Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Another exciting day at work. I'm rewriting all the custom code that controls how the payroll posts to the general ledger. Wow. You can feel the vibes...

Anyway, it didn't start raining last night until after dark, so I spent an hour or so working outside. It sure feels good to start seeing some things accomplished. I'm doing something I've never done before; I'm building a stone retaining wall. I'm working on the premise that if I stack two stones on top of each other and they don't fall over within five minutes that they will pretty much sit there for a hundred years. We'll see. I don't think anyone will be hiring me as a landscaper anytime soon.

That and some homework was the night. Exciting life, I know. Try to control your jealousy.

My class that starts this Thursday is Human Resource Management, which is most likely the part of work I like the least. For one thing, the whole business has turned into a breeding ground for political correctness. Like the following conversation pulled at random from the web:

Just got home from work. Am purple with aggravation, frustration, and disbelief. Cannot possibly speak rationally right now. Also apparently have lost all my pronouns somewhere between the car and here.

Breathe deep. Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean.......

Okay, I'm better now.

Here's the thing... I was called into the HR office today, because one of my coworkers (let's call her Blondie) wanted to file a complaint against me.

The complaint stated that I made her feel "threatened".

I was slightly reassured, however, that they'd given the problem to the Intern. This bodes well in favor of this being silly enough to count as training for her, apparently. The Intern is approximately 12 years old and has not blood but political correctness flowing in her pre-pubescent veins.

"How" I asked the Intern, "in the world does she think I've threatened her?"

Intern: "You've made no overt action. She feels intimidated by you, however, and wished to make an official complaint. We felt it was better to discuss the matter with you before taking any action, if necessary."

Me: "Exactly what did I do?"

Intern: "Er... nothing, really.... she said she's intimidated by you, because you talk about people and events that she knows nothing about, and she said it makes her feel stupid."

Me: "You're kidding, right?"

Intern: "We have to take it seriously, it's in the manual. "

Me: "Exactly what was it I said that got her upset?"

Intern: "She mentioned something about medical references, and once you talked about Henry VIII.... it bothers her that she doesn't understand what you're talking about most of the time. Oh, and McGuyver. "

Me: "She's upset because she doesn't know who McGuyver is?"

Intern: "We're not writing a complaint on this. We just wanted you to be aware of her feelings and be more sensitive to her cultural framework."

Me: "Oh, you did NOT just say that."

Intern: "Beg pardon?"

Me: "Nothing, nothing.... okay, so basically if I have to talk to her, I should talk slow, use small words, and mention nothing that happened before last Tuesday?"

Intern: "Did you know sarcasm is considered a form of aggression?"

Me: *backing slowly out of the room* "Uh... okay, gotta go, late for my shift... buh-bye now."

I haven't quite decided how to handle this yet. Part of me wants to completely and utterly ignore Blondie and speak nary one more word to her...


And the other part of me wants to start a discussion about quantum physics and watch her head explode.

I'm probably going with the third path.... I'm going to laugh my [butt] off.

This is the world of HR; a world that is so far removed from reality that it is outside any ability I have of understanding it. And I get to read and talk and write about it for the next five weeks. yea. I'm only on the second chapter of the book and I've already written a dozen critical comments in the margin: assertions stated as fact, "great ideas" that don't work in the real world, PC crap oozing everywhere. It really is incredible that I'm paying money for this.

Change in subject.

This is something that every company seems to have to learn individually. Cheaper labor does not always translate into lower over-all costs. I took this from the Leuf Daynotes page:

(Tuesday, 18 May 2004) An interesting article, Made in Japan (Newsweek European May 17 issue) made the following point about the true cost of outsourcing, based on a realworld example from the Japanese consumer goods maker Kenwood.

In 2002, Kenwood built a portable minidisc (MID) production line in Malaysia, like other such efforts based mainly on the lower wages. Surprisingly, only a year later, the company moved production back home, to Tsuruoka, a small city some 460 km south of Tokyo.

Why? Crass economics; the company realized the following benefits:

Only 4 workers were needed to run the line in Tsuruoka, compared to 22 in Malaysia.

Orders could be delivered to stores in only 2 days, compared to 5 weeks from Malaysia!

Stockroom shelftime for components went down to 3 days, compared to 18.

The bottom line is that Kenwood makes the units 10% cheaper at home than abroad, all costs factored in. In addition, Kenwood realizes a PR benefit by being able to market the units as Made in Japan again.

Wages are low in places like Malaysia because the people there are uneducated. There is no infrastructure. The police are either non-existent or corrupt. It costs money to ship things to another country and back. The list is endless. In some instances it makes sense, but in many cases, the same money invested back home in modern facilities and worker training would save far more than what is being saved on wages in some third-world hell hole.

Anyway, I need to go eat my lunch.


Anonymous said...

Did this "blondie" thing at work really happen?!

Admin said...

As far as I know, the story is true. I have no way to verify it; I pulled it from another web site. It was certainly written in such a way as to make the reader believe it was true and not satire. But this is the Internet after all...

I do know that a similarly stupid thing happened to me in the past, only it was a racial as well as a gender thing. Could have gotten ugly except that my employer had a pile of documentation that this individual was thoroughly incompetent. It's getting strange out there...