Thursday, August 25, 2005

what would EEOC say?

Though I am unobtrusive and often overshadowed, my voice is poetic and lyrical. Dark and brooding, I see the world as a hopeless effort of people trying to impress other people. Though I make reference to almost everything, I've really heard enough about Michelangelo. I measure out my life with coffee spoons.

Apologies and thanks to The Blue Pyramid for so clearly delineating my psyche through “The Book Quiz.”, (I am “Prufrock and Other Stories” by T.S. Eliot). And thanks to Watcher Don for bringing these quick & easy quizzes to my attention.

It’s Quiz Time at work, too. We are playing the Sexual Harassment game, an annual event in which each employee logs in to a company website and plays a four-level game replete with animation and sound effects. In this game you are given a few paragraphs of information and then you are asked 5 or 6 questions about it which you answer via multiple choice. You learn a)how the EEOC defines sexual harassment b)what the company policy is toward harassment and c)what to do if you are harassed. In the 4th level you are given 15 questions you’ve just answered in random order. The goal of this game is to score 80% so you can print a certificate of completion to give to your supervisor. It’s so easy to score 100% that something is seriously wrong if you can’t score 80, but I don’t know what happens if you fail. Probably not much.

We might take this game more seriously if not for the sound effects and the fact that we take the identical test every year. The way it’s presented tends to make people think about the ways they COULD harass someone and it dredges up all the off-color jokes people have forgotten about. I had just got my certificate when one of our customer’s employees (who know nothing about our test) approached me and asked, “Did you hear what the pregnant Aggie woman said?” ---Long Pause: I know this is going to be inappropriate and would probably offend at least five different groups of people, so do I say something? This person is a long-winded former hippie who did too many drugs in the 60s and will probably want to get into a lengthy philosophical discussion, so I decide my desire to go about my business takes precedence and I wait for the punch line – “It’s not mine.”

Garrison Keillor pointed out a few years ago that people just don’t tell jokes any more, probably because of the aura of political correctness that dangles above our heads, and of course because of the harassment tests we must take to assure our continued employment.

I think the company needs to add another survey – one on dealing with difficult and annoying people in the workplace. You know, the person whose phone with the annoying ring tone always goes off during a meeting. Or the person whose personal problems have become common knowledge because they’re on the phone for hours at a stretch and their voice gets louder the longer they talk. Or the person who cranks up their headphones so much the music can still be heard in the next cubicle. Or the person who wears noxious cologne in such quantity it burns your nose and brings tears to your eyes. And last, but not least, overly sensitive critics like me who cannot fail to point out one of the above to at least one person every day.

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