Monday, August 3, 2009

Down to business

Hubert walked out of my cubicle, Stacy rolled her eyes, pulled up a chair and the real work began, or so I thought.

"How was HR?" with sarcasm heavy in her voice.

"It was OK," I responded sheepishly.

"Well, they just laid off 50 people, so needless to say the remaining ones are in survival mode, but compared to the 300 people our development group lost two months ago they should consider themselves lucky."

I was astounded. "They laid off 300 people from the development group just two months ago!" I wondered why they had hired me. I guess right out of school I was cheaper than someone with industry experience but why were they hiring so soon after they had fired so many?

"It was so terrible," Stacy exclaimed, "the Vice President, the always dapper Derek Pink came down from his opulent office to grace us with his presence only to call people into Hubert's office one by one and tell them that their job had been relocated outside of the company."

"So they are outsourcing jobs?" I asked.

"No, they clean house in almost every department every few years; the only way you are safe is if you are a Pink or if you are sleeping with or married to a Pink."

"Oh, my" I stated, a little dazed at how forward she was with the companies dirty laundry on my first day, but intrigued at the same time.

"More on that later" she said, and glanced over her shoulder. Then she lowered her voice to a whisper "Now onto Hubert, as you may have noticed he is not the calmest fish in the sea."

I nodded agreeably.

"He just signed his divorce papers last week, ending a very short marriage to what seemed to be a mail order bride."

"How do you know she was a mail order bride?" I inquired in an equally hushed voice.

"For starters she did not speak a word of English and she acted like she had never met Hubert at their summer wedding just four months ago."

"Yikes, why would you invite people to your mail order bride wedding, that seems like a weekend in Vegas event rather than a formal affair." Stacy's eye's bulged and then she burst into a thunderous laugh that shocked me since she was such an unassuming person.

"Oh, we need to get to Hubert's office," she said getting up and pushing her chair back into the lab where the technician looked up and shot her a less that appreciative look.

"But I don't know anything about the 7 Delights brand or dilemma!"

"Just follow my lead, lets go."

We both got up, walked down the narrow hall like space between the cubicles and the labs. There were probably 30 cubicles in the middle of the room where Stacy and I were located and another 10 coffice's, or cubicle offices, that had a more expansive desk, with two chairs for visitors to sit and a view of the looked like heaven compared to my 2 staplers and motivational poster. We turned left at the end of the hall and the second door on the left had a silver plated tag in a slide slot that Read Hubert A. Jones.

"Albert" Stacy said and then she combination knocked/barged into Hubert's office. She immediately sat down in a leather chair, gestured for me to sit in its twin to her right and stuffed her hand into a gigantic jar of multi-flavored Jimmy's Jelly candy (one of Pink's 457 perfect products!) and began tossing them into the air and catching them in her mouth.

Interesting approach I thought to myself as I sat down in the second black leather chair, smoothed my suit pants and politely declined a handful of Jimmy's jelly candy from Stacy. Hubert's office was large but sparse. As you walked in you immediately noticed a beautiful picture window showcasing the pond and all of the bike paths that bordered it. Although it was kind of hard to see the full beauty of the pond as Hubert's mini blinds were in terrible disrepair and partially obstructing his view. He had a beautiful mahogany desk but it was covered in all kinds of papers, folders, binders and a fat manila envelope labeled "Downsizing Plan". He only had one piece of artwork on the wall which was a product of Jeffry King's PinkTink inspirational series. After a moment of quite observation, Hubert, looking at his wits end began.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

First day at the office

My idea for this blog is an ongoing story about individuals who work at a fictitious food company. This blog tales place in the Pink Foods Universe and each post tells part of the story.

“Emma, there are Netzel’s Blue Pretzels instead of Petty’s Petite Pretzels in the 7 Delights party mix!” exclaimed Hubert Jones, a short, portly man with sandy blond hair who was wearing a rather worn tan suit with a blue shirt and green tie. I was 50 minutes into my first day as a Food Scientist at Pink Foods and after arriving 15 minutes early to be greeted by a less than interested human resources staffer who did not make eye contact with me once in 45 minutes of tax, health insurance and non disclosure agreement checklists I was shown to a cubicle in the center of a large room. Around the expansive room with walls that were painted in the company’s patented PinkTink shade, which they had commissioned a very high profile artist to be inspired by in the late 80’s, there were labs with one or two technicians in white lab coats. Each was sitting at a small desk with barely enough room for a computer, keyboard, mouse and notebook looking as if they might scream if I so much as looked in their direction.

Observing their workspace I glance around my seemingly spacious cubicle to observe that I had a computer, several binders that were empty except for brightly colored, PinkTink of course, separator tabs, two staplers, an oversized calculator, pens, pencils and a motivational poster instructing me to give 110% every day, no matter what. Unfortunately, my desk was arranged so that anyone that walked by could easily see what I was doing and what I was looking at on the computer, so much for a little online shopping at work, a girl can dream.

I had recently accepted the Food Scientist position at Pink Foods, the world’s third largest manufacture of all things ingestible from Timmy’s tater tots (from freezer to table in ten minutes or less!) to 45 Days to Weight Loss frozen meals/bars/desserts to their top seller, 7 Delights party mix (Petty’s Petite Pretzels, Magic O’s, cashews, coconut, raisins, sesame sticks and potato squares with a hint of lime plus 457 other highly popular food products. I had just graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a Masters degree in the elusive field of Food science. I am originally from Nebraska where my mother and father still live and never cease to call me to make sure that I have not forgotten to eat, sleep or anything in between. I made the move from Ithaca after graduate school to Philadelphia, the current international headquarters for Pink Foods.

So there I was, Emma Swathson, in my newest and perfectly tailored black suit with a pink blouse that complimented my blue eyes, black heals with curly blond hair that reached just past my shoulders, sitting at my cubicle wondering what the hell I was supposed to be doing now that I was here. Now that I was no longer a student that could come and go as I pleased as long as I had my research done when my professor asked for it. What was so hard about the working world, I had been here 50 minutes without so much as having to think of anything harder than my social security number and date of birth, how hard could this be?

Just as I was day dreaming of the perfect robin’s egg blue to paint my kitchen walls Hubert Jones, huffed into my cubicle and enlightened me to the current pretzel fiasco. “Three people have found Netzel’s Blue Pretzels in 7 Delights party mix in the past day instead of Petty’s Petite Pretzels and more are sure to come”. I heard a muffled “hear we go again” from the cubicle to my left and just then Hubert shouted “Stacy get over here now”. Just like that a very tall, very thin woman with stick straight brown hair, brown eyes, cream khaki pants, a blue crewneck sweater and sensible flats came over and introduced herself as Stacy Plonson. She had been with Pink Foods for three years. She graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelors degree in Food Science and was also a Food Scientist. Hubert instructed Stacy to fill me in on the 7 Delights brand and dilemma and for us to both meet him in his office in 15 minutes.