I ended up working one of the crappiest jobs ever at a mid-sized Manhattan law firm. Imagine a room without windows, lots of boxes, bad air quality, and more than a few unhappy temps shuffling around without desks, wondering where they could sit when they weren't enlisted to do six hour copy jobs. It was also against firm policy to listen to one's iPod, so I was needless to say quite unhappy given that I had only the thoughts in my brain to teleport me to another happier dimension.
The thing about these silly office jobs is that you begin to not question after a while. You get tired, you get bored, you do just about any task you're told to do just so that you can pass the time and get out of there. As your world gets smaller, about the size of a floor of a Manhattan office building, you forget, or don't think about, the reality that there are a lot of other alternatives out there. That there might be a better office, where your boss doesn't toss around words and phrases like "synergy and "best regards" like a stapler that doesn't work anymore. So with that in mind, after having been told not that I couldn't use my iPod while reviewing 10,000 pages of documents online, I wrote the following email. Call it rebellious, immature, angry--it's all of those--but sometimes you just gotta regulate.
Subject: Re: Policies and Procedures
Date: June 20, 2007 9:01:57 AM EDT
I'm not coming back to this assignment and would prefer you to never call me again about an assignment. I dreaded going there every day. I could understand the policy of no headphones if I wasn't subject to ridiculous conversations, homophobic, sexist and racist remarks from other temps and full time paralegals, constant loud moving of boxes and a general level of mediocrity that would make any person with a soul want to stab themselves with a cafeteria spork. In truth, I got more work done with my headphones on than off because I could tune out of the nasty environment, which is why I kept them on.
I also don't take too kindly to receiving bullying emails requiring everyone's presence until 10:30PM because no one thought to come up with a realistic timetable with clear expectations weeks in advance. And, then, to have Dan come in to the office to "emphasize" the email and then admit to us that the email was overly dramatic and meant to "scare" temps in to working faster... . That's just unprofessional.
Also, some parting advice, since I am a "consultant": Someone needs to do a cost/benefit analysis of having an armada of temps scan 300,000 pages for name hits versus actually OCR'ing the documents (an admittedly more expensive and labor-intensive process on the front end) and then being able to perform name hit searches in just a few minutes. What happens when you need to search another name? I guess you'll just have to make 10 temps miserable for a few more weeks because you decided to take a cheap short cut.
Bottom line, I enjoy working hard, and staying late, for true professionals who treat people with respect and take pains to make working conditions livable for those they supervise. I've worked and thrived in such an environment. So, I'm not going to return to do the same brain-erasing tasks hoping that today might be better, while fearfully chasing the next paycheck. That's insanity.
Hats off to XXXXX, though--every interaction I had with her revealed to be a great paralegal manager who would take her time to say hello and chat, respond to concerns, and get her hands dirty to clear out an office for some temps. She's a rarity in the field!
On Jun 19, 2007, at 2:08 PM,
I just wanted to remind you to strictly adhere to the policies and procedures given to you by [xxx law firm]. Specifically cellphones, IPods, headphones or other electronic devices are not allowed while you are working. Thanks!