Freebies…

Some offices give away swag. You know, coffee mugs and key chains, lanyards and stress balls. Not us. We give away free flu shots. Which is great and all since it’s saving me a $20 copay and visit to the doctor’s office. I also know that there’s an ulterior motive for employers giving free flu shots. A $20 shot is a hell of a lot cheaper than the lost productive time of an employee who goes down for a week with the flu. Plenty of those private sector types go with the “play hurt” philosophy, but government employees tend to have banked a lot of sick leave and aren’t at all shy about using it. That translates into an employee who could easily be out for a week or more if they get a good case of it.

Regardless of the reasons behind it (unless it’s actually a plot to sap and impurify my precious bodily fluid), it’s actually a perk or working around here that I appreciate. As much as I enjoy time off, I’ll take a pass when it involves spending most of it in bed or in the can. Now we’ll wait for a day or two and hope that the shot itself doesn’t make me sick as a dog.

Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.

The holiday spirit…

Let’s go ahead and get something out of the way right now. Trick-or-treating is really just an excuse to send your children out into the street begging for candy from strangers. It’s pretty much exactly what you teach them not to do the other 364 days of the year. If it’s a guy in a van offering you a Snickers bar, stay away… but feel free to go right up to his house and knock on the door. Nice job on sending mixed messages, mom and dad. That’s fine. They’re your kids, so it doesn’t make much difference to me either way. That’s not really my point, though.

Before you send little Johnny or Suzie to knock on my door tonight, I need you to take note of the “Beware of Dog” sign placed prominently displayed in the window. It’s not that my dogs are particular vicious. In fact they’ve never shown signs of it at all, but if I decide to open up the door when you knock, there’s a fair chance that they’re going to bound out of the house in a bit of frenzy. See, they’re not all that keen on visitors and they’ll have a tendency to jump on you and your little darlings until they’re satisfied that you’re not really that interesting.

Sure, I could lock them in the basement tonight, but you see, the thing is they live here and you don’t. More importantly, I like them more than I like you, random neighbor who’s showing up at my door expecting me to give candy to your children. So in order to save us all a lot of headache, here’s the deal: I’m going to set a large bowl of candy and a “help yourself” sign on the deck. Feel free to take something. When it’s gone, it’s gone. If you decide to knock on the door instead of following instructions, I’m going to let the dogs out to jump on you, bark at you, and hopefully knock you down.

Big round numbers…

Even while I’m writing this, I find it a little hard to believe that somehow I’ve churned out 500 posts as we’ve hopped along from Blogger to WordPress and finally to our permanent home here at http://www.jeffreytharp.com. That total probably bumps up another hundred if you include the “lost posts” made on my original MySpace blog. I still have those saved somewhere and if I ever figure out how to post them as a group, I’ll republish them so the entire canon is here in one place. Still, 500 is a big number and worthy of a momentary pause.

It occurs to me that through the last seven years of changing jobs and changing geography the blog has been almost my only consistent touchstone. I’m sure a good quality head shrinker would say that says more about me than anything I’ve bothered to write down. Maybe that’s a fair point. Still, keeping this blog up and running and making almost no topics off limits has been a massive commitment of time and effort. It’s a labor of love.

Who knows, maybe I’ll give it up tomorrow to and go off looking for something else to keep my mind occupied. It seems more likely though that we’ll be back here 500 posts from now being suitably impressed by the next big round number.

There’s a difference between being friends and being friendly…

I like the people I work with well enough. By that I mean I don’t generally want to fold, spindle, or mutilate them by the end of the day. After some of the colleagues I’ve had in the past, I consider that a win. We spend eight hours a day with each other and for the most part manage to stay remarkably friendly with one another. That’s where the problem seems to start.

I’m perfectly willing to be friendly with everyone in the office, but I’m not particular interested in being their friend. I don’t want to come over to their homes for dinner. I don’t particularly want to hang out with them in any setting that’s something other than the office. They’re nice enough people mostly, but I’ve got my own friends already thanks. Adding them to the mix seems to blur the line a little too much between business and personal lives and I’m not cool with that at all. Maybe I’m the deviant in the group, but I’m just not interested in hanging out with my boss or the guy I spend 40-hours a week sitting next to. I see enough of them already.

I completely understand that the manager’s handbook says we have to do team building activities, but since it’s building the work team, how about we do it on work time, huh? Picking a random Wednesday and buying pizza for everyone would have been way better for my morale than royally jacking up one of the two days a week I actually get away from the office. Since I don’t detect any malicious intent here, I’m writing this one off as a strong concept hobbled by poor execution… but let’s try not to make the same mistake again.

Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

Yeah, I know it’s a day early this week, but after not griping and complaining last week, I was feeling a little edgy. As always, in no particular order, here’s what annoys Jeff this week:

Christmas Carols. There, I said it. I don’t like them. I’ll grudgingly accept them in the week or two before Christmas, but at any time before that, they make me want to punt kittens. Singing them in October? Well, those people are just a special kind of crazy.

Salad. Since January, I’ve been eating salad almost exclusively for lunch, and you know what? I hate salad. There aren’t enough dressings, croutons, cheese, or varieties of chopped meat available to make them appetizing anymore. Sure, real food will probably end up putting me on the fast track to an early death, but that sounds infinitely better than the slow lingering death I’m suffering from boredom and general lack of tastiness.

The five day work week. Who’s the unmitigated jackass that decided 5:2 was a good work to non-work ratio? Don’t take that the wrong way, because I’m still deliriously happy to be bringing home a paycheck and to be doing it in Maryland, but all things considered there are plenty of other things I’d like to spend some time doing.

Proselytizers. I get it, you found Jesus, or Vishnu, or Buddha, or, Zoroaster and you’re really excited about that. Good on you. As a rule, other random people aren’t nearly as interested as you think they are in your discovery. Believe me when I say I have my own notions about what’s what in the hereafter and let’s leave it at that, shall we? That would be fantastic.

Shot in the arm…

I’m starting to remember why I always think twice about getting the flu shot. Last year’s shot was perfect; a little soreness in the arm, but no troubles. The year before that, I was sick as a dog for three days afterwards. Today I’m not quite feeling like I got hit by a freight train, but I’m a damned far cry from feeling good. I think I spent more time in the can this morning than I did at my desk. I’m sure you all wanted to know that, right? Since I’ve gotten home, I’ve only been off the couch long enough to let the dogs out and make the still obligatory trips to the bathroom.

If nothing else, today solidified my love of ebooks. Leave a reader upstairs in the can, have the iPad on the couch, and an app on your phone when you’re forced outside with the dogs and everything is perfectly synced to where you left off on any of the other devices. It’s not exactly magic, but it beats the hell out of settling in somewhere and finding that the book you’re about to finish is somewhere across the house.

Justice…

For the most part, I’m a fan of the rule of law. In a civilized world, the dispassionate delivery of justice is just the normal way of things. Libya, for the time being, is most decidedly not part of the civilized world. Being in the midst of a revolution tends to preclude a country from practicing some of the niceties. That’s why I’m a little confused by the talking heads and news readers who seem to think the Libyan revolutionaries should have paused during a running firefight to swear out an arrest warrant for their recently deposed head of state.

Frankly, I’m more than a little surprised he wasn’t more badly mauled than he was. The guy had been torturing his own people for more than four decades. Does anyone really expect them to sit tight and wait for the gendarmerie to take their former dictator into custody? We’re not talking about your run of the mill serial killer here. After you’ve spent a lifetime blowing airliners out of the sky, harboring terrorists, and committing a laundry list of war crimes, I think this is a fine example of someone to whom the usual rules need not apply.

Personally, I haven’t lost any sleep because he will never see the inside of The Hague. Trying a lunatic like Gaddafi for “crimes” makes the atrocities he committed seem entirely too trivial. Being gunned down in the dirt and then left to rot in an underpowered deep freeze seems like an altogether more fitting end for a sadistic madman. The only shame is that they can’t find a way to revive him and do it again. Sic semper tyrannis.