Monday, March 1, 2010
When I was about 19, my aunt hooked me up with a job at an insurance company in Mineola. It was a great way for me to earn a few bucks during summer breaks from college and in-between classes. The only problem? She worked there too.
Normally this wouldn't be a problem because I love my aunt. My aunt is awesome. She's the one who played the records for me when I was a kid. She also loved challenging me to games of "Who could be the quietest?" and won time after time. Little did I know this was a failed attempt at shutting me up. I've been this chatty since about age 2.
So back to the job ... The problem with my aunt working there was this - unless you're super-duper mature and laid back, do yourself a favor - don't crash the workplace of a family member or good friend. We've all been there. Their screw up becomes your screw up. Your screw up becomes their screw up. Got that?
There were two major incidents at my very first office job back then and both ironically involved a copy machine.
During one of my many wrestling matches with a big old early 1990s copy machine, someone overheard me using swear words. Much like a modern-day scene right out of the hit holiday flick A Christmas Story, there I was throwing the "F" word around in a heated battle which I clearly lost to the Xerox machine.
Sweating my ass off, knees digging into the floor's cheap office carpeting trying to fix a paper jam, I let out a few obscenities. I remember I had invested about twenty minutes trying not only to fix my assignment, which was due by end of day, but also get that damn machine in working order for the long line of people who were waiting on the now broken machine. I'm sure at one point in your life this has happened to you. Everyone whining, "What did you do?" and "You broke the copier! Everyone, Ally broke the copier!" I snapped and yes, I cursed at my biggest enemy of that summer, Xerox.
Soon after, I was left with the horror of having my aunt sit me down and tell me someone had complained to HR about my lack of professionalism and use of profanity. How awkward. I felt horrible for her having to deal with someone complaining to her about me. She was a very well-liked manager. I wished they had just come to me. It would have spared us both such embarrassment. I also felt angry wondering who the snitch was. It made me hate every single person in the office that day as I questioned each person in my head.
A few months after that incident blew over, I was faced with yet another copier woe. This time I was involved in a humongous copying job - one of those multi-page, two sided, stapled nightmares. It was a disaster. I had to have the entire project finished within about an hour. While in mid-Xerox, someone asked if they could interrupt and make a few copies. She hinted that it was uber important. I gave her big puppy dog eyes and explained that I was involved in a double-sided mess and if she could just give me a few minutes, I was almost done with this particular portion. She rushed off in a huff.
Guess where she was rushing off to? My aunt's office to complain about the nerve I had not allowing her to cut in. Man, that job kinda sucked, but for a college kid in 1991, $7.40 an hour wasn't bad. It paid way more than the mall, so I stuck it out. Not to mention, they had awesome summer parties and holiday bashes involving really nice Christmas gifts for part-timers such as Swatch watches and gift cards. I had a crush on an older guy there. Sure he had a hot girlfriend, but it gave me something or should I say, someone to look forward to seeing every day.
The sad thing about this job was that it made me develop a deep fear of copy machines.