Writer’s Resources for August 14th through September 19th

These are writers’ resource links I’ve found helpful and/or interesting for August 14th through September 19th:

Writer's Resources for June 9th through June 29th

These are writers’ resource links I’ve found helpful and/or interesting for June 9th through July 18th:

Writer’s Resources for June 9th through June 29th

These are writers’ resource links I’ve found helpful and/or interesting for June 9th through July 18th:

Book Review: Punching In by Alex Frankel

The author of this book has previously written for Wired and The New York Times. When I received this book as an advance copy, I was thrilled at the chance to read it. I spent nearly a decade in the customer service trenches, as a manager of a fast food restaurant. And although Frankel steered clear of such low-wage jobs as those, I was still excited to see a learned interpretation of the life that many Americans lead.

Punching In CoverFor the past six years, I’ve been a member of corporate America and I have been offered a glass of the ‘company Kool-Aid’ many times in my career. I don’t see myself as a gullible person. I am a cynic, and therefore I was intrigued by the thought that someone had actually researched how companies reach out and turn their employees into dedicated converts.

I must admit that the glimpse into the different worlds was interesting, and I could tell from Frankel’s writing that he had overall enjoyed his foray into the behind-the-counter aspect of commerce. However, there was an overlay upon some points in the retelling of the author’s experiences that smelled patronizing to me.

In this book, Frankel has bared the backbone of our country: the customer service employees who are nearly overlooked in their unobtrusiveness every single day of the year. These are the people that get the small but important things done. They deserve more reverence than to be reduced to some high school science experiment. I’m willing to believe I’m being overly sensitive on that point, however, so I’ll let it go.

Overall, the narrative was mildly interesting and the language was elegant. However, I expected more insights into the different companies than were offered in these pages. Each company philosophy was presented only briefly and then the author went on to complain of how long and hard the hours were. All I could think was, well what did he expect? It just felt like there should be more to the story than that.

Final conclusion: An enjoyable read; and I’m suitably thankful that I was chosen to review this book. If you’re in HR or corporate management, I would recommend it.

[xrr rating=1.5/5]

Sacred Space: 10 Rules For The Office Restroom

Heading to the restroom at work is a necessary evil; it’s one most people can’t avoid. However, there are ways to keep this evil from becoming a blight upon your day. Here are my personal tips for making ‘rest breaks’ a better place.Restroom Etiquette

  1. Do not make personal calls from the stall. People in the room to take care of business do not want to hear yours. The person on the other line does not want to hear flushing. This rule includes talking to your friend as well as calling the credit card company, the telecommunications company, or the video store. (Yes, I have heard all of these topics discussed in the next stall over.) The worst thing is being the person in the next stall needing to flush but not wanting to be rude. My rule on this? If you’re on your cell phone in the restroom, you’ve already proven you’re rude. Flush away, people.
  2. Do not do your business standing up (ladies’ room only). The person who comes in after you does not want to sit in your DNA. No, you aren’t talented enough to do this and not make a mess. Don’t even try it. And for Pete’s sake, make it into the toilet– not all over the floor! If your cheeks are too holy to touch the seat, that’s what the thousands of paper covers are for. Use them. This is an office building, not a rock concert and there should be no alcohol involved.
  3. Wash Your Hands. (This is for men, too!) Yes, I capitalized that one on purpose. This is just gross. Don’t want to be the only person in the office next week? Then prevent the spread of the next Black Plague by washing your freaking hands before leaving. WITH SOAP. Any teenage fast food worker could tell you: Proper hand washing consists of: warm water, antibacterial soap, disposable towels, and 20 seconds of scrubbing. Sing ‘Happy Birthday‘ twice if you have to. Just don’t do it out loud.
  4. No conversing through stall walls. This one is mostly broken by the ladies. There is a time and a place to gossip. This is not it. Not only is it revolting to be speaking with someone while doing #1, (Let alone #2!) but you never know who’s in the last stall listening in. It’s only smart to keep your conversations somewhere you can guarantee they’ll stay private.
  5. Brushing your teeth. The jury’s still out over whether this is a faux pas or not; but one thing is clear. Rinse the damn sink when you’re finished. This isn’t your personal bathroom, and the next person who comes in doesn’t want to stare at your used up toothpaste. Blech.
  6. Don’t spray buckets of perfume/cologne all over. Yes, we know what you’re trying to cover up. No, it’s not working. Sometimes, the perfume smells worse than what you were trying to hide. Not to mention that you have to spray a gallon of the stuff to make a dent, and by that time, the next person to come in ends up with an allergy-triggered migraine for the rest of the damn day. (Yes, that’s ME!)
  7. Follow the unspoken placement rule. This is an undocumented guideline. Count how many stalls there are. Four? Five? The last two are always used for… ‘longer downloads’. The first two or three are normally used for quick visits. This is adjusted, of course, based on current occupancy. As the saying goes, “If you gotta go, you gotta go.” If you must, take whats available; but try to keep this small piece of etiquette in mind.
  8. Leave your coffee mugs and water bottles outside. There’s nothing more disgusting then bringing something you put in your mouth into the space where you do your business. It may be one thing to do it at home, when you can be relatively certain of cleanliness; but at the office? How do you know the cleaning crew got around to wiping down that ledge below the mirror?
  9. Clean up after yourself. If you dribble on the seat, wipe it up. If you drop a paper towel pulling one from the dispenser, pick it up. Please don’t leave tampon wrappers on the floor. Each stall has a waste bag for that for a reason. Some of us like to pretend that we’re not stepping into a cesspool and risking our health every time we need to pee. Help maintain the illusion but not leaving anything disgusting behind.
  10. All users are created equal. What does this mean? It means your direct supervisor, the department head, and the company president (or anyone in between) probably does not want to chit-chat with you while they’re taking care of their own business. In this space, all people are created equal. Unless one of your superiors speak to you first, smile and nod and keep your trap shut. Do your flattering in the meeting room; not the restroom. Your boss(es) will thank you.