Thunder Volcano

Boundless enthusiasm for something stupid

This is how I Picture All Office Jobs

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I used to work as the IT department for a small company*.  The work itself was largely unremarkable, but my boss – the owner of the company, who I’ll call Joe – was a bit of a character: calling him weird is an understatement on par with calling the Pacific Ocean “damp.”  Joe was a talker, but seemed to have little or no understanding of how social interaction is supposed to work: I usually described him as having unipolar mania combined with Asperger’s, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if I was right**.

An estimated twenty to thirty percent of an average workday consisted of Joe talking at me and/or my coworkers.  And it was always the same conversation which would run through in detail every aspect of company operations, often excepting the parts we might have been interested in (for instance: he would continually mention by name people we’d never heard of, but would never explain who they were or how they were relevant to business.  One such person was named General Boinkin).  Any attempt at talking to him about something else (for instance, anything productive) was quickly derailed into this same speech that he made six times every day to whoever he could ensnare in his conversational trap.  Oh, and I usually telecommuted, so much of this was done via surprise phone calls or scheduled, daily, hours-long conference calls with no purpose.

Stranger still, he had a vanishingly small grasp of the written language.  Emails sent to him were clearly not read or understood in any capacity, and most emails from him were indecipherable gibberish (luckily, he would inevitably call immediately after sending an email and repeat everything he’d written).  There are two examples that really bring this point home.  First, the entire text of an email I received from him:


I noticed you called.


That may be the most coherent email I ever received from him, but the fact remains that it’s mind-bogglingly pointless.

Secondly, there was a paper that we needed to submit for a grant proposal.  He took my clear and concise one-page tech section and turned it into fifteen pages of gibberish and plagiarism, little of which related to what I had written or, for that matter, the subject of the grant.  I stopped reading his revisions (which he showed to me only after a nontrivial amount of badgering) when I got to this sentence: “During this phase we will the developer with the artist will ensure to develop graphical treatments for the environments and elements in which role-playing will take placed based on the detailed storyboards.”  And yes, that excerpt is fairly representative of the rest of the paper.  I began wondering if he actually knew how to read and/or write in English.    I’m still not sure.

Anyway, during his regular two-hour-long rants, he tended to say a lot of things that were extremely awkward, unintentionally (homo)sexual***, and/or hilariously nonsensical.  I spent a pretty big chunk of that time writing the funny parts in the margins of my notebook, and I’ve finally gotten around to typing them out.  I present to you my complete list (or at least all I could find), unedited, with little/no distinction made between spoken and email.  As always, names have been changed to make them sillier.  Also, I’ve included dates just for giggles, but mostly to show that there was apparently an eighteen-month gap where I stopped listening to anything he said whatsoever.
Note: some of these seem like they might just sound weird because they’re removed from context.  Rest assured, very few of these have any context that makes them any more logical.  Often, context makes them less logical.  Mostly he would take a semicoherent train of thought and turn it into a rant about green beans and Eskimos.

We can buy it by the drink. [I think this was referring to software?]

If we get so many hands in the pie, the pie isn’t gonna be very good.

Your efforts currently are to be charged to marketing.  Feminize yourself with the site.

He’s gonna sell it to the government like snowcones to Eskimos.

We cannot wait indefinably for an application that was intended to be completed months ago.

I was hunting the buffalo while they were out coding.

We’re delivering the Kool Aid.

You don’t want to give away the carrots just yet.

We’re gonna have to eat our own dog food here.

We’re really opening our kimono on this one.

Operational efficiency leads to one thing, it doesn’t necessarily you’ll be able to kill more chickens and sell them.

We’re not gonna try to jump through our butts just to get everything up and running.

You don’t want to be comparing a can of beans to a can of beans on the shelf.

If we can be a mouse in support, that’s our objective.

Let’s peel the banana one side at a time.

I’m like Gumby. [my notes specify that this was said “for no apparent reason”]

I blew out the demo by playing with the skins.

We’ve steelproofed this thing so that things are in sync.

These guys are secret squirrel.

The market is there.  It’s hot for us right now.

The next week, everybody’s gonna be humping in different directions.

Arnie West has a psychology PhD in psychology.

The course building is irrespectible of the conversion.

It’s gonna be a tough road to tow.

These are the two pieces of the magic sauce that we need to understand.

I used to be a sniper.  I learned a lot about women that way.  [this was said to the woman setting up our retirement accounts]

The other option is that they throw mud at the wall, then we tell them it’s the wrong color mud, then they throw some more up on the wall.

We’ve got to hand jam it.

I’m gonna put the monkey on them to put the pieces together.

We gotta get him off the dime and on this thing.

I’ll stand in a box if I have to… I’ll stand in a trash can if I have to, to get him to approve the courses.

We’re gonna have to do some penetration analysis.

We’re starting to flush things out.

I’ve been on multiple contracts where it’s sand against sand every step of the way [grinds fists together]

The can of green beans is the same on every shelf.

You’d better get that back end running, ‘cuz hey – guys are asking for it.

I shared the benefits with this recruiting company who recruits, and he really liked our package.

We’re gonna have to start whippin’ it out.

I think they’re good secret sauce people… we may not be secret sauce guys, but hey – we can deliver.

I think the key is to get it up.

I’m gonna ping him really hard.

Tyrone’s probably been telling you I’ve been dumping a lot of load on him.

CompuTex as a future tool has no future.

We have to take what is in our heads and have produces that can be replicated and maintained.

Epilogue: in reading through the list, I’m realizing there are a few things that didn’t get written down for one reason or another, often because I heard them so regularly I became desensitized.  For instance, sending out an email to multiple people was always referred to as “blastin’ it out.”  Contacting somebody was “pinging” them, but in at least one case, he had to “pound Doug” about something.  It’s a fine line when a pinging turns into a pounding, but he seemed to know it well.  And, though it is in my list once, it’s worth mentioning that the expression “hand jamming” was used with abundance (a lot of these were pretty common, actually, but hand jamming has to be my favorite).

*No, that’s not a typo.  For a period of time, I was the entire IT department.
**Years later, my brother Duke was talking about his med-school rotation on the psych ward and described a guy with mania.  If I hadn’t known better, I would swear he was talking about Joe.  Duke also made a point of adding “you can’t fake mania.”  Turns out I wasn’t all that far off.
***Not unlike Tobias from Arrested Development.  It was suggested a few times that he may have done some of this on purpose, but he showed less than zero knowledge of this thing we call “humor.”  It’s possible he’d heard of it, but even that is uncertain.

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