January 31, 2003
The Four O'Clock Dump

ytd: 83.99

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 coffeepot again.

(Almost.)

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

  • Male.
  • 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 miserable.)

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 mind.

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 watching him.

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.



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all rights reversed reserved!
comments/questions/spelling corrections HERE
~ nil bastardum carborundum ~



" ... demurely making her way through the crowd
("Get the fudk outta my WAY!" she hissed right and left),
she moved inexorably closer and closer to the stage,
undergarments in hand."
[it still makes *me* laugh, too.]