Thursday, January 8, 2009

It Seems That I Can, in fact, Touch This

I was right, oh yes I was! I went to outplacement today, and exactly as I predicted, we were urged to "market" ourselves, develop a "brand", and create our own "30-second commercial", which we're supposed to use every time we're introduced to anyone new. I WAS going to just sit there snickering and thinking snide thoughts, but then the facilitator forced us to actually present our 30-second commercials, right then and right there. Damn it.

I'm not painfully shy or anything, and I really have no fear of public speaking. That is, as long as I'm publicly speaking about any topic other than me. I really don't like to talk about myself. At all. Especially not to strangers. So that was super fun. Once our 30-second commercials were over (and by the way, mine was no longer than 12 seconds. The guy next to me was just getting warmed up at 60 seconds), we were asked to complete a survey. What was your last job, why aren't you there anymore, what would you like to do next, blah blah blah. As we were working, our facilitator revealed that her first and middle initials are M and C. Her last name is Hammer. Everyone smiled at this, but no one said what I was thinking. I looked around and realized that although it was being offered like a canape on a silver platter, nobody was taking it. Nobody except me, that is. If there's an opportunity for a cheap joke, no one is quicker than I am to take advantage of that opportunity.

"So", I said, "then this must be 'Hammer Time'".

It killed.

But then it was all downhill. Ms. Hammer asked us how we felt about our situation. Oh no she didn't, I thought, but oh yes, she did. Not only did she ask, but she whipped out the giant paper and the Dry-Erase markers so that she could write down our answers. Oh dear. My fervent prayer that she wouldn't once again go clockwise around the room and force an answer out of each one of us was answered (thank you again, Lord), and fortunately, a few people were kind enough to offer half-hearted responses, taking the heat off the rest of us. With about 10 words on the paper, she took a show of hands vote on each one, and wrote the three most popular words on another sheet of giant paper. (She broke it down! MC Hammer broke it down! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!) THEN she fired up the Power Point presentation. Which took us through the "stages of transition". Which included "anger" "denial" "acceptance", etc. Holy Mother of Sweet Baby Jesus, I'd have been openly rolling my eyes by now but for the fact that they'd involuntarily rolled back in my head. She asked us if the stages looked familiar? Anyone recognize them? Anyone? Anyone? The man next to me spoke up, and she gave him a "very good" smile when he correctly identified them as identical to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' stages of grief.

The session ended at 4 o'clock, 30 minutes late, and I was all but desperate to get out of the room by then. We were sent home with thick binders and folders full of materials, including a step by step tutorial on how to use their vast library of online resources. Did I mention that she spent 30 minutes reviewing this printed tutorial, page by page? 'Cause she did. And I suspect that her "hard skills" aren't as finely honed as her "soft skills", because she kept telling us to save a certain document "to your database". I think she meant "drive". God, I'm snarky. She was a very nice, kindhearted lady, and I'm sure she has helped many people find fulfilling work. I'm just having a hard time looking with composure upon a job search that involves personality inventories (I shall be extending myself on this topic at a later date), knock-off Kubler-Ross, and use of the word "branding" in any context other than cattle-rustling. When I got home, I couldn't get the work clothes off my body fast enough. I'm not sure I'm ready for this.

Tomorrow, I'm chaperoning my son's field trip. Two of his classmates spent a day with us during the holidays, and they spent quite a bit of the afternoon working on their arm-farts. They have not quite mastered it; they pump vigorously, but none of them have managed to produce any sound. That, my friends, is what's known as a "hard skill". There are 15 boys in his class, and given the choice between confinement in a schoolbus with 15 fart-obsessed second-grade boys and confinement in a conference room with a career counselor armed with Power Point and Dry Erase, it's not even close.


Embee said...

Too funny. I gotta say, I can relate. I'm hoping when I get back from vacation next week I still have a job, only because I need the income. The company I work for has been acquired and they're going to change my job, and most likely my pay, beyond recognition. I'm not a happy camper and it looks like I'll be back on the prowl again for a new job. Ugh. I hope I don't have to endure the same kind of workshops you did. I'm certain I would not have the patience to tolerate the tedious drivel.

The Guv'ner said...

Hilarious! And God, it rings a bell from past workshops I have done and other such group events. Someone should host a class in "Stating The Obvious" as most of the teachers have clearly graduated from something similar at some point.

I once volunteered for a Defensive Driving workshop through work as it was free (I didn't even own a car at the time and had a clean license, i did it literally BECAUSE I WANTED TO) and even there we had to stand up and give introductions about ourselves. Because in order to drive extra safely we have to know each other's likes and dislikes. God I hate that stuff.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

You brought back nightmares of outplacement seminars and helpful how to get employed seminars. It's times like these I am glad to be on Social Security Disability.

3carnations said...

Heh. Hammer Time.

themom said...

Hilarious - it's Hammer Time!!!! You have to have a wonderful sense of humor these days, just to survive. Have fun.

SaoirseDaily2 said...

Oh my what a chore the presentation sounded like. I liked the Hammer time joke too. Did anyone say...can't touch this? Have fun on the field trip.

Matty Boy said...

CDP, we are here to support you on your journey of self-actualization. Tell the second graders that it is important to get the fingers curled to create a full air pocket that can be squeezed effectively.

The first child to achieve this will find that he has acceptance. He has also produced his first 30-second commercial for himself.

Stephanie said...

Okay, I've used 3 or 4 placement services in my life -- and not ONE made me go to a class. Bizzare. Also? Seems kind of intrusive, too. I DON'T NEED GRIEF COUNSELING! I NEED A JOB!

But, yeah. Good luck with that! ;o)

Sauntering Soul said...

I don't know how you stayed for the entire class. It must have been the opportunity to make MC Hammer jokes that got you through it.

I had to sit through a one hour class on how to use our voice mail system last year. That was no fun either. Geez, all you have to do is know your password and the system tells you what buttons to push for whatever you're trying to do. Why does anyone need an hour class on that?

David Portney said...

This is pure comedy plutonium!

David Portney

CDP said...

Embee--I think your situation is tougher than mine; I hope you find something better and that you can then offer your company a colorful suggestion regarding what they might do with their job.

Guv'ner--sweet Mother of God, I'd pay good money to see you sit through a defensive driving class. I'd have loved to hear your introduction.

Dr. Monkey--I have to go to one or two more, just for propriety's sake, but then I'm DONE.

3carnations and themom--I know, I'm still cracking up at it...I can't believe no one beat me to it. Maybe because other people were actually thinking about getting a job, rather than keeping alert for wisecrack opportunities?

Saiorse--no, sadly, and I felt that I'd already used my own personal allotment of Hammer jokes.

Matty--thanks for the arm fart advice. Sure, buddy, I'll pass that right along.

Stephanie--you're lucky, because I have to go to another one, too. Grrr.

SS--I know, I had to sit through one of those once (back when I had a job) and it amazed me that they didn't just hand us a manual and let us figure it out. It's a phone, it's not that hard!

David Portney--thank you! (comedy plutonium is a good thing, right?)

Anonymous said...

You're too funny!!

enc said...

Farts beat dry-erase every time. I can't believe you didn't look upon Hammer with Utter Disdain when she broke with "branding." You're far less snarky/judgmental than I would have been.

I love that you delivered the one-two punch of the "Hammer Time" joke.

FranIAm said...

Oh you must call me. This is so... It is just so wrong.


It is all... I can't even find words.


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