encourage people to show up early and stay late (I only do that for more moneys. Bitch, my time is precious. Now if you let me drink wine and watch The Mindy Project at my desk, then sure I’ll stay all fucking night. Until then, you stay late). Other places are casual. I thankfully have a boss who’s so into her work that she regularly doesn’t notice when I come in let’s say a few minutes past what’s on time – time is relative! A few minutes here and there don’t matter in the scope of existence. If she does, I try to act so frazzled. ‘Ah, traffic!’ ‘But you don’t drive, you walk to work.’ ‘Ah, sidewalk traffic. Everyone is in love and holding hands and I couldn’t pass them!’ –
Side note (yes, another one): if you’re in a relationship and you “need” to be in constant physical contact, be aware that your love will die and so in the moment you’re just pissing others off. Please do not take up the whole sidewalk swinging your intertwined hands as you loll down the lane. I will push you into traffic. Nothing’s more romantic than two people dying at once. And this is not some bitter Betty going off on couples. Wah, I’m single so no one else can be happy. No, I will never go out with a man that cannot keep pace and who doesn’t respect the unwritten law of the sidewalk. And trust, even if I was in a relationship I would still wish happiness upon no one. I’m a surly misanthrope residing in the face of angel. Yes, I look like a goddamn angel.
If someone ever makes a comment like ‘hm, you come in a little late, don’t you?’ If it’s not your supervisor, punch that person in the face. If it is, show up on time immediately, for like a week. Then slowly, like in minute increments over a month or so, return back to your original show up time. This pattern may cycle, but it’s worth it.
As long as you show up, you’ll probably not be fired.
- Get a screen protector: Work is boring. I remember when I realized after my first week of work that I had to do it again and again, I was like ‘you’re not serious about this being forever right?’ I sank into this deep hole of depression from which only wine could save me (I will literally crawl out of a deep hole for wine. If a kid ever falls into a well again, try wine. Did kids stop falling into wells after the 90s? I wonder if that Ring movie helped expedite well safety awareness? I feel like when I talk I usually fall into a hole of words). Work can be especially monotonous if people can see your screen so you can’t do fun things that have nothing to do with work. I am currently writing this at work, but nobody knows. Why? Screen protector – also I’m muttering work-like words as I type (see item 3). ‘Invoices. Spreadsheet.’
Before I had the screen protector, I was always anxious that my supervisor would catch me doing things that I shouldn’t, like shopping online or Facebook or literally anything else but work. Now? I feel so comfortable at my desk. Big Brother is no longer watching and if he is, bitch can’t see a thing.
There was this one time at work when a co-worker (let’s call her the one-upper) walked to my desk, saw that I looking at clothes on Modcloth and was like ‘oh, that’s a cute dress. What’s that website?’ You can also punch people who do stupid shit like that – but it was a cute dress (if not overpriced. I’m lifting an eyebrow of judgment at you, Modcloth). She can’t do that now that I have a screen protector.
Only downside: if you need to show someone something on your computer screen, they have to come real close to your face. Great if it’s some hot co-worker, which rarely exist (not in my office and I really wanted to have a torrid love affair in a stairwell at work). Usually, you are going to get smelly mouth up close and personal with your nose.
Other piece of sincere advice: brush your teeth at work; also keep deodorant at your desk.
- Look Busy: You don’t have to be busy, but it’s important to look busy. If you don’t, your supervisor might be like ‘hey, Becky, you got some time to do this? Do you need more to do?” The answer to that question is obviously always no. I don’t want more to do. That’s like me asking you “would you like to pay me more?” Duh, obviously you should want to because I am amazing to have in an office. I fucking sparkle. I’m basically a unicorn in human form. I just wish there were more high-paying job for unicorn like skills? Human skewers? Dream destroyers? You know who has a great job? Santa. I want to be Santa Claus, except I’m afraid of flying.
Food for thought. I would eat a unicorn if I found one. I bet it would taste like a taco filled with sprinkles and frosting.
Acting busy is really easy and no one wants to trouble someone who looks harried. Here’s some tips to make you look too occupied for approach during a regular work day. (I should let you know I went to theater school, soooo….I’m like really good at pretending to do things. Like during my annual review, I was commended for my enthusiasm and something about being approachable and nice. I’m so talented).
Type aggressively. If you’re aggressive while you type, it means that you’re passionate about what you are writing. I also like to shake my head a lot, like I’m really shocked or amazed at what someone wrote me. It helps if you say someone’s name like ‘God, Tom, seriously?’ Or if you read a funny article, laugh ‘oh, Tom, you’re so funny’ Sometimes I don’t even specify a person, place or thing; I just type quickly and huff and puff. I look constantly harassed (but not sexually. HR is super against sexual harassment). And then I’ll throw up my arms because would people just email me back so that I can do my job!
It also helps if you get made at your computer like ‘stupid computer, why are you so slow?
Also, if you’re going to go somewhere to take a secret break, take a notebook like you’re going to a meeting. When you get back, slam the notebook on your desk and quickly start to type things (probably aggressively) on your computer. You should also write things on your notebook so it looks like you took notes. Some suggestions: meeting notes, very important note, item 1, this is very important stuff. It’s fun because that’s literally what you write in a meeting.
Lastly if someone does come to talk to you at your desk, spend some time staring at the screen (I like reading stuff on AVclub and don’t look up until I finish a paragraph. If you need a go to supply of eye fodder, try their reviews of Buffy). Try to look apologetic as you finish up what you are doing and then slowly bring your eyes to the other person, but only after you’ve started the next paragraph (this makes you seem reluctant to tear your eyes from the screen and so your sacrifice grander).
But you do you. Find a technique that makes you look the busiest. Just as elected officials only have to seem competent, so you only have too seem busy.
- Set limitations early: There’s a guy at my office and I watch as people pester him all day for answers to inane and silly questions. Why? Because he answered them the first time and continues to do so with a smile, even though he’s so not smiling on the inside. If someone asks me a question of which the answer might be found on Google, I usually counter that question with ‘Have you tried Google?’ Or else ‘I guess I could look it up on Google, if you want.’ Sometimes people are like that’d be great, other times they feel shame. I enjoy making people feel shame. Shame is a great motivator. Better motivator? Judgement. I am a professional level judger. I think that’s the reason a lot of people don’t approach me for help. Because I have active bitch face – it only rests when it’s tired. Also I’ve made it very clear from the get go that I don’t know much. “Becky, what should I do in case of a fire?” Me: “Burn? Unless you’re a witch. Are you a witch?’ (My eyebrow of scorn is up).
I recently had someone email me that they had a toothache and probably needed a filling. This person, however, did not sign up for dental insurance so what should he do. My internal reply was ‘build a time machine, go back in time and opt for our very reasonably priced dental insurance.’ I wrote back, ‘wait until we get to open enrollment or pay out of pocket.’
Here’s the thing, I am super lazy. Like stupendously lazy, like I wish someone would push me around in a baby carriage and feed me lazy. I am America who very little desire to become rich or climb the corporate ladder. I only do things because I have to and I’m too lazy to fight the survival instinct that compels me not to die wasting away in my own filth (food is also a great motivator because I like it in my mouth and then that love of food forces me to work out because I want to leave a pretty corpse. So maybe it’s not survival instincts that keep me going, but hunger and vanity. I am a gluttonous narcissist. Dude, if I was in the movie Seven, the killer would be like ‘Woah, you have like all the deadly sins. Good job. I can’t kill you, you perfect specimen of all that is wrong with mankind. Off to decapitate Gwenyth Paltrow. Byeeeeee!”). So I know how the brains of lazy people work: if you can find someone else willing to do your shit, you let them, even if you know they only offered out of politeness or professionalism. Like if someone is like ‘let me pay for that’ I’m like ‘okay’, while everyone else declining.
If you allow people to view you a resource early on, they’ll never lose that perception of you. You’ll be ‘go see, Stu. He can help you.’ I’m the ‘she’s charming if unhelpful’ person.
I’m not going to be Stu, just so everyone else can be lazy and incompetent.
Seriously look it up in Google before you ask someone.
I once had someone ask me to help them with the printer because it was ‘broken’ and I’m obviously a printer expert. The printer had no paper. The screen of the printer said ‘out of paper.’ Seriously.
Also sincere advice, don’t check your email after you leave work, or let people think that you will answer them at all hours of the day. Set boundaries. I’m exempt, or non-exempt or whichever one means that you only have to work 40 hours. I am not paid enough to care outside of the office and nothing I do requires mandatory attention. God, I wish my job was watching reality TV because I could do that all night long. I shall be a destructive unicorn, watcher of television, Esq. It’s ridiculous for people to think that I’m going to waste the few hours of freedom I have on a weekday on the people in my office.
Last true story: I sent out an email reminding people to clean up after themselves in the kitchen. Several people complained that it was the job of the custodial staff to clean. No, they do not clean your dirty dishes. If you spill coffee, take a rag and wipe it off rather than leaving it there. No one here is your mother and this is not a hotel.
Long story short: bitch, it’s called Google, and also, bitch, no. My name is No; my sign is No; my number is No; you better let it go. Thanks, Meghan Trainor. That song is my theme song! Honestly, the workplace is a battlefield to see who cares least and who’s willing to do the most. Not it!
- Drink Alcohol: Not at work…or maybe at work, who am I to judge. I bet it’d make work more of a challenge and funner. I bet you could make up a great drinking game, like take a shot for every dish that’s left in the sink. Plus alcohol makes people more bearable. I’m fairly social sober, but I also hate having conversations with people, especially people I don’t like (work is like elementary school where you have to be nice to everyone or else no recess. I wish I worked at Real Housewives, which is more like high school where you see how close to suicide your meanness can push an outsider. Sigh). If I drank a glass or two of wine at work, I probably wouldn’t hide in the bathroom so much. The next time someone asks me about my weekend, I wouldn’t say that my dog died. I don’t know why I get so amused by telling others about fake deaths. (‘How’s your dog?’ ‘Dead.’ “Really?’ ‘No.’ ‘Then why’d you say he was?’ ‘I’m aspirational.’).
I don’t applaud my personality. I wish I were more like my roommate who has the ability to be nice to everyone even if she doesn’t mean it. She’s an adult: I am a child. But in this society everyone desires to be a terrible person so I feel no need for self-improvement. Self-improvement is a thing of the past.
But yeah, let’s say you don’t drink in the office (loser), coming home to a glass of wine even if it’s a red that you had to put in the fridge because it was so freaking hot that you needed to and now you feel weird about it (it was really warm and humid in Boston yesterday. True story), takes the edge off. Suddenly the day drifts behind you. Was there a battle to death over the last bagel at a morning meeting? Sure, but…no, wait, I want to remember that. It’s funny to watch adults with salaries fight over food. It’s even funnier to watch them crowd around a table like starving refugees as catering sets up lunch. You’ll never find people more obsessed with food than at an office.
Sorry, wine, alcohol, drinking. I should sleep with a bartender. Is it strange that I haven’t? Is this a rite of passage that I missed? I might be too old to rectify it. I like the rectify sounds like rectum. I’m super tired right now, so my mind is wandering. Did I mention it was hot? I have trouble sleeping in the heat. See, should have had more to drink. Knock me right out.
I once depressed a class when I told them that drinking was only for sad people and that I did it copiously. (this is while I was a grad student, which means I was poor and depressed…I’m different shades, but the same concept now). They thought drinking was fun, and it is, while you are a child with hopes and dreams. As an adult it becomes your hope and dream. I dream of wine and I hope that Trader Joe’s has some Cocobon. Hm tonight, some Cocobon and Ramona Singer on Love Connection. It’s all a girl needs when she has nothing else.
So, there you have it: my five tips to success at your job. If you follow them, you might not be fired from your job and will mask your feelings of depression with superficial feelings of warmth and joy.
Extra Tip: Don’t sexually harass people and if you accidentally do just say, ‘that’s not sexual harassment’ after. You’ve made that true by saying it.