The Bureaucracy Mystery


-- चार हजार तीन सौ और चौरासी --

Well, the corporatization of where I work continues. I usually hate to put it in those terms, but my experience this morning pretty much bears out that perception -- in spite of how often I say to Gabriel after he refers to me working "at corporate," "We are not a corporation! We're a co-op! Member owned!" He just scoffs, and I'm increasingly beginning to see -- rightly so.

I sent out the requisite photo digest email of images from the Washington State Fair at work this morning. It was sent just before 8:00 a.m. Mind you, I have been doing this since at the very least April 2006 -- I still have archived emails from at least that far back at my gmail account; I started sending them there directly in probably 2012. For the first few years I was just sending them to several people here at work, and over time, other people caught wind of them and asked to be included. The number of work recipients has ebbed and flowed over the years, but the proportion of work recipients has consistently dwindled in comparison to friends and family, and a few work contacts. As of this morning there were 50 recipient emails on the list -- all of them pasted into the "BCC" box, at Janice's suggestion ages ago when she pointed out that maybe not everyone would like to see their personal emails exposed. (By then I was sending to several people's personal accounts.) Of those 50, 8 of them were still being sent to the domain name of my place of employment. As of today, that last one goes down to zero.

Something interesting happened this morning, not long after I sent out the photo digest email. Scott asked to have a private chat with me, and led me into one of the private phone rooms nearby. It's like a well-lit closet with one tiny table and two chairs in there, a private meeting space for two. I stopped getting super nervous about things like this years ago, but this was still unusual enough with Scott in particular that as I closed the door I said, "Is this bad?" He replied, "Well hopefully it won't get bad."

So: I guess there is some behavior that needs to be adjusted in my part? The basic answer to that question is yes, although honestly not in a context anywhere near as bad as it technically could have been. But, apparently my photo digest emails have become an issue -- for at least one person. Who that person is remains a mystery, but it is definitely one of those eight people previously mentioned at the domain name from work that I had been sending these two. For years. Scott very much framed it as a means of covering my ass, just doing what I can so I don't get into trouble about it. I am convinced it also largely has to do with him covering his ass -- and I don't blame him at all, and still very much like he has my back, which is a very nice position to be in. I think he just wanted to have an official meeting so he can have documentation of having spoken to me about it, even though he said he doesn't think this is a big deal, and I believe him. But still, someone at work who receives these emails apparently forwarded it to one of Scott's bosses, who then came back to Scott about it, with a comment along the lines of, "Is this a good use of company time?" I actually don't know if that line came from the person who forwarded it or the boss who brought it to Scott. Either way, that was the message that came to Scott.

And, here's the thing. These days, the standard practice with those emails is that I write a draft at home, and then email it to myself at work, where I merely do a few tweaks here and there. Scott basically said he assumed as much already. He even talked about how often any of us stop and shoot the shit with other coworkers for ten minutes here and there, underscoring how dumb this really is. And that's what annoys me the most about this: where does this mystery person get off assuming I'm spending so much time on these emails on work's dime? Is that person really getting paid to be this petty about their own presumptuousness?

Scott and I were pretty much on the same page, though, that such questions hardly matter. The company is growing, and with it comes redundancies of middle management and bureaucracy, things I have been noticing more and more this year in particular. It's definitely in my best interests to be deferential about this rather than pissy, as the latter behavior isn't going to get me anywhere. I might as well take the entire endeavor outside the context of work and leave whoever this dipshit is without the power to keep butting their nose in where it clearly has no business being.

So, at Scott's suggestion, I sent an email to the people with a company domain name in their email address I had been sending these to, and simply asking people to send me back their personal email address if they'd like to continue receiving these emails. Out of the eight that this group included, I removed two from that email: one was a young woman who works in HR, and given the direction this company seems to be going, it just seems best no longer to include anyone in HR. I really don't think this person was the culprit, but I opted not to present the option of switching to personal email to her regardless, and just removed her from the list completely -- unlike many others, she never replies with any commentary, which suggests to me that, if not disinterested per se, she probably won't even miss the emails when they stop coming. If she does, she'll say something and I'll give her the option of being re-added. The other one was someone whose gmail address I already had on hand, and I just switched it out without asking. Turns out that was just as well: to my genuine shock, I learned just this morning that his position -- Digital Marketing Specialist -- had been cut, and his last day was last Friday. Whaaaa? He had been working here something like a decade! To be fair, though, he started as "Social Media Specialist" and although his title changed I'm not sure how much the position itself changed, and I never felt it was particularly vital. When he was first hired, it was really part of a wave of companies hired just to deal with social media, and I think that's a reflection of a time that inevitably changed.

Anyway, I suppose it's possible he was the culprit, but I doubt it there as well. He just isn’t the type to be that shitty or meddling. Of the other six I sent this email to, Scott himself was the first to respond with his personal email address -- then Noah, then Roxanne, then Claudia, all people I was already sure were not the culprit. That leaves two, and one person, a merchandiser in another department (so, same level as Scott, just not in Grocery) who I now have the greatest suspicion of. This person was one of the most recent to be added to the recipient list -- at their request! -- but they likely didn't realize how lengthy then can often be, and clearly did not have the long history with them that most recipients have. I could be wrong, but that's the best I could do with narrowing it down.

I'm pretty annoyed by it, but, whatever. I also sent a separate, similar email to the four people at brokerage firms I send these to (again, at their request) at their work addresses, again asking for personal email addresses. I figure if I am going to do this, I should do it across the board, even for work contacts rather than just for people here at the office. This works out better anyway as well, as any time those people move to a different job, now the email address won't be an issue. So really, this is a better option moving forward for everyone anyway.

-- चार हजार तीन सौ और चौरासी --


-- चार हजार तीन सौ और चौरासी --

Now I'm posting today's DLU later than usual, because we just had our September "Town Hall" office meeting, followed by a provided lunch -- hot dogs and other sides, with seating out on the deck, basically regarded as a "last hurrah" as far as office lunches that can be eaten outside are concerned. And it seemed we barely managed even that today -- it was quite wet on the way to work this morning, drizzly but still plenty wet enough for me to need my umbrella, and once again I bused rather than biked. At least this time it actually did rain -- but, by lunch time it was sunny out.

I actually sat at a table on the patio right across from the CEO, who brought up that the last time she sat with me at one of these things she asked what my plans for the weekend were and I had said I was about to go to Yellowstone National Park. She wanted to know how that was, and everyone at the table was duly impressed when I said, "It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life." That wasn't hyperbole, either. I then talked a little about all the great things about the place, suddenly holding court at the table for maybe two minutes, whereas most of the rest of the time I sat there I was pretty quiet, as I don't know any of the people who were sitting at that table very well.

I might have sat with, say, Claudia, if I had gotten in line earlier, but I had to use the restroom twice after the meeting started -- once in the middle of the meeting, and once again as soon as it was done, probably because I took my tumbler of hot tea in there with me. Aimée the Office Manager stood in line behind me, though, and that was how I found out I had her to thank for there being any veggie hot dog options -- when she asked Leon about it and he said he had not gotten any veggie sausages, she actually drove down to Whole Foods to pick up a packet of Field Roast sausages! So I had that and a bit of smoked mozzarella pasta and potato salad and a bag of potato chips. A rather full lunch; I'll try to make the food I eat with Laney at Happy Hour after a movie tonight something light. That shouldn't be difficult, ordering off the Happy Hour menu.

In the meantime I have plenty of work to get done this afternoon.

-- चार हजार तीन सौ और चौरासी --


[posted 1:06 pm]

5:26 pm EDIT:

So I was walking home from work and suddenly it hit me -- the probable answer to the mystery! The "Digital Marketing Specialist" -- the email that got forwarded to one of Scott's bosses, almost certainly did have to do with him. Just indirectly: that guy who was laid off last week does not yet have anything currently being bounced back. That surely means emails sent to him, at his work email, are being auto-forwarded, presumably to who was his boss. I would be anything, now that that was the guy who forwarded the email with the "Is this the best use of company time?" comment.

I still think it was none of his fucking business (the presumptuousness is still annoying). But, at least now I feel better under the impression that it was not one of the people I was sending those photo digest emails to directly who attempted to sell me out.

And, it's still for the best that these emails be taken out of the work email context. God knows what other kind of mixup like this could happen again otherwise. I did still text Scott my new theory. He didn't even know about the layoff -- these sudden eliminations of positions in Marketing have happened several times in the past year or so now, and honestly seem slightly ominous, if you want to know the truth. At least that sort of shit isn't happening in Merchandising. Not right now, anyway.