Monday, June 12, 2006

ten things I hate about you

Ah Mondays.

Monday Monday.

I said ah money money money. I said ah money money money said I do. I said ah money money money.

That's what Mondays are all about aren't they? Kick starting the money-making machine. If you have a "regular" job, that is.

If you don't have a regular job, then ... well, screw you. I hate you.

That's not very Zen of me, is it?

Let me rephrase that: I hate my job.

Yes, I know, that's still not very Zen of me. But I think they say that you're supposed to feel your feelings before you can get past them so I'm feeling my mutherfuckin' feelings, OK?

Here are some things I hate about my job:

1. Writing about something I couldn't give a flying fuck about

2. Being stuck in a cube all day

3. Doing a lot of busy work instead of writing (that's what this job has been alot of)

4. Listening to programmers and people in the marketing department mangle the English language. Programmers invent words like uniquify(1), while marketing people make verbs into nouns and vice versus. Lately, many people around the office have been using the verb "ask" as a noun thanks to one marketing jackass who said "I realize that this is a wildly new ask" when "request" would have served the purpose nicely.

5. Having to be in the office when I could easily do the work at home (or in a coffee shop). #1 and #5 are separate issues. It would suck being in a cube all day even if I needed to be there to get my work done. It just sucks harder that logistically I don't need to be there and yet my boss insists.

6. Seeing people get excited about "branding" and "reconfiguring" and "positioning" our product. Hearing about all the ways we're going to repackage the same old shit so that people will pay more money for it. The word value add(2) is a popular one during these discussions.

7. Dealing with tech writers who make a fuss about whether a particular word should be bolded or italicized. These people say "This is essential for information retrieval purposes." I say "Who gives a fuck!?"

8. Sitting in staff meetings for an hour and a half to hear all sorts of whiny crap, long-winded explanations, 3rd person narration of unimportant conversations, and poorly timed requests to "take this offline."(3)

9. Hearing complaints about difficult customers. Hearing complaints about almost all our customers. This is where I cease to sound like a disaffected employee. This one drives me nuts. I believe in customer service. I believe that customer service is everything. That's what we're here for: to serve our customers. That's how we make money. At least, that's what I thought before I started working for the software industry. I could write an extended rant on this topic but I'll save that for another day. Suffice it to say that true customer service and the typical approach to making money described in #6 of my list do not blend together cleanly.

10. Writing documentation that nobody reads. Do you read your software manuals? No. Do you read the online help? No. Most of the time, I spend my days writing stuff that nobody reads.When I tell people that I am a technical writer, they're often utterly baffled by what that might mean.

When I explain "I write manuals & online help for software," they have one of two reactions.
Reaction #1: "Oh you must be very smart." No, not really.
Reaction #2: "Oh so you write that stuff that I never read." Yes, exactly. And then they say "Why is it so confusing? I can never find the information I need. And when I do find something, I can't understand a word of it."

I usually say "I write stuff that you'd understand." But of course most of the software I work on is not readily available to the general public so it doesn't really matter. Studies show that the average software user only looks in a book or online help once. If they can't find what they need within a very short window of time, they give up and turn to other resources. And, most importantly, they never look at the documentation again.

Even within the company, I send out copies to be reviewed and edited by subject matter experts and they come back with one red mark - often a correction to a sentence that ends in a preposition because everybody knows that you can't end a sentence with a preposition(4). Weeks later, I'll learn that a major technical error appears on that very page that should've been caught by the person who chose to show off their superior grammar skills instead.

Oh, I thought of another one ...

11) Spending long hours and great effort on something that doesn't mean a hill o'beans in a world plagued by violence, ignorance, disease, and poverty; doing this in a country where the President has chipped away at the foundations of an open society one brick at a time for years now and nobody seemed to notice, but now that he's losing a war, the American public has finally turned against him.

I guess I already covered that in #1 but it's always good to repeat and elaborate the most important point.

1. uniquify - Pronunciation: 'unique-if-I,' Function: verb, Etymology: object oriented programming languages, Meaning: to make unique.

2. value-add - Pronunciation: you figure it out, Function: noun, Etymology: some marketing asshole, Meaning: a feature in a software program or service to the customer that allows you to charge more money for any client project. You can do a project for a client and that has a certain dollar amount associated with it. Or, you can develop a value-add for that project and charge 10% more. What distinguishes value-add from a regular project is the use of special fonts and high pixel graphics. Source: BBC America's the office website.

3. to take something offline - If you don't know what this means, I'm happy for you. It means "to talk about it later."

4. According to the Chicago Manual of Style - the final say for such things in the world of print - it is perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition.


Anonymous Chadwick said...

First: it's like you are reading my mind and writing it down!

Second (re: #11): Joseph Campbell says (I paraphrase very loosely) that there will always be pain, suffering and strife in the world. While it is good to work toward ending pain, suffering and strife, worrying about it will not affect it in anyway. Therefore, we should follow our bliss, make ourselves happy first, and thus end a small bit of pain and suffering one person at a time.

Third: I am so happy to learn that it is acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition.

Finally: Tell the marketing chode that the word is pronounced "axe" not "ask."

9:00 AM

Blogger ryan said...

This post made me extraordinarily happy that I'm not working right now. I had the 3rd dream so far, since I've been in Mexico, that I was starting a new day of work last night. I was being a waiter in a BBQ joint. Don't ask. I've awakened from all three dreams depressed and sad, only to realize that they were only dreams. And then be very, very happy.

Of course, 2 nights ago I dreamed that I got a huge refund check from my student loans for this trip, and I was very, very happy. Then I woke up and was depressed and sad, because I am very, very poor.

12:17 PM


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