Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Great Whatever (blog story) 26

     Everyone wishes for an important life. The world is filled with aspiring artists, captains of industry, and global leaders. No one wants to pump the gas. No one wants to do the books. The reality is if everyone was a brain surgeon there’d be no one left to work at Chick-Fil-A. Seven billion geniuses would starve.
     When you started this job you were so excited to have something to do that you never thought about doing anything else. The work was tedious and plentiful and you were still learning the ropes. After a couple of months it began to seem mindless. It was just the same old thing day after day. It had never occurred to you that this is what work is. There is no real variety in the average work life. It is just a handful of tasks repeated ad nauseum until you quit, die, or get fired.
     Your mind has begun to wander lately. You have been daydreaming about a different life. In an alternate universe you are a huge rock star. You are Pearl Jam. You imagine an interview with MTV news, telling them how you wrote Alive in the shower on the accordion because that’s how you write all your music.
     One of your bosses comes to your desk and interrupts your mockumentary.
     “Hi, Mark. You’re doing a great job.”
     “I love my work.”
     “We are very happy we brought you on board.”
     “Me too.” You give him a big smile that he returns.
     “I need you to start flagging some items you may see and compiling them in a file.”
     “Sure, that’s no problem.”
     “Great. Anytime you see an expense for plastic cutlery or condiments like salt and pepper, including ketchup and mayonnaise packets, track them according to item, cost, and division. We have a little project going on and we want to get our head around some numbers. Also, coffee filters.”
     “I knew I could count on you.” He gives you a pat on the back. “Don’t worry if you miss anything. We have a couple of people on the same project.”
     “How long?”
     “How long do you want me to track them? Is it over a week or a month or longer?”
     “Just keep doing it until we say stop.”
     “I’m on it!” You turn to your computer and act like you are very busy so he knows you mean business. When he leaves you ask yourself if he knew that you just faked your orgasm. You take comfort in the fact that they never know. As long as you kick up your heels and scream they are satisfied.
     The project itself seems meaningless. The numbers are very small. There are a hundred dollars here and fifty dollars there that even when spread over many different companies seem minuscule.
     It surprises you when a couple of months later he comes back and tells you to reject any invoices you receive for sporks. You comply as a matter of course, but it seems so petty. He on the other hand is ecstatic. He just found a way to save the company thirty five thousand dollars a year out of an operating budget that is in the billions.
     You play along as he proclaims that employees can bring silverware from home if they need it. He acts like those greedy people with their utensil needs have been robbing the company blind. You groan and climax on cue. He zips up and goes to tell the next analyst.
     It is not lost on you that the inconvenience he just inflicted on thousands of workers did not even save the company an amount equivalent to his own yearly bonus. You wanted to say something, but it’s not your job. You are a corporate whore, selling your soul for a paycheck. You are sure there are prostitutes who wish they were Eddie Vedder too.

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