Help Wanted: Royals Need Not Apply

People fancy a royal baby now and then.

People fancy a royal baby every now and then.

Poor Harry. Every time I left my little work space today, I found myself drawn to the television footage of Prince William and his fresh-faced wife holding the prized baby and smiling for the public before delivering him to his nannies at Nottingham Cottage.

While Capt. Harry is busy qualifying as an Apache Aircraft Commander and generally trying to prove himself useful, the world seems more interested in his nephew, who has done nothing but soil some monogrammed nappies.

Some people just don’t appreciate the value of hard work. I, for one, would make a scandalous addition to any royal family.

“Your majesty, I notice that you signed a royal decree to dismiss a dozen gardeners today. Where might I find a job application? I dare say I’d make a splendid addition to the gardening staff,” I’d ask my own grandmother, with a curtsy.

Appalled, she would order me to practice my royal wave until teatime.

It’s not like Harry needs the money. He could spend his days lounging about the palace, playing Call of Duty with his mates, and nobody would dare tell him to get his royal arse off the couch and find a job. He must be afflicted with the same malady that makes me feel a compulsion to earn my keep, to fill my days with productivity.

Good for you, Harry old chap! The world may love Kate and William, but it needs people like us. Someone has to scrub Her Majesty’s loo. What’s that, Harry? Oh, you don’t do that kind of work. I see. Well then, cheerio!

Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?

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Maybe my outlook is too literal, but when I hear the phrase team player, I think of people who enjoy playing baseball and basketball, games I loathed in high school P.E. class. Because I prefer more solitary activities like golf and archery, I’ve always thought I’m just not a team player.

Having such little baseball awareness, it took watching the movie 42 last night to realize that being on a team does not always mean being a team player. When Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, some of his new teammates placed their own selfish prejudices before teamwork, and they petitioned to have him removed. It turns out that people who choose volleyball or soccer are not inherently better team players than those who choose fishing or the rodeo.  Or the fishing rodeo.

Like a baseball to the head, it hit me why I’ve had the recurring compliment at work of being such a great team player. I used to wonder if my managers had me confused with someone else, or if they were showing signs of dementia. The more likely explanation is that although it’s in my nature to want to do things alone, I am capable of pushing myself outside my comfort zone and working very well with others. When the occasion calls for teamwork, I am flexible enough to tell the hermit in me to put on her big girl pants and play with the other kids.

How often do we pass up projects, jobs, or even entire career paths because we think, That doesn’t sound like me? The job market is not run by Burger King, and you can’t always have it your way. Sometimes, you have to dig deep inside and consider what you might be capable of achieving if you stop labeling yourself and start discovering you.

And You Thought Your Job was Hard!

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If you read my last post, you’ll be spared the disappointment right now of learning I don’t frequent restaurants that employ sommeliers. It’s true. When the occasion calls for something a little classier than a Coke or margarita, I keep my drink order to two tried-and-true syllables.

“White zin,” I say, my fingers and toes all crossed under the table or bar as I hope there will be no follow-up questioning or discussion.

The documentary Somm follows four men hoping to earn the title of Master Sommelier. Why? So they can work in elegant restaurants and recommend wines to people slightly more cultured than me, of course. Blindfolded, a Master Sommelier can identify a wine’s year and region and provide some really startling and bizarre descriptions of the tastes. I couldn’t pick my stapler out of a lineup if they blindfolded me at my office.

I just completed my Master’s Degree while working a full-time job, a feat that seems like a stroll in a botanical garden compared to what these hopefuls endure. The obsessive studying, tasting, and spitting is unlike anything I’ve ever known anyone to put himself through, all for a job title. The worst thing I had to do to get my current job was to pee in a cup at a staffing agency.

These guys can take the test only once a year, so failure means back to the notecards and the spit cups. Their wives and girlfriends continue to live their lives in the wings, waiting for their men to pass the lousy test already and start living. And yet, earning the M.S. title does not mean a return to any sort of normalcy. A Master Sommelier, it seems, is somewhat of a celebrity in the wine world. He takes on the massive responsibility of keeping up with the latest wine trends. His colleagues revere him and expect him not only to know the whole wine kit and caboodle but to train new candidates as well.

No wonder they don’t offer that job option at the staffing agency.

Despicable Desk

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A cluttered desk is despicable.

Mother Nature and Heredity conspired long ago, to give me the lifelong ability to entertain headaches. I can always attribute my headaches to sinus trouble, migraine, or a medley of the two. Yet, this past Tuesday, I was convinced my discomfort was a symptom of vacation withdrawal. I had linked two vacation days to the July 4th holiday, for a grand total of five days away from the office. Obviously, the distressing pressure in my forehead was a manifestation of brain trauma, caused by an abrupt re-entry into the work atmosphere.

In my weary, muddled state of mind, I decided the best treatment was a trip to the Golden Arches. I tend to self-medicate with saturated fats. As I walked into the fast food joint, I started to question my choice in grub. I nearly turned around. But then, I saw a plastic case, displaying Minions from the movie DESPICABLE ME2. I was tired, hungry, and mourning my dearly departed vacation when I rushed to the counter and breathlessly ordered a Happy Meal. I could barely wait to return to the office and exhibit my new objet d’art.

Normally, I keep my workspace uncluttered and free of personal souvenirs. Life – and work – can be messy enough without extra junk all over the place. Geniuses, of course, are allowed to cultivate all manner of rubbish to aid the creative process, but I am an average employee working in an average office.

Unless you are a genius, I have some suggestions for a productive workplace:

  • Leave the birthday cards at home. Your mother sends them to your home address, not to your work, for a reason other than the fact that you refuse to tell her where you work. There’s no reason to pretend that every day until retirement is your 30th birthday.
  • The same goes for obituaries and those saintly-looking cards you collect at funerals. We’ve all suffered losses, so please leave the morbidity at home. I trust you are capable of acting appropriately somber at work, without the constant reminder that your favorite neighbor croaked five years ago.
  • When a coworker returns from maternity leave and distributes wallet-sized photographs of her new bundle of joy to even the newest temp, it’s ok to display your copy, temporarily. When she leaves the company to be a real housewife of Chattanooga, you can retire the memento. You needn’t find a new place in your cubicle every time your department moves.
  • On the topic of photographs, let’s keep it to a bare minimum. A touching reminder of your spouse or children, who you miss dearly while at the office is fine, but that picture of you and Father Whats-His-Name at your First Communion is just weird.
  • Even if you live in your car or a gas station bathroom, there must be a better place than your desk to keep spare shoes and clothing.
  • Most places of employment allow people to leave at the end of the day, so there really is no need to have a month’s worth of groceries in your desk drawer. Dispose of the stale crackers immediately.

I practice what I preach, and I do solemnly swear that my cute, plastic minion will only reside on my desk for a short while. He’s not there to stay, and I am not rummaging around my house for Noids or California Raisins to keep him company.

Smells Like Work Spirit

Gentlemen Smoking and Playing Backgammon in an...

Gentlemen, you’ll need to refrain from smoking in the office. You’re free to stay inside and bite your fingernails, though.  Painting by Dirck Hals, 1627. 

If you’re trying to choose a nasty habit, might I make a suggestion? Biting my fingernails has served me well over the years, and it might be just what you’re looking for. I realize that smoking cigarettes is popularly touted as a more glamorous activity, but hear me out.

I can bite my fingernails at work. The office is ripe with germs from all those dirty employees and customers, making it the perfect place for me to strengthen my immune system by voluntarily placing my hands in my mouth. Disgusted? Quit reading, and take up trichotillomania. It’s an even nastier vice; look it up.

Being able to nurture my filthy addiction in the workplace gives me a certain advantage over all those smokers who routinely step outside to maintain theirs. How much time are smokers wasting each workweek? By how many dollars are they increasing company health insurance costs? Really, I deserve a raise for my productivity and ingenuity, if not for my willpower.

While smoking cigarettes can cost an arm and a lung, fingernail biting is free. If I lose my job, I can go on biting while I fill out job applications. Not to mention the money I’m saving by not indulging in a weekly manicure like all the other women at work. On Mondays, when they compare polish colors and swap stories about the quality of work at different salons, I can keep plugging numbers into Excel with one hand, while gnawing on a cuticle of the other.

With so many companies extending their tobacco-free policies beyond the building and to the entire property, there soon will be no more stepping outside for a quick smoke. To indulge in that particular depravity, working guys and gals will have to wait until lunch and leave the premises.

Reader, if you’re still with me, I’m impressed. I can only imagine how nauseated you must be feeling, with all this talk of smoking, biting fingernails, and compulsively pulling one’s hair. If you didn’t bother to look it up, that’s what trichotillomania is.  For a little relief, why not head over to Midwest Beauty Review for a little therapy?