Archive for September, 2007

29
Sep
07

Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler…

Every once in a while while I’m at work, I’ll have a ridiculous thought. A thought that, out of the context of me working in an office, would be absolutely preposterous. Heck, some of these are preposterous despite their context. Either way, each time I think of something, I’ll make a mental note, and now I’ve compiled a few from my first week here for your reading pleasure:

1. “Boy, I really wish I owned more ties.”

Honestly, I own about three that are actually wearable (this excludes those worn on stage at a Men’s Chorale concert or inherited from my dad). I’ve had to be creative so far with mixing and matching, but when you aren’t used to dressing up all the time, and then all of the sudden you have to do it every day, you start to worry somebody’s gonna notice, and you get desperate for neckwear. Another quote that could fit in this category is something along the lines of: “I wonder if I should go with the single- or double-Windsor knot today.”

2. “I wonder how I get more paperclips around here.”

No kidding. Working in an office, there’s a process, and likely about six forms for everything. So if you run out of paperclips, you can send an email to the supply warehouse to have some brought down to your office, for which you’d have to fill out a form, and then you’d probably fill out another to receive the shipment, and who knows, maybe later you’ll fill out something else to say whether or not you thought the service was prompt enough, when all you wanted was one stinking paperclip in the first place. This also applies for binder clips, copy paper, post-it notes, highlighters, and the like.

3. “Filing cabinets are so great… I really should get one at home.”

One of my days at work this week was primarily spent filing, or organizing current files into more organized, more current files. I’ll be the first to say I’m a fairly organized fellow, and if you’ve met me, you know that’s true. People like me tend to think there’s a reason organization has the same first four letters as orgasm, because we often feel the same way about both. So to me, there’s nothing better than pure, unbridled coordination encased in metal pull-out drawers and green hanging folders, ready to be rifled through at any given moment. The office I work for has a seemingly unlimited supply of those hanging folders, as well as the binder subject separators with colorful plastic tabs that you used to get in school. We’ve got a whole drawer full of ’em. When I first opened that drawer, I got so excited I think I peed a little.

4. “This email seriously has nothing to do with me– why was I put on the Cc line?”

This is another symptom of the typical office job– the flooded email box. Honestly, most people I see working around the office all day are doing nothing more than reading and writing emails. And as an APU staff member, I also get the privilege of being included on the “APU Everyone” email list. This means every time there’s a retirement party for some adjunct professor in the science department, or someone lost their keys in the women’s bathroom of the Ronald building, or there’s a prayer request for a random secretary’s college roommate’s son who broke his leg, I get an email about it (all of those are actual examples from the past three days, not exaggerations). As lovely an idea as it is, I get two-to-four emails a day from the staff prayer request line, and dozens more from other miscellaneous APU departments that want to create “campus-wide staff community” while I’m still trying to remember the name of the lady who works in the office next door.

5. “This is just like that one episode of The Office…”

I think this daily. Maybe even hourly. Honestly, working the type of job that I do makes that show a thousand times funnier. Everyone who works in an office, myself included, fits some sort of stereotype that’s made fun of on that show. Unfortunately for me, about 90% of the people who work in my office fit the same stereotype- Angela (the anal, church-going, cat-loving, sweater-wearing party-planner, for those of you who haven’t seen the show). The other 10% is where the real fun kicks in, though. Wednesday I was asked to help move a table into someone’s car with John, one of the other guys in the office. From the office to the parking lot, a span of no more than a minute and a half, I was treated to three of John’s celebrity impressions. Arnold Schwartzenegger, Borat, and Keanu Reeves, back-to-back-to-back. This guy’s a real winner.

If this is a real office job, I guess it’s about half exactly what I expected, and half exactly the opposite of what I expected. I assumed there’d be the minutiae about office supplies, I guessed there’d be the unnecessary emails, I just never figured it’d be as extreme as it was. Honestly, though, it’s that over-the-top quality to all of it that makes it bearable at times, so I guess it’s good that I didn’t expect it to be that extreme, or else I’d probably get bored. And as for John? Well, I certainly didn’t expect John.

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25
Sep
07

We Trust You.

“Oh, you don’t need that. That’s just for students. We trust you.”

That’s what the notoriously bitchy campus safety lady said to me today when I handed her my registration and license to get my brand new staff parking permit (which I didn’t have to pay for or show my ID to get) that allows me to park anywhere the hell I want on campus at any time of day. Oh how the tides have turned from days of living in the mods and rushing out to the Citrus annex with my bedhead at 9:30 on a Saturday morning hoping not to find a ticket on my windshield from forgetting to move my car… again.

It’s true, I am now an official staff member, with the ID card to prove it, after going through a day filled with informational meetings, paperwork, and a seminar from IMT where I learned all about the mystical web-portal known as the Cougars’ Den. The day included a little shpeel about the four cornerstones, the aforementioned two-hour IMT seminar on how to use the Cougars’ Den, and a small walking tour of East Campus on our way to our free lunch in… drumroll please… the caf. Apparently they used to take all the new hires to chapel, too, but they stopped, because that cut too much into the IMT presentation, which might I add, featured slides with pictures of the IMT lady’s two sons, one who is a senior in high school and drum major of his marching band, and the other who is eight, loves Disneyland, and barfed all over the person sitting next to him the last time he was on an airplane. It was strenuous, to say the least. By the afternoon presentation on office injury prevention and proper desk chair height and monitor placement, I was pooped. We all were, actually.

There were a handful of people in the orientation with me, all doing a wonderful job of fulfilling the exact stereotype they should in order to work at APU. There was the talkative, curmudgeonly old man with a raspy voice who used little quips like, “I’ve been doing this job since Moses took the animals on the ark. Did you catch that? HA! Moses didn’t take animals on the ark! But I always say that, you know, just to see if people are payin’ attention.” He described himself as having over thirty years of experience in the “security industry,” and will be patrolling the parking lots soon as APU’s newest campus safety officer. There was also a sweet-looking, church-going lady in her mid forties who was obviously dying her graying hair the same color blonde it had always been to please her husband who already worked at APU, which admittedly was her motivation for applying to the University in the first place. She was a secretary. Another young gal with ethnic-looking jewelry was starting work at the Multi-Ethnic Programs office, and said that she didn’t really care about retirement, because she was “probably going into missions anyway and wouldn’t need it.” We also had the nerdy looking grad student who was getting a part-time job entering graduate application data from 12am to 5am in the morning to supplement his income and give him a tuition break, and we had a bubbly Hispanic alumni coming back after a few years away to take a part-time position in the Chapel Programs office entering ID numbers off of chapel attendance cards.

The whole orientation was supervised and planned by a girl who I discovered graduated from APU only a year before I did, making her the second-youngest person in the room to yours truly. She apparently had worked as a student worker in the HR department while she was at APU, and then forayed that into a lovely career processing applications and presenting new staff orientation every Monday to miscellaneous groups of employees like ours.

The entire day was certainly not useless, though. Sure, there was plenty I already knew simply from being a student, but I did learn a lot about my benefit options, and discovered that as a staff member, I could apply for an account into the all-student database, where I could look up the class schedule, mailing address, financial information, or even grades of any student that goes to or recently graduated from APU. The power is staggering. So if you’re reading this, and you still go to APU, I can know your grades with the click of a mouse. So study hard.

It’s definitely a trip. Walking around campus at lunch time, I already started to look at myself differently. Now people I used to know and share classes with are “students” and the professors and staff members that always seemed so out of place in the caf or Heritage are my peers, and are just taking advantage of their $4 a meal discount. I think it will be an interesting transition, and probably a weird one to get used to, but that’s pretty standard for any transition, I guess. For now, it’s good to know that I’ve got some security, I’ve got some sweet perks, and I’ve got trust.

18
Sep
07

Checkmate.

Azusa Pacific University Teacher Education Program Assessment Technician. That’s my new seven-word title, as of Monday, when I start the job I just got. Booyah. More to come soon, I’m sure.

12
Sep
07

Knight to E5

That’s right. Somebody sent me back their move (read the previous post if you don’t get that). And fancy that, it’s a bite from APU, the Teacher Education Program, which will provide experience in an office setting, in an education field, and more specifically, in working with higher education. Three-quarter time, sweet perks, and a salary that’s not out of this world, but more than enough for my currently meager living expenses. So if all goes accordingly, I will return to once again suckle at the friendly, Evangelical Christian teat that nourished me so thoroughly for the past four years. Thursday, 1:45, it’s goin’ down.

10
Sep
07

Searching For Bobby Fischer

My good (and also jobless) friend Matt and I were talking this morning, and he asked me how the job hunt was going. I told him the truth, that I had applied for a number of things, and was doing my best to follow up on them, but was mostly hitting dead ends, and as a result, I was waiting. He described it as such:

“It’s like playing chess with someone through the mail.”

And I thought, yes. Yes it is like playing chess with someone through the mail. Because I can make my moves as fast and efficiently as I can, and I can prod the other side until kingdom come, but once I submit the application, the ball’s in their court, and I’m stuck waiting.

If I were to count the number of jobs I’ve applied for in the past, say, two weeks, I’d have to use both hands. I don’t think I’m to the point where I’m taking my socks off, but it’s getting up there, and that’s a definite possibility in the next few days. And for each one of those, I like to follow it up a few days later with a call or an email that basically says, “Did you receive my information? Can I have the job? Can I can I can I pleasepleaseplease…?” Typically I word it less like a four year-old on Christmas Eve, but you get the gist. Most of the job openings I’m finding are ones I find online, in which case there’s not really a person I’m talking to as much as there’s a faceless email address that I’m sending my information to, hoping it’s not a scam to put me on the email list for penis enlargement pills or hot Russian babez that want 2 come home w/me 2night. And in those cases, who knows what’s happening. My resume and my follow up email may be floating around in cyberspace unread, and I’ll never know, because I’ll just be sitting around wondering where whoever it is I sent it to is going to move their bishop when they finally get back to me.

If there’s a name attached to it, and good grief, if there’s a phone number, then I consider myself pretty lucky. This has only been the case with two jobs, and both phone numbers have repeatedly led to nothing but a voicemail. That being the case, I leave a polite message that says essentially this:

“Hello sir/madam, this is miscellaneous job applicant #142. I was wondering about the position I applied for with my inadequate resume, specifically, whether it had been filled yet. If you could take some time out of your busy day of doing your own job to call me and the other 141 people that leave you messages about this job, I’d greatly appreciate it. My phone number is…”

It’s tricky business, that’s for sure. So I end up waiting, applying for more things, and hopefully improving my chances of striking gold with something. It’s like playing chess in the mail, but it’s worse than playing a bunch of games and losing them all, it’s starting a bunch of games and never finishing them because whoever it was you were playing with doesn’t have the time to write their move back. And when they do write back, they tell you they’ve decided to play with someone else.

Check. Mate.

05
Sep
07

It Happens To Like, 8% Of All Guys

So, I’m about two weeks behind the rest of America, but I saw “Superbad” today, and it was everything I expected it to be– simultaneously hysterical, foul, and poignant. In the same vein of “The 40-Year Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up,” “Superbad” somehow seems to fit just the right amount of touching emotion and sliver of moral value in between the constant stream of f-words and dick jokes. “Superbad” is probably the most vulgar of the three, and for that reason I wouldn’t say it’s quite as great as the other two, but it’s funny, and it got to me in a way I didn’t expect. Let me explain:

“Superbad” is about growing up. It’s the story of two seemingly immature best friends named Seth and Evan (and their perfectly nerdy tag-a-long friend Fogell with his fake I.D.) who are learning that ending one stage of their lives means that things are going to be staggeringly different, and they’re going to have to start growing up. One scene in particular got to me. There are two police officer characters in the film that serve to mirror the two main characters. They are reckless, irresponsible, crass, and angry– adult males that never said goodbye to the same teenage male immaturity that Seth and Evan exhibit, which makes it completely believable that the officers so easily befriend the 18-year-old Fogell, who they only know by his outrageous alias of McLovin’.

By the end of the film, the two officers have destroyed their patrol car after a night of drunk driving and irresponsibility, and have come to the conclusion that the best way to handle the situation is to light it on fire and tell their supervisors that a cracked-out bum stole it, thus skirting the punishment they deserve for their reckless behavior. The meek, scrawny, and boyish-looking Fogell then asks one of the officers if he can fire his gun at the flaming squad car, and the officer obliges. There’s a shot of the three of them– Fogell passionately unloading the gun’s clip into the car’s windows while the two officers watch, their faces lit by the flames of the car fire. From the perfect look on their faces you can tell the officers are torn between being pleased with the ridiculous display and being mournful about the reality of the situation– it’s as though they’re realizing at that very moment that they can’t be boys forever, that no matter what they do to convince themselves they’re still the brash, fun-loving teenagers they once were, they can’t escape growing up.

It’s a tough scene for an unemployed recent college graduate to watch. Graduation is a great time, and a terrific accomplishment, but it’s also a time to realize that things are going to be different. I’ve already had a number of close friends– people I got to know intimately over the past four years, people I shared memories, hopes, and dreams with for a significant portion of my life– take off for all corners of the globe, not knowing the next time I’ll see them. I’m realizing I can’t hold on to it forever, and that the reality of the situation, as hard as it is to face at times, is that I’m just going to have to grow up. It doesn’t mean I’m leaving it behind, it just means that chapter of my life is coming to a close. It’s a good thing, in fact, because it paves the way for a fresh new chapter. And change is good, right? …right?

03
Sep
07

Not Much, Just Chillin’

The title of this post refers to two things: first, it’s the book I’m currently reading, a required book for Youth Ministry majors at APU, two of which I lived with last year, and one of which loaned me the book. It’s about middle school culture, and much of what you read is really surprising– I’m only two thirds of the way through, and I already recommend it. Anyone who even slightly has the possibility of working with middle school kids– or heck, anyone who’s going to have a kid– should read this book, and understand middle schoolers– and even themselves– more. But I digress.

Not much, just chillin’. This is also the answer to a question I’ve been getting a lot lately. Namely, the question of “What are you doing now that school’s starting and you’re not going back?” And frankly, it’s only a half-true answer to the question. But it’s an easy answer, and it’s the fastest way to make the question go away. In all honesty, I’m doing a lot more than not much. Or at least it feels that way. I’m jobhunting. I never thought I’d feel this way, but more than anything, I want a full time job. But it’s a bit more specific than that. Because I could have one if I just wanted any full time job. I’ve posted my resume on Monster.com, and I already have had a few offers, and offers with decent pay, too.

The problem is that these offers are coming from companies and people that know the position I’m in. They know I’ve been out of college for a few months now, and I’ve still got a resume posted online, and they can sense that I’m getting desperate. And I’m not denying that I am getting desperate. Just not Enterprise Rent-A-Car desperate. But it’s still conflicting– do you take the guaranteed paycheck, the company that’s knocking on your door to have you work for them, no matter how pathetic they are, or do you wait it out, live without a real job for a few more months hoping that the job you’ve always wanted comes along and wants you just as much as you want it? This is a lot harder than deciding which Senior Sem to take.

There’s an anecdote in the book I’m reading (see: title of the post) that is supposed to illustrate the mindset of a typical seventh grader. The story goes that this girl goes to camp, and has a great time, despite the fact her best friend is in another cabin. She gets home, and her mom asks her, “How was camp?”

“Fine,” says the girl.

“How was your cabin?” asks mom.

“Fine,” she says again.

“How was Mia’s cabin?”

“Better.”

The point is that middle schoolers will always think they have it worse off than everyone else, and that they will always see their friends’ lives as better than their own. Honestly, if that’s the case, I feel like I’m in middle school again. At least my other friends who don’t have jobs are married, I think. At least they’ve got someone to go through it with.

“Hey Andy, how’s your life going?”

“Fine.”

“How’s _________’s life going?”

“Better.”

Po’ little ol’ me. Po’ little ol’ me and my three job offers that I don’t want, while the unemployment rate is 4.7%, and all those people would kill to work for Enterprise. I guess life’s not that bad.