Double Your Fun!

Remember the old Wrigley’s Doublemint commercials?  No?  Okay, here’s a refresher because I’m a giver that way.

On one of the multitude of sites dedicated to lyrics I found the following posted.  While these don’t match the song track in the commercial above they were posted by someone who claimed to be one of the early Doublemint twins – for what that’s worth.

Double your pleasure,
Double your fun,
With Double good, Double good, Doublemint gum!
Double delicious,
Double smooth too.
Doublemint’s Double Delightful to chew.
So, Double your pleasure, Double your fun!
Get Double everything rolled into one.
Oh, Double your pleasure,
Double your fun,
With Double good, Double good, Doublemint gum!

Here’s where my analogy falls apart.  Everyone in those ads was always grinning like they were having the best time ever.  Double the fun!  Me, these days?  Not so much.  But there is a correlation of sorts.  Get comfy while I bring you up to date a bit.  Got popcorn?  On second thought, got bourbon?

A few months back I wrote about the upcoming changes at work, how we were going to a “shared services” model of secretarial support for some of our associates and others.  At least I think I wrote about it.  Let’s just pretend I did shall we?  Three of us staffers were approached with a request to join the Shared Services Team for the local office.  (The other two got the impression that it was either accept the request or start looking for another job.  That wasn’t my take and I’m not sure where they got that vibe, but that’s another whole can of worms we don’t need to address now.)  One secretary was already in place and had been providing coverage for all the first year associates for several months.  She would be our team lead.  Ultimately there would be a fifth secretary hired and between the five of us we would cover around 40 people.  Yeah, go ahead and gasp or gape or choke.  That’s entertainment!

We’ve been operating as a team for a few months now.  The first couple of months were a frakking nightmare.  One of us went on medical leave within days of the team starting.  That left three of us to cover everyone.  It was so busy I often forgot about lunch until well after noon when my stomach would finally realize I wasn’t on schedule and go on a rampage.  The local Powers That Be wracked their brains trying to figure out how to help us and finally recruited another secretary from the ranks to pitch in on team stuff as her regular workload allowed.  This helped some.  What helped more was that summer started.  With clients on vacation and some associates following suit things settled a bit.  Then our fourth returned from medical leave and the fifth was hired.  So of course the team inbox slowed to a crawl.  We’re still very slow but I expect that to change as summer winds to a close.

However, those first eight weeks took their toll.  We’d all been ill-prepared for and overwhelmed by the amount of work we faced each day.  People would see our faces as we passed in the halls and ask if we were okay.  Our stress levels were off the charts. Then, just a couple of weeks ago our lead, a firm veteran of 25+ years gave notice.  Maybe you can imagine the shockwaves that rocked our office.  I heard that one person even asked if they “got it” now.  “They” being our home office.  No, they did not get it.  The folks on the ground here better get it…this is the new deal.  This is the only deal.

And guess who gets to be the lead now?

If you guessed Janey give yourself a gold star!  Now if you’re a regular reader perhaps you remember that I was “promoted” late last year to be lead of my original group of secretaries.  So put one lead together with another lead and we get TWO leads!  Double the pleasure!  Double the fun!  Ahh, there it is.

Seriously, I’m going to be a double-lead at least until the HR people figure out who in my regular department might be able to handle taking on that responsibility.  Boy do I feel special!

Not.

Job Stress is at an All-Time High

That’s the note my chiropractor added to my file at today’s appointment.  In addition, he was very supportive and encouraging, telling me I had to identify those things that are out of my control and LET. THEM. GO.  Yeah, tell me something I don’t know Doc.

Not to be bitchy (Dr. G is awesome and I’d never really snark at him) but that knowledge has been engraved on my brain for a long time.  It’s acting on the knowledge that’s hard to get a handle on, even when my health has deteriorated as a result of the new deal at work.  I used to walk at least twice a week during my lunch hour.  Now I’m lucky if I get ten minutes to go get my lunch.  Granted, I’m supposed to take at least half an hour but sometimes you just can’t stop what you’re doing damn it.  Plus I’m not eating the healthiest, and while I am not abusing alcohol, it sure looks mighty attractive these days, which in itself is worrying.  Instead of the rhetorical question – “is it Friday yet?” I’ve started asking “is it happy hour yet?”

During the checkup I explained that ironically there are “All Staff” meetings next week.  Because we’re a GLOBAL monstrosity of a firm we have offices all over the world in all different time zones so they scheduled two meetings over two days to be sure everyone could participate.  I’m in a west coast office so that puts our meeting time at 4 PM, when I’m tying up loose ends and getting ready to leave for the day (on a good day that is; lately I haven’t gotten out of the office till after 5).  I don’t plan to stick around for more of the same old same old from the Poobahs.

Amusingly, the BigWig who sent the email announcing the meetings pointed out that they want everyone’s questions and they even set up a confidential link to submit those questions anonymously.  Phft!  I told Dr. G I was tempted to test the anonymity of that link by sending the following:

“This question is directed to the genius who came up with the Shared Services idea:  What the fuck?!”

Then I gasped and covered my mouth in shock.  I can be foul-mouthed at times, but I’ve never used that kind of language around any of my health care providers and I was completely stunned it had popped out this morning.  But Dr. G just laughed and I found myself laughing too.  He did recommend that if I submit the question I change it to “WTF?!” to be on the safe side.

So work sucks and doesn’t show signs of improving any time soon.  When another secretary on the team texted me last night that she was thinking of “looking” – as in for another job(!) – I felt my heart drop even further.  Oh sure, it isn’t as if I haven’t thought about it.  But I’m going to be 59 this year.  Who’s going to hire someone who might retire within the decade?  Even with 30 years experience I’m not that marketable.

Life however, goes on.

PSST!*

Everyone knows that things change, right?  Stagnation is not good and as reluctant as some of us may be to deal with change, it happens.  I for one, loathe the very idea of change.  Maybe because I spent the early part of my life ricocheting all over, sort of like the ball in a pinball game.  We lived here, then we lived there, then we moved back here.  I lost count of how many schools I attended before fourth or fifth grade.  See?  I don’t even remember when we stopped bouncing.  But even that was only a temporary respite before our mother came and took us back to live with her.  Then she moved us again.  At least that particular move was within the same county.  And heck, I got to attend the same high school all four years.  Progress I guess.

Fast forward umpteen years to 2015.  A few weeks back–maybe as long as a couple of months ago actually–I was promoted to “lead secretary”.  This amounted mainly to a new title as I was already performing most of the tasks the lead handles.  Life went on without much additional change.  I struggled to figure out a backup system for when one or another of us had to be out.  That might not sound difficult but I have one secretary who has 6 people on her desk on a regular day.  I can’t always expect her to have the capacity to help when someone else is out.  Another of my secretaries only supports one professional, but she doesn’t have the bandwidth to offer help either.  Her workload is hugely different from that of the rest of us and other than the occasional copying or scanning, she can’t provide much assistance.  Plus she works with attorneys in some of our other offices around the country which ties up her time.  (She has since asked to be returned to her previous secretarial group because she felt so bad about not being able to help us.)

There are now six secretaries in our group, counting me.  Each of us has at least 3 attorneys on our desk, most have 4 and as I mentioned, one has 6.  So if one or more of us is out – well, you do the math.  It can get crazy-aunt busy around here.  But I’d come up with a plan that seemed fair and, on paper anyway, looked like it would work.

Fast forward again to a couple of weeks ago.  I received a call from the HR rep who said the Director of Administration was sitting in her office and they’d like to see me.  Oh, and don’t worry.  Phew!  She could have led with that, right?

Big changes are afoot.  The firm has mandated that support for associates who are in their first, second or third year out of law school, be provided from a team rather than individual secretaries.  This announcement wasn’t supposed to roll out until everything was in place for its initiation at the beginning of May, but apparently rumors were floating about and a secretary brought them to the attention of the Administrative Partner (or the Local Poohbah).  LP met with the Director and the HR rep and they decided to make the announcement early to get the facts out there.  I never heard the rumors but I’m guessing they were way, way over the top if they inspired an early reveal.

As you might imagine, this wasn’t happy news.  To some of the secretaries already supporting those associates it sounded like a death knell.  Other secretaries heard translated “shared services team” into “secretarial pool” and cringed.  The Powers That Be in our local office are trying to spin it as positively as possible.  In making the announcement, LP started off by saying there would be no layoffs.  (They can learn!)  She then explained that our office had dragged its feet (so to speak) as long as it could get away with it.  We were one of the last large offices to switch to the team model.  Because there is no choice, we have to make this new model work, and hopefully fit into our Northwest culture in as effective a manner as possible.

Enter me, and four other secretaries in our office.  We are The Team.  Oh and did I mention I still get to be Lead for my group?  Whoopee!  

 

 

*Pretty Spectacular Support Team – my initial thought for a team name.  I doubt it will fly but it made me and at least one of the other secretaries smile.

Three Beer Day

We’ve all heard of a three dog night correct?  If you haven’t heard that before, or at the very least heard the band then you’re too young for this blog so go away.  I’m just kidding, seriously haven’t I told you not to believe anything you read here?  But definitely go check out the band Three Dog Night, they were rocking it when I was in high school back in the dark ages.

I’ve heard the meaning behind “three dog night” many times and from multiple sources.  Go here if you want to see how the Urban Dictionary defines it.  What it comes down to is that when it’s very, very cold you want three dogs in bed with you.

But that isn’t the point of this post.  I’ll bet my regulars figured that out on their own.

Beginning with three dog night lets me segue to my day yesterday and its rating as a “three beer day”.  Some of you may not think that’s too bad a day and for you that could be true.  However, I come from an alcoholic mother and a Scots father and my genes are against me.  Plus?  I’m a total lightweight with alcohol.  So three beers usually puts me to sleep, and not necessarily in a good way.

Since my promotion I haven’t seen any gray hair but I’m not looking all that hard.  Also, as a former hair dresser told me once, my natural ash blonde color hides the gray quite well.  Thank goodness!  So, back to yesterday.

Well, let’s start with the day before.  You may recall that I wrote this post about a secretary leaving to work somewhere else.  Her departure was the second one in as many weeks.  And the day before yesterday a third secretary gave her notice.  I have no words.  Oh wait, I have plenty of words.  They’re just words I can’t use out loud in the workplace!

#@%*&!!!

So now we’re up to yesterday.  Not only am I supporting four of my own attorneys, but due to the recent departure I was temporarily covering two others for a secretary who now had six people on her desk!  She was in the midst of trial prep and something she called an allocation which required a lot of focus so I offered to help two of her folks or find someone to help them if I couldn’t.  Hey, that’s what a lead does, right?  Leads?  Well yesterday the work Would. Not. Stop. Coming.  And then a visiting attorney who was using the appropriately named Visiting Attorney Office on my floor needed help.  His was pretty easy and quickly finished.  But following that I needed to set up a pleading format for a filing in Florida.  We’re in Seattle folks.  You do the math.  So to speak.

By quitting time I was so done.  It was a two beer night for sure and luckily I had five left of a six pack in my fridge at home.

JD met me at our bank to get the cashier’s checks for some monthly obligations and ask why they were holding onto our tax refund check which he’d deposited the night before.  (It’s the federal government for heaven’s sake, if you can’t trust them…oh wait, never mind).  He mentioned in passing something about getting bad news and of course I had to ask.  Duh.

As you may recall, we’re due to go camping beginning tomorrow.  Murphy had other plans.  When JD went out to put a new electrical adaptor in the fifth wheel he discovered someone had broken into the trailer and probably close to $500 worth of property was stolen.

Hence, a three beer night.   Alas I only had time for one after dealing with filing the police report and calling the insurance company.

Sigh.

Morale Boosting

One of my self-appointed tasks at work is to make people smile.  My desk is cluttered with toys and other brightly colored doodads.  I usually have a pack of Juicy Fruit gum handy for some of the attorneys who wander by.  One of my favorite items is a Far Side mug which doubles as a pencil/pen holder.  If you know Gary Larson’s stuff you may be familiar with the Cat Fud cartoon.  It holds a place of honor among my toys.  (My other Far Side mug is the one I have my coffee in every day.  “Latte, Jed?”)

I’ve been a legal secretary for more than 25 years.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all that time it’s that people need to smile at work.  And laugh whenever possible.  Consequently, a few years back I started posting comics on the fridge in the kitchen/copy room at our end of the floor.  Nothing warms my heart more than to hear someone around the corner laughing out loud at the day’s cartoon.  When they stick their head out to say thank you I feel on top of the world!

I especially like the ones that make me say “huh?”  Once I “get it”,  I enjoy explaining it and I get to see the light dawn on someone else.   Then there are those like the one below.  They’re visual but you have to be sure to read them carefully or you might just miss the twist.

With extreme gratitude to Dan Piraro, cartoonist extraordinaire!

With extreme gratitude to Dan Piraro, cartoonist extraordinaire!

 

 

YOU are an ass with a capital A!

Oh, sorry.  No, not you dear reader.  I’m referring to the rude jerk-off who cut the line at the train this morning.  But he probably doesn’t read my blog so I apologize to those of you who do.

When I called this dickhead on his rudeness his brilliant response was, “You’re not my mother or the police.  I don’t have to listen to you.”  All I could think was “Thank god I’m not your mom!”  But of course I didn’t think to say that then.  The best I could come up with was “In my opinion, you’re a rude asshole!”  That I did say out loud.  And got the last word (go me!).

On the positive side, the woman in front of me in line, who dipshit cut in behind, was sitting in the same section with me and she got my attention to mouth “thank you” to me!  How nice was that?  Especially since he didn’t cut in front of her.  I wish I knew what made this younger generation so oblivious to common courtesy.  But karma IS a bitch and I have to trust he’ll get his.

Because you all hung in there through this tirade I’ll end on a high note and share my good/bad news!  How about the bad news first?  They’ve decided in their infinite wisdom that they won’t be replacing L so we have to divvy up her four attorneys.  Yippee.

The flip side is that yesterday I was called up to HR and told my promotion is official!  I knew it was in the works that I would be named the lead secretary for our floor/department, but I didn’t realize they considered it a promotion.  Complete with a raise in salary!  I love nice surprises!

Happy weekend everyone!

 

Merde!

Or to put it more clearly – SHIT!  Fuck!  Double damnit!

Yesterday, I got a call from the only other secretary in the department who comes close to me in seniority.

“Can you come down to my desk?”

Since L had recently been very, very ill I was of course reasonably concerned.  But when I got there she lead me into an empty area that used to house our word processing people where we could talk privately.  Uh oh.

“I’m leaving the firm.”

Sheee-it!  Uh oh is right.

L is probably the BEST litigation secretary I know.  She’s a wealth of knowledge and will be sorely missed by attorneys and secretaries alike.  Now we’re waiting breathlessly to find out whether or not the Poobahs in the home office will replace her.  Rumor has it they aren’t replacing K, whose last day is tomorrow.  K’s in another department so that shouldn’t impact my team, but you never know and the precedent is scary.

I wish there was some way to understand the mindset of the Poobahs.  Oh wait, that’s right … lower employment costs through attrition = more money in their pockets.

Sigh.

😒

 

 

Not a real problem

I follow almost 40 blogs and luckily, I can check out new posts for most of them in between work tasks.  However, I work for a global law firm with electronic security measures that seem to increase exponentially.  From one day to the next I never know which blogs will be blocked.  Well, not exactly BLOCKED in that I can’t go there.  For example, when I click over to read Doobster’s latest post at Mindful Digressions my computer opens a warning window that the site has triggered the ScanSafe protection employed by the firm.  It will allow me to click through to see the site, BUT the fine print advises that by doing so I agree the firm can monitor my computer activity.

I would be surprised if the firm isn’t already watching my online activity to some degree.  A secretary was dismissed awhile back after her frequent visits to Facebook allowed a virus to infect the computer she used.  Obviously they have tracking of some sort in place to keep tabs on what we do online.  But in all my years here nothing has ever been said about my online activity.  So apparently what I’ve been doing is within the bounds of acceptability.  The ScanSafe protocol is relatively new, introduced after our local firm was taken over by the monolith we now work for.  In the beginning, Accuradio and Pandora triggered it and I clicked through anyway, after querying our IT people about it.  The sensitivity was changed or something because neither online radio site activates ScanSafe now.  But unless it is strictly work-related I try not to tempt fate by ignoring the ScanSafe alerts.

This puts a crimp in my blog-reading as I mentioned earlier.  There are several blogs I follow which I really enjoy but cannot see at work.  I’ll see in my reader that there’s a new post by someone I like reading and sadly I have to wait until I’m on my way home to read those, IF I remember to go back.  And in the interim, other new posts are popping up on the list and moving the ones I’ve had to postpone further down making it more likely I’ll miss something really good.

I understand this is a minor hiccup in my day; there are plenty of problems out there much worse than this and I suppose I should try to put it in perspective.

[pause for musing]

Nah, I like whining too much.

Voluntary? Phft.

First, thanks go to Gibber for bringing the phft back into my vocabulary!  Gibber spells it pft but I decided I wanted to make it more me.  This is my blog after all.  I’m not sure how the added letter makes it me but I like the way it looks.

And now, back to our show!  Or post, or something.

It’s that time of year again.  Leaves are morphing from emerald to topaz and ruby before falling to the ground to be crushed and shredded … sorry, um I didn’t mean to go all dark and creepy.  Unfortunately “that time of year” is also when they keep nudging us to complete our self-evaluations damn it!

In recent years the self-evaluation process has evolved somewhat.  Terminology has changed along with definitions.  One thing remains the same however and in the past few years they post it front and center – so to speak – at the beginning of the form.

“The completion of the self-evaluation is voluntary.”

Yup, that’s why I keep getting emails reminding me I haven’t done it yet. In addition, do you know what happens if you don’t complete the self-eval? Nah, me either. I always cave in.  But this year I think I’ll jazz it up a bit.

Major Accomplishments / Responsibilities

Janey started her second blog and acquired a passel of followers (waving at crazy followers). Pretty major wouldn’t you say?

She also posted new comics to the fridge almost every day of the week – someone has to boost the morale around here!

And Janey took more breaks!  That may not be major to the Poobahs, but she was spending so much time at her desk her chair has molded perfectly to her ass.  Or should that be it molded to her perfect ass?  Phft.

Training

Janey don’t need no steenking training!

Goals

Janey wants to retire one day – is that goal enough for you?  Quite the lofty goal if you could see her finances!  Yikes!

So there you have it.  I think I should sit on this a bit though before I turn it in.  I’m not so sure HR has a sense of humor.  Unlike my readers.  😀