Saturday, April 24, 2010

Never eat alone

You hear it everywhere, you hear it all the time. Le baratin. The spiel, the pitch, the empty words and false promises. Sweet talk. Some unprincipled huckster with big ideas and a flash drive full of powerpoint slides. The hook, the handle, the line meant to dissimulate, the big pretend. Hey kids, this here toy is the best toy money can buy. The come on. If you don't get on board now, you'll be left behind. Hah. Galimatias, gibberish, ape chatter, business-speak. So much cowflop you need an effin backhoe and bulldozer to bury it. You turn on the idiot box -- buzz buzz buzz. You fire up your mobile and check your messages -- crapola by the yard. Internet, print, radio, books, church, schools, even in the friggin back seat of a stinky taxi, it keeps coming at you. The conning babble.

The higher up you go in these steel and glass towers, the more of it you hear. In the boardrooms and corner offices it's about the only thing you're gonna hear. This is where the grecian formula, man tan crowd resides from nine to five, with their shiny desks full of knick-knacks and their little shelf of books: Spencer Johnson, Stephen Covey, Seth Godin, Jeffrey Gitomer, Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters, Daniel Pink. Turbocharge your career, poot. Brand your effin self. Don't blink, sway, and if you search for excellence and stumble on happiness instead, crush it. The cheesy bastard who moved your purple cow did you a favor: he nudged your arse toward the precious present. If you can hang there for a while, you'll be a big success. By the way, "success" is spelled with dollar signs, Jimbo, not esses.

Supposedly sensible business people pay these snake-oil salesmen a lot of dough to deliver motivational keynote speeches in chilly banquet halls at corporate hotels near ugly airports. One time in Arizona, I remember my whole company being screamed at by a bilious Tom Peters at a luncheon. His hair stood up and his blue shirt showed sweat as he flung his spittle into the assembled crowd. "You're all obsolete. Exclamation point. Unless you re-brand yourselves. Exclamation point. Starting RIGHT NOW. Big exclamation point." Peters lurched around the podium like a fighter in the late rounds of a lost bout, flailing his arms and jabbing at thin air, wiping at his forehead while searching for a breath. Everybody in the room bowed their heads and stared at their shoes as his mouth continued making noises. Even the bartenders at the back of the room wiping their glasses appeared embarrassed for him. Maybe he had something to say once, a one-book wonder like the rest of his tribe, but by the time we saw him he was a cartoon. A brand. Only the suits were rapt -- no surprise, he was double-speaking their language.

Then there are the cubicle dolls that surround these bobble-headed alpha males, checking out the prospects for a lucrative relationship. They're smart. They know how to ignore the puerile ravings of their bosses, even as they sit there with crossed legs and take tidy minutes. Everybody in their seats. Little prickles at the back of the neck. Got to make a good impression. Scratch goes the pen. Imagine writing this shite down? Minutes no one will ever read. I guess it's a job. After work, the dolls sit around sipping Sauvignon Blanc down at Il Vino, gossiping about the boys, imagining sex with them. Getting drunk, playing slow-pitch softball. Sometimes at two, three in the morning, I hear them on the street, puking out their guts into someone's garbage can, eliciting a bark or two from the neighborhood watchdog. What's worse, poot? -- the crap that fills our minds, or the poison we pour into our bodies?

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