Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dia de los muertos

Sorry for the bait-and-switch, but I'm actually going to talk about my second day on the job. Kind of mixed, actually. As expected, orientation was soul-crushingly dull, but I managed to get through it, without scratching my eyeballs out of their sockets. Being the old pro that I am (or sad hack that everybody wants to be around but nobody wants to keep), I filled my forms out first time and handed them in, all before lunch. I then spent around twenty minutes going around to my different bosses, shamelessly flogging my manufactured enthusiasm and faux desire to start 'real work'. None of them were around. Come to think of it, none of them were around yesterday either. In fact, since the interview took place, all those weeks ago, I hadn't seen any of them. Which means that all my proactive gestures would come to naught, if I couldn't find a way to let them know I'd stopped by, unsolicited.

The humble post-it, strategically pasted on their desk, was the answer. Now, all I had to do was sit back, blog some and wait for the fishies to bite.

I'm very disappointed with my 'cubicle'. First off, I don't even get one-instead, I'm in a semi-open office plan with two (rather obviously) junior writers. I noted, with some bitterness, that the other senior copywriter who was in my orientation was cosily nestled in his office (not even a cube-an office!), happily pretending to do some work. Why the disparity in treatment?

Well, I'm clearly older than him (point one to me), we're both tall (split), kind of forceful (another tie) and my experience is more extensive than his (point two to me). The only differences are that he's in another group (the right boss can get you a corner office and strawberries-and-cream vending machines, in your kitchen) and that he's white. Which, if anyone would bother reading HR files, is actually a tie.

It's true. Social Security, having no classsification for Amaretto-coloured middle-easterners, has designated me as: WHITE (NOT HISPANIC). Anyways, I doubt there's a racial component to this (though, just the fact that I'm even considering it, shows how long I've been here and how well I fit in) but it's fun crying race. Try it and see. It makes one mad without much prodding. Bigotry is entertaining!

Enough foolishness. He has an office, I have a run down, open-office cube. Not only that, the panels are slightly damaged, my chair is stained with a disgusting dried white liquid and the former occupant's files are sitting dolefully, in the corner. Even if there's no racism involved, there's clearly a lack of respect going on. What grates me is that asking for an office places me in a very petty place and, more seriously, forces them to reveal a hand that they're playing: is this an honest mistake, a product of limited spacing, push-over bosses or something more sinister (such as a probationary period). The game is for me to find out their hand without letting them know that it bothers me.

And it does bother me. I used to be the guy who had a smile on his face, didn't care what other people did and didn't play office politics. Now, I've learnt that while it spares you the drama of pitting wits against would-be corporate climbers, it also deprives you of a lot of the spoils. Who do you think HR/ your boss is going to give the juicy assignment and big bonus to: the pain-in-the-ass whiner who's always in their office complaining, or quiet, foreign guy who does his work regardless?

You do the math. Or let me; we immigrants are good at it.


Blogger Cairogal said...

"Which means that all my proactive gestures would come to naught, if I couldn't find a way to let them know I'd stopped by, unsolicited."

I find coming in REALLY early now and again, sending emails, and then returning to your shortened work day are most effective.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Basil Fawlty said...

a) Not a morning person
b) This is only really effective after your orientation period. If I do it right now, I look like I need a life. Which I do, but I don't want them to know that.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous tom said...

Use this time to gather information at the water cooler. Keep an eye out for a cubicle that appears available .. and see who gets it if it isnt you. That'll give you ideas on the pecking order. Maybe when the execs return they will move you. At least being highly visible your hard work and work ethic will be noticed. Is the other senior writer sleeping with one of the boss's daughters? That would add several points to his tally.
Btw, cant you select african american on those racial surveys?

12:59 AM  
Blogger Basil Fawlty said...

I already tried putting down African American at Social Security, but they told me I didn't qualify (!). They said Midle-Easterners need to put themselves down as white. I didn't bother telling them I can dance.

9:17 AM  
Anonymous tom said...

So what would a south african select? Or an australian aborigine? Or a filipino?
The census forms say "black or african american." That to me indicates 2 races. Asian or pacific islander for the filipinos?
And where do white ppl end and asians begin? Afghanistan?
You dont qualify? Because you dont have very dark skin? I thought they let ppl decide which group they most likely feel they fit into. Why ask if they tell you how to answer?

3:11 PM  

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