Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The 4:45 Ambush

All office minions of the world follow pretty much the same daily routine: come into work, settle in with a cup of coffee, check e-mail, prioritize tasks for the day, work (or pretend to work) for a couple of hours, lunch, work (or pretend to work), have an afternoon snack, chat with coworkers, work (or pretend to work), pack up and go home.

No matter what the designated go home time is, office minions start looking at the clock about fifteen minutes before that and making plans for their escape. It’s either calling the significant other to arrange dinner plans for the evening, writing out the grocery list, checking with friends to make sure they’re making it to happy hour, or trying to remember if you need to make it to the dry cleaner’s by 6 or 6:30.

(I am always wrong about the dry cleaners, by the way. They close at 6:00. They’ve had my favorite gray skirt suit for 3 weeks now because I never make it there on time.)

Then, about five minutes before go-time, the minion takes their dirty coffee cup or water glass to the kitchen, hits the bathroom one last time, tidies up their desk space, and gets tomorrow’s to-do list ready.

They change into their comfy going-home shoes, make sure they have whatever they need in their bag, and head for home.

There is the occasional SNAFU that screws up this carefully timed and routine office minion escape route. Sometimes there are emergencies, sometimes there are deadlines, and sometimes things just don’t get done by 5:00.

And that’s okay. We minions can handle it. We know we’re at the stage of our careers called “learning” and “paying our dues.”

But there’s a saying. It goes “a lack of planning on your part does not make an emergency on my part.”

If only this were true. When an office minion’s supervisor, director, or boss fails to plan appropriately, it does make an emergency for the minion.

And those emergencies always crop up at 4:45. And they usually happen several at a time. The minion, sitting quiet at their desk, is attacked from all directions, with several people rushing in with “this needs to be done right now” statements flying out of their mouths. This leaves the minion irritable and frustrated since the minion’s plans for dinner or pajamas and bad reality TV or finally having clean clothing are thwarted, tossed aside in the fray of quick-fast getting things done.

It happens. We understand. Hell, some of us create our own 4:45 ambushes when we hand stuff to our assistants just as they’re slipping their arms into their coat sleeves and we receive vicious, angry glares in response. We know that sometimes stuff gets away from you and it wasn’t supposed to go down like that and you’re really, honestly, truly, sorry. But that doesn’t mean we like it.

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