Katy Rants in September 2016

Here is where I start a new blog series, fondly (as of now) known as “Katy Rants”. This September 2016 edition of “Katy Rants” will talk about the things currently pet peeving me, and why. Maybe some of you feel the same!

Curb Alert
A really fun and relatively recent community-based use of the Internet are different social media groups related to giving away free stuff. It’s really a great way to get rid of clutter while ensuring you’re not wasting anything – that the things you once loved but no longer need are going to a good home. My home town has a “Curb Alert” Facebook page, and my new apartment in the city has a “No Buy” community page with a similar purpose. Both require approval to join, in an attempt to ensure that these groups really are communities sharing with each other, and not outsiders trying to mooch on free opportunities.

Overall, it’s pretty great – people post a lot of random stuff, like gently used clothes or toys or gardening tools, but then there are also some really beautiful pieces of furniture that people don’t have room for and don’t want to transport or worry about selling.

Here comes the pet peeve: when people insist on using this page to get small amounts of money for their used things. I’m all for getting money for your things, if that’s what you want – but that’s what Craigslist and EBay are for. It’s worse when the same people who are regularly snapping up the furniture and household items their neighbors are gifting freely are the ones trying to sell their broken table lamp for $20 on the same site. Are you kidding me? Do you have no sense of pride or shame or an understanding of social contract?

Wedding RSVPs
I have reached the seemingly ongoing “wedding season” point of my life, it seems. I’ve been in a lot of weddings, been going to a lot of weddings, and received a lot of wedding invitations. And with the invitation comes an RSVP, of course.

The traditional wedding invitation (don’t even get me started on wedding traditions that are nowhere near close to applicable in this day and age… That’s a post for another day) includes the invite itself, as well as an RSVP card and return envelope. The return envelope has a stamp placed on it, as good return envelopes do.

Most brides and grooms end up transferring their RSVP information to some sort of spreadsheet for easy reading and access, and most guests use the Internet throughout most of their day – don’t you think it would make sense to have an online RSVP that automatically filled a spreadsheet? Yes, yes it would. And couples are beginning to recognize this and they include an RSVP link on their RSVP card. But then they still bow to tradition and include the stamped return envelope. Do you know how much printing costs? Do you know how much stamps cost now?? And I don’t have statistics on these, but I’m assuming most of them go to waste and are thrown out.

The main arguments I’ve heard in support of RSVP cards and envelopes are valid – that older relatives either 1. Don’t know how to use the Internet or 2. Really appreciate and value this traditional practice. But most of your guests are not older relatives… So for the rest of them, save yourself money and time and ask for online RSVPs only!! And for goodness sake, at the very least give guests the online RSVP option – don’t force them to mail in your card.

City Sidewalks
Now that I am working in a city once again, as I’d wanted to do, I remember how annoying city sidewalk foot traffic can be – admittedly, still much less annoying than car traffic on the highways during rush hour – but still annoying in its own way. In Boston, it tends to be tourists who are the worst perpetrators, but clueless young professionals can also be at fault.

Sidewalk rules during rush hour are similar to street rules – stick to the right side, pass slower people on the left. Tourists tend to not realize what time it is or forget that their vacation destination is a place where real people work and live their lives. They walk in larger groups and spread out throughout the entire sidewalk, oblivious to the professionals awkwardly trying to find spaces between them to sneak through and walk past. Even as you uncomfortably squeeze or push past, they have no reaction or inclination to make more space. Young professionals generally (equally) obliviously walk extremely slowly while listening to or looking at their phone in the middle of the sidewalk, but they are only single people and quickly correct their mistake with little nudges.

Social contracts, people! Social contracts!

Oxford Commas
This is an ongoing conversation with people who write anything. Many companies have strict policies stating use or avoidance of the Oxford comma. I’m going to start this out strong and honest – I am 100% for the Oxford comma. The AP style does not use the Oxford comma, which means many news outlets also avoid it, but I must admit, more than a few times I have had to read and retread lines in newspapers in order to understand a sentence. After my third or fourth read, I realize the sentence does indeed contain a continuous list and I’m simply missing it without the comma hint. One of my favorite examples illustrating the importance of this grammatical structure is the following:

The purpose of punctuation is to provide clarity to a written statement – the Oxford comma provides clarity to an otherwise potentially confusing sentence. Why wouldn’t you use it?!

Vacation Policies
For the past many years, I’ve worked for very small start-up nonprofits in which I’ve basically been my own boss. This means that I set my own vacation time as wanted or needed – while we did have vacation policies, they were flexible and generous. Recently accepting a job at a larger nonprofit with much stricter and no flexible time off and vacation accrual policies, I realize how appreciated and wonderful a flexible and understanding work environment really is.

Basically, it’s forced me to conclude that every business should have an unlimited vacation policy for its employees. And I do think this would be better and more effective for both the employees and the company. As a salaried worker, you are expected to work to get the job done and done well, whether this takes 100 hours or 30 hours per week – and sometimes this will vary and weeks will require 30 hours and other weeks will require 100 hours. A company should do their best to hire the right employee, and the right employe will not shirk duties or attempt to manipulate time off. An unlimited vacation policy allows employees to work these 100 hour weeks as needed, though, and be able to really appreciate some family time, some personal time, or some travel time, in periods as available.

Otherwise, I feel like strict policies make me feel policed and cheated, and if anything, would incentivize me to cheating the unnecessary system…

Non-Remote Work
Along the same vein, I also think each company should allow its employees to work from home when necessary, and encourage it at least a few days per week. I know that working from home or working remotely is not for everyone, so I think it’s ideal when a company has office space but allows remote work. For me, I’m realizing that I was much more productive when working from home, in addition to having a better quality of life. I was able to do laundry, to clean my apartment, to run errands, in quick little breaks from work, while still putting in very productive 14+ hour days. In the office, I spend time, money, and energy commuting each way, I feel overall less productive and mentally stimulated due to the fact that I’m stuck in one single chair facing the exact same corner for 10 hours in a row, and I am able to accomplish zero daily personal tasks.

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