Saturday, March 09, 2013

Schrödinger's Job

So recently I interviewed for a decent promotion at work, and after a couple weeks of twisting in the wind, waiting, wondering, it turns out that not only did I get passed up, but more insultingly, got passed up for someone who had distinguished themselves among their peers with their rather intense displays of anger and sheer disloyalty in the workplace. Ho hum. Perhaps Harry Truman had a point.

The mind goes through some unusual contortions through that interim period, between the interview and the communication of the final decision, win or lose. You are in a strange limbo, where you both succeeded and failed in getting the job. Even the phrase "win or lose" effectively demonstrates the zero-sumness of the game -- you either get the job or you don't -- but during that decision-making period, both things are true. In the era of the jobless recovery, this ranks as a post-modern form of self-induced psychological torture.

As annoying as such a situation -- which surely many of us have been in (or worse) at one time or another, as many modern workplaces are intrinsically humiliating -- can be, it can also be immensely clarifying. It's an opportunity to look at things and note dispassionately, "If decision-makers are this fucked in the head, why do I want to stick around and help them screw the pooch further for a couple bucks more per hour?" Large (100+) organizations that are systemically dysfunctional in nature cannot be fixed by just one or two people, no matter how noble their intentions or how broad-based their skill sets. It's a law of physics -- inertia of a large object can only be overcome with sufficient amounts of applied force.

This is especially true nowadays, with the constant threats of "downsizing" and "restructuring" looming over everyone's head. Fear is perhaps the ultimate demotivator, though you can only push people around so much before they decide to work just hard enough to not get fired. But the less people respect their leaders, and more importantly the word of those leaders, the less they are able to even continue going through the motions, day after miserable day. This is especially true when you can see the bigger picture and realize that it really doesn't have to be that way in the first place.

But ultimately this sort of thing happens to all of us, sooner or later, and when it does you go through the professional version of the Five Stages of Grief. The thing about the dysfunctional organization -- and, like Tolstoy's unhappy families, pretty much every dysfunctional organization is dysfunctional in its own way -- is that once you get past the anger, the feelings of betrayal and bitter recrimination, you realize, once again, that if they're that fucked up, you don't want it anyway. Sort of like getting dumped, the old "sour grapes" sentiment.

All that said, pride doesn't keep the lights on, doesn't help me get any traction on covering my wife's medical bills (because even with pretty good insurance, a simple bronchoscopic procedure a couple months ago ended up costing us about $5K out of pocket, because our medical system, as I've said ad nauseam, is a fucking racket), doesn't get me out of my 20-year-old hooptie and into maybe a ten-year-old hooptie (I live in the sticks, so bicycling everywhere is not an option, though I do ride when I can for recreation), doesn't pay the bills.

This is not a plea for your hard-earned cash money, because things are tough all over. But there are a couple things you can do for free that will help a brother out. One is word of mouth -- tell anyone and everyone you can think of who might be interested, to check this place out, check out Mockalypse (soon to be re-formatted for Kindle Direct Publishing!). The other is checking out anything and everything on this page, rumor has it some of the things here generate revenue.


Sean Riley said...

As someone with a "hard skillset", I have been more fortunate than some during these last 4 years of re-de-whatever-cession-pression. I haven't been without work for more than 6 weeks at a time. What I would settle for is some STABILITY. Happy? Nahhh, I'd settle for some fucking STABILITY! I live and work in a Red State (Arizoner), and I often wonder why my fellow working class slobs profess admiration for people (upper management corner-office FUCKS) who wouldn’t even let them MOW their fucking LAWNS? Conditioning! 30+ years of conditioning by Corporate America. Benefits? Wage increases? Be glad you have a job, wage-slaves! “Permanent” employees? Associates? HA! The company I currently contract for (I am an “IT Guy”) hasn’t hired on an “Associate” for OVER THREE YEARS. Now they are talking about “re-organizing” the Helpdesk staff and running a “cost-benefit analysis” to achieve “greater efficiency”. This company is making a FORTUNE. I could rant on, but…you get the idea. The Corporate States of America are sitting on over 2 TRILLION IN CASH. Things aren’t going to change much anytime soon (except for the worse) because Uncle $am likes things just the way they are: High unemployment keeps workers afraid, and a shaky economy allows these behemoths to continue to cry poor. Fuckers. Impermanence and the stress of not knowing where one will be in a year gets stressful after half a decade…

Heywood J. said...

Yes, this. People wonder aloud "what the world is coming to", every time someone goes around the bend as does something psychotic. I suggest it may have something to do with the stratification of a permanently-un(der)employed underclass, then a working class whose average member lives paycheck to paycheck, does not make enough to save, and is one "optimization" from losing their job, in an economic climate where it takes an average of 36 weeks to find another job.

Topped with a micro-decile that owns half of everything, and it's really a wonder that shit isn't a lot crazier. People oughta be a lot more pissed than they are.

Sean Riley said...

"People oughta be a lot more pissed than they are." Yes, shouldn't they? I've pointed out to some of my fellow Americans (but not the 'Murr'kins, they are beyond hopeless, not to mention touchy as hell on the subject) that the British, the French, etc, throw a literal riot when their rights are infringed, but us? Hell, Joe Sixpack will never rise up as long as there's beer in the fridge and sumpin' on cable. I often wonder why the 1% doesn't just hand us legal weed on a silver platter, since it would only serve to make us even more docile. Haven't these asstards ever read 'Brave New World'? Think "soma"...