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Survey says

Over the past week at work, I’ve updated the store list, the vendor list, the department list, the size and color code list, the interoffice phone and e-mail list, the emergency contact list, and the divisional list. Today I updated my list of lists. Yes, my lists are orderly, accurate, and they would help me do my regular work more efficiently — if there was any regular work to do, but there isn’t much.

About a month ago, I was instructed to teach the buyers’ assistants how to do what used to be part of my work. Now they do that work, and I run out of work every afternoon by about 2:00. After that I do whatever I can find, trying to give the company their wages’ worth, but there are only so many little tasks you can do before you're staring at the spackling on the wall.

With no work to work on, the company paid me to write these paragraphs, while humming the theme from Perry Mason (because The Godfather is still on my mind). Then I sat at my desk and rifled through papers, trying to look busy. Hey, does that make me a professional actor?

It’s as though my job is being eliminated, but they forgot to tell me. If I’m laid off on Friday, though, I’ll win a $10 bet with Beatrice. When we both survived the previous layoffs in July, I told her I’d be canned within two months, and that’ll be Friday. Today I reminded her of our bet — "Cash only please, no checks."

♦ ♦ ♦

My ‘doing nothing time’ at work was interrupted by a big dumb meeting, where the Human Resources (nee Personnel) manager revealed the results of last spring’s employee satisfaction survey. Guess what? Employees are not very satisfied.

I had taken the survey myself, and answered every question honestly, which means I gave the company terrible ratings in each category. Even I was surprised at the results, though, in three ways — 1) how negative all the ratings were, B) how determined the boss lady was to put a positive spin on the negative numbers, and mostly, Ⅲ) that they revealed the results to employees at all. Chalk it up as just another stupid decision by management.

In the survey, we’d been asked to rate the company in 15 categories, such as job satisfaction, work stations, your boss, your benefits, and nebulous things like ‘trust’ and ‘career development’. Only the commission plan got more than 50% positive ratings, and I’m not part of the sales staff so I have no comment on that. In every other category, though, the results were between 60% and 80% negative. That’s impressive. That’s a message to management, but nobody's home in management to take the message.

It was hard to suppress my chuckles when the HR boss, reading these dismal results to the dissatisfied, said for the third time, “Of course, if the survey was taken today, I’m sure we’d do much better, reflecting recent policy changes.”

This being allegedly an “open forum meeting,” where bosses are not invited and we’re all encouraged to speak our minds, I stuck my hand up and waved it around until I got her attention.

She said, “Yes?” and asked my name.

I did not say my name, but I think she knows who I am. I said, “What policy changes are you referring to, that would make employees happier now than a few months ago?”

She answered, incredibly, that when a large number of full-time workers had been demoted to part-time, their health benefits were continued as if they were still full-time. This, she believes, makes happy employees. Well, I guess that's better that a punch in the face, but I kinda know some of those people, they’ve been with the company for years, and I haven’t heard any ‘employee satisfaction’ from any of them recently. One by one, they’re quitting. And management doesn't care. I think management wants them to quit. 

At the top of the meeting, the HR doofus had stressed that she wanted our honest opinions, but I was more honest than I’d intended — I started giggling, just a little at first, but I couldn’t stop. I left the meeting as quickly and unobtrusively as possible, still giggling, while someone else asked a question. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I said quietly, making my way out.

It took ten minutes hiding in the men’s room to regain my self-composure, and then I returned to doing nothing at my desk instead of going back to the meeting.

Now I know I’ve won my bet with Beatrice.

From Pathetic Life #4
Monday, September 26, 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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