Saturday, 9 April 2011

Ideal Guinea Pigs

Over at Patterico’s Pontifications, this extra-ordinary story of US public worker meddling and control freakery.

With their own staff, for a change!
No overbearing perfume. No obscene pictures. And definitely no French fries for work lunches.

That's the new edict for employees of the same city Health Department that brought you calorie-counting menus and snuffed out smoking on beaches and in parks.

The updated rules - which range from what workers can serve at agency powwows to how loud they can talk in the office - come as the Health Department begins to move into its new Queens digs today.
Yes, this is the suddenly health-conscious New York that Dick Puddlecote brought to our attention. Where better to test their inner control freak than on their own staff?
A set of guidelines for "Life in the Cubicle Village" sent to employees asks them to avoid wearing products with "noticeable odors" or posting "any displays, photos, cartoons, or other personal items that may be offensive."

They also should avoid eavesdropping.

If they can't - "at least resist the urge to add your comments," the cubicle rules recommend.
What, no snark? That office must truly be hell on earth…
Employees also got a bright-colored brochure stipulating what can and can't be served at meetings and parties.

Tap water is a menu must when food or drinks are served. Other beverages must be less than 25 calories per 8 ounces.

"Cut muffins and bagels into halves or quarters, or order mini sizes. Offer thinly-sliced, whole-grain bread," the brochure states.

Deep-fried foods are an absolute no-no and "cannot be served."

For celebrations, cake and air-popped popcorn - "popped at the party and served in brown paper lunch bags" - are allowed.

But when a "celebration cake" is served, cookies can't be offered.
Or what? The Cookie Police descend from the skylights, guns trained?
Health honchos say they are just practicing what they preach.

"The Health Department is leading by example by updating its guidelines for food and beverages served at agency meetings and events," spokeswoman Erin Brady said.
So if you’re invited to a meeting there, take your own lunch. What are they going to do, call Security?
"These standards are mandatory for meetings and events sponsored by the Health Department," the brochure states.
How are the workers receiving this?
Still, one Health Department worker said she was surprised by the brochure's nitpicking detail.
"This seems like micromanaging," she said.
That’s because it is micromanaging, sweetie…
The cubicle village tips are good - but unnecessary - advice, she said. "As somebody who does not have sensitivity to perfumes or scents or smells of people's foods, I thought it was kind of ridiculous, though I'm sure the people who do have those kinds of problems are grateful."

No wonder they feel so entitled to poke around in other’s lives. Their own must be so dull in comparison.

Can anyone imagine this situation in, say, France?


Dick Puddlecote said...

I could have enormous fun if I worked there (though I don't think it would be for long) ;)

microdave said...


I have an allergy to all foods except french fries....

A K Haart said...

We need a new term – nanomanaging perhaps? And it won’t be just health issues. I doubt if it’s permissible to criticize these measures either.

Captain Haddock said...

I would imagine that a Meat Madras, Sag Aloo, Onion Bhajees & Cucumber Raita .. combined with a couple of pints of Old Speckled Hen .. would produce wonderful results in the office, next day .. ;)

Brian said...

Give it a week and someone will bring a lo-cal semiautomatic to work, a .32 instead of a heavy 9mm.
Isn't there something in the American Constitution that forbids nannying, something like "the pursuit of happiness"? I've never understood how Americans reconcile individual freedom and puritan persecution.

JuliaM said...

"We need a new term – nanomanaging perhaps?"

I wonder how long it'll be before someone tries that level of fussbucketry here?

"Give it a week and someone will bring a lo-cal semiautomatic to work, a .32 instead of a heavy 9mm."

Well, it IS the country that made 'going postal' a term on everyone's lips!