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pass the kool aid
working my way into a new job
by mike julianelle

At the beginning of June I started a brand new job. I am still finding my way, figuring things out, getting the lay of the land. In a lot of ways this is a new situation for me, not the least of which is the fact that most of the girls in the office are young enough to be my children. Wait, did I say "be my children?" I meant "bear my children." That's right. No chicks over 21 need apply.

I've been around the block a few times, and yet the unexpected sexy youngness of many of my coworkers isn't the only thing that's new for me. There are aspects of the office and the role that are unlike any job I’ve had before, and I’ve had my share.

Check it:

1) the joint where people high-fived like idiots after successful phone calls and I got the ax for keeping my arms crossed at a meeting
2) the joint where neither the boss nor most of the employees spoke English or knew anything about the product they were supposed to be selling and half my coworkers spent the day going to the movies
3) the joint where the girl next to me had such bad B.O. that I was called into the CEO’s office to discuss the severity of the issue and advise him on whether she should be fired (for the record, though it was quite bad, I didn't tell him to fire her for it)
4) the joint where the kid next to me spent most of his time performing incompetently, openly doing schoolwork and sleeping at his desk
5) the joint where I spent most of my uneventful workday holed up in the bathroom reading Crime and Punishment until my legs went numb.

I knew coming in that this place was going to be different, but I was confident it would be the “good” kind of different. And it is. But it still takes some adjustment.

I am committed to this job and that alone is new for me. Despite all the jobs I’ve had, several of which I’ve listed above, I’ve never once decorated my cube because I never felt like I was going to be there long. And, for the most part, I was right.

This is the first gig I’ve landed that I actually wanted. It feels real, like it's the start of a career rather than a placeholder and a paycheck. So getting comfortable is important. It just hasn’t been easy so far. Starting a new job never is.

First of all, the dress code is totally casual. Now, when I say casual, I don’t mean business casual, and I don’t mean “let’s tell him it’s casual and watch him embarrass himself in a half-shirt,” but legit, 100%, I’m-wearing-shorts-and-a-concert-t-shirt-as-I-type-this casual. Outrageous. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing, especially since it’s been 90 degrees the past few days. But it’s bizarre. I feel especially stupid wearing flip-flops. Every time I walk around you can hear me from miles away, and you most likely think I’m a woman.

Secondly, my boss works out of the company's headquarters in New York City. Being that I’m in Boston, we don’t exactly see each other on a regular basis. So she’s forced to boss me over the phone, via email, and through Instant Messaging, which I use at this job more than I’ve ever used it before. I feel like a twelve-year-old. Every time I type an emoticon –- often necessary to defuse sarcasm that might not be interpreted correctly –- a little piece of my soul dies.

I’m used to working independently. After all, at my last job my boss didn't even notice that the guy next to me was in a coma for 2 years, so it wasn’t like I had Big Brother on my back. I’m not even sure she knows I’m gone, to tell you the truth. And when I worked part-time at a local bar, I treated my bosses like I didn’t know they were there. That actually worked out really well, especially when I was drinking during my shifts, playing air guitar and letting seventeen-year-olds in. I was usually so tanked that the next morning I didn’t even remember them firing me. I must’ve been canned from that place five times before I finally quit on their asses.

But my role here is pretty nebulous. I am a floater, an island. I work with other teams but I'm not a part of them. And without a boss around, I sense that it might be easy for me to disappear. So maybe it’s a good thing my flip-flops are loud. In the winter I might have to walk around the office with my pants down to get noticed.

Things are improving, though. My workload is steadily increasing and being in the thick of it not only helps keep my mind off of everything else but makes the day pass more quickly. And the work I'm doing is actually valued, which hasn't been true for me since I left that gig where I filled cups with sperm. It just doesn't get more valuable than populating the world, does it?

As of today I'm a bit more than halfway through the typical three month adjustment period. Once I get to September I think I'll be pretty firmly entrenched. I should have a nice routine going by then, and my cube will be decorated with homey little touches, like a cat calendar and a viking hat and some Miami Dolphins stuff and that awesome picture of the Star Wars characters as a rock band.

And it'll be about time. I'll be turning thirty early that month and if I'm still surrounded by blank gray walls, I'd better be in prison for the workplace massacre I'm bound to go on when they fire me for walking around naked in my flip-flops and inexplicably using the word "joint" way too often.


Let's get real here. You don't want to know about me. You want to know about "me".

more about mike julianelle


clear and presents danger
you only get what you gift
by mike julianelle
topic: humor
published: 11.6.09

henry ford's an @$$hole
sifting through the car-nage
by mike julianelle
topic: humor
published: 2.8.02


russ carr
7.19.06 @ 12:18a

Who the hell you think you are, boy? Spike Lee?

sandra thompson
7.19.06 @ 7:43a

Thanks for pointing out that retirement is fun even if you didn't say it exactly that way!

I've been fully retired for four years (I actually "retired" in 2000, but went back to work part-time until 2002, when my former boss just couldn't live without my skills and jokes) and my time has been spent caring for an aunt who has Alzheimer's and doing the accouting for my daughters', son-in-laws', grandgeeks' tax returns, writing letters to congress, signing petitions, canvassing neighborhoods with my "MoveOn Volunteer" button pinned over my heart, and generally being a pain in the butt of this incredible administration. I'd almost completely forgotten what it's like to be part of a team, to play the office politics game, to kiss ass, hire and fire people, and go through audits by the Department of Revenue where all my compulsive little spreadsheets saved the day and my boss a ton of money. I'd forgotten what autocrat bosses, pal bosses, incompetent bosses, and truly great bosses can be like. I'd forgotten what loyal staff, incompetent staff, vicious staff, and truly great staff can be like. The worst part of my working life was having to fire people for cause: theft, incompetence, being drunk one too many times at staff meetings. Anyway, my hat's off to all you guys who are still slaving away so I can keep getting my Social Security. Keep up the good work! I love you all!

mike julianelle
7.19.06 @ 9:34a

I figured this was a good time to keep people updated on my endless employment saga. One of the first things I posted here, and I think it's gone from my portfolio, was my "Temp Circle of Hell" column.

Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light.

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