Observations from a place I used to work at

---(from 2008)


I really like Halloween. It has a lot of fond memories. Being a kid and getting lots of candy and wearing cool creepy monster costumes. Then later being an adult and getting beer instead of candy and checking out sorority chicks in costumes that were at best excuses to wear black ripped stockings, zombie slut nurse outfits or the classic Elvira wig. So yea, I like the holiday. It should be a much longer party, but then again, I digress.

For those of you that remember, or dare I say care, I work in the compliance department at a company. That means I have to act like I care when people complain and investigate real problems and total BS problems. The real ones I take very seriously, the bogus ones I cringe at (usually daily).

Well it happened, someone finally complained about my favorite holiday, Halloween. Someone random F*cktard said that ""…Halloween is an abomination against god and a satanic ritual intended to lure children into devil worship"…". There is more to the story, but to cut to the chase, we can no longer say, reference or endorse the word Halloween as a company. We can only say "Fall Festival" now. Yes, you heard that correctly, we can't say or print Halloween, we have to say "Fall Festival". We could celebrate the Great Pumpkin in a Pumpkin patch I imagine, but we can't say Halloween.

We were going to have company pot luck for Halloween, now we are going to have a Fall Festival Pot luck. I hope they don't assume the Pot part of the Luck involves marijuana"…

Sorry kids, we were going to watch that movie with Michael Meyers when he wore that hockey mask, you remember that movie, and it's called Fall Festival.

You know I really liked that Tim Burton movie the Nightmare before Christmas. What was the name of the town they lived in, oh yea Fall Festival Town.

USB Drives

You know the mass memory storage thingies. I paid $80 a few years ago for the 512 meg when it was the largest one out there. Last week I bought the 4 gig size for $39 so times have changed. I don't use mine for work unless I have to travel and move large presentation files or non sensitive data. On the outside chance I have to move large files with sensitive data I encrypt them and zip them and then rar them again with encryption. While I know this isn't 100% safe, it's a lot safer than simply moving Excel files around and leaving them on USB drives. The large point is I am trusted and am allowed by my job to use a USB storage device. So it isn't an issue for me.

We have a group policy that says people employed with the company at level one and two can't use these devices, are prohibited from bringing them in and are not allowed to install new devices on their work desktop computers. Simple fact, they are entry level to slightly above, they have access (albeit limited, and as a need to know only) to sensitive information. So far I hope you understand, this just makes sense. Later if they get into another position, things Might change.

Well last week random Director of Operations tells one of the IT tech guys to open up the USB storage device option for a group of her level one and two staff. He panics, she is a director and he doesn't know what to do and she makes veiled insinuations about how he had better do this or else.

He does. So then she goes around with a USB storage thingy and loads this file that she needs for a special project on a bunch of their computers so they can work on this super special project. Keep in mind it probably took him as long to open up the device and then make sure each computer had access to this as it would to make a shared network folder with certain permissions for those same users to access. He offered this, the Director said she didn't have time and didn't want to fill out the paperwork (one form).

If she had asked permission with a compelling argument and had been told it was ok by the CIO or something, sure, then someone knows and accepts some responsibility. She didn't. As a matter of fact, she never told anyone. I only found out through one of my random discussions with the IT guy (that's part of what I do). He told me so he wouldn't get in trouble.

She didn't even ask to have the access reset pack to the normal settings after she was done. She didn't ask to make sure the files were deleted from the staff's computers. She just went on about her day.

So now it's a major deal that I have to go around and Audit all these group policies, the devices that can be used on a desktop, who has what permissions and what the procedure is if you need some type of emergency access to something.

It all would have been solved if she had just spent the ten minutes to get a network folder up and running. I doubt I will find anything bad happened or that the names of nine million people will have been sold to AOL for spam or anything, but this was so FN unnecessary.

Cell Phones at work

We have a policy that says something like, you can't use a cell phone at work unless you are in a break room or outside the building. That shouldn't be hard to grasp. That means, you can't use a cell phone at your desk.

So last week, again, I see several people using their cell phones at their desk, talking and texting. Again, we are talking about line staff, phone staff, customer service staff and not anyone in any level of management.

The intent of the policy is to make sure customer service staff are taking care of customers and that we mitigate potential risks of the release of sensitive information that someone could see on a computer and then transfer to another person by using their cell phone. If you don't like those two reasons, the better one is then, because if you are on your cell phone, you are not working. I know this isn't an iron wall, it's a screen door to stop the rhinos from invading into the village. But it is still the policy.

So I make the same casual reminder to the supervisor who tells me whoops, sorry, I'll take care of this. Who then tells the manager who now has a problem with me and how I conduct audits.

A barrage of emails go back and forth, people in different offices, different states and in all levels of management get dragged into this. Finally someone asks the question, well Mrs. Manager, are your people using cell phones against policy, yes or no. It took her 900 words to admit that it might have happened, but she never saw it, but that was all it took.

Why are we arguing this point I wonder. It isn't life or death, it isn't the loss of a huge customer, it is just someone got caught not making sure her people were doing what they are asked to do. Get off your little territorial island and deal with it.

Odd, this week no one is using their cell phone at their desk.

Accepting a job

If you reply to an ad we are running for a job. You send in a resume. You set up and complete a phone interview. You show up, usually in the best set of clothes you own and complete at least one, if not two interviews. We offer you a position, we tell you the hours, the benefits, your start date and the pay. You accept the position and you even put down in writing your acceptance of the position.

Please, for the love of gawd, show up the first day. And if you don't show up the first day, and you don't have some kind of ""…aliens kidnapped me and made me watch x-files with Elvis"…" kind of story, then do not be surprised if we decide you are not a good candidate for employment and terminate are agreement.

So if you call a week later and say you are still interested in the position, you agreed to show up to last week, and never called. Expect a thanks, but no thanks response.

Drug Tests

As part of our company policy, we will send you for a drug test. It's rare that anyone objects. It's pretty common now in my part of the world to take one. I have seen a few people not show up to the drug test and we never hear from them again, but for the most part people take them and that's that.

On occasion someone's test comes back with some prescription drug that we have to have them validate that they can legally have this in their system, but that is rare.

About once a year someone comes in, accepts the job, contingent of them passing the background stuff, goes to take the drug test and it comes back that they were smoking the whole bowl right before the test or that they were doing crazy illegal stuff within a few hours of taking the test. I just wonder why they bother taking it. This isn't about anti-doping for guys who ride bikes in France or chicks that ran in the Olympics in Australia. This is about Bob who did a line of meth within an hour of taking a test and it shows up in blazing colors in a small cup. Makes me glad anyone and breed on their strong genes.