The Four O'Clock Dump
The Main Nerdy Geotech Guy
approaches my desk, as another long Dirt Company day is grinding to a
close, and drops an armload of reports into my *In* Basket.
"I hate to
do this to you," he says. "But these reports need to go out tonight.
OK?" And then he runs away, down the hallway to his office, before I
have a chance to blink or scream or cry or kill him totally dead.
I look at the clock. It's four
o'clock ... and I'm being dumped on again.
I HATE The
Four O'Clock Dump. It's my least-favorite part of this job, I swear to
god. I hate it more than office parties, annual performance reviews and
Monday morning "How was your weekends?," put
together. It's the last-minute UPS shipment that needs to be in Phoenix
by sunrise ... the forty page contract addendum that can't wait until
tomorrow morning to be faxed ... the super-quadruple-emergency report
that should have gone out ten minutes ago (but doesn't make it into my
*In* Basket until I'm sitting here with my coat on). It's all of the
stoopidity and lunkheadedness and bad planning of the average office
Testosterone Unit, rolled into one thoughtless, irritating gesture ...
and it's almost enough to make a SecraTerri start spitting into the
It's not that I can't handle
an occasional last-minute work assignment. I can. As a matter of fact I
can proofread, print, photocopy and punch a pile of environmental
transaction screens faster than you can say "Regulated
Wastewater Activity." And I do it really, really well,
too: a fact I try not to advertise, for obvious reasons. And it's not
that *I* am so incredibly, perfectly organized that I can't empathize
with the occasional scheduling glitch or eleventh-hour edit. I know
that these things happen.
It's just that lately, "these
things" seem to be happening with alarming frequency.
Every single night this week --
except for Wednesday, when I experienced a spontaneous emotional
meltdown, in the middle of the afternoon, and went home early to eat
cookies and weep for the rest of the day -- I've been approached by a
co-worker with one of these humungous last-minute emergencies. Each
time this has happened, I might add, the co-worker has been
- Ickily apologetic.
- The Main Nerdy Geotech Guy.
(The females in my office, by
the way, would never pull a Four O'Clock Dump on me. But that's just
how women are: we have lots more creative ways of making each other
It wouldn't be so bad if The
MNGG hit me with this stuff first thing in the morning, when I'm rested
and caffeinated and in as good a humor as I'm likely to be in for the
next fourteen or fifteen hours. He wouldn't have to give me the report,
right then and there: some simple advance notice would be fine. If he
approached me at 8 a.m., for instance, and said "Hi Secra, I've
got this big report that has to go out tonight, but it'll have to shlog
its way through five layers of managerial nitpicking and rejection
before I can get it to you. Will 4:00 be OK?" That way, at least, I
would have time to plan ahead, and to restructure my priorities, and to
prioritize my restructuring. (Read this: I could sneak out at 1:00
again and go home and eat cookies.)
Instead, he habitually resorts
to The Four O'Clock Dump ... assuming that Four O'Clock Secra won't
What he doesn't realize is that
Four O'Clock Secra has absolutely no sense of humor. By this point she
has been awake -- on her feet, on the go, on the clock -- for twelve
hours running. She is dealing with blood sugar issues, T-Zone issues,
uncomfortable undergarment issues, what's-for-dinner issues. Plus she
hasn't had ANY caffeine since 10 a.m. All she wants to do is sit
quietly at her desk and pretend to study the office supply catalog for
the next forty-seven minutes, until it's time to pack up her stuff and
switch off the phones and go home. Until then, she doesn't want to talk
to anybody. She doesn't want to stand in front of a copier or a laser
printer or a fax machine. She most especially doesn't want to clean up
anybody's 4 O'Clock Dump.
But it's not like she has a lot
of choice, now ... is it?
Sighing, I put my shoes back on
and haul myself out of my nice comfy chair, lugging the stack of
reports into the production room. I figure that if I stay focused and
avoid distractions, as much as possible, I'll probably have this sucker
done in forty minutes. (Thirty, if I pretend I don't see the typos.) As
I stand at the copier, hand-feeding individual sheets of double-sided
11x17 into the machine, one by one, I suddenly catch a glimpse of The
Main Nerdy Geotech Guy sneaking out the front door.
As he closes the door --
quietly, so no one will hear him -- he turns around and sees me
I smile at him: my cheeriest,
twinkliest, fakiest smile. Have a nice weekend! the
smile says. See you bright and early Monday morning!
The MNGG looks momentarily startled -- he was probably expecting me to
flip him off or point an Uzi at him or something -- but then he
recovers his composure and smiles wanly in return. A moment later he's
gone, in all of his nerdy geotechnical glory, and I am left to finish
his triple-quadruple-urgent reports by myself.
But that's OK. It's Friday.
I'll be done with this report soon, and then I can go home and put on
my Happy Pants and eat cookies for the rest of the weekend. (Or maybe
I'll ride my bike and work off the 43,897,621 cookies I've already
eaten this week.) And come Monday morning, while The Main Nerdy Geotech
Guy is sitting in his office, eating his Sausage McMuffin and reading
his newspaper, Eight O'Clock Secra will be across the hall in the Dirt
Company kitchen ...
... quietly making his coffee.next