June 27th, 2005

Wedding day

"No, ma'am. We at the bank do not have a sense of humor we're aware of."

Upper management occasionally treats visiting clients to a tour of our facility (that's facility singular, not plural -- they're not touring the bathroom). This happened today, and we weren't ready for it.

Let me back up and explain. See, my cubicle is on a corner, and one of my walls faces outward to the world (or at least, to foot-traffic). Here's an ugly and unnecessary diagram, where the X is me:
'|X| | | | |
That apostrophe represents a sign that says "DISPUTE RESOLUTION" in large, friendly letters. On this diagram it appears to stand out from the wall a good three feet, but in fact it's attached with T-pins. There's also a small stand-up nameplate sitting on the intersection of the two rows of cubes which says "Dispute Resolution Team"

One day a few weeks ago, one of my coworkers came over, vented at me for a couple of minutes about how badly her day was going. Afterward she turned the sign upside down, flipped the nameplate on its face and declared that she was feeling better. I let the signs stay where they were. People noticed, of course. spidermoon77 pointed out that our department had been turned upside down, and when my boss noticed it, she said something witty which I've totally forgotten. Nobody cared that the sign was upside down, and I promptly forgot about it for at least two weeks. Maybe more.

Just a little while ago, one of those tour groups came through our department, and I overheard (basically) this:
"This is our dispute resolution group. These are the guys who take care of charges your cardholders don't recognize. Over there they work with debit cards, and over here they work with credit cards. We also have a group that does merchant support, too. Now this sign... I think our employees just don't understand that we show our clients around the building sometimes, and they don't understand that they have to act appropriately. I'm really sorry about this."
The voice was annoyed, and I could hear its owner straightening out the signs as he spoke. My boss will probably get an unfavorable e-mail about this; we will all be lectured about shenanigans, tomfoolery, monkeyshines, and other words that nobody uses anymore. I will be asked to keep the signs in order since they're closest to my desk.

Some of the people on my Friends list will think that I'm being paranoid. Others will want to tell me that the manager needs to lighten up. Both groups are wrong. Well, maybe he does need to lighten up, but the world of business needs to lighten up first. Yes, there's a possibility that our clients would have thought nothing of it, as I'm sure most people who pass by it have. On the other hand (and this is an especially good chance if they're prospective clients), they may take the sign to mean any number of things. Are my coworkers and I discontented? Do we have too much free time? Are we lacking in motivation, respect or supervision?

He did a right thing (I don't think there's a the right thing in this case) by pointing it out and playing it off as a thoughtless prank. I hope he understands that that's what it was.

Two bonus sentences for my coworkers: Just for what it's worth, it wasn't Dan. Dan would have taken it in stride and either ignored it or had a laugh about it.
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