Saturday, December 10, 2011

Illegal Procedures

In a prior job with my current company, my primary mission was to write procedures to document our operations.  For this, I went to some training sessions to learn to use the format that our company preferred.

Once there were a number of us trained, part of the ongoing process was to meet on weekly conference calls and present our procedures to the group, for review.  Not only could the group help tighten up our presentations; they could look for areas where the described procedure might conflict with those of another department.

I always looked forward to these calls, not only as an asset to enhance my writing skills, but as an audience for my unusual sense of humor.  See, I didn’t have a blog yet, so I had to take advantage of any captive audience I could find.

One of my favorite things to do was to slip little jokes into my procedures.  Stuff like this, (and I’m paraphrasing the details):

If the review is approved within 3 days:
  • It’s a miracle.
  • Proceed to step 4.
I liked to see who was paying attention and actually reading my stuff.  Another favorite thing was to produce interesting acronyms for procedures or recurring documents.  My influence paid off later when someone else wrote to the group about wanting to use the acronym BARF for a form.  (I don’t remember what it stood for, but it was completely accurate.)  The email said something like, “Please let me use BARF… Bluz would do it…”

I was so honored.  I wrote back that indeed I would do it; if for no other reason that I could hear people say things like:

 “Would you please hand me the BARF?”

“Have you seen my BARF?”

“Who left that BARF on my desk?”

My finest moment bubbled up organically, like the best ones do.  I was presenting a very detailed procedure to the group and my bit ended with filing the paperwork in the appropriate file cabinet.  One of the (other) wise guys on the call piped up, “And then what do you do?

I responded, “I don’t know, I haven’t written the ‘Returning to Your Seat’ procedure yet.”


The entire plan occurred to me right then.  I would write a “Returning to Your Seat” procedure and quietly slip it into the queue for review.  I’d write it with the exact specifications and attention to detail that we used for all our procedures, right down to the hyperlinks and references to other procedures.  I’d let it go through the entire approval routine, just to see who was paying attention.

Unfortunately, our group leader was paying attention.  The two of us had always gotten along well and she totally understood me.  In fact, she said she was using some of my work as examples in subsequent training sessions, even the goofy stuff.  But with this one, she felt duty-bound to fish it out of the queue so to not waste anyone’s time. She did, however, forward it to a number of others in the group whom she felt would appreciate the joke.

So without further ado, may I present my very own: Returning to Your Seat procedure!

Returning To Your Seat

Related Documentation
·             Scenario
·             Important Things to Remember
·             Business Risk
·             Assumptions
·             System Requirements
·             Other Required Items
·             Returning To Your Seat
·             Floor Plan
·             Procedure: Relieving One’s Self

You find yourself at a file cabinet and having completed your filing, need to return to your desk.
  • No matter what distractions you encounter along the way, you must remember to return to your desk in order to avoid any awkward questions from your boss.
  • When the boss is out of the office, the timeline to execute this procedure expands proportionately to the distance between your boss and your office.
Failure to follow proper procedure may result in your getting lost, and the risk will be that the next time your co-workers see you; it will be on a milk carton.
Because it is prior to happy hour, you are still independently ambulatory.

  • Legs
  • Feet
  • Sufficient will to go back to work
Spare Change.
Complete the following steps to return to your seat.


Turn your back to the file cabinet, and aim in the direction from which you arrived there.
Note:  You may need an alternate route back to your seat.  Consult your Floor Plan if necessary.
Example: Someone disagreeable may be lodged in your most direct path back to your seat.  It may be a known windbag, it may be someone you’re ducking, or it may be your boss looking for some weekend “volunteers.”

Take a step with your right leg.

Take a step with your left leg.

Decide on destination:


You feel the need to “go”…
  • Adjust direction toward the restroom, and continue toward your new destination.
  • See Procedure: Relieving Ones Self.
  • Go to Step 5.

You desire some gossip…
  • Adjust direction toward the department blabbermouth.
Note: You may want to stay below the top of the cube walls, as not to be detected by your boss from Step 1.

You are hungry…
  • Adjust direction toward the snack machines.
  • Deposit your Spare Change.
  • Withdraw yummy treat.
  • Go to Step 5.

None of the above…

Take a step with your right leg.

Take a step with your left leg.

If you are…

Not yet at your desk…
Repeat Steps 5-6.

At your desk…
  • Locate your chair.
  • Maneuver your backside until it is centered above the horizontal plane of your chair.
Note: Refrain from too much maneuvering, lest your boss think you’re dancing.
  • Bend at knees until your backside meets the horizontal plane of your chair.
  • Continue moving papers from one side of your desk to the other.  (End Of Procedure)

The Mojo Boogie
The Steelers played this week’s game last Thursday night, which presented a dilemma for me.  The game was scheduled directly opposite the Penguins game against their mortal enemies, the Philadelphia Flyers.  The game times were staggered, with the Pens coming on at 7 and the Steelers kicking off at 8:30.

I decided to DVR the Steelers game.  The Pens game would be half over before the Steelers even started, so I figured I could check in during the 2nd period break and during commercials, and bail completely in case of a blowout.  Then I could zap the commercials during the football game and eventually catch up to the live action.

My viewing plan worked out well, even thought the Pens game went down to the wire.  My real problem was with mojo apparel.  Do I wear the hockey jersey or the football ensemble?

My solution was to do both.  I wore my Steelers jersey underneath the Pens jersey and whenever I flipped over to watch the football, I pulled up the Pens jersey.  I didn’t have the energy to remove it completely but figured that just exposing the numbers would suffice.

The Steelers were wearing their throwback uniforms so I went with one of mine.  The previous time they wore the throwbacks, I wore my James Harrison throwback and they lost.  So this time I opted for my Heath Miller version.  Here is the complete array:
90’s era Mario Lemieux jersey, over Heath Miller throwback, over “Stillers” tee, with Steelers socks.  Not pictured: AC/DC flannel pants.  I needed something neutral for my bottom half.  If I owned any Penguins socks, I’d have worn one of each.

The Steelers won, 14-3, in a game that seemed closer.  My boys had a couple of injuries though… Both QB Ben Roethlisberger and Center Maurkice Pouncey suffered high ankle sprains, although Big Ben gutted it out and hobbled through the 2nd half on one foot.  Also, both Heath Miller and Hines Ward had crucial fumbles in the red zone, which killed drives.  I'm not sure whether my wearing the Miller jersey affected the fumble (bad) or saw that we pulled the game out at the wire (good).  Next game is a Monday Night affair in San Francisco so I'll have to pull out some MNF research.


bluzdude said...

Director's DVD Commentary:
Unfortunately, due to the black background I use here, you can't see the boxes around each step. And the headers are shaded gray to form a highlight against a white page, which also doesn't translate well here. But at least the rest of the color coding comes across.

In the original template for our procedures, the blue bits are all links and green connotes other variable requirements that can't be linked or haven't been written yet.

Workingdan said...

That is a very detailed procedure for returning to your seat! Good job!

I think the Steelers were desperate for that game...letting Ben come back into the game when he can barely walk. But it worked out so congrats!

bluzdude said...

It had to be detailed; that's the only way to get it through the group. (and the only way it's funny)

Steelers definitely needed the game. If they have any hope of winning the division, they have to win out (and hope the Ratbirds lose one.)

Christy said...

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE STEPS!!! This was awesome Bluz! I will have to pass this post along. Very good. And I won't forget the BARF.

bluzdude said...

Please do pass it on! I'd be honored, and not just because I'm a "hits whore."

And yes, everyone needs a good BARF once in a while.

injaynesworld said...

Please run for elected office in my lifetime. ;)

And pass the BARF.

bluzdude said...

Maybe that's something else I'll do if I ever hit it big in the lottery... run for office and finance my own campaign. Then I'd run the most ridiculous campaign since Pat Paulsen. Unlike the current Republican slate, I'd be doing it on purpose.

Jessica R. said...

I am not at all surprised that you were in charge of organizing and detailed if-then reports. It sort of suits your personality.

I love my co-workers like you that inject humor into things and make the day more fun. Fortunately I'm the worker who knows how to use and manage Photoshop. Lots of heads get pasted on lots of strange pictures...

bluzdude said...

It's my policy to have fun in whatever job I do. Makes life much more interesting that way. And if I had your mad photoshopping skillz, Lord knows how much mischief I'd be getting into.

It only made sense for them to make me the procedure guy. Not only was I one of the few that could string some coherent sentences together, I was the guy that devised many of the processes we used, as I worked the job. I've always been good at coming up with ways to do things. So they made me the guy to document them.

Judie said...

Oh, I just LOVE acronyms! I have an acronym for a new spray product I invented for peaceful demonstrators to carry in the event that they are assaulted by law enforcement. It is called PEET(Police Engaging in Extreme Tactics). The spray leaves no dangerous after-effects, other than a STINGING reminder of the First Amendment.

As to your dilemma regarding your two shirts, I had that same dilemma just tonight. It involved two robes--the slinky one, or the hot pink fleece one. Slinky or fleece, slinky or fleece. I chose the fleece.

Your Hot Arizona Auntie

bluzdude said...

Our company is just insane with acronyms, so I especially enjoy coming up with good ones. Whether they let me use them in general communications is another story.

You should also go with both robes. Come out with the fleece one, then BAM! There stands the Slinky Arizona Auntie. Rod will never know what hit him.

Kernut the Blond said...

That "Returning to your seat" procedure is too funny! There are some people who really do need help with that - I've worked with them. I don't think your company should've scrapped it.

bluzdude said...

They probably wanted to try breadcrumbs first, or lighted floor strips like on airplanes. But it's not too late...

A Beer for the Shower said...

The best part about the plan is you don't even need most of the system requirements - legs and feet, anyway. If you have the will to get back, you WILL get back, even if it means dragging your bloody stumps back to your desk. Then again, if you have what can only be described as 'bloody stumps,' going back to your desk probably isn't your first priority. Also, call 911 immediately.

Cassie said...

What happens if your legs are painted on? WHAT THEN?!

Anonymous said...

Your (former) group leader sounds awesome. A little workplace humor never hurt anyone, and it's great that she understood that.

I do have a couple questions about your sports ensemble. It has nothing to do with why you'd wear this jersey over that jersey for the game(s)...I totally get that. But why does the Steelers t-shirt say "Stillers" and why is there an "O" on the Penguins jersey...shouldn't that be a "C"?

Side note: WTF is going on with Sid the Kid? Poor guy can't stay on the ice. I'm more of an Ovechkin fan myself, but playing like crap for 80 games ain't much better than missing a ton of games, playing like Gretzky for two weeks, and then getitng hurt again. Sheesh.

bluzdude said...

Bryan (Beer)
You’re absolutely right. I should have listed legs and feet as “optional.” See, if I could have had the group review my procedure, maybe someone would have picked up on that.

If your legs were painted on, that means they might run.

The “Stillers” shirt is a bit of Pittsburgh dialect. Native Pittsburghers often pronounce it Stillers rather than Steelers. In fact, Pittsburghers practically have a language of their own. More people would know about that if only all the movies that are set in Pittsburgh actually had people using the proper accent and terminology. That’s one of my pet peeves. Set a movie in Boston and everyone sounds like the Kennedys. Set one in the Burgh… nothin’.

I had the 66 Lemieux jersey transformed from a 68 Jagr jersey and at the time I did that, Mario had recently become the team’s principal owner. So I thought it would be cool to give it an “O” for Owner instead of the “C” for Captain.

Sid got bounced around pretty good against the Bruins and had a headache the next day. According to the news today, he’s had a recurrence of concussion symptoms. Given his long recovery from concussion, the Pens don’t want to take any chances with his long-term health so now he’s out again “indefinitely.” The Pens want to make sure he’s good to go for the stretch run and playoffs. When they can get Crosby, Malkin and Staal all on the same bench, they are a truly formidable team. They’ve had an unbelievable spate of injuries this year… over 400 man-games so far this year.

Unapologetically Mundane said...

God bless bureaucracy.

I used slipping jokes into my company e-mails as a way to make friends when I first started my current job. Everybody was already close, and I didn't know how to break into the family, so I just made them love me with e-mails about cleaning out the refrigerator. I don't know what I would've done if business these days actually included talking.

bluzdude said...

You know, it's funny you mention that because I think that's a part of why I do what I do as well. When I've had to send out various emailed memoranda, I'd try to slip jokes in there as well. When the subject matter is relatively dry, it helps to provide incentive for people to read the stuff. I figured eventually, people would be wondering "What's that maniac going to stick in here this time?" Spoonful of Sugar principle.

I'm fortunate that the modern workplace is in synch with my meager skills.

Mrs. Bachelor Girl said...

I'm with injaynesworld - we need you in public office. You'd see to it that Homeland Security had contingencies for every contingency.

bluzdude said...

Mrs. Bachelor Girl,
I don't know... it sounds like a lot of work. At least until I hire a bunch of smart people that agree with me and start delegating.

DG said...

Is it just me, or does "exposing the numbers" sound like a euphamism?

The procedures are great. I need to write procedures for the male in my office so that he will make coffee when he takes the last cup. Otherwise, he may not survive the winter.

bluzdude said...

If I were Skippy Skeeve (the Foul Dwarf), it certainly would be a euphemism.

It sounds like as opposed to more procedures, you need a series of reprisals and consequences. Like coffee grounds dumped on one's lap.

red pen mama said...

Very entertaining. So now that you have a blog, do you spare your coworkers? ;)

bluzdude said...

Red Pen Mama
Believe me, having a blog greatly relieves the pressure to want to entertain at work, although I still try to drop some ha-ha’s from time to time. Just as a public service, of course.

Anonymous said...

I give your corporation credit. Most corps wouldn't even have noticed the joke.

Took my buddy in from Chicago to Jerome Bettis' Grill to catch the end of the Bears' game Sunday. When the Bears were up 10-0 with 2:05 left, we really thought it was over. Then, we watched Tim Tebow mount another two-minute miracle. Sucks to be a Bears' fan when your QB and RB go down two weeks in a row.

bluzdude said...

Often times the powers that be DON’T notice the joke. That was especially noticeable when I had to write our Tabletop Test Scenarios (that I blogged about a while back). It was obvious that they only read the first couple before approving them because the last few were so over-the-top outrageous (culminating in a circus train crash with animals running amok), there’s no way a sane person would have approved them. (Especially in this business climate.)

I take it you noticed my tweet on the Broncos game… (Still shown on the right margin at the time of your comment.) I had my original tweet all ready to go, but had to change it. With Denver being outplayed that badly for so long, I had this tweet in the chamber: “Apparently the only way to stop Tebow from using Divine Intervention to win the game is for me to pick them to win.”

And then, I’ll be damned if he didn’t pull one out again. My theory is that God is waiting for a bigger stage before serving up the Holy Humble Pie… perhaps the AFC Championship Game.