New guy

January 17, 2014 

After more than twenty years of working for small companies, or for myself, I started working for a very large corporation this week. Culture shock would be a good way to describe how it feels.

To begin with, I am now known to all by a three letter abbreviation and a face on a security badge. The security badge takes a bit of getting used to. In the places I used to work, when you walked up to a door, you opened it without slowing down. If I try that now, and forget to swipe my badge, there’s a loud thud and a potential broken nose.

The new company has two cafeterias on site. It’s a good thing I have an hour for lunch because I couldn’t make a decision between the turkey club, pepperoni pizza, a hamburger, or a salad today. I just threw the salad option in there because my wife reads these articles, and I want her to think I at least considered it. At past work sites, the only choices were leftovers, going out for fast food, or the mystery lunch someone left in the break room fridge over the weekend.

Because one would just not do, I now work at a facility with two fitness centers. A personal trainer can tailor a work out plan to my specific health goals free of charge. I can do cardio in one center and plyometrics in another. Not sure what plyometrics are exactly, but I can do them anytime I want. I will probably do plyometrics the day I choose to have a salad.

Did I mention there are two cafeterias? One cafeteria was serving chicken parmesan today.

It’s very modern, this new place. Modules have replaced manuals. When starting a new job, normally the employer would hand me an unwieldy 700 page new employee manual and make me swear to read it cover to cover.

Today, I sat through online computer modules covering emergency preparedness, the difference between a health savings account and a health reimbursement account, and the company’s privacy policy.

The modules had several pages to click through, and a box to check at the end signifying you understood everything. I understood everything and I wasn’t day dreaming about the reuben on rye one of the cafeterias had on the menu. I promise.

There was an extensive online module on sexual harassment. Let me just say that’s come a long way since I joined the work force many years ago.

Previous training on sexual harassment was the HR person giving me a tour of the place, telling me not to be a jerk, and warning me to avoid Denise in accounting because her boyfriend is a former Marine with anger issues.

The biggest difference I noticed had nothing to do with the high rise building or the nearly thousand total employees. It wasn’t the two fitness centers or the two cafeterias. It wasn’t even the new initials or the name badge.

It was the age of the children surrounding me. I am the oldest of the most recent class of new employees. One of our tasks today was to provide ten years of work history. One young man raised his hand and said, and I’m not even kidding, "ten years ago I was in middle school."

I spent the rest of the day looking for the online module on consequences for beating another employee to death, maybe with a grilled cheese from one of the two cafeterias on site.

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