Category Archives: Douchebaggery

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.

Stop Annoying Me via LinkedIn

Today I received an email that a coworker’s “work anniversary” is coming up.  He’s on vacation in Europe right now, so I forwarded him the email and told him that I’ll wait until he gets back before I get him a cake.  He advised me to save the cake for when he leaves to go to a different job.

This afternoon, I was notified that someone posted something in my alumni association’s LinkedIn group.  The entire message was, “Does anyone have any professional contacts at the University of Pennsylvania?”  There was no introduction, no context, and no explanation of what kind of “professional contacts” she was looking for.  She is listed as “Client Relationship Manager, Institutional Investments, Vanguard Group.”  I assume she wants to try to sell UPenn some kind of crappy financial services products and get them to switch their 403b plan.  Multi level marketing at its best.

Then, at least every third time I log in, the photo of a Complete Management Fraud/Jackass pops up as someone I might know.  Looks like even more of a clown in the photo than in person.  Now I have confirmation of my long held suspicion that this guy is a chronic internet porn masturbator; the photo leaves no doubt.

I Don’t Care if You Don’t Like It

A few weeks ago, I ordered a pizza for delivery. Twenty minutes later, my 14 YO dog was jubilant at the arrival of the pizza, and came to the door to greet the delivery guy, who looked to be a college kid. She gave him a perfunctory, 10 second sniff, and then was totally focused on the pizza. The delivery guy gave an exasperated sigh, and shot her a dirty look.

Now, here’s the thing. In order to earn money, you often have to put up with things you don’t like. That could range from the inconvenience of being chained to a desk for 8 hours, to irksome business travel, to stinky coworkers. If you’re taking a job as a pizza delivery guy, then dealing with people’s pets is one of those inconveniences that you need both to expect and to tolerate. And truthfully, being sniffed for a few seconds by a friendly geriatric dog is probably not the most irritating thing you’ve encountered during your shift. If it is, you have a serious problem. When you’re working for tips, it does not serve you well to express indignation or annoyance toward your customers, no matter how irritating you might find the situation. Plus, if you’re a 20 year old college kid, old people like me have no patience for your irritation with anything.

I ordered a pizza again last night. This time, I held the dog by her collar while I answered the door. Different college-age delivery guy, who responded with, “Hey pup! How ya doin’?” I explained about the previous encounter, and told him that’s why I was restraining her. “Oh no. I love dogs. That other guy sounds like an ass.” Exactly. Last night’s delivery guy got an extra $5 tip. It’s what Management likes to call KYC–Know Your Customer.

Weirdest Interview Ever

I know a lot of Drones are out of work right now, and these are tough times for many. Employers hold the cards, and the stories I’m hearing from friends, colleagues, and people I don’t even like indicate that employers feel that they can abuse, infantilize, and demean prospective employees. The tales range from the ridiculous, to the petty, to the offensive.

However, the most bizarre interview I’ve ever had was in 2005, so this was before the economy, and the job market, crashed. I received an email inviting me for a phone screen with the HR drone of a small, boutique consulting firm (translation: no recognition in the marketplace, and no one has ever heard of them). I had spent a number of years at a huge, ginormous consulting firm that everyone knows of, so I figured I knew the drill.

I remember that the HR drone portion of this story went on for an exceedingly long time–maybe close to an hour–and that one of her “questions” was, “talk to me about teams.” I must have come up with some kind of bullshit response to her line of bullshit pseudo-interviewing because at the end of this non-conversation, she asked me if I’d like to come in, not for an “interview,” but for “career day.” WTF is career day, you ask? Well, I asked the same thing. Career day is when potential recruits come in and spend half a day with the team, and ostensibly learn about this fine organization, and vice versa. Ok, what the hell, I’ll come in for your career day.

I was then informed that I would need to prepare and to deliver a presentation to the first group I’d be meeting with. I merely updated some existing slides I had, threw in some management bullshit, because consultants live for that kind of crap, and, most importantly, made sure that my slides had animation. Animation is key to the success of any presentation. People like pictures. Think of it as Corporate Cave Drawings.

I show up, meet with the first group, who seem to be the type who really enjoy a good PowerPoint deck. I’m thinking this whole thing is a bit hokey, but I’m here, so WTF.

Now here comes the pinnacle of the day. After the PPT session, I’m placed in a little room where I’m instructed to read a faux case study, draft a plan, and come back and present it to the group. At this point, my ire is beginning to flare. (Here’s a hint employers: you’re going to piss off good candidates if you make them do academic work as a trial during the interview. I don’t care what your b-school professors told you. This is a bad idea on your part.) I read the case study, and now I’m wondering if this is for real, or if this is a joke. The case study is about a fictional nation called Trevonia (so named because one of the managing directors had a kid named Trevor–the name itself was so stupid that I had to inquire). Trevonia is plagued with problems. It has a high rate of illiteracy. There is poor infrastructure, and roads are crumbling and public transportation sucks. It’s also been at war with a neighboring country, of an equally stupid name which I now forget, for years. Trevonia’s GDP is in the shitter. However, Trevonia is strategically located and is rich in natural resources. If I were advising the Trevonian government, what would my top-level plan of action to turn around the GDP be?

Luckily, I have much experience in creating effective solutions for these types of problems, because when I was an undergrad, I had a philosophy professor who was a huge Star Trek nut. He would make us watch episodes of The Next Generation and then discuss the ethical issues faced by Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise. Substitute “Trevonian” for “Cardassian” and it’s all pretty much the same thing. Don’t violate the Prime Directive; you’re only here to observe.

Good little Drone that I was, I came up with some tripe about investing in education because with an illiterate populace, you’re pretty much screwed. In retrospect, I should have said that the Borg was coming, resistance is futile, and the Trevonians will be assimilated!

I never heard back from these clowns, which was a relief. Don’t waste people’s time with your nonsense. Don’t ask them why manhole covers are round or what kind of tree they would like to be. Treat them with respect and courtesy. Most importantly, do not expect that candidates are going to respond favorably to your little “tests.” We won’t. We will be pissed off, and will be telling the story of how ridiculous you are some ten years later. And if, at some point, we might have occasion to hire a firm like yours, we will make sure that the engagement is awarded to Anyone But You.

Passion

Most of us have something which inspires us, and motivates us to strive to improve ourselves in some (often intangible) way.  We relentlessly pursue it.  It is our dream, our passion.

Passion is not missing from the life of the Corporate Drone; it’s simply that we drones find our passions outside of the walls of our cubicles.  Management types, however, love to go on and on about “passion,” and how “passionate” they are.  Let me make this very clear:  when someone tells you that she is passionate about branding, sales enablement, IT infrastructure, data analytics, financial modeling, project management, digital hierarchies, or any related topic, that is your proof that you are talking to a total fraud who also has a high likelihood of being a complete asshole.   “This increased functionality is very exciting!”  No, it’s really not.  But the fact that you just uttered that line of bullshit makes it perfectly clear to everyone that you are a jackass.

Can you find passion in your work?  Absolutely.  Some people who are passionate about their work include actors, artists, carpenters, chefs, hair stylists, massage therapists, glassblowers, scholars, museum curators, research scientists. . . .because these people have jobs that matter to the universe.  Do you notice what’s missing?  Corporate functions.

For drones, I suggest dismissing the idea of being passionate about your work.  It will only lead to disappointment.  Instead, pursue your passions elsewhere, because your employment really has no karmic purpose other than providing for you and your family.  I am passionate about clear communication and good grammar.  I’m passionate about lying around on the couch and reading novels.  I’m passionate about going for a walk with my dog.  None of this translates into bottom-line strategy, and that’s just fine.