Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Working 9 til....7:30?

One thing I've learnt since leaving school and beginning full-time work is that the term '9 to 5 job' is never strictly accurate.  Certainly not in my line of work, anyway.  It would probably be more reasonable to say something like 9 to any time between 5:30 and 6.  Or 9 to (leave space blank).  Or in my case, 9 to...I'm not sure what time you left, but by the time you got home you'd already missed Home and Away and the first 15 minutes of My Kitchen Rules.

Yesterday was Monday.
On Mondays, I'm rostered to start work at 10am, and finish at 6pm.  And - to be fair - this usually works out pretty well.  Mondays are never insanely busy at my work, so I'm usually able to complete all my tasks with time to spare, finish at 6, go to the gym, and be home in time to see some middle-aged Army mates screw up a creme brulee.  Clearly, I'm living a pretty full life at the moment.  But yesterday was no regular Monday, and (as much as I hate to admit it) unfortunately I only have myself to blame.
Well no, that's not true...I also blame MJ.  Let me tell the story:

My boss is very organised, so at my work we have a system that involves a list of specific jobs being completed in the last week of each month.  Every employee has their own list of different jobs.  Stuff like:
  • Check there is enough coffee for the next four weeks
  • Buy new magazines for the clients to read
  • Clean the display shelves
  • Talk Jacki out of killing herself and everyone else in the building
Being a lowly receptionist, most of my tasks just involve basic admin stuff and cleaning.  And - not to toot my own horn - I always do a pretty good job.  I'm not a neat freak by anyone's standards, but there is a certain feeling of satisfaction that comes with spending half your week cleaning a hair salon. I know not everyone is lucky enough to work in a hair salon, but try vacuuming your apartment after shaving the fur off three fully-grown sheep dogs in the living room and you'll know what I'm talking about.
There's only one area even I've never dared to try cleaning though, and that's the shelves under the reception desk.  Mostly because it's a terrifying mess of power points, computer towers, electrical wires and USB cords, but also because no one has EVER cleaned the shelves under the reception desk - and I'm not one to break tradition.  I think most people would agree with my reasoning.  Most people...except MJ.
Being second in charge, one of MJ's monthly jobs is to inspect every aspect of the salon and complete a survey detailing how it might appear to the client.
Basin area - is it clean, satisfactory, or dirty?
Display shelves - are they appealing or understocked?
Chairs - are they presentable?
Magazines - are they current?
Jacki - is she still functioning normally, or has she passed the threshold into complete insanity?
Everything was going FINE, until (at 6pm on the dot) MJ sidled up to calmly inform me that if I didn't clean all the dust and hair out from under the reception desk, we'd probably both be fired.  This didn't really worry me too much at first.  Being that I'd completed the rest of my jobs at such an efficient pace, I'd had almost 2 spare hours at the end of the day to do as I pleased.  Obviously I used it the way I always use my free time at work - to come up with long-winded speeches about why I shouldn't be fired.  So I'm set.
But if MJ got fired, I'd miss him.  I'd have to get to know a brand new Style Director.  And most importantly, I'd have no one to argue about the pros and cons of anal sex with.
I need that guy.
So - FINE - I agreed to clean the damn desk.  I don't want to talk about it too much because like I said, the desk hasn't been cleaned by ANYONE in the past 2 years.  I saw things behind those computer towers that will haunt my dreams for all eternity.  On the plus side though, MJ was kind enough to help me by pulling everything out before I vacuumed and wiped all the dust away.  Was anyone else in the Lane Cove area between 6 and 7pm last night?  If you were and you'd happened to walk past my work, you would have seen two full-grown idiots and a red vacuum cleaner kneeling behind the reception desk in a fit of giggles.  MJ delighted in telling me about the lovely case of plumber's crack he had going on.  Or, as he calls it in an adorable Polish accent - 'tradie's ass'.  I love foreigners.

So by around 6:30, we'd finished cleaning the desk.  Result!  The only remaining problem was the USB cords.  Oh my god, I totally forgot to mention this earlier...because whoever installed all the computers and register and stuff in the first place is a complete dunce, the cords are too short to reach the front of the desk.  It's hard to explain this without a visual, but basically?  When we pulled the computer towers out, we pulled about half the USB cords out too.  Luckily, I had a quick solution:

MJ: Uh oh.  The USB cords came out.
Me: I don't give a fuck.

It wasn't until we put everything back in the desk and were packing up to leave that we realised none of the keyboards or scanners were working.  By this stage it was past 7, and I was almost tempted to leave the whole situation as it was and just pretend I had nothing to do with it.  In hindsight, this probably wouldn't have worked anyway.  Whenever stuff like this happens, I'm always the one people look to first.  Maybe because I'm the receptionist.  Maybe because I'm an idiot.  Either way they're right - it's almost always completely my fault.  But if there's one thing I'm good at (I mean, other than screwing stuff up), it's un-screwing the things that I so skillfully screwed up in the first place.  The computers needed fixing - dammit, I was gonna fix them!

Cut to 25 minutes later, and MJ has fully removed half the reception drawers in an attempt to access the computer towers from another angle.  To any normal person, this probably sounds like the stupidest solution we could possibly have come up with - because it is.  And then we couldn't get the drawers back in.
By this time I was past annoyed or angry and well into the stage of just laughing hysterically every time something else went wrong.  This is what experts call 'a slow descent into madness'.  Or in my case, 'a further descent into madness'.  Originally I'd planned to hit the gym for a good hour after work - now all I could think about was getting home and taking a bath in vodka and lemonade.

Finally - at close to 7:30 - we found that if I lay on my stomach behind the desk, I was able to jam my hand behind the computer and reconnect the USB from there.  Even this was pretty difficult - mainly because the computer itself was blocking my view, so I really had no idea what I was sticking where and could have been electrocuted at any second.  Also because MJ was kneeling 2 feet away making dirty jokes.  But in the end we got it done.  And my god this has turned into a long story. With an important lesson:  I said from the beginning that we shouldn't bother to clean under the desk.  And was I right?  I WAS RIGHT.  So there's your moral:  I may be an idiot, but I'm also right.
Unless we're talking about anything that doesn't involve cleaning the reception desk.  Then I should be ignored at all costs.

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