Thursday, February 09, 2006

Orientation Videos

No, I'm not talking about Lost... and don't talk to me about last night's episode, because I haven't seen it yet. What I am talking about is starting a new job. It can be an interesting and busy time (and might be related to the shortage of posts here this week—maybe). Starting a new job can also be an amusing time. Like when you get to sit through an entire day of orientation, including multiple videos telling you all about how bad it is to harass anybody and how good it is to be safe. If I had sat through some videos like that this week, I imagine that they would have been a little like what I'm about to describe. I'll be sure to use lots of italics to try to get across just how dramatic these videos might be—you know, if I had seen them.

Anti-Harrassment Video

Picture some kind of office or library. Now picture someone semi-professional-looking sitting in a chair facing not-quite at the camera and telling you about how bad, bad, bad harassment is, and how many many forms it can take. Next, imagine some people (I am quite purposefully not calling them "actors") "acting" out a scenario of a situation involving harassment (which is pretty bad, by the way). Except, these people aren't really acting in any sense of the word that I'm familiar with. It appears that they were each filmed separately against a green screen as they stared off blankly into space, dryly reciting their lines. Next the background was turned pitch black, and a composite image was created of two to four of them spread evenly about the screen and supposedly engaging in conversation. If there were a word for that, I would have used it, but I certainly wouldn't call it "acting."

The basic format of this video was for some scenario to be portrayed in this way, followed by the question "Is [insert name here] being harassed?" Then the side-lookers in the chairs would talk about harassment for five minutes, and then the scenario would "rewind" and the victim of harassment would boldly confront their oppressor. Yeah right, I wish my orientation videos were this interesting.My favorite scenario was when the boss was playing "the slave game" and declared that it was Margaret's week to be "the slave." Oh by the way, Margaret is black. That's a pretty realistic scenario that I'm likely to encounter in the workplace.

One memorable quote from the video was "we must all hang together, or we will surely all hang separately." I guess it's probably memorable because it's already a famous quote. How it relates to harassment I'm still not sure. Here's one that was unique to the video though: "Any time you talk about a race, you're hurting somebody." That's right—any time. Like earlier in the day when I was asked to fill out some government form that asked for my "ethnicity." That hurt somebody... somewhere. The topper though was this head-scratcher: "Double jeopardy may work fine as a game show, but it has no place at work." I'm not making it up, that's a direct quote.

Safety Video

Time to use your imagination again! This time, imagine a safety video based entirely on... a poem! Oh yes, you did read that right. Nearly every line in the entire video (including the title) is lifted (with permission) straight from a cheesy poem about workplace safety called It's Up To Me.

The video starts off just like the poem, with the lines:
I want a workplace, that's Injury Free
And if that's going to happen, then it's up to me.
With the wonderful medium of video, there's an added dimension that's just not possible in the written word—the dramatic zoom-in—and boy do these video-makers enjoy using it. With the winning combination of rhyming lines and dramtic zoom-in, what more could you ask for in a safety video? I mean, I'm still walking around the production floor saying to myself:
When I walk through the workplace, I must stay alert
To watch for those things, that could get people hurt.
To be honest though, the most compelling safety video that I've feasted my eyes on was not based on a poem, and wasn't even in English. Do yourself a favor (especially if you had the misfortune to read the entire poem) and go check out Stapler Fahrer Klaus (Forklift Driver Klaus). It'll help clear your memory of the description of these barely tolerable orientation videos.
Categories: Personal, Culture


Blogger Father Cory said...

Egad. A white man telling a black woman its her turn to be "the slave"? Quick, someone phone the ACLU!

11:21 PM, February 09, 2006  
Blogger Skor Grimm said...

To be fair, the boss in this scenario was "played" by a white woman, not a white man. In fact there was only one white man in the entire cast of the video (out of about a dozen or so people). In this scenario he played the "complacent coworker."

1:32 PM, February 10, 2006  
Blogger Dove said...

Workplace training videos rock.

The best one I've ever has was the training I was given about the system for Root Cause Problem Solving as part of Total Quality Management. There were a number of things wrong with it. The most fundamental problem was the existence of the training. Seriously. If your engineers need to be educated on how to solve problems, you *desperately* need some new engineers. But I thought the funniest part was that the slides on Process Controls For Total Quality contained spelling and grammatical errors. That was priceless.

Someone needs to smuggle some workplace training videos out of somewhere and to a Mystery Science Theatre 3k with them. That would really, really rock...

9:49 PM, February 10, 2006  
Blogger Father Cory said...

"To be fair, the boss in this scenario was "played" by a white woman, not a white man. In fact there was only one white man in the entire cast of the video (out of about a dozen or so people). In this scenario he played the "complacent coworker.""

Ah, duly noted ^_^

10:41 PM, February 10, 2006  

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