Lazy Supervisor’s Success Guide
My manager Tim called me over to his desk one day. He was designing the layout of his swimming pool in Visio, and he wanted my opinion on the design. Tim had sold all his UPS stock to have the pool built, which at UPS, puts you in a promotion purgatory. UPS expects their managers to maintain a sizable portion of company stock, and if you don’t, your chances of being promoted in a timely fashion are nil. I suggested to Tim that he go with the dark blue pool walls – I’ve always preferred dark blue walls for that tropical look. We discussed the position of decorative rocks, the BBQ grill, and the diving board. I never realized what such a great landscaping tool Visio was until that moment.
Eventually, I got bored and went back to my desk. I performed my hourly check of the online conference room reservation system, hoping to find a meeting that was ending. I was a food shark, swimming in after the meetings were over to pick up stale donuts, before the food service people removed them. I tended to stay away from the larger conference rooms – they had the larger coffee pots heated by Bunsen burners that tended to burn the coffee. The smaller conference rooms featured non-heated carafes which didn’t burn the coffee. Unfortunately, there were no meetings going on. It was looking as if I might actually have to work.
Luckily, Larry Jaworski the networking guy stopped by. Larry’s job consisted of creating network accounts for new users – good job if you can get it. Most of the time, he walked from cube to cube talking to people. He carried a piece of paper as a prop to make the management think he was doing something important like hand-delivering an important fax. He also maintained a map in Excel of the UPS hotties; it was like Google Maps, except you used it to locate the cubicles of attractive women. Larry and I sat around for 20 minutes, discussing what was new since his last visit earlier in the morning.
At 11:00, the lunch group started the daily email thread to decide where we were going to eat. I had intended to automate the “pick a lunch venue” process by creating an internal website, but never got around to it. Getting the group to agree on a lunch destination was like getting Halliburton out of Iraq – a very slow process. After about a 20-minute email exchange, we settled on a place. To avoid unwanted managers from tagging along [it’s amazing how an irritating manager can dampen a good lunch], we had a silent departure procedure, practiced to the point of perfection. At exactly 11:30, we all stood up in our cubes, looked around like prairie dogs, and then took off in separate directions. I took the back stairs down to the fifth floor, crossed the Oz Nelson memorial garden to building three, then met the others at our secret rendezvous location at the Wachovia ATM.
During lunch, we complained about management, complained about our jobs, and complained about the low pay. You’d think that all the complaining would be cathartic, but since we complained each day, I guess it wasn’t. After lunch, we stopped by Starbucks on the way back to the orifice. Fred the Lebanese chemist was there as always, sitting out front, blowing cigar smoke in the customers’ faces. His son worked for FedEx, and he reminded of this daily. When I get old and crotchety, I think I’ll relocate to a Starbucks.
After lunch, it was back to the grindstone. My co-workers and I spent thirty minutes recapping lunch conversation at my desk – a debriefing if you will. It gave us time to enjoy the coffee. Eventually, Larry stopped by again, and we discussed what was new in the world of technology since his mid-morning visit. Soon, I ran out of triple venti vanilla 2-percent extra-foam latte, so I looked at the conference room reservation system again for potential coffee targets.
There was the three o’clock break to look forward to. We were entitled to two fifteen-minute breaks. The actual rule was lost in translation at corporate, because everyone typically took a 45-minute breakfast and a 45-minute afternoon break; I always arrived late to work, so I missed breakfast. Break consisted of more complaining, leering at attractive women, and discussing the relevance of various random employees. It would work something like this: an unfamiliar employee would walk by, and someone at the table would ask “Who’s that?” Someone else would reply “That’s Dick Zimmerman. He’s a manager with a cleft palate from the Georgia district. He was then transferred to China on special assignment. He’s here today to attend the bell ringing ceremony. I used to report to him. He’s a good guy.” Employee trivia was an important part of UPS culture.
Alternatively, an attractive secretary would walk by and one of us would motion to the others with our eyes to look in her particular direction; “She’s hot,” BradBrown.com would say. “Yeah,” replied Beavis. Larry Flynt would be proud. I suppose I should have reported myself to HR, but I figured the line would be too long.
4:45 came early that day. I sent a couple of “I’ll get to it tomorrow” emails out to my important customers, threw on my sports coat [from 100 yards, you’d swear it was a suit], hit the elevator, walked past the United Way progress penis, and sneaked out to the parking desk. Supervising…it ain’t easy! That’s why they paid me the big bucks.