"Insanity doesn't run in my family.... It practically gallops!" - Cary Grant in "Arsenic and Old Lace" (1944)
Venting an overflow of dsyfunctionality inspired by the Boy (aka my son) declaring "I really don't care... Blog it."


Work Habits

Work for Yours Truely consist mainly of plugging away on computers in a small office with the three other members of my team.  We're all slightly geeky and, after working closely together for a number of years, have formed our own warped, dysfunctional family atmosphere.  We not only live with each other's habits and fobiles... we proudly point them out to visitors as part of the charm of our daily landscape.

If you read Round 'n Round..., you may have figured out that I work in the automotive industry.  Our office used to be located so that headlights would occasionally shine in the windows from one of the off-line areas.  Quite a dramatic lighting effect since we leave off all but one overhead light.  (Easier on the computer-weary eyes)  Each time the light would shine in, my co-worker would rise from her desk, hands and eyes raised to the heavens, intoning "Ahhhhhhhhh!"  It didn't matter what was going on or who she was meeting with... she would pause to celebrate the glory of the light.  This became such a tradition that unless a new visitor was present, it was given no notice... as though time was suspended for that brief moment, conversations resuming without even an eyebrow being raised. Unfortunately, expansion lead to the relocation of our office and the demise of this beloved tradition.  Now it's become a popular myth passed along from cubicle to cubicle in the main office... along with other whispered speculation on our little alcove of geekdom.

Our office has always been something of a myth in and of itself.  As mentioned, we leave off the majority (or all) the overhead lighting with ambient light from the windows and the computer monitors providing a dim atmosphere perfect for programming.  So perfect that most of the employees around us think it's an empty room, until they get curious and try the door.  Ours is a secured, badge-access area so it is not unusual for us to startle visitors and the occasional curious sort rattling our door handle... peering through the one-way glass trying to determine if anyone is home.  The one-way glass has provided an endless source of fun for us watching unsuspecting passers-by stopping to comb their hair or pick their teeth. 

We love our office oddities too... like our Flying Pig.  Perfect for those occasions when the I/S department is giving it their "best effort" or as a subtle answer to a visitor's uninformed inquery or a co-workers frustrated rhetorical rant.  We also proudly display our team's name over the office door decorated in that well-known Matrix code style.  Of course, being uber-geeks, we used some SQL code of our own to create the effect.  Makes it more personal, you know.  Of course there's a Dilbert desk calendar in the room, select pages of which festoon our desks as personal motivation... complete with the names of fellow workers of whom the characters remind us.

Perhaps the best known of our habits is the daily game of Speed Scrabble.  For the longest time we each played computer games during lunch, sometimes challenging each other's score but essentially playing alone.  Because we realized that we needed to take some time off from continually starring at a monitor, this friendly competition was born.  With few exceptions, nothing is allowed to interupt our need for this daily fix.  One of our team actually seems to do better when she's following a conference call while playing!  There's been serious discussion of handicapping her during those occasional lunch time calls... maybe she should have to juggle one-handed too.  Then we might be able to keep up!  The "speed" component of the game is a rule we agreed upon so we could finish a game during our lunchtime.  Each play must be completed in 90 seconds or the player must pass.  If you want to try this at home, start at three minutes and gradually decrease the time allowed to get used to thinking fast.  As geeks, we had to take it a few steps further by creating our own custom Java app to track the time allowed, complete with a 10 second warning buzzer.  We also developed our own web-based dictionary tool using the SOWPOD's word list derived for Scrabble tournament play.  If it's not in SOWPODs, it's not allowed.  I'm often ribbed for trying to sneak in the occasional phonetically spelled word when I'm too close on time to look it up.  I've tried claiming that that's how it's spelled in my home state of Tennessee, but I don't think they're buying it.

Any quirky habits or curiousities where you work?  Feel free to leave a comment and share.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, there it is. I didn't see it before. I guess I'm getting old.

    When I was a kid, working in the tobacco fields every summer, I said that I was going to have an office job when I grew up. And so I did. I've worked in some good offices and some strange ones but mostly it's been fun. It helps to have a sense of humor.

    I used to work in a crazy office in Atlanta. We were the 3-man art department for a company and we had a small office on the 20th floor of a tower. We were young and cool and wild. We used to talk all day about crazy stuff, sex and drugs and rock 'n roll and more.
    I frequently tried to seduce the other two but they were straight married men. They just laughed it off.
    Anyway, there came a time when we were forced to move downstairs to be with the main office staff and as we packed up our things the women in the office next door came over to tell us how much we would be missed. Apparently we provided them with some great entertainment since they could hear every word we said through the thin walls.
    When we started remembering what sort of things they meant we all three paled and gasped.


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