PowerPoint: No Power, No Point

Work SucksPowerPoint is the obnoxious industry standard that has blighted presentations since its creation. PowerPoint is also the nickname I gave to my penis. Sadly, my girlfriend calls it Microsoft; I call her Arial because she’s a simple type.

Moving into a role with more presentations than spreadsheets is often viewed as a promotion but this is questionable, partly because bullet points make me want a gun.

I have long since lost my patience with speakers cramming text onto their slides and then reading them out word for word. The only reason to read it aloud is because I can’t read it: you’ve used beige text in four different font sizes on a lilac background. Nice.

A typical PowerPoint presentation is as follows: title slide is followed by bullet points, line graph, two pie charts with very small titles, more bullet points about fourth quarter earnings, a summary, a thank you slide and finally a photograph of the team standing in front of a tree (all of which is animated so it slides onto the screen from the right hand side).

I fail to grasp the clipart obsession that requires signposts, cartoon workers sitting at a computer or stickmen pointing to an enlarged chart. Why one in every five presentations has a photograph of a sprinter crossing a finish line is beyond me. Correctly auditing your client’s financial statements is not tantamount to winning gold at the Olympics. Pictures of sprinters don’t belong in a room full of sedentary asthmatics whose knees are kept warm by their bellies.

Most people don’t care what you have to say and will be distracted by something as frivolous as a spelling mistake, if they stay awake at all. Years of poor presentations have left us numb to a speaker’s words.

Even a good presentation will do little more than sap an hour from everyone’s existence. It’s not worth the effort. So long as you have a slide template with sharp angles and a company logo, people will leave having been convinced that you knew what you were talking about and that the presentation was good. No one will pay any attention anyway so leaving the impression of having said something worthwhile is worth more than saying something worthwhile.

“Have you seen the meeting handout?”

“I heard there’s a lot of charts. Are the colours consistent?”


“The default colours?”


“Damn. He’s good.”

Posted in Work

Office Toilets: I cant take this s**t

I cant take thisFor all of the flaws of corporate America (e.g. the use of sweat-shop labour, pollution, the depletion of natural resources, etc.) the design of the toilet stalls is the worst sin of them all. Instead of a door that reaches from floor to ceiling and a lock that clicks to ‘occupied’, you get a door that extends only from mid-shins to above head height. The logic goes that you know the toilet stall is occupied because you can see shoes under the door frame. Surely a locked door would give you the same information without having to watch for the convulsing shoes of your low-fibre peers’ battle with constipation?

Nothing can be less conducive to a nice relaxing poo than being surrounded by other people having a nice relaxing poo. Worse still, an office ID card attached to your belt loop can be seen from another cubicle as you drop your pants, identifying you to all who pass matter next door.

This happened recently: his badge was staring up at me from the trousers by his ankles. How can I possibly poo when your picture is smiling at me as you poo next door?

A bowel movement in a public bathroom is not without its behavioral quirks. Firstly, many of us will have developed the small cough or throat clearing as someone enters the room, such that they are aware not to push on your stall door. It is unnerving when the lock rattles from a would-be intruder’s push. I practically shit myself. A second quirk is to wait for the flushes of others before straining with full force. If you can empty as much of yourself in those few seconds then no one need hear your windy noises. Of course, there always a slight risk of firing out a kidney or spleen under such intense contraction.

There are two tricks to the office poo; the first is timing. Generally speaking, the later in the day you leave it, the worse the state the toilets are in. If you choose to lay a cable at 5pm you’ll leave the toilets less clean than when you entered. Urine on the toilet seat is a later-day hazard so try and learn the schedule of the toilet cleaners; your dry-cleaners will thank you. The second trick is location, location, location. Toilets on higher floors are usually cleaner, no matter what the company (except maybe a mineshaft). Head to the floors with the lowest worker occupancy, avoiding anything near a foyer, seminar room or staff canteen, perish the thought. Once in the toilets opt for the privacy of the disabled cubicle at the far end of the room.

I have yet to figure out how to use paper toilet seat covers or why I would want to. I cannot imagine how Neolithic man survived without toilet-seat covers, which are clearly a marker of a truly civilized society. A truly civilized society that is capable of making origami animals with its buttocks.

Take great care with collars and shirttails. Your colleagues won’t soon forget when you spent an afternoon with poo-sleeves and no amount of scrubbing or sleeve-rolling can hide that unmistakable smell of your career going down the toilet.

Men’s toilets pose the additional hazard of the urinal, which are awash with more than social convention. In urinals as in life, most men are aimless. Urinal etiquette dictates that a man maximises the distance between his urinal and any other man, buffered by a free bowl whenever possible. Conversation should be kept to a minimum and eyes should stare at the horizon or straight down; lateral head movements are not allowed.

Following suit from the office poo, an earlier wee is always better; the problem is the errant squirt, which may adorn the wall, floor and occasional shoe. As the day wears on and the floor becomes more sprinkled, the next user chooses to stand further away from the bowl, increasing the probability of a wayward jet. The cycle continues until everyone is forced to stand so far from the bowl that as much goes in as misses, in which case the whole toilet affair breaks down into a urinary sprinkler system.

Still, as bad as a large toilet is, with plopping sounds filling your ears and nose from every point on the compass, the small office toilet can be far nastier. In an office with few people there maybe only one toilet for everyone. What crueller fate can there be than when a colleague of the fairer sex needs to spend a penny straight after you have splattered the bowl with a toxic slick of semi-digested curried guano?

I know what you’re thinking. Perhaps I should change my diet.

Posted in Toilets

Lessons from the Office Party

Office parties are wildly different from firm to firm. Parties that are held in the office are becoming rarer, due to (1) the large number of photocopied body parts over the years and (2) rising expectations that the company should pay for you to drink somewhere less shit.

Trendy fashion companies hire cool clubs and give you a free bar. Banks can go one of two ways: they either ask management to make speeches as you cry into your water glass or they just get everyone drunk and pay for strippers. Whilst I am no stranger to the gyrations of Tiffany, Roxanne, Tiffany and Tiffany, my company has yet to foot the bill.

The duller the job, the duller the party. The more senior staff in attendance, the more anodyne the affair (unless you have senior staff with nicknames like ‘Uncle Don’ who buys the bar as if it were company policy). By and large, people are less likely to let loose in the presence of managers that can fire you on a whim (unless you’ll get fired for not getting drunk).

Office parties are career minefields, where rumours are born and fantasies borne out. The golden rule for your party is to not do anything you couldn’t explain away by Monday unless it will make you a legend. Alcohol has a habit of unbuttoning the trousers of restraint to reveal the hairy testicles of honesty. Just because you (and your peers) think it’s hilarious to point out how the light reflects on your boss’ bald spot, I doubt he’ll find it as funny as you do.

Company parties for firms with male-dominated cultures based on competition and bravado are always risky: “Hans? His plans are flawed, his work is shoddy and damn it, I’m going to out-drink him.”

If being drunk is a bad career move, find someone who can hold less alcohol than you and let them provide the amusement, offering to get them a drink as you get your next. If you are the lightweight drinker you’ll need to figure out the minimum amount of time you have to stay before you can skedaddle politely or risk vomit stains on some of your clothes.

How you should act depends on what type of drunk you are. Angry drunks should swap vodka for water, stumbling drunks should stay near the walls, leering drunks should go home to their partners or porn, and charming drunks should lead the way. If you aren’t sure what kind of drunk you are then there will always be someone with a camera floating around to fill you in on Monday.

I ticked every box except charming drunk. Apparently it’s impolite to say “looks like Santa’s emptied his sack” after one of the elfin secretaries sat on the portly manager’s knee as he went through the usual Father Christmas rigmarole.

Don’t arrive early thinking you can leave early, it just means you stay longer. Office parties are like sex: the person that comes first is least popular. I have sussed out the solution: the best thing to do is to have kids or grow old. As far as I can tell, aging and breeding are God’s way of letting you leave the office party early.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.

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Posted in Parties