October 20th, 2002

self portrait (escher)

if they have to talk behind your back, they're amateurs

The service department at the computer store I used to work for decided one day that the ideals of service have their limitations, and there should be a penalty for being stupid.

If, for example, we had to drop what we were doing to eject the floppy disk from someone's drive so they could boot into Windows, that customer would be slapped with a $20 "DS fee".

When asked, DS stood for "Diagnostic Services." But that's not what it stood for.

This gave us the freedom to look a customer straight in the eye and call them names.

We took such freedoms very seriously.

There was a dumpster behind the building. And in/around/under that dumpster lived the largest rat imaginable. One of the guys named it Arthur, after the beloved children's book character. Frightening beast, he was. I'm still convinced that thing could take my hand off in one bite.

Anyway, the customers had no way of knowing who Arthur was. So, the freedom expanded. I could say things like "You're collecting DS charges - that might indicate a deeper problem than we thought. Let me take this in the back and file it with Arthur."

Sometimes, keeping a straight face was the hardest part of that job.

Fast-forward eight or nine years. I'm far more mature now, and don't need to play such games. Right?


The company I now work for moved into a new building shortly before I was hired. I guess everyone got their own offices except for one guy, who just had a space to sit at in an open area. So, the tech department declared that the downstairs men's room would hereafter be known as that guy's office.

This was an endless supply of toilet humor, joking with him. "Hey, man. I just caught so-and-so sitting on your desk with their pants down. You shouldn't put up with that kind of behavior."

But as personnel shifted, so did the seating arrangements. It became known that this gentleman would have a real office to call their own soon, and we'd all lose out on a perfectly good euphemism. So, he stepped forward and announced that the downstairs men's room would hereafter be known as his corporate office.

We dropped his name from the title shortly thereafter (I think out of jealousy), and it became "the Corporate Office."

That opens up all kinds of possibilities. For example, when presented with a suggestion I disagree with, I can say something like "Wow. I'll have to put that in the corporate newsletter!" and none of that enthusiasm will be faked.

I fear that this will lead directly to our company having a corporate newsletter. But in the meantime, it's a very useful addition to our vocabulary.


Remind me to find a job where I don't have to be polite to anyone.
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