Friday, August 19, 2005

More Corporate Silliness

Before my last temp contract ended, I took a souvenir with me. The office building was cleaned at night unsupervised by the cubicles' inhabitants. In order to put corporate Joe Shmoe at ease about leaving his precious materials unattended over night, one could find these signs posted at every copy machine, recycling station and water cooler: "Your Janitorial service has been trained only to throw out trash within actual trash cans. Please use one of these sticky notes to label any trash that does not fit in a proper receptacle." I suppose this was created after someone's all-important TPS reports were accidentally trashed. I find it very hard to believe that the perceived need for such labels came from the janitors themselves and not the corporate blowhards who probably had to have several hour long meetings to come up with this system.

I found the whole thing hilarious. I took to leaving an apple core on my desk with a "trash" label stuck to it just to see what would happen. I mean, is oversized office waste really such a problem? I suppose the 5 pizza boxes when the supervisor decided to treat the group to lunch on Casual Friday might not fit in a cubicle-sized waste basket, but was anyone so confused about its status as a throw-away item that middle management didn't feel comfortable leaving them stacked next to the trash can in the kitchen in fear they'd sit there all weekend and attract ants?

I would've loved to have been the entry level admin assistant asked to take notes during this meeting.

There are three notes to choose from:

I think this is what the guys came up with first. It is straight forward. The meaning of "trash" is conveyed not only with the bold font, but the universal language of doodle. Blobby figure put trash in container. This means trash.

I think this label came next. Someone stopped Larry in the hall and said, "you know, I'm worried about a sexual harassment lawsuit." The blobby figure on the trash post-it is clearly a woman. I mean look at the skirt. We don't want to imply only women are responsible for labeling trash. This is a group effort that fits within our mission statement. So they took her off the label. But then there was concern that the doodle was no longer universal. What language do immigrant janitors speak? Spanish. There, now it is universal again.

Then groovy-boy got wind of the label system. A recent graduate of a liberal arts college with a degree in poli sci, he is the kinda guy who used to organize cardboard box camp outs on the campus quad to raise awareness on the homeless, weather permitting. Since he sold out by working for said corporate blowhards, he's determined to still make a difference. What if he wants his pizza boxes to be recycled? Even though he hates to sacrifice even a post-it's worth of paper, it is better than those Papa Johns boxes heading for the landfill. Here, the corporate blowhards stick with the bilingual + iconic representation format for this label, but go with blue ink because it is "earthy".

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