On the 8th floor

At work today, four new junior executives joined “the team.” Four is also the number of junior executives who were laid off in February.

That’s the way this famous department store operates: Seven months ago, a supersized suit in New Jersey decided that our office in California had too many junior executives, so four of them were axed. Now, some other suit somewhere must’ve complained that we don’t have enough junior executives to do all the junior executing that needs to be done, so we have four new suits.

One of the laid-off junior execs from February stopped in to say hi a few weeks ago, and she’s still out of work, but why would she be considered for her old job? That would be silly, when kids fresh from college are available for a lower salary.

So on the 8th floor today, four new bosses walked around, introduced themselves, and shook a lot of hands. They think they’re starting their careers. I think all of them will be laid off within a year or two.

Welcome to “the team.” We’re in last place, and you’ll soon see why.

♦ ♦ ♦

Jennifer is nominally my sort-of supervisor. We’re the same rank (peon), but she’s the lead peon — she’s been here the longest, so management assumes she knows the most. They’re wrong about that. Jennifer has worked here since the Truman administration, but she might know the least of anyone in my office group.

The peon who knows everything is Marcia. She knows our software and procedures, better than any of the executives. She knows the legal and business and interdepartmental ramifications of coding something X instead of Y. She knows how to sweet-talk the bosses who need to be coddled, and how to cut straight to a solution when something’s gone wrong — even bizarre things that have never gone wrong before. She knows which rules we need to follow, and which rules are merely piffle from upstairs. Whatever it is, Marcia knows it.

Despite her brains and knowledge, though, despite her efficient demeanor, college degree, and her ability to both do the work and explain the work, Marcia will never be management at this job. She was hired as a worker, and she’ll be a worker until she quits or gets laid off. I know of no-one in this company who’s ever been promoted from worker to boss. It simply isn’t done.

Marcia is quietly looking for a job with more of a future, and when she finds that job, things at our workplace will be ... interesting. We had a sneak preview a few weeks ago, when she called in sick for three days. Things that needed to be done weren’t done, Jennifer made a big mistake because Marcia wasn't there to talk her out of it, and all the tough questions that came up were left on Marcia's desk, unanswered until she returned.

A chart is sometimes circulated, showing everyone who works on floors 8-10, with our job titles and work groups, and who outranks who. It's laid out like a pyramid, and of course, Marcia is beside me at the bottom. In reality she’s the cornerstone, and when she’s gone, the whole place will teeter and then topple.

♦ ♦ ♦

Tomorrow I’ll turn in that Lotus spreadsheet my boss assigned to me. It's pretty slick, and it'll be two days early. Call me an idiot, but I wanted to make a good impression, so I stayed late to work on it tonight, on my own time … while the photocopier was printing my zine, to save me from paying $60 at a copy shop.

♦ ♦ ♦

The zines were still warm when I dropped them off at home, and bused to the late show of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T at the Red Vic. It’s not a masterpiece, and parts of it are boring, but mostly it's surreal fun.

The story? A little kid hates his piano lessons, falls asleep, and dreams he’s in Piano Hell. It’s written by Dr Seuss, though, so there’s more to the tale than the telling. There's a stairway to nowhere, green-skinned dancers on a huge xylophone, a piano with 44,000 keys, some very bad acting, and the constant fear that anyone on screen could burst into yet another excruciating song.

It was made for kids, but there are many campy or even kinky moments for adults. There are men on skates, Mom stuck in the lock-me-tight, the dancing and entrancing Dr Terwilliker and Mr Zabladowski, and a song that’s an ode to bondage and discipline. When the plumber and the little boy finish their duet and their eyes meet, you’ll swear they’re about to kiss.

Quoting from the theater’s program, which quoted The Village Voice, the movie “rivals Elvis as the most perverse thing the ‘50s produced.”

♦ ♦ ♦

On billboards in the Haight, Heather wears a nose ring.

♦ ♦ ♦

Here’s something unexpected in the mailbag — it’s a Christian zine, full of Bible quotes, poems about Jesus, and inspirational pictures and articles, all neatly and probably prayerfully prepared. I sincerely respect the effort, but please gag me gently with a cross.

From Pathetic Life #4
Tuesday, September 6, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.



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1 comment:

  1. Work frustrations and dipshit management is part of every job, and only the details change.


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