miles to go: 1,950.01
The New Guy is unhappy
because I open his mail.
this company policy or
something?" he pouts, as I bring him his daily stack of invoices, lab
supply catalogs and Mold Mitigation Magazine ... all of it opened,
all of it date-stamped and sorted into neat little piles.
smile sweetly and
reply that yes, as a matter of fact, Dirt Company policy dictates that
I open every piece of incoming mail, regardless of who it is addressed
not how we did it at
Acme Soil," Kevin sighs.
there are a lot of differences between the way we do things here at The
and the way they do things over at Acme Soil. Our timesheet program is
more complicated. Our coffee blend is too "dark." Our office supply
catalog isn't as comprehensive, our parking lot is too difficult to
navigate, and our heating/cooling system exacerbates his allergies.
even get him started
on our accounting procedures.
is a nice guy. I like
him. I'm sure he doesn't mean to sound like a big grumpy inflexible
baby. Making the transition from one workplace to another --
when you've been with your previous employer for any length of
is tough for anybody. It's a lot like I imagine moving to a
country must feel: the water tastes funny, everybody speaks the
language more fluently than you do, and for the first few days you need
a map to find the bathroom.
feel his pain.
course, I got lucky this
time. My transition from The Totem Pole Company to The Dirt Company,
four months ago, was swift, seamless and relatively trauma-free.
(Although let's face it: any place I "transitioned"
to, after three years of Franz -- even if it had been the
Fecal Research Department
of the Diaper Sterilization Plant -- would have felt like a
upgrade.) But it hasn't always been this easy. When I came to The
Company last fall, I brought with me twenty-plus years' experience as
The New Girl in the Office ... and some of those workplace transitions
were more painful than others. If all of this experience has taught me
anything, though, it's to lay low, keep your mouth shut and blend as
much as possible during those first few weeks. (Secra's Rule
complaining about anything at the new job until there are at
least three people newer than *you.*)
hasn't had it quite so
easy. After all, he has already worked for the best company in the
entire history of mankind, forcryingoutloud! (When you've
worked for ACME SOIL, where else is
there to go but down??) His professional identity
seems to be all wrapped up in where he used to be, instead of where
he is now.
think that's a mistake.
reminds me of the time the principal at our elementary school
introduced the new girl to our
fifth grade class. "This is Kathy P.," said Mr. Wood, smiling
-- getting ready to deliver his patented "I'm sure you'll all
give her a warm welcome" New Kid speech -- at which point the
new girl interrupted him in order to announce "But I want everybody to
call me 'Tory.' " Apparently 'Tory' was her nickname at her
old elementary school, and she wanted to continue the tradition here at
her new school.
we tried. We really did. For the first couple of
weeks we obligingly called her "Tory," even though it did not roll
trippingly off the eleven-year-old tongue. After a while, we started to
forget. We called her 'Kathy' more often than we called her 'Tory,'
until eventually nobody ever called her 'Tory' at all anymore, and
eventually she quit reminding us about it.
that same year, our class went on a
field trip to The Seattle Reperatory Theater, along with all of the
other fifth grade classes in the school district. As we stood in the
parking lot, waiting for our bus to pick us up and take us back to
school after the play, a group of kids from Kathy's old school saw her
standing in our line. They got all excited and started waving and
jumping up and down and shouting "Tory! Tory! Tory!" ... as if they'd
just spotted Bridget Hanley standing in line with us.
still remember the look on
her face. See? it said. I used to be Tory.
what I think of whenever
I hear Kevin talking about Acme Soil again.
don't mean to suggest that we
completely relinquish previous identity in favor of current identity.
Not only don't I think it's smart or necessary or practical ... I don't
believe it's possible. (Take it from Miss Fire
Prevention 1970.) Still, I'm one of those people who firmly
believes in the old adage that says When you are through changing,
you are through.
I think this is especially true in the
workplace. It doesn't mean I'm happy about it all the time. To this
day, I still miss all the Alone Time I had at The Telephone Company. I
miss working on Saturday mornings at The Doomed Newspaper,
and then having all day Monday off. I miss the deep employee
at The Knife Factory. I
even -- god help me -- miss some things about
The Totem Pole Company. (My office. My office DOOR. Not
having to keep my
office door LOCKED at all times.) But hey: what
are you going to do? Change is going to happen ... with or without you.
I would prefer to
pretend it was *my* idea.
the meantime, I believe that
eventually Kevin is going to settle down and settle in and shut up
already about Acme Soil. Just today I brought him his mail again --
opened, date-stamped and sorted, as usual -- and this time he didn't
sigh or roll his eyes or look exasperated.
he did was say "Thank you."
fact, I have no doubt that
Kevin is going to like it just fine here, once he gives the place a
starts feeling comfortable with our procedures and our policies (and
our Peet's Dark Mocha Blend). Who knows? Maybe someday, somewhere down
the long, winding career highway of Kevin's life, some other hapless
SecraTerri will bring him his mail -- unopened, unsorted,
and will hear him sigh "That's not how they used to do
things at The