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Wednesday 24 Jul 2024

An Office Job
Jennifer Flaten

I’ve worked in offices long enough to know that along with your job duties you often inherit the mantle of “knowledge.” It doesn’t matter if you hired on yesterday, people will still come to you with questions. Questions you will not be able answer because well you just started yesterday.

An office is never the obvious place.

You aren’t quite sure where the bathrooms are let alone the location of the Johnson file, aside from the obvious answer, “Filed under ‘J,’” but really in an office it is never in the obvious place. Of course, you will have to get up and look for the file because the person asking the question didn’t look for it. Do you know the first rule of the office? It‘s never look for anything.

No, it is much easier to ask the office oracle, in this case me; the location of whatever it is that you need. Wait, does that sound cynical? Yes, I’m glad you agree, because it is cynical.

The office position I occupy is something between gofer and mind reader. It really isn’t that much different from home. The only difference is when my kid is bellowing at me that she can’t find her phone I can say, “Not my problem.” At work, it is my problem.

At least at work, when I do offer an answer to a question I don’t get an eye roll and a sarcastic, “Thanks mom.” Generally, at work if I say have you tried X to solve a problem the asker toddles off to try it. Well, maybe, or wait a while and come to ask again?

Before computers you could say, "That was before my time."

I can’t figure out if the advent of computers makes this better or worse. See, before computers were more than glorified word processors if someone asked a question about and old file or bill you could shrug and say it was before your time.

Nine times out of ten, this would satisfy the question asker. Now, if asked about an old file they expect you to find it on the computer. Well, computers can do amazing things, but they aren’t time machines.

For example, if you don’t (i) the year you bought the widget maker deluxe or (ii) the company from which you bought the computer, I cannot, I repeat cannot, help you. Trust me, no matter what series of keys I hit on the computer it will not magically transport us back to the day you signed the contract.

Since I possess the mantle of “knowledge” it is expected in addition to knowing where things are located I also must know how to operate all the office equipment.

Don’t these people understand the most high tech item I’ve used in the last three years is the one touch microwave? Even then, I burn the popcorn.

Doesn’t matter, I am charge of the multi-function copier. Dang, this thing does everything. I think it could launch a rocket if you knew the right series of buttons to push. Oh, you want one double-sided copy, I can’t do that.

I get access to the supply room.

In exchange for occasionally knowing the answer to a question, I get access to the office supply closet.

Offices, love to have an abundance of supplies. If you want a pencil, you can get a pencil. Oh sure, we have a so-called pencil jar at home. Ostensibly, it is where we store pens and pencils; what it does is hold everything but pencils. Recently, in search of a pen I went to the pencil-jar instead of a pen I found a My Little Pony instead.

At home, I have to sort through fifty-two nubs, stubs and eraser ends to find a pencil at work I simple open the supply cabinet and I can grab a perfect pencil. Really, it is the little things.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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