The world ended this afternoon, judging from the frantic executives at the office. A few of them were spotted literally running down the hallway. If it was a movie, they might have jumped out the windows.

I couldn’t keep from snickering, though.

Turns out that the annual inventory is all screwed up. The problem dates back to December, when one or several temps made the same data-entry mistake every ten seconds, for the entire time they worked here — weeks, at least. The screw-up might have been due to bad training (which smells like Jennifer to me, and she's sweating) or it might have been malicious (I'm hoping for malicious).

Accidentally or on purpose, though, the upshot is the same — the electronically scanned count of everything from the shoe department, "and possibly multiple other departments," has been rendered "unreliable."

Obviously, this is worse than the war in Bosnia.

The inventory is one of the basics of "generally accepted accounting principles," and it's a key factor in evaluating what the company is worth, what taxes must be paid, and whether there's a profit or a loss. It's required to be right, but our inventory is apparently shit.

What went wrong? Temps went wrong. I don’t want to slam the temps too hard, because I used to be one and will be again, but temps always know they’ll be gone soon, so temps have even less of a commitment to the company than I do, which is microscopic. Temps have no particular motivation to do the job right.

It shouldn't take an MBA to figure out that if the work is important, employees should do it. And this is literally work that my co-workers and I used to do, before the last few rounds of layoffs, and before the company’s brilliant decision to save money by having temps do the inventory counts and inputs, instead of employees.

When we did it, we always did it right, but they brought in temps to do it instead. Now there'll need to be a do-over of some of the inventory, possibly much or even all of the inventory. In a company the size of this one — a Fortune 500 company — that's an expensive proposition. Oh well.

♦ ♦ ♦

I’m just marking time at this job, waiting to be replaced by a temp myself, and a different memo this morning is the clearest indication yet that dismissal day is drawing near: Babs’ boss (see August 24 and December 20) has been promoted to senior vice president.

That's half a click above being a junior vice president, half a click below being a junior president — which is all nonsense to me — but apparently his promotion is a Big Deal, since the memo was sent company-wide.

He's a bulb so dim you’d need a flashlight to find his face at noon on a sunny day, and now he's my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss's boss, when yesterday he was merely my boss's boss's boss's boss. There’s more to the story, but first the dim bulb needs a name, so let’s call him what he is: Gray.

In a company as shrouded from honesty as this one, memos and press releases can be assumed to be bullshit. You come to trust certain sectors of the grapevine more than anything issued on letterhead, and a reliable source has told me that when the axe fell for several of my co-workers in July, Gray had proposed laying off everyone in my department. He was overruled by his boss, so only five out of nine of us were taken to lunch and shown the door

Gray’s boss — the only executive who understood that work doesn’t get done without workers — has left the building. Gray is sitting in that chair now, and having been promoted, he will need to make a bold statement soon. I suspect that my name will be between the commas in Gray's bold statement — more layoffs to briefly boost the bottom line, and there’ll be nobody to tell him 'no'.

If I can find my balls (they’re around here somewhere) perhaps I’ll make a bold statement of my own, before he makes his.

♦ ♦ ♦

Today, there was an interesting conversation with Kallie and Carlotta. I sighed sadly after typing that sentence, and before typing this one: Loneliness is everywhere, I guess. Kallie told us that she’s signed up for a computer dating club, and she's embarrassed and nervous about it. She's meeting someone on Thursday after work, and it'll be her first "real date" in two years.

Kallie is a quality human. She deserves to be loved, and finding someone shouldn't require her to do business with some shady, overpriced matchmaker service.

We all do what we have to do, though, so the three of us traded stories of our searches for romance — Kallie about selecting men from mug shots and videotapes, me about placing ads in the personals section of an alt-weekly, while Carlotta just listened and nodded. She had no sad stories to offer, since eye-popping beautiful women don’t need such desperate measures to get a date.

♦ ♦ ♦

Speaking of loneliness, Margaret called again, in a smoochie-woochie mood. She told me she loves me, can’t wait to see me, etc, and I didn't know what to say to such extra mushy mush, but I didn’t say anything encouraging.

"The feeling isn’t mutual," is what I should’ve said when she said "I love you," but my firmest statement was, “I’m not sure about you visiting, Maggie.” My words fell like snowflakes in summertime, and she's still planning to visit soon, but the good news is that she'll be staying with her sister in Livermore, instead of with me.

Maggie says she loves me, but what does she know about me? I’m a guy who’s usually treated her nice, that's all. We've made each other laugh, and made each other sweaty, but honestly, there are people at work who know me better than Maggie does — Kallie and Stanley, almost definitely, and Carlotta, maybe. Anyone who’s read this zine knows me better than Maggie knows me.

Every time I’ve tried to show Maggie who I really am, she’s been annoyed. Last time I tried showing her, she beat me up. When she told me today that she loves me, what I heard is that she doesn’t, and probably can't.

From Pathetic Life #8
Tuesday, January 24, 1995

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.

Pathetic Life 

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