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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Things that have made me chuckle lately

Things that have made me chuckle lately...

(1) An email I received from Tiger Airways, stating:
Corrective Notice On 10 August 2011 Tiger Airways issued an open letter to all Australians from the Tiger Airways team. This letter included the statement "Since we haven't been flying, our competitors have raised their fares by more than 30%". Following an investigation by the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Tiger Airways acknowledges that it did not have a proper basis for which to make this statement and as such it may have contravened the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) by making a false or misleading representation.
Tiger Airways would like to retract this statement and apologises for its conduct. 
  Another FAIL for Tiger Airways... 
Source: Cracked.com



(2) This photo of Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott, which shows the importance of pre-planning of political visits and photography. 

(3) This thread on the RiotACT, calling for ideas for a new sitcom about public servants. Since I have been working in the Australian Public Service (APS) this year, these really made me chuckle, because they are realistic than you would believe. My favourite comments/suggestions:

*  Include a storyline where a courier working in the Department of Defence wears a red nose on Red Nose Day and has somebody file an official complaint. The courier is then dragged through a two week investigation, interviews are held with everybody involved, the complaint is upheld, the courier is formally reprimanded and the incident is used as justification for annuling the courier’s appointment a few months later. Hold on, that isn’t scriptwriter fantasy, that actually happened and the courier was me.

* A bunch of people breaking a new building by taking up Zumba

* I once knew someone who tried become a specialist wholesaler/middleman/importer(?). Details are scant, but he was in the APS and concurrently trying to get rid of ~$60,000 of coffee. He was approaching cafes, supermarkets etc directly & probably wasn’t successful (he only ever managed to service small orders). He joked that he might be drinking the coffee for the rest of his life! He may have had to work in the APS to get by because his ‘worldly assets’ were beans. This required the usual reams of paperwork to declare concurrent employment. I wish I knew how/where he kept it (his garage?)…

* the housing situation, especially for graduates and Uni students. I’m aware it’s similar in Sydney and Melbourne, but there are many young people who try to get around to all of the Open Houses on a Saturday using buses. It is rather funny seeing the same group of people turn up several weekends in a row, and a good way to make friends after a while.

* The use of consultants to do anything more complicated than dot points, and the need to spell out for them (a) not to write anything which the answers are not already known about, and (b) the disappointment from public service managers when they discover that said consultants will deliver the bare minimum required to justify their fee (probably written by the work experience kid).

*  I once sat in a meeting where a consultant got confused and thought the painted wall onto which a projector was aimed was a ‘smart board’, and annotated a slide with a permanent marker.

* An ill-judged All Staff email being forwarded to the Daily Telegraph for national derision; stress leave. (News article - real story)

* Waiting one and a half years until the next election so you can write back and say: “Sorry, we’re in caretaker mode.”

* How about being tight with money all financial year, and then at the end the entire division spends money on copious catered planning meetings, team building activities and artworks for the office in order to prevent their budget being cut for the next year…

* We can’t leave out the chick that sued her department for compo when she got donked on the head, while having sex in her hotel room, when travelling for work (News article - real story)

* Unlucky in love public servant meets chick at grad party – sends lame email to whole Department about meeting the love of his life – but turns out chick cant even remember who he is or meeting him. (This actually happened in the Canberra APS...)

* The public service isn’t complete without under performance. There is the 54-11 manager cruising to retirement (or a consultancy), the person who has been promoted beyond their capabilities, the person who is incompetent, the person who is being underutilised, the person who has been screwed over, the person who is milking their wage, the person who has just stopped caring and the list goes on and on…. Almost every character in this TV show could be an under performer in a different way.

* Be careful who you slag off = you may be talking to his/her current or ex partner. Also, dynasties in certain departments = be careful who you slag off, you may be talking to their son/daughter, mother/father or brother/sister etc…

* How about an EL2 (Executive Level 2 = managerial level staff) who, when it all got too much for her, simply dropped files down the lift well then denied all knowledge of the issue.
And when confronted about it and shown the security videos, still denied it.
Yes, she’s still an EL2.

* My own example (partly covered by others): – working on the planning for the redevelopment of an large-scale database system I wrote heaps of doco outlining the various alternatives, costings and time-lines. Then the consultants (from a well-known IT company with close links to the department) arrived – one spent most of his time big-noting himself, telling everyone how fast his car was and how expensive his collection of wine was. The other one was OK (in that he wasn’t a lazy braggart), but it was apparent that they both were mainly concerned with collecting any existing doco on the proposed redevelopment rather than doing any detailed investigations of their own.
Sure enough, when the report came out, most of my work was in there, word for word, along with the unchanged costings and time-lines. The consultancy firm was basically paid tens of thousands of dollars to plagiarise my work.

* Team meeting: team leader once asked if any matters needed to be brought up. A disliked guy (secretly nicknamed “the great poof”) complained about “chumminess in the office”. He was disgusted that 2 girls had hugged when saying hello one morning (they were friends beforehand). It made him “feel sick” & not want to come in.

* Fitness/life coach; someone left the APS after training to be a fitness coach. APS drudgery has now been replaced with early morning bootcamps for obese public servants. (There are several bootcamps run in the Parliamentary triangle in Canberra before/after work and during lunch... so this probably happened)

* The obsession with extravagant morning teas for any reason at all

*  Standing in kitchens with a cuppa complaining how much work is on but still leaving at 4pm

*  Meetings about meetings about restructure after restructure

*  The footy tipping comp and the heroism of the winner

* What about the mentally unstable alcoholic who was hired via phone interview from overseas to a SES role and submitted her staff to a 3 month reign of terror before being terminated and given a golden handshake consisting of a years salary and a car...
After her reign had ended, the staff were sent off to group counseling conducted by a man named JoJo. Nothing like a bunch of public servants doing yoga in their suits and being asked to make up poems to describe how the experience had effected them.

* In order to get this show off the ground though you do realise that you are going to have to get a Discussion Group together to formulate a Working Party to look into establishing a Project Team to come up with the terms of reference for a Taskforce to produce a submission that will go to a Sub-Committee for their approval to implement something that surely will need to be QA’d by the Secretariat before the Division Head can take it to the Department Committee so a brief can be written to the Ministers Office to tell them something that they really don’t want to know about and will not approve….

* Or the well meaning ASO5 who, when explaining to a female colleague how to assemble a display stand, said: “Just take this rod with the male thread and screw it into the female thread on that rod . . . “.
Next thing he knew he was explaining himself to the Sexual Harrassment Contact Officer, followed by counselling from his director.
I know, because I witnessed the incident.

* The ASO 6 who missed out on the job she had been acting in for 18 months and refused to come into work for 7 weeks, they relented and gave her the position.

* Looks like most of the respondents to this post are pubes, judging by the the fact that the post times are 75% during work hours [I bet the rest of you claimed OT for your efforts]. That means at an average of 10 minutes for everyone to read the story and think of a response, there were 9 hours wasted in total so far, with say a conservative hourly rate cost to the taxpayer of $50/h equating to $450 overall thus far.

* The woman that didn’t like the smell of bananas in the workplace, and the effort it took to resolve the issue. (True story, actually happened - see RiotACT archives)

* Change of governments, being fired on the friday, and being rehired as a contractor on the monday.

* Try this true story: staffer inadvertantly CCs an email to a list addy that actually goes to every staff member in the department. The ensuing streams of “Please remove me from this list” emails followed by hundreds of “Stop using Reply All” emails while replying to all that quite literally bogged down the entire network for over an hour (yes even worse than how the internet melted down when Steve Irwin died). Followed by a mini reburst the next morning from people who weren’t there on the day…

* A Section bringing an a non-ongoing APS 4 for a couple of months to help the Section catch up on it’s filing, only to have the said non-ongoing APS 4 ask (quite seriously) at the next weekly Section meeting if anybody had considered having someone come in to help them with their filing

* A young graduate lawyer with a passion for fighting censorship who hears the US President is looking at ways to censor the Internet. The young grad Lawyer then finds via a web-search the e-mail address for the US President and immediately fires off a ‘nasty-gram’ likening the President to Hitler and Stalin. Hilarity ensues when he is called to the Departmental Secretary’s Office the next to be interviewed by two visitors from the US Embassy demanding to know why the Australian Government is threatening the President. An all-staff e-mail follows within 15 minutes of the end of the meeting reminding all staff that all e-mails sent from work end in ‘.gov.au’.

*  APS 6 who has been acting for a couple of years at EL1 level and getting perfect feedback goes for interview for own job and misses out to someone who then needs to been trained by the APS6. After a few months promoted person moves on, EL1 position is not filled but APS 6 still has all the responsibilities as before.

If you laughed at all of these, you must have worked in the public service...

4 comments:

  1. Well, I don't think any of it is funny. It is a bloody wonder the government functions at all with all this going on. Hopefully, there are enough intelligent people working in the APS to make up for the drongos and work cheats. And what happened to you is disgraceful.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It didn't happen to me (thank goodness), it happened to one of the posters in the RiotACT thread.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well I find it funny. I suppose you have to BE a public servant and actually know what it's really like to find the humour here. Although I always find it frustrating that the actions of few then taint the way the other hundreds of thousands are perceived by non-APS workers.

    We probably work near each other Lisa! Haha.

    ReplyDelete
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