HugeCorp Blues

I really, really, really need to get a new job.

It’s Friday night, approaching midnight, and I feel like I have just finished a week of running in front of the bulls at Pamplona. I don’t want to complain abut this too much — after all, at least I have a job. It’s a steady paycheck and subsidized health insurance. But since we were bought out by HugeCorp things have gone from bad to worse. I have tried to maintain some sense of balance, and after almost fourteen years at this place I have seen a lot of self-annointed bigshots come and go and I know that no matter how bad things get it’s just a job and my real life starts when I walk out of there each day.

But money touches everything and HugeCorp, like all corporations, exists only and purely to make as much money as possible, and it is like a giant machine, whirring in the basement (or the penthouse), grinding out new schemes and initiatives and procedures, blissfully unaware of what it’s like to be me, trying to implement them and still find time to get some work done. Some of the schemes make some sense in theory, or at least it’s possible to discern the good intentions behind them. But when they are brought into the workplace and start bumping up against reality all their flaws are exposed and eveything the planners didn’t think of takes place and there is chaos, anger and frustration.

I usually like chaos, but I am angry and frustrated because I am starting to see that I am a square peg and I will never fit into any of these HugeCorp round holes. For years we could both ignore this incompatibility, because they paid me and I efficiently did their work. But they are losing interest in getting work done. What they want now is to seem to be getting work done, so investors are impressed by the prospectus and the stock value goes up.

Another thing investors like is cost-cutting, so this week all the office supplies were moved to a warehouse a block away from the building where they are used, where they are being cataloged and shelved. This started without warning or explanation a few days ago, and by today most of our day-to-day stuff we need to work was gone from our premises. So when I was in the middle of a print job on the main laser printer and it ran out of paper, there was no fucking paper anywhere in the building. I asked the woman who had previously been in charge of supplies, and she told me to go to the other building and ask for a ream.

Really. Do I need more of a hint than that? Not only am I getting reamed, but now they want me to ask for it.

OK. I get it. It’s a huge corporation and they want to be as efficient as possible. They want to enhance the bottom line by saving money on supplies by making people accountable for what they use. But because of the stupid, arrogant, thoughtless, haphazard way they went about doing it, I – and the other twenty people who use that printer – had to stop everything and wait for someone to hike down the street and ask for a ream.

It was me, of course, and I didn’t ask. I took four reams of paper and hiked back to the office. I loaded the printer and asked the former supply-woman where she wanted the rest of the paper, and I asked her to call the warehouse and let them know how much paper I had taken, since no one had been there when I arrived. Just helpful Jones, trying to keep all the wheels turning.

For this rogue behavior I got to have a special, ten-minute closed-door meeting with the (new) general manager and the (new) controller, who together have worked there a total of six months. I won’t go into the grisly details of my reprimand, except to say that even though neither of them could refute my logic that I was just trying to get the whole fucking office back to work and ensure that another such delay didn’t occur in a couple of hours, they insisted that I had to play by the new rules (which had never been revealed to me, but that didn’t matter), that there could be no exceptions and it was too fucking bad if I didn’t like it. And, oh, yeah, neither of them was responsible for the new rules – they just happened spontaneously. (I actually used the word “spontaneously” in our conversation, and it appears that neither of them know what it means.)

So, to summarize:

  • Stoopid rule.
  • Productivity suffers.
  • Circumventing the rule and actually working gets you in trouble.
  • No one is responsible.
  • I really, really, really need to get a new job.
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14 Replies to “HugeCorp Blues”

  1. Aurghhh, I could have bitten right through a phone book just reading that story; complete inefficiency in the workplace makes me crazy. I worked for a HugeCorp when I was 19, and even then I was smart enough to know that all the rulemakers were nuts; there’s one pompous ass-bag still shuffling around this town that I still want to slap every time I see him…not that I hold a grudge…

    I work for a small company that has about 20 employees, and we generally answer to one man, the owner. He’s a tough, tough guy to work for, but if you get fed up and scream at him (I have), he listens and appreciates that you have his (our) company in your best interest, and proper changes put things back in order. (Don’t ask me about wages or benefits, however!)

    I feel for ya, Larry. Want me to come and bitchslap someone?

  2. This is the sort of post where people can’t help but chime in, including me, especially this week.
    I had a really crappy week too. I actually CRIED at work. Ugh … so embarrassing. That sort of emotional response wasn’t a completely ridiculous notion back in the days when I worked with rape victims and abused kids, but at my current job, at HugeCorp’s equally ugly twin sister company, it’s appalling.
    I think I need another business trip to meet with my people in our LA office. Some California sunshine and a little facetime with a couple of my favorite friends would make a world of difference.

  3. gnightgirl – It was late when I was writing that, and I was too tired even to tell half of it. Lucky you, to have the job you have, and yes, it would be better if you did the bitchslapping instead of me, because they wouldn’t be able to fire you. There’s a lot of bitchslapping to be done, but lunch is on me.

    Theresa – I am amazed at how many people are, at best, merely tolerating their jobs, and how many are almost at the end of their rope. But to paraphrase Tom Hanks in “A League of Their Own,” Are you crying? There’s no crying at HugeCorp!”
    As for your “business” trip, lunch is on me.

  4. Stories like that make we want to get cracking on that book I want to write. Stories like that also remind me of the effectiveness–especially when done collectively–of “working to rule.” A flurry of memos and emails, requesting information, requesting requisitions, requesting a pen, etc., and not just from you. Can you find others who’d be willing to send a memo a day? And cc the higher-ups? (I feel like I’m quoting “Alice’s Restaurant”: “Fifty people a day walking in, singing a bar of ‘Alice’s Restaurant,’ and walking out.”) shit, send a memo to the clowns who called you in, AND their supervisors, requesting clarification on the proper procedure for all of this.

    And look for another job. and document every fucking thing in the meanwhile.

  5. Goldie – Alas, most of my coworkers think something like “This is stupid, but, oh well.” I don’t have the heart to become their Working Class Hero/labor organizer, and it would take a big committment/serious effort to get them to go along with something like what you describe. Inertia and fear would be the obstacles. So I guess that leaves only the “get another job” option.
    Oh, and firebombing.

  6. I wish I could help you, Larry. That story is a classic, though–really one of the best I’ve ever heard about the stupidity of management. I think you nailed it, though–they’re not interested in profit, they’re interested in the appearance of profit, which is a whole other exercise. There’s something to be said for the work I’m doing, low-paid though it is: either you have a croissant to sell, and somebody buys it, or not.

  7. You have everything working very well and then some dodo thinks it can be improved.IF IT AINT BROKE DONT FIX IT! I think they dont have enough to do and have to appear that they are improving things. Ugh.

  8. Goldie – There’s a lot to be said for the work you’re doing, making something real that people want and use. I have become too far removed from that kind of thing, and it’s making me crazy.

    kStyle – Your God can’t help you at HugeCorp.

    June – They definitely don’t have enough to do, but that’s just as well, since they don’t know how to do much of anything.

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