Ice Breaker Questions: Work-Appropriate Whimsy

 

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Woman in the workplace. We all break the ice in our own way. She uses an ax.

My little cohort at work does something in it’s weekly check-in. We end each meeting reviewing everyone’s answers to the question of that particular week. The questions vary from simple (“what do you like about Spring?”), to pointed (“Do you love or hate the dentist? Here’s why I love the dentist…”), to far-fetched (“Where do you go in your time machine that you won in a contest, the natural way to acquire time machines?”), but it’s a brief moment of levity each week to catch a glimpse of people’s lives. And it is shockingly contentious.

You may be more familiar with QotW’s more well-known cousin, the ice breaker, a question you use to open up a meeting or conversation to get people talking. To break the ice.

We used to call them ice breaker questions too, until people complained about how much time we were spending on them, or flat out, not liking them very much, and we moved them to the end of the meeting. People could leave if they didn’t want to participate, or if we had other topics to get through and we ran out of time, we would be comfortable walking away without discovering our coworkers’ outlook on baby animals, and which one was their favorite.

Correct answer: Elephants.

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The Cutting Room Floor

 

I go through periods with this blog where, for the life of me, I can’t think of something to write. Or I can, but the ideas never quite grow legs.

Leg-growing is hard. Just ask a starfish.

I usually blame work for my writing ills. As a matter of fact, I blame work for all my ills, as well as everyone else’s ills. And ills that haven’t happened yet. It probably has a hand in those ills too. It’s like, “Work! Cool it with the ills!” And it’s not listening because it’s out creating more ills.

In these periods, where ideas can’t quite build the steam needed to make it to prime time, the cutting room floor gets pretty cluttered. And it’s a problem because that’s also where I keep my scarves. And my shoes. And my celebrity biographies.

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“This Will Fix Everything”: Things You Can Buy That Will Definitely Fix Everything Forever

This week I went to Target to grab garbage bags. As is Target’s habit, I left with more than garbage bags.

For one, I bought a 2017-2018 daily planner.


I thought to myself, “this will fix everything.” And I chucked it in my cart next to a new scented candle and a pack of pens. I’d later grab a pair of loafers too.

And just to clarify, all these things are not garbage bags.

As someone who is flirting with 30, I’ve realized that there’s no magic moment where “adult” happens. Where you remember to get your oil changed and you don’t forget to load the dishwasher and your desk is a clean desk and no coffee spills on your shirt because coffee is for drinking! Where you don’t worry about fruit flies because you took the garbage out and you like drinking water and you only say cool and normal things because you’re just someone who is both normal and also cool!

You don’t yell, “SAMPLES!” at the grocery store when you see there are cheese samples up for grabs. To my credit, it is cheese.

I know that there won’t be a magic moment where all those pieces suddenly click into place, but some days I have to wonder….can’t one of those things click? Preferably the coffee one? I’m ruining shirts.

I’m also old enough to know that these things don’t matter and everything is fine, but they sure could be finer. And sometimes you need tools that facilitate the fixing of everything. To not make you a type A personality per say, but someone who can fake type A. Someone who cheats on the personality test.

My new planner is going to do the job. It’s going to help me remember errands and bills and tire-rotating and writing and research and probably just general world-saving.

This isn’t like those other things I bought thinking they would fix everything, or at least some things. This planner is going to fix it all.

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Cleaning Up Nice: My Many Uniforms

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London police women, circa 1970; photographer unknown

When I was in college, the business department offered a series of lectures designed to help you get a job in your years after college.

There was one night devoted to learning the art of networking. Their suggestion: don’t be afraid to approach people; be open and friendly and make eye contact; and practice your elevator speech. If you’re unfamiliar with a networking elevator speech, it’s the 30 second explanation of who you are and what your experience is, explained in the time it takes you to ride an elevator.

My elevator speech: Hi, my name is Meredith. Don’t you like this eye contact I am making? I got my degree in clothing design, and my Masters in Visual Culture, but I’m currently working in IT mostly for reasons that rhyme with death-by-student-loans. On a scale of 1 to 10, I am 10 open and friendly! It’s been an amazing learning opportunity, and I’m eager to see where I can expand those skills moving forward. Is this where the eye contact ends?!

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You Made it Weird: History’s Fourth of July

 

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My bell was at the cleaners today, so I just wore a coffee stained t-shirt and leggings as pants. Equally, if not more, patriotic, I say.

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When you hear there’s cake in the break room.

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“When one week closes… something about a window”: Ideas for a Better Week

The week has its eyes on you.

Signs Last Week was Rough

  • You catch yourself pondering the best methods of barricading your office door with empty coffee cups and hoarded highlighters from the supply room. Answer: ditch both and use your office mate’s desk chair instead. Where will your office mate sit? He’ll stand. Sitting is bad for you. How do you get your office mate on board? Yell, “GIMME THAT DESK CHAIR! IT’S IMPORTANT!”
  • Writing poetry in your head about how punching coworkers is bad (I have a small and sneaking hunch, that my coworkers, I should not punch)
  • The highlight of your week was trying out a new grocery store. Things they had: a special section for gravy boats, “fashion flyswatters,” a garlic sauce called “the pink stuff,” that was bubble gum pink, very confusing, and on sale.
  • You cried reading a story about Obama calling one of his staffers when her cat died to express his condolences. 1) To my credit, it was a lovely, heartfelt story about a president being kind, and we haven’t had one of those in awhile; 2) the book was Who Thought This Was a Good Idea by Alyssa Mastromonaco, and if you’re a woman in any leadership role, I think you should read it; and 3) I don’t even like cats very much. That’s how lovely this story was.
  • By the end of the week, every time your work phone rang, you yelled a prolonged, “NOOOO!”
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The pink stuff in question.

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