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Dear Viv
2003, Q4 (July 10, 2007)

Advice for the Discerning Technical Communicator

Dear Viv,

I hope to one day become a tech writing manager. Yet there's no way for me to move up the corporate ladder as long as my current manager is around. Should I sabotage his career so I can jump-start mine?


Looking Forward

Dear Looking Forward,

It's pretty obvious. Make your manager as unhappy as possible without causing a lawsuit. At the same time, ensure that your coworkers look forward to you becoming their new manager.

Here are a few ideas. Challenge your manager's authority by taking the department to a movie during working hours without his consent. Pay for tickets, popcorn, and beverages. Your coworkers will feel indebted to you for your generosity. Party with your coworkers several times a week and encourage them to come to work sleepy, hungover, or both. Put tacks in your manager's seat when he walks down the hall to the printer.

OK, now for some serious advice. Persuade your manager that your department would save thousands of dollars a year by writing its 600-page references in Word. After two months of constant computer crashing and inconsistent headers and footers, demand that you switch to the newest version of FrameMaker, even though your IT department refuses to support the program. Save your screen shots as Windows Bitmaps (if you're in Windows) and don't clean up the moire scrollbars. Type real names in your dialog boxes before taking screen shots. Better yet, use names such as "S. Hussein" or "E.S. Trbny." In the Preface, substitute your manager's home phone number for technical support's number. Encourage readers to call any time day or night. If you have access to the company web site, update the Support page with this information.

This should inspire you to come up with even more deliberate acts of mischief. But try not to get too carried away. We don't want to see your manager's lifeless body on Unsolved Mysteries some day.End of article.

Dear Viv,

I've just entered into the singles life again. However, the only men I'm meeting are engineers. As a tech writer, I interact enough with engineers at work. I don't need one at home. How can I meet non-engineering men?


Single and Sappy

Dear Single and Sappy,

Congratulations on your new singlehood! It's good that you're getting back into the swing of things quickly. I'm a bit surprised that unkempt, pot-bellied Trekkies don't appeal to you. You might consider giving one of them a try. Quiet, absorbed programmer by day, attentive partner by night. That's what I always say.

However, if you'd like to meet another type of guy, here are a few ideas. Take an art class and meet a creative dude who'll send you handmade love letters. Sign up for a hike at the Eno River park or join the Sierra Club. You can bond with a guy over your aching limbs and gasping lungs. (Hey, that's not what I meant.) Volunteer for a worthy cause and find a generous guy who also wants to change the world.

Here's my advice for what not to do. Do not answer personal ads in local weekly newspapers. People write whatever it takes to get responses. I once described myself as petite, and boy was the guy disappointed!

Have fun playing the field.

VivEnd of article.

Dear Viv,

I'm single and one buff hunk. Are there any hot chicks at the STC Carolina membership meeting?



Dear Bighead,

I'm a chick as you probably guessed from the name "Viv." There are plenty of hot chicks at membership meetings, but you should also check out the special interest group (SIG) meetings. SIGs focus on a particular topic, such as technical editing or FrameMaker. The meetings are smaller than monthly membership meetings and are often more chatty. Some people find it easier to get to know others in the intimate confines of a SIG meeting. Visit http://www.stc-carolina.org/sigs for information on the Carolina chapter SIGs.

Your matchmaker (who cannot be held liable for advice),


Editor's note: Attention Single and Sappy — Bighead may be looking for you!

Whether it's how to get ahead or get a partner, Viv is there with good advice. Please send your questions to dear_viv at yahoo dot com. ' End of article.

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