Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Monday" Morning Breakfast Bites

Ah, the thrill of another "Monday" morning in the office. There's nothing quite like it. The feel of stagnant air leaking from the broken air handler onto the back of my neck... The pile of papers I left inconspicuously in my chair on Friday in my haste to escape (in hopes that some pixie or another would shred them to bits and I could pretend they had never been in my possession, instead of actually doing the work like I should...) The knowledge that another dreary weekend is behind me... Really, nothing quite beats the feel of a Monday.

Did you buy that?

No, me neither.

But if we repeat it often enough, it will get better.

(Or we'll kill enough time to make it be Tuesday... Or, in this week's case, Wednesday [and therefore the halfway point - YAY!)

So, Monday isn't my favorite. It's usually a busy day, filled with the carnage of paperwork left over from Friday (or accumulated over the weekend by EngineerFriends who just can't abide the thought of time away from the office without anything significant to do...) and the activities needed to get the week in gear. Organize Lunch Programs for our continued education. Arrange meetings and coordinate inter-office programs for the week. Blabbity blabbity blah.

And I'm sure that others feel my same disdain towards this Day of Mon.

As such, I feel the need to implement a concept to break the tedium... Just a little something...


Those little nuggets of EngineerFriend happiness that drift across my desk through the previous week. Such clever bon mots as:

"When it comes to my wife, we *always* lie!"

(Spoken in correlation to the phone call I had just received as to his current whereabouts. Dear EngineerFriend: If she really believed you were en route to the airport, she wouldn't be calling in the first place. This is not my fault.)

"I have fallen from my high-standing moral ranks."(This is falling only slightly short of "Forgive me, Sunny, for I have sinned..." Thankfully, it was a short fall and his ample cushion protected him from harm.)

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Monday, May 30, 2011


Today is not a work day.

Today, I am sitting on my couch wearing clothes that would never pass as work appropriate (indeed, that hardly pass as decent clothes to begin with...), sipping on half-dead seltzer water and watching Call of Duty: Black Ops as it parades across my television screen.

And although I do find second-hand excitement in the "thrill of the kill" (so to speak... I am a watcher- not a player - of games...), today I find myself thinking.

Another death will soon flash across the screen. I can't tell now whether it will be friendly or enemy fire that will report loudly as another man falls. But I know the victim will be fine. Points will be tallied, players will respawn and the game - and the gamers - will go on to kill another day.

But today, we remember the soldiers who didn't get that chance. The report of a gun or the flash of a grenade stands for more than just points outside of the safety of my living room. Today, we remember the soldiers who gave their all, and couldn't respawn.

They stepped forward when they heard the call, and surrendered their lives in the ultimate gift to their country and the people in it.

Because without their sacrifices, who knows where I would be today... certainly not on my couch. It is my own laziness that finds me camped here comfortably in front of the tube with my bubble-less bubble water and yesterday's shorts... But it is the ultimate sacrifice of others that allows me this freedom and this retreat from the Working World of my awfice.

Clever verbage and witticisms aside...

Thank you to everyone who has served, is serving, or will serve the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Thank you for your bravery, your sacrifice and your commitment to your country and your fellow Americans. Thank you to the families and friends who went without, making their own sacrifices as their loved ones were - and are - so far away.

But most of all...

Thank you to those who came home beneath a flag. Thank you to those who were with their families again only to the melody of a mournful trumpet and the final salute of twenty-one guns.

Thank you to those who don't get to respawn.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

E-Mail Etiquette

Below is a message that was sent out to the masses (ALL the masses... as in the whole great-big company of them) today from someone much higher on the food chain than myself, and who is apparently in my same little boat. It was intriguing to me because they include such rules as I so desperately try to impart to my poor, lost EngineerFriends (to no avail). I am in hopes that this may assist my efforts... Or at least reinforce that I am *not* a ninny, and do indeed have some semblance of knowledge regarding What Is Going On. (Also... it should be duly noted that this e-mail was the highlight of my day. That's saying something, both about my current state of mind, my current workload and my current status with my co-workers.)

E-Mail Etiquette - Think Before You Send

Like it or not, our working lives are dominated by e-mail, and we all work in our own personal e-post room! But an e-mail can easily be misinterpreted and is not always the best way to get your message across...

  • If you TYPE IN CAPITAL LETTERS IN AN E-MAIL IT IS GENERALLY DEEMED AS SHOUTING. (I usually feel not only as though they are shouting, but that there are also wild-eyes and spittle. Ew.)
  • If you always type a brief but appropriate subject line, it helps everyone manage their e-mail more easily. (These are engineers, honey. Don't tell them to be brief. That means I'll have an inbox full of "Please Help!" e-mails with no regard as to urgency of the matter... Although 'urgency' is a matter of definition... As I was asked with a great degree of urgency today, "Could you slice my bagel?! I just can't do it!" I guess I take it back.)
  • Always use appropriate language in an e-mail. Bad language is not acceptable in a business letter or memo, so it's not acceptable in an e-mail either. (Neither is slang acceptable. "Thx" just makes me feel like you're extending the effort to be polite to get me to shut up about your manners. "Thx" is no more an expression of gratitude than "Biscuits" is an appropriate term of endearment for your favorite admin.)
Is e-mail the best idea?

Before you send an e-mail, consider other forms of communication which may be more appropriate. Face-to-face is always best as you can see how people react to what you're saying, but if that's not possible, why not make a phone call? (Definitely write the stupid e-mail. Phone calls are SO overrated... And you have to deal with the crazy Engineer-Haters that answer the phones. What a drag.)

Read Receipts

Don't as for a 'read receipt' to your e-mail. All this will tell you is that the recipient has opened your e-mail, not that they have read it. If it really matters that someone reads your message, why not give them a call? (Because if I called them, they couldn't read my message, which - as previously mentioned - is the point here... Don't be silly.)

We need our e-mail system for business use.

Our e-mail system exists to enable our company to compete in the high-speed, electronic business world of today. Don't abuse the system by forwarding jokes and chain e-mails. Those simply clog up the system.  (The same goes for Distribution Lists. Just because I am part of your big project doesn't mean I want to see that e-mail about the kit... Awww. Cute.)

Don't overuse 'Reply to All'

Does your reply really need to be seen by everyone who was sent the original e-mail? 
Using 'Reply to All' can produce many unnecessary e-mails: e.g. if I ask a dozen people for feedback on an issue, and everyone uses 'Reply to All,' a total of 144 e-mails would be generated. Always think carefully before using this option. (Duh. I would never write a witty pun in response to someone's poorly worded request and then accidentally hit 'Reply All.' That would be irresponsible and ignorant.)

E-Mail is not confidential

An e-mail you send can quickly and easily be forwarded to absolutely anyone... without your knowledge. Never send anything you wouldn't pin up on your wall. (For this, I have nothing. It's actually pretty decent advice.)

(All verbage [that isn't mine] is the property of my employer, whose name I refuse to include herein [but will provide as requested under only moderate duress].)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


"You know, you remind me so much of this girl I used to date. God, I hated her."

Touching, MailPerson. Really touching.

But not the point today.

Neither is the point the short exchange this morning, where it was explained to a Dear EngineerFriend that No, it is never acceptable to perform a full-body visual scan of a female employee as she attempts to ask you a question. You will probably get away with the act once, especially if she is feeling cute that day... But to press further is not to perform admirably. Furthermore, "I was looking at your really pale legs!" is not an acceptable response to "You should look at my eyes when we're speaking together."  

No, even that is not the culminating height of today's adventures.

Today's pinnacle of excitement finds me irked by my food allergies. 

There are some really amazing perks - and irks - about food allergies. One, I finally get to one-up my sister who spent her entire childhood in one doctor's office or another for broken appendages (and teeth... oh, the teeth...) and rubbed in all the extra-special attention she got for that... Two, I get to try some really cool foods to find a way around my allergies... And three; sometimes I get really sick. This part is rarely a perk, but sometimes it gets me out of activities in which I don't wish to partake. Usually it's just a pain.

Typically I get sick because I have lost control of what I am ingesting.This can occur for a number of reasons, the most prominent of which are A) I don't see that there is something bad on the ingredients list, because it's cleverly renamed or the food is in a different container (i.e. take-out); B) It's something homemade with an ingredient that I forgot/didn't recognize as harmful, and by the time I figured it out it was too late (i.e. leftovers); or C) I'm starving, I'm out with friends, and we've ended up in an establishment where "No cheese, please" is a recipe for getting your food spit upon. (On the same token, "Is this artificially sweetened?" is a recipe for getting a glass of water for your dinner.) Today, I'm thinking it was Option B that got me down.

This is more unfortunate than usual today for two reasons. Firstly because all of my administrative cohorts are off on some grand adventure or another, and won't be back until next month. To that end, I am the sole individual responsible for the phones and the front desk. This doesn't mean that there aren't others who will pick up some slack in case of dire emergency, but it is an inconvenience to them (and I abhor being an inconvenience). Therefore, when Sour Tummy becomes an issue, I must make a clean break from the desk to go deal with it. This is where the second reason comes in. Although it has been - for the most part - quiet this week, the front desk has been The Place To Be today with phone calls and clients and co-workers (Oh my!) coming and going with alarming regularity. (This, apparently, is the way of Front Desks. Either it is as barren and desolate a place as the Tundra in an Ice Storm, or it is so teeming with life that it makes a tidepool look like it isn't worth its' salt.) Thus, when Sour Tummy flares like a firecracker in a blaze, I must grit my teeth and bite my lip and clench my fists and say, ever so sweetly, "Of course. I would be happy to continue paging each employee on the project team individually as they all tell me to lie to you and say that they're InAMeeting/AwayFromTheirDesk/OnLunch/PlayingInTraffic." And I do. In 45 second bursts, I feel as though my intestines will surely liquefy and dribble gently from my navel throughout this hellish exercise. But then, a blissful quiet settles gently over my desk and I am at last free to slip away to the land of Feeling Better.

I told you that story, to tell you this story.

En Route to the land of Feeling Better, I traversed the vast expanse of the company kitchen, and passed a frequent Dear EngineerFriend offender with his hands in the sink under the running water. This is not an uncommon occurrence - It is often more convenient to use this sink than to walk all the way into the restroom (just down the hall). However, today was a day of excessive sickness. It took me almost fifteen minutes to be over the hill and into Feeling Better. Thus you can more greatly understand my alarm when EngineerFriend *still* had his hands in the sink and *still* had the water running upon my return trip through the kitchen... But, at this time, also had his eyes closed and was murmuring to himself. 

I believe it was the murmuring that threw me off the most.

Because I am paid, in part, to keep an eye on others... I am required to ask him if he was alright.

It was at this point that he showed me his oozing poison ivy blisters.


"I've got the hot water on. Holding my hands under scalding hot water makes it feel better."

I would have left it at that, possibly shown him some Calamine Lotion in the first aid kit and been on my merry way to sanitize anything he touched. He, however, felt it was important to add one further addendum to his explanation (in a hushed whisper, with his eyes drifting shut):

"It feels so good... I'm just tingling all over."

Sigh. Eye roll. Happy Monday!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blog? Why?

You may call me Sunny Smiles, and blogging is a new experience for me. I never thought I would harness any of my writing skills. I've always enjoyed the English language and its many nuances, to the point of being deemed a "wordy" and a "thesaurus" by many of my closer acquaintances. I even employ it at my job, at times, when I need to jar the masses into action with some cleverly crafted phrases. But to really employ my "skills" (she says with self-deprecation) on a semi-regular basis for those who encounter my ramblings of their own volition, without any recompense beyond the smiles I hope to share?


Until now.

I started my dead-end job almost five years ago, when I was still a whippersnapper in my first college degree and just dying to get into the "real world." I was young - not even twenty - when I landed a position with a small, local architecture and engineering company and began working my tail off. I never intended for this to be a long-term employment situation. I finished one college career and began another, and still found myself toiling diligently behind the same desk and within the same maze of cubicles as months drifted by in a haze. A few years, experiences, and misunderstandings later, I have changed positions within the company, and the company has changed beneath me. I have grown and changed myself, becoming a very different person from the girl who began with this company so long ago. All this change can leave a body reeling - is there any constant within which to find solace? Yes. A thousand times yes. Within this change, my comfort is always found within the social ineptitude of the engineering race.

It truly is mind boggling. Engineers, as a whole, are remarkably intelligent individuals with years of schooling behind them and piles of expensive certificates noting their accomplishments. However, they often possess - at best - a rudimentary understanding of how to behave in social situations: even those social scenarios within a corporate setting (i.e. Coffee Break Chatter). Years ago, I noted the frequency with which I was feeling awed and amazed by the social snafus of the indigenous fauna within my office. Months ago, I started channeling this awe and amazement into a series of posts on my local social networking site, much to the delight of friends (and a small number of sympathetic co-workers) who encouraged me to seek higher applications of what I had come to lovingly entitle my "Dear EngineerFriend" moments. Other coworkers unwittingly urged me onward with their persistent cries that I should indeed write something creative and harness the energy that so often directed itself at them when office-wide e-mails needed to be sent.

And thus... Dear EngineerFriend was born.

I do not intend the thoughts within to be the dirty, misshapen broad-brush standard by which all engineers (and, indeed, architects, whose innocence should not be assumed) are measured. In fact, there are those within my company without whom I would not have the literary aspirations I hold today, in awe of their own accomplishments and their faith in what I can do. These co-workers, at times, can be like a family to me. Some of them have adopted me as a pseudo-child: a not entirely unfortunate side effect of my age (although my aversion to the title "Kid" will become readily apparent as time drags on). Some have taken me under their wing as a cohort, a confidant or even a companion as the waves of change washed over our little piece of Employment Heaven. On the other hand, there are some - a small percentage, but still some - who regard me in the time honored fashion which some corporate males have grown to expect from females in their professional presence: As their own personal go-fer.

It is mostly this final variety from which I seek to find some humor herein. In fact, finding humor in their words is the one way to ensure that their patronizing, belittling condescension does not rip my last shreds of dignity from my hands and reduce me to a pitiful, whimpering heap beneath my desk next to the cheesy crackers I dropped there last Halloween.

Also... These people can just be a hoot, and I'd really like to share.

Enjoy :)

Glitter and Hugs,

**Sunny Smiles**