One night I dreamed I was walking on a beach with the Lord. In the sky I saw scenes from my life. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints side by side. Other times the footprints were single file, like Sand People who travel that way to conceal their numbers. This bothered me because the single file footprints seemed to precede all of tumultuous times in my life.
So I said to the Lord, “You promised you would always walk with me. But the footprints say that each time the shit was about to hit the fan you were no longer by my side.”
The Lord replied, “The times you see single file footprints are the times you stabbed me in the back.”
At times religion can be a beautiful thing. At other times it can be more like a barrel of monkeys. Believer or not, I think most people can agree at least that much is true.
In the news recently was a story about a high school teacher claiming he was fired for being an atheist. Let’s take a look shall we?
Continue reading →
I once quit a job over a staff meeting. True story. I’m sure it’s documented here on the blog somewhere, but long story short, they made us on the 6am crew stick around for a 5pm meeting. I asked, “Is it important?” Our managers assured us it was. “You have to be there,” they said.
The meeting started and the first item of business was rolling out birthday cake for our safety director. At 5-fucking-o-clock. It’s not like most of us would be consuming dinner any time soon.
Then, for the icing on the cake, the rest of the hour was consumed by our managers reading memos to us. Line-by-line. Word-by-word. Like we were in kindergarten or something. Memos that had previously been delivered to our inboxes. Memos I had already read on my very own. It was worse than an insult to our intelligence. It was calling us babies.
After the meeting I opted to go back to my desk rather than heading straight home. I sat there and wrote out a memorandum of my own. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s a classic piece of Americana called the letter of resignation. I plopped that puppy on my manager’s desk and then called it day.
In another place and another time there was another staff meeting. This one involved the quintessential management tool known as the employee survey.
Continue reading →
The dictionary defines the word as “a commercial business.”
Wikipedia, as usual, is a bit more verbose:
“A company is an association or collection of individuals, people or “warm-bodies” or else contrived “legal persons” (or a mixture of both). Company members share a common purpose and unite in order to focus their various talents and organize their collectively available skills or resources to achieve specific, declared goals. Companies take various forms such as [a] … [b]usiness entity with an aim of gaining a profit.”
Source: Wikipedia – Company
“Warm bodies?” Holy shit. Wikipedia nails it. Again!
The business manager stormed into the meeting and saw a lot of empty chairs. “God damn it,” he bellowed. “Get me more warm bodies in here!”
Most of us born and bred in the United States wholly swallow – hook, line and sinker – the premise that a company is an organization comprised of human beings with the shared goal of making money, i.e., acquiring profit.
My purpose here today is debate the other point of view, that this concept we’ve so fully accepted is complete and utter horseshit.
Continue reading →
How would you come off if someone secretly recorded video of you doing your job? Would you pass that test? Would you come through with flying colors?
Continue reading →
My fellow employees (aka compatriots or victims or cohorts or The Cabal) and I have, quite by accident, I assure you, formed an informal association of which we are all now members. Management is, of course, by definition, excluded and not even allowed to know that our little group exists.
We’re calling our little ragtag band of rebels Fight Back Club.
Like any effective club, we have a few simple rules.
- The first rule of Fight Back Club is never share personal information with management.
- The second rule of Fight Back Club is never share personal information with management. Seriously. If you do they will save it up and use it against you. Someday. It will happen. That’s the way management is.
- Club members will alert each other when management is near, usually within hearing distance. Our code for this is “tippy toe.” (A tip of the hat to our honorary member, George Costanza.)
- Our dead brothers and sisters shall be made into bars of soap.
- When a manager does something dumbass the incident must be shared with all other club members.
- Fight Back Club will exist as long as it has to.
- If this is your first time being employed at the Shit Hole, you have to fight back.
- Club motto: “This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.”
- Secondary motto: “Only after disaster can we be resurrected.”
- Club mission statement: “Fuck off with your sofa units and string green stripe patterns, I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let… lets evolve, let the chips fall where they may.”
- Club pledge of allegiance: “Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”
- Club Charter (in entirety): “You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.”
- Club Aliases: We also informally use the club names “Island of Misfit Toys” and “The Wretched Refuse.”
Membership has its privileges.
Today I offer up two stories of business meetings for your consideration. One is old and one is new.
The Day I Quit My Job
No, not my current job. Ha ha ha. This story takes place many moons ago. For you kids, that means there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no YouTube. Hell, we even carried pagers back then. (Which was mandatory while on vacation, by the way.)
A bit of background info. I was a production supervisor in a manufacturing facility. My peer group consisted of approx. 15 supervisors who were responsible for approx. 250 production employees. Our department made stuff and the environment was loud, noisy, dusty and had lots of equipment like forklifts, conveyor belts, big machines and so forth. We were are 24 hour operation so there were three full shifts. On the particular day in question my buddy Raiko and myself were working the #1 shift with a 6am start.
One more thing you need to know. At the time I was a fully-thriving member of the rat race. That means I lived in one county and worked in another. My daily one-way commute to work was 90 miles, 89 of which were a major highway. My routine was wake up at 4am and hit the road by 4:30. I had to gas up my car every other day. (Back then that was about $14 a tank.)
The drive to work was usually a breeze. It was always 90 minutes. Due to the early hour the ride was pretty deserted. The drive home, however, was quite another story. About the best I could hope for was a two hour drive if I left work on time. If I left at 3pm or later, though, I was officially screwed. The drive would balloon to a whopping three hours. It was a real mood killer.
Yes, you don’t have to tell me. I know I was a monumental dumb ass for having a 180-mile round-trip commute by car. (We didn’t have a commuter train.) It was something I had to do in order to chase the American dream when the opportunity of a lifetime to buy a house fell into my lap. The only problem was that the house was 90 miles away. So I ate the commute and got the house.
Anyway, that’s it for the boring back story. So there we were, my buddy Raiko and myself, at 6am working our #1 shift. At some point we were informed that there would be a mandatory management meeting at 5pm. We both naturally raised our eyebrows at that. I went to my division manager and politely inquired about the importance of the meeting and if those of us who started work at 6am really needed to be there. What I got back was an emphatic “yes.” The meeting was vital and we had to be there. Blah blah blah. Now I found myself staring down the barrel of a four-hour commute. Lovely.
Raiko and I worked our shift then went and grabbed some dinner. After all, we had a few hours to kill before the all-important 5pm meeting.
Finally meeting time rolled around. It went down a little something like this:
- The first 15-minutes were consumed by birthday cake for one of our co-workers. I shit you not.
- The next 45-minutes were consumed by our division managers passing around memos and then – wait for it – fucking reading them to us like we were in kindergarten. (It’s true that some of my peers would notoriously ignore the memos in their mail slots, but I was not one of them. Rather than dealing with the problem, our managers did what bad managers always do. They punished us all.)
That’s it. That was the meeting. Legend goes that I fell on the ground and blood was leaking out of my ears. I really don’t remember. I blacked out. When I woke I found myself in a pile of flaming rubble where the building used to be.
I walked out of that meeting too livid for words. I walked back to my desk, picked up the phone, called my wife, and had this conversation.
“I just got out of my meeting. I’m quitting. Is that cool with you?”
It was now 6pm. I had a four-hour commute which, if undertaken, would get me home well past my bedtime in order to wake up at 4am and do the whole thing over again. I made the command decision to spend the night. That was something that happened quite often, usually when the company forced it up my butt by making me work a #2 shift followed directly by a #1 shift. (That meant getting off at midnight and being back to work by 6am.) I had a local hotel I used for such occasions. Nice way to treat your management employees, eh?
This time I was too angry for such things. I sat at my computer and pounded out my 30-day letter of resignation, printed it, then walked over to my manager’s office and slapped it on her desk. Game over, man. This rat race is officially over.
Fast-Forward to Present Day
My wife had a mandatory meeting yesterday. (Her place of employment was previously mentioned in an earlier post entitled On the twelfth dice of Christmas.) She works in a department with a team of three persons, including herself. Her department has incredible work load and is subject to government deadlines that must be met to remain in compliance with certain standards. Failure to meet those deadlines can result in penalties assessed against the company.
The situation this week is that one employee is on vacation. Then, the other employee’s step-grandfather died and she is gone on bereavement. We all know what that means, right boys and girls? My wife is flying solo.
So yesterday along comes our good, good friend, the mandatory meeting. My wife politely inquired if she could be excused. Nope. It’s very important stuff. It’s mandatory. I am a boss. I speak like a robot. You will comply. This is my robot dance. I am programmed to make many kinds of decisions except for ones that have any actual meaning. There is no I in Team. You are imperfect. Nomad will sterilize the carbon-based infection.
What the hell? Fuck it. She goes to the meeting. It went down a little something like this:
- 15 minutes fucking around with the “sack lunch” theme where food was distributed.
- 45 minutes of minutia regarding another department that had absolutely nothing to do with my wife’s job and/or department.
- A video presentation regarding positive attitudes (which was preceded by 15 minutes of the room exploding into chit chat while a projector was brought in and one thing after another went wrong). Gee. You think the brainiacs in charge would think to prepare the equipment ahead of time?
It was right at the end of the meeting when I swung in like Rambo without a jock strap and mowed everyone down with my M60 machine gun. Survivors later testified they heard me yelling over the sound of gunfire, “This is fucking beautiful, man!”
My wife took it all in stride, got out of the meeting, and found her desk destroyed with paperwork, the phones jammed with tons of voice mails, a full fax machine, and all the phones ringing off the hook. She was home late last night and had a bad day.
Seriously, we have got to mother-fucking stop meeting like this!
The boss is a nitwit fool. Daily I’m amazed that he actually somehow had the intelligence and competence enough to create and run this company. It’s simply mind-boggling.
I’ve blogged plenty of times about how he routinely sells items for less than what he paid for them because he doesn’t feel it is worth staff time to update prices on our web site. Riiiiight. Now you hopefully understand the mentality we are dealing with here.
If there is one thing above all else that the boss loves it is handing out we. He just loves assigning “tasks” as he likes to call them.
This morning he assigned me one. If your goal is to Destroy Your Employees you can’t be just all willy nilly about it. Using task assignments to damage, confuse and demoralize your employees is much like revenge – it’s a dish best served cold. And it also takes a bit of planning to be done properly. Task assignment shouldn’t be wielded like a blunt instrument. It should be subtlety finessed so that intestines will splay over the greatest possible distance following employee disembowelment.
I struggled to come up with a workable example of this morning’s task fiasco and this is what I came up with. I’ll tell you right up front it’s a lame example. But it works.
Boss: Tom, I want you to take 26 blocks, one for each letter of the alphabet, and put them on this shelf here, all in row.
Me: Aye, Captain.
The boss’ instructions sound simple enough, eh? Amazing I was trusted to count up to 26 all by myself. (For once no micromanaging.) And I even had one of each letter. Being a fairly intelligent fellow I had no problems so far.
But then I realized that his instructions fell short. The bosses around around here often fail to provide enough detail to properly complete their tasks. You either have to stop and seek “direction” or fill in the gaps on your own.
In this particular case he failed to specify if the order of the blocks made any difference to him. Since he didn’t specify, I thought about it for a moment, and said to myself, “Might as well put them on the shelf alphabetically.” It seemed like a logical way to do it to me.
My task done, I moved on to other important matters like having the phone shoved into my ear and shaken James Bond style to completely scramble my brains.
Some time later the boss looked me up and said, “Hey. You did that task wrong.” He always put things so nicely. I can tell he really cares about my feelings.
“Eh? ORLY?!?” I screamed into the abyss. Which is another way of saying I didn’t say a word and silently accepted his thrusting.
“Yeah, I wanted ‘Z’ to be the first letter and ‘A’ to be the last letter.” Try to imagine these words being said with the petulance of a small child, especially the “I wanted” part.
Well holy fuck shit dip wad! If that is what you wanted, why the hell didn’t you say so right up front? It’s almost like he’s playing with me. There is overhead involved in this task and now I get to redo all that overhead … again. Is that efficient? Hardly. So I returned to the shelf and swapped the ‘A’ and the ‘Z’.
Problem solved, right?
Nope! Then the boss hunted me down again and said, “I also wanted the ‘J’ to come after the ‘V’.”
Could there possibly be a more inefficient way to go about this? It is sure hard to imagine. So again I redid all the overhead involved in the task, grabbed the ‘J’ and stuck it directly after the ‘V’.
Of course, at this point, there will typically be at least one more directive from the boss, usually one that completely reverses an earlier order. I imagine this takes place even if everything is to his liking if only for the sole purpose of fucking with me. In this case it was something like, “OK, now reverse the ‘A’ and the ‘Z’. I want the ‘A’ to be first and the ‘Z’ to be last.” This is usually accompanied by some sort of sneer, as if to imply, “Geez, what a friggin’ moron is Tom. What the hell was he thinking? Having the letters in that order didn’t even make sense! I better put a reminder on my iPhone to micromanage his ass more for awhile. Good thing I personally checked this out or everything would have gone completely to shit.”
The real icing on this cake, however, is that either way wouldn’t make one bit of friggin’ difference. Not in a million years. The only difference it makes is in the imaginary world the boss has created in his mind. But it makes the boss feel important to decide things and, not only that, to make me run around implementing his decisions. I imagine he goes home at night, kicks off his shoes, and thinks to himself, “Wow. I really managed those employees today!”
I’ll abandon my dumbass example now, but I think you get the point. And the sad thing is, I’m not exaggerating or making this up. Not one little bit. And I’ve got the chat logs to prove it. Maybe someday when it is no longer necessary to give a shit about protecting my job at this company I’ll publish the boss chat logs in a book. I’ll name that book “Required Readings for the Extreme Masochist.” Subtitle: “The Machiavellian Workings of the Little Boss Brain.”
Yeah, I rather like the sound of that. Perhaps his idiocy can be used for something good after all!