Tuesday, May. 29, 2007 at 5:30pm
Q: How can I get a job without having all the computer skills that they are now asking for? I retired from the police department and cannot seem to find a job.
A: Of course, eventually you will find a job. They exist. But it's getting harder and harder. Take the restaurant business, for instance. A person used to be able to make a fair living being a waiter in a restaurant that catered to rich people. You took orders, brought food, fed their egos, got your tips. Now you take an order and immediately have to run to the back of the place to punch in a variety of information on a touch-screen computer. At the dry cleaner, the lady punches a computer to find out where my clothing is (much of the time still failing to locate it). I guess construction workers don't need to be online much, but who knows?
I would strongly suggest that you try to get over your fear of digital implements and get with the program. To me, it feels like not being able to interface with a computer, in this society, is like not being able to read. You can get by without it, maybe. But why should you? If you were a police officer, or worked closely with them, it means you can function well in a large organization, handle some level of stress, perform duties required of you with consistency. Those are valuable assets in any business setting.
Go to one of those "change your life" computer schools and change your life. It will broaden your outlook and make many more opportunities available. You can also discover the world of video gaming, which nobody at this point in history should do without.
Q: We were recently "required" to "volunteer" to work at a professional conference my boss was organizing - no big deal. Then we were "invited" to a thank-you party for our "volunteering," and subsequently (when no one RSVPed yes) our boss told us we were "required" to attend this party! I understand that my work time belongs to my boss to assign as she sees fit, but I am beginning to wonder when I am supposed to do my actual work! Also, I fear that I will now be "required" to attend a thank-you party for attending the thank-you party I was "required" to attend in appreciation for my "volunteering" which I was "required" to do! When will it end, Mr. Bing? When will it end!
A: My, what an obnoxious toad your boss is! The answer is: never. It will never end. Your boss has no life, and uses her office existence to replicate an authentic one. Personally, I would go along with this nonsense for a while longer, particularly the party part. What does that hurt? Have some mercy on the loser. She needs to mandate people to feel festive, for goodness sake.
As for additional volunteering, my policy would be to go into a polite slowdown/incompetence strategy. When the request arrives, fail to understand it for a while. Ask her what piece of "real" work you should put aside while you do this. Be nice. Just be confused.
When you finally have to perform some stupid "volunteer" function, do it very poorly. Not so that you or your boss get in trouble or are humiliated. But just do it in such a way that next time she will ask somebody else. After a while, all you'll have to do is the party. But look. Other people work for somebody who hits them with a chair. Count your blessings.
Q: My boss is a great golfer and wants me to golf with him when he comes to town next week. He works in another city 120 miles from here and fortunately I only see him about twice a year. He found out I love to golf as he always reaches me on the golf course when he decides to check in with me weekly. And when I call him, he can never take my call until he makes the turn or is on the 19th hole. He's a 3 handicapper and I'm much higher. How do I get out of playing with him as I don't want to embarrass myself? I'm counting on you! (I'm off to the golf course now and will check back for my answer tomorrow morning - thanks!)
A: Sorry I didn't get to your question until now. If you're still employed, here's my answer:
Go golfing with the boss, for God's sake! Let me tell you a story. I knew this guy, call him Jim. He was a jogger. The Chairman of our corporation also liked to run. One morning, Jim gets a call. "Hello, Jim?" says the Chairman, "This is Bob." "Yes, Bob," says Jim. "I run in the mornings," says the Chairman. "Want to run with me?
"I don't know," says Jim. "What time do you run?"
"About 6:00 a.m.," says the Chairman.
"No," says Jim. "I run at 5:00."
The Chairman never called again. Jim left the company a year or so later. He didn't get fired, you know. He just never got called again.
Play as well as you can. Lose with dignity. Nobody ever hated a guy for having a bad slice. It's the guys who don't play who lose their balls in the rough.
Q: We have a new employee who had very poor hygiene manners. He picks his teeth and then will proceed to touch the fax machine, he will blow his nose in his very dirty hanky and then touch the communal kitchen appliances, fax and copy machines. Because he is a smoker he constantly coughs up stuff. I have expressed my concern and I finally had to file a formal complaint. Did I do the right thing? Also what are my rights as a non-smoker?
A: First of all, I'd stay away from that fax machine. A bottle of Purel for your office is also not a bad idea.
Of course you have many, many rights as a non-smoker. Who smokes inside an office anymore these days? That's a no brainer. Just get your fellow non-smokers together and make the guy light up outside. Perhaps he's an aggressive, rude and stinky fellow who uses his bad manners to control other people. Unless he's the resident genius or the boss, you don't have to put up with it. And even then, I don't think anybody should be allowed to smoke out his colleagues in this day and age. You can't even smoke in most restaurants or bars anymore, for goodness sake!
Before you registered a formal complaint, however, I'm wondering if anybody talked to him. Maybe he's not a mean-spirited jerk. Maybe he's just a lonely, clueless, immature person who doesn't know what he's doing. Maybe he was raised in a barn, who knows? Can't somebody befriend this poor sad-sack and make a 21st century person out of him? Presumably, he's fairly competent or he would have been fired already, given his habits. He knows how to run a fax. Can't a little kindness make the difference here?
Q: I work for a large firm in one of its key cities, but we are a small office. "James" is an 83-year-old senior member of the firm who has been in the business for 55 years and knows everyone involved in this relatively small atmosphere of business. He now only handles three clients, but one of them is a major client for both revenue and prestige purposes.
I work as an up-and-comer on this client with James, but it has become increasingly obvious to me that his age and declining health is affecting his ability to properly handle this client (the client has also made statements to me directly about this). He constantly has a bone rattling, phlegm-y cough that is disgusting to listen to, and visibly affects anyone around. These coughing fits can last minutes at a time with little downtime between. He increasingly relies on hard copies of papers, rather than updated spreadsheets and documents that are constantly changing, making his information outdated and hard to present credibly. I have been embarrassed at lunches with clients and conference calls because of his disorganized approach to very high-level and high-dollar deals.
How do you deal with a person who is universally revered in the industry, with gobs of historical experience, but is holding on way past their prime. I should also mention that most of the reason he comes in is to avoid his wife at home who is constantly nagging and complaining (witnessed by me firsthand).
A: Oh, come on, friend. You sound like a nice person. This will happen to all of us one day. When he coughs, pat his back. Hold his elbow when he crosses the street. There, even with the grace of God, go we all. He doesn't want to go gentle into that good night. More power to him, you know?