That's right: The left-hand return goes in the right office. The right-hand return goes in the left office! Very good!
November 30, 2010 10:38 PM   Subscribe

"You know, a lot of people ask me—well, some people ask me—two people asked me once—'What is facilities management, again?' Let me clarify this: facilities management is a very specialized function that is evolving in Corporate America, which takes care of the management of facilities for said corporations. Is that a lot clearer?"

The Juggler explains facilities management. (single link Google video) posted by Captain Cardanthian! (15 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I could have swore I saw that entire act in the 80s in front of a brick wall on A&E's Evening at the Improv. This was probably a corporate gig to make a technical training video using his tried-and-true comedy juggling act.
posted by mathowie at 10:43 PM on November 30, 2010

1993 IFMA conference. They showed that video as part of the keynote - we didn't get to see the end of it, Bill from Cleveland drove a golf cart into the swimming pool, and we had to high tail it outta there.
posted by Xoebe at 10:49 PM on November 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

This is cool! I am going to send it to my old technical communication professor, who studies what is essentially data juggling, and used to be a professional juggler in college and grad school.
posted by Tesseractive at 11:15 PM on November 30, 2010

I'm glad I clicked on that. It's very close to my heart for all the wrong reasons.

The way he describes it [eg: he is in charge of toilet paper] the role would be called "office manager" in Australia.

And, as any Australian accountant will tell you, if there is no office manager then everyone comes bashing down the accountant's door.

"I've just crashed my company car! What do I do?"

"The air conditioner isn't cold enough. Please fix."

"The photocopier isn't working, can you ring someone?"

The fah? Get out of my office and ask some other random person like, I dunno, one of our mechanics. I dare you. Why me, you dozy moron?

Of course I never say that. I normally agree to help and then I quickly become the go-to chump and that's why I'm not a shining light at my real job.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:46 AM on December 1, 2010

(If there was a "like" button, I'd be clicking it now!)
posted by JtJ at 1:00 AM on December 1, 2010

No joke, I met a guy who works in facilities management last weekend. This video is surprisingly reminiscent of explanation of his job.
posted by KGMoney at 2:07 AM on December 1, 2010

As a facilities manager with a giant novelty clock tower and a ramshackle former school building to keep up, I was waiting for him to pick up all the objects on the desks around him and throw them into the mix, too. I just came back from a week off, and I'd cleaned my office before I left so I'd come back to a nice, calm, organized place. When I got the job, I dumped the 1980s particle board and formica desk that had come from the set of The Wire in favor of a ladies room door the size of a parking space that I'd mounted on legs from Ikea, and it was clean and organized on Monday, and a cascading mass of notes, leases, contracts, product documentation, scribbled transcriptions of phone messages, checks, forms, and desk accessories. I've got an office phone and a cell phone (on top of my personal cell phone), and the phones get jealous when the other's ringing, so they both ring.

"We're going to need to shut off your steam supply to adjust a valve on a outside steam vent," says the representative of a French bus company that, for some reason, is now my steam provider. "It'll take about two days."

I check the weather, which looks okay, though it's cold in the building already.

The next morning, half the sidewalk in front of the seasonal art shop is splayed out like a frog on a wax tray, with 8 guys standing around while one guy jackhammers through three feet of concrete to get to the valve. It's not what was explained to me, and by the time the backhoe shows up, I'm on the phone to a French bus company, though I hang up to regain my composure, lest I go on a rant that a sailor would find offensive.

I put down the phone. It rings again. My electrical utility broker calls to let me know that, because of some glitch in the way a vendor approves credit contracts, they won't approve a 35 month contract, as we'd discussed, because we're a "new customer."

"We were already contracted with them," I say, and he helpfully points out that they've changed their name and rebranded, so they're not the same company anymore. "Okay," I say, and have to go to the higher-ups for guidance.

There's a storm looming, which means I have to climb six stories of ladders to the top of the building to sweep the roof up before the storm.

Did I mention that endangered peregrine falcons keep breaking my 1910 Otis elevator?

Yeah, they love my building, and after swooping down to kill some bird or small animal, they love to bring it up to the roof deck below the cupola for a relaxed meal. They chow down, leaving a substantial pile of bones, feathers, beaks, and claws there, and the big rain washes the carcass parts down the silver-painted tar until it all converges on the primary drain there. Enough parts build up and you get a dam, and suddenly, there's six inches of water on the roof, a tide the eventually finds its way through the roof on the other side, then runs down, through the electrical panel for the fire department's microwave transmitters, then through the empty tackle room, then through a little hole in the 18 inch concrete slab that is directly over the delicate open-frame panel of wire-wound ceramic resistors and Frankenstein relays, and then my #2 elevator is out of service for a week or more.

While you're up there, the phone will ring.

"One of the tenants opened her window and it fell out," says a voice.

"In #216?"


"The window with the huge sign on fluorescent magenta paper that says 'DO NOT OPEN THIS WINDOW UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!', and which was screwed shut?"

You hear a rustle as he's leaning out the window to look.

"Yeah, that's the one."

"I'll be over in a few."

I rush back to my office, check my email, and I've got PR forms to submit, updated databases to distribute, contractors to holler at, a money-saving project that's fast becoming another overbudget nightmare, another window repair that's going to entail cutting out, and then replacing, a huge chunk of drywall, and I wonder why I've had this constant tight feeling lately, like indigestion with a little trace of nausea, and man, I wonder if I have cancer of the esophagus, and the phone rings, then the other, while I'm still talking.

"I'm really upset," says a tenant, wanting to rehash a conflict with another tenant from two months ago, and I don't want to be a therapist, but I am stuck on that phone for one hour and fifteen minutes of neurotic wrangling while I edit a spreadsheet behind my listless conversation, and I'm watching the clock and my niece's birthday party is looming and I'm trying to think out how to avoid the traffic out of town because I had to drive today and finally I just tell the tenant that I really, really have to run and that we can talk it all over tomorrow as I fire off the last of several mid-conversation emails and gather up my stuff.

I step out, looking over the wreckage of my sidewalk that looks like it's been bombed, dodge the panhandlers who I can't hear anyway because I have Bjork blaring in my earphones as the stress-relieving sonic drug I take to remind myself that there is always a chance, no matter how chaotic, uncontrollable, and stomach-churning the job gets, to do something amazing. It's all just how you master it, and I'll let everyone know when I do master it, because, in my clichéd heart of hearts, I keep thinking I'm almost there, if the goddamn phone would stop ringing and bringing me more bad news until I'm singing gospel like an evil witch and I get out of time, dodge Baltimore traffic, survive one crowd-dynamics panic stop where I watch a truck screeching up to the bumper of my little red roadster until all I see is grill in the mirror, and I race home, put on a nicer shirt, and get to OCB, where family and a contingent of freshly fourteen year-olds are pointing at me and saying "late, Uncle Joe, late," and it's okay and there we are and I'm not thinking about what I need to do at work at all, not a bit, and I'm not thinking about how to get in the next morning, meet with a contractor in one building, then get to the other building to meet another contractor, and then to get back to the first to sign an invoice and...I'm not thinking about that at all.

"Happy birthday," I say. "The pink's fading out in your hair."

"I know, I need to redo it."

Fortunately, when I get home, I have dogs. Daisy and Lou jump up on the couch they've systematically wrecked, one on each side, and sympathize in stereo.

Tomorrow's another day.

There will be that call that ruins the day, but that's to be expected.

You learn to juggle, and mind the broken glass.
posted by sonascope at 4:03 AM on December 1, 2010 [53 favorites]

Do me a favor. Get back to me when The Juggalo explains facilities management.
posted by orville sash at 5:39 AM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

Of course, the upside of all this is that I have an increasingly comprehensive selection of delightful anecdotal non sequiturs I can deploy when I wish to turn an ordinarily jolly party conversation into a railing sermon about facility management.

"Mean falcons keep breaking my elevator."

"Eighty-five doctors in clown suits clogged every toilet in my bathroom so bad I had to shovel the shit out into a bucket before I could even begin to fix the problem."

"Four angry hippie dervishes are pissed that Rebecca didn't offer them pancakes."

"Drunken patricians on a golf cart crashed into the museum and broke a wall made of plastic presidents, mirrors, and dishes."

"The director of PR accidentally dropped a police car on a wedding party."

"The artist claims that the guru is dishonored by being so close to the bathroom."

"I can't go in the Tippi Hedren room to clean the gutters because goldfinches keep attacking me."

"I've had to euthanize a duck and bathe a squirrel for work."

"The theremin is out of control again."

"Alex Grey has removed all his clothes and is walking around the half-moon gallery."

"I have to dig through three layers of cats and ashes of the dearly departed every damn time I want to put another plant in that garden."

"I rebuilt the gearbox on the Rat, so it should be fine for the mud pit."

So, while I sometimes feel like I'm actually going to die on the job, struck down by a heart attack brought on by massive sudden overdoses of WTF!?, these jobs do fuel the inner PG Wodehouse of the soul, so it's probably a fair trade-off. At least, if there's a stroke looming, my bereft survivors will have a few good stories to tell over cucumber sandwiches and punch at the reception.
posted by sonascope at 5:44 AM on December 1, 2010 [11 favorites]

sonascope, you have inspired me to get off Metafilter and get my lazy ass going on work-related matters.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:29 AM on December 1, 2010

sonascope, each of those sounds like a great non sequitur that will derail some MetaFilter threadfight in the future, to much delight and consternation. I watch my sidebar contact activity with baited breath.
posted by I am the Walrus at 8:39 AM on December 1, 2010

The theremin is out of control again.

this should become the MeTa official tagline or something.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:42 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

anyone else think of Gob Bluth throwing pennies during a board meeting on Arrested Development?

I mean before sonascope the whole thing in perspective...
posted by es_de_bah at 2:03 PM on December 1, 2010

*put the whole thing
posted by es_de_bah at 2:03 PM on December 1, 2010

His name is Michael Davis. He's one of the most famous professional jugglers in the last 30 years.
posted by evoo at 7:43 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

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