1st Day at Thomson Reuters. High Hopes…Quickly Dashed.
I arrive for my first day to the land of ill-fitting khakis, Microsoft Outlook, fifteen minute breaks and gaudishly decorated cubicles. Cube corpses desperately attempting to exert some resemblance of individuality by displaying vacation pics at Sandals resorts, family pics and faded comic strips cut from the paper. Anything to make their cubicle seem unlike the rest. They all look the same. This is the kind of place where people don’t have careers. They have jobs.
I’m taken to my work station, referred to as the “ice cube trays.” If you look at an ice cube tray, that’s exactly what these rows of cubicles look like. I can’t swivel in my chair without hitting my knees on either side. Just to the right of my chair is the world’s smallest trash can. I’ve never seen one like it. An empty water bottle and banana peel make it appear on the verge of tipping over. It was probably stolen from a doll house.
I was told that the dress code was the infamous “business casual.” Looking around, it’s obvious that an extremely liberal interpretation has been applied to this term. The relaxed dress code has completely destroyed the credibility of the American office work force. It was meant to free people from formal business attire, but workers here have taken it to mean the freedom to look like absolute crap. I see overweight women with oversized v-neck sweaters, tapered leggings and chunky white sneakers. Men are wearing low-cut Timberlands exposing ankle-high athletic socks. Faded button-down shirts hang from boney, slouched shoulders. And way too many cell phones clipped to way too many belt lines.
Outlook notifies me that Trainer Guy has sent me an email. I open it and Trainer Guy wants me to come to his cubicle to commence day one of training. Has it come to this? I once had my own office and secretary and now, for $22.00 an hour, I’m confined for eight hours a day to a place that gives turkeys to its employees instead of Christmas bonuses. “It’s a paycheck. It’s a paycheck. It’s a paycheck,” is now my new mantra.
I arrive at Trainer Guy’s cubicle and he looks like a pudgy Conan O’Brien minus the head of high hair and late night sense of humor…or any sense of humor for that matter. The first ten minutes of training is Trainer Guy telling me how to properly draft emails, or how he likes them drafted anyway. Be sure and include a greeting and closing. And a specific subject line assures that he will open it immediately. “It’s a paycheck. It’s a paycheck.” He prints out a sample email, hands it to me and says to follow that example. As his hands slide the 8 1/2×11 piece of paper toward me, I’m already envisioning crumpling it up and dropping it in my cubicle trash can. It will just barely fit.
Trainer Guy then starts to explain how to set the “toggle” on the database forum. It’s not important what this is, just that prior to this, my only knowledge of the word “toggle” was that the Gibson Les Paul has a toggle switch on the upper left portion of the body. It’s what Eddie Van Halen flips back and forth at the end of his solo, just before the pick-scrape on “You Really Got Me.” Trainer Guy has just completely ruined that for me.