Riff City: The Economy of War
It’s another Feckless Friday so I’ve decided to riff on a theme. Today’s theme: Us and Them – Workplace Style.
“Us” is those who work. Those who do what they are supposed to do as productive members in this society. The we who produce goods and services. Why, without us, there would be a lot less widgets in the world. Imagine a world without so much plastic fake vomit and whoopee cushions and what not? Shudder.
“Them” is those who profit from the labor of others. You might think of them as the 1%. The political elite. The bankers and CEOs. The people who work the least and benefit the most from a system designed to convert the Earth’s resources into profits for a few. Or, on a more personal level, you may choose to put this face on someone must more close and personal like the boss.
I recently had my “Aha! Moment” (sponsored by Mutual of Omaha, a fucking insurance company of all things). I tweeted my great moment of clarity and awareness and the world took no notice. Nary a retweet. Nay, not even a star. As your humble proprietor here in the Abyss, I reserve the right to shove my unloved tweet in your face:
Okay. Enough about that. What else is going on in the world of economics, work, labor, job and bosses? Remember, I did promise to riff. I guess I’d better get on my black velcro-strapped riffin’ shoes. I’m about to boogie down.
Warning: It’s quite possible I don’t really know what “riff” means.
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The Sneaky Entitlement Society
Two affluent men are running for the office of President of the United States. That means it’s time for another round of one of our most-cherished traditions: finger pointing at the bottom-sucker “entitlement” folks.
Strangely enough, despite the type of things I normally write about the workplace, I’ve never been fired from a job. Weird, right? Inconceivable! You’d think a hater like me would be one of the first to go. Yet, somehow, it’s true. And, as a result, I know remarkably little about things like Unemployment Insurance (UI).
I gather it works like insurance. When employment is high, employers are paying more taxes into the UI program which creates a surplus. When there is a recession, less revenues are paid into the program and payouts (in the form of benefits to the unemployed) increase. The net result is a social net that saves for a rainy day and minimizes the disastrous effects (on society and the individual) when there isn’t enough work.
The program is paid for by employers in the form of payroll taxes.
How am I doing so far? I might be wrong on a few of the details but I think that’s about it.
The fun part, of course, is that the program is based on the premise that there isn’t enough work. In other words, if you quit or get fired, this program isn’t for you. Move along, move along. I guess that basically means it covers employers who are laid off.
Every one of my lateral or down-spiraling career moves has always been preceded by a “take this job and shove it” phase, so no unemployment benefits for me. Because I’m a responsible worker I’m left to dream about other avenues of escape like Mama Compensation.
Is the person who receives unemployment insurance benefits part of the “entitlement society?” You tell me. In the meantime, I think I may have found someone else who is. And it might not be who you think.
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Time to T.P. the Blog #poop
My blog may be an expert authority on poop but I do try to keep it classy, ya know?
Blogger Tip: A forgotten point in yesterday’s post becomes the launch point for a new post today. FTW!
So yeah, yesterday I left out a key point that probably changed the flavor of the whole thing. Well, maybe not flavor, but you know what I mean. I’m going to literally pick things up right where we left off.
And that’s the point of today’s article. I’m going to take you on a firsthand tour of the complicated world of small office politics, protocols, mores, values and norms. Just think of me as your very own amateur poop sociologist.
As you might imagine, in a small office little grotesqueries can become big problems if left untreated. That’s why they need to go to the treatment plant. It’s natural for humans to come up with way to cope in the face of unimaginable horrors.
Most of us have the sense to know not to do certain things. We instinctively feel with our gut, much like Captain Kirk, when something is bad form. But then again, some of us don’t. This post is directed at them.
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Some days I’m in the mood to write. And I write plenty. On others, my writing is forced and feels like pulling teeth.
This is one of the latter.
Just a sec and I’ll tug a thread from the majestic tapestry of life and see what unspools…
Okay, the words “Employee Handbook” just materialized in my mind. Let’s see where that leads. Yep, Day Two of a four-day weekend (unpaid) and I’m thinking about work. That’s power of the mind fuck whammy they’ve put on me.
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Proximo has got to go
Imagine, if you will, a workplace that is roughly the size of a shipping container.
Oh yes, oh yes. Another good time work post is upon us now.
I previously reported on my discovery, the 666 equilateral triangle. It’s a place where dreams go to die. In short, it works like this. I sit six feet away from cow orker. Cow orker sits six feet away from the boss. The boss sits six feet away from me.
Technicolor? Bah! Imagine Fart-O-Vision where you get to experience the subtle nuance of every biological function of your neighbor. Good times, indeed!
It’s enough to make one go barking mad, but I, of course, resist that with all my might. That’s why I’m still completely sane.
So, in honor of Friday, the most deceitful day of the week, I merely have a quick question to ask.
In this post I’m going to refer to my boss as Proximo, mainly because, as he interfaces with my existence, he is so proximous.
The first part of the agony is a function of time. I spend more time at work than doing anything else in my life. (Source: This nifty little graph.)
That only communicates part of the story, though. The other half of the misery equation is one of proximity.
I’ve thought about this and realized that my current situation is truly unique. At some jobs the boss didn’t even work in the building. It would be a big deal when the boss stopped by (almost always by “surprise!”). All the employees were like, “Oh shit. The boss.” It changed the feel of the environment. My last asshole boss lived a mile away from the office, worked from home, but liked to jaunt over unexpectedly quite often, even though he didn’t like being there very much. I guess the necessary evil of fucking with the employees outweighed his distaste for being in the shithole. He’d usually flee as fast as possible after he had made his point.
At one place where I worked for 16 years and over 1,000 employees, the CEO liked to stroll around as part of tactic to be seen as accessible to employees and interested in every part of the operation. I knew the guy because we’d been on some committees together and had worked on a few projects. He’d stroll by and say, “Hi, Tom.” I knew I wasn’t about to get fired but it still somehow felt like it. The CEO walking by and saying your name wasn’t something that happened all the time.
Or the boss worked out of sight in an office around the corner or across the floor. The boss would occasionally stop by from time to time but certainly wouldn’t stay there all day long, day after day, every single day of your life.
I literally spend 40 hours a week six feet away from the boss. He seldom, if ever, leaves that space. It’s his clubhouse, his sanctuary, his home away from home. It is where he goes to escape his wife. It is the one part of his existence where he is the boss. His word is law. (Unlike his home life.) So he just loves and adores being there.
His wife will call him and try to make plans. It’s pathetic to listen to him tell her how busy he is (he’s not) and how he has to work late. He loves to work on Saturdays, too, and bitches when a holiday comes along and forces him to spend more time with his family.
Me? All I think about is escaping that fucked up place and spending every other precious moment of my life with my wife. Another thing I realized lately was that I would never trade places with my boss. (Is that like a positive thought?)
Our workstations are L-shaped so that I can’t see him unless I turn around (thank God) but he can view me and my computer screen without me being aware. My computer is in his line of sight. I know that arrangement is no coincidence. Six feet from my office chair is his office chair.
Here’s a nice little bonus. When he gets up off his ass and goes to the restroom and sits on the toilet, he’s still exactly six feet away. You see, my workstation shares a wall (decidedly not a soundproofed one) with the office bathroom. But I think I’ve already expounded about that enough in the past. (For the curious, research my posting history if you want to know more about what the boss in the restroom is like. Bring a strong stomach.)
So yeah, I’m within six feet of the boss for just about 40 hours a week, every week. It’s like clockwork. I don’t even get a break from him when he goes to the bathroom. And I realized that sort of boss proximity is completely unprecedented in my experience. Does anyone out there have anything even remotely like this?
What the fuck? It’s another Monday. In honor of this start to a new week, I offer for your consideration how last week started. This is a true story. Only the pains have been changed to molest my innocence.
It’s Monday morning. I am feeling physically ill as I get ready for work and haul my ass across town. Don’t worry – the manifestation of physical symptoms is routine for me.
As I walk in front of the business towards the door, I can already hear the raised voices of Boss and Cow Orker through the wall. I heave a heavy sigh. I already know that which awaits.
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For the boss: I’m here to help
Pinhead bosses, perhaps intelligent in other aspects of their of their lives, become cripplingly stupid in the workplace. I theorize it is because the greed and power centers of their brain become so enlarged and aroused that they squeeze the thinking part right out.
Even the most mundane tasks, ones that you and I take for granted, can loom like a Death Star in that wide open galaxy of space they call a brain.
Boss: (whining) We’re not sell any of the THX-1138 widgets!
Employee: That’s because you never listed them for sale on the website.
It’s not their fault, really. They’re too busy doing important stuff like telling you what to do, like micromanaging how many rubber bands or pieces of tape you use. They’re only human and can only do so much!
That’s where I come in. I’ve decided to do the mature thing. I’m going to take the high road and forgive their foibles. I’m going to try to help.
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