The Stapler Test
New Guy wants to
know where we keep the mechanical pencils.
they in the supply
closet?" he asks me politely. "Or should I ask you to special-order
some for me?"
am just about to tell him no, we don't need to
special-order anything -- as a matter of fact, I've got a stash of
mechanical pencils hidden in my bottom desk drawer, right next to the
gel pens and the good scissors and the bag of Hershey's
Miniatures -- when
he suddenly spots the bright red stapler sitting next to my phone.
he says. "A red
Swingline stapler!" And he looks at me, grinning from ear to ear. I
get it, his smile says.
smile back at him. I know you do.
like The New Guy. He
has one of those weird unpronounceable first names that took me forever
to learn: for the first couple of weeks he worked here, I actually
wrote it out phonetically on a Post-It note and stuck it to the front
of my computer monitor, just in case I was required to say his name out
loud. He also has a funny habit of signing
out using military time: I'll check the In/Out board to see where he is
and it will say something like "Out
0800, back 1530 hours." Aside
from these minor idiosyncracies, though, I think The New Guy shows a
lot of potential. He's pleasant. He's courteous. He rinses out his own
coffee cup, he spells my name correctly, he looks me directly in the
eye when he's speaking to me, and as far as I know he has never
deliberately walked away from a paper jam.
he just passed my
not so sure about
The Other New Guy. The Other New Guy has sort of a slouchy, surly air
about him that makes me uncomfortable. It's almost as though he REALLY
doesn't want to be here, but as long as he IS here he's going to
make sure you're aware of how MUCH he doesn't want to be here. In
addition, I can count the number of actual
conversations the two of us have had on the thumb of one hand. I showed
him the In/Out board, his very first day here, explaining the
importance of checking in and out whenever he's leaving the office ...
especially when Armand calls from the corporate office in Los Angeles
and wants a head count. The Other New Guy nodded and said "OK" and gave
every appearance of comprehending what I was telling him. But since
then, he has never actually stopped and used
the In/Out board, not even once. It's as though he can't be bothered.
The Other New Guy
looks at my red Swingline and sees anything besides a piece of
standard-issue office equipment, he isn't letting on.
told us, when he
was in town for last month's staff meeting, that he expects to triple
the number of employees here in the Oakland office within the next
twelve months. This says good things about the future of the Dirt
Company, of course. It says that our CEO is feeling optimistic about
the industry, and about our chances of landing exciting new jobs, and
about our ability to not fudk up these exciting new jobs once we get
it also says that we
need to move to a bigger office space ... immediately, if not sooner.
is hardly a new
development. The on-again/off-again office
has been an issue ever since I started working at The Dirt Company,
nearly two years ago. My reasons for wanting to move are very personal
and very well-documented. I hate the commute. I hate the building.
I hate the neighborhood, and the idea of never feeling safe walking
around outside at lunchtime. The problem is now reaching critical mass,
however, as the sudden influx of new people puts a serious strain on
our already-dwindling office resources. In a lot of ways, it's like
living in a 400 square foot apartment: too many *People Molecules* and
not enough *Space Molecules.* Right now, for instance, The New Guy and
The Other New Guy are squished together into a tiny makeshift office,
across the hall and down a couple of doors from our regular offices.
(This is the same tiny makeshift office where I've been taking my
lunch/writing *FootNotes* for the past year. Now I'm back to borrowing
any empty office or cubicle or broom closet that might be available for
an hour in the middle of the afternoon ... which sucks, since basically
that hour has been all the writing time I get each day.) While I'm sure
that The New Guy and The Other New Guy probably don't mind the
seclusion -- it's a lot easier to fit in a few extra coffee breaks and
bathroom runs, when nobody can actually see
you doing it -- it makes it harder for the rest of us to
their whereabouts communicate
effectively with them. The problem is only going to get worse, as more
people come on board in the next few weeks/months, and we run out of
places to put them.
has it that
we're getting close to a move. I've even heard an actual address, being
bandied about, and I've intercepted a promising fax or two from the
real estate agent. But until there is some official announcement made
-- until JoAnne actually hands me a cardboard box and says "Start
packing" -- I'm not ordering those new business cards just yet.
the meantime, The
Other-Other New Guy and The New-New Girl are due to start at The Dirt
Company within the next couple of weeks. I've met them both, briefly,
and they seem like very nice people. (Although The New-New Girl is
dangerously blonde and perky, and The Other-Other New Guy has a
MOUSTACHE. I'm going to have to work extra hard at getting past these
unfortunate handicaps.) Still, I'm sure that we'll get along just fine
... as long as they rinse out their own coffee cups, that is, as
long as they spell my name correctly and look me in the eyes when
they're speaking to me, as long as they never deliberately walk
away from a paper jam ... and as long as they don't mind sharing a
cubicle together in the broom closet.
-- of course -- as
long as they pass The Stapler Test.
to throw a rock?