Category Archives: the complaint department

Hey Google

….. you’re creeping me out with your helpful auto-responses to my email. Here, a friend and I were sharing job insecurity stories and Google picked up on what sounded like plan-making and offered three ways I might respond.

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Some suggestions for you, Google:

  • Please don’t assume we’ve gotten so lazy we can’t formulate responses on our own.
  • Please refrain from reading my emails—now not even pretending that you’re not.
  • Please stop getting your helpfulness all over everyone, as Anne Lamott would say.

 

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Take your own dang meeting notes, co-worker dude 

 

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So goes the subtitle of a GirlBoss article helpfully pointing out all the helpful ways in which women help others at work—at their peril. I’ve written about being a young woman with a bad boss (The Boss of Me), a beleaguered commuter (Girl in the Gray Flannel Suit) and a woman trying to decode Broffice Brocabulary.

But this article made me laugh, wincingly, especially this part about being saddled with “girl” tasks:

If women had a dime every time they were asked by a man to take notes in a meeting, for no other reason than the fact that they’re women, we’d be making at least 84 cents to their dollar. 

Yesterday, a colleague I like quite a bit started mansplaining an editorial calendar to me—me being the editor, he being the marketing dude. He looked a bit hurt when I called him out for mansplaining so I apologized…a lot. He’s new to the organization, hasn’t worked a lot with editorial teams, was really just explaining his understanding of the edit calendar, not schooling me about it. But I was in a mood, I guess. I apologized again today. And now I should just stop apologizing.

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New Year’s Resolutions For Other People, 2018

Hey, it’s me again with my annual list of helpful suggestions. You’re welcome!

Grand Central Station: Get more clocks. There should be clocks everyone because the only two things you need to know when you’re there is your track number and what time it is. Currently there’s that yee olde clocke on the info kiosk (charming but analog and when you’re running late you need to know the time down to the second), and a few digital clocks near the platforms. Clocks, clocks, clocks.

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Does anybody really know what time it is?

MTA: So, so many objections but let’s lean into* signage. As a subway user for 30 years, I was flummoxed by an N train headed to Stillwell Avenue. My other choice was Mermaid Avenue. I guessed that Mermaid was Coney Island bound (downtown), which meant that Stillwell would take me to the Bronx (uptown). I was right! But is guessing the best way to ensure we get on the right train?

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Which way to the Bronx?

*Lean into: Stop saying this. Sheryl Sandberg coined the phrase with her bestselling book advising women in the workplace. It’s been bastardized by Corporate America, where it’s used as a directive by bosses (mine, anyway), as in “I’d love for you to lean into that task.”41luF9kOo6L._SX301_BO1,204,203,200_

Made-up words for “weather events:” BombCyclone is not a word, New York Times. Neither is bombogenesis, even though CNN says it is. And even if they are (I now think maybe they are), why is everybody snubbing “blizzard” or “snowstorm” for these wonky weather terms? Also, what’s with “Grayson” as the official storm name?

Bondage as a Fashion Statement: This is not me being prudish. This is me objecting to modern-day women being restrained by their clothing. Did we not suffer enough from Chinese foot-binding and Colonial-era bustles? More on this rant here.

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Don’t even dream of raising your arms

Women Everywhere: Persist, resist, and otherwise do as you like, as suggested by this keychain.

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Men behaving badly

 

 

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Jennifer Weiner

In an opinion piece called “The Men Who Never Grow Up,” Jennifer Weiner observes that “Americans have a soft spot for our troublemakers and scamps,” excusing the bad behavior on the part of one particular “honest kid” with a dismissive “that’s politics”—even when that kid is 39 years old and his scampishness appears to have included colluding with the Russians to interfere with the presidential election.

“Women and nonwhite men don’t have it quite as easy,” Weiner writes, trenchantly: “If boys will be boys, then girls must be grown-ups, whose job it is to protect men from their worst impulses.” Or serve as post-indiscretion apologists: “like boys in the locker room,” appeased Melania Trump about her husband bragging about his pussy-grabbing prowess. Also implicated in that incident was Billy Bush, who excused his own poor judgment with “I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along.” He was 33 at the time.

When Anderson Cooper pressed Melania, she stayed on point: “It’s kinda like two teenage boys — actually they should behave better, right?” she said.

Cooper: “He was 59.”

Compare all that with condemnation heaped upon female celebrities behaving badly. Lindsay Lohan, while not one of my very favorite people (except for her star turn in “The Parent Trap” 10 years ago, when she was adorbs), is a pariah. Confusing, yes, so here’s the bottom line: men who behave badly are forgiven, women are not and, salt to the wound, must clean up the messes made by males.

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Dear Southwest Airlines

People like this airlines and the way it accommodates human passengers with free bags and reservation changes and whimsical flight attendants. On my first Southwest flight, I’d offer these gentle criticisms:

  • Your app has short-term memory issues, not recalling me or my flight once I leave it
  • There are zero plugs in the Atlanta terminal (we could blame this on Atlanta, if you like)
  • There are zero plugs on board (this one’s on you, Southwest)
  • This phrase, to announce take-off: “Tug your seatbelt and hug your neighbor, ‘cuz this Boeing is ‘a-going.” (Ouch)
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10 Things I Hate About You (Spellcheck)

Oh Spellcheck and your even pushier cousin Autocorrect. You two are bullies, replacing your words with mine. Spellcheck, you unhelpfully underline words with that jaggedy (oh I guess you think jaggedy isn’t a real thing when it’s totally understood by absolutely everyone) red squiggle. So judgy (also not a word, per you) and wrong-headed—I did not mean “jigged” or “judger.” Autocorrect, you just straight up make changes and if I don’t reread what I’ve written, I’ll have to send one of those *corrections, which are annoying to me and the recipient (green underline here, why?). Eight additional bad things about you two:

  • That bad-grammar jaggedy (sigh) line doesn’t help at all, forcing me to try “that” and then “which” and then commas inserted all over the place and when none of that works, recasting my sentence entirely.
  • Can you be a better guesser when it comes to your suggestions? “Reowned” is not at all what I meant when I misspelled “reknowned.” And now I’m going to have to go with “esteemed” not because it’s a better word but because I know how to spell it.
  • How do you spell reknowned (as in “world reknowned” bass fisherman?) Not one of my things, I just want to know this.
  • Sometimes I use French words, not because I’m pretentious but because…I don’t have to explain myself to you, just be OK with it, OK?
  • Sometimes writers like a two-word sentence. To emphasize. To focus the reader. We do not want them underlined.
  • I don’t like alt spellings for common names (Hey, D’iane) anymore than you do, but it seems really judgy to call them out as wrong.
  • Hah! In that last one, I misused the word “anymore” (s/b any more) and you didn’t catch it!
  • Go away, both of you.
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“easier said than done”

What isn’t really?

File this under things people say that need not be said.

Another: “It is what it is.”

And: “Mistakes were made.” This passive-voice non-apology comes with the unsaid disclaimer “but not by me.” And today I learned this is the actual name of an actual book, by the psychologist Carol Tarvis: “Mistakes Were Made But Not By ME” (emphasis hers).

 

 

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did you ever …

not blog for so long that they change the interface up on you — and you can’t figure out how to do it, even when you have something really interesting to say?

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No broughtupsy to be found

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Best piece of writing about KAC I’ve read, taking her to task for acting like a 10-year-old, far as I can see: feet on the couch, knees all splayed, playing with her phone. Says Awesomely Luvvie: “This woman ain’t got no home training. Not a piece of broughtupsy to be found. Does she have on shoes? That couch looks like it stains easily and I don’t know where her feet have been and what she’s trudging in. I’m just mad for whoever has to come clean … and so much more >

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“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Hell hath no fury like a woman silenced. Like Trump’s Nasty Woman putdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rebuke (and silencing) of Elizabeth Warren last night only fanned the flames of female fury. Here‘s how it went down: Warren began to read a letter from Coretta Scott King’s feelings about a prior Jeff Sessions’ appointment. McConnell objected to both the reading of the letter and to Warren’s history of outspokenness, even after she is asked to stop talking. Then came the line.

“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

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Instantly, this has become a rallying cry for women in government, in the workplace and in relationships to “persist” in the face of would-be male silencers. Writes Heidi Stevens for The Chicago Tribune:

“Just keep talking. Keep your pauses short. Maintain your momentum. No matter if he waves his hands, raises his voice or squirms in his chair, you do you.”

Or push back. “Bob, I wasn’t done finishing that point. Give me one more sec.”

Persist.

Sometimes the floor remains yours; sometimes you get rebuked and silenced by your colleagues.

But you say what needs to be said. And here and there, you inspire a rallying cry.

“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

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