Monday, January 10, 2005

This wasn't in the brochure.

We freelance writers typically stitch together a patchwork resume to bring home the Prozac until Hollywood calls for the movie rights of our latest collection of free verse poems about the 1988 Winter Olympics double luge competition. Name a job involving a uniform shirt, a name tag, a training video: I have held it.

When I come across a tyrant of a time card signer, I usually make plans to light out for kinder, gentler minimum wage territory as soon as humanly possible. That escape hatch jammed, however, the summer I socked myself into a Colorado ranch two hours from the nearest airport and two million light years from humanitarian aid.

Before I left, I described the place as something akin to a City Slickers setup without the need to birth calves with Jack Palance; once I got there, I began to ache for an employer with Jack’s comparative warm and comforting presence. These managers… these “people”… were the worst bosses ever… ever… in the… I am out of words. I, Writer, lack appropriate analogies. Find your own adjectives in the following illustration:

I worked as a cabin girl, pitching soapy water while the wranglers down in the corral pitched… substances far less genteel. Fine: it was honest work and in the middle of scenery you can’t factor into a paycheck. What wasn’t fine was—and bear in mind, this is but a single example—moments such as the day I was ordered to de-scum a shower stall, one that had clearly not been visited by Mr. Clean since, at the earliest, the Hoover Administration. I spent the morning on my knees, I won the war on hard water stains and I reported to my supervisor, who had graduated from the Wicked Stepmother School of Management, and I stood proudly as she observed the miracle of sterilization I had achieved there in that Rocky Mountain shower stall.

“Next time,” she said, “don’t use so many paper towels.”

Do the best you can, we are told, in all things. Don’t let that lamp burn beneath a basket. Spend your talents freely. Nobody tells us what to do, however, when standing between us and the best we can do is a chief who is clearly George Steinbrenner, only less reasonable. When our work, our very selves, aren’t dealt simple respect, it’s a little difficult to show up with any enthusiasm for the mandatory company picnic.

The finest bosses, I think we can all agree, are those who provide the employees with free liquor at the 10 AM coffee break. Sometimes they go one step further and take seriously the responsibilities of the souls in their care. When the time is right and I am in charge (by “in charge,” I mean as in, “of the whole entire world”) I will look to my experiences as an employee to inform me on the right moves as a good employer.

There will be plenty of paper towels for everyone.

Bounty at:

1 comment:

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