Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Evolution of Office Crime

When I first started working for the government in the 70s, the big office crime was talking on the phone (I kid you not). At my first job at the FBI, that wasn’t even possible because the only phone in the office was on my boss’s desk. I remember quite distinctly after being there a mere 3 months, accepting another job on that phone while staring at his pudgy clueless face. But then at my new office there was a rule that personal conversations on the phone should be kept to under 5 minutes and if you dared to make a long-distance call, the phone “police” would come around and get you to confess and even suggest that you pay for it. I’m proud of the fact that I maintained a clean phone crime record. One of my more astute bosses once told me that the trick to using the phone was to face away from the door and talk into a corner – then no one could hear what you were talking about. I’ve actually noticed that it’s been years since anyone has mentioned when and how to use the phone for anything.

But then the focus moved to photocopying. At first there was just a big copy center. You had to have a key card to put in the machine that recorded how many copies you made. Cheating was somewhat monitored. When individual offices got their own copy machines, a new set of scrutiny came up because now it was under the nose of your boss and your office mates. The trick was to just put your personal stuff in between official pages and no one was the wiser. But I have noticed that no one cares in the least what you copy these days. And that applies to the FAX machine too. I mean, using the copy machine or the FAX machine is tantamount to going to the bathroom – everyone does it.

Enter the Internet. For years many of us didn’t touch it. Surf the Internet – for what? Why would anyone want to? I was at a dinner party last night where the host mentioned that there is a new name for use of the Internet in the office for personal matters. I can’t remember the word he threw out. The only word that came to mind was “GUILTY”! I try not even to look at the screens of my employees because more often than not I would probably see some Internet page. It’s just becoming a fact of life. And the truth is that we are using the Internet and Intranet as an official way of communicating with people these days.

I always maintained that the most important thing was getting my job done, not the little ways that I chose to take an occasional break. So instead of going out to the “butt-hut” to smoke periodically, I just go online. It’s a lot better for my health and I’m not freezing my buns off. I just keep waiting for the Internet police to approach me and suggest how many times I logged onto Blogger in the past month. Maybe that would help me make the decision to retire!


Blogger D.C. Sexual Predator said...

You bring up an excellent point about smokers. You are so right, a few 15 minute breaks a day amounts to a whole hour of lost productivity. Why not surf the net? What's the difference?

2:15 PM  

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