“You work with us? We must be best friends.” “You’re doing really well at your job? There must be something wrong.”
If anyone asked me to sum up working in Corporate America, those two things come to mind. You’re weird if you aren’t best friends with these people. Unless you’ve experienced it, you could never imagine it.
“You won’t come out for a drink?” You must be some kind of weirdo.
Always. The people and locations change but it’s always the scenario. You don’t want to work 80 hours and not get paid for it? (Or work for Pizza?) That’s bizarre.
I “studied” the inhabitants of these environments for too long, and I could never come to a reasonable conclusion. Were they lonely? Maybe they didn’t like going home? Maybe they really loved their job? Perhaps the sprint for power was too enticing to give up and live the life they were given. I finally decided on all of the above.
Once upon a time, I worked for Blockbuster Video. Really important stuff, like making sure someone could rent Howard the Duck at 12:30am. I worked there for over two years while going back to school and it was a pretty simple job. There were those Clerks moments where someone would ask for, “That movie with that guy and that girl?” It wasn’t terrible minus the customers. Cut them out and it would have been the perfect job. In the end though, I got fired (My god no!) from the Block. You may find yourself asking why? (If not, just go with it, thanks.) I got fired, because a store employee on my “watch” didn’t ask a customer how they were doing as they walked in the door. Contrary to popular belief, the store did not cave in. It didn’t sink into the ocean, or suddenly explode due to a dormant volcano. The store went on, popcorn sold, and we rented copies of Congo. Turns out it was the best thing that could have happened. I got a “real” job and Blockbuster went out of business because they “got rid of late fees” but didn’t actually get rid of them.
I hope this doesn’t seem like a rant because it isn’t. I actually laugh, out loud sometimes (‘lol’ for those that don’t understand English) thinking back about that place and how clueless the “corporate” people were.
What I did learn during these adventures was how much I’m not like these people. We share things like eyes, being born in the last century, elbows, and the need to wear clothing, but most of the similarities end there.
In a place where I worked Monday-Friday, the absolute last thing I want to do with my Saturday is go to a heart walk where the “leadership” walk a single lap (healthy living!) snap a picture and leave. Meanwhile the rest of us are left to walk the full predetermined amount (8 laps *gasp*). Or that time people sold milk chocolate to raise money for heart disease. That isn’t a joke, it really happened. In a meeting once, when being asked for ideas on events and ways to raise money or awareness, I suggested the most bat shit insane idea anyone has ever heard (I suspect that still stands to this day). Instead of having a bake sale full of cookies, cakes, and various calorie counting killers, why not a “healthy” sale? People could bring in vegetables, fruits, healthy dips and food. The looks I received in that moment must have been the same England had when the Declaration of Independence landed on their doorstep. Faces of befuddlement, loathing, and hunger surrounded me. Words like treason and heresy must have been floated around the office that day.
Corporate America is a prefabricated mold, shaped not to one’s body, but the mind. Not everyone fits the mold but there are many who can pretend or abide. I understand everyone needs a paycheck so the various reasons why someone would fit themselves into the mold do not escape me. Some fit well into the hollow space even finding comfort in it. A minority it seems, are unable to stand the structure or framing, they can’t be manipulated into something they aren’t. It’s like a dimly lit prison, daylight seeping in just enough to move you onto the next day. A sliver of hope that it will get better, when time has only shown it to get worse. This is what most cannot or will not understand.
I have to admit though; these people have given me something I never could have dreamed of. They have given me endless amounts of material. These fellow humans have given me so much motivation and fuel, that if I run out of ideas, it’s only because I can’t remember them all. I should have enough to write until the end of time and beyond. Right now I’ll settle for two screenplays.
So in a way, I’m thankful, but that doesn’t make them understanding. I leave you with a quote from Arthur, spoken during The Sword in the Stone.
“Just because you don’t understand something, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong!”
I understand plenty. Do you?
Do something good!