Day One

      I, on the ripe side of middle-age with all the attending wrinkles and sags, met the woman I was to replace, Joanie, young, thin, beloved, irreplaceable. She isn’t, in fact, leaving the company, but merely moving upstairs, so I’ll enjoy being compared to how she’s done this job for many months to come.
     I met the three special needs employees – correction, associates – I will manage: Tom, who is eager and loud and kind of lazy; Ryan, who writes down my instructions and has no short-term memory and forgets that he’s written everything down and writes them down again; and Leeza, who is bossy and a know-it-all and a tattletale. It is from her that I learn I’m not allowed to have my cell phone on my desk. It is, in fact, a violation, and if security auditors should show up unannounced I would be hit with a non-performance penalty and could potentially be fired. I have to check messages in the bathroom.
     I could also be fired for leaving my training notebook on my desk or not locking my computer – not just at the end of the day, but whenever I leave my seat, a frequent occurrence for an administrative assistant for sure – even when I walk ten feet away to draw a glass of water from the cooler.
     I was handed a master key which is chained to my wrist that will open every lock to every desk, drawer, and door in the place, all of which must remain closed and locked every second of the day, except when an employee – excuse me – when an associate is removing or returning an item for immediate use. I don’t understand the need for these extreme safety measures, as I am surrounded by coworkers who also underwent the thorough pre-hire proctology exam, but you bet if the item isn’t returned and locked up before leaving the work area I’ll risk being tattled on by Leeza or hauled off by the Security Police.
     Not everything is about protecting information. No. When I tried to throw away a gum wrapper from my purse I was informed, “We don’t have trash cans.”
     “No trash cans,” I repeated, the look of stunned stupidity peaking my eyebrows.
     “We had a problem with vermin, so we stopped letting associates have trash cans at their desks.”
     “But they’re allowed to eat at their desks?” I was picturing the three-course meal that would feed a family of 20 that I’d seen at one woman’s two-foot by three-foot cubicle.
     “Oh yes,” Joanie assured me. “They’re allowed food. Most of them eat during lunch. And dinner. And on Saturdays.” Her answer spoke volumes, including the fact BankBig wasn’t going to pay to have a cleaning service pick up 598 bags of trash every night.
     I asked, “Is there a break room where I can throw something away?”
     “No. Just the bathroom.”
     Good, I thought. I’ll do that while I’m washing a cup, checking my cell phone, and peeing, but only after I’ve locked my desk.
     Rest assured that while BankBig is not wasting the money from its outrageous fee structure on coffee and forks and other such break room accoutrements, or on trash cans, its employees – Excuse me! – associates are not neglected.
     On my first day I learned that I will lead the Associate Engagement Team (AET), elsewhere known as Employee Appreciation, as I helped distribute 598 individually wrapped, Cheryl’s frosted sugar cookies and took photos of associates smiling with their snack, which I sent to Corporate’s AET VP to prove our happy participation. I did not sneak back to take pictures of the mice happily snacking on the cookie crumbs. Later I ordered 200 sandwiches from Chick-fil-A for the people working overtime on Saturday.
     I don’t know where all those greasy wrappers will go to dissuade the vermin from treating their extended family to a right tasty treat.
     Perhaps I’ll hire the man who drank beer and strutted about with his gun and ran me off to play frisky with his wife. I can have him teach my coworkers to shoot the varmints. We can make it an Associate Engagement activity! Like chicken wings, we’ll fry them up and serve them barbecued.
     I’ll send pictures to Corporate.

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