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Bullshit Job Notes (acesounderglass.com)
124 points by luu 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 109 comments

A while back company I worked at was aquired and many months after the acquisition someone from the new corporate office showed up and got a tour.

She repeatedly used the phrase "You let them have / do that?"

The response was to things she saw at people's cubes like:

* A mini fridge. * A blanket. * Some food at someone's desk. * A fan.

And some random stuff.

It didn't occur to anyone at that point that anyone had to "let" someone have those things at their desk.

Eventually an email went out banning such things, no reason was given.

An annoyed co-worker asked why via email and they were told food at their desk was "unnecessary" because there is a cafeteria.

The only cafeteria was on the other side of the country at the new HQ in San Jose....they didn't respond to follow up emails.

It always struck me that this person who visited's entire role was to enforce some arbitrary rules like they were our parents or something.

The rules were complied with for about a month and as soon as visits stopped, everyone at our location just ignored them. Somehow nothing bad happened just as nothing ever had before.

When visiting the HQ later I did eat something (breakfast bar) at my temporary desk. My coworkers in San Jose we're quite shocked, I was amused by their reaction. We all survived. Although security eventually caught me (came running even) for not wearing my ID "visible enough" ;)

“Thing that got me was not her list of things she hated, since she was obviously crazy as a Cyborg, but fact that always somebody agreed with her prohibitions. Must be a yearning deep in human heart to stop other people from doing as they please. Rules, laws — always for other fellow. A murky part of us, something we had before we came down out of trees, and failed to shuck when we stood up. Because not one of those people said: "Please pass this so that I won't be able to do something I know I should stop." Nyet, tovarishchee, was always something they hated to see neighbors doing. Stop them "for their own good" — not because speaker claimed to be harmed by it.”

— Robert Heinlein, The Moon is A Harsh Mistress

These types exist all over corporate america because ton's of executive's suffers from extreme narcissism. All these ass kiss rule enforcers feed into these executives deep deep desire to fill important.

For some reason I can understand how people come do terrible things out of fear or whatever (bigots, or whatever).... but I find the casual jerkiness of these enforcers extra mind boggling.

Why would people want to treat their coworkers this way? It seems so unnecessary and negative...

Same reason some kids want to be hall monitors. Some people just want to feel that they can project their will on other people. My guess is some deep seeded jealousy problems.

Some people are just assholes. They need to be told to fuck off, while the harsh language might a bit strong, it might also prompt enough of a serious conversation and prevent the growing toxic culture.

Actually no it's not a bit strong, those people need to be outright told to fuck off on a more frequent basis.

godwin point reached !

This is the product of the business cult. Speak out, be different; dissenters are squashed into oblivion at worst or simply never considered for promotion at best.

I've been here before. As soon as the minders go away, there is no one in authority who gives enough of a dam to do anything about tit.

I can see real problems with those things. Mini fridges can be noisy (for real, I've often unplugged them for the night at hotels). Food can be messy. Fans can be noisy, and one person's white noise can be another person's irritating noise.

These often aren't just arbitrary rules.

Alcohol is another thing.

Misophonia is a thing. I wish food wasn’t allowed at our desks. I end up with headphones on for much of the day because we have free crunchy snacks.


>It also appears that a misophonic reaction can occur in the absence of an actual sound

so you'll inconvenience ALL of your colleagues so your unprovable condition can be avoided. i hate open desk plans coz of things like this. hr inevitably comes down on the side opposite to common sense and things get banned with no solution(like having a quick snack when you feel tired is not allowed and you can't afford the time away to visit the cafeteria)

No, I won’t. I haven’t said a word to anyone at work. I haven’t filed an HR complaint. I put my headphones on and deal with it. I only mentioned it here because it seemed relevant to the discussion.

I’ve got all the proof I need to know I have this, and it’s never happened in the absence of someone eating a crunch snack.

I love how things can be labeled as unprovable in a snap by people who doesn't suffer from such quirks.

Personally I can't stand people who are eating stuff or chewing gum while they are on the phone with me. Same with noisy eating in a silent place. I sometimes silently leave the place if I can, or warn the eater as politely as I can, if he/she's my friend.

Heck, if I'm extremely tired or weary I can not even stand myself sometimes.

if a reaction can occur in the presence or absence of stimulus, how in the heck are you saying you "have" it. it could be a reaction to a caffeine stimulant heavy diet for all anyone knows. this seems to be in the same realm as micro-aggressions for how provable they are to be a real problem

Personally I didn't experience it in the "absence" of the stimulus, so I cannot comment on that part.

I only wanted to point that absence of some irritation or uncomfortable feeling in presence of the stimulus for one person is not enough for one to label such sinister and delicate matters as "not real" or "non-existent".

It's just the concept that unfamiliar ambient noises can become very grating to some people. Someone used to a particular fan might struggle with the sound of a different one. Someone used to the sound of a CRT TV might ignore it, while other people can't. Likewise, someone not used to silence can be uncomfortable with the lack of stimulus. It's a common aspect of sensory processing abnormalities, such as autism. It's well documented and entirely reasonable. Just because it's not a standalone disorder doesn't make it fake.

Food particularly can be an issue if people do not clean up after themselves. I am in India and we have a team that cleans up after work because we can have food at our desks and any food left out attracts cockroaches and mice/rats. If they do not have a team like that things go downhill fast.

>>I am in India and we have a team that cleans up after work because we can have food at our desks and any food left out attracts cockroaches and mice/rats.


Where do you work in India?

If your office infrastructure is so broken that you could have mice infestation, you definitely have far bigger problems than eating at your desk. In fact at this point in time, I'd like to think you have a mice infestation already.

At almost any major tech park that I've worked in Bangalore, I can't recall even single instance of even seeing a fly or mosquito in office. Let alone see a rat.

Well you wouldn't enjoy working in London then!

That's interesting to hear.

I'd love to see how many offices in London have mice infestations to a point employees could notice it.

I was of the opinion that the western world took hygiene quite seriously.

Oh London offices do have mice problems. I work at Canary Wharf and last year sat on a trading floor infested with mice.

The mice would come out in the evenings. You'd know because first you'd hear one of the salespeople scream. Then the more macho traders would rush around banging on desks, trying to flush out the by now petrified mouse...

The trading floors also had small cafes ('trader delis'). One day I found a dead mouse on the counter next to the cafe's credit card machine. I took a photo as I knew noone back on the trading floor would believe me.

At that point, the cafe was closed for the day and thoroughly cleaned. The cleaners also started removing all food from people's desks.

The best solution imo would have been cats...

In London on average you are never more than 10ft from a rat, or so they say. For everyone 100ft from the nearest rat there is someone 1ft away from 10 rats.

Paris has also a rather big rat problem, even if they are usually hidding in the sewers/subways, but one can easily see them at dusk going through the trash. Also we had a few rats in our (19 century) flat, according to a person living above us.

Depends where, I suppose.

I've worked (and still am!) in London in loads of different sizes and types of offices, and have yet to see a single pest (mouse, cockroach, mosquito, etc.)

I'm highly skeptical of general internet rationalization of rules if only because humans are really good at coming up with reasons.... and somehow everywhere else I work does just fine without those rules.

Nothing personal, just general policy on my part.

Also because that company gave no reasons other than the cafeteria thing I mentioned (and that was based in absurdity).

This kind of problems should be solved by people talking to each other, not corporate fun police.

Not to mention electrical safety issues (daisy chaining loaded power strips and/or insufficiently rated extension cords) or fire issues (space heaters).

If there is an issue with electrical safety, don't try to amend it by imposing rules that can and will be broken. Make the system so it isn't a problem. In this case, install circuit breakers that simply shut off if you draw too much power.

computers can be daisy chained unsafely and often are in my experience. in my current office we have done that. i still remember that when i was in college microwave ovens were prohibited (used too much energy) but tvs were okay. even my ra had a microwave that had a sign on it that said tv. bullshit rules are ignored. and the other problem is bullshit rules lead people to ignore actual useful rules. kind of like making so many laws that everything and everyone has abused a law leads to people not respecting the system.

Some years ago at a big tech company a CAD software development group was folded into the department I was managing. I took a walk around. We had hard wall offices with 2 or 3 desks in each. In one office one of the SW devs had set up a small camp under a table with a sleeping bag, cooler, and night light. I don't think she was homeless. In another office one of the devs had a small cactus farm with grow lights on a timer. Nobody in the group could understand why they shouldn't be allowed to keep this stuff.

Why shouldn't they be allowed to keep that stuff?

I'm not trying to be flippant. I have noticed that many managers say no to anything they didn't think of first. Its made me usually default to thinking the manager is wrong unless the employee is adversely affecting another employee. If no one in the group could understand why they shouldn't keep those things, then it sounds like they weren't adversely affecting anyone

Edit: I should add that when I say management I mean management that is more than one level above the person who's behavior they are trying to change. People do t have as strong connections once it starts being a chain of relationships and you start losing the benefit of the doubt

Well, the company might do something negligent and damage the employees stuff. Then the company might incur some liability.

Or potentially someone could get injured through corporate negligence (eg, if there is a fire and the software engineer sleeping under the desk gets burned; power goes out for 12 hours and someone with a fridge gets food poisoning).

Focusing on GP's comment specifically, if the government (local or higher) discovers that a premise is being used for habitation I imagine there are a whole bunch of rules that kick in that the company does not want to be involved with.

It is much cheaper, easier and more internally consistent to mandate that all employees have a standardised work space. Then not only do you cut your risk profile, you also might find opportunities for efficiencies elsewhere.

Compare personal risk profiles to a company. If I am a bit risk-prone maybe I tolerate a lifestyle where there is a 1 in 200 chance of a near-fatal accident each year each year (so I'm expecting to make it to old age with a near misses or two in life - I've met people who I judge to live to this level of risk). If you try that sort of approach with a company of 150 employees, in a given year you now expect:

1) More likely than not to have a near fatal accident in the workspace

2) To be imprisoned or have your business ended by the government for being a menace to your employees

Corporations can't tolerate risk at anywhere near the level individuals do; because they have to scale everything up to their entire workforce.

This sounds largely like strawman examples to justify being paternalistic. The fridge in the break room has exactly the same risk as the one in your office; injury to the employee is a far, far greater risk than busting somebody's stapler; standardized workspace is one of those pointless conformity things that deliberately ignore differences in job function, personal preference and on and on.

No, I've been tangentially involved in this sort of decision from the management side in Serious Industry. The break room fridge is "known to the corporation" in some sense and can be assigned an inspection or even maintenance schedule if you have the expertise. Has more eyes on it for trouble in any case.

We had problems with people bringing knives in to de-core their apples. Every year there'd a nasty hand injury or two, and we were under pressure from upper management to keep our injury statistics low. Since hand injuries were one of our major problems; knife ban! :D

It was as effective as it was unpopular.

So because of management's lack of imagination (or caring) a solution was chosen unilaterally for the convenience of the party in power and for the inconvenience if the masses to protect them sheeps from themselves.

If I had thought of it first, as you say, I would have immediately realized a couple things wrong with it. Like taking space for my personal projects where a desk for another engineer is supposed to go. And having grow lights on a timer that run after everyone goes home is a pretty obvious unnecessary fire hazard.

I was the manager, not someone a level above. I was responsible for space planning for my department. The offices weren't luxurious but they were decent hard wall offices where 4 of the 6 offices in each office bay had windows. Insisting that one should be allowed to take a seat in a window office for a cactus farm seemed very immature. I was also resonsible for assuring a reasonable attempt to adhere to health and safety rules. The unthinking objections to removing a fire hazard showed no appreciation for who would have hell to pay if something happened, even if only a mildly smokey electrical short.

Taking up a seat when someone needs it, sure you're getting in people's way. Taking your example of the grow light as a fire hazard here is an example of what I mean by management just trying to get rid of everything.

How is it anymore of a fire hazard than anything else plugged into the electricity? I doubt you were rationing the electricity or unplugging everything at night, and if people had laptops they we're likely plugging things into and out of the sockets every day. People can see the obvious hypocrisy it poor reasoning and it makes them ignore or detest even reasonable requests from management because the requests are so frequently unreasonable.

If management had their way everyone would be completely standard, with no individuality or humanity because it would be cheaper and easier to deal with. The unthinking objections to every bit of personality or decoration of a space people are in for half their waking lives shows no appreciation for the mental toll it takes on employees

This is a lot like the conversation I had with that group. Assume it's just management being oppressive for their convenience. But oh, didn't think about maybe those seats are needed. Hey, why can't they sit in a windowless office; my plants need some daylight. What's the big deal about plugging in more stuff, everything's a fire hazard anyway. Sure, computers and office equipment are required to do our jobs while lighting for my hobby isn't. But so what if it causes a problem, disrupts work or someone gets hurt. No big deal, the company can cover it.

> made me usually default to thinking the manager is wrong unless the employee is adversely affecting another employee

The Wiccan Creed is surprisingly rich:

"An' it harm none, do what thou wilt."

whenever I see someone with a clipboard wandering the halls at work I turn around and leave the building

In the first episode of the current season of Better Call Saul[1], one of the main characters exploited this phenomenon to carry out a full-scale social engineering attack on a warehouse. After gaining entry with a (stolen) ID, all he needed to get the workers to follow his orders was to drive around while wearing a high-vis vest and taking notes on a clipboard. It highlighted to great effect the problems of conditioning alienated workers in regimented hierarchies to follow orders from anyone who just looks and acts like a "boss".

[1] https://www.amc.com/shows/better-call-saul/extras/better-cal...

thanks, I need to start watching that show again :)

You should join them instead - it is an excellent work avoidance tactic ;-)

I swear the clipboard folks at that company did nothing productive ever.

At another place I had some sit next to me for a while due to construction at the company ... it was months of nothing productive, just nothing. I was a little shocked, I mean I assumed, but when you see it, it is amazing.

It seems like such a small thing, but it wears on you.

Clipboard... Time to lawyer up.

Is this cisco by chance?

I think if they wanted to disclose that information they would have done so.

Ah, classic condescending hackernews.

Not condescending at all, sorry if it came across that way. I was 100% serious.

My first "real job" (31, had two, fired from both) was in a small web dev shop of about 15 people. One morning I walk into the office and there was a giant wet puddle on the carpet in the middle of the open office. The roof had leaked in the office building and gone through a few floors. The air was damp and all the windows covered in condensation. Clearly a safety and health issue.

I lived about a 10min walk away, so figured I'd just work at home and announced that's what I'd be doing.

Everyone wanted to work elsewhere or from home. However the boss decided that he'd cram everyone into the boardroom for the day.

I was the only one who stood my ground and told the boss I was going home despite his bullshit about not being a "team player". Wage slavery is a dangerous mindset.

I believe there are many, many "shades of gray", one thing is your case where the workplace became clearly unhealthy, another thing is :

>I hated working in an open office and tried to leverage my post-dental-surgery fragility into a private office or the right to work from home.

And actually have the - fill the gap - (courage/guts/impudence/insolence/crazyness) to actually write about it.

"post-dental-surgery fragility", come on ...

Was this the episode that got you fired?

Years ago I had a meeting with my boss about an "incident" and flat out said I told a coworker to go fuck themself, twice and I wouldn't apologize for it. And then asked for a 20 percent raise. It was completely justified and my boss knew it. I also got the raise.

Gp is right about wage slavery, sometimes people actually need to stand up for themselves.

Nah they eventually got me on a technicality. 3-day per week gig, but they kept pushing me into doing a 5-day week. I was the "innovation manager" funded by a government grant. So I was a one-man show expected to build, market and sell new profitable internal startups with zero resources or equity.

On a Friday I found out the largest startup conference in Sydney was happening the next week. So I let the boss know I'd be going to that. No response. I went to the conference. When I got back to work they fired me for "not giving 2 weeks leave notice" as was in my contract lol.

The story of how I got fired from the second job was even more sketchy. Involves the largest employer in the crypto industry. HR lied about giving me a warning about "behaviour" (never provided any evidence to the claim) and later admitted to having never contacted me. Small cartel of middle managers in a supposedly "decentralised company" fired me 2 weeks before a 6 month probation without any knowledge or consensus from my regional team or primary team. HR lady was fired 2 months later. They then strung me along for 2 months with a "soon to be proposed" rehire offer. Now they ignore my emails. Classy.

Hah. I hope not. If more people stood up to these things they wouldn’t happen so often.

> Clearly a safety and health issue.

Why clearly?

I like standing up to workplace nonsense as much (or way more) than the next guy/gal, but seems rigid to refuse to code from a different room for a day.

From OP's wording, I assume "cram everyone" means that there wasn't actually a good amount of space for people to work in there and it'd be detrimental to everyone. I certainly would be rigid if I went from working at a nice large desk with multiple screens to sharing a 16-seat boardroom table between 20-30 people...

"I think a thing that’s going on with the notes is that gatekeeping makes sense in some circumstances (such as the company buying a braille keyboard for a blind programmer)"

... No. Your employee who uses a computer shows up and says they are blind and need Braille accomodations? You don't wait for a doctor's note, that is explicitly unreasonable.

Gatekeeping is appropriate, if at all, where an accommodation is nice for lots of people who will somehow cost the company a lot of money if they receive it and it is difficult to determine the reasonability of the request on an individual basis without invading their privacy - so you ask a doctor to stand in as a firewalling proxy that tells you whether it is reasonable in this case without telling you the underlying cause.

Except the doctor doesn't do that. The doctor says "patient reports x". Which you already know.

The point is to create inconvenience for any employee who claims x. You might as well ask the employee to fetch a stone from the top of the nearest mountain.

I don't think you're wrong, but I want to mention another possibility.

It might just a CYA move on the part of an individual actor in middle management. The manager doesn't want to risk getting penalized for handing out "random perks", but also doesn't want to get in trouble for ignoring a "medically necessary" request.

Put another way: That seemingly arbitrary behavior might make more sense if you assume that it's intended to protect an individual, rather than to protect the corporation.

Why is "random perks" bad? Isn't the best interest of the company being making the employees happy so they are more productive?

The negativity around giving "random perks" makes it feel like you're running a prison, where the point is to punish people instead of a workplace.

I can totally see it from that angle. People will do what the must. Only then will they do what they can.

>I hated working in an open office and tried to leverage my post-dental-surgery fragility into a private office or the right to work from home.

Sounds like the employee in question was trying to get special accommodations they didn't really need and their employer was wise to their bullshit games. OP is the kind of person who makes these ridiculous authoritarian gatekeeper rules necessary.

which isn't a terrible strategy if you're trying to ration the benefit to the employees who want it the most

Not if you totally ignore the human aspect. We are not machines, and we do not like to follow (what to us seems like) pointless and arbitrary rules. It will just foster resentment.

Oh, believe me, I work at a "public" university, where even though I have tenure and near-total control over my time (in principle, not so in reality), and work like 60 hours a week, I still have to file a timesheet every month to record that I didn't spend any "sick leave." I know about resenting pointless rules.

Agreed, the example about a braille keyboard is kind of odd. It's not like it's expensive, and if you give one to an employee, you won't have the whole department demanding that they are given one as well.

And if you hired the person it shouldn't come as a surprise that they are blind

Bureaucracies love papers.

Two years ago I took an international flight with no checked luggage and had a bottle of mouthwash in my bag. (I'm used to this brand of mouthwash and apparently it's not available outside my own country).

The security guy found it and said it was forbidden aboard the plane for security reasons, except if I had a prescription.

I didn't have a prescription. So he threw it away. I thought "next time I will".

Now before taking a flight I just print a "prescription" with a random doctor name, saying in so many words that his patient (me) needs this mouthwash to travel, and sign it myself with a big, illegible signature.

I have used this meaningless piece of paper all over Europe, the US, Africa and it never failed to work.

Let's just hope the bad guys don't have access to a printer.

Uuuuuuh, so you really want to take (albeit small) risk of commiting fraud and getting on the bad side of a organization able to detain you for hours/days to prove a point over freaking mouth wash?

I sure as hell value my time and sanity higher than that.

You are all a bunch of ridiculous cowards. The mouthwash anecdote is funny and refreshing. I will do that next time I fly.

I don't really care; I'm not trying to "prove a point", I just want my mouthwash.

I too value my time very much, that's why I don't want to either argue with pseudo-cops or go see a real doctor for something that doesn't concern them (and would waste their time).

That seems like way too high a risk for mouth wash. In most countries prescriptions are legally protected, so you're commiting fraud.

Instead not pretending it's a prescription and not signing it as if it's from a doctor should be about as effective an not illegal.

Forgery is a criminal offense. You may get thrown out of country, years after this accident.

I don't know what "accident" (or even "incident") you're talking about. What happens is: the guard looks at the bottle, asks if I have a prescription. I show the (fake) paper, they look at it, nod and let me go. No record is ever made of this.

Most of the time, the guard doesn't even speak the language; I'm not sure they're even trying to read it, they're just ticking a box in their mind that says "there was a paper".

My guess is, it would work with any paper; I may try that some day (show a completely unrelated prescription, or something that isn't even a prescription).

most countries don't track incidents like these and they're treated on a case by case basis. i've only ever had exceptions on flights to the US treated with an overbearing amount of discretion. basically- feel free to use this method of "forgery" anywhere in the asias or the middle east or europe(apart from the g5) or south america. only japan and america could pose issues

So in order to use this "simple trick" you have to study law and law enforcement policies of each country.

Why not get real prescription, or split large bottle into smaller bottles?

they will stop you just the same if you have multiple smaller bottles(personal experience with energy shots) and get a prescription for a non-prescriptive medicine is basically asking a doctor to commit fraud for you non? what is the difference? vague ethical conundrums like this are not worth considering imo

also doesn't everyone study law enforcement policies before visiting a country? i know i never have anything with poppy seeds on me or eat any before travelling as a rule because of mild meanderings into research on chemical detectors and drug enforcement policies in the middle east

I get prescriptions for over the counter stuff all the time. Insurance covers it this way.

The most bullshit thing I've experienced in my engineering career so far was making "business cases".

I was to make a business case for getting me a decent PC that would allow me to perform simulations that would allow me to test some concepts without risking damage to hardware.

Another business case I had to make was when I proposed we give give out one unit of our product (valued at 400-1000 eur) for Google Summer of Code developer working on a library that we supported and it easily generated around half of the product sales.

In the same company I had to get out of my way to make them buy heaters in winter and fans in the summer because the building was a badly insulated warehouse made of metal.

This experience made me highly allergic to bullshit rules and being cheap. My philosophy now is that is you can't afford a reasonable working conditions and hardware then I can't afford working for you.

Yeah I needed more RAM to load humongous log files and filter them. Submit the business case - avoid 20 minute waits to do a search, save hours each day and finish the project faster.

So, of course the RAM showed up 2 weeks after the project was over.

I’m lucky to work in a company where I can just sign in to my company Amazon account and buy more RAM. I might sanity check with a colleague before doing so if the expense is over £50.

One of my old colleagues came from Amazon where he had to buy his own RAM upgrade to do his work as they wouldn’t give him more than 4GB and he did heavy Excel work. They did not let him expense it.

I've simply ponied up for the extra RAM myself and neither asked for permission nor forgiveness. The €70-odd it cost was worth it to me. I left the RAM in place as a nice surprise for whoever inherited the laptop after me.

I did the same at my last company and used some old RAM from a laptop that broke. Just switched jobs recently and now I’m realizing I forgot to take it out before I turned in my laptop.

Luckily my new company provides spec-ed out laptops with more RAM for software engineers. It’s also easier to get more RAM at my new company as long as your job code is engineering.

I mentioned to the IT guy that I was going out to buy my own damn RAM. He nearly had a heart attack - "Don't open the case!" I think the remote India IT lords would know if I opened the case and he'd hear about it.

At a previous job a cow-orker spent literally months trying to get a bigger HD. I had the same issue, so I asked one of the department secretaries to order me a whole new PC that happened to have a bigger disk in it, and it arrived a few days later. This may seem profligate but it would have been much, much cheaper for the company than the hours my colleague wasted dealing with the bureaucracy.

"This was a problem because what I really wanted was control over my environment, and that was the exact thing they didn’t want to give me." This is simply about power. At best case its paternalism and at worst case its calculated oppression. If you want to know where you stand in an org just observe how preferred your environment is to others.

>> If you want to know where you stand in an org just observe how preferred your environment is to others.

That probably explains a lot of the resistance in old-school organizations to any type of working from home. The existing power brokers lose a good bit of leverage when everyone can cozy up in their own preferred environment, that they control.

> At best case its paternalism and at worst case its calculated oppression.

Neither one of those makes sense from a profit/loss standpoint.

There are only a few people in a company that really care about profit/loss and have influence on it. Most just try to survive in the political environment and some of them get a power trip on the way.

Shockingly not all people in a company are about the bottom line. Perceived power is worth more to many.

Well the managers are human and not perfectly rational, plus corruption is also a factor as well - doing it for their own purposes. If they were we wouldn't see systemic hiring discrimination - they would be fools to pass up undervalued labor. Instead they use their position to push their own values over money. Unfortunately own values often includes petty authoritarianism where they would rather go unquestioned than do things right.

In the US, and perhaps other common law jurisdictions, there is an exception to the hearsay evidence rule for medical records. [1]

This reflects or is a result of the same root cause as the issue discussed here: there is an almost mystical air surrounding items written by a medical doctor, even if what's written is just parroting the patient.

Or maybe the two things aren't related, but they're both weird in the day and age where TV commercials urge us to prod our doctor into prescribing the latest drug.

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rule_803

There's nothing strange about that. Read further and "Records of a Regularly Conducted Activity" is also excepted, and so is absense of records.

It's almost like a timestamp tool. "One year ago I suffered from XYZ" has little value. But a piece of paper, written by a doctor, that confirms one year ago you said you suffered from XYZ, is worth more. Doesn't mean XYZ is true, but it means you said that one year in advance.

Peopleware - Part II

Particularly the 'bring back the door' chapter.


Then realise this book was first written 30 years ago based upon research done in the late 1970s.

Tech may change rapidly but, unfortunately, people don't.

Can’t recommend that book enough! The third edition is out, IIRC

In my working experience, mainly with small companies: if you consistently deliver good value, management and other employees shield you from most of the BS out there. If you don’t provide as much value you get to deal with the unpleasantries of this world.

There's a catch though: you won't get a chance of a raise because you are needed to just keep on delivering the value while others get promoted behind your back for selling it internally.

A peculiarity exists here in the political world. If you do your work in a way that saves your manager's bacon, do it well enough that there's no question of your abilities, and you show no threat at all to your manager, there's a very high chance that a manager will treat you very well. They know a winning horse when they see one and will do what it takes to protect it.

Of course this doesn't mean they'll freely drop a raise on your table. You go ask for it. The difference is you'll rarely if ever get assigned any bs targets assigned because the manager knows they don't have the control over you. You could walk out and they'll lose and you'll still likely win a job. It's lose lose for them.

Delicate balances exist here such as how much you get paid Vs the manager and what not. Also, this does depend on your manager not being self destructive.

Generally though I dont say this as something to subscribe to. And I'm glad I no longer deal with this. Good managers are good at coaching and leading. They'll do what it takes to make a team that's happy and does the work as needed as opposed to creating a single star.

But something I learnt as I gave up some of my youthful idealisms is that everywhere there are differing flavours of politics. As long as it's not identity based discrimination or anything else illegal:

Don't fight against it. The company doesn't need revolutionaries no matter how much better you think it'll make the company.

Don't fight in it. Most people get busy trying to play the system and get played instead.

Work with the currents. Take what you need. Call it a day. It's less "fulfilling" but at the same time it's always less draining and you get to be at peace with things eventually.

There is one alternative that can work with decent management - make a case to them that they value. The approach varies person to person. Some are refreshed by nonsense attitudes others find it abhorrent. While some places may find saying "the current dongle system is bullshit it costs us hundreds per product for something already freely crackable by a google search and a download just drop it or at very least roll our own easily crackable but only if you know enough programming solution" others may value frankness or realize implications and agree while others find admission of flaws abhorrent. If they think it is a good idea and you want it done there is no harm in your idea being stolen and getting them to start not being as cheap if they realize and take to heart that human labor is the expensive part not office supplies.

Like making a point with math for ram upgrades showing an estimate of salary costs discussing it alone vs just getting a new one. Or pointing out how say cost savings via getting rid of free drinks negate themselves with one additional turnover from interviewing time costs alone.

No, your company is not evil. You are being a pain in the ass, ergo they are treating you like one.

Just because your coworker didn't cop to complaining doesn't mean he didn't make it known he didn't appreciate sitting in the dark. Did you ask him first?

> [Patient] reports back pain that would be improved by a chair they have chosen. Doctor writes a semantically ambiguous note. Reasonable to assume medical professional is not playing word games.

The guy gets headaches under the lights. I believe it. Are you are accusing him of being liar? Perhaps you are discriminating against him for what is essentially a disability.

You -> "Guy in the wheelchair is a real pain in the ass because he wants a ramp."

Also, It's not really his job to tease out his co-workers thoughts and feelings, he said its fine so its fine.

The article was updated. It now says > he told me it was fine

It used to say > he told me he didn't complain

They're different. The original article definitely read like

I decide to turn the lights off in a shared office without checking with anyone else, but my office-mate assures me that he wasn't the one who ratted me out

I was really annoyed by my coworkers turning off the lights. It was dark and it made me sleepy. Eventually we just pulled out half the light bulbs which everyone seemed happy with.

Years ago, I shared an office with a guy when I was working at UT Austin in the Communication Center (COM) building.

He liked to have the overhead fluorescent lights turned off, and use natural light coming in through the tiny window at the end of the room. I liked to have more light on for the room.

We compromised on the rule that whoever got to the office first would get to set the light switch policy for the day. It worked for us. No one needed to complain to HR or our manager.

Sometimes, if we are civil human beings to each other, we can work out solutions to problems that may not be ideal for everyone, but at least aren’t as bad as the other alternatives.

Of course, some businesses are too big to let that kind of thing happen, and some people are incapable of treating others like human beings or compromising.

And then there are cases where it simply isn’t possible to compromise.

I wish everyone good luck on this subject, and hopefully you won’t have too many of those bad situations in your life.

I have worked for three companies, two medium sized and one quite large (in Europe), and I've never experienced this. If anything, the culture feels rather the opposite. "Whatever you want you can have, within a reasonable budget". For example, I wanted a smaller screen as I got neck pains having to turn my head to reach the edges of the screen I was using. Sure my boss chuckled a bit when I traded a 32" Samsung for a 17" HP screen, but there was never any debate and definitely no doctor's note ... I don't get why companies would prioritize office facism over letting their employees be happy by being pain free, eating breakfast at their desks, using a blanket etc.

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