Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Employee Handbook

Your Guide to the Synergistic Purgatory of the Office.

Let's Play Lingo Bingo!

   The following is a list of everyday terms that you will encounter in your journey through the workplace. Learn them -- and in many cases, fear them.

PERFORMANCE REVIEW: A yearly evaluation prepared by a supervisor who, having spent the previous 11 months and three weeks ignoring the employee in question, compiles a list of transgressions both real and imagined. This exercise typically plays out like a TV program from the police-procedural genre (i.e., supervisor will pepper the employee with accusations in the hopes of eliciting a confession before he "lawyers up" by consulting Human Resources).

TECH SUPPORT: Any of the various ironically named departments (i.e., "Information Services" or "Data Solutions") responsible for maintaining computer systems. Typically staffed by young males whose lack of motivation and aversion to physical activity prevent them from blossoming into serial killers. Employees are unresponsive to service requests and other external stimuli, except in cases involving female co-workers who bear resemblance to their favorite anime heroines.

LABOR-SAVING DEVICE: An underling who functions as an executive’s manservant/
handmaiden. Also known as Administrative Assistant.

SALARIED EMPLOYEE: This type of employee is ineligible for overtime regardless of the number of hours worked but is fitted with an ankle bracelet programmed to alert management if he/she leaves the building at any point before 39:59:59 during the workweek.

SEVERANCE PACKAGE: A collection of unattainable goals or onerous directives intended to separate an employee from his/her metaphorical testicles.

BENEFITS: A form of auxiliary compensation that consists of letting worthless ingrates keep their jobs.

Meet Your Co-Workers!

   Remember the annoying kids and emotionally unstable teachers who made school such a challenging opportunity? Well, they're back -- along with some new faces! Together, they make up the colorful cast of characters who will be with you from now until retirement or death, whichever comes first.

WIND TUNNEL: A co-worker whose superhuman lung capacity allows him to talk uninterrupted for several hours at a time. Topics range from his glory days on the high school gridiron to what he had for lunch three days ago.

JOHNNY PAYCHECK: An embittered employee who spends most of his work hours fantasizing about the day he resigns and verbally sets fire to the building but maintains a death-grip on the job he so desperately hates only because it pays better than unemployment.

COSMONAUT: An attractive female worker, well-versed in fashion trends but little else, whose career remains in fixed orbit around an older male superior. (The male version is known as Cougar Cub.)

IKEA EMPLOYEE: A new associate who possesses the basic skills for the position but will require some after-market assembly. Examples include the clerical worker who can text 100 words a minute on her PDA but has trouble translating that proficiency into official company documents:
   OMG! weve got nu ceo
   dont breath toxic solvenz :{

CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT: This employee provides management with invaluable surveillance data on the malfeasance of fellow co-workers. Accuracy is optional. In many cases, the CI barely completed high school but still understands the concept that the constitutional right to face one's accuser does not extend to the workplace.

HALF-BROTHER: A Caucasian employee laboring under the  delusion that he is beloved by racial minorities. Will often greet an African-American colleague with a statement such as, "Hey, bro. Did you peep LeBron against the Celtics last night? Now about those invoices ..." Any Human Resources investigation pursuant to such remarks will only reinforce this behavior by creating the illusion of a shared history of oppression.

THE SPHINX: A supervisor who communicates exclusively through the use of unanswerable questions. All inquiries will be met with resolute inscrutability, regardless of subject matter.
   Employee: "What time it is?"
   Supervisor: "I don't know. What time do our customers think it is?"

PENIS FLYTRAP: An insatiable connoisseur of office romance whose every sexual conquest has mysteriously wound up as the subject of an EEOC complaint, including her current husband.

Speak the Vernacular!

  These unofficial terms are proof that not everything you need to know can be found in the manual.
GOT QUIT: A term describing the mysterious departure of an embattled employee who might have been fired but might also have resigned. Example: "Did you hear about Sally? She got quit yesterday." The exact circumstances surrounding this type of severance are hazy, often to the employee herself.

GOO-GOO GALLERY: A workspace where every available square inch is decorated with baby pictures, celebrating the occupant's singular achievement of human procreation.

CODE BROWN: A heightened state of workplace alert triggered by the sight of a certain employee entering the restroom with a newspaper tucked under his/her arm.

GUT INSTINCT: The belief that the consumption of fat and carbohydrates will boost morale under any circumstances. Example: "Effective immediately, we will begin a force reduction of 37 percent. Now who wants to dig in to this delicious ice cream cake?"

BLACK BOX MEETING: A gathering in which management and employees attempt to identify contributing factors behind a catastrophic error. The term "contributing factors" means the least popular person in the room. Also known as Post Mortem and Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

ESCAPE HATCH: Deployed as a countermeasure against unexpected cubicle visits, a window containing work-related material that an employee can rapidly click in order to hide the porn on his/her browser.

ALCHEMY: A management strategy involving the mystical belief that workload can be increased 25 to 50 percent with no deleterious effects on existing job responsibilities. An exceptionally charismatic alchemist can find a second career as a consultant.

TOY DEPARTMENT: A workspace festooned with troll dolls, foam projectile weapons, superhero action figures, bobble-
heads, etc. Avoid eye contact with occupant at all costs.

We've Done More ... With Less!
Important Handbook updates are available at:


  1. I've been looking for a good guide to purgatory - thanks!

  2. You are most welcome. Glad we could synergize!