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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Today At My Office Keyboard ...

Each morning, after my requisite "Central Perk" sized coffee, I check my e-mail. Many a times e-mail has saved me from missing a meeting or overlooking a deadline. And frequently, to my about-to-blow cranium, it has alerted me to the things my co-workers' kids are selling.

In my top left desk drawer is my company's "Guide to Electronic Media Usage." It's about 60 pages of rules and regulations ... really, it's mostly about the phone system and instructions on how to forward your phone and change the message on your answering machine function. But on a few pages, there are words and phrases about what "to do" and what "not to do" with the company e-mail.

I know, for example, it states that I'm supposed to avoid personal use of the system ... it's an e-mail for business use. Consequently, I've had to inform my friends not to send me the off-color jokes and extremely-steamy-to-downright-smutty videos that make their rounds from time to time (okay, a few get through but we're all only human, right?). It also says not to accept large attachments that may affect the overall system. It also reminds me to guard my password. Nowhere in my manual does it say, however, that the company e-mail system is too be used as an open marketplace for every fundraiser in every elementary school/middle school/high school in a six-county area.

There's fruit for sale ... there's cheese ... there's discount sports passes to help both my budget and the local athletic boosters ... there's pizza kits to help pay for new band uniforms ... there's magazine subscriptions to help fund prom ... there's pails of cookie dough to help upgrade playground equipment ... there's gift wrap and holiday cards to offset a trip to Space Camp ... there's a never-ending roster of moms and dads, sometimes with and sometimes without their cute little kids with pleading eyes, pimping all sorts of cards and tickets and raffles for all sorts of causes. It's madness, I say ... MADNESS!!

Now, when I was seven, I remember our babysitter, Renee, stopped by in October with her "Christmas Kit." It was a big fundraiser in the high school to generate money for a number or projects. We all loved Renee, so Mom and two of us kids sat in our den and watched Renee open this magic case that must somehow bend the laws of physics, because there was literally a ton of gadgets and gizmos inside. Swiss army knives (or a clever facsimile), vegetable peelers, candles, hair barrettes, fancy calligraphy pen sets, travel games and puzzles, change sorters, jewelry, books and CDs, picture frames, kites, corncob holders that looked like alligators, diaries and journals, magic kits, cologne, mag lights, sea monkeys, light-up yo-yos, lip gloss, collapsible frisbees ... everything one needed to live the good life. Renee was like Viggo Mortensen in "A Walk On The Moon" (good movie ... rent it) where the guy comes to a Jewish summer camp once a week with a wagon that just has everything you can imagine. Renee had freckles and buck-teeth (unlike Viggo), which is odd because her father was a dentist.

When I was seven, finishing your Christmas shopping in October in your den for $25 was cool. Being cyber-stalked in my office like three times a week now isn't cool.

There's a lady named Jocelyn that works in payroll and she has a great philosophy. When her kids bring home information about a fundraiser, she first considers the worthiness of the project. If it's a "sale" to offset the cost of one of her three children doing something with their class or attending something special, she sends a note to the teacher saying that A) my kid's not interested so "pass" on the fundraiser or B) my kid's excited and we think it's an educational thing so we'll pay the cost and "pass" on the fundraiser. If it's something unique, Jocelyn will call the teacher and ask for a "typical" amount raised by hawking whatever item is in season and send an appropriate check. And she's always leery when a teacher can't come up with a figure ... they've perpetrated this type of marketing for years. I like Jocelyn.

There are other parents I know that really think carefully about the issue and only approach friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers who might be interested in their children's wares.

But still the e-mails come. And I read them. And I am angered.

POINT OF RANT: Do I, as I claim, actually like children?

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