I could be in real trouble here, friends. And it’s time to do some backtracking. You see, several of my co-workers are also bloggers, and sometimes the subject comes up in the office.
Herein the problem lies.
During one such discussion at the end of a meeting, someone made a reference to my blog. My boss showed immediate interest, which is a scary thing to anyone who blogs. Particular any blogger who makes semi-attempts at humor, references the corporate world, discusses needing a drink maybe a little too often, and swears in her writing now and then. That’s when she uttered those 7 little words that any such blogger dreads hearing from her boss:
“You need to send me your link!“
Sure, I know that having a blog is risky business when you’re in the corporate world. Especially for any blogger who decided to throw anonymity out the window and expose her true self to the world-wide web. Social media, as a whole, can be dangerous when you’re looking for a job, and especially when you hope to keep the one you have.
For instance, if my blog header is a margarita, is that a tip-off that I’m not a responsible person? If I write posts, such as The Most Annoying Corporate Buzzwords Ever, 20 Signs That You’re Overworked, or Beer On Fridays, does that make me a trouble-maker? If I swear in writing, am I devoid of professionalism? And if I post something that obviously took a decent amount of time and effort, could it be said that my time would be better spent putting in some overtime hours to meet that elusive deadline?
Yet I’ve accepted the risk. I wrote The Ultimate Disclaimer which is quite silly, yet hopefully gets my point across. In addition, I’d like to use some of my backtracking talents to over-emphasize the following points:
1. I love my job.
2. I value my paycheck, all who sign it, deposit it, dictate what’s on it, fund it, and keep it coming so that my children can eat every day.
3. Any reference to the corporate world is not a reflection of my current employment status, but are instead a conglomerate of things I’ve seen or read from a) Dilbert cartoons, b) Office Space, c) The Office, d) a “friend’s” job anecdotes, and e) some past job that no one who works at my company was ever employed at.
Now as I rein myself in a little, let me say that I had considered other options. I could just “forget” that she asked for my link and hope the subject never comes up again. I could give her a link to some other blog. One where the blogger wisely chose to remain anonymous. One where the blog covers “safe” material, such as a mommy blog, a couponing site, maybe even photography. Anything would be safer than a blog that is supposed to be a humor blog.
But that would be dishonest.
Besides, my boss is a really smart woman, and I feel pretty sure that I wouldn’t get away with anything. In fact, I would probably make matters worse by even trying.
I should say, though, that I’m kidding around a little here. I work with great people, many of whom I have worked with for years. Our jobs are full of stress, and sometimes humor is necessary just to get us through it with any level of sanity. You see, much of what we do in the IT world makes no sense to our friends or family. Sometimes it doesn’t even to us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to answer the question “Exactly what is it you DO for a living again?” We fall back on inside jokes that no one else would get, which makes them a sort of stress-relief, if you will. As a result, we have a special bond…and a different sort of sense of humor.
This is what I’m banking on here, as I try to blog myself out of a pickle.
When I first started out in the corporate world, back in my 20′s, I had a manager who told me in a performance review that her first impression of me was that I joked around a lot. Not exactly what you want to hear when you’re looking for a raise, right? It was probably true though. I did have a co-worker who made me laugh a lot, and I always did have a hard time controlling that at inappropriate times.
The same co-worker travelled with me to a customer site. The trip was harrowing (I know this word is overkill, but I like it). We had endured a week of complaints, pressure, stress, basically being beat up on. At the end of the week, we had some downtime in which to report a major system defect and provide the details back to the technical folks.
Some of the technical folks were annoying. They made it difficult for us to report problems, and we never seemed to have enough detail. There were questions, meetings, and additional work that always resulted with everything we reported. At times, it seemed like their goal was to find every which way to throw the ball back to us so it remained perpetually in our court.
This was very frustrating to us. And we were tired. And punchy.
So we composed our email with the goal of providing every last detail they would possibly need to troubleshoot the problem. And then we gave them a little more detail. And a little more detail after that, which was probably pushing the envelope just a tad.
Especially when it’s written in Dr. Seuss-style and it consists of 3 pages. We’ll just skip the details and leave it at that.
At the time, it was uproariously funny. I can’t explain exactly why, because it was full of those inside jokes I referred to. We had such a good time with it that my co-worker decided to copy our manager on it. The head technical guy followed up with his own email, and we wrote another couple of pages of similar nonsense to retaliate.
Imagine our surprise when we’re at our next division meeting and the Division Manager closes the meeting by saying “In closing, I’d like to read you this email…“
And there it was. An email that was never intended to go any further than our immediate manager had gone up the ranks. And it was being read out loud in front of a lot of people. Everyone seemed to get it and cracked up. However, we turned beet red and slid down into our chairs.
We weren’t sure at that point if we were in trouble. We had been smart-asses. We had used company time and email for what was basically a joke. We were on the customer site. And I doubt we could be considered very professional.
The kicker is that we were actually praised for providing humor to alleviate the stressful atmosphere. I think he ended the meeting with something like “We need more of that around here.“
Looking back, I think he was right. Sure, it was pretty mortifying at the time, but I get what he was saying.
Why even that manager whose first impression of me was that I was silly at times ended her observation by adding that I had proven her wrong in thinking that I was a slacker (my words, not hers). She acknowledged my hard work. In fact, I think I received the highest percentage of an increase that day that I’ve ever gotten.
These were valuable lessons for me in the corporate world. While we all know that work is our primary focus, there’s nothing wrong with bonding with co-workers and cracking a joke every once in a while. Even more so, I think it goes a long way in helping company morale.
All that being said, however, I still have that little problem of what my boss will think, or worse yet, do when she visits my blog. Maybe my thoughts here will be well-received. Maybe she will laugh so hard, that I will once again be praised for my ability to provide much-needed stress relief. Maybe I will get that big raise, that big promotion, that office with a door. All because I put myself out here and shared my inside jokes with all who land here on my little website.
Or maybe I’ll walk into the office in the morning with a message like this…
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