So You’ve Been Asked to Come Back to the Office

So You’ve Been Asked to Come Back to the Office

Welcome back to the office. Your boss is excited to have you here. Don’t worry. You’ll get the hang of it. It will be just like it’s been for the past year – except that you’ll be expected to put in more than 3 hours of work during an 8-hour shift. And you won’t be able to play Minecraft during the weekly staff meeting because your boss will be sitting next to you, now that these sessions are no longer on Zoom.

Welcome back to the office. Your boss is excited to have you here. Don’t worry. You’ll get the hang of it. It will be just like it’s been for the past year – except that you’ll be expected to put in more than 3 hours of work during an 8-hour shift. And you won’t be able to play Minecraft during the weekly staff meeting because your boss will be sitting next to you, now that these sessions are no longer on Zoom.

So you’re going back to work soon, eh? Not to imply that you haven’t been working extremely hard all this time over the past year, your nose to the grindstone three dedicated hours a day (six hours if you count your time playing video games) – ever since you’d been ordered to work from home due to the pandemic. But you just received word that, for the first time in over a year, your employer is asking everybody to report for work at the office.

If you’re like most people, you’re probably greeting this news with mixed emotions. Sure, you’re excited finally to see all your co-workers again. But you’re also wondering if you’ll even remember what they look like. [Hint: they look the same as before – just 35 pounds heavier.]

Having, until recently, worked in a corporate office environment for most of my career, I thought it might be helpful if I reviewed some workplace basics, to prepare you for your transition back to the world of co-workers, company lunchrooms, and office gossip.

First of all, when you enter the office, that slightly annoyingly perky person greeting you is the receptionist. They can help you locate your desk since by now you’ve probably long since forgotten where you used to sit. [Another Hint: It will be in the form of a 5’ x 5’ cubicle with 4’ tall dividers – just like the cubicles everybody else has, except that your desk has been relocated to the basement.]

Feel free to personalize your workspace to capture your own unique style by displaying photos of people you care about, along with fun posters and knickknacks to let people see your fun, quirky spirit – just so long as your photos have been approved by Human Resources, and your cubicle adheres to the company’s new “no posters or knickknacks” policy.

That vaguely familiar plastic device on your desk – the one with a curly cord – is called a desk phone. It works much the same as your cell phone, except that your desk phone can’t check your Facebook feed, or play Angry Birds, or binge-watch Bridgerton. Okay, so it’s essentially useless. But it might make a ringing sound occasionally. If it does, you probably should answer it. It just might be your boss – either that or someone from HR, asking you to take down your Texas Chainsaw Massacre poster (it’s starting to creep people out).

That large white boxy-shaped machine in the hallway where people press buttons and curse at it is called a copier. When you’re in a hurry and you need to make copies of an important document, it will conveniently jam roughly 80% of the way through the run. But don’t worry, with help from three co-workers, you might be able to locate the source of the problem in under a half hour.

Check out your new socially distanced work space. Now you will have more safety and even less privacy than ever before. Your cubicle will look just like this, except that it’s in the basement with a peek-a-boo view of the dumpster.

Check out your new socially distanced work space. Now you will have more safety and even less privacy than ever before. Your cubicle will look just like this, except that it’s in the basement with a peek-a-boo view of the dumpster.

Since it’s been over 12 months since you last had to wear pants for work, let’s go over office attire etiquette. While pajama bottoms technically constitute a form of pants, you may not score points with your manager if you show up in them – unless you choose the PJs covered with images of your cat. It’s adorable. And let’s leave your Seattle Seahawks sweatpants at home too. Looks like they’ve not been washed since their heartbreaking loss to the Patriots in the 2015 Superbowl. (It’s really time to get over it, buddy.)

Personally, I think your bunny slippers are hilarious, but your annoyingly traditional stuff shirt of a boss might be a stickler for something they call “shoes.”

Also, while this may seem totally unfair, the office expects you there by 8am. Crazy, I know. So, you might want to update your previous routine of waking up at 9:30am if you plan to make it in on time.

When you get to the office, it’s a great idea to re-introduce yourself to your co-workers. It’s been so long, they might not recognize you with your beard and ponytail and the Hello Kitty lower back tattoo you got on a dare that you lost. And when you greet them, smile, and feign interest in their response. Perhaps don’t lead off by saying, “Hey, you looked way slimmer on Zoom than in person.”

When you greet one of your colleagues, for safety’s sake, don’t shake hands. Settle for a friendly elbow bump or an “air” high five – unless the other person is a total jerk and you’ve already been double vaccinated, in which case, go ahead and plant a fat, wet kiss on their cheek. They’ll steer clear of you from now on. However, you may get a visit from that same HR representative who has a thing about ghoulish movie posters. HR reps have no friends.

While the pandemic appears to be in decline, we’re not out of the woods just yet. Be patient. Please continue to wear a mask in the office until you are told otherwise by management. But don’t wear your mask over your eyes as an eye pillow – especially during the team meeting. It may be your go-to move for your daily 2pm nap, but the corporate policy on napping is a bit less lax back at the office.

When you’re stuck in a meeting you feel is a complete waste of your time, refrain from saying out loud that the presenter is an incompetent idiot and a bore. Your mute button only works in Zoom meetings – not during in-person meetings. I can’t stress this enough.

You will be asked to do your small part to keep COVID away by wiping down your desk, computer, phone, chair and office supplies with an antiseptic cleanser every 45 minutes. Remember to bring a new box of disinfecting wipes to work each day. No, you can’t expense it.

You will be asked to do your small part to keep COVID away by wiping down your desk, computer, phone, chair and office supplies with an antiseptic cleanser every 45 minutes. Remember to bring a new box of disinfecting wipes to work each day. No, you can’t expense it.

Oh, one more thing. See that large room with all the swivel chairs around a large mahogany table? That’s called a conference room. It’s typically going to be used by your boss when they convene a meeting where they will go around the room to scream at each team member about how they are failing to abide by the company’s new “no posters or knickknacks” policy.

Being stuck in a conference room is no fun. But don’t worry. You will only have to attend these meetings for a few weeks – until they realize that the vaccine you got does not protect you against the latest COVID variant and they need to send everybody back home again.

Before you know it, the next spike will hit, and you’ll be back on your couch, in your pajamas and bunny slippers, with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. Good luck beating your high score on Fortnite.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021.

Announcing the Pandemic’s Most Annoying Person

Announcing the Pandemic’s Most Annoying Person

Meet the world’s MOST ANNOYING PERSON, Brad Buttons. While you were spending the past year in COVID lockdown sitting on the couch, eating ice cream, and binge-watching Emily in Paris, Brad was being productive – annoyingly so.

Meet the world’s MOST ANNOYING PERSON, Brad Buttons. While you were spending the past year in COVID lockdown sitting on the couch, eating ice cream, and binge-watching Emily in Paris, Brad was being productive – annoyingly so.

(Atlanta) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today that in a unanimous vote, they have awarded the title of “Pandemic’s Most Annoying Person” to a uniquely deserving individual: Brad Buttons of Kenosha, Wisconsin. This is the first – and the CDC hopes last – time this honor will ever be bestowed.

When asked why Brad was selected to be this year’s recipient, a CDC spokesperson explained, “Frankly, we really had no choice. The more we learned about this exasperating fellow, the more obvious our decision became.”  When pressed for details, the spokesperson went on, “Ever since the pandemic was announced in March 2020, and people were asked to socially distance and wear masks, Mr. Buttons has stayed home, in his one-bedroom apartment, and maintained a rigid self-imposed quarantine.”

Asking why this qualified him to be selected as the pandemic’s “Most Annoying Person”, the spokesperson added, “Well, it’s just that he’s always taking on an endless number of projects to learn new things and make the world a better place. He’s like a machine. To be honest, if you spend even just a few minutes around him, it’s impossible not to become irritated. We’re only human.”

In issuing its 15-page press release explaining its decision, the CDC listed dozens of feats Brad has achieved in the past year to alienate normal people. For starters, during the pandemic, Brad has read the entirety of Wikipedia, learned three foreign languages (plus Klingon), and written two science fiction novels. “Who does that?”, the spokesman asked, clearly perturbed.

When reached for comment, Brad was putting the finishing touches on his handmade full-scale replica of Michelangelo’s David, using nothing but seashells he found on the shores of Lake Michigan. “I’m thrilled about this prestigious recognition by the CDC, but I really don’t feel deserving,” Brad humbly responded. He then returned to his garage to resume work  building an authentic 1967 Austin Healey 3000 SL which he learned to assemble just by watching YouTube instructional videos. “I didn’t have most of the tools I needed, so I scrounged up some scrap metal and built a blast furnace. Check out this lathe I made.” 

When asked how he has had time to do all of these things, Brad replied, “It helps that I have no friends. When the pandemic hit, I decided to read the ancient Hindu holy text, the Rigveda – in the original ancient Sanskrit. I thought it would be more of a challenge that way.” A tour of Brad’s apartment revealed an extensive collection of Star Wars action figures, as well as what looked to be replicas of famous artwork.

When asked where he purchased his reproductions of paintings by the masters, including Da Vinci, Monet and Van Gogh, Brad explained, “Oh, no, I didn’t buy them. I painted them. I learned by watching old Bob Ross videos. I have to say, getting down Da Vinci’s Sfumato painting technique for softening the transition between colors took me a few tries to master.”

In the past year, while most people have hunkered down on the couch in their pajamas, eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream by the carton, Brad has been keeping busy. Disturbingly busy. Brad penned an Italian opera (because doing it in English was not enough of a challenge, he said). He also invented a machine that turns urine into potable drinking water.

In his spare time, Brad built replicas of WW 2 German fighter planes, like this Messerschmitt Bf 109. But Brad felt prouder about the incredibly detailed one-tenth scale replica of the Titanic he built using used lawnmower parts. It’s currently on loan to the Smithsonian – because he can’t fit it in his apartment.

In his spare time, Brad built replicas of WW 2 German fighter planes, like this Messerschmitt Bf 109. But Brad felt prouder about the incredibly detailed one-tenth scale replica of the Titanic he built using used lawnmower parts. It’s currently on loan to the Smithsonian – because he can’t fit it in his apartment.

Prior to the pandemic, Brad’s diet consisted mostly of drive-through fast foods. But in the past year, he’s dropped 230 pounds (he’s now a lean 155 pounds with six-pack abs). He’s even self-published his own cookbook, The Pandemic Chef, and has put out a series of 25 one-hour home fitness videos based on an exercise program he created in his spare time.

In the CDC press release citing Brad’s exhausting list of discoveries, publications, and inventions, it accidentally failed to mention that he also patented a fuel converter contraption that converts water into a non-polluting fuel able to power any car, plane, or deep space probe. “Actually, all you need is urine. Want me to show you how I do it?” Brad added.

The release went on: “Taken together, it is almost unfathomable that any single individual could accomplish all of this and still find time to find a cure for cancer, but this man did it. That’s why the CDC unanimously concluded that Mr. Buttons is far and away the most annoying person we’ve encountered since the pandemic began.”

The CDC’s decision was applauded by millions of Americans – and Brad’s own immediate family, who have unfriended him on Facebook because they are sick of reading about his achievements. 

The overall sentiment of most Americans who remain trapped in their homes binge-watching Netflix crime documentaries and past seasons of Schitt’s Creek was perhaps best summed up by David Wilkinson, a bartender from Brooklyn, who protested, “Dude, just stop!. You’re making the rest of us look bad. Here’s an idea: How about you invent a spaceship and become the first person ever to fly solo to Mars. Then plant a flag and NEVER COME BACK!” 

Upon hearing that he’d won the award, Brad was said to be so excited he began an awkward victory dance. (Dancing is one activity Brad failed to learn – badly.) In the process, he tripped over his just-finished replica of an 18th century tall-masted ship in a bottle, fell, and broke his ankle and the ship in a bottle. Not salvageable.

Due to his unfortunate injury, it appears Brad will be laid up, unable to work on any more projects, for at least three months. Millions of Americans greeted this news with celebratory dances of their own.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021.

Other Masks We Need

Other Masks We Need

Now that it’s widely accepted that wearing masks can stop the spread of COVID, researchers are exploring new applications of mask technology. Take this DAD mask – designed to prevent the transmission of embarrassing comments from suburban dads who think they are way cooler than they are.

Now that it’s widely accepted that wearing masks can stop the spread of COVID, researchers are exploring new applications of mask technology. Take this DAD mask – designed to prevent the transmission of embarrassing comments from suburban dads who think they are way cooler than they are.

The widespread use of face masks has helped to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus around the world. Properly fitted N-95 and surgical masks catch microbes which people expel in a plume of air and droplets when we cough, sneeze, talk, or simply breathe. By wearing masks, we protect others from potentially dangerous infection.

The successful use of face masks against the pandemic has inspired scientists and public health professionals to look at further applications of mask technology to prevent the spread of other dangerous human expulsions across a wide array of personal interactions. Here are just a few of the exciting new applications currently under development.

Dad masks

These specially engineered masks have been designed to prevent the expulsion of embarrassing comments by fathers in the presence of their teenage children. In tests at the University of Maryland, these masks proved up to 75 percent effective in reducing the audibility of such cringe-worthy comments as, “So, what is this TikTok thing I’ve been hearing about? Is it a smart watch?” or “Hey, that band K-Pop is really awesome!” or “I finally learned the moves to the Macarena. Check this out.”

Wife masks

Infused with an amnesia agent, when properly worn by a nagging spouse, this mask causes total memory blockage of all of hubby’s flaws. No more tirades of “Get off the damn couch and do your chores!” or “Who cares about the Seahawks anyways?!”  The agent wears off within 30 minutes after wives return to normalcy. Comes with an optional extender that covers the eyes, making it nearly impossible to detect exasperated eye rolls. Potential side effects include increased anxiety about the wearer’s weight and an inability to decide which earrings to wear. 

Trump Shock masks

We wear masks not only to protect ourselves but also to protect others – in this case, misguided Trump fanatics. No longer will they have to endure the daily outbursts of shock and outrage by liberals over the latest inflammatory tweets by our not-so-esteemed President. With this mask, exclamations such as “Oh my God, did you hear what he said about Muslims!?” come out like “Ermgrd drdurrr wresrrd abr mrzms!?” thereby saving the feelings of white supremacists and the lives of liberals.

MAGA SUPPORTER mask – worn exactly how the 45th president recommends it be worn. (Not recommended for rational adults with the ability to think logically or spell complex words like “cat.”)

MAGA SUPPORTER mask – worn exactly how the 45th president recommends it be worn. (Not recommended for rational adults with the ability to think logically or spell complex words like “cat.”)

MAGA masks

Healthcare lab techs are developing a mask which will render MAGA believers invisible to normal adults. Still in early stages of R&D, it will feature a cloaking device activated the moment the MAGA mask wearer utters a moronic comment in support of his lord and master, thus sparing the rest of us having to look at the misguided sot. They are also working on an audio cloaking device, so you won’t have to listen to MAGA rants either, such as, “Trump’s the greatest president ever for blacks – better than Lincoln.” Not recommended for kids, as wearing it may make them harder to locate in a crowd. Mask comes with a safety disclaimer: “Please wear responsibly – which we realize may be an oxymoron.”

Zoom masks

The videoconferencing app Zoom has helped friends, family and business colleagues stay in touch during the pandemic while social distancing. However, it has also transformed mores of social propriety. Users have been recorded wearing no pants and proclaiming, “Thanks to this quarantine, I haven’t taken a shower in weeks.” While not actually preventing such divulging of TMI, wearing the Zoom mask acts as a reminder to think before exposing too much of yourself.

Small Children on Long Car Trip masks

While we love our kids, we don’t always love their incessant babbling and bickering on long road trips shouting, “I need to go – NOW!” and “Brittany keeps poking me! Mom, make her stop!” With this mask, these problems disappear completely. An ingenious filter inserted into the lining delivers a child-safe dosage of propofol – just  enough to knock out your little angel for eight whole hours. Kid-friendly designs include Buzz Lightyear, Elsa, and for teens, the popular Hannibal Lecter.

Soccer Player Furious for Getting a Yellow Card masks

The ALIEN FACEHUGGER mask. In addition to preventing the spread of the Coronavirus, it offers the added ability to prevent any intimate contact with the opposite sex.

The ALIEN FACEHUGGER mask. In addition to preventing the spread of the Coronavirus, it offers the added functionality of preventing any intimate contact with the opposite sex.

All too often, professional soccer players get ejected because they mouthed off at the referee after receiving a yellow card. Now they need never fear ejection. That’s because this mask is equipped with a built-in translation microchip that converts their obscenity-laced tirade into soft-spoken compliments. The next time Manchester United’s left midfielder gets yellow carded for tripping and shouts, “Hey, ref! Sod off, you bloody dim-witted arse! Get your fuckin’ eyes checked, you rat bastard”, what the referee hears instead is, “Mr. Ref, sir, you made the right call. I will mend my ways henceforth. Keep up the great job.” Available in Cockney, Scot, Italian and Bronx accents.

Comic-Con masks

Comic-Con is the biggest event of the year for people who have never dated. It’s where thousands of comic book fans converge to swap memorabilia and listen to celebrities tell them to please, for the love of God, get a life. This mask doesn’t really have a purpose – much like the Comic Con fanatics who wear them. But it comes in a variety of Superhero versions, including The Hulk, Captain America, and Ant Man (available only in XXXXXX Small).

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

This week’s post was written in collaboration with my longtime friend and fellow humor writer, Steve Fisher. Steve lives in Prague, Czech Republic, where he has been an actor and writer for the past 28 years. He has published three collections of his satirical stories which appeared from 2012-2016 as a regular column in the weekly Czech magazine Reflex under the banner “Američan v Praze” (“An American in Prague”).

 

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020. Edited by Betsy Jones

Important Coronavirus Safety Update from View from the Bleachers

Important Coronavirus Safety Update from View from the Bleachers

At View from the Bleachers, we take the safety of our readers very seriously. Read the extreme measures we’ve implemented to ensure every VFTB article is 100% safe and guaranteed never to inflict contagious laughter.

At View from the Bleachers, we take the safety of our readers very seriously. Read the extreme measures we’ve implemented to ensure every VFTB article is 100% safe and guaranteed never to inflict contagious laughter.

Dear valued View from the Bleachers reader,

It has just come to my attention this morning that there is widespread alarm, anxiety and fear throughout the country. No, I’m not talking about the fact that the universally panned film Cats is now available for home rental.

If you’ve not heard the news, let me be the first to inform you. There is this thing called the Coronavirus, also known by medical experts like me as the COVID-19 pandemic. This contagion is dramatically impacting how we all live, work, and in the case of millennials, engage in unprotected sex.

This is Dr. Timothy Jones. I’m Chairman, CEO  and Executive Chef at View from the Bleachers – a non-profit organization (mainly because I suck at business). Perhaps at one time or another you’ve errantly read one of my blog posts. If so, please accept my humblest apology.

I want to thank each and every one of you for taking the time out from reading the 400+ emails you’ve received in the past week from Petco, Walmart, Costco, Kroger, AT&T, the YMCA, and your local parks & recreation department – telling you how committed they are to your safety – so that you can read this  message from View from the Bleachers telling you how committed we are to your safety. Oh, and AT&T belatedly wishes to apologize for their former advertising slogan, Reach out and touch someone. Please don’t follow their advice, okay?

Here at View from the Bleachers, I, along with the dozens of illegal immigrants that work here and mow my lawn, take the health and safety of each reader seriously – all eleven of you. That’s why I wanted to share the extraordinary precautionary measures we’re implementing here at VFTB (as we’re known by the Pulitzer Prize Committee).

First, I’m making sure to get at least 11 hours of sleep a night. Technically, this has nothing to do with the Coronavirus outbreak. I’m just not a morning person.

Second, I’m practicing safe social distancing. In fact, my wife takes this so seriously that she asked me to move into our garage – just to avoid the risk of being exposed to me – or having to talk to me – or make accidental eye contact.

As I write this heartfelt plea for donations, I mean, this update, I’m wearing three pairs of surgical gloves, two pairs of sweatpants, a snorkel mask and ski boots, all out of an abundance of caution. Admittedly, I’m sweating like a pig right now, but that’s the kind of sacrifice I’m willing to make to ensure each post I write is thoroughly devoid of any infectious germs – or humor.

To make sure my readers are protected, I wipe the keyboard with a disposable sanitary wipe after every paragraph. I also made the difficult but selfless decision to switch from my preferred Calibri font to Helvetica – widely believed to be the safest font in use today. I’ve even gone so far as to eliminate the use of filthy words from my posts, to protect my readers from being exposed to potentially pernicious language. If you ask me, that’s a big fucking deal. Oops. Sorry.

As a result of these safety measures, I am pleased to report that there have been absolutely zero known cases of any individuals dying from coming into contact with this humor blog. However, there have been isolated instances of unsuspecting people experiencing mild migraines or nausea from unintended exposure. Fortunately, most symptoms appear to fade once the reader closes their web browser – with the exception of a lingering sensation they’ve wasted valuable time they can never get back.

Finally, before we publish any article, each one goes through a four-step deep-cleaning high-pressure wash and spell-check, to ensure every post contains no residual bacteria or dangling participles. I consider this extreme measure worth it to protect my team of researchers and bail bondsmen.

As a reader, there are some basic steps you can take to protect yourself from possible infection from this website. First, keep at least six feet from your computer when checking your email. If you accidentally open an email that appears to have been sent from View from the Bleacher, press the DELETE key immediately and wash your hands for twenty minutes with soap and a new Brillo pad.

If you accidentally click on a link that takes you directly to a VFTB article like this – say you were drunk and had no idea what you were doing – don’t panic. Simply unplug your computer and quickly dispose of it into the nearest bio-hazard trash receptacle, douse it with lighter fluid and set it ablaze – preferably not in the living room or anywhere near pets.

Several readers (by which I mean my wife) have written to me personally, expressing their fears and offering their sincerest hopes and prayers that this contagion will be over soon. I eventually figured out they were talking about View from the Bleachers – and were worried about their own mental and emotional well-being.

I want to assure all my readers that, while there are no immediate plans to discontinue publication, I promise that none of you will die as a result of reading this column, at least not from laughter.

One final word. I’m doing everything I can to keep you safe. But if you go around like my nephew Nathan doing stupid stuff like licking the handle of your grocery store shopping cart or shaking hands with everybody waiting in line for a refill at the pharmacy, that’s on you. Don’t come whining to me if you end up getting sick – ya’ hear me, Nathan?

Stay safe. And avoid my nephew Nathan.

Tim Jones

Chairman, CEO and Executive Chef, MD, JD, MBA, BFD, IDK, OMG, WTF

View from the Bleachers Enterprises, Inc.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020