brighter still

The best way to not get ‘the boot’ is to make yourself look hyper-efficient. This does not require any actual work. Move quickly about the office – this gives you a look of purpose that impresses people. Moving quickly about the office while carrying a piece of paper around the office – and maybe photocopying it for good measure – is even better: it not only impresses people, but lets them know that you are a Very Busy Person who is not to be interrupted. Also, striding about purposefully while wearing a slight frown is a surefire way of making your colleagues think that you are a driven career woman who is Going Places. The frown will also help to ward off any inconvenient questions of the “why was that quiz question wrong?” variety.

However, should any such question be posed to you, I suggest you deny all knowledge. If possible, blame a temp.

Good luck!

Being a student I’m probably not in the best position to offer career advice, whenever I’ve worked in an office I haven’t been considered important enough to be given a task which carries any real responsibility. At least you’re taking an interest in your work and ensuring your clients’ satisfaction, if they do try to sack you feel free to use me as an impartial witness to your dedication.

Thanks again for contacting me to let me know that I’d got the question right, I’m a big fan of Mr Fforde (I’ll be at his book-signing in Swindon) and I thought it odd that I’d managed not to notice him changing the title of the book.

Then I thought maybe the quiz was a little out of date because I had read that Fford had originally intended to name the book War of the Words. So I chose that one and it, too, was the “wrong” answer. After that, I just guessed. As for emailing in, I figured that about 50,000 people had already done that; plus I’m just not the kind of person who jumps all over people when they make mistakes. It happens to the best of us.

… Could it be that Mr Fforde has some cunning plan of his own that even
you at Hodder don’t know about?

Anyway, I finally managed to overcome my perfectionist tendencies, hoped for
a blissful increase of entropy at the right moment and simply clicked on
another answer. Which – strangely – was accepted. And I guess I was simply
to shy and self-conscious to mail someone and point out the problem. I just
accepted it as a kind of unexpected “plot-twist”.

So – don’t you worry! “The man who does things makes mistakes, but he
doesn’t make the biggest mistake of all—doing nothing.” (Allegedly Benjamin
Franklin, although you never can be sure about such words of wisdom …)

I don’t tend to have great expectations about Internet quizzes so I wasn’t too concerned.

Similarly, I’d advise you not to have great expectations about your job, just as your boss is unlikely to have such great expectations about someone in their first position.

My experience of office jobs tells me the following. Firstly, remember it’s always advisable to beg forgiveness before it’s too late. Secondly, make sure you keep your nose clean outside as well as inside of the office – things like speeding tickets never look good, especially if you have a tendency towards being a bit of a speed demon. Be careful or you might find things may get too hot…


Hodder can’t give you the boot. There’d be riots on the streets of Swindon and Reading. Hodder’s office would be picketed (“Justice for June” would make a very good picket sign, don’t you think?). Questions would be asked in the House. I’d say it was quite a good negotiating tool for a pay rise, actually.

re the competition error: I used to work in IT and if I ever screwed
up, I’d give than an explanation for the fault that included lots of
long technical words. People forgive others that screw up if it seems
that the person screwing up has been waging a battle with technology.

Sadly, there was only so much of “help, my monitor smells of fish” or
“the printer is switched off and i can’t print – what should I do?”
that i could take. So when deleting user accounts or wiping servers
didn’t get me fired, I just picked up my laptop and my camera and
began a life of loafing. No I have no one to fire me, and it’s fabulous.

I have worked in an office for all my working time so far. Not getting the boot is quite easy. You just need to make sure that someone else takes the blame. Or you could blame it on one of those mind manipulating characters from the Thursday Next books!

As for working in an office, sadly my advice would not be very helpful. I have never worked in the same office for more than two weeks. If I start to enjoy a job in an office too much I tend to apologise nicely to my employers and get out. However as far as I understand there are many ways of avoiding “the boot”. First among these is the old staple of not letting on that you need the job, or plain not needing the job. People seem to much prefer giving jobs to people that don’t need them. In fact, the best way to get a job is to pretend you already have a job and you would sooner stay with it than go to the new job. This bamboozles people into thinking that you must be too good for them, and they then feel they have to offer you the job you don’t want in order to punish you for not wanting it by forcing you to turn it down. Then you accept it. They are perplexed by this, so they become unpleasant and resentful towards you in the office. This behavioural cycle also happens with people you fancy. I have been on both sides of this, and neither is pleasant.

Anyhow, hang in there and blame it on the writer. He’s probably nice enough to take it on the chin. Just mail him nicely saying that you fucked up. As a writer, he has the wonderful umbrella of an “artistic temperament”. This allows you to get away with murder and have people smile indulgently about it behind your back. So if he’s half decent he’ll take the hit for you.


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