Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bathrooms and the Workplace

What is it about people that makes them flush (pardon the pun) all common sense and respect for others down the toilet the minute they enter a bathroom at work? I’m serious here – I have a hard time believing these people act this way at home, and if they do….well let’s just say I hope they are single.

Let me be clear here – I am not talking about public restrooms at the mall or at a truck stop. I am talking about the bathrooms at my place of work… a white collar company where people are assumed to hold an above average IQ and where you might mistakenly assume people understood basic decency for their fellow man.

Now obviously I can’t speak for what women do in their bathrooms, but it cannot possibly be as repulsive as what some men do in ours. I kid you not…I have walked into many a stall to find the previous occupant was obviously too busy to flush when he left.

Really? Your day is so action packed you don’t have the three seconds it takes to hit the lever and/or push the button? Even if there are sensors do people not bother to check to be sure they actually work before leaving?

I have also seen times where there is a small pile of wadded up toilet paper sitting next to the toilet. Now granted I’m not about to inspect it to determine what is hiding within the toilet paper itself, but I have to assume it isn’t pretty. The best case scenario plays out as if someone was blowing their nose while on the toilet and couldn’t manage the physics of how to toss the paper into the toilet while seated, but the alternative is even more disgusting.

Is it really possible to “miss” depositing the toilet paper into the toilet? Ok, perhaps I could understand this if someone was three years old….but as far as I know everyone working here is at least 18 so you might think they have had enough practice to understand how the process works.

We also have the guys who are a tad too shy to use a urinal and thus they decide it is best to pee in the stall instead. Now let me state for the record that I have no problem with anyone who isn’t comfortable with taking a leak while standing next to another guy… I think there is a little bit of reluctance in us all, so using the stall is an acceptable option, but is it really that difficult to NOT piss all over the seat?

All I’m asking for is to open up the lid before starting. Heck they don’t even have to use their hands if that creeps them out….just use the foot to raise the seat before dropping the pants….it really shouldn’t be that hard. But in the real world this is obviously too much work, so before someone else can use that particular stall they need to wipe the seat down and clear all the “residue” off of it. If there is a lower point in the work day I have yet to find it, but I can promise you any amount of cleanup required is far better than not bothering and realizing your mistake after you sit down. Not a pleasant thought really.

Then we have the guy who thinks it makes sense to do his dishes in the very sink that is less than 18 inches away from a urinal…..a urinal which is currently in use by the way. Ok – I get it that you ate lasagna for lunch and you don’t want to leave your Rubbermaid container laying around all day where it will build up a special kind of funk by 5:00pm, but do you really need to wash the dishes in the bathroom sink? Might the sink in the cafeteria be a better option perhaps?

I wish I could say that is the worst of it, but frankly it isn’t even close. All men know there is a certain “code” that comes into play in the bathroom – and this code includes such rules as which urinal to use when one of them is currently occupied, the banning of small talk while in the middle of your activity, and even the prohibiting of “questionable” noise while certain bodily functions are occurring. Even with such rules in place, I can honestly say I have witnessed each and every one of them broken countless times.

Where is the self-respect from the guy who is making so much noise in his stall that you are actually embarrassed to be in the same bathroom as him for fear someone might see you walk out and mistake you for him? Where is the common sense from the moron who thinks it is ok to call his girlfriend on his cell-phone while standing in front of the urinal? Where is the pride from the guy who walks out of the stall past three or four other men only to exit the bathroom with not even so much as a quick rinse of his hands at the sink?

Then we have the guys who obviously are incapable of tossing their paper towels in the trash or the guys who have yet to figure out how to keep the water in the sink instead of all over the counter. I’m not exaggerating here….in most of the bathrooms in my workplace, you will find the counter is covered in water about 80% of the time – it is even to the point that you need to be careful to not lean up against it or you will end up with wet pants that make you look like you didn’t quite make it to the restroom in time.

At this point I’m pretty sure if you took a poll of the senior executives at major corporations across the nation you might find that one of their favorite perks isn’t the luxury box seats at the local stadium, the free membership to the country club, or the use of the company jet for personal vacations. No, I’m quite sure one of the most beloved perks is the key to the executive washroom…..because at least in theory it will be the cleanest restroom in the place with the lowest amount of ignorance let through the door.

I guess this is just one of those things that really harms my image of my fellow human being. If we are so incapable of the basic traits that separate us from the other animals on the planet we might as well just be chucking our own feces at one another while beating on our chests.
I haven’t quite seen that yet…..but at this point I’m not sure it would even shock me.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ordering Coffee... More Difficult Than Organic Chemistry?

Why in the name of all that is holy do I need to know “starbuckesse” to order a friggin’ coffee? If I want to order a coffee, I’ll order a damn coffee. I shouldn’t have to explain if I want cream, half and half, 1% milk, 2% milk, soy milk, organic milk, heavy whipping cream, or milk from a motherless goat rescued from the North side of a mountain somewhere in Chile. If I want cream then I’ll ask for cream. If you have some white liquid and it isn’t Elmer’s glue… chances are it will suffice.

I shouldn’t need to ask the person behind the counter to define what their sizes are. Don’t call it short, tall, grande or venti, because those names don’t even relate to one another. Short is short, but tall is actually smaller and shorter than grande or venti. Does that even make sense? No – it doesn’t make sense and it was a rhetorical question so if you were answering it in your head you’re not only a moron, but you missing the whole point. Just give me the option of small, medium, or large. If you tell me the large is really grande and venti is technically the equivalent of an extra large, I might pull you by the collar and dump my venti over the back of your skinny little neck.

I don’t need to call it a mocha caramel breve espresso whateverthehell with cinnamon sprinkles and I don’t need the person making it to call themselves an idiotic name like barista when in reality they are just a coffee jockey. If I do happen to actually get the right order, I shouldn’t have the person who handed it to me look as if they will be upset if I refuse to drop a dollar into their tip jar considering my entire order from start to finish took all of a whopping 50 seconds to make.

I tip at sit-down restaurants because the wait staff is actually serving me and devoting more than two minutes to my experience. I don’t tip at Burger King just because the cashier was fast and actually took the time to verify I was in fact getting onion rings instead of fries and therefore I’m not about to tip the person who poured me a coffee just because they made a little heart in the foam that I didn’t actually even ask for in the first place.

Above all else, I don’t need to read or comprehend Italian when the coffee itself comes from Columbia via a company headquartered in Seattle and employing people from Iowa, and I sure as hell don’t need to pay $6.75 for the damn thing only to find it tastes suspiciously like the opened can of Folgers that has been sitting in my cupboard for the last six months.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

24 hour?

Why do people use the phrase "24 hour timeframe"? Have you ever stopped to think about that exact statement and how it doesn't even make sense? A single hour is singular, so I could see saying a "one hour timeframe", but since there is more than one hour in 24 hours, shouldn't it technically be along the lines of a "24 hours timeframe"?

Of course this phenomenon isn't just with 24 hours. If you are explaining that the drive to visit your grandmother takes four hours, you would generally say "we are going to be taking a four hour car ride" instead of "we are going to be taking a four hours car ride". The second version may be technically correct, but the first one just seems to sound better.

Same holds true with other measurements of time as well. If you were going out to eat on a Saturday evening and the hostess told you there would be a wait time before you could be seated, I can promise you she would tell you that there is a "20 minute wait" instead of a "20 minutes wait", unless of course if she said "the wait time will be approximately 20 minutes", as I'm sure she wouldn't say "the wait time will be approximately 20 minute".

I equate this to the type of thing we hear and repeat without ever taking a few seconds to actually think about what we are saying. It is somewhat like when a person refers to the "Geneva Convention" when in reality what they mean to say is "Geneva Conventions". That might not have so much to do with English as it does with History however, so perhaps that isn't even the same issue.

What really boggles the mind however is how it seems to vary depending upon the specific terms used to describe the time. If you are taking about 30 seconds, you might say "there will be a 30 second delay" or "I only have 30 seconds before my alarm goes off" or "One half of a minute is 30 seconds", or even "we need a 30 second time interval between groups". You see - there is zero consistency here. Sometimes it is singular, other times it is plural and yet we automatically assume one is correct and the other incorrect depending upon context and context alone.

Sort of makes me wonder if the CBS news program shown on Sunday nights should be called "60 Minute" instead of "60 Minutes", but I suppose there is some special rule for trademarked names just like "50 Cent" should really be "50 Cents". I suppose discussing the half dollar rapper might have been more entertaining, but since when did rappers care about proper English?
In any case, I wonder if I'll ever be driving by a cafe at a late hour where I'll see a sign flickering in the window which says "Open 24 hour". Honestly it is a distinct possibility, but only because the "s" is burnt out.