Christmastime in the Emerald City

{August 27, 2008}   Shitty Things About My Office

As I’m sure the majority of you are aware, I work in a very corporate type environment. I used to be the receptionist, multitasking like a demon, answering about six hundred calls a day for several dozen clients, and dealing with the general idiocy of the front desk and all it’s approachers. Since then I have been promoted to CSR II, meaning essentially that I am a senior customer service representative. You know those personal assistants you hear of, running about like mad, coffee this, errand that, and all sorts of busy shennanigans. Well, essentially my job description is that of a personal assistant for hire on a billable, as-needed basis. If you’re not big and fancy enough to hire your own full time assistant, but you need someone for a half an hour here and there to reschedule appointments, make travel arrangements, order catering and other function logistics, well that’s me. Corporate bitch for hire.

I do actually like my job a great deal, and when I’m busiest is when I’m at my best. I love flying all over the city running errands for clients, click clacking around our more posh downtown area in my fabulous heels and pencil skirt. And then I come back up to the north end of the city where my office actually is and think “ugh.” It’s not so much the job folks, it’s like everybody says: location, location, location.

In summary, my job is awesome, but my office sucks. Here’s why:

Location: Ugly

I’m a downtown kind of girl. I don’t live right downtown – I’m surrounded by trees, nice houses, funky districts and so forth. But where I live is generally considered to be in that proximity. I can see our dense collection of skyscrapers from my window, and I can walk there in just a few minutes. Where I work, on the other hand, is way the hell ass in the north end of the city. You can’t even see the CN Tower from my office, and it’s one of the tallest damn buildings in the world (fuck you Malaysia, your hookers suck.)

It’s far away and the neighbourhood is fugly. No bright lights, no posh architecture, no trendy amenities at ground level. I’m surrounded by nasty looking condos and Korean fast food. Not that there’s anything wrong with Korean fast food, I’m just not a personal fan. And if I’m going to put the effort into heels and pencil skirts, I’d kind of like to be surrounded by upscale florists and other things I like to pretend I can afford. Wide, pale sidewalks, shimmery and crack free. Potted outdoor plants with footlights and tasteful decor. Not so much up here. Tacky and dirty, that’s the general feel of this area. Ugly construction and confused passerby. Nice. Warms my heart as I get off the subway every morning.

Distance: Too Damn Far

It’s a forty five minute commute people. On a good day. On the subway. With transferring. One transfer if I catch the bus in the morning, two transfers if I miss it and have to take the streetcar. And if that’s the case, then I’m transferring at the notoriously ill-designed Yonge-Bloor junction. It sucks. This station brings out the worst in people, because it’s jammed, busy, and designed so that transferring commuters all crash into each other, and people who aren’t familiar with the layout have to stand in the worst spot possible to find any kind of signage. Also, all the civilized people are generally going south from Yonge and Bloor, towards the aforementioned sparkle and shine of the downtown core. Those going north with me, not so much. This is where you get the assfuckers who will park their oversized knock-off luggage on the seat next to them and sigh heavily when you have the nerve to ask for a seat that you paid for.

Status: Ghetto

The company I work for is tremendously succesful, the top in its field. We have dozens of locations in the city alone, and nearly a thousand worldwide. Part of my job often requires that I hop on the train and stop by our prettier centres to pick up equipment and etc. This means I get a nice taste of what the downtown centres look like. Me? I’m stuck at the northernmost point, initially under the employ of a company that was bought out by these fancy new people. That means we’re nowhere near as pretty because we didn’t have the start-up funding for, say, nice carpeting, or freshly painted walls, or pieces of art not emanating from the horrid, horrid 80’s. All the other centres know that we’re the crappiest. It’s a nice feeling.

We are the ghetto centre. We are ugly and cheap. If I didn’t work with Talea, I would immediately request a transfer to a downtown centre if a position was available, but the likelihood of both of us being transferred is slim to none.

Temperature: SubZero

My office is fucking FREEZING. All the damn time! I know it’s summer, I do, but it’s not really. Have they looked outside? It’s been raining every other day, and this morning it was freezing outside. Oh, but the computer says the temperature is fine! Well it’s not. It’s a bloody cold day in hell. And the worst part about it is that we can’t adjust our own temperature. When we’re cold, or when one of my dozens of persnickety clients are cold, I have to call down to maintenance. I loooooove maintenance. They hate me. They hate that I call every half an hour to have someone’s office warmed up/cooled down. They hate it so much that when Talea called down once, they reminded us that when the original owners took the space, they opted not to pay the extra fee for the option to self-adjust temperatures, so now they just get a little angry every time we call.

Great. Thanks. I’m still cold, so you can just bring your angry ass right on up and turn the a/c down, okay?

Oh and peep this! Just now the elevators stopped working. They’re coming up from the lobby, but they won’t go back down. Super fabulous.

Memos and Signatures: Pointless

Why do you think I type up memos and deliver them with mail everyday? Is it because I love risking the slicing intrusion of paper cuts on my fingers? The trees smashed under every word I type? No, people. It’s because there is something new that may pertain to you, and so I am giving you the courtesy of letting you know ahead of time. If you don’t read it, I can’t help you.

Picture this: It’s ten minutes after five, and I happen to still be at my desk. There is loud, insistent banging on the front glass doors, which are locked since it is past five. We didn’t always lock the door at five since we do have people who work here at all hours, even though they all have keys to the alternate entrances. But then security gave us shit. And so we sent out a memo and began locking the doors. Clearly, this banging individual failed to read said memo, and was irate upon my courteous gesture of opening the door for him. It would have been nice, he said miffedly, if someone had informed them that this new policy was in effect. We did, I retorted, there was a memo sent out. Well, said the haughty individual, *I* did not get that memo. You did, as a matter of fact. Your last bill? The one you paid? Yeah, it was in there. You just didn’t read it. Thanks.

Then there are arguments over contracts and all that other legal jargon that I’m not going to go into because it’s company privacy blah blah blah. But sticking with just generic observations, I will say this: If you sign a contract, you’re bound to the terms. That’s why you’re allowed to take these things home and read them over, kind of like when you buy a house and all that stuff. So if you piss and moan that you didn’t understand the terms or that you didn’t read this or that section, or that it wasn’t clearly explained, you can piss and moan all you want. You still signed something without reading it, and you’re stuid. Next time, I think I’m going to add a clause that allows me to tie people to chairs and kick them down a flight of stairs, and see if anyone notices before they sign it.

Incidentally, non-memo readers are about 70% more likely than memo readers to cuss and fight if they think you’ve charged them twelve cents extra for photocopies. Not exagerting here, TWELVE CENTS. Really, if it wouldn’t be construed as insubordination or flat out snarkiness, I’d start up a change jar at poor Talea’s desk so she could simply fling quarters at people rather than start the horrific process that is convincing our head office half a country away that joe-schmuck and his accounting errors desserve twelve cents back in the name of customer service.

Tech Support: Fail

I give up on the phones and internet, because our provider fails on an epik scale. (hahahahahahaha, subtle). We’ve been with this particular vendor for over a year, and still we can’t go a week without them fucking something up. Just yesterday, I took a spare phone we had sitting around, and asked them to program it for a new client. Just change the name thats already in it, that’s all! Wipe out the voicemail, maybe add a feature or two. You are a phone company, right? Well it takes a week (if it were me programming a VCR, I could understand, but I don’t get paid to program VCRs) before it gets programmed. Plug it in and the extension assigned to the phone has magically been stolen from one of our other phones and given to this one. Why? I have no idea. Damn good thing that extension was assigned to another spare phone and not one sitting in someone’s office.

But maybe they knew that, you say. They are tech people after all, they know what extensions are where and all that jazz. Just let them do their thing. Oh yeah? So when they hand us a spreadsheet of all the available phone numbers that we are free to assign to new clients and we find their own damn tech support number on there, I guess that’s a real fab indication of exactly how much they know about their own business.

Morons: I’m Surrounded

Yeah, that’s pretty much the gyst of it folks. I’m surrounded by morons and ugly buildings. I’m not planning on jetting out of here anytime soon, though. Firstly, there are a number of cool people keeping me here. Talea, obviously. Some of our clients can be buckets of fun when they’re in a good mood. One of the resident financial advisors stepped into our office for some of my lemon squares and to give us a fifteen minute lesson on how to flip pens in a crazy impressive manner. My boss is pretty rocking too, and that’s something you don’t want to gamble with. I could end up in the prettiest office downtown with a douchenozzle for a boss to make the overall day just that much worse.

It’s not my job that I hate. It’s my office.

Okay, some days the job sucks too, but I have rent to pay.


By now we should all know that I love animals. What sane individual would transform the itty bitty bedroom of an already itty bitty apartment into a wire-free, outlet-free, toxic-free safehaven for four bunnies? This girl. I don’t love all animals though. My cats were smelly assmonkeys. All my life I’ve loved cats, lived in houses full of them, but as soon as I rescue a pair of my own they turn out to be the whiniest, smelliest sonsofbitches you ever did see. I loved them enough to make sure they’d be taken care of elsewhere, but out the door they had to go, followed by rounds and rounds of detoxicating bleach and the disposal of about half my wardrobe.

Fucking cats.

I also dislike small dogs. Lapdogs, to be more precise. Because despite Paris Hilton and her dog-in-a-handbag trend, Chihuahua’s aren’t really the kind of dog you’d describe as a lapdog. They’re kind of…bony? Being a lapdog has less to do with breed or even stature, but more to do with whining, clinging, yippy spoiled behaviour more commonly seen in your elderly woman’s terrier. I call these ridiculously overloved little shits “Mother In Law Dogs.” You have to pretend to love them, don’t you? But when it comes right down to it, every little squeak out of their traps makes you kind of want to puke.

Their owners are worse. My grandmother, not the awesome one, used to share her ice cream with her damned dog. I wish I were joking. I don’t know what the hell happened – she used to be a perfectly sane women with a house full of about twenty something cats before they got that damn dog. My mother and her brother have long been convinced that their mother would have left the money, house, everything to that little brat except they’ve all outlived it.

My parents have fallen into this trap. Not my mother, who is well versed in the idea that if you’re eating knock off Mac’n’Cheese there’s no way in hell the fucking cat is getting name brand. My father and stepmother, a well established pair in a nicely appointed renovated house, decided about a year or so ago that they would purchase an $800 puppy from a local breeder they found at the mall. It’s a shi-tzu poodle mix. Literally, a shitpoo.

I’ve got issues with paying $800 for a dog while hundreds are dying in shelters, but whatever. Some people want purebreds I guess. Or almost purebreds. But this past weekend put things a little further beyond that.

This past weekend, the parentals were off for a drive to pick up my sister from her yearly bout of Pioneer Camp. They couldn’t bring the dog. Something about how if they stopped along the way, one of them would always have to stay with the dog while the others went inside, and this wouldn’t be very fun. Leaving a small dog in the car with the windows slightly down for twenty minutes on a very comfortably cool overcast day is an apparent cruelness. I call it “owning a dog”. Either way, they needed me to make the trek out to their place to let the dog out to pee sometime during the day and were willing to leave $25 on the table for my time.

Normally this would be super fab. A bit of almost-free money, spend an hour in front of the Nintendo-Wii, enjoy the home wi-fi, kick my feet up for a bit and let the little fuzzball out back for a bit. The dog is annoying, but one can’t generally be annoyed to death, no big deal. This weekend, however, it was a huge fucking deal. In all his godly wisdom, Murphy kicked me in the face with this shitty Law that’s been hanging around for a while, and I ended up with a ridiculously dysfunctional Sunday afternoon.  

It was suggested that I arrive at about 12:30 for the dog’s initial exodus to the backyard. This requires me to leave my house at about 11:40. Yeah, they’re nice and conveniently located on the subway line, except their particular stop is at the easternmost point, in ghetto-dreaded Scarborough. I live slightly west of right downtown, where everything you see below is in walking distance. And Toronto is a very wide city. It’s a long trip.


Toronto also stretches north, for about half an hour on the subway line until it ends at what we downtowners consider the end of the universe. This northernmost point is the general proximity of my work. (I don’t have a problem giving these stalkerlicious facts out, by the way, because ‘North Toronto’ is huge and you’d have to be a retard to try and find me.)

This is North Toronto, or as us downtowners call it, Fucking Ugly:

This northernmost point is also where I had removed both of my parents sets of keys from my rapidly growing set of work and home keys, and stuffed them in my desk drawer for oh-so-convenient safekeeping. Fantastic. So now I have to take a 45 minute trip to the middle of nowhere north to fetch my keys, and then reverse my ass back to central toronto only to transfer and take another 45 minute trip to the middle of nowhere east. Fanfuckingtastic. I love doubling my travel time to a destination I really don’t care about, how about you folks? *big enthusiastic smarmy thumbs up*

The subways are broken. Three stops short of the end of the line where I need to be. They’ve broken out the shuttle busses, so you know its bad. Well fuck it, I’m not waiting for a cramped and smelly shuttle bus. I used to live in Scarborough, I know the bus routes. Or so I apparently think, because whatever platform I went to I have no idea what bus that was. I know what bus it was supposed to be. It was supposed to traverse south Scarborough and graze the neighbourhoods by the bluffs before heading north and reconnecting with the subway at the end of the line. But that’s not what bus it was. It was the bus that navigates every individual side street down by the bluffs before going right back to the same motherfucking station, thereby adding ANOTHER FORTY FIVE MINUTES TO MY TRIP!!! Grar!

Why didn’t I get off? Because I’m in fucking Scarborough. There aren’t any cabs, the bus is the only way to get anywhere. We’re not even near the subway line where this bus is going, and this bus is the only way to get back to it. I could have gotten off and connected with the bus that was going where I was supposed to be. But given that it’s Sunday and the service in Scarborough is shitty, the wait time could have made the trip just as long. That and it’s pouring.

Mmmmm. Scarborough.

On top of this, I’m so blindsided by raging fury and the effort it takes to not lose my shit in these circumstances that I get my subway-expert ass turned around and get on the wrong fucking train. Sure. Why not?

It’s three o’clock by the time I actually stumble, half soaked into my dad’s house. The dog is waiting cross-legged at the door, and rushes outside to take a teeny, tiny, miniscule, solitary squirt. Back in the kitchen, I am greeted with three full voicemails on the machine with instructions on how to care for the dog and tips on unlocking the new patio door that I have no intention of even looking at. I also stumble upon the dogs grooming schedule, taped to the fridge door with appointments made until the end of the year. An hour of collecting my wits later and I’m rummaging through my old coat closet to find a jacket with a hood, sans-umbrella as I am. The coat doesn’t quite fit, and does very little for the part of me that gets wettest – my feet, in their summer slip ons, sloshing through the bacteria-ridden wasteland that is the backed-up mess at the foot of the stairs into this shitty, shitty subway station, incidentally known for stabbings.

For a few brief moments as it leaves Scarborough, the subway line ascends above ground. There is light and trees before diving back underground for the ninety minute trip to the next above ground station way out in the west end of what probably isn’t even considered Toronto by that point. Above ground, briefly, but long enough to see that as soon as I left Scarborough it had stopped raining.

Well fuck this, ladies and gentlemen. Downtown, the subway is the way to go. Fast, convenient, affordable, clean, even trendy. But no way in hell am I taking the subway to Scarborough ever again.

Besides, with a damn mother-in-law dog that tiny, I bet you wouldn’t even notice a piddle on the rug.

Stupid dog.

et cetera