the job from heck: this is top priority

More of the Job From Heck. My Patient Husband and I wrote this together to deal with our frustration at some of these situations. As before, writing something like this is legal, and strangling one of your three managers (or all three of them) is illegal and immoral.

The other two posts in the series are The Soft Soap Memo and The Morale Memo.


Managers: having trouble determining a schedule? Want to inject a little element of uncertainty into your favorite employee’s life? Then try out the new random priority generation tables! All you need are two ordinary six-sided dice, and you’re on your way!

Table 1: Random Priority Generation Table (2d6)

 Number Rolled Result
2 Random task mutation. Change one or more important aspects of the task and tell the employee about the revised taks. When the revised task is finished, tell the employee that you’d really like the original task instead. For added fun, try multiple iterations!
3 Stealth priority. Really top priority (roll on Top Priority Sub-Table) but tell the employee that it’s not due for a month
4 Vacation special. Assign the task to be due during the employee’s vacation. Make sure that some aspect of the task can only be done on that date.
5 Meeting! Have the employee call a meeting to determine the item’s priority. It’s best if organizing and attending the meeting will take far more productive time than just doing the task will take.
6-8 Top Priority: roll on Top Priority Sub-Table.
9 Unknown, but urgent. Roll again to determine due date. Do not mention any specifics of the task to the assigned person until the due date, at which time express surprise that it isn’t done yet.
10 Hidden treasure. Roll again to determine due date. Bury the task in the employee’s inbox with a post-it attached stating the due date. Thecloser the due date, the further down it should be buried.
11 Multi-tasking. Save this assignment until you have three others of similar length, then assign them all to be done within the time normally assigned for one.
12 Not urgent. Whenever the employee has the time for this one. Be sure to ask about the task again several times in the next 24 hours.

Table 2: Top Priority Sub-Table (d6)

 Number Rolled Result


Due today


Due tomorrow


Due next week


I forgot: due last week


Due today, but I can’t be bothered to do it


Roll again: first tell employee the closer due date. When the employee finishes the project, state that it wasn’t due until the later date.


  1. ivyreisner

    Sharron should see this. This is a routine conversation for her:

    User: Can you get this report for a press conference on the 4th?
    Sharron: Next week? No problem.
    User: Fabulous. The data you’ll be pulling from will be available on the 5th.

  2. philangelus

    Ouch, I’m sorry to hear that. Personally, I used to get “hidden treasure” all the time.

    June: Did you photocopy my report for me yet?
    {note that she’d walked past a photocopier to ask me for this.}
    Me: No, I’ve been working on proofing the magazine before it goes to the printer at 3pm. Pat said that was top priority.
    Me: When you handed it to me, you said it needed to be copied by the 14th. See, I wrote it down when you handed it over to me.
    June: I need it NOW! Stop proofing the magazine and do it now!

  3. CricketB

    I remember showing one senior coworker my todo list, and asking him which to move. Then we have, in 1990, there for 4 months as work experience, “You’re in the computer generation, so you get to maintain the department PC.” It looked like every student who did it had different ideas and no clue what they were doing.

  4. Julie D.
  5. philangelus

    Oh noes!

  6. Pingback: the job from heck: the humor « Seven angels, four kids, one family

  7. explodingteacup

    This is hysterical. I think my boss might have these dice.