Burning Houses

cigar-tin story #63

The minute a manager comes into my office and says the words, "Excel spreadsheet," I know I am in trouble. Psychic tears will be shed, clotted blood will not flow. There will be no happy ending. In its place will be some hoo-ha about how he or she (let's just say "she" to give the sisters a win) wants to talk about "work flow," as if work was some magical river that I only occasionally tried to cross, and her efforts were like a bridge, decorated with banners, with an ice-cream stand on the other side.

Bring out the hammers. Bring out the 80K salary, and the online masters degree in project management, and the claw-fisted attempts to *manage*.

Meanwhile, you've been wandering in a sort of workplace wilderness for years. No promotions or courses or professional development for you. Hell, you've even had to bring in your own office supplies. And the work you've been doing has been like this angry, retarded dog, who needs to be handled in just the right way, lest he get around you and eat some little kids or something.

But now we have to teach this dog how to contort itself into something more conducive to an Excel spreadsheet.

Fuck that. There is no conversation that you can have with this manager that will turn on a light over her head. She will never get it. She will always side with the dog against you. After all, she owes you nothing.

The idea that she is there to help you -- not to fuck you up -- is entirely alien.

So what you do?

You nod.

You agree to everything. You talk in generalities. Everything she says is a great idea. You'll have to get on that, you'll have to take a look at that, you'll have to read up on that, when you have a chance.

And then, when she's gone, you blink really hard, and pretend she was never there.


  1. Here are my favourites from management just off the top of my head:

    - "Quick question for ya."
    - "I need you to just work your magic."
    - "You're just the person that could do this for me."
    - "I need a favour."
    - "Can you (insert ridiculous task)?"
    - "Hi!"

  2. Ha! Oh, John, I have heard statements 1 through 3 so many times. It never fails to elicit an internal sigh and the thought, "Really, there are 6 billion people on the planet (at least) and I'm the one you come to?"

  3. Maybe you could jazz up the font some :) Lol

  4. I've only had a few "office" experiences but this story fits what I went through at my old job. Ohhh boy.

    I'm an official fan! Facebook says so. ;)

  5. john w macdonald I am adding to your list...from my days in graphic design...
    -how soon can you get that back to me?
    -I need it yesterday!

  6. hello, this has nothing to do with the current post, i know, i just wanna ask: "some shameless self-promotion...", is that your painting???

    it's... how to say... hmmmmm, masterful!
    really beautiful.
    seriously beautiful...

  7. i just want to reassure that she is not real. nothing that terrible could be real.

  8. Darryl. go to www.paymo.biz/ and set up a free personal account. great for freelance timesheeting, reports and invoicing - but it also lets you generate timelines for projects. Much more intuitive and pretty automatic once you enter your figures.

    saved my ass many times when facing an excel nightmare

  9. Anonymous12:34 pm

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, may all your wishes come true!

  10. Anonymous3:05 pm

    It was very interesting to read about this in your article. blood pressure


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