A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated.
A true conversation from work:
Boss: We now have a mandate from Higher Up* that managers will now have to sort through their employees’ Shred-It** recycle material to be sure no raw data^ is being shredded.
Employee 1: Sure, that makes perfect sense. After all, managers don’t have anything better to do than go through our trash.
Employee 2: Is that in your job description?
Employee 1: What’re they going to do next, start checking to make sure we wipe our butts?
Boss: I have gone through Katie’s Shred-It papers and found this stuff. [Shows us a few papers.] In the future, don’t write study numbers on notes you’re taking, and stop initialing and dating corrected pages when you’ve done them. Just check stuff off. Otherwise this looks like raw data, even though it isn’t.
Boss: And you guys, anything that doesn’t have to go in the Shred-It, just put in your garbage cans.
Employee 3: I thought the Shred-It was recycle. What about recycle stuff?
Boss: Oh, they have somebody go through our garbage to pick out the recycle.
Employees 1 and 3: But I put food in my garbage.
Boss: Well, they still go through our garbage to get any recycle papers out.
OK, how many totally, unspeakably DUMB things can you pick out of this situation? Let me see:
- Managers are the busiest people in the company. They juggle a zillion things at once. Now they have to go through the literally reams of paper we shred every day, too?
- How will this help in the long run? Surely Go through all Shred-It papers won’t be added to our managers’ job descriptions. Are we going to get more training on how to identify raw data so that us drones can avoid tossing anything important?
- SOMEBODY GOES THROUGH OUR GARBAGE to pick out papers?! My goodness me, I honestly have no way of expressing my shock at this notion. I’m not sure if my boss is mistaken (I kind of hope so) or if this really is happening (please, please, no). Unbelievable.
- What keeps us from throwing raw data into our garbage cans? Is the person going through our garbage (if there is such a person) going to recognize raw data and rescue it from the trash? Maybe they should take our garbage cans away, too, or have our managers filter through that as well.
In fact we did get some training on documentation and raw data, but it just left us even more confused than before. This may stem from the fact that the head dude in our Quality Assurance department did the presentation, and even he couldn’t succinctly and clearly define how to identify raw data.
In other work-related news, I collected nine clear Lucite blocks, each 3/4″ thick, 3″ tall, and 5″ wide, from various co-workers and mailed them off to mom for her optics unit. We all received these fine commemorative pieces of plastic to mark our transition from Worcester to Shrewsbury. Sentiments about them ranged from they seem a little dangerous (having needle-sharp, un-rounded corners) to couldn’t they have given us the money in our bonuses rather than spending it on these stupid things? to handy for gathering dust. People happily parted with them, agreeing with my sentiment: At least they might serve a useful purpose in a 9th grade science class. I just hope nobody gets hurt using them. One of those things could be a deadly weapon!
* This always sounds capitalized when I hear people talking about it.
** Shred-It bins are where we put any throw-away papers that contain confidential information like data or Sponsor names. 99.9% of the papers I throw away go into the Shred-It bin, so I keep a Xerox box at my desk to toss Shred-It stuff into, and I periodically empty the Xerox box into the bin. At the time of this conversation, my Xerox box had started approaching the Impossibly Full stage where I start thinking about emptying it.
^ Raw data is our final product, and it is also the way that you document how a study was run. If a Sponsor pays $500,000 for a study, the final product they get is the data (in the form of a report with tables in it). Throwing away raw data is like throwing away money, or perhaps more realistically like throwing away the tax statement from your bank before doing your taxes. The problem is that it’s not always clear what is or isn’t raw data, so it can be hard to know whether to throw a paper away versus keep it.
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