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May 19, 2010

Welcome to the Machine

In the workplace, you don't get to pick your company.
In the workplace, you do not get a trophy just for showing up. In the workplace, the boss gets to scream at you as a perk. Probably your first day on the job. Your boss, who doesn't have an iPad, isn't on Facebook, and doesn't know how to text. Your boss, who doesn't particularly care for Lady Gaga. Your boss, who probably has a night-school degree.

If you're a recent grad and you think you're going to hate your bosses, wait till you meet your coworkers. You're going to be working with people who believe in UFOs. You're going to be working with people who play in REO Speedwagon tribute bands. You're going to be working with people who participate in French and Indian War re-enactments every summer. They're going to try to get you to join, mon beau chevalier. You really have no idea how awful this is going to be. -- A Lament for the Class of 2010

Posted by Vanderleun at May 19, 2010 12:03 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

Are you putting me on? These ego-centric twits believe Monday is also a Day of Rest. Party recovery is job one.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck at May 19, 2010 2:16 PM

That's only if you find a good company.

Posted by: JimB at May 19, 2010 4:31 PM

Join the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. You can tell the weirdos that 'sorry - I have to go do (x) this weekend'.

And if they are not terminally stupid they hear 'US Coast Guard - lifesavers - the good guys' and they go away.

Heck - even visiting my little bro down at Fort Bragg, when his friends hear US Coast Guard - even if it is just auxiliary - they go 'woah'. Yes, I point out what the auxiliary does and they still say - 'wait: you do that and you don't get paid, and what you are looking for is lunch?'

(Well, if I can wrangle breakfast and dinner too I will do that.)

Posted by: Mikey NTH at May 19, 2010 7:05 PM

As I age I find myself coming to different conclusions about the people I work with.

I supervise a group of 16 for a major cell phone company. The group is 80% female.

I have one Moslem woman who is the sole support of her family because her husband suffers from a heart condition. He had a transplant done a few years ago but experiences reoccurring problems with it and is in and out of the hospital at least 3 times a year. She works a lot of overtime and is trustworthy, loyal and does excellent work. She never complains about anything.

I have another lady who just went through a divorce from an abusive husband. She supports two young children. Her own mother is an alcoholic who lands in jail every so often for booze fueled infractions of traffic laws and/or disorderly conduct. My employee has to deal with that as well as the kids and the ex who, every now and then and just for fun, makes trouble for her. She is one of the most trusted workers in the department. She taught herself to become expert in certain aspects of the job and is now a go-to person for especially difficult issues. Higher management uses her to handle certain matters that are too complex or time-consuming for them to address directly.

I had another lady, since transferred, whose mother is a crack addict and who was raising young children without benefit of a husband. She would sometimes come to work a little worse for wear but always gave her best when here. She managed to control her emotional life and was a reliable and pleasant person to work with. She eventually married a man from Senegal in the hope of putting some stability into the lives of her children and to provide them with as close to a normal family life as she could. After she married she would sometimes come to work wearing traditional Senegalese dress (which can be quite colorful but is definitely outside of American norms). I think whe was a little unsure about the marriage but she did what she thought would be best for her and the kids. To my knowledge her new husband has never mistreated her and is acting as an honorable man.

I have another lady whose family has among its members a couple of inmates in a maximum security prison in this state. She divorced a husband who used to beat her up when the mood (and booze/drugs) suited him. She has raised two children into their late teens. Neither one is a problem child and both aspire to college. She is not highly educated and used to be something of a goof off but has come, in recent years, to make herself into a very competent individual who is asked, often, to unravel complex issues with our customers.

And so it goes.

What I find far more often than not is that people, ordinary people, are in fact often rather heroic. They face problems and situations that are damned tough and they cope as well as they can and they try to do their best. And often they succeed. They make bad decisions and deal with the consequences and go on with their lives. Just like the rest of us. So when someone has interests or hobbies that I think of as odd or even a bit crazy I don't much mind it. I am now old enough to recognize that I am just as much a goofball as anyone else on this benighted planet and I find that, except for extreme cases of depravity or idiocy, I am not prepared to dismiss my fellows as loons or cases of demonic possession.

Posted by: scory at May 20, 2010 6:52 AM

"I supervise a group of 16 for a major cell phone company. The group is 80% female."

And the "Award for Doing What You're Suppose To Do" goes to...

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck at May 20, 2010 7:59 AM

Great comment, scory. To the front page it goes.

Posted by: vanderleun at May 21, 2010 10:32 PM

I have little sympathy for Queenan's son's friend. Anyone who spends four years and $200,000 attending an Ivy League university to get a degree in drama and music is a fool. If you ask me, Ivy League universities are a colossal ripoff, but if you are going to pay the price to attend one, for God's sake get a degree that actually has some value in the job market.

And don't just get a degree. My son is a rising senior at a state university with an excellent reputation for math and engineering. He started taking classes in computer science in high school, and that's what his degree will be, but he isn't relying on that to get him a job. Two years ago, he landed an internship at a major software company, working as a programmer in the software testing department. With that experience under his belt, he applied for and got a summer internship, at twice the hourly rate, with a smaller company in a growth sector (data storage systems). If he does a good job there, he'll probably be hired as a regular employee. And if he isn't, he'll already have real-world programming experience at two firms on his resume on the day he graduates.

His sister lacks his aptitude for math and hard science, so she will end up with a less-marketable degree in psychology. But she has kept the expense low by first earning a two-year degree at a local technical college, and then transferring to the private university where her mother works, which makes her eligible for free tuition. In the meantime, she has worked for several years at a local Barnes & Noble store, starting out as a barista in the coffee shop and then moving out onto the sales floor, where her lifelong love of reading has made her an excellent sales assistant. She is popular with customers and has impressed the management with her people skills and her knowledge of books and authors. By the time she graduates, she'll already have a promising career in retail.

She loves drama and music, by the way. But she's sensible enough to know that it's not realistic to pursue a career in those areas. And she's not crazy enough to spend $200,000 of borrowed money trying.

Posted by: Sundog at May 22, 2010 10:22 AM

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