As I was trying to navigate my way through the throng of bleary-eyed commuters and starry-eyed tourists this morning, I realized two interesting things. First, those of us who live in important cities live with a dual attitude. On the one hand, tourists are a friggin’ pain in the butt. They stand all over the escalators, never noticing that everyone else stands on the right and walks on the left (an almost universal concept). They don’t seem to notice that as rude as DCers are, we almost all wait for the train to empty before boarding. They don’t seem to notice that they are loud and obnoxious. (When I was working for Norwegian Cruise Line we used to say that the passengers left their brains at the pier in Miami.)
Ne’ertheless, we also (at least those of us with any sense of intelligence) must accept that these same tourists bring a lot of money into the local economy, and as hard as they are to deal with, we really do need to embrace them and their odious, screaming children.
So, as I was trying to navigate my way through the throng of bleary-eyed commuters and starry-eyed tourists this morning, I realized that as bad as it is in Washington, DC, I can’t imagine what the poor Roman commuters, who are just trying to get to the grocery store, the bank, or their jobs, must be dealing with with the millions of “pilgrims” who have descended en masse.
I see that I haven’t talked about my future job much, so let me fill y’all in…
After almost 2 whole years working as a secretary (and for the record, I am not an administrative assistant, but a bona fide OPM designated series 318, Secretary Series), all of my dedication, hard work, willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty, as well as my obsequiousness, kowtowing, and general groveling has finally (almost) paid off.
This Wednesday past (November 10, 2004), a position in my office for a Legislative Affairs Specialist (GS-301-9/11) posted, and I applied for it. While I believe that I “have it in the bag” as the saying goes, I am not “counting my chickens before they hatch” for that would be “putting the cart before the horse.”
It closes tomorrow, and I guess I will know in about a week or two. Unfortunately, I don’t know which division the job is in, so I don’t know who my boss would be, but I guess that that isn’t too bad; just as long as I get a phone with only my number on it!!!
If you want to see the job description, keep reading: Read more »
I finally got the position description for my job. It’s supposed to open on Wednesday, but as I say, I will believe it when I see it.
The good news is that it’s not the IT/computer type job that I was told it would be. It seems to be more along the lines of what the SEAL Leader originally wanted me to be doing; but this seems odd since they told me they were going to give me a job in IT and computers as I wouldn’t qualify for the other job. Perhaps, since I’ve been working there for many months now, they feel that I am qualified now.
The bad news is that it’s a GS-9. This is not really bad in and of itself. I am currently a GS-7 step 2, so moving up to a GS-9 step 1 will give me a $6,492 raise. But, when they first started talking to me about a job, they were originally going to bring me on with a separate hiring authority, and I would have begun at a GS-11, which would have given me a $15,270 raise. Oh, well, as long as I’m in a professional job and out of the secretary pool, I’m willing to wait another year for my 11.
So, now I have to beef up my resume so I can actually qualify for the job at the 9. (Our Admin Officer said I should focus on qualifying for the 9, but it now occurs to me that I should focus on qualifying for the 11. I should easily make the 9 if I think I can get the 11, and if I make the 11 list, there is no real reason that they can’t hire me at that pay grade.)
But first, I must eat, and I want sushi, so I am going to call the ‘rents and see if they will take me for all-you-can-eat lunch buffet.
Today, instead of going to work, I went to the Holiday Inn for an all day retreat. I honestly thought that I was going to luck out and be left behind to man the phones. As such, I did not pay as much attention as I perhaps should have to the agenda. Needless to say, I did not have to stay in the office to answer the phones, and I attended my very first retreat. I found it an incredible waste of time.
We got to the meeting room around 8:15 in the morning. The room was arranged for maximum communication. Food along the back wall—coffee, tea, juice, bagels, and Danish. Chairs arranged in a large circle in the center of the room. Tables scattered around the room prepared for us to use as group space and for lunch. Tables on the right wall set up for the lunch buffet. Along the left wall the facilitators, standing by a table that held nametags, pens, stickers, and Post-it® notes. I created a nice nametag with an orange smiley face on it. Upon the Post-it® notes we were supposed to write one goal we had for the day. As I mentioned, I really had no idea what the retreat was about, so I wasn’t sure what to write for a goal. I asked the facilitator if “Get up tomorrow morning” was a worthy goal, and she said sure. I chose to cheat and look at what others had written (we had to post them on the wall, so they were available for all to read). I settled on the trite “to become a stronger member of the team.”
Next, we sat in the aforementioned circle of death—I mean “theatre in the round” as the Ring Lady called it. Because 2 of the 35 of us were new, we had to go around the circle and say who we were, where we worked, and what our goal for the day was. Of course to go clockwise or counterclockwise would have been entirely too easy, so Facilitator 1 procured a nerf ball that looked like a small, spongy Mars. The ball was tossed around the circle and whoever had the misfortune to catch the ball had to commence with the monologue. There is little humor in my office, and only one person made a real joke at this point. The Dude (named for the frequency with which he uses the word) caught the ball, looks very serious, and says, “Hello, my name is Dude, and I have a communication problem.” It was priceless, and I gave a hearty guffaw as people slowly began to get that it was just a joke.
We broke up into groups of two and interviewed each other about times either in our NASA career or elsewhere where we were a part of a team and how it was a wonderful experience. I wanted to pair off with someone I didn’t know all that well who might be interested in trying to get something out of the task. Alas, Dude was too far away as was the SEAL Leader, or any of the others I would like to have worked with. DogLover cornered me and there really wasn’t any way out. She “enlightened” me that at all costs I should only have positive things to say at these retreats because that is all they (management) want to hear, and I should always bear in mind that no one at the office is my friend. They aren’t my enemies, but they will all (her emphasis) turn on you in a heartbeat; I should not trust any of them. (I felt that I was talking to another person from my past, who will remain nameless.) She was just telling me what her mother told her when she first started working.
I talked about my experience as a stage manager in college and how it was a wonderful team experience. I mentioned that theatre is a great example of proper teamwork since the most important thing is that the stage is set properly when the curtain goes up. In the heat of the moment, it’s more important to get that couch off stage than to worry whose job it was…find out what went wrong after the show. Do whatever it takes so the audience sees only a wonderful show. DogLover talked about her dog shows and how she and the dog make a team, which is built on a relationship, not respect, not trust, not friendship, only relationship. I helped her tease this out into an intelligent thought.
Next, 3 2-person groups merged and we introduced our partner to the rest of the group. From the 6 introductions, we needed to find common themes, discuss them, discover what sorts of things we all needed to have a good, strong team. From there we came up with ideas that would help create such an environment.
This led to the only original thing the facilitators did. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing so far that the facilitators didn’t get straight out of a book. I can’t figure out how these people make so much damn money. Anyway, we had to take all of our ideas and pretend that it was 5 years in the future and write a headline praising our office and the first 3 sentences of the newspaper article.
Finally we returned to the circle where the nerf reemerged. This time, instead of saying who we were and what our goal was, we had to say what we would take away from the retreat and mention one specific suggestion that we would commit to working on. Again, everyone was overly serious. When the nerf ball came to me, I said that I would definitely commit to drinking at the Happy Hour idea. Then I decided to end my experience in a serious, sincere, and positive manner and praised the group for their creativity and their hard work trying to make a great office even better.
As I stare at the screen in front of me, all of the little lines that form the letters that form the words that form the sentences that form the web page all begin to blur and blend and realign and I get dizzy and confused.
Then it hits me.
Both of my sisters are getting married, one in September and the other in March. As they are girls, tradition firmly states that my parents need to pay for the wedding. They are figuring that they will spend an unimportant king’s ransom for each wedding (in fact, as they are putting everything they can on their American Express card to build up their points, they figure that by the time the wedding is over, they will have enough points for 2 free tickets to Japan and probably at least a few free nights at the hotel).
Now, as tradition also states that groom’s parents don’t pay for the wedding (OK, I know they are supposed to pay for the rehearsal dinner and the bar, I think), I figure that my parents should give me the equivalent of how much they are spending on my sisters’ weddings (OK, minus the rehearsal dinner and bar), and then I can enjoy my 3 years in grad school.
It makes complete sense to me! I think I will suggest that at dinner this evening.
I dropped off my dress shirts and slacks early this afternoon at Zips Dry Cleaner. My bill came to $6 and change. I pulled out a $20 and asked the young lad behind the counter if it were possible to get a roll of quarters in my change. He went to the till, and after checking to see if they had enough change, returned with my change. After handing me the roll of quarters, three dollars in bills, and random coins, he looked at me and asked "you going to the arcade?"
I had to chuckle.
I said, "no, unfortunately, I'm going to do laundry."
He nodded with a knowing nod...I was't going to be using those quarters for fun.
So, yesterday, one of the secretaries comes up to me and asks if I want to pitch in for the lunch party we are throwing for our summer intern who is leaving and another secretary who is also leaving. She tells me that it will be $10. I think that this is absurd, but I say nothing. I then get an email that an old man is retiring and that if I want to attend the party it will be $12 (gift included).
So, here I am, a mere GS-07 making pittance, and now they want me to pay $22 for parties for people I barely know. I don't really have the money this week, and a party was the last thing that I planned to spend $22 on.
So, now I'm in a position where I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. I look like a dick if I say, "No, sorry I'm not going to give money." And I look like a dick if I come to the party without paying (because you know people would say, "Why aren't you at the party?").
So, I suck it up and pay my $20 (I only had that much and my $2 wasn't going to make or break the party).
Today, I go to the party, and, as expected, I do NOT get $10 out of lunch, but there is actually a ton of food left, so I could if I wanted to, but ...
Along come folks from all over the building. I swear, these odious, cheap leeches can smell food across the building and several floors up. We are on the 9th floor and these abhorrent creatures come crawling up from the 2nd and 4th to scavenge our food. Now, if I had known that after the party it was a free for all, why the fuck should I have paid my $10? They didn't pay!
And people ask me why I hate working where I do.