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December 17, 2001: Thou shalt not

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We had a little talk at work today about policies and procedures. Our two friendly HR guys handed out thick notebooks and went over the most important policies. We were all required to sign papers saying we'd read the rest on our own time. Riiiiiight.

They discussed, among other things, workplace harassment, their policy on smoking, alcohol in the workplace, taking time off, and workplace violence. And there really were no surprises. I guess this just means that the company has grown enough to need an official handbook, instead of just assuming things.

The good news is that the CEO of the company really likes the flexibility and freedom we all have and wants us to keep it. That means jeans and sneakers are still okay (phew!), and the flexible schedule is still fine - we can come in as early as we want or stay as late as we want as long as we're there between 10 and 3. And apparently he has no problem with the little group that does their fantasy football networked gaming after hours. In fact, I got the distinct impression that it was actually encouraged.

The bad news is that because of the new solicitation policy (which - except for one point - I really do agree with), I am not going to be able to count on finding someone at work with a Girl Scout in the family from whom I can order my yearly supply of Thin Mint cookies.

Later that afternoon, we were rudely interrupted by someone across the cube maze playing with their cell phone, obviously showing off each and every one of the 548 different rings it could be set to (including little electronic snippets of Christmas tunes. Shudder). This is not the first time this person - or someone sitting near them - has found great entertainment in the same insane annoyance.

After we'd been subjected to about ten minutes of this I fired off an instant message to my coworker one cube over.

"I think it would be completely justified to go and quietly take that thing and then stomp on it repeatedly until it's smashed into little bits, don't you?"

"But wouldn't that fall under workplace violence?" came her reply, after I heard her laughing.

"Well," I replied. "I'm not so sure. If you took the jury and forced them to sit in a cube maze and listen to the same thing for fifteen minutes at a stretch, do you really think any of them would side against me?"

The way I see it, if we're going to get a huge book of policies and procedures, why can't we add in one more teeny tiny little note? Cell phones in the office must be on vibrate or flash only. Surely that isn't too much to ask?

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