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All content by Nicole Willson. Copyright 2000. No stealing.


Insomniaville -- All the Stuff that Keeps Me Up At Night

3/19 -- I Suck.

I suck because I didn't update for another eon. Part of the blame goes to my ISP. My home Net connection worked only intermittently last week. I've updated other parts of the site and couldn't even get online to upload them.

But let's be honest. I've been working my ass off on Project Titanic at the office. (More on that in a bit.) Project Titanic involves cutting and pasting page after page of horribly boring articles into HTML templates and sending them live. It's practically all I do at work anymore. And when I get home I can't bear the idea of sitting in front of a computer and looking at HTML tagging for one. more. goddamned. second.

And I suck because I'm about to complain about work meetings again. I haven't even updated very much lately, and now I'm writing on a topic I just ranted about a few entries back.

But we had a department-wide mandatory-attendance Happy Happy Bullshit Meeting this morning, and it sucked even more than I do.

Happy Happy Bullshit Meetings take place every few months. "How can we annoy the hell out of our employees and keep them from getting work done?" the department heads asked themselves last year. "I know! We'll make them attend a meeting which runs all morning long and always features the same boring people giving the same boring speeches. We'll make the people who really stink at public speaking give the longest presentations."

"Brilliant! But I'm not sure that's annoying enough."

"Hmmm. You've got a point there. They could just doze off and catch up on their sleep. I got it! Before the meetings, we'll blast 'Mambo No. 5' and 'Who Let The Dogs Out?' through the speakers real loud to get everyone 'energized.'"

"Dude. That is seriously evil. You're sick. I love it."

I just don't understand big corporation culture. Really, I don't.

So we sit through the Happy Happy Bullshit Meetings and scowl at each other and write rude things in the pads of paper we get. The department heads ramble on and on about how superfantabulously their departments are doing and how mondoincredibly motivated they are for all this fantasticalicious work at this supercalifragilistic company.

Nobody believes a word of it. Nobody cares enough to believe a word of it. It's excruciating.

Bill, who has become part of the soul-sucking power-hungry anti-employee Manager Pig power structure in the last few months, sides with the department heads. "If they DIDN'T have these meetings," he said, "everyone would complain that they didn't know what was going on in your company."

"Oh yeah?" I said. "Then make the attendance voluntary. All the weenie brown-nosed suckups who care about this shit can show up, and those of us who have actual WORK to do can get it done. But wait ... I bet if they made the attendance voluntary, nobody would show up! Ha! That's what you're afraid of, Manager Pig, isn't it?"

"Yeah, well, you suck," he said. "And you're an ingrate."

(Bill hotly contests this rendition of our conversation, even though it's all true, and is threatening to post a rebuttal in his journal. I think cross-journal pissing contests are totally lame and weenie, personally.)

Today reached new levels of suckitude with the aforementioned "Mambo No. 5" incident. Worse yet was the ACHIEVE video we all had to endure. One of the department heads made it for his sales force to motivate them to ACHIEVE. (The word was capitalized like that throughout the video. It's supposed to be an acronym. Don't ask me to remember what it stood for.) He's so proud of the thing that he made us watch it too. We learned some fascinating stuff:

"When people ACHIEVE their goals, they want to ACHIEVE new ones."

"ACHIEVING my goals motivates me! It feels great! I want to set new ones so I can ACHIEVE them!"

"Everyone should be motivated to ACHIEVE their goals."

I'm not kidding. Fifteen minutes of corporately-dressed talking heads spouting those very platitudes as though they were offering some new and intelligent insights. It had to be the stupidest and most inane waste of time and money I've ever seen. Worse than "Waterworld." I almost sprained my eyes from rolling them so much. And then my Inner Beavis and Butthead piped up and it occurred to me that the ACHIEVE video is much more entertaining if you substitute the word "orgasm" for "goal."

"When people ACHIEVE an orgasm, they immediately want to ACHIEVE another one!"

"It feels great when I ACHIEVE an orgasm!"

"What all people who ACHIEVE an orgasm have in common is passion." They really said that about the passion, at which point I let out a muffled snort of laughter. Because nobody has a direct pipeline into my brain to know what I'm thinking (thank God), nobody knew why I thought this was so funny. And it didn't seem like a good idea to be leaning across the table and stage-whispering about achieving orgasms. A woman who just started with our group today was at the table, suffering through her very first Happy Happy Bullshit Meeting. We're holding out hope that she'll be back tomorrow. "Do they always have so much ... music ... at these meetings?" she asked me on the way out.

Maybe I am an ingrate. I probably should have welcomed the opportunity to avoid work on Project Titanic for a few hours. The next time anyone thinks to ask me why I don't like to ask for help when I'm swamped at work, I think I'll use the following for illumination:

"What's that? You say you're stranded at the summit of Mt. Everest and there's a storm coming? That's terrible. We'll send help up right away. You should know a few things about the person we're sending up, though: He's never really climbed a mountain before. And he doesn't have any climbing gear. And he's afraid of heights. And he smokes. Five packs a day.

"Hang in there! He'll be on his way!"

Ask for help on a project where you're posting stories manually for several different sub-projects, all of which are run by editors having a competition to see who can hit the "Send this story to Project Titanic" button the most times. You get someone who doesn't have access to the data queues we use, doesn't have any HTML coding software on his computer, and -- to top it off -- doesn't know HTML.

This wasn't my supervisor's decision. He's a good, genuinely concerned guy. He tried to help. The guy who doesn't know HTML was assigned to the very HTML-intensive Project Titanic by someone in another department, a person who obviously felt really stirred by my e-mails begging for some kind of backup.

Is that an iceberg up there? It looks like it's getting close. Aren't we going to hit it?

"What's that you say? You're on a ship that hit an iceberg and it's sinking? Oh no! We'll send help! You should know, though, that the guy we're sending doesn't know how to swim. And he's afraid of water."

The next entry.

Previously, in Insomniaville...

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March 2001