Burning Bridges

“Burning bridges” is a tired metaphor that corporate shitheads like to throw around in order to maintain control and some semblance of order over the drones.  It’s designed to instill fear, that if an underling “burns a bridge,” his name will forever be carved in stone as persona non grata.  For example, you might hear this bit of advice:  “When the HR drone and your manager tell you that you’re being laid off, simply smile and thank them for the opportunity to work with their wonderful company.  Sign the documents you’re presented with, walk away, and only say good things about the people who eliminated your position.  You don’t want to burn any bridges!”

What a bunch of shit.

More often than not, bridges are torched from the other direction.  At my first full-time job, I had an awful micromanager who was also a completely repellant human being.  Just by way of example, she cornered one of my coworkers and demanded to know why he spent “so much time away” from his work station.  “You’re away from your desk at least every hour!  Why?  What are you doing?”  He turned about 3 shades of red and explained that he drank a lot of water, and therefore, had to get up to use the bathroom frequently, as well as to refill his bottle.  “Well try to coordinate your trips!”  [The entire company was crazy.  There was one time, in the era before email, that the management team had an emergency meeting to decide if they should go to Staples to buy more fax paper, because there was none in the office, and the Big Boss wasn’t there to tell them what to do.]  She kept a steno pad in her Sanford & Son cubicle, and wrote down the arrival, lunch, and departure times of all of her reports.  If you were traveling on company business, you had to call her three times per day to “check in.”  She was pedantic and condescending, and she sucked in general.

One day, a few years back, I received a call from a head hunter about an “exciting new opportunity.” I sent over my C.V., and received a call from the corporate recruiter.  The conversation went something like this:

Recruiter:  I see that you worked at XYZ Crappy Company from 1995-1997.  I don’t know if you worked directly with Madame Assclown Manager while you were there, but I need to inform you that she is the hiring manager for this position.

Corporate Drone:  I would rather rifle through a dumpster for food than to be subject to her insane micromanagement again.  Thanks, but no thanks.

Recruiter:  I understand.

Corporate Drone:  I’m sure you do understand.  If you would, could you please relay a message for me?  Please tell her that I said “I still hate you, you overbearing, intrusive, bad bleach job, no-talent.”  

Recruiter:  Uh.  Well.  Yeah.  Well.  I can’t really say that, but I get where you’re coming from.

Corporate Drone:  Best of luck in your recruiting efforts!

This idea of bridge burning is always being presented in terms of you, the underling, not pissing off the overlords because some day you might need something from them.  Well, some day, the former overlord might need something from you too.  Someone told me that Madame Assclown Manager has been underemployed for the past five years, and is presently working as a medical billing coder or something.  There’s probably lots to micromanage there–she is in her element, and she finally has a position that is in line with her own incompetence.

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