Jul 302013
 

“I’ve tried to think about it from their point of view,” I was shaking my head, “and whether or not it was a good business decision or not, it’s just that they were such assholes about it.  I mean, c’mon, blame me for shit that’s not my fault and then say ‘but, oh, that’s not why we’re letting you go, so don’t bother to defend yourself’.“  I can’t seem to stop shaking my head.  “And the whole ‘as reward for ten years of blah blah blah, here’s a position in the storeroom’ when they know that I know damn well it’s just how they make sure no one can claim unemployment.   So from their point of view I still think they are out of line.”  I shrug my shoulders.

“Business lies,” my wife puts her hand on mine and it calms me as it always does.  “It’s like this new kind of white lie, to cover all the greed.  There’s all this justification for making money, everyone wants to protect the lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to, and to strive for even more material wealth.  At the expense of all else.”  Now she’s shaking her head.  “The lies they tell,” she glances around the break room, “they don’t even realize they are lies anymore.  They are so lost in the culture of greed, they can’t see anything else.”

“Business lies,” I’d never heard that before. “They are insidious. Like the lies you have to tell when they ask you your 5 year plan.   You have to be so selectively honest when you’re trying to get a job – I guess it’s silly to think employers aren’t being selectively honest, as well.”

“It’s the system that makes liars of us all.  Look at what it has done to Moe and the others.”  My wife’s words transform me.  Suddenly I feel so grateful for the whole situation.  Or grateful to be out of the situation.  “The purpose of corporations is to make profit – nothing else.  It has no concern for the effect it has on people.  I mean, look what it did to you, I know you would never pee on someone’s blanket out of spite, but for you to say that, even jokingly…well, it’s a little out of character for you.   But look at Larry and the rest of them.  Who knows what their true character is?  All we get to see is what the corporation has pulled out of them, which of course is ugly, it inevitably is.  And as annoying as that is for you to deal with, imagine how absolutely tragic that is for them.”

I never was invested in this job enough to ever “go postal” about it, but the anger I did have is fading.  I no longer feel the need to tell somebody off on the way out the door.  I can actually feel compassion for these men and their business lies.  Who hasn’t told some white lies, business lies, or any other kind of lies?  But, there is a real danger in lies, especially when you start to believe your own .  How have these “business lies”, that roll off their tongues so easily, transformed these men?  In a country run by corporations and the lies their legally bought and paid for politicians tell to conceal their motives, being jerked around by a corporation is unavoidable.   No longer being employed by a corporation, however, could at least remove me slightly from the non-stop race for material wealth that eats the souls of even the winners (especially the winners?)  And whatever their motivations, Moe, Larry and Curly all helped me take that first tiny step away from corporate enslavement, so I am, to some degree, grateful to them.

               

May 062013
 

“So they give me the weekend to think about what I want to do. This was a Thursday, so Moe is all ‘take a three day weekend and think about what you want to do.’ I wanted to say ‘fuck off’ and go home, but, if I was in a financial position to do that, I wouldn’t be working this fucking job in the first place, you know?”

“I hear ya,” he has turned his chair around and joined my table. A few others have also joined the table.

I think everybody in the lunchroom could hear me, but Gordon tried to fill them in just in case. “A weekend to think about it,” Gordon was shaking his head. “First blame you for Curly’s crap, then blame you for getting too many raises, then call your demotion to the storeroom a reward, when it’s really just their cheap ass way of preventing you from collecting unemployment, wow! So did you enjoy your three day weekend?”

“Hell yeah! Actually, I came in on that Monday and asked Curly if it was cool if I used a week of my vacation time before I started working in the storeroom. You’re not going to believe what he tells me,” I shake my head. I want to let it go, but I can begin to feel my heart race.

“ ’Sorry for throwing you under the train,’maybe?” Gordon knows that’s not what he said, but he gets a laugh from the now crowded table.

“I know, right? No, I’m telling him that working in the storeroom wouldn’t be so bad, but being demoted to the storeroom…well, that’s just such a kick in the balls, and he says to me that I just need to grow a pair.”

“Grow a pair?”

“Yeah, grow a pair. Man-up he tells me.”

“No way.”

“Fucken serious, man. Grow a pair. Where were you when Moe was blaming me for your shit? Maybe you need to grow a pair! Maybe you need to grow a pair. You obviously don’t have any, or you would realize that it is the fact that I have balls the size of grapefruits that made it hurt so bad when you all collectively kicked me in them, dumbass!” I’m getting loud again and now there is a group forming at the coffee machine. Maybe I’m being paranoid, but it really seems like they are just pretending to talk to each other.

“Yeah, so I took the week off – it was fantastic. My folks were in town, I was able to visit with them AND devote some serious time and energy to some artistic projects that were in need of some attention. So when I started in the storeroom it was OK. Terry is cool as hell to work for and everybody out there is nice and helpful. Then Larry takes me and 3 other guys out to the house he just sold in Pasadena and has us packing up his personal crap. And when I say crap I do mean a lot of crap! Mixed in with some valuable, personal items, but mostly utter crap. And he’s over our shoulders bitching about how we’re packing the crap. ‘I took the time to fold that blanket nice – don’t just toss it in the box!’ he tells me. Right? He just demoted me, there is nothing on my resume, anywhere that would suggest that I have any proficiency at packing. I need to budget to make sure my family gets what they need and he has money shooting out of his ass, but I am paid too much and need to fold his kid’s blanket with tender care.” I look around for the first few people who had overheard me. “That’s when I wanted to say “Fold it nice? Dude, if you weren’t standing right there I’d be peeing on the motherfucken blanket!” I had lost the intensity that I had said it with earlier, now I almost feel like I was apologizing for saying it, but I still got a laugh, even from the guys pretending to talk at the coffee machine.

“But have you considered it from their side?” It wasn’t the question I wanted to think about, but it was my favorite voice, a voice I could never dismiss. My wife was there to give me a ride home.

To be concluded…

Just show up to the page

Apr 112013
 

Here’s a piece of new fiction I am playing with:
Business Lies
“I wanted to say ‘Fold it nice? Dude, if you weren’t standing right there I’d be peeing on the motherfucken blanket!” I must have gotten louder than I realized because someone at the next table burst out laughing.
“Sorry,” she waved her hand at me, still laughing, “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, that was just a really funny line to overhear.”
“To hear it out of context, it was hilarious,” the guy she was sitting with twisted around in his seat to look at me.
“The lesson is, don’t piss Allen off,” Gordon was shaking his head and laughing. Gordon knew the people at the next table better than I did. He knew everyone in the lunchroom better than me. “Especially if he has access to your personal affects.”
“I was just telling Gordon about my new position.” It hadn’t missed anybody’s attention that I was in a new department, but it didn’t seem like anybody had any idea how it all came about. Some people even assumed the change was my choice; they must not have considered the pay cut that came with the change.
“How are you liking it in the storeroom?” He turns his chair around, still eating his lunch.
“It’s pretty great, actually…for a kick in the balls.”
He raises his eyebrows and tilts his head at an inquisitive angle, chewing a bite of his sandwich.
“The switch to the storeroom wasn’t my choice.”
“Really? So how did that happen?”
I look at Gordon. I can’t read his face at all. I want to ask him, “should I tell the story again? Is there anyone in the lunchroom I shouldn’t say this around?” As Gordon just smiles at me expectantly I realize that there isn’t anyone I don’t want to hear this. I’m not going to bring it up and sound like a whiny bitch about it, but if you wanna know, hell yeah, I’ll tell you all about it.
“It went down like this,” I’m talking so that the whole lunchroom can hear me. “Curly calls me into Pam’s office. Moe is sitting behind Pam’s desk. First thing he tells me is that it won’t all be bad news, then he blames me for these two invoices that Curly double-processed. One of these invoices I was out of town when it was handled, but both of them were handled the same, by Curly. Before I can bring this to Moe’s attention , however, Moe tells me there is no use going into details because the official reason I’m being let go is that I am paid too much for my position. Moe says it happens sometimes when someone has been in the same position for a long time, getting raises every year.
“Like I said, though, it’s not all bad news,” Moe’s face is solemn and serious, so I don’t believe him. “ ‘The two of us,’ he motions at Curly, ‘And Larry all agreed that as reward for your ten years of loyalty –(I’m serious, these were his words “a reward”)- Terry can offer you a position in the storeroom…at a considerably lower wage of course.’ Moe has obviously forgotten that he has told me that offering a storeroom position (that mostly nobody ever takes) is how he makes sure no one can ever collect on unemployment.”
“That is seriously fucked up, but whose blanket were you going to pee on?” He’s finished his lunch and now he’s ready for a story.
“I’m getting there.”
To be continued next week.
Just show up to the page.

Mar 302013
 

I am currently working on a novel. I have hundreds of handwritten pages and manual typewriter written pages that I am making sense of, rewriting and rearranging details into a coherent storyline. Recent events in my life have made me want to return to my “Ambidextrous Productions” short stories. I also think of them as “Work In Sanity” short stories, and I have been recently inspired by witnessing some of the insanity that surfaces in the workplace. I am still working a job I don’t want to get fired from, but that boss that wasn’t too impressed with my writing process for the short stories (written and published completely on time and supplies taken from my telemarketing job nearly 15 years ago) is no longer my supervisor, and he is a drunk old bully, so I hope that he thinks that every time he doesn’t see me, every moment I am not in his sight, I am using ALL company resources to create fiction that mocks the absurdity of the corporate world. I’m not saying that I am doing that, I’m just saying I’d like that drunk old bully to think that.
He suffers from the same workplace insanity that the owner of the company does – people have been polite to them for so long, regardless of their behavior, that they begin to forget how to be polite themselves. For most of us, when we are assholes, people begin to treat us like assholes. But when people are nice to you because they want to keep their jobs, it doesn’t matter how much of an asshole you’re being, it is the rare employee who will risk losing his or her job to point out how inappropriate and rude his or her boss is being. I am reminded of a classic Sandy Erikson lyric “If you were walking around with snot on your face, wouldn’t you want someone to come and tell you about it?, so if you were being an asshole, wouldn’t you want somebody to come and kick the asshole out of you? y’know, I would.” I’m not going to kick the asshole out of these men, because, well, I don’t like them enough to do them the favor. Oh, and they would probably sue me, even though I would be doing them a favor. Of course they would sue me, money defines everything to them. I have been given health advice from this drunk old bully who has chronic kidney stones, weighs 30 lbs more than me, with a gut that displays his drinking problem. He brags about his former athletic prowess and claims to have “worked out every day for the last 20 years”, but I honestly don’t think he has EVER been in better shape than me, and even if he was, what makes him think he knows more than me about health? Oh, that’s right, he makes more money than I do, he is smarter than me in every way.
So welcome back to my blog. Prepare yourself for weekly updates about ridiculous things management does in front of their employees, because they somehow think employees are polite because they respect their managers. How could you respect someone who gives you a nickname like the Molester or Little Boy Blue? And it is kinda funny, cuz I think he is trying to be witty and make people like him, but he is really acting like a bully and alienating people. Funny, but sad. I would rather have my tiny paycheck (which just keeps getting tinier, but that’s another story) than live that kind of lonely disconnected life. Till next time, my only advice is…
Just show up to the page.

Jul 032011
 

Finding time to write is always a challenge.   For me that becomes a big part of the creative process, how exactly I carve out that time.  And I can be very protective, almost secretive about that process, not wanting to have anybody talk me out of it, or talk sense into me.  I wrote a collection of short stories, “Ambidextrous Productions”, which I wrote entirely at work.  I was a telemarketer at the time, and I hated my job so much I was determined to get fired.  Why couldn’t I just quit and find a better job?  Because I was getting so much writing done!  I was writing a story a week along with an illustration and tons of letters, letter-writing  being a tradition I like to try to keep alive.  I really doubted I would be able to find a job, that paid a marginally productive employee so well.  I had worked straight commission before, so making a salary for making hardly any sales was kinda hard to walk away from, especially after the experience of having a negative paycheck at my old job, I guess I was feeling like a deserved something to make up for that.  Not revenge or payback exactly, but a little bit of a free ride.  So I wrote these stories at work, alternating between my right and left hands because it felt like it was giving voice to some hidden part of me.  I printed them up into little booklets, using all supplies from work and left them in coffee shops and libraries and airplanes and anywhere I thought some one might find and enjoy them.  I finally quit that job to make my first movie, Half Ass Jig.  Years later when some of those Ambidextrous Productions became the movie Work In Sanity, there was a newspaper article about how I had written those stories on the job.  My boss, at a job I am NOT trying to get fired at, wasn’t too impressed with that detail of my writing process.

Part of the power of the creative process, is its personal nature.  Maybe it’s best to keep the details shrouded in mystery.