Bob Goldman
Have you ever noticed? Sometimes, when you have no idea what to do with your life, the universe sends you a message. Sometimes, the message comes as a whisper. Other times, the universe bops you on the head with a baseball bat.

Today, the message came in the mail. (For my younger readers, "mail" is like email, except it is printed on paper and delivered, not through a computer but by a trained government employee called a mail carrier. It's what Mommy and Daddy used to send naked photos to each other through before the invention of sexting.)

The headline on the message I received read, "HUMAN RESOURCES" in big fat letters.

Message received, universe. Starting today, I am launching my new career as a human resources professional.

The fact that I know absolutely nothing about my newly chosen profession could be a problem, I suppose, but fortunately, the piece of mail that changed my life turned out to be a promotional brochure for a one-day course in HR. One day! That's all it takes for the friendly folks at CareerTrack to turn an HR ignoramus like me or thee into an HR superstar.

Now, the company may not make such a sweeping claim, but it does promise that its "crash course" will "swiftly get you up to speed on all aspects of HR -- from legal to compliance issues, to hiring and firing, benefits administration, records keeping/retention and more."

Of course, there are a few course corrections I want to suggest, so let's look at some of the highlights of your training day.

Clearly, the first step to becoming a successful HR person is to master an entire lexicon of confusing acronyms. Like FLSA, EEO, OSHA, FMLA, ADA and HIPPA. Except for this last spoonful of alphabet soup, which will be crystal-clear to anyone who has ever had a HIPPA replacement, these confusing abbreviations are a vital tool in your new HR career.

The more of these belles-lettres you can stuff into a single sentence, the more respected you will be. As in: "I'm afraid we have to terminate your employment, Ms. Fenster. FLSA regulations expressly forbid an OSHA exception for an FMLA employee who is not recognized by the EEO or the ADA."

What this means I have no idea, but if a HR person said it to me, I'd pack my boxes and get out ... fast.

(Fortunately, nobody knows what these acronyms mean, so feel free to make up your own. It could save your job. "But what about the NERNFURB exception for URGUP-ranked employees," Ms. Fenster should respond. "I believe the POOP has determined that we are a protected class.")


Bob Goldman

Bob Goldman is a business humor writer.

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