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Training Day

They hired a temp to assume my responsibilities. Not because I’m obscenely incompetent—surprisingly, it’s quite the opposite—but because I have been promoted. Not a big promotion—no pay raise, and the meaningless title that I had before now becomes somewhat meaningful—but just a small step up. Because of that, I no longer do the shit I did before, and they don’t have enough people to go around, so…a temp, until they can hire someone full-time.

The temp started Monday, and I specifically asked on Friday if I would be expected to train her. Because, you know, the only thing I hate more than dealing with people is teaching people how to do something a trained ape could do. They told me I wouldn’t have to train her, but I’d have to take up the slack (i.e., continue doing what I’ve already been doing) until she becomes proficient, at which point they’d teach me my New Tasks and Responsibilities.

So it was somewhat surprising when my new boss (soon-to-be equal!) approached me today and said in a timid, almost frightened tone, “Would you mind walking the temp through what you do?” I gave her my well-honed “Jesus Christ I’m already looking for a new job, so don’t do this to me” Look of Death, so she added, “I would do it, but I’m already swamped with the shit I have to train you to do.” Busted. I guess.

I was surprised by this training news for two reasons: (1) my boss had told me on Monday that she’d trained the temp on everything, and (2) she had felt so confident in her training skills that she made firm plans to start training me for my new shit on Wednesday, today. So what went wrong?

Answer: unsurprisingly, the temp’s computer wasn’t properly set up with all the applications, logins, and passwords she’d need to do the work (this happens pretty much any time somebody has to perform a new job function—way to go, IT!). I have no idea why somebody who started on Monday didn’t bother to tell anybody she can do literally no work whatsoever until Wednesday, but hey, I know the temping world quite well: if you don’t actually have to do anything, and nobody asks you why you’re doing nothing, you try to get away with that shit for as long as possible. It’s a work ethic I still live by today.

I didn’t fault her, but I didn’t want to train her, either. But since I actually like my new boss (in fact, I almost like like her—I find her personality a tad annoying and she’s unattractive physically, but she has this bizarre, exotic accent that consistently arouses me, much to my chagrin), I agreed to train the new temp. What’s the harm? All I really have to do is my job, only really, really slowly and muttering sarcastic comments about how pointless it is every once in awhile.

So the new temp lumbered into my cubicle, sat behind me, and took frantic notes. But then, here’s where things got weird and irritating: she started condescending to me. She had a vague comprehension of what she needed to do—she was already trained on Monday, remember, which I suppose made her feel entitled to talk down to me. I wouldn’t have necessarily had a problem with that, since I’m really condescending at almost all times, but here’s when I’m not condescending: when I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Okay, that’s not even true. When I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about and I’m certain the other person can and will call my intellectual bluff.

So that was thing: she’s says stuff like, “Um, don’t you mean line 12?” NO, I MEAN LINE SEVEN, LIKE IT SAYS ON THE GODDAMN SCREEN. I mean, what the hell is that? It was so bizarre. And she kept doing that, in this weird, confident tone, like she’s the one who’s been doing this crappy job for months. It was time for evasive maneuvering.

“Oh, um, we’re all out of contracts,” I said. “Damn,” I added apathetically.

Were we out of contracts? Yes, we were. Could I have gone and sought out more? Yes, I could have. But fuck that. I wanted this temp out of my hair.

I alerted my boss, and she sent the temp back to her cubicle to twiddle her thumbs. And yes, I am that mean.

Since I was “finished” training the temp, my boss decided it was time to educate me on my new responsibilities. Since I can’t legally discuss the details, I will give you the glossy surface: if I thought what I was doing before was tedious, let’s just say this puts the “anal” in “contract analyst.” Holy Christ, I haven’t experienced tedium like that since the last student film festival I attended.

It took her several hours—excluding a lunch break—to teach me, and then she set me loose on my own for the last hour. Or half hour, as it were.

As she trained me, I sat behind her and fantasized that a really hot woman with that accent was talking to me. I am really pathetic. At one point, we were interrupted by a guy that I feel it’s time to unleash on the blog. Never since Owen possessed the correct combination of social maladjustment and utter cluelessness to be deemed my arch-nemesis, but that was before Xavier entered my life.

Xavier is a short, scrawny, middle-aged man with a heavy Spanish accent. He’s balding so he shaved his head to peachfuzz length. He also has a constant five o’clock shadow and alternates between the same three oversized suits every day. He has tiny, beady eyes that somehow seem both vacant and full of bitterness. The majority of his front teeth have rotted to disgusting black nubs, which makes looking at him while he talks to you a bit of a chore.

And that’s just his physical appearance. His personality makes it much worse. He’s actually really nice to me at all times—but only because he thinks I don’t realize he’s pretending to be nice so I’ll do things for him. He’s still nice to me, even though I don’t do shit for him. But he’s an asshole to almost everyone else. He steals other people’s stuff from the printer; he sleeps through board meetings (I can’t necessarily blame him for this one, but it’s rude anyway); he constantly tries to palm off work on others, and when he actually does something himself, he inevitably fucks it up, so somebody else has to clean up his mess anyway. He’s lazy and incompetent, and nobody really can figure out why he still works here. Nobody likes him—including his superiors—and he can’t do his job.

So he stalked into my boss’s cubicle while she was training me and said, “You have to audit this immediately,” and then walked out, without even giving her a chance to respond.

She looked at me very intensely and whispered (the accent sounds even better that way), “I hate him. He always comes in here and wants me to do favors for him. The least he could do is be nice, but he treats me like shit.”

“Why do you do him favors, then?” I asked, hoping to get a definitive answer regarding why the hell he works here.

“Because he never does anything right, so if I don’t do it when he demands, I’ll end up doing it later,” she replied simply.

It made sense…but not in a good way.

Later, when I was off on my own, Xavier came to my cubicle with a long list of contracts. “Stan, you know more about this type of contract than I do…” He butters me up at the outset, so I’ll be more willing to listen. “…so would you mind looking up these contracts and find out whether or not they’ve been paid, and then write down the invoices and the date of payment.” Now, this is relatively easy, but time-consuming, and here’s why his buttering up never works: you don’t need to know anything about the contracts to find out if they’ve been paid. He knows, and he knows I know he knows, how to look that shit up himself; he just doesn’t want to do it.

“I’m really busy,” I said shortly.

“Oh, okay, sorry, buddy,” Xavier replied and wandered away. He calls me “buddy” because he thinks we’re friends and he thinks he’s 20. Nothing is funnier than seeing this man say “Hey, what’s up, man?” with the accent and the teeth and the fake friendliness. It takes a lot to stifle the laughter.

That was pretty much my day. Here’s what I have to say about the predicted snow: 3-to-5″, my ass!

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