Category Archives: Office Politico

The Rules.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve had the chance to re-watch 2/3 of one of my favorite movie trilogies. The Transporter films are basically mindless entertainment that stars one of my favorite character actors, Jason Statham. (Unfortunately we share the same hairline, but I have the sense to shave my head.)

Statham portrays Frank Martin, who acts as the films main protagonist and the source of endless pithy one-liners directed at both his friends and enemies. As a professional “courier”, Frank Martin takes jobs delivering goods and people to pre-determined locations while driving high-end European sedans, while donning a plain black suit. (Think the Crazy 88 without the Kato masks), and usually saving some wayward strumpet in the process.

In the first film of the trilogy Frank lays down a series of rules for his clients so that they know who is who and what is what when it comes down to doing business. With small hints of a former career in “special operations” the Transporter is highly disciplined when it comes to how he lives his life and does his business. The combination of rules and his rigid discipline has kept him alive and they are as follows.

  1. “The deal is the deal.”
  2. “No names.”
  3. “Never open the package.”
  4. “Never make a promise you can’t keep.”

 

****These are actually a lot more fun if you say them in a horrible cockney accent. ****

Barring a few hiccups, Frank’s rules work for him. You must exclude finding a small Asian woman in a duffle bag and the occasional shoot-out with Ukrainian gangsters, Frank’s life is rather streamlined. Seeing this I’ve come up my own set of rules that I try to adhere to as best possible to help achieve a peaceful life.

  1. Never tell another man’s story. To put it simple enough for you, just keep your mouth shut when it comes to discussing someone else’s personal situations and lives. I’ll argue that if it’s a life and death situation, just shut it. When it comes to another man’s life just let him tell it like he knows it.
  2. Your word is bond. If you need me to expound on this then you’ve come across the wrong web site. Go read Perez Hilton, Fox News, or Media Takeout.
  3. Do your damn job. If you aren’t adequate at your job then shut your mouth. If you are the only one who is always bitching and moaning then this is a good sign that you’re a cancerous growth, energy vampire, or a receptionist. If you were actually good at your job someone would who matters would probably listen to what you have to say from time to time.
  4. Never worry about another man’s money. Thats his scratch that he’s spending. Just don’t worry about it. You can’t spend, save, or blow it for him so find something else to worry about.
  5. If you have to make and effort to give a damn about something, then you probably don’t. If it’s worth it then caring about it is easy.
  6. Just do the right thing. More often than not everything ends well when this happens.
  7.  If you think you’re about to do the wrong thing then you probably are.
  8. Always reward loyalty. If you don’t get this one please see my explanation for Rule # 2.
  9. If you don’t want anyone else to know something then DO NOT write it down or tell anyone. Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.
  10. Know when to stop talking. Always learn to practice the deadly and mysterious are of knowing when to shut the f*** up. There have been times throughout history when a few words too many have caused men, empires, and legacies to crumble.
  11. Stay Calm, don’t panic, and breathe. Panicky people do stupid sh** often. It’s a scientific fact.
  12. Never give them options. Another scientific fact is that too many options make people stupid.

These are some of the rules I came up with on the fly to help keep you or get you out of tight situations when the may arise. Everybody has got to have some kind of code of conduct right? If you don’t then you probably enjoy Perez Hilton, Fox News, and Media Takeout.

What rules keep you on the straight and narrow path when things are looking kind of grim? I promise I won’t judge you.

Vaya con Dios.

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A conversation with a Chinese guy.

No, this isn't General Tso.

 

Last week I had what was by all accounts a sh*tty week. My boss was in town for two days doing what he does. I’ve been supervising a construction project in our office. (Seriously, contractors are the new cable guys.) Leading directly from the pungent odor of paint fumes and dry-wall dust resulting from the still incomplete construction had my sinuses (Should it be sinusi(sp)?), lungs, and stomach acting like I spent a couple hours at Verdun or Ypres. Needless to say by clock-out time on Friday afternoon I was as my high school classmate Ron Williams would say “Through dealin’”. 

I made my way across the river to my place and promptly tried to take a sanity nap but this wasn’t in the cards. My neighbor across the parking lot of my apartment complex decided that it might rock to put up a f**king fence between the hours of 5:30 – 7:30 on a Friday afternoon. I couldn’t sleep but my fatigue remained so I just  vegged-out across my bed until around 8:30 until decided to drag my a** to the shower. 

After the previous balls to the wall excitement  that I just told you about I decided to make a beer run. After I got my Anheuser product of choice I decided to I wanted some Chinese food. I swung by my local Chinese bistro (Yes, such a thing does exist! The dopeness of the idea of its existence is only equaled by the dopeness of the food.) to cop an order of kung pow chicken. While I waited at the bar for my bird the owner/bartender who is the “Chinese guy” in the post’s title, looked at me and said “You need a drink.” 

He was correct in his assumption so I had him pour a rather stiff vodka and tonic, which boarded on bomb-a**. As I drank he sat down at the bar next to me and began eating his dinner, which smelled of cabbage and looked even more unappetizing. As I nursed my bomb-a** vodka and tonic and as he slurped whatever it was he was having we conversed about our jobs. This lead to a discussion about various management styles, dealing with upper management, and how maddening both topics can be. We came to the conclusion the if you are in the middle your screwed. This is mostly due to inconsistencies in upper management and no one in upper management wanting to make a decision. So if you are stuck in the middle you either find a way to move up or move out and work for yourself. No it doesn’t change the fact that being in charge of people can suck, but you can at least control who you are in charge of. 

So I’ve got to move out ‘cause this W.I.C job ain’t gonna cut it. Not only for the sake of my sanity but for the sake of my liver. (Methinks having bomb-a**  vodka and tonics isn’t healthy.) Well there’s that and I don’t want my liver ending up looking like how I would imagine James Bond’s. 

Vaya con Dios.

On Being a Black Man in Office Space

My first victim was a woman—white, well dressed, probably in her early twenties.  I came upon her late one evening on a deserted street in Hyde Park, a relatively affluent neighborhood in an otherwise mean, impoverished section of Chicago.  As I swung onto the avenue behind her, there seemed to be a discreet, uninflammatory distance between us. Not so. She cast back a worried glance. To her, the youngish black man—a broad six feet two inches with a beard and billowing hair, both hands shoved into the pockets of a bulky military jacket—seemed menacingly close. After a few more quick glimpses, she picked up her pace and was soon running in earnest. Within seconds she disappeared into a cross street.

 

The opening from Brent Staples’ article “Black Men and Public Space” that originally appeared in Ms. Magazine in 1986 under the title “Just Walk on Bye” but later was republished in Harper’s with the title “”Black Men and Public Space.”

I first read “Black Men in Public Space” in August of 1997. It was one of my first assignments for English 101 at the College of Charleston. I was 30 lbs lighter, a whole lot more naive, and my hairline and waves were intact. I still cursed like a sailor, listened to a lot more Wu-Tang, and had yet to develop my affinity for Anheuser-Busch products. I was the solitary black male in a class that was filled with white sorority pledges, a ditsy black girl from Greenville, a couple of Joe Charleston types, and an ex Recon Marine who looked like a younger thinner ultra lethal Charlie Steiner that decided to start his next act in life as a college student and an Applebee’s waiter.

For those of you who didn’t bother to click the link to read Staple’s article here’s a summary. Staples talks about which he and millions of black men in America consciously and subconsciously carry themselves in public in America. The article delves into the “perception” of black males by larger elements of society. In summation, and these are my words and not those of Mr. Staples—Sometimes our presence is enough to scare people enough to run for the hills. (Yes, this may be a sweeping generalization, something I try to refrain from, but follow me please.)

The reason why I thought about this article is because of my day at work on yesterday, a conversation I had with my friend O a while back, and another that I had with some co-workers during the 2008 election.

I was talking with O, who finds himself in a rare position—He is a black male, R.N. in a Cardiac Care Unit at one of the large hospitals in the area. As anyone would expect O is the only black man in his position at his hospital. Every time we talk to one another we ask “How’s the job?” so we naturally end up swapping war stories about the office. Some how we got onto the topic of just wanting to flip out at work one good time and get away with it like our non-black counterparts could. O made a comment about him trying to explain our position to several of his co-workers and them “not getting it.” He even further expounded that many of the non-nursing hospital staff who are black have at times whispered things like “Keep your cool.” or “Don’t let it get to you.” to him because they, like many other members of the Legion of the Darker-hued, know that a black man flipping out at work or in public just ain’t kosher.

As our conversation continued I related many of the same feelings about wanting to flip out at the job while maintaining employment and not going to county. This lead too many of the conversations I had with my co-workers about why Barack Obama was always so cool during the 2008 presidential campaigns. I simply told them that he is pissed at all of his idiot detractors in his mind and has probably called them things that Rudy Ray Moore wouldn’t have said. I went on to further explain that his “coolness” is his armor because if he said what were on his mind he would still be the junior senator from Illinois and not the P.O.T.U.S. #fail. I told them that the standards for black male rage and white male rage are much different although white male rage has historically done more damage to the world than its black counterpart.

This leads me too yesterday. Every so often my inner anger reaches a boiling point due to idiocy, my own a**holiness, my co-workers, and many other varying factors but yesterday I had to do my best to remember every lesson about “knowing how to act” that I learned from Steve and Lois. The specifics of my inner rage isn’t important but the fact that I got so angry that I stopped talking, began to twitch, and left my office so that I can calm down. How does one keep going when can’t express an emotion because of who he inherently is?

When do I get to show my a** on the job and keep said job? When do I get to tell my comrades who are absolutely getting on my nerves to shove off? I’m just asking because I found myself on the edge yesterday, but like Brent Staples I utilized my cowbell and warned those around me of the presence of my anger by scowling constantly, and then I just walked away and calmed myself. (If you read Staples article that would’ve made sense to you.)

If Kanye West is waiting on his spaceship, I’m waiting on my on the job blow up. I’m not a monster or a thug, I’m just angry just like you.

Vaya con Dios.

Having fun yet?

This facial expression is the appropriate non-verbal answer to this question.

 

“Having fun yet?”   

No. I am specifically not having fun and you can go to hell for asking me that.   

We’ve all had “that person” ask “this question” at some point in our lives. For the life of me I honestly don’t know how to answer it anymore.   

Sure, at some point this question this question may have been poignant, “Wow, it’s only 9:30 and it seems like we’ve been here for eight hours… Having fun yet?” At times as pithy and rhetorical “Having fun yet!?!?” Now it’s only trite and syrupy (Like Tyler Perry’s body of work.) and annoying (Like people who pinch you for not wearing green on St. Patrick’s day).   

So for the sake of a happy and peaceful work place (If such a thing actually exists.) I find my self pondering who does one actually answer this question verbally without getting the HR and the Sheriff’s department involved. There has to be a response other than a flat-out lie or a four-letter word laden tirade that can properly illustrate how much this question can suck when asked at the wrong time.   

Now granted this sucker punch of a query can make any poopy moment worse (Tent revivals, P. Diddy listening parties, prostate exams, IRS audits, and watching horrible movies like the director’s cut of  “They Only Come on Sundays” come to mind.) but I can guarantee that somewhere in the list of Murphy’s millions of laws there is one devoted to “Having fun yet?” or some form of it being asked when everyone is having the worst time possible (Normandy beach around 6:45a.m. on June 6th, 1944. Crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Any visit to any DMV, ever.)  

So my question is this– When you specifically aren’t having fun and someone says to you “Having fun yet?” how do you react? Depending on how much coffee I’ve had and if I’m hungry or not (That was a long morning in  the Visitor’s Center wasn’t it Moneypenny?) I either smile politely or give them the Josey Wales face. Tell me how it goes down for you kids?  

Vaya con Dios.

Let’s try not to be the grass today pt. II or How your at work reputation can be a m*****f***er

Gloria My Gloria Things ain't been the same. Since you went away.

 

Near the end of May I posted the first part of this blog called “Let’s try not to be the grass today” which delved into office politics and how to pick your lanes when it comes to getting involved in office “incidents” as well as James Howlett’s child care prowess. Well today I’m going to take another look into office politics and how to carry you in and around the work place. Today we look at the importance of your reputation.   

Some of you may know that the dude in the picture is Delonte West. West is a NBA shooting guard, reputed m***********, and illegal gun aficionado. The National Basketball Association is on my long list of things that I have to attempt to give a damn about so I usually don’t. However, during this year’s Eastern Conference semi-finals, rumors that Delonte had been allegedly playing hide the salami with his teammate Lebron James’ mother, Gloria. Whether the West/James affair actually happened may remain a mystery to the masses or one of those things that will be talked about by generations to come. (Think Aaron Hall saying “dumb bitch” in “Piece of My Love” but with basketball players.)   

One fact that remains is that the incident will not be forgotten by the rest of the league and many fans. West crossed a line with Mrs. Stifler Ms.James which may have caused his team the Cleveland Cavaliers to fold like the French Army in the spring of 1940.   

Earlier in the week West was traded along with Sebastian “I should have taken my black-a** to college” Telfair from Cleveland to the Minnesota Timberwolves for something called a Ramon Sessions and a shiny new International Harvester. As soon as the trade occurred rumors that West will be cut before the season by the T-Wolves surfaced.   

Now ask yourself why?   

One train of thought would say that the T-Wolves are trying to cut salary. Others may say it’s because of West’s reputation. Yes, his reputation as a m***********! (Trey Songz, take my advice and never let your mom meet Delonte.)   

Now how does this apply to you?   

Well imagine you are a guy named Pete who worked in the aeronautics industry as an electrician for Bell Helicopters. Pete is good at his job, his reputation is sketchy. (We all know this person, the back biter, sad sack, or malcontent in the office.) Due to the market for whirly birds declining Pete is the first to let go. Pete is fortunate to find an opening a McDonnell Douglas, another aeronautics firm. During the interview process and resume review Pete wows the HR rep. He’s breezing through, but fails to realize that the HR rep at McDonnell Douglas served in the Air Force as an aviation tech with the HR rep at Bell Helicopter. After all of the hands are shook and the “I’ll let you know” something soon speeches are given, the two HR reps will talk. They will talk about Pete and you Pete’s piss poor reputation will come up at some point.   

You see your rep will follow you the way Delonte’s may or may not have followed him. We’ll never know but I do know the same applies to the teachers, mechanics, cops, and office workers out there so be mindful of how you carry yourself at work. It’s just too tough out here to be unemployed.   

Vaya con Dios.

Let’s try not to be the grass today.

Babar's not having any of that today.

 

“When 2 elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers; when 2 elephants make love, the grass also suffers.”       

             Old African proverb*                                                                                                                                        

*Side note* I generally try not to use general terms like “African” but I couldn’t locate the exact source of the proverb. One source claimed it to be from several tribes in Nigeria. Another claims it’s Kikuyu. I’m not sure so I’ll generalize this time. Somewhere Dr. Muhammad Alpha Bah is making a snide comment about me.      

I first became aware of the above proverb a few years ago. It came from a very unlikely source too. I was reading Wolverine vol 3 #41 and the proverb was featured in the prologue of the issue entitled “The Package”. In the story KIng T’Challa  (The Black Panther)of Wakanda finds himself in a bit of a spot. He is both the ruler and protector of his country, which in the fictional Marvel Universe is one of only two sub-Saharan nations that have never been colonized, but he must aid his neighbors in Zwartheid who are embroiled in a civil war, while maintaining his nations centuries old neutrality. Fortunately for T’Challa he has options. Although he has many powerful American friends such as Tony Starks and Reed Richards, but T’Challa has to avoid an international incident. Foreign nations in the midst of a civil war usually don’t take kindly to Americans interfering in their affairs so T’Challa calls on a member of his new defacto family, the X-Men. Having just married X-Man Storm, he reluctantly deals with complexity that is her relationship with the X-Men, who are both her friends and family.  (Imagine, your new bride’s three best friends are sometimes dead chick who can destroy the known universe, a slutty, homicidal, Canadian alcoholic who is really good with kids, and a blue-furred Catholic Priest with a prehensile tail. Sounds like a super-powered episode of Springer.) Long story short  our hairy, metal-boned, hero receives a phone call from T’Challa asking a favor, he needs to prevent the grass in Zwartheid from suffering. To do this Logan must parachute into the fray and escort the infant daughter of Zwartheid’s President  out of the country so that she will live to become heir to the nation’s throne and restoring peace. Caught in between two armies that want nothing more to remove the other from the gene pool, Logan does his best and saves both himself and the child.      

 I was reminded of the proverb again today when a few of my coworkers got their panties in a bunch again….      

 One attorney had set up shop in one of our conference rooms early this morning and had to be out by 2:00. He did not bother to reserve this room and he did not bother to check with another attorney who was scheduled to use the room at 2:00. Fast forward a few hours and it’s 1:59 and my unlucky a** just happened to be walking through the lobby when the attorney who wanted the room at 2:00 asked if he could use another room. He was told yes and a crisis  between the two attorneys was averted right?      

 Damn right!      

 Unfortunately for me, the attorney who had just been ushered into an alternate room’s sh***y assistant rolls through and starts talking to the receptionist and your friendly neighborhood Agent of M.E. about the room situation.      

 “Blah, blah, blah, esq (no Biz Markie) doesn’t like meeting in those small rooms with his clients. I just want him to know that I scheduled him a big room.”      

 Next our stalwart receptionist chimes in “I don’t know why Blah, blah, blah, esq took that room. He knew it wasn’t scheduled for him.”      

 So at this point I’m wondering why these two are worrying about something that in no way concerns them. Both of these men make triple your salaries and could have you fired on a whim, so why don’t you just let stay out of it and let the two elephants fight it out if it comes to that. Everyday I notice my colleagues inserting themselves into situation where they can only catch fallout. There is no need to be the grass.Try being a tree or something. If your boss and some of the other check writers or decision makers start bumping heads you just stay out of it. Day after day people unnecessarily make themselves play the role of the grass in the most harsh situations and it’s seldom necessary.      

 The moral of the story is don’t go out seeking to get trampled by the elephants in your life. When the office pachyderm start going at it just go grab a coffee or a Newport and shut the f**k up. Trust me it will make your day a lot more peaceful.