9-23-03, 9:31 AM -
I'm late for work. Great. Another thing I can blame on George W. Bush.
Ol' Monkey Face is presenting himself to the UN today, & it's got traffic on the East Side all whomperjawed. Which normally wouldn't bother me in this city, except that I've been taking the bus rather than the train to get to the new job.
It's a couple of long blocks to hit the train in the first place, for which I usually catch the bus, then get off at whichever train stop I need. But the bus goes all the way across the island, which is where I need to go, so I just take it nowadays. But not today.
Though I suppose it's more Mr. Atta's and Mr. bin Laden's fault than Georgie's. Remember Mr. bin Laden? Glad someone does.
Saw me a couple of spooks on the E train. Dark suits, shades, walked just a little too smoothly through the jostling train. No way these guys weren't Secret Service or CIA or FBI or Masons or Mormons or something that involves a secret handshake. At least neither of them said, "We've been waiting for jou, Meester Onderson."
So this is what's happening at the UN today: You remember that guy in school who treated you like shit and then tried to make nice so he could cheat off of your test answers?
That's what's happening at the UN.
Of course, I'm really tired, so now here's my brain inventing a transcript:
France - "I wave my private parts at your doped-up wife, you son of a one-term nerfherder. Go and eat some Freedom Fries, you so-called Bush President who has the brain of Pauly Shore, you know. You think you can fool us French folk with your silly looking-for-bin-Laden-in-Iraq behavior. I fart on your daughter's margaritas and put my gourmet French dick in the mashed potatoes already. Your brother is a sweaty pigdog and your Vice President smells of Nixon's bottom."
Germany - "Ja wohl."
Italy - "We ride our Vespas and elect porn stars to Parliament. You want we should fight a war?"
India - "If we have told you once, we have told you a million times, we do not give an elephant's rectum what you do in Iraq. Now what the hell is going on in Afghanistan?"
England - "Oh dear, I'm terribly sorry, but you see, it's the damndest thing...we seem to have gone and lost the damned intelligence paperwork, don't you know. Bit of a sticky wicket, that. I daresay there's buggery involved, wot, wot!"
U.S. - "C'mon. Dude. Dude, don't be like that. C'mon, man. Be cool. Be cool, man. You're cool, right? C'mon. Dude. For real. For real, man. Dude, seriously."
Canada - "We would like to take this opportunity to announce our new line of 'I'm With Stupid' wear..."
France - "Go and sit on your hockey sticks, you imitation French types. I put snails in my nose and blow them at you, secondhand American bottom wipers. I fill your silly maple leaf backpacks with stinky sauces and send you back to your funny-talking mothers. Ppptttthhhhhbbpt!!"
England - "I say..."
France - "And an extra fart for you as well, you carriers of American urine-buckets. We don't like you anyway."
It's possible I've watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail too many times.
1:04 PM -
I think George or his staff is staying at the Waldorf Astoria. Looks like a damn prison break, cops & big lights everywhere. Just passed it on the way back from a Chinese joint that's really good, but way too far off to visit regularly.
Found a few flies in the XYZ Business Credit ointment. Initially got on famously with one of the VP's, Eartha, as I knew I would. That black-mother-of-two thing again, which I still can't figure out. But I get back from lunch, and the stereo is blaring some Luther Vandross wannabe who's got Jesus' hand up his ass, glory hallelujah.
Really loud, too. And she's not even in there. Now, my desk is right next to her office, so either I'm the one who's supposed to benefit from this or she's using it as a demon-fumigator while she's away.
See, she just came back, and the radio turned off. Not to judge lest I be judged, but I don't think Jesus would be all that keen on being a VP in the finance industry. Camels through needle-eyes and all that.
But I can deal with Eartha and her personal lord and saviour. The real problem, as usual, is Whitey.
Mr. Golf Whitey, to be precise. Mr. Golf Whitey is technically my direct boss, and he is the very picture of suburban honkitude. Dark blonde hair, polo shirt (with crest!), picture of his kid right next to his Titleist display case. You go, Whitey.
Like everyone around here, he's very quiet, but of late he has started fixing me with a suspicious eye. I think he's figured out that I don't give a shit. One thing about Golf Whiteys, they don't trust uppity folks who don't give a shit.
The thing about this job is that there's really not much to do. I file, I fax, I FedEx, I answer the phone. But when no one's calling and no one has a file, a fax, or a FedEx, I have el jacko shitto to do.
Employment counselors will tell you that if you run out of work, ask everyone in your office if they need help. That way they'll know you're a go-getter.
But I stopped being a go-getter about three years ago, after my dotcom ass-raping, wherein I discovered that the go-getters got fucked just as hard as everyone else. So if no one gives me work, I don't do shit.
This makes Whitey nervous. He thinks if he keeps me sitting here looking un-busy with impunity, it sets a bad example for everyone else. Whereas Eartha thinks I can pretty much do what I want, so long as I hop to it when I'm given work. Which I do.
So right now, I'm trying to figure out which way that old pony runs. Whose say-so will carry the day? Either Whitey will can me or Eartha will keep me. I think they're of equivalent rank, so it may be a shootout.
Unless Eartha determines that I'm Satan's booty boy. Better hide my flaming thong.
9-26-03, 1:36 PM -
I sit here on my duff all day. I file, I fax, I FedEx, and answer phones for about 45 minutes per day, total. The rest of the time I write in my little notebook and surf the internet. I do this for two weeks straight, sure that they're going to can me at any time, and today Mr. Golf Whitey tells me I'm the best receptionist they've ever had, and would I like the job permanently.
Even I, who have been offered jobs after doing them for mere hours, am AMAZED.
I felt sure that this was finally the one, the assignment where my slovenly ways were going to be found out. But no. I'm the golden boy.
I'm starting to reach a dangerous conclusion: That I, matthew the Wonder Temp, cannot be fired.
If money were not an issue, I would be deeply tempted to test this hypothesis. What horrible, unholy thing must I do to get my golden arse canned? Could I shit in the boss' shoes? Could I smoke a joint and read Hustler at my desk? What is it that I must do to get fired?
This is all rather a shock to me, because in my early twenties I was laid off twice, and threatened with termination on too many occasions to be remembered. And the thing was, I did WAY more work back then. I was Mr. Puritan Man, begging supervisors for extra work to show off my enthusiasm for the company and everything the company stood for.
I NEVER SAT STILL.
I remember volunteering for extra work at Bigass Books when they didn't have anyone to keep the light fixtures bulbed. I shelved my section, I helped customers, I rang up sales, I cleaned the Men's Room, I swept up the sidewalk, I polished the chrome, changed the lightbulbs, and I STILL faced occasional threats of termination.
Since it turns out I'm a fucking GENIUS, I've started comparing those past experiences with my present ones, and I've come up with a list for all you aspiring golden children, who desperately want to know the secret to not getting fired:
1. Show up on time. It apparently doesn't matter how much or how little you work while you're at your job. The important thing is to be there when they tell you to be there. I worked like a dog at Bigass & Sound Warehouse, but was frequently late. I haven't done jack shit at work for three years, but now I am always on time.
2. Don't stay late. This may sound counterintuitive, because you would think your employer would like someone who obeyed their boss' every whim. But you would be wrong. See, the more they expect of you, the more they can be disappointed. Set up your parameters early, so they know how to judge you. It's a bit like attracting the opposite sex: The less you try to impress them, the more desirable you become (I have NEVER been hit on more than after I got married and stopped caring what other women thought. It's a fact).
3. Don't give a shit. This is a similar principle to the one above, but a bit more nuanced. Not giving a shit doesn't mean being hostile or rude. Hostility requires effort, and effort is the last thing you want your employer to see. What you want to shoot for is pure, unadulterated indifference. The work arrives at your desk, and you tell the boss you'll do it. Neither smile nor frown. Be pleasant, maybe a small, polite grin and a head nod. Then do the work right away. It's important to do this, because no one can get mad at you for loafing later if you've done all of your work. After you're finished, hand the work directly to the boss. Don't ask for more work. Make them think of something on their own while you're reading The Onion.
4. Joke only when joked at. Don't initiate workplace frivolity. You won't have to. Eventually they'll get curious about you and gather 'round to banter. Joke back reservedly, and get out once you hit a high note, a la George Costanza. Go to the restroom or something after your home run, and they'll all go back to their offices thinking you're a good egg. But not a shirker, because you didn't start it. And you're also getting them used to your absence of effort. You're not lazy, just quiet.
5. Never stay longer than a year. You can only keep yourself mysterious for so long, and the longer you stay, the more will be expected of you. This way, you're leaving on your high note and getting a great reference. And if you stay any longer, you run the risk of developing Accidental Friends. Accidental Friends are people you wouldn't ordinarily befriend, but with whom you develop a bond after sharing many years of experience. If you make a real friend at work, you're likely to identify them within a year, and you can continue the friendship outside the company. Because if there's ever one person at work who knows the real you and knows there are things about which you give a shit, your cover is blown.
6. Go to lunch alone. Lunching leads to loose lips, and lessens your mystique. You are the work machine. Work comes in, work goes out, like clockwork. You're the best employee they've ever had, and no one knows you're an asshole who doesn't do shit for 7 hours a day.
7. Don't eat a lot of Mexican food. There are some workplace inconveniences that no one will put up with. And mystique? Gone.
8. Develop fast typing skills. The faster you do your work, the more loafing time you get.
9. Plan B. There is the remote possibility that there's a big shitload of work to be done, and that they're good about keeping it flowing to you. This is unfortunate, but you can still follow the guidelines above to keep it from getting worse. For Pete's sake, DON'T work hard. Establish your pace so they know what to expect, and don't waver. If they know you can go faster, they'll expect it of you. And if they get backed up, they can hire more people. If they don't, just quit. There are plenty of workless jobs out there, you're bound to find one of them.
10. Marry someone with a degree. This is important for anyone who enjoys food and shelter. You ain't gonna get rich on this plan. Though you could, if you kept your expenses low and invested in bonds instead of buying that black Rickenbacker...
Note that through all of this, you have not lied, cheated, or stolen. You have not hurt anyone's feelings, nor inconvenienced anyone. It is not through action that you have made yourself unfireable, but through omission. Rather than giving them a reason to hire you, you have given them no reason to fire you.
Keep in mind: I didn't think up any of this. This is what I've extrapolated from years of being a lazy bastard and not only getting paid for it, but getting praised for it, begged and pleaded by management to stay when at last it was my time to go. I didn't think any of these people were going to keep me around for any longer than they could put up with my prodigious sloth. But they LOVED me.
In fact, I have written this whole thing at my desk, on the clock. Who am I to argue with the evidence?
You know, I used to take great pride in the fact that my values bore no resemblance to that of my slacker GenX brethren. Where's that copy of Nevermind? I have some flannel to buy.