Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The D-Day Landings

D-Day. This is the term we sane folk have coined for today, Door Day.

This is the day we got a glass door. Or more precisely we thought a circular window in our door. Or actually, as it turns out, a postbox style glass slit you can look through if you stare really, really hard.

This is our old office door. For such an innocuous looking thing it was a cause of many, many, many arguments. Note also the angry handwriting on the note on the door - I'll let you guess who did that:-

You see, despite the fact we are supposed to run a student drop-in support centre B. objects to having the door open. There's a draft in his bit of the room, by the window, at his desk. He can't switch desks of course, as that would make him more accessible to students, and I routinely wander round the office in a t-shirt, never feeling the draft... but anyroads...

Last year he went so far as to yell "BBBRRRRRR..." when a group of students came by and left the door open, put on three layers of clothing in front of them and steal the only electric heater in the room, leaving a trip-wire by my office space. A bit like this...

Anyroads when the students left (with very quizzical expressions on their face) I shut our door and tried to tell B. that yelling "BRRRRRR..." and stealing heaters wasn't professional behaviour in front of students, and certainly not welcoming. This 'discussion' was countered with a "I'm not listening, lalala" response, including him comically slapping both of his ears loudly and sorely in an attempt to not listen. Once his hands were removed and the red ears he'd given himself exposed I fruitlessly tried some rational discussion that ended with him swearing, me swearing louder and better (I'm Scottish, I've been to Glasgow, I can therefore swear better), him looking for a sheet of paper to write down all my swearing for a formal complaint and me slamming a 200 page hardback notebook, suggesting he might need all 200 pages to contain my forthcoming litany of curse-words followed by astute observations about his character.

I call this my "going postal day". I'm normally really easy-going, in fact I'm a softie and a pushover. But that was the day I was physically dragged out of the office by A for fear that I may decide to use the hardback notebook as a rectal thermometer.

We had several days with 'discussions' like this over the Christmas and Easter semesters last year. Sometime A. did the swearing by the end of the discussion, sometimes me. I think if both A. and I lose it we may tag-team Ben in some bizarre WWF style and end up ripping him half.

Anyway TPTB, after listening to our tales of woe about life with B. and his prima-donna attitude towards the job (I was in the HoD's office for 2 hours once, practically lying on his couch twitching) decided the door doesn't need to be open, just unlocked, and as a compromise we were getting a glass door. Fair enough, I guess.

The plan was according to our boss to get a nice circular porthole style window for the door. The builders would arrive at 8:30am to remove our door, and bring it back by 4pm to install it with the window. Sysadmin would be there to meet them and B. and I were supposed to come in at 9:00am to relieve the sysadmin guy. Then we'd all stay in the office, 'cos if no-one is here all our nice shiny might get nicked. We'd take it in turns to cover each other so we could go to the loo etc. And eventually we'd get our nice new glassy door.

What actually happened was A. and Sysadmin was in our office when the builder came by at 8:30am. The builder remarked on how the window he'd been told to install was the smallest possible and would look weird. Apparently after further discussion our bemused admin and A. discovered the builder had come by the office when B. was the only person on duty last week. Despite claiming he is the busiest of us all B. never ever leaves the office (but see below). Even during his own classes he's here at least half of the duration of the class to pick up the hundreds of things he's forgotten or to do tasks he didn't do prior to the lab. He routinely sends out emails saying he wants to play snooker in the staffroom upstairs and reminding our staff he has his own balls. I honestly an't think why no-one ever takes him up on an opportunity to play with his... Never mind, I can't type this...

B. had decided on a window design that was the smallest window possible for fear someone might see his desk through the glass. Naturally he'd not mentioned this, focusing more on making sure someone else other than him was in at 8:30am. So our doorway looked like this by the time I turned up:-

I turned up at 9:00 am. No sign of B. - he dropped an email around 10ish saying he had decided to work across the road instead. The irony being this was the one day he might be useful in the office. This left A. and me, so if either of us is out working with students the other was stuck. He eventually turned up at lunch time to let us get some lunch.

Fast forwards to this afternoon and the new door arrived. Look at the rather odd geometry of the window - I think you are actually meant to install 4 of these into a door, not 1.

I feel at this point it is necessary to reintroduce the concept of Ben-Shui - B.'s way of making a student-proof nest that discourages students from bothering him by making his office as inaccessible as possible without a five mile hike. You can see previous thread on this here.

What was crazier was no sooner had we got this new door than we were asked to cover the glass window for security purposes. So now it looks like this:-

You may note the "Coming Soon" on our makeshift cover was written by me. This is because I had a bet with A. that B. would take 'til Friday to cover the window in notices. This way I can still win my bet...

So to recap in Ben-Shui tradition I've drawn what was supposed to be the intended window, the actual window and the desired Ben-Shui window for our office:-

You're probably wondering what B.'s reaction to the window. Let me summarise.

B (-2 hours): "After we get this window installed we can cut down our number of office hours."
Boss: "..."

B (5 minutes after installation): "I love this window - it's so small and you can't see anything."

B (10 minutes after installation and seeing me staring at his workstation and making faces at him through said window): "Hmm... you can see a bit much through this window."

B (15 mins): "I didn't ask for this window."

B (20 mins): "I hate this window."

B (1 hour): Proceeds to rearrange his workspace to hide from the window.

So to recap...

Inserting the world's smallest window - £100
Wages paying employees to argue about the window - £200
Covering up said window an hour after installation - Priceless

For everything else there's Mastercard.


Doctor Sordid said...

Wait, I'm confused. Do you work in an office, or in The Office?

Either way, comedy gold, Stu. Keep up the good work.

Mare said...

join a union toots. then file a grievance or 6 against this nutjob.

Stuart Kerrigan said...

It just seems like I work in The Office. Though to be honest I think I work in the American Workplace version, not the more subdued down-played UK version.

Another humorous story:-

B. has a tendency to run class tests at the drop of a hat on his students. As in you come into what you thought was your regular class and discover it was actually a test he emailed 40% of the students about at 6pm last night.

Now one of our students has a disability that means his time keeping skills are not exactly fantastic. He turned up 15 minutes late for the test (though he knew about it), which according to exam rules means you are not meant to admit him.

You'll note I said EXAM, not class test rules here.

The resultant email dialogue went like this:-

Student: I am not very happy with not being allowed into the test. Why was that?

B.: According to University exam regulations you are not allowed into the exam after 15 minutes.

Student: Oh right. Under University exam regulations I have a disability that requires me to have a note taker and a taxi to the exam in order to make sure I get to the exam on time. Where was my note taker and taxi?

B.: @$&* ~@!£% *%!£

Gotta go. He's in and now about to resume staring at me for 3 hours.

Katie said...

Oh Stu, can I come visit in January and then when he starts yelling 'shut up! Please shut up! Shut up please!' can I have at him? Oh please oh please oh please? But A. needs to be there too, so he can enjoy the bitch-slapping that only I can provide :)

Oh, and I might need to crash at yours in January if that's ok...gradumuhcation and such. But then I can yell at B. And Dad feels very very sorry for you--but finds it quite amusing.

Stuart Kerrigan said...

Yes on both accounts.

I am tempted to make "Shut up... Please!" T-shirts. I reckon I could do a good trade in them. :)

steve said...

This guy is more than somewhat disturbed. In fact, I may go so far as to call him a Grade A loon. Why do you not simply punch this guy Ben in the snoot?

Still, I must confess to being a little pleased that this joker remains in your place of work, though his presence causes you great discomfort and strife, for your anecdotes concerning him amuse me to no end.