In The Midst Of The Pre-Christmas, Pre-New Year’s Crush

Christmas comes but once a year, but does it have to be on a Wednesday?  If you have a white-collar job, Hump Day is the worst day of the week for Christmas.

Why?  Because Christmas isn’t really confined to one day.  Many people don’t work on Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas.  This year, that takes out Tuesday and Thursday.  With the heart of the week gone, who will work on Monday and Friday?  And with New Year’s Day falling on a Wednesday, who will be working the following Monday and Tuesday?

What does that mean for your average cubicle inhabitant?  It means that every deal and order that needs to get done before the end of the year needs to get done this week.  It means that the procrastinators of the business world are suddenly charged with energy, pestering you to get your work done faster than normal so the transaction closes despite their delays and the accounting department doesn’t fall on them like a ton of bricks.  It means everything is being done with a special sense of urgency, and speed, and added stress — and of course all of that comes on top of the extra activities that go naturally with the holiday, like wrapping presents and baking cookies and decorating the tree.

So welcome to the pre-Christmas, pre-New Year’s crush.  It will be better for us all if we just accept — nay, embrace — the suckiness of this week, grit our teeth, and knuckle down.  The hands on the clock will move, the work will get done, and the days will pass.  By the end of the week, we can raise a special Christmas cocktail to celebrate our survival.

If you know a white-collar worker, give them a break this week.  They need one.

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Death To The Annoying Spinning Circle!

Yesterday our computer system at work was painfully slow — so slow, in fact, that everything I tried to do was greeted by the dreaded spinning circle.  If you work on a network, you’ve probably experienced it at some point.  You’ve tried to save a document or move from email to Word when, instead of instantaneous responsiveness to your keystroke or mouse click, you see the circle with the light moving around the edge.

The circle is supposed to reassure you that the system is diligently working on the command you have sent.  Instead, it immediately plunges every white collar worker into the blackest pits of despair, because you know that you are likely well and truly screwed.  You realize that the spinning circle means you have probably lost what you were working on.  And then, after a few seconds, the circle simply serves as a colossal unending annoyance.  You can’t help but repeatedly pound the return key with increasing force in hopes of somehow getting the damn circle off the screen before it causes you to become cross-eyed.

On our system at work, the circle replaced the tumbling hour glass as the “looks like there’s a problem” icon.  As between the two, I prefer the tumbling hourglass, but in reality neither the circle nor the hourglass adequately communicates the awful import of a frozen computer.  Why not a depiction of vultures alighting on their perch, or a laughing, taunting death’s head instead?