Thursday, December 4, 2008 was the question?

I'm not great at office jobs. It's not so much that I dislike them (which is often the case, but not all the time), I just have no aptitude for them.

For the month of December, I have found myself back at my old job from a couple of years ago. The woman who took over my position has developed some serious medical problems. I received a phone call requesting my return on a limited basis - at least until classes resume in January. This surprised me. I was terrible at that job.

Everyone working in the business (including my immediate boss, with whom I had, to put it mildly, a tense relationship) seems genuinely pleased to have me around. And without the pressure of having to be there past the end of this month, my quality of work is pretty good, despite the internal obstacle course I have to go through to fulfill my duties. As sort of an assistant project manager (which is what I choose to call myself), I organize jobs and do some basic filing.

The basic filing is one of my challenges with typical office work. You see, I have a problem with alphabetization.


I said, "I have a problem with alphabetization."

I know what the alphabet is. I know the order, for chrissake...I can "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" from A all the way down to Z with some of the top first graders in the country. The catch is that I have to sing the song EVERY TIME.

And even then, it's a struggle.

It's not that uncommon. While at a party a coupla-three years ago, some friends and I were laughing over personal eccentricities: I only use the second stall in a public bathroom. I've never seen Star Wars. Red Foxx gives me nightmares. That sort of thing.

I felt compelled to share the my issues with the ABCs.

Most nodded in recognition and continued to do so when I expanded further to say that I had to sing the song nearly every time I organized a file alphabetically. It was when I mentioned that I thought N came before M so M could be announced to the room because N was M's toadie, that I was met with furrowed brows.

"But N doesn't come before M."

"Yes. I know. But...I..." More bewildered gazes. "Right, heh, right...I know..."

The subject quickly changed to the film Time Cop.

Each letter of the Alphabet has a very distinct gender, personality, status, and relationship to the other letters (Featured here in their colors as well!):

A: Female, a gentle but effective leader, long hair
B: Female, bossy, annoyed by A and how pretty she is
C: Male, a terrible manager of people, wears a pager
D: Female, corrects grammar at cocktail parties
E: Male, elegant, confidant, smiles at you across the room and you blush
F: Male, kind of a douche, sponges off of E, has lots of stories about drunk sex
G: Male, kinda sexy, somewhat violent
H: Male, snooty, smells like Aqua Velva
I: Male or Female, wishy washy
J: Male or Female, a rich artist with a penchant for the darker stuff
K: Female, ostentatious
L: Female, sneaks up behind people in the laundry room
M: Male, very powerful and regal
N: Male, cowtowing servant to M
O: Female, is always surprised
P: Female, hunchbacked, spits at passersby
Q: Male or Female, persnickety
R: Male, almost always in charge
S: Female, very into PDA
T: Male, jealous of R and S and wonders why he isn't first in the "RST" triumvirate
U: Male, a middle child
V: Female, not afraid to hit on men or women
W: Male, Big fat guy with a handlebar mustache and a pinstriped suit
X: Male or female, a spy, wears a mask
Y: Male, eats lots of sugar, jumps on the bed
Z: Female, tattooed, exotic girlfriend of your roommate

(All lowercase letters have the similar personalities but are children)

Because of this, I tend to arrange the alphabet according to the personality/gender/social status of the individual letter. Usually, it looks something like this:


B has moved away from A while C is trying to get to the top.
F has muscled its way in front of E and E is fine talking to G.

N is in front of M to place his coat over puddles.
RST are in the right order but T is seething. (as a result sometimes I put T first.)

Shouldn't V be in front of U? She's so alluring.

None of this was a problem until I started working office jobs where most files (digital and physical) had to be arranged alphabetically. My managers would open up a file cabinet and find the letters in some sort of alien arrangement. I would laugh it off and say office-y things like, "Oops,'s Monday, y'know?"

"But it's Thursday."


It's been a while since I've had to alphabetize anything in earnest. But now, working for a couple of weeks at this job, I am face to face with it again.

My immediate boss has NO understanding of what goes on in my head (and has to squelch his sneers when I talk about "fartsy" plays and so on.). If I were to tell him why he keeps discovering me downstairs, a good ten minutes after sending me to retrieve a file, standing in front of the file cabinets and singing the ABCs, he's the type that might call in the white coats.

It's not that uncommon is it? Lots of us attach colors and feelings to letters, numbers, days of the week - even if we don't realize it.

Close your eyes and imagine the Alphabet. What do you see?

That's right: H and Q are having brunch at a chi-chi coffee house. Little do they know that X has them trained in his viewfinder while F does the walk of shame back to E's condo.


Erica said...

You are a brilliant evil genius.

Anonymous said...

I completely understand this... You are not alone!

Mary Jo

Crazypants said...

I think we should write and illustrate a children's book based on this

Jan Smelk said...

I have the exact same problem with playing cards. It has affected me in my solitaire pursuits for years. THAT'S why I have to cheat.

2-the young boy the Ace is dating
3-who the 2 should be dating
4-a female nerd
5-president of the junior class
6-plays in a band
7-has "ambition" and tells everyone about it
8-could easily be forgotten at the mall
9-10's long-suffering wife
10-married to nine, gay with Jack
Jack-Queen's stepchild, screwing 10
Queen-is just so pissed at Ace and King because she thinks their love is real.
King-douche. Married to Queen, Takes Ace to fancy restaurants doesn't even apologize when the paparazzi take their picture.
Ace-hot. giving everyone in the deck the business, if you know what I mean.

I'd like to play Ace in the movie version of my insanity.

Paul Rekk said...

See, Jan, I was fine with the cards thing until I learned to play pinochle.

I'll never quite know how to look at a 10 again. And to hell with 2 through 8.

And you up there, with the alphabet problem -- you're nutty. But all the best brilliant evil geniuses (genii?) are.

NotNits said...

That's. Fucking. Awesome.

I did that with numbers when I was a kid. Odd numbers: male. Even numbers: female.

This is 100% true: I imagined them all at a fancy dinner party, and 1 was the maitre d', standing at the entrance with mustache and a tux.

2 wore a mink stole.

rebar said...

>>I think we should write and illustrate a children's book based on this


People don't screw with the heads of early adolescents as much as they should.

In fact, I think this book should be authored by Emily.

"Emily's Alphabet"


Her follow up book to help children cope with the loss of a pet will be SO big, they'll be waiting in line Harry Potter style.


"Fangs of Death (The True Story of Deluxe, the Hamster that Would Not Die!)"

I expect no compensation.
A note on the dedication page will suffice.

-j-j- said...

I am all for the children's book idea...only if Notnits writes a Coward-esque satire using the digits 1-9, mink stoles and all.

Oh, God, did anyone even think to invite Zero?

I don't know, rebar, will Olive EVER live down her shame? Nope.

And Jan...why aren't you pitching this to HBO?

Henri D said...

Where as I agree that the letters have gender, i disagree with some of your assignments. We shall table this conversation to an "in person" one and have a battle royale over gender of letters and their subsequent roles depending on their positions in the alphabet, use by greeks or new incarnations by the anglo-saxons.

Oh yeah, and weren't you the one who suggested that we do the alphabet backwards during warm up the other day? evil-exposing-yourself (non nude) genius!

rebar said...

>>I don't know, rebar, will Olive EVER live down her shame?


Because I remind her every day of what she did.

And then we pour a 40 on the lawn.

R.I.P Deluxe.

You are surely missed.

Jill said...

No I don't feel so strange about assigning genders to letters of the alphabet when I was younger! But ours are different, so I had to stop reading at F.

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