Almost Infamous - Views from a Black Intelligentleman


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My boss called me into a meeting today, just me and him. I was expecting it, so it came as no surprise when he rolled into my cubicle, tapped the doorframe, and said "Can I talk to you for a minute?" Even though I was expecting him, I hit him with a "Right now?" to make it look like I possibly had more important things to do than shoot the breeze with him. OH! You may be wondering why I was expecting this seemingly surprise visit. You see, in my company, there are two technical writers. By the way, that's my profession. I'm a tech writer, meaning I spend hours a day getting paid for doing things you wouldn't do at gunpoint, like writing 500 page manuals. Anyway, there are two of us here, and we're both bored to tears by the work we've been commissioned to do for this company. It takes a lot to bore a tech writer, I'll tell you that. We're people who read product specifications all day, and UNDERSTAND them. The work we do now could be done by a retarded monkey on meth, balancing the laptop on his lap while riding a unicycle across a live electrical wire. Well, I suppose he'd need an editor. Either way, it's stupidly easy work, certainly not enough stimulus for two guys with 30 years of experience between them. The other guy, My American Compatriot (MAC), decided he'd had enough, and turned in his notice on Friday. Lucky bastard. All hell then broke loose. My company is under several illusions: (a) that everyone, everywhere wants to work for them; (b) that they're the greatest company on this planet called Earth (and #2 on Venus); (c) that no one would ever willingly leave, unless they were evil people or brainwashed; and (d) we're all fairly incompetant, and should be grateful for the opportunity just to pee 3 times a day in their precious urinals. You see, in China, when someone loses his job (usually by getting canned), there are about 300 people THAT SAME DAY lined up for that very job, due to the high population and relative high unemployment. Because of this, this company is pretty arrogant about its position, and it treats its employees accordingly. "Accordingly" means "like ungrateful, unintelligent urchins". (Holy hell, I just did alliteration with the letter U. I am incredible.) They don't understand that Americans have many, many choices, and we don't have to put up with bullshit just because that's what's served. We can simply go to another restaurant. Well, after MAC put in his 1 week notice, I got nervous. See, I also have a job offer that I've accepted (yay me!), but I didn't yet have a start date. No start date means no resignation, 'cause you don't know when your 2 weeks is gonna begin. I knew that losing MAC would panic the natives...he's been here the longest out of the 2 of us, and was spearheading a lot of the crap we were doing. I also knew that they would want to talk to me one on one, so as to make me feel assured about my position and all that. I dreaded this meeting. Ideally, if I had to go talk to them, it would be me doing the talking, and the talk would go like "Well, first of all, y'all can kiss my black ass." But without that start date, I couldn't say this with full righteous authority and indignation. What if something falls through? Then, as the kids used to say, I'm ass-out. At the same time, I didn't wanna LIE to the guy, either. I'd feel bad. Therefore, until I heard from the new place, I had only one strategy: avoid. Call after call after email after email to the new place went unanswered, because apparently, just after formally offering me the job, everyone in the entire 100,000 person company went on vacation. I was freaking...out. I mean, how shitty would be be to go in on Friday, tell my manager that everything's fine, then give my notice on Monday? And how much would it suck to say "I'm audi" on Friday, only to find out that my drug screen failed (I'm not worried. Really.), and they rescinded the offer on Monday? Then I'm just screwed. This morning, I got the best phone call I've gotten in a long while. My new manager was on the phone, and he gave me my start date. I am SO money now. Not 15 minutes later came that knock, but I was ready. He started off giving me the typical "everything's OK" speech that I'm sure he's given a hundred times before, and I was careful to nod in acknowledgement and not in agreement. (That's a hard distinction, folks. An agreement nod makes your head move up and down repeatedly, as though you're saying "Yes." An acknowledgement, or "Yeah, I heard you" nod is a verrrrry slow tipping of your chin, doooooooooooown, then back up again. Once.) Then he told me a story, meant to be a metaphor about work, and it was the funniest shit I've heard from a manager ever. So funny, in fact, I'll share it with you. This is almost VERBATIM what he said to me.

A small bird was flying south for winter. He was very, very cold, and didn't know if he could make it from Canada all the way to Mexico. Somewhere over South Dakota, the cold overtook him, and he fell to the earth. The story doesn't end there, though - see, his fall was broken by a pile of shit - you know, cow manure. So there he was, trapped in shit. Seems pretty bad. But the shit was warm, and it kept the cold away. And there were grains and grasses in the shit, which kept him nourished. And for a while, he was ok. But then he started thinking about where he was, and said "This isn't ok, I'm in a pile of shit!". And he began to chirp loudly. A cold, hungry cat heard the chirping, jumped down from his fence perch, and pulled th bird out of the shit - and then ate him. So the moral of the story is, yeah, it might be shitty, but the person who pulls you out of shit may not be your best friend.
After he gave that speech, I literally had to bite my bottom lip to keep from laughing in his face. That's when I dropped my bombshell on him. His face fell like Britney Spears did with her baby. He asked where I was going, and I told him, and he said "Oh. Oh. Well. I guess I can't blame you, then." (I won't tell you where I'm going, but it's a Fortune 500 company. Hell, it's a Fortune 25 company. Recognize.) By the way, that's why the Chinese lessons will not continue on my blog anymore - I won't have anymore material. I'll be making more money, doing more things, and for a much better company. My last day is June 2. You can bet there'll be other things to talk about between now and then. Peace.


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