Recently, in a flurry of lost 360 emails, I was pleasantly surprised to find one from Patrick. He informed me that I was the 666th commentor on his blog. How cool is that? Well it gets cooler, because he asked if I would mind writing a guest blog entry for him, dedicated to the subject of evil. Who am I to resist such an awesome invitation? Though I've had a guest blogger on my page before, this is my first time to actually be the guest blogger. So here I am, a guest blogger, writing about a certain [nearly] unspeakable evil that has happened in my own life. To Patrick: thanks for the chance (and the excuse) to write. Your timing couldn't have been better.

Hell's Residence

Evil. It's tempting to think of evil as something unfamiliar, or something that scares. Or perhaps something that changes us. I remember growing up with a number of different ideas about what was evil. Death metal music, i.e. if any notion of cannibalism was mentioned. Mean math teachers. Step-parents. Rabid dogs. And, according to an old friend's aunt, the woman's vocals on Pink Floyd's song "The Great Gig in the Sky" (the fourth track on Dark Side of the Moon).

Evil in such forms, however, is not the topic of this discussion. The evil I'm talking about involves nastiness from one human being to another. Or more to the point, in my case, multiple human beings (they) versus one human being (me). I'm talking about Human Resource Departments.

For years, I've been a fan of Dilbert, Scott Adams's brilliant workplace comic strip. Having worked in offices, I experienced firsthand some of the nonsense that goes on, and thus could identify well with the strip. However, there was one character with whom, until this past month, I could not truly identify: Catbert. Sure, I chuckled at his evil little plots, but I had no evil HR person in mind when looking at him. Now, however, I have several faces, all of them incredibly unattractive, to think of when I see this little cartoon feline.

Let me set the scene for you. As summer was drawing to a close, my contract was set to expire. During the summer, my bosses informed me about upcoming changes for me. Wanting to make sure all my bases were covered, I asked about what sort of paperwork and whatnot I would need to do. "Nothing" was the answer I received on every occasion I asked (I did so more than once).

But when the change was meant to go into effect, I learned that everything was not, in fact, good to go. Apparently, I had to get the go-ahead from Human Resources, and they had failed to call me to inform me of everything that needed doing. Of course, when pressed further, it wasn't actually their fault. Nay. It was mine. It was my own fault for not recognizing that I needed to fill out paperwork I had no idea even existed.

Eventually, I got my contract renewed. But then it came to getting my first paycheck on my new contract. Despite the fact that I use direct deposit, I received no check, no deposit. So I called payroll:

Me: Um, I didn't get paid today.
Payroll: Do you work for us?
Me: Hi. Yes.
Paroll: OK, let's check and see here... Looks like we called your location, and were told you were no longer at that location, so we suppressed your paycheck.
Me: Did it ever occur to you to call me and find out what location I had moved to?
Payroll: Oh, and it looks like we're also missing a paper for our records.
Me: Oh?
Payroll: Yeah. From Human Resources.

A quick call to HR:

Me: Payroll said you didn't send a certain very important paper to them, and they can't pay me until they get the damn paper.
HR: Oh yeah. You were supposed to remind us about that.
Me: I've never heard of that paper. It's inter-department. And besides, I didn't have to do that last year.
HR: Um, uh, well, you have to come in anyway, and then sign it.

So in I go, because at that point, getting paid was my priority, and I was willing to do whatever it took to get my paycheck. While the HR "representative" was busy taking the paperwork I didn't, in fact, have to sign, to different parts of the office, I sat in her office fuming and reading the sayings posted around the room. The room was sparsely decorated, apparently with the intent to make it comfortable for visitors. I hardly need mention that it was, to say the least, not comfortable at all. For instance, there was a poster with pictures of flames on it. It said:

"Help our customers have a good experience by taking the HEAT...

H ear them out
E mpathize
A pologize
T ake responsibility"

Upon reading this poster, I was mortified. Not to mention defensive. For one thing, my HR "representative" didn't even come close to following this mantra. She shrugged everything off, even though my problems were entirely her fault. I was already thoroughly pissed off, and only made more so by the damn poster. So I made my displeasure known not only by telling her to her face, but also by following her around and finding the different people she had gone to and making sure they did the paperwork I needed to have done.

All the while, I knew that i was facing purest evil. As if being termed a resource (albeit a human one) wasn't clue enough, the frustration and grief they caused cemented their evilness in my eyes. My experiences were not pleasant, and HR remains the most evil entity I have yet encountered. But now, I think, I'm better equipped to handle the bastards in the future. I hope.