Friday, June 4, 2010

My first fire drill at work

After almost 10 months of working at the same building, we finally had a fire drill this morning. Of course they chose the beginning of June which in Texas means virtually always triple-digit heat. Anyway, here are three observations I made during the event:

1. My goodness, people are out of shape. The amount of bitching and moaning I heard about walking down [God forbid] a few flights of stairs was absolutely mind-boggling. When the drill was over, I can’t tell you how congested the elevators were to get back up to the 5th and 6th floors. And I’m annoyed to report that 60% (maybe 64%) of the congestion came from folks riding the elevator from the Floor 1, to Floor 2. Come on.

2. There’s a general sense of ‘expected dismissal’ when a fire drill occurs. Here’s what I mean. In elementary, middle and high school there was this notion – this artificial expectation – that everyone was supposed to be allowed to go home once the building had been evacuated. “OK, they’ve forced us out of the building, now we shouldn’t have to have class anymore. They’ve pretended that we’re all about to burn to death – that’s subject for mental duress and deserves a free ticket out of here!” A decade later, for some of us scores, not much has changed. I heard at least a half-dozen comments of ‘OK, time go home!’ or ‘This means we’re done for the day, right?’.

3. Walk, don’t run, to the nearest exit. Yea, OK. Nice simulation, guys. The place has become a scorching inferno, people are screaming and flames are raging, meanwhile we’re casually grabbing our lap tops, coffee and bags before leisurely strolling to an exit. Are you kidding me? In a legitimate crisis, I’d revert to natural human instincts and Marion Barber my ass out of a crowd. I’d take the closest chair, bash out a window and jump.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Business jargon bleeds over to the real world

A lot has changed since I graduated over a year ago. I’ve been at three different companies, two as an intern, and my first full-time job since leaving school. I could produce quite a list of all the things that have transpired over the year, but I’ll save that for another post. This post has more to do with one observation I’ve made since joining the workforce.

Most, if not all, of my friends who graduated in May of 2009 now have full-time jobs. The positions span a wide variety of industries, sectors and departments, but one common denominator holds true: they’re all entry-level. Being entry-level has many implications, not the least of them being what this post is about: we’ve all acquired and adopted a new language.
The day-to-day business jargon that can get border-line ridiculous is now bleeding over into our every-day lives. Here’s what I mean:

Was: “I’ll send him another e-mail to ask him again.”
Now is: “I’ll shoot him a note to follow-up/circle-back/touch-base/tie-off.”

Was: “What do you mean, dude?”
Now is: “Can you add some color to that?” or “Can you provide some context for clarification?”

Was: “We just don’t see eye-to-eye.”Now is: “We’re not in sync/on the same page/singing the same tune.”

Was: “Peace out.”
Now is: “Kind regards.”

The list goes on.

I’ve noticed that business-related terminology like ‘efficiency’ and ‘productivity’ are now in more of our day-to-day conversations. I catch myself adding “-ize” to the end of words, creating terms that don’t actually exist. Operationalize is not English. All this 3-syllable diction is now permanently embedded in our vocabulary: effective, productive, efficient, proficient, transparent, concurrent, in tangent, blah-blah-blah, blee-blee-blee, bloo-bloo-bloo

Before you know it I’ll be ‘having a 1-on-1’ with a friend at happy hour in order to ‘touch base’ on an ‘action item’ that needs ‘following-up’ in ‘order to ensure alignment.’ AKA: Meeting a buddy for a drink to talk about that thing.