From 2005 to 2008 I maintained a blog about my experiences working in the drug test industry. Every Saturday I revive one of those experiences here. The following was originally posted November 28, 2006.
The number one reason I dislike sharing my office with a dozen other people is the politicking and gossping that goes around. Whenever something goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault. If work isn’t getting done, it’s always someone else’s job. Everyone seems to have honed the skill of shrugging responsibility onto someone else’s shoulders until it’s become a fine, perfected art.
Anyone who digs back through the Peemeister archives for a bit will find that back when I had my own office I would sometimes have trouble procuring supplies. This was because, as a satellite office, my bosses would literally forget I existed and sometimes get behind schedule ordering things for me. This is perfectly understandable; it was my responsiblity to let them know what I needed, and theirs to get it for me. When I ran out of something it didn’t matter which of us had screwed up, just so long as we got the problem cleared up. We always did.
Supplies at this office are a bit trickier. Since not everyone has access to or knowledge of all the supplies, no one person knows the entire inventory of the office. Which is fine; what do the people up front care how many boxes of forms I have? And why should I care how many seringes the doctor has for giving shots? That isn’t our respective department.
So yesterday I’m doing a pile of drug tests when I notice we’re almost out of paper towels, paper cups for the water machine and hand soap. I decided to restock everything before continuing with the collections, but didn’t know where the various materials were kept. Still being an office newb I turned to the girls up front for help.
“I don’t know,” she said, “nobody in this office ever does inventory. We’ve been out all week.”
She proceeded to examine every cupboard and closet in the office to drive her point home, muttering all the while about how nobody ever bothers to order supplies. Eventually she turned up one brick of paper towels, but nothing in the way of cups or soap. She blamed one of the other girls for not being stocked.
I put the towels into the dispenser and decided that getting supplies was no big deal. It’s such an easy job, I figured, and if nobody’s doing it I could handle it myself to prevent running out in the future. I ran the idea by my boss: I’d print out a checklist of all the supplies needed in the drug testing area and, once a week, I’d do inventory and pass along a supply order if need be. It occured to me that it was a bit strange that the girls up front would constantly complain about not having supplies instead of, you know, ordering some, but I wasn’t asked for my opinion. My boss liked the idea and said I should run it by the girl whose job it is to order our office supplies.
I finished up my collections and, when finished, dropped by the supply girl’s office to let her know what we needed. “Oh, here you go,” she said, and handed me a full jug of hand soap and two full sleeves of paper cups.
“Wait, you mean we had this stuff all along?”
“Yeah, why, are we out up there?”
“The up-front girls said you never ordered any.”
“Well, it’s all back here, all they have to do is come and get it.”
Then she went on her way.
Suddenly I felt very, very silly about offering to increase my workload by doing office inventory; someone was already doing it, and doing a very good job of it. In actuality, all that had happened was a couple of lazy people would rather go without supplies and complain to everyone in sight than to take a few minutes and walk to the back and ask about it.
I suppose the argument could be made that it’s supply-girl’s job to make sure all the supplies end up where they need to be, but I’m not really sure it is. She works hard and has a lot of other stuff to worry about without having to run up front every few hours to make sure the soap dispenser is full. Since she never actually uses the soap dispenser herself, it is far more logical for the people who do use it (myself included) to pass word along to her when it’s running low. Which is exactly what I do.
I’m thinking a lot these days about office efficiency and what I can do to increase it. I’m not really sure I can do much of anything, with co-workers around who literally don’t make the minimum effort necessary to do their jobs successfully. It’s sad because I know their slacking off is affecting the rest of the office both in morale (nobody wants to hear their whining) and in productivity (whenever they get too “busy” one of the backup collectors has to stop what they’re doing to go up and do drug tests until they’re bailed out).
I try to stay out of the drama as much as possible. It really doesn’t interest me in the slightest. But sometimes one has no choice but get involved since others are so intent on smacking everyone over the head with it.
The word “busy” is in scare quotes for a reason. I’ve been called up to do drug tests so the up-front girls can sit around and chitchat about Gilmore Girls.