The past few weeks, national headlines swirled with distressing news for an American workforce already cowering in fear. As the world suffers the worst economic turmoil since the Great Depression, two-thirds of American CEOs plan to fire employees in the next year, Obama stimulus or no. Something like 70,000 people lost their jobs on a single Monday two weeks ago. I thought I was going to be one of them. I should have been one of them. But my job is safe and secure. Not by virtue of my skill set or my indispensability to the Company; no, my job security rests firmly on my employer’s catastrophic ineptitude.
I’m a copywriter working for an Internet subsidiary of R.H. Donnelley, better known as the Yellow Pages company. They had stock worth $80 this time last year. Weird, since their main product is a useless brick of cheap paper now mainly used for propping open doors and to beating toddlers without leaving any bruise marks. But just a few weeks ago the stock finally made the drop to under a dollar. As it turns out, the company’s executives decided that it was the perfect time to renovate their offices.
We got our lay-off announcement about six months ago. The subsidiary I work for handles pay-per-click campaigns (like the ads on Google) and other copywriting tasks for small businesses. We were told our company was “restructuring,” meaning everyone would be fired. People started to sweat. There were panicked conversations in the breakroom. Pay-per-click analysts vowed to go rogue and started contacting plumbers and day-spas, trying to sell them on the necessity of targeted Internet advertising. Copywriters tried to cloud their impeding financial doom with daydreams about those $75 an hour New York gigs where they give you six months and a twenty-five-man team to come up with “Just Do It” and a swish. But it seemed all that worry was for nothing. Our lay-off deadline came and went. And we still have our jobs.
Compassion was not a factor. The execs had come up with a restructuring plan they needed us to carry out before cutting us loose on the breadlines. It was like forcing someone to dig their own grave, and it would have been sadistic if it wasn’t such a total failure. On paper, our bosses wanted to have us “fully automate” the implementation of pay-per-click campaigns. I laughed long and hard at that one during our lay-off announcement. The task was literally impossible. Conceived by stupid executives, it was as poorly thought through as the policies that sent the stock into the gutter. But the ancient management types have very little knowledge of how anything in our office actually works. They brainstorm independently of us, the people who actually know. Their plans only work on paper, unlike my check, which can be converted to hard cash. (That is, as long as the banks hold up.)
It’s kinda funny to think of these assholes at work, all of them in their fifties with “Just For Men” highlights in their hair, sitting around a boardroom, watching a PowerPoint presentation that strategically stimulates the vague concepts that make up their costly expertise. There’s positive language all around. Back slapping. Optimism. Smiles. Underlings are well-advised to only sniff ass, never say anything smart. Insight is just a threat to the hierarchy when the people on top are delusional — ask any apparatchik. A break for a two-hour lunch is taken. And that’s when some long-term plan is finalized. A huge figure with too many zeros to count is called out. Papers are signed. And everyone goes home happy.
Now I hear they’re outsourcing the advertising copywriting — my job — to India. I assume the 200-word ads will soon look like those glaring, non-native English speaker Nigerian spam letters. The irony, of course, is that it makes sense. Our office is hilariously inefficient. All you had to do was fire people who do nothing, and give the rest an incentive to do things. But with the execs’ misguided PowerPoint plan, I’m glad to report the entire bloated and redundant workforce keeps getting its checks. Now 85% of the office, following my lead, “works from home,” doing maybe a half-hour of work per day. This has been going on for months.
I wanted to sign my name to this article and forward it to my boss, so I could go out in a blaze of glory. But I’ve reconsidered. I mean, why blow a sure thing? I could milk this job for months to come. I’ve been “working from home” — I mean, playing Fallout 3 — all last week. I did no work at all. NOTHING! You can’t believe how good it feels to send in a timesheet and get paid $500, with the knowledge that you won’t have to do a single lick of labor when next week rolls around. There’s like 40 or 50 people in the office doing the same thing. It’s better than working for the government! Since everybody’s getting fired, even management’s doing it, brazenly. And since the execs are mired in their own folly, everybody keeps getting paid.
While the bosses, dizzy with success, “perfect” the new system, I get to perfect my masturbation technique. It’s a regular welfare state. It’s sort of like the Soviet Union, but with better entertainment. Thanks, execs!
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