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HR Has Made Me a Nerd: Fiscal Cliffs, Taylor Swift, Horatio Caine and Pawn Stars—You Figure it Out [HorroR Stories]

In this, my second post on how HR has warped my thinking and made me a nerd, I talk about cable television shows. For my first installment, how HR affects how I watch football, click here.

I’m going to start this post with the following statement: You can judge me if you want. I mean, I know I’m about to admit to what some would think are embarrassing television watching habits. But considering the detritus that is on prime time network television these days, I’m pretty sure I can point that condemning finger right back at ‘cha. So there.

Anyway, so Madame HR spent a couple of weeks this winter intermittently ailing on the couch. I’m feeling much better now, thank you for asking. But you really shouldn’t ask, cause you know, HIPPA and all that. I mean, I could volunteer the information, and that would be ok, but it would also be TMI. And during this time I watched a lot of cable TV at various hours of the day and night and I had the opportunity to get hooked on shows that I cannot really justify being hooked on, but the hook is there, so I’m living with it. To help, I’m going to filter these shows through my HR colored glasses and see what happens.

CSI Miami Reruns=Lessons on how to Build an Effective Team

Horatio Caine may very well be the best manager who has ever lived. His voluntary turnover rate is 0%. People in his department don’t quit—they only leave in body bags or handcuffs. I’d kill for turnover like that (literally, death looks better on my turnover report than “hated my manager”). I’m not counting Eric Delco who left to go to Puerto Rico or Tampa Bay or something (Little known fact: CBS was thinking of spinning off a CSI: Tampa Bay series but they ran out of Who songs that sort of applied to crime investigation). But Eric’s back! So that doesn’t count. Rehires don’t count! Yay rehires! Just don’t expect me to bridge your service motherfucker.

Why is H (as his staff members, and now I shall, call him) such a great manager? I think it’s his loyalty to his employees. Little known fact: loyalty is a two way street. Usually you have to display loyalty to garner loyalty (it’s similar to respect in that way). Example, one of the CSIs is accused by evil-wrinkly-face Internal Affairs guy (who was later arrested by H, more on that later) of compromising evidence or taking a bribe or some other misdeed:

CSI Character: I didn’t do this H

H: (while putting on sunglasses) I know you didn’t ___. (insert CSI character name here, they’ve all had this story line at least once. Except for Calleigh (why does she spell her name like that?). Calleigh is little Miss Perfect (in real life all her coworkers would hate her. “Why has Calleigh never been accused of a crime? Bitch. She must be sleeping with that evil-wrinkly-face IA guy.”)

(Side note: have you ever noticed that David Caruso plays Horatio Caine like he’s a model walking down a catwalk? He’s always swaying from side to side, striking poses and taking off and putting on his sunglasses. Weird.)

OK, back to my thesis on why Horatio Caine is the best manager ever. Like ever. (Sorry, I still have that damn Taylor Swift song stuck in my head). As a manager, you have to defend your employees. Even if they are wrong. In an episode where one of his employees does do a bad bad thing (it’s never a CSI, it’s always the DNA lab girl with spunky hair or a strangely attractive tech girl that Mr. Wolf has a crush on), he sticks up for her as long as he can until the evidence is overwhelming and then he is the one to sadly confront her and shake his head before leading her away in a slow motion montage with a current pop song playing in the background. And in that moment you know the worst part for that secondary cast member (aside from the fact she has to tell her Mom she was fired from CSI: Miami) isn’t that she broke the law, it’s that she disappointed H, because he’s always had her back, you know.

(Side note #2: How many CSI: Miami episodes end with the suspect being shot by one of their alleged victims’ family/lovers/friends during the slow motion walking out of the building montage with current pop song playing in the background? It feels like 42% of the episodes end that way. You just want to scream: “Walk faster! You’re going to DIE!” If I worked for CSI: Miami I would have a meeting about how we should probably stop doing the slow motion walking out of the building montage with current pop song playing in the background, or at least provide better security. I mean, don’t they have a garage or a back door or something?)

The other thing H does that builds loyalty and camaraderie in him team is he creates an “us vs. them” mythology around the CSI team in respect to the rest of the world. In the real world this doesn’t really play out quite as literally as it does in Miami-Dade County, but here’s the idea: the rest of the world is out to get them. There’s evil-wrinkly-faced IA guy, there’s angry Assistant District Attorney long haired lady, there’s the mythical and evil “them” that’s always investigating or checking out or planting a mole in the team. We’re in this together CSI team! We have each other’s backs (most of the time, unless you are a low life gambler, then screw you)! We’ll show evil-wrinkly-face IA guy (until he gets arrested for evidence tampering) and angry Assistant District Attorney long haired lady (until she gets blown up by a car bomb)! (Side note #3: If only I could blow up every annoying VP of Sales I’ve ever had to work with (ahh, give me a moment while I day dream). What is it about sales? Why do they refuse to follow rules?) Anyway, I’m not saying that it’s a good management tactic to make your staff paranoid and hate all coworkers that work in other departments, I’m just saying it’s effective. Same as blowing up all VP of Sales (and or Marketing). I’m not condoning the practice, or suggesting it, just saying it would probably work in motivating my HR Department. That’s all.

And the last reason H is an awesome manager? Kickass nickname. It’s just a letter! It’s brilliant in it’s we’re-all-in-a-distinctive-club-and-falsely-feel-closer-to-him-somehow-because-we-are-special-enough-to-call-him-H-ness. Or it’s just because his real first name kind of makes him sound like a douche. You decide.

Nepotism Sucks (Unless you are the Nepote)

My favorite form of “reality” television shows (aside from Keeping up with the K’s—Hi Kourtney! How’s your vagina?) has always been those centered in some fashion around an office or workplace. I’ve noticed that in the History Channel’s lineup of “reality” television there seems to be a disturbing amount of nepotism on display. The last place in the whole wide world that I would want to work would be the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop. Well, except maybe Rick’s Restorations.

Come on, we’ve all been there, we’ve all had the useless colleague who was late every day and never did any work, just texted and checked Facebook all day until it was lunch time. Then they would take a two hour lunch. The great thing about normal workplaces is that usually these lame asses don’t last too long, unless the supervisor is really bad, or unless it is the supervisor who is doing these things in which case it takes a little bit longer. Anyway, in family businesses, these assholes aren’t sanctioned, they’re promoted! Ugh.

Small family businesses are notoriously horrific to work for unless you are a member of the family. The owners only have the family’s best interests in mind in every decision they make. It’s kind of like in public corporations where the board only thinks about shareholders’ interests, except that is why we now have the SEC and Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank and a bunch of other hyphen named regulations to try and prevent these assholes from being total corrupt lunatics. But in family business? Woo-hoo, it’s Wild West time! That’s why most small family businesses hire their sister to be the HR Department. Before that, she sold shoes in the children’s department at Macy’s until she got fired for being late every day and texting all day at work.

And because most of you all ever want from me is the answer to the question “Is that legal?” I will oblige you now. Yes. Ok, next question? So why do a lot of companies have policies against it? Most companies have anti-nepotism policies, especially public companies because there are ancillary things that can be associated with nepotism that are illegal. This comes in to play mostly with Equal Opportunity (you wouldn’t want to come off as only hiring family members as opposed to qualified candidates of other races (i.e. families), or only promoting family members as opposed to qualified employees. It’s a fairness issue and an ethical issue. Kind of like how bank tellers can’t process deposits for their son’s account, or a judge can’t hear their sister’s DUI case. They want to eliminate the appearance or possibility of nepotism so that the business they are doing appears legitimate and also so they won’t be accused of discrimination.

So I was watching Pawn Stars, and they had this storyline recently where Junior (or Big Hulk, or Smug Oily Butt Face or whatever the hell his name is) is threatening to quit unless they give him a partnership stake in the business. He supposedly has another offer lined up (like he’d give up all the fame and glory of being a fat guy on a “reality” show. He must get laid like crazy.) I mean, of course he deserves to be a partner, he shares chubby DNA with Papa and the Old Man, and only comes to work on the days they are filming, heck I’d give him a 5 on his next review. However, I imagine there are a bunch of poor saps that work at the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop who come in every day and work their butts off. So, on their behalf, allow me to say: “Fuck You!” Thank you. You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to do a show where I show actual reality. In my show I will focus on every other employee at the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, you know, the ones that show up on time and try their hardest not to constantly roll their eyes every time the Old Man opens his mouth. Then I’d show them weeping in their cars on the commute home while listening to “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (like Ever).

I had to stop watching American Restoration since the show stopped having anything to do with restoration and instead focused on the owner’s girlfriend, son and step-son-to-be. I love how all the employees call Rick’s son “Dale Junior.” It’s an actual moment of reality that I’m sure they’ve edited out by now. In fact, I think they’ve edited out everything that doesn’t feature those 4 characters doing all sorts of things that have nothing to do with actual “restoration.” I’m a restoration purist by the way, and I’m offended by their cavalier treatment of the subject. It was better when you got to see all the sand blasting detail (walnut shells, great tip!) but now, well, you’ve lost a viewer, sir! And I’m sure it’s breaking their hearts. (The show is HUGE in the Philippines apparently. Where they call it King of Restoration (I’m not lying). In the Philippines my job title is HR Queen, which is why I’m moving to the Philippines next year.) This makes me wonder what the rest of the world must think of us, if they watch these “reality” shows and think they are actual reality. Of course there are probably a lot of Americans out there that also think these shows are actual reality, so what must they think of us? Who is us? Are we them? Do “they” even exist? It’s a never ending loop if you let yourself get caught up in it. Now you see why I had to cancel my DVR recording of this show.

OK, so in summation, if you are offered a job from the Miami-Dade Police Department to work in the Crime Scene Investigation Unit, only accept if you are going to be an actual CSI, don’t be one of those technical flunkies, they ALWAYS get arrested. (Of course CSIs die when they are ready to switch jobs, so that might factor in to your decision). If you are offered a job from Gold and Silver Pawn Shop or Rick’s Restorations turn them DOWN—unless they are also offering to adopt you. But I wouldn’t trust Rick (aka “The King of Restoration”), the step-son-to-be gets all the crappy tasks around the shop. That’s assuming any of them are even hiring now that Obama was reelected. And they probably are! The economy’s great! Yay economy! Fiscal cliffs are fun! Wheeeeeeee!

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