Captain Incompetent and the Organizationally Impaired

I have a new job. Not a career move. A job. Working for a disaster area of a company whose name and area of business will remain unnamed for the sake of discretion and me keeping my non-career job.

Today was my first day. I have to admit, I should have seen it coming when, in the interview, the person interviewing me, we'll call her - Fran - took a call for 10 minutes while I sat in the room able to hear both sides of the conversation perfectly because the cell phone Fran was on had the volume turned up to 'embarrassingly audible'. She then - in the same interview - asked me the same question about 4 times and told me she had me confused with someone else. If you're new or independently wealthy (and thus have never had an interview), it's not a particularly good sign when someone like Fran tells you they have you confused with someone else. I never expeced to hear from them again.

So you can imagine my surprise when, not 24 hours later, they asked me to come in for a second interview. This time I met with a "higher up" - we'll call him Pete. Pete is not a native of the United States. He is, to be unspecific, European. He speaks a Romance language and is very hard to read. My meeting with Pete was quite nearly physically painful. I again left with no expectation that they would want me.

Two days later they made me an offer (which I should have shoved back in their faces, but I digress) which I accepted. I was shocked they hired me. I really needed the job. They wanted me to start right away. And by right away I mean in the middle of the week. I said that I couldn't start until today. Even through it all, I never expected to walk into the office today and NOT HAVE A DESK. But there you have it. I was deskless. And computerless. In today's modern office that basically means I was useless.

Fran was apologetic. I don't know what they would have done if I had started five days earlier. I'd have been really fucked. Anyway, while I was awaiting the guy who was to assemble my desk, Fran gave me some "busy work." Again, if you've never worked in an office, this is the kind of thing that makes you want to jam pencils under your fingernails because the pain would offset the most tedious thing in the world.

My busy work consisted of this: Fran walked me into her disaster area of an office where there was not one single filing cabinet and her "filing system" consisted of piles, and by piles I mean wads, of paper everywhere. She then proceeded to pick up several wads from here and there and hand them to me. In no order at all - not even oriented in the same direction. "Separate these by what you see," she said to me. What I saw was a goddamned coffee-stained, crumpled shambles. But I accepted the mess and took it to the empty office adjacent to hers.

Once I had made tidy piles of the papers, some of which had nothing to identify what they were, she told me to make files. By this time my desk was at least assembled. I went to the supply area. Here I should mention that the supplies are kept in an open area in the shop. Right - also, we have a shop where tools are kept and some carpentry work is done. So the supplies are in boxes and stacks in this area. And they're covered in dust. And not just any dust. Industrial dust. Sawdust. Drywall dust. Disgusting dust. Anyway, I rooted through the troughs and piles until I located hanging folders and regular file folders. I took them back and made files.

Fran emerged from her sty to tell me to put the files in my filing cabinet since these would be the beginnings of the master files. She didn't even look at them. For all I know they're totally incorrectly filed. What she did look at, though, was the size of the folders. Legal. "What is that?" she asked in a tone of voice that was so irritating that I nearly jammed the pen in my hand into her brain through her nose. I didn't know what she was talking about so I said, "What?" "That," she said, pointing to files. I looked at her. I think she may be impaired. Clearly they're files. And it's more than one, so can we please use the plural form of the noun? What are those? "You'll have to change them," she said. Like I knew what the fuck she meant. So I said, "What are you talking about?" "We don't use legal. We use letter." "Well there aren't any letter sized folders in the back." "Yes there are. I used them." And she started towards the supply area. Before she got through the door, though, Mark, the receptionist said, "We're out. They sent the wrong size in the last order." "Well, you're going to have to order some. We can't have legal files." So I got a little annoyed and said, "I'm pretty sure I can do that another time. I think there are more important things I could be learning." "You have to have attention to detail for this job or it won't work out," she said.

ATTENTION TO DETAIL? Like keeping heaps of papers scattered about your office floor is an attention to detail? I didn't reply. What could I say? I was literally struck dumb by the sheer idiocy of it. Fortunately, my computer arrived just then and gave us a new focus. Unfortunately this meant that she would wheel her desk chair out to my desk and literally watch me over my shoulder as she gave me things to do. Here I must put in my two cents as far as the computer/network goes. It could only be slower if we actually typed information onto paper and mailed it where it was going. Even the cursor doesn't keep up with typing speed. WTF? Even my crappy word processor from the '80s could do that. And then she asked me, "Why are you typing so slow?" Finally she got an "important call" and went somewhere to talk. This left me the rest of the day (45 minutes) to finish the new computer-related tasks she had left in new wads on my desk. I can only say that it's a good thing crumpled paper takes up more room than smooth and it was no problem to finish in plenty of time. Which I did. And then I left at exactly 5:00. Maybe I'll go back tomorrow. I'm still not entirely convinced of that, though.