We are taught to believe that it’s good to be smart, and that the smart people are the ones who get ahead, and who make a difference. All of you Drones know that this is just simply not the case. It’s not the smart people who are valued; it’s the ones who play the game.
Years ago, I had a boss who had a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia. She was/is a brilliant writer, a no-BS type of person, and really funny to boot. Her boss had a bachelor’s degree in nonsense from Big Football University in the south. You know, that part of the country where “SEC” doesn’t refer to the Securities Exchange Commission; it means South East Conference. This guy was as dumb as a bag of hair, which is slightly ironic because he was also completely bald. I would often hear my boss shrieking when she would read his emails, wherein he would display his shaky grasp on the language through his interchangeable use of “to,” “too,” and “two,”, or “than” and “then.”
“He is incapable of writing a proper sentence in the English language! Where is my Xanax?!?!?!”
My boss was obviously frustrated by working for someone who was so apparently stupid. But how did he get to be the Big Boss? Our group was tasked with writing and rewriting anything that came from him, so that it would be coherent–how did he even write a resume to send in, when he applied for the job? How could he possibly give a lucid presentation, when he used “irregardless” and “conversate” as if they are actual words? (As an aside, I find it very disturbing that the non-word “irregardless” does not render with a red squiggly line under it, both here, and in any Microsoft products.) He said things like, “we need to market these products acrosst multiple line of businesses and get them in front of clients irregardless of their industry.”
Although the Drones saw him as a complete fuckwit, and in this case, my boss was one of the Drones, he seemed to have Management snowed. How did this happen? For starters, he had a wife, who was obviously the brains of the operation, and who took care of things like writing his resume, cover letter, and his emails. So this created the initial appearance of intelligence. However, his true skill was in being able to talk Big Ten Football with the Big Important Uber Boss. Yes, it was as simple as that.
Because, my fellow Drones, to a large extent, the workplace is one big fraternity party. My undergraduate institution had no Greek system, but I can spot the frat boys immediately. The only thing that is missing is the keg and the red plastic Solo cups. You will notice that there is also a sorority sister contingent alive and well. These are usually thin, pretty, low or mid-level managers who cheer on the frat boys. They do things for them like create their PowerPoints, or run special reports for them. They’re Super Excited to be a part of the team! The frat boys don’t really value their contributions, but like to use those contributions and pass them off as their own.
My boss was too smart. She wasn’t a sorority sister, and she refused to dumb herself down in order to fit in. She wouldn’t play their juvenile game, so she wasn’t part of the Popular Crowd.
The point I’m trying to make is that, as you’ve no doubt figured out already, being smart can be a burden at best, and a liability at worst. Smart Drones need to lower their expectations and find creative outlets for their intelligence, because it is not valued at the Hive. What a smart Drone should never, ever do is let an incompetent manager know that you know he’s a fool. That is a bad “strategic” move. Always make the incompetent manager feel super smart and and the top of his game. Remember, the mission of the Drone is survival, the continued collection of the paycheck, and the middle class lifestyle. All Drones, including your author, should make an effort to play the game. After all, there are few things Management loves as much as “enthusiastic team players”!