I was in the middle of some fast and furious data entry for another reporter’s story. I was in my flow, transferring data to its appropriate spreadsheet cell while rocking out to my pretty red mp3 player. “You know, self, I kind of enjoy mindless tasks every now and then,” I said to myself as my fingers CTRL+C and CTRL+V’d like nobody’s business.
Then, oh but then, my managing editor approached me to remind me that at that very moment I was supposed to be having my new-employee orientation with HR. I prefer those types of exercises the way I like eating a sloppy joe: quick and dirty.
Allow me to take this proclaim that unlike some lesser beings I actually respect the HR establishment. Though their mountains of forms are vast and mighty, my tenure in management at my college newspaper showed me your run-of-the-mill HR employee must on a daily basis deal with situations both singular and often disturbing with both finesse and a consummate professionalism.
So, though I by no means enjoyed being removed from my busywork, I was ready to fill out that paperwork legibly and completely, all the while with a smile on my face. And I did so, much faster than the suit from sales also going through the orientation, I might add.
I handed my sheaf off and beamed, ready to be pet on the head for a job well done. But no. It was not to be that easy, I’m afraid. I hadn’tThe first video was an excruciating, half-hour long segment from the public television show Almanac about the history of our fair paper, dating all the way back to the 1860s (before my town even had a city charter! Isn’t that neat??). This video has been so loved the tracking is off, making a wobbly, motion-sickness inducing image and sound similar to an orchestra trying to get in tune.
I learned the show was probably shot around 1995 when a former editor interviewed for it referenced the O.J. Simpson trial as the “biggest news event of our time.” I also learned that the paper unions stopped their monthly meeting short when word of the attack on Pearl Harbor arrived, that paper sellers used to be able to support their families on their salary, that people in the mid-90s suffered from outrageous perms and that people still read the newspaper after all these years (or at least did 15 years ago). I also learned that newspapers are “like the leaves of a tree,” but I don’t remember why.
As if that wasn’t torture enough, then we had to sit through a 10-minute video on how important our hands are. When the video was shot, I’m guessing late-80s here, people were just beginning to learn the negative effects of typing at a computer all day. I learned to put manila folders around my cubicle-sized monitor to block out glare and to put dishrags under my wrists to better support them. I also learned that my co-workers will just ignore me if I do a set of stretches that thrusts my bosom out. Good to know.
I try so, so hard not to hate HR. But you pushed me off the edge, HR Lady, when I came back to finish my task and saw the intern had gotten there first. That’s just not OK in my book.