The Reviews Are In
through the afternoon, my boss races up to my desk and drops a large
manila envelope in front of me.
"This isn't the way I wanted to do
this," she pants. "Next year I promise we'll do it right." And then she
dashes off down the hallway to yell at Confused
English-As-Second-Language Telephone Installation Guy some more.
open the envelope and peek inside. It is my official Dirt Company
been sweating this moment for weeks ... ever since rumors first started
circulating that *Job Review Time* was approaching. (*Job Review Time*
being, in my opinion, only slightly more fun than *Posing For Company
Photo Time* ... *Peeing Into Tiny Sterile Paper Cup Time* ...
*Auditioning For The Company Softball Team Time.*) Right away I tried
to plead New Girl on the Block. How could I be given an 'annual
review,' I whined, if I've only been with the company for six months?
But my protests fell on deaf ears -- or they would have fallen on deaf
ears, had I protested out loud -- and the next thing I knew, I was
dutifully submitting my self-evaluation to corporate headquarters.
was purposely vague. During my first six months with the
company, I wrote, my focus has been to familiarize
myself with personnel and procedures. I figured this would
absolve me of a multitude of sins and New Girl on the Block
Two weeks later, JoAnne submitted her evaluation of my
evaluation. The next step was suposed to be JoAnne and me meeting in her
office for the official interview, where *she* would discuss my
strengths and weaknesses while *I* wept discreetly into a Kleenex.
We were scheduled to do this last Wednesday, as a matter of fact. But
between the Mold Seminars last week and this latest Telephone System
Installation Debacle (our calls are now being routed through Upper
Mongolia, apparently), there hasn't been time for an occasional
Tinky-Winkle break, let alone a formal sit-down meeting for two.
then, apparently, is my review.
crashing around in my chest like an untethered cannonball, I slide the
first page of the memo out of the envelope. But only as far as the
top inch or two. I'll read ONE paragraph. No. Wait. I'll read one
SENTENCE. That should be enough to gauge the overall tone of the
review. If it's good news, I'll go ahead and read the rest of it.
it's bad news, of course, I'll lock myself in the Dirt Company bathroom
and vomit for the rest of the afternoon.
hate stuff like this. In twenty-five years of professional
Administrative Assitude, the annual performance evaluation is the one
little bit of corporate tap-dance I have the most difficulty with.
Knife Factory Supervisor: "You tend to be too sensitive,
Secra (bursting into tears): "I am NOT!"
suppose the thing I hate most about the process is how vulnerable it
makes me feel ... how awkward and unprotected and scrutinized.
All of a sudden I'm twelve-year-old Secra again, weeping over her
Algebra grade while Mr. Bartholick scolds her for "not living up to her
constructive criticism graciously is a life skill I'm still working on, thirty years
is not to say that I'm expecting a negative review. I'm reasonably
certain that JoAnne is happy with my job performance. She can be
maddeningly inscrutable sometimes, when it comes to verbal cues -- she
rarely says stuff like "Thank you" or "Good job" or "Way to change that
fax toner cartridge, Secra!" -- but I believe I've lived up to her
expectations. I'm professional. I'm dependable. I'm neat. I'm
organized. I don't use petty cash to pay my electric bill. I don't
indulge in cyber sex on the lobby computer. I don't keep a half-empty
bottle of champagne in my bottom desk drawer.
manage to make her laugh, every once in a while.
... the only way I'm going to know for sure is to read the damn review.
I take a deep breath, slide the top page of the memo all the way out of
the envelope, and read the very first comment, under the heading
"Quantity and Quality of Work."
is a dream,' it says, in JoAnne's neat, careful
yank the rest of the memo from the envelope. What else did she say
about me? I skim through the technical ratings -- Thoroughness:
4, Job Knowledge: 4, Coffee-Making: 5 -- and zero in on her
written comments. There is a lot of stuff about how quickly I've picked
up Dirt Company protocol, and about my proficiency in certain software
programs, and about how 'professional' I am with clients and
co-workers. 'Every task she is given is completed almost
before you can complete the request,' JoAnne writes. 'She
is the best thing that has happened to this office.'
the end of the evaluation form is a final brief comment. 'Secra
is everything a supervisor could ask for,' it says.
can I tell you? I always cry at job performance evaluations. This one
is no exception.
couple of days later, I'm standing in the Dirt Company kitchen, watering
my National SecraTerri Day flowers. The potted pink flowers are from
Jane the Business Development Manager; the big splashy chrysanthemums
are from the geotech department. I also got a stained-glass picture
frame from one of the environmental managers, a box of Krispy Kreme
Doughnuts (which I gave to the geotech guys) and a fifty-dollar bill
tucked into a 'Thank You' card.
walks into the kitchen as I'm dumping a packet of Floral Fresh into the
know," she says, "I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to do anything for
you for SecraTerri's Day." She was just so overwhelmed, she says, with
the Mold Seminar and the phone system problems and the monthly billing
and the 43,897,621 other things that she's busy being overwhelmed with
at the moment, and by the time she remembered SecraTerri's Day, it had
already come and gone. She seems genuinely distressed.
I say -- laying a hand on her arm and looking into her eyes, with every
*molecule* of sincerity I possess -- "that performance review was the best
present you could have possibly given me." And I tell her that after I
read my review, David had to drive us home with the sun-roof cracked
open, even though it was pouring-down rain.
was that?" she asks, looking puzzled.
that was the only way we could fit my big head into the car," I reply.