The fact that my parents didn’t slap me upside down for choosing to be a theatre major my SENIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL is beyond me. At the tender age of 18, how are you supposed to know who you are or what you want to be? Growing up, I always identified myself as an actress. Being able to quote Shakespeare, or analyze a Chekhov scene was the reason why I felt superior in a room full of teenagers (big misconception- High School Musical hadn’t come out yet- theater wasn’t cool). But more importantly, regardless of my rank, I was confident in who I was because I had a unique passion that fueled a fire in me (also, I wanted to be famous).
However, about half way through my studies it dawned on me that I had no desire to pursue a career in acting. The egos, drama, disappointment and criticism that came with the job description were not what I signed up for. Unfortunately, I was too far in my degree to change majors and the best I could do to accompany my fancy BFA was a minor in Art History. Big whoop. My future seemed to have two options: waitress, or wife. Except, option #2 was set at a significant disadvantage due to the fact that at my school finding a heterosexual male was like finding a $100 bill on the street. And Dan Gutterman, if you are reading this, you broke my heart freshman year of college. We were going to be forever- I blame you.
And that brings me to today, fellow post-lunchers. Alas. Here I am, stuck behind a desk, staring at a computer in the cold, austere world that is Corporate America. I copy, I paste, and repeat. My creative brain is no longer in demand. Nobody wants me to interpret, or talk about how it felt when my sister crashed my head into a piano when I was 6 (theater school for you). I entered the corporate world because I thought, along with financial and mental stability; it would give me a sense of purpose to complement my polished liberal-arts skills. Now, I wake up with one purpose: to not “accidentally” throw my coffee on my co-worker’s crotch, or light my desk on fire.
But if there is anything I learned between college and my short time in the real world, it is that our circumstances do not define who we are, what we can accomplish and how we can impact others. This elusive notion of, “who we are,” is constantly evolving. I thought I was an actress- turns out I am just a funny girl who likes to be the center of attention (sorry mom and dad, 200k later). But my experiences in that field have helped shaped me into who I have become. And whether my current job honors this or not- SO BE IT. So whether you love what you do, or loathe waking up in the morning, your Corporate America experience will help build and strengthen character for opportunities to come.
You know that it’s February 14 when there is a shortage of Kleenex at your drugstore, a scarcity of raw cookie dough at your grocery store and a million hits of Ryan Gosling holding a puppy on Google. Love it or hate it, there is no avoiding Valentine’s Day.
Personally? I love it. It’s an excuse to pig out on candy and wear excessive amounts of pink without looking like a flamingo. Plus, my mom gives pretty sweet gifts. However, I know others feel differently. Navigating this sensitive holiday in Corporate America can be tricky. This isn’t grade school where everybody receives a Valentine. Whether you are single or in a relationship, today can be a blood bath.
To ensure a more pleasant and successful Valentine’s Day experience at the office, follow these simple rules:
If you are single,
1)Don’t complain that soulless greeting card and candy companies invented this holiday in order to rake in millions of dollars. I am willing to bet that your job exists because of very similar reasons. Nobody likes a hypocrite.
2)Do pounce on your office crush, since chances are he/she will be vulnerable. Might as well strike while the iron is hot.
3)Don’t, of all days, brag about your World of Warcraft score. Just don’t.
4)Do pass out Valentines to all your favorite coworkers. This is an excellent time to make public all the people you actually like in your office.
Now, if you are part of a couple,
1)Don’t expose your LiLo because you decided to go commando under your skirt. We all know you are having sex tonight. Wait until after work to take it off.
2)Do bake sympathy brownies for the whole office. It’s a great way to make the single people feel involved.
3)Don’t be that person who is in a relationship, and yet claims to hate Valentine’s Day. Not only is it tacky, nobody believes you.
4)Do flaunt your cheesy Valentines in front of your co-workers, should they be single and you loathe them. It’s a great way for you to establish your superiority, even if it is just for this one day.
And there you have it. No need to be a V-Day Grinch. Follow these simple rules, and you’ll never dread Valentine’s Day again. Cheers!
Here is what is hard about being so dramatic: your highs are high and your lows are pretty damn low. This is quite unfortunate, as I have discovered that as a member of Corporate America, you really aren’t expected to have “feelings.” It is best to be numb to anything and everything that comes your way. I call it, “channeling your inner robot.” For example, were you forced to work through your lunch break? Whatever, wasn’t hungry anyway! Just break up with your significant other? Psh, thumbs up, bring on the memos, boss! I know, Corporate America can be a battlefield.
Yesterday, I had a hard time channeling my inner robot. In fact, I was inducted into an exclusive office organization I coined, “The Wailing Wendy’s.” Yes, I suppose it is sexist of me, but have you ever seen Don Draper cry at the office? Exactly.
But ladies, and I know there are some gentlemen out there, I just want to let you know that you are not alone. Whether you’ve been yelled at by your boss, or made to feel inferior by your coworkers, sometimes there is no shutting off the water pump. So what do you do? A dear friend of mine who was on gchat advised me to just physically smile. Apparently, that mentally tells your brain to get happy. Apparently, it can also make you look like a Jack-O-Lantern. So while that may work for some, it will not for everybody.
Another friend reminded me that on the bright side, I wasn’t Tim Gunn. Why? Because he hasn’t had sex in 30 years.
But in the end, what really helped turn my frown upside down was the video embedded above. Next time you are on the verge of tears at a meeting, politely excuse yourself to the nearest bathroom stall to watch this video.
Anyone who tells you they take a real lunch in New York is either a)lying or b) does not have a real job. When I first interned here, I was shockedto find that I was expected to either bring lunch or go find something mediocrewithin a 3 block radius of my office and promptly return to my desk to eat itthere. Well let me tell you.
That is simply bullshit!
I mean, how am I supposed to look forward to lunch if I don’t even get to take one?
SO, even though I am not really getting the lunch hour thatthey seem to have in the movies and the midwest, I decided that every day Iwould still take a break. And now, I present to you, fellow desk-riddenfriends, the five things I do for entertainment during my self-prescribed lunchhour:
1. Check jezebel’s “dirt bag” from both today andlast night. I specifically save my daily celebrity gossip to read during lunch.Nothing goes better with lentil soup than a lady gaga nip slip.
2. Check thought catalog. Realize that there are no newarticles since I checked it an hour ago. Proceed to read through old articlesby Ryan O’Connell because we all know he writes the best ones anyway.
3. Catch up on my words/hanging/scramble/philosophizewith friends games. get frustrated when I can’t think of any new words anddecide to try again after I’m done eating.
4. Send inappropriate text messages to inappropriate men andhope they respond. Send screenshots of said inappropriate text messages to myroommate and have her validate my sanity.
5. Read the New York Times wedding section (specifically thewedding of Rebecca Steinberg to Dr. Jacob Baum, and the like).
how do you occupy yourself during your desk lunch break?
I have this conundrum everyday at 11:59 AM, when I get my gilt group email. Is it weird if my boss looks over and I am online shopping? Sometimes, I tell myself it’s fine, it’s important I look nice at the office and frankly, I know my boss online shops way more than I do. But here’s the thing, more people can see my computer than can see hers, which makes me look like the brat that’s online shopping at the office.
Also, there’s totally a distinction between just browsing net, aimlessly perusing net-a-porter for inspiration and buying that skirt you tried on at jcrew last night but they didn’t have your size in the color you wanted. Different types of shopping.
Yesterday, I was feeling overwhelmed and was trying to start the week off right—showing my dedication and hard work, forgoing the 3.1 Phillip Lim sale on Gilt. And I have to say, I can’t stop thinking about that silk top I had been eyeing all season, that is now, obviously, sold out.
So I want to know, do you online shop at work? Does your boss? Or, do you occasionally do it as a department like me? Only on slow days, of course!
-Anonymous employee at Marketing Firm in New York City
Welcome back! Sorry for the brief hiatus. But lunch lady is back and kickin’ with a brand new layout. Just trying to make your Monday afternoon a little more eventful.
Today I will be meditating on the art of writing e-mails at the office. Here’s the thing about e-mails: they are so scary. Depending on the recipient, the moment before I click “send” can feel like life or death. I force myself to proofread the e-mail with as much as attention as I did my college applications- maybe even more. Should a word, nay a letter, be out of place, not only would I look stupid, but the company would look stupid for hiring someone so, well, stupid. Unless you work in a super creative environment, or Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, refrain from the following:
So and so-
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Not so important information, but you add anyway.
One exclamation point and you are ruined. Like an over eager puppy, you scream, “like me!” or, “I am totally new at this!” Just be careful. Also, you are missing an “a” in “thanks.” This is Corporate America, people, not a memo going out to your sorority sisters or frat bros.
While writing an e-mail canbe heart attack inducing, receiving one produces its own set of problems. If it’s from my boss I automatically think the worst. How did I screw up this time? Has she/he discovered my Internet activity? Am I getting drug tested? And e-mailfrom other superiors generally means more work. Very rarely do I get the e-mail that reads, “You look nice today” or, “keep up the good work!”
But what really eats me alive is how people address each other intheir e-mails. You see, everyone in my office has thehabit of starting off an e-mail by saying, “I hope this e-mail finds you well.” It does not matter that the e-mail before that found me well, or that I saw you at the water cooler five minutes ago and I was well, and yesterday, even though you made me cry for something that was out of my control, I was well. Yes, this e-mail too finds me well. You happy? Or rather this e-mail found me well, but leaves me pretty pissed off.
Ugh, e-mail. I could go on. Who would have thought an invention that bridged together middle school relationships would leadto so much anxiety?
That’s enough ranting for one Monday. I hope this post finds you well. Only 4.5 days left of the week.
I don’t know what your job entails, but a big part of my job is spent on the phone. And I am not talking about my iPhone, Blackberry or any other smartphone device, but a real live landline. Just like the olden days. I feel so 90’s. The phone’s clunky earpiece and thick, black spiral cord take me back to my rebellious middle school days. If one were to inquire, I would say that my most impressive phone skill is knowing to press *67 before a prank call (I did learn the hard way. Sorry unnamed math tutor that you never won a trip the destination of your choice by naming all 31 Baskin-Robbins ice cream flavors. My fault). But because it has been so long since I have consistently used a landline, I am seriously lacking in experience. Who would have thought that remembering to press “hold,” or knowing which line you are using is so difficult? There are like six different lines to choose from! And they all blink at random times! Sometimes two lines blink at once! We have the world at our iPhone-attached fingertips, but ask one of us to conference somebody in a meeting? Forget it.
Then of course, there is the actual talking part. The. Worst.
“Good afternoon. This is the uh, um, uh ___Company, How hmmmm. One sec,” is sort of how my first phone call went down. I could talk to a wall if forced, but my vocabulary is reduced to that of a two-year-old when faced with the ancient beast (the phone).
Also. Are you important enough that you have an extension number AND your own voice message? I am. And let me tell you, I sat there for 30 minutes doing and redoing my voice message (not a great way to make friends at the office, by the way). The end result? I sound like a little kid on herfamily’s answering machine. If at any moment Rover were to bark in the background it would not sound out of place.
Yup, make no bones about it- the phone is a common enemy in the work force. So who’s to blame? That’s easy- text messaging. Our generation is totally text dependent, and it’s only going to get worse. You think kids these days have ever talked into, let alone held a landline phone? No, they came out of the womb thumbing away on an iPhone, shootin’ the shit with Siri. Unless we hone our phone skills nowin order to set a good example for the future employees of America, we are all going to come off sounding like a bunch of blubbering idiots. So next time you think about texting your friend, make it a personal phone call. Your boss will thank you.
-the lunch lady
Picture: “Mr. Bean in Overload” by freelance artist in Philadelphia, PA. More adventures of Mr. Bean to come.