Tag Archives: work

“Ok, just ONE more.”

Oh dear God. What’s happening. What is that noise. Help.

I reached for my nightstand and turned off my alarm, nearly knocking over the full cup of lukewarm water I had apparently placed there the night before.

How can it already be 8. This is a joke.

I stumbled into the bathroom. The idea of getting ready for work was overwhelming, let alone being in the office for the next nine hours. I looked at the toilet and decided it would be in my best interest to sit down to pee.

Holding my head I my hands, I closed my eyes and tried to remember. “Yea sure, I’ll grab a beer with you. I can’t stay out too late, but I’ve always wanted to check out that bar.” The oh-so familiar scenario ran through my mind.

The night started at happy hour. It was Thursday and the week had already been long, so we grabbed a corner booth and decided to curb the stress with a beer

“Do you mind if my friend comes?” asked my happy hour partner.

“Sure man, why not? The more the merrier. Should we just get a pitcher then?”

Seven more friends and 10 pitchers later, we’re singing “Don’t Stop Believin’” out loud for the third time. It’s not karaoke night.

This happens every time. I never learn. I stood up, flushed, and looked at myself in the mirror. Other than the typical bags under my eyes, I looked OK. I could manage to pass as “just tired” when I got to work. I began to vigorously brush away the sins of last night from my teeth when I felt a jolt of pain on my lower lip. I looked closer.

Great. Black lip. How… Then I remembered. I was in the middle seat of a cab with two friends. For reasons only higher powers can decipher, I had my head through the opening in the barrier between us and the driver. Suddenly – BAM – he slammed on the breaks and my head flew forward. Unable to stop myself, my lip smashed into the barrier. And now I have a bruise resembling a Hitler ‘stache on my lower lip.

Wonderful.

Realizing I was late, I sprinted to my room and threw on the first pieces of clothing I could find. I grabbed my bag, wallet, phone, keys, and headphones, and headed for the door. Wait. I turned around and filled up the largest water bottle I could find with ice cubes and the elixir of life itself.

As I fumbled to the train station I held down the queasy feeling in my stomach. If you puke I’ll kill you. I kept my sunglasses on as I entered the subway and hopped on the train.

Sorry pregnant women and the elderly, today Dan gets the last seat. Twenty minutes later I attempted to compose myself as I opened the office door.

“Good morning!” my coworker cheerily exclaimed as I walked in. “Happy Friday!”

“Morning,” I grumbled as I took my seat and logged on.

My coworker walked over and I shot her a look. With a single glance, she understood. “I’ll get you some water.”

“Got some, but coffee would be great. Thanks.”

“Sure thing.” She began to leave but quickly turned back.

“Whoa,” she said, intensely staring at me. “What happened to your lip?”

Surviving a hangover at work is of art. It is not easy. And it is not fun. But too often, it is necessary.

Whether a friend is in town, you got a promotion, or you found $20 on the subway, there’s always going to be a reason to celebrate. And normally, one of two things happens:

  1. You meet up with your friends, grab two or three beers, have good conversation about your life, work, and what you’ve got going on, and make it home by nine. Or,
  2. You meet up with your friends, grab two or three beers, start getting obnoxious, more friends come, shots of Fireball make an appearance, and you rage face until 3:00am before passing out with your clothes on.

Let’s be honest. Normally it’s the latter.

And when it’s not the latter, you secretly kind of wish it would have been the latter.

However, gone are the days when we can skip class without telling anyone and lay around all day. Now, if we “skip work” without telling anyone we “get fired”.

So, what’s a fun-loving yet career-driven 20-something to do?

Prepare and revive.

In doing so, you can go out and ingest as many beers on a weeknight as you’d like while still maintaining your composure and succeeding at work the next day.

Step One: Prepare

  • Eat. This is a classic fix to the all too real “I haven’t eaten dinner so I got drunk fast but who cares because I’m having fun!!!” situation. You’re having fun now, but you won’t be tomorrow. Everyone knows that happy hour means cheap drinks. Happy hour also means cheap food. Order and eat up. Your body will thank you when your friend gets you a “SURPRISE PICKLE BACK!!”
  • Drink water. This sounds lame. Let me explain. When you go to the bar to order the next round, ask for a glass of water. Chug it while you close out. When the bartender returns your card, place your glass on the bar with your tip. Your friends won’t see you, and you’ll hydrate, eliminating that cactus-y hands feeling in the morning.

Step Two: Revive

  • Eat a small, bland breakfast. Remember those awful granola bars you bought last week? Eat one. This is a test to see how your body reacts. If you feel ok, then
  • Demolish some McDonald’s. Or any type of greasy, filling food, if McDonald’s isn’t your style. You will feel immediately better. However, if that granola bar isn’t sitting well, then
  • Slow it down. Sip water. Munch on crackers. Anything to make your stomach stop doing loops. Ease into your food until you can have something substantial.
  • Attach a water bottle to your hand and make sure it’s constantly full. If you want to step up your game, try Gatorade or Vitamin Water. Those electrolytes and sugars will do you wonders. If you want to forego the one million grams of sugar, try some alternatives. Smart Water anyone?
  • At work, be sure to stay 5 feet from all coworkers. You may have brushed twice and used mouthwash, but the smell doesn’t go away until it’s out of your system. So stand back. Way, way back.
  • In dire situations, a nap may be needed. If you drive to work, tell everyone you’re “going out for lunch” and then crank that seat back and sleep. If you don’t drive to work, things get tricky. Find an area of the office that you can sneak away to. Empty desks in nooks and crannies are best – the ones that get little to no foot traffic. Slide under the desk, making sure you’re out of view from your coworkers, and nap away.
    • Caution: if you snore, this might not be the best option.

Prepare and revive. It works. But it won’t curb your hangover anxiety. That’s a battle you’ll have to face alone.

“Cab. I’ll tell you later. I just need to sit here for a few hours and not move. Please please please will you get me that coffee?”

One empty cup of coffee later and I still felt like I was hit by a truck driven by Captain Morgan. I trudged through the day, fading in and out of focus. I tried to stay awake between the moments of misery and sheer pain as the day began to wind down.

4:15. So close. I can do this. Only a few minutes before I can go home and sleep and eat and not think anymore.

“Hey Dan, can you come in here?” My stomach dropped like a rock. It was my boss.

My mind was racing: This is it. He knows. He knows I’m hungover. I’m going to get scolded. Did I forget to do something today? Holy crap did I text him last night by accident? No. No way. I never do that. What did I forget to do today? Nothing. I made sure to get everything done. This is definitely about my hangover. Shit shit shit. Here we go. I’m screwed.

He looked up as I entered. “Take a seat.”

I broke out in a cold sweat as I sat on the couch across from his desk.

“So, I’ve been meaning to talk to you. I just wanted to let you know that you’ve been doing a great job recently. You’ve really been an asset to the team. I hope you’re liking it and that you want to grow in this company. I’d love to get you on some deeper projects so that you’re not working on so many mindless things all day. How does that sound?”

I paused, a little confused, but relieved. Thank God. “Oh, yea! That sounds great. Thanks so much I really appreciate it.”

“Is everything going ok?”

“Yea, I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of things. Just trying to iron out some of the details.”

“Great. Well keep it up.”

“Thanks so much.” I stood up and walked to the door. Relief poured over. I felt the joy that can only be felt by a claustrophobic person getting off the elevator. I reached for the door handle,

“Oh, by the way –“ my boss interjected, “what happened to your lip?”

Day 1.

I have to be there at 9:15. I’ll shoot for 9:10 to be safe. It takes 30 minutes to get to the office according to Google Maps. Factor in 15 minutes of going the wrong way. I’ll need 45 minutes to get showered and ready. So I should get up at… uhhhhhhh… 7:40. I’ll set my alarm for 7:10, 7:20, 7:27, 7:32, and 7:38.

Just in case.

At 6:00 AM I was up and getting ready. I need to make a good first impression. Clothes: Jeans or chinos? Dark or light? What matches with grey? Is this too wrinkly? What color shoes? Where’s my belt?

Chinos. Light. Orange. No. Black. Hanging in the closet, where I put it yesterday.

The walk was longer than expected. The humidity of New York City took no prisoners this morning, and I was born with sweat glands similar in strength and size to Old Faithful. I felt sweat beading on my forehead and the center of my back. No no no, not today. Don’t get sweaty.

Thirty minutes and one shirt soaked through on both sides later, I made it to my building. Right on time. I called up.

“Hi, it’s Dan Whitman.”

“Hi Dan. I’ll be right down.”

“Ok! Great! See you soo-”

The phone hung up before I could get out my last exclamation point. I fanned myself frantically, hoping to cool myself down to the point that when I entered the office my new coworkers would think that I got sprayed with a hose rather than caught in an isolated thunderstorm.

My escort arrived to take me up to the office. In the elevator, my new coworker and I struck up conversation.

“Where are you from?” he asked me.

“Originally right outside Harrisburg but I lived in Pittsburgh for the last five years,” I spoke with excitement, entirely too quickly. “I went to school at Pitt and then worked there for one year before moving here. Well, actually, I lived in LA for two months after school interning and then went back to Pittsburgh and then here.”

“Nice.”

“Yeah!” Two quiet seconds. “What about you?”

“The DC area. Virginia. We used to drive to Philly and back for a cheesesteak and see who could make it there faster.”

“HAHA NO WAY that’s really funny haha did it take long to get there?” What am I doing? That’s not funny. That wasn’t even a joke.

“Like four hours or so.” We exited the elevator. “Here, this is our office.”

He showed me to my desk, then took me around to meet everyone else. I remembered every third name. Those that I couldn’t remember, I made up. I later found out that there is no Shelly, Brian, or Alyssa in my office, nor was there ever.

I walked around the office in a way that can be only described as snake-like, contorting my body into completely unnatural positions so that my new coworkers weren’t able to see the Great Salt Lake continuing to form on my back.

“There should be some paperwork for you to fill out sitting on your desk, and I think HR will reach out to you for orientation sometime soon.”

“Ok! Awesome! Thanks!!” Why am I still talking like this?

I took my seat and thumbed mindlessly through the paperwork sitting on my desk. Looking up, I glanced around at everyone else in the office, working hard on this or that. It was then that I came to the realization that I had no idea what I was doing.

The first day of a new job can be brutal. Especially the first day of your first real, salaried, I-don’t-know-anyone-or-what-I’m-doing-is-it-hot-in-here-where’s-the-bathroom-I-NEED-TO-PEE-RIGHT-NOW job. You’re aware of everything you do, from the way you talk and shake hands down to the way you sit in a meeting or walk to the copier.

While everyone seems to be doing important work, you’re setting up your voicemail and hoping that no one can hear you record and rerecord your greeting seven times. While your neighbor has three computer screens with different Excel sheets open, you’re deciding on the non-alphanumeric character to end your password with (the dollar sign, obviously, because you’re there to make money). And while your coworker is typing frantic emails about things that need to be done “ASAP BECAUSE IT WAS NEEDED YESTERDAY” you’re figuring out which height is just right on your desk chair.

Note: You are never able to actually get it at that height and settle for just a little too low.

You’ll need to learn a whole new language that is spoken in your office and your office only. “The Q3 BSRs are done except our major markets don’t include TRPs.” You’re lucky to catch an entire sentence without an acronym. In high school we’re told that learning a foreign language makes us more marketable to employers. In reality they should be teaching us how to rattle off arbitrary combinations of letters and numbers that sound like they could have significance.

Show excitement about your newfound employment, but don’t overdo it. The right amount of excitement shows that you’re ambitious and eager to learn. Too much excitement shows that you’re really, really annoying.

You have a weird side. Everyone does. Do not let yours loose on day 1. Keep the joke about the shape of that person’s mole in your head. Don’t share your story about catching a squirrel and keeping it as a pet right now. Unlike at a bar, the first impression you make in the office matters. Similarly, your coworkers are not your friends (unless they are).

Most importantly, though, remember that the first day normally kind of sucks. It’s slow, awkward, and uncomfortable. You’ll remember every minute of it – every interaction, every question, every moment you’re aware of yourself – until the next time you have a first day. But don’t worry; no one else will remember a thing.

Unless you’re really sweaty.

After finishing my pile of Human Resources documents, I uncomfortably dove into sexual harassment orientation training. I went to the website and hit start.

Oh good, it’s a video. This won’t be weird.

“Welcome to sexual harassment orientation,” the voice stated over my headphones. “This one hour interactive video will guide you through the policies and procedures your company has in place to prevent and punish sexual harassment in the workplace.”

HOLD THE PHONE. One hour? Interactive? I’m quitting this job.

One hour later I was afraid to even look at my female coworkers. I realized the day was nearing its end. I wasn’t sure what to do, so after rearranging my desk three more times and refreshing my inbox, I packed up my things to leave.

“Bye Alyssa!” I said to not-Alyssa as I headed out the door.

I reflected on my day in the elevator. Not bad. I met a lot of people, got my ducks in a row, and, most importantly, started a job I think I’m going to be happy in. I’m going to do well here. I’m excited – I feel like I there’s a promising horizon ahead of me, and this is the ship to get me there. Things are going to be great.

Feeling like a million dollars, I exited the elevator, strolled through the lobby, and headed towards the doors. When I stepped out into the sunlight, I turned right and walked towards my subway stop. Which, as it turns out, is not to the right, but to the left, turning my thirty-minute commute into and hour and fifteen minutes.

Happy Day 1.

Your coworkers are not your friends (unless they are).

I woke up late and realized that I didn’t have a gift. Today was the company Christmas party and we were doing a White Elephant gift exchange. From what I understood, it means that everyone brings in something they have around the house that they don’t want and we exchange with each other at random.

As I rushed to get out the door I grabbed the only thing in my house that I really didn’t want. Plus, I thought to myself, this gift is going to be hilarious.

I barely made it to the party on time. My six coworkers and I piled food onto our plates and discussed Christmas vacation plans. After eating and chatting for a while, it was gift-giving time. We all grabbed a random gift and sat back down. The woman a few seats away grabbed my soon-to-be-hilarious present.

“That one’s from me. You’re gonna love it” I said with a hint of sarcasm.

“Oh weird, you grabbed mine too.” I examined the bag as if I could tell what was in it by its weight and ribbon on top.

“Nice! We should have just exchanged gifts when we got here – ha!” She feigned a smile at my sad attempt of a joke. Dejected, I turned to the first gift opener.

He tore the paper off his rectangular gift to reveal a DVD of I Am Legend.

“Oh sweet!” he said.

That’s way better than my gift.

“That’s from me!” announced another coworker.

“Thanks! Well I guess you should open yours now,” responded the newest owner of I Am Legend.

The next coworker reached into his bag. He pulled out a bottle opener and two beers. “Thanks!”

Hmm, that’s not too bad either.

I started to get nervous about my gift. The presents that my coworkers were opening all seemed pretty good. At least mine will make them laugh…

The opening continued – one person got three candles. Another got a digital picture frame and batteries. Oh shit, this isn’t a gag gift exchange. People brought real things. It was my turn to open my gift. I reached in my bag to find a set of three bookmarks and a cherry almond chocolate bar.

“Thanks. Um, I guess it’s your turn,” I said to the holder of my gift. She was the only one left.

This is not going to end well. I already felt like an asshole and she hadn’t even opened it.

If there’s one thing I learned quickly from being in the real world it’s that your coworkers are not your friends. I don’t mean that in the sense that they’re your enemies – I get along fine with my coworkers and like to think we enjoy each other’s company – but that your relationship with your coworkers is not equivalent to your relationship with your friends.

Sure, you ask them about their plans for the weekend. You help them out when they have a problem. But there’s a difference between being friends and being work friends. Being work friends means holding the door when you see a coworker approaching. It means saying hello when you get to work and goodbye when you leave.

Being friends, however, means going out together on Friday night. Being friends means texting each other about Game of Thrones and what you just ate.

There’s a boundary between being work friends and being friends that is hard to define but easily overstepped. “One time we laughed really hard together watching a video on YouTube, but he still sends me really formal emails.” This area between being work friends and friends – friendship purgatory – can cause a lot of stress. Nothing is worse than overstepping that boundary and thinking it’s OK while your work friend files a complaint to HR.

You see, you and your friends have a very specific sense of humor – one that 98% of people are completely unable to translate. Your friends will complain with you about why grapes and grape flavored things taste completely different while work friends will stare at you and go back to their desk.

Your coworkers are not on the inside of you and your friend’s slightly racist joke. They will not find it funny.

Your coworkers do not want to hear about how you face planted on Saturday night but managed to hold on to your bacon wrapped chili dog. They will not congratulate you. They will call you a drunk.

Your coworkers will not laugh when they find out you’re the one that created a “Missed Connections” post on Craigslist in their name. They will never trust you again.

And, although we all know it’s hilarious, your work friends will not think it’s funny that you tapped the top of their open bottle and had beer erupt on their suit and tie at Ethel’s retirement party.

While these things are learned with time, one more thing also becomes apparent. Sometimes you find someone in that special 2%. The person who laughs in your face when you trip over nothing or applauses when you accidentally call your boss “Mom”. Inevitably, a work friend will turn into a friend. At which point it is perfectly appropriate to do the above mentioned actions at your own risk.

Until then, though, don’t tell them about how you went skinny-dipping in that fountain at 3AM on Friday night.

“Um, you’re not going to like my gift at all.”

“I’m sure it’s not that bad,” she responded.

“No really, it’s honestly the worst gift I’ve ever given anyone. Ever.” I wanted to grab it out of her hands and run out of the room before anyone could see it.

“Stop that, I’m sure it’s fine.” She started taking the tissue paper out of the bag. I clenched my teeth and held my breath as she tilted the bag towards her face.

“Be careful,” I warned.

“What?”

“Just be careful. You’ll understand.”

She reached down in and pulled out my gift.

“…what is it?” She asked.

“It’s a dead cactus.” Three of the longest seconds of my life passed by.

“…thanks.” A few coworkers forced a laugh.

“I’m so sorry.” This is awful. My friends would have thought it was funny.

“No… it’s ok… maybe I can revive it.” There’s no way she could revive it.

“Yea, maybe,” I responded. A few more seconds went by without a word.

“Thanks for the bookmarks.”