Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fat Chance Goes on a Diet



note: Some have heard these facts. To that I can only say…repetition is good for you. Would you stop eating chocolate chip cookies just cuz you've had one already? Ok then.

In my lifetime very few people have “sung my praises”, least of all myself. My mother of course; to her I was the greatest disk jockey that ever lived, though she’d never actually heard me on the air. Most people of note have been disappointed in me to one length or another; my teachers, my employers, my wives even. But there was one individual who thought I was the second coming. It was a boss I’d had, who had left the workplace we’d shared for another, with the promise that he’d bring me along as soon as he could work out the specifics of salary and facilities. I appreciated his loyalty, but would never have assumed that over the course of 8 months he would make me the enemy of an entire staff of people by touting my greatness unto their collective disgust.

I am a modest man; self-effacing even. I did consider myself quite adept at my craft years ago. Once in a great while I thought of my talent as magical and my creations as crude yet emotionally charged art; but I kept that information to myself. So when I came to Carlson Companies I was ready to slip in unnoticed, assume my position as audio toad in residence and smoke my life away in another anonymous, windowless, concrete block room. No such luck.

At first I was employed as a solo act. I would interface with everyone but answer to no one save the big cheese. Almost every one of my peers had been with the company and working together for a minimum of five years; those that didn’t dream of simply cutting my heart out and serving it to the crows were intent on competing against me until I dropped from exhaustion. I was soundly disliked, and even hated by a few petty enough to harbor hate against a stranger, and all this before I’d even set foot in the white walled breadbox that was to become my combination studio/office/lunchroom. It was in that very room, and under those delicious circumstances that I first set eyes on Linda.

By her demeanor, I thought she was just annoyed by me, and that was to be expected, my being new and all. Later she explained that she was more disgusted by me, that she and her cohorts had decided I was a narcissist, perhaps a bully and surely a sloppy eater. I smoked too much, played my music too loud, walked too fast and generally acted as if I had some control of the ever-present chaos surrounding me. That I was special was a thought too sickening to contemplate; that I might be competent was exasperating enough. I only had one run-in with her specifically in the first 6 months we worked together. She’d needed some cassette duplications and had come to me as I was the obvious person to call upon, being the all-knowing audio god. I though, was quick to let her know that I didn’t do dupes, and showed her the newfangled way that she could make them herself both now and in the future. I remember being sociable yet businesslike. She remembers my being a pompous dimwit. As I am the typist here, I demand the former is the truth and damn her memory.

A little over a half year into my tenure I was promoted. What really happened was that I was forced to absorb duties far beyond my specialty so as to justify my bloated salary to bean counters that just didn’t understand the high price of creative genius. Without so much as a framed high school diploma with which to intimidate my charges, I was catapulted into managerial status, and so, became Linda’s boss. She was not amused. In fact, none of my 22 employees were amused. They were so mistaken…

What my boss had failed to take into account was that at the time I was still somewhat of a socialist by nature. Personally he admired me for my compassion and dedication to making people’s lives better, yet somehow he didn’t think I’d be using the same brain whilst behind a desk, doing business within his oversight.

I took the job seriously, though I hadn’t needed to fret; my managerial peers ignored their duties and I was expected to learn from the best of them. As such, no one on my newly formed staff had seen a review in two years, most had not seen a raise in as long and the lot of them were as motivated as a shark with a chum charge account. So I set about righting the world’s wrongs, raising wages willy nilly, creating a bit of order to the anarchy, praising the little engines that could and pushing those that couldn’t.

It was during this time that I heard an ugly rumor about Linda; that she was a lesbian. Now relax all you rhetoric haters, I don’t mean lesbians are ugly, nor that it would have been a terrible thing for Linda to have preferred women, though we might not have married given those circumstances. In fact, what I’d actually been told was that Linda “hated men” which to me was virtually the same thing as lesbian; for me and in my experience the difference was paper thin, manhater, lesbian was pretty much the same thing. Besides, she had this look about her when she spoke to me. My father called it a “stern” look, a kind of pursed lips, furrowed brow thing that made her seem unhappy about having the blockage called you in her field of vision.

I gave her a good review and a raise anyway. She deserved it, though I thought others might see it as having simply and shallowly dodged a lawsuit by a member of a disgruntled minority by catering to her every desire. “To hell with them” I thought; I was on a mission to do good!

In the two years she was burdened by my bossiness, we saw each other little. I was buried in my studio composing much of the time, or on the road running sound gear for traveling motivational horsepucky shows. When she did see me I was coming in late for all employee meetings, oblivious to the rules, devoid of class, surly, poorly dressed and reeking of cigarette smoke; and when I noticed her she was walking past without acknowledging my presence, talking nicely to girls and meanly to men and treating her job as if it were just a job. How droll.

Then, suddenly the man who had offered me the chance to be a minor deity announced that he’d be leaving for new adventures. I figured that he knew the jig was up, that someone above him was counting the lines on their golden parachute and that soon we’d all be jettisoned into the unemployment sea. Yet he didn’t actually say as much; only that he was personally disappointed with his position, and that he hoped we geniuses would stay on and continue to grow the company. Fat chance. Within a few months I was without a single shard of work. Nothing was being sold, and what was coming through the doors by return business was being shuttled off to freelancers that happened to be personal friends of the new boss.

In a move that defines the ethical/moron I am, I gave my notice based on the idea that I was siphoning cash for doing nothing. I loved the cash, but it felt dirty to me; I’d have been pleased to be overpaid so long as I was earning at least a part of it. So I quit. Two months after I’d left the vice president of the division needed another few hundred thousand in operating profit to make his Christmas bonus numbers so he eliminated the entire department; thirty two people, including Linda.

And that, I supposed, was the last I would ever hear of the manhating Ms. Olson… or at least it would have been what I’d have thought had I thought about it at all, but sadly, her visage never even passed by in the background of my dreams for months thereafter.

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