The Island of Misfit Toys
Do you work for an idiot? This is not a rhetorical question. Pound the comment section below and tell me all about it. Misery loves company and I love you.
The Decade of Despair. 11 years of insignificant ecommerce jobs in a small town and counting. Three jobs, three bosses, and three teams of us, the underbelly employees.
An odd coincidence is that in every case the employees ended up referring to themselves as “The Island of Misfit Toys.” Loosely translated I think that means: “Those willing to put up with this shit.”
Bosses who are in over their heads are more likely to bully subordinates. That’s because feelings of inadequacy trigger them to lash out at those around them.
There were amazing parallels between the bosses, too. Questionable ethics, pointless products, and treatment that would send the ASPCA into a frenzy if it didn’t happen to organisms as pathetic as human beings.
Oh, and the bosses were able to achieve amazing feats of stupidity.
After all, it takes a lot of leadership to inspire your employees to think of themselves as “The Island of Misfit Toys.” Can you even imagine?
In this post I offer one hypothetical and back it up with a typical average example of what it’s like to work for an idiot. As if you wouldn’t know.
Great Moments in Employment History
Welcome to a new regular feature here on the Abyss. It will allow me to talk about work without actually talking about my job. That’s a true win-win! For all of us.
I recently hit the wall. Hard. Every time I sat down to write, nothing would happen. If I did write, it was pure crap and went to the Drafts folder to die. I had lost it.
But then I realized there was a bountiful cornucopia of blog posting ideas already inside of me: My personal employment history. So I’m back, motivated, and ready to bring you this ongoing series I have decided to call, “Great Moments in Employment History.”
I hope you enjoy…
When babies are born, they are so pure, so innocent. Naturally our urge is to shield them from the ravages of life on this planet and the true nature of the universe. We lovingly protect them and nurture them until they are old enough to face what they must, even if we wish that wasn’t necessary. Our work done, we then send them out into the real world to get a job and go to work.
That’s when the shit goes sideways. Sorry, mate. Now the real education begins.
I once worked at the same company for 16 years. I started out working part-time on the night shift on the dock loading vehicles. Our shift was 11pm to 4am. The following scenario was not uncommon:
The supervisor would let everyone know that when the work was done, rather than clocking out and going home, we were to meet by the telephone in front of the loading dock for a “meeting.” So there we gathered, at four o’clock in the fucking morning, loitering and waiting. When all of the stragglers finally arrived and we were fully assembled, the meeting was on.
“You can all be replaced,” the supervisor told us. This was my humble introduction to the concepts of motivation and inspiration in the workplace. I remember it vividly as if it was only yesterday. “We had to wait around for this?” I knew I had latched on to something good. That must be why I stayed 16 years.
Later, after I had worked my way up to supervisor, it was time for my education to continue. Our clients paid us big money to process their things. (I’m deliberately being vague to protect the identities of the evil.) These things were not cheap. There were big machines we owned that did this processing. The nature of our business was such that the things were time sensitive and our processing was decidedly not verifiable by the client. They had to trust us. All we had to offer was our integrity and our word. (Ha!)
One night, one of my fellow supervisors fucked up. The shift was over and the crew was already sent home. He then discovered shitloads of product that he had failed to process. This was an extremely common occurrence, although it was not usually of this magnitude. (When this happened in small quantities unreported disposal was routine.)
While I did my end of shift duties, wrapping up the logs and producing reports, the supervisor waited until the coast was clear. He had fucked up. He had two choices: Admit the mistake and fix it later and make it right which would involve an admission of guilt and some form of future compensation to the client. Or he could hide the whole thing and cover his ass.
Anyone willing to place bets on what happened?
I saw him throw all of the forgotten product into a giant garbage bin. For once in his life he didn’t bark orders at some minion. He actually did the deed himself. Furiously he worked at it until all of our client’s product has been tossed into the bin. He then took the bin around back and found other stuff to dump on top to hide his handiwork.
This guy was good. After all, he was a supervisor, right?
So the client had paid twice. Once to create the product, then once again for us to process it. If our service was “destruction” then we had done an admirable job. In the end, the whole thing was a fucking joke and the client got absolutely nothing for their money, although they never even knew it. And for what? So some incompetent idiot could avoid a black mark on his record.
I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. If I try really hard, I just might be able to think of more memorable moments from my personal work history to share. Perhaps we’ll explore this wonderful topic from time to time. Do you have any of your own? I’d love to hear them.