Thursday, February 25, 2010

Food for thought

If you work somewhere for long enough you will learn to interpret the little signs that the environment is giving you. A streaky line on a printout means the toner needs replacing. If the coffee machine is beeping and its lights are flashing, then someone has got a full house and won the jackpot. And if the air conditioning is working it means that we have moved offices.

One sign that we all should learn to recognise is the presence of a large group of clients. When clients are in the office, staff are expected to dress neatly and behave with more courtesy than is usual (i.e. some). More importantly though, there is a strong chance that there is a catered meeting, and that means free leftovers.

Leftovers from a catered meeting often come out just after most people return from their lunch break, however it is common knowledge that the stomachus dessertus we develop as a child (the extra gastric organ which allows children to be full of broccoli and meatloaf but still have room for ice-cream) matures at adulthood into stomachus leftoverus. This makes it possible for someone to be brimming from a recently consumed lunch and still find room for free chicken sticks and deep fried cheese balls.

If you are privileged enough to actually attend a catered meeting, keep in mind your co-workers who are not. You may be tempted to employ all available stomachs, and eat as much as you possibly can, ensuring the freeloaders get nothing. But remember that you were once like them, eagerly flocking with the other seagulls outside the meeting-room door. You should make sure that something is left behind for them, even if it is just those cucumber and celery sticks wrapped in rice paper that nobody else wants.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Eternal Struggle

Some people crave exposure to nature and the outdoors and will endeavour to brighten their world with sunshine whenever possible. Let’s call these people hippies. Others avoid the sun at all costs, shying away from its ultraviolet glare and seeking out darkness in every corner that it lurks. Let’s call these people vampires.

Those who are untrained in the delicate balance of the office ecosystem would assume that the best place for hippies is in the sunlight of a window seat, and the best place for vampires is in the darkness towards the centre of the building. This is certainly what each group would prefer, however if this arrangement were to occur the vampires would just sleep all day hanging upside-down in the exposed network cables running through the ceiling ducts, and the hippies would continually sing folk songs and stick flowers in their USB ports. Very little software development would happen.

Not surprisingly the opposite arrangement, with hippies in the darkness and vampires in the light, is equally disastrous. Without their friend the sun to guide them through the day, the hippies would wander blindly and disturb the mushroom plantations growing in the empty computer boxes. And of course, with regular exposure to sunlight the vampires would simply combust.

So management, in its increasingly evident wisdom, has decided to mingle these groups. Some vampires are forced to sit near the window, and are locked in constant conflict with the nature loving hippies over the state of the blinds. Some hippies, on the other hand, are forced to inhabit the gloom, providing the resident vampires with a free, if somewhat frightened and bewildered, snack.

Thus the ecosystem is maintained and productivity is at its peak. And as long as people are willing to clean up the small piles of ash and the shreds of bloodied tie-dyed clothing that inevitably appear, there will always be spare desks and room for new employees.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Conversational Escape Hatch

Conversations are a necessary part of office life, but be careful when entering a conversation that you don’t bite off more than you can chew. A simple greeting such as “how are you” can be a catalyst for a five minute monologue on the intricate details of the health of someone’s sinuses. A passing remark on the universal loveliness of the party pie may begin a vegan diatribe on the obvious similarities between meat and murder. Even making a humorous but accurate criticism of one of your superiors while they are standing right behind you may start a regrettable, albeit one-sided, exchange.

Once you find yourself in troubled conversational waters you need a cunning strategy for escape. The first temptation is to pretend to be busy, but your co-workers may see through this. Remember, the only reason many people are still employed here is that they know how to pretend to be busy.

Acting crazy, on the other hand, is perfect. No-one wants to be caught talking to the insane person (after all that is exactly what you are trying to avoid). Look suddenly into a space just above and to the left of the speaker’s face and say “Did you feel that? As if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.” Then vaguely wander off, as if looking for the source of the disturbance.

A final tip: under no circumstance should you say “this is fascinating, but I really need to go to the toilet”. Firstly, it will it give the speaker inspiration for a whole new thread of uncomfortable conversation topics that will haunt you until your dying day. But more horrifically, it will allow them to follow you into the facilities to complete their anecdote while simultaneously, if you are very very lucky, relieving their bladder.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Something Wiki This Way Comes

Welcome to the Plankton wiki. Here you will find all manner of useful and organically growing information which will help you, the average Plankton employee, in your constant uphill struggle against ignorance.

A common misconception people have is that all wikis are like that most famous of wikis: wikipedia. This is not necessarily the case as every wiki is entirely configurable by the company that runs it, and will evolve depending on how it’s used [citation needed].

What makes a wiki different from any other centralised source of knowledge is constant contributions by individuals - by you. It helps to think of a wiki as a kind of chain, with each staff member providing a metal link of information, and each link forming together to create an informational whole of unimaginable strength. It’s a useful analogy and I’m almost positive that thing they say about chain strength and weakest links doesn’t apply.

Many people are concerned that if too many people work on the same page its original intent, or even its grammatical correctness, can be lost. However, recent studies have shown that even though a single sentence of a wiki page may be collaborated on by a large number of people, there is never a problem with the tense or structure, even though a single sentence of a wiki page may be collaborated on by a large number of people, according to recent studies.

Collaboration is one of Plankton's keywords, and wikis are the epitome of collaboration. Like bees and the Borg, wikis are the product of a hive mind. The sooner you assimilate Plankton’s wiki into your everyday life the sooner you will realise: we are Plankton: resistance is futile.

Wiki last updated: April 31, 1947 by Anonymous User