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Carbo-Iron Meteorite, Sonora, Mexico, 1923

Carbo-Iron Meteorite, Sonora, Mexico, 1923

My brush with corporate bureaucracy today involved a dose of mandatory training. Every year, I am assigned about a dozen online courses that cover a wide gambit of subjects, but can be lumped into one of two categories, either ethics or safety. I view the ethics classes as remedial attempts to teach me what I should have learned in kindergarten. “What do you mean that there are appearances of impropriety, if I accept this briefcase full of unmarked, non-sequential $100 bills from the Sultan of Brunei?”

I find these courses to be the most insulting, because they seem to assume that by my watching thirty minutes of slides and then parroting back the desired answers to their quiz questions, this will in some way instill in me the moral compass that before taking this course was sadly missing. I’m guessing that the real purpose of these ethics related courses is for when after I take the briefcase and then jet-off to South America, the company’s lawyers can tell the Feds, “Oh well, we tried.”

OK, I got that rant off my chest. Today’s training was actually in the safety column and had to do with the dangers of workplace violence or you’re not paranoid, your boss is really trying to kill you. This is a new course, so in the mantra of the movie, Groundhog’s Day, “Anything different is good.” One drawback with new courses is that you actually have to flip through the course’s slides and watch any videos, even if you don’t have sound, because someone has stolen the earphones from the public terminals.

Normally, with all of the repeat courses, you are offered the expedient opportunity to test out. This is what I always do, when it is available. Usually, there are 10-20 questions and a passing score is 80-90%. If you fail, then you must actually take the course, but I have discovered a flaw in the system.

After answering each question, you are told whether or not you were correct. If you do not have a perfect score, then you can abort out of the test before answering the last question. Then you can simply restart the test, answering all of the questions correctly this time. This is a lot more efficient than actually taking the course. I assume that this is ethical, because it is permitted and OBTW, I flunked kindergarten.

The workplace safety class introduced the mantra, “get out, hide out, and take out”, which is actually an abbreviated version of the full mantra that also includes a few other helpful strategies like “call out, spread out and keep out”. I think that these three other strategies are good to know, but they were not covered in the course. In the test portion all of the correct answers were to “contact your manager or human resources”. What if it is your manager who is wielding the gun? My favorite question though involved how to deal with the delusional employee. Said employee keeps complaining about getting all of these messages from the television and that the TV is speaking to him in voices. The correct answer was of course, “contact your manager or human resources”, but I so wanted to pick, “Tell him to turn off the [damn] TV.”

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