Saturday, July 7, 2012

The volunteer

Thunderstorms to the northwest over Pennsylvania. A bit of excitement for the working poor stuck in the Poconos with nothing to do. Smoke a little dope, chug a little beer, get the phone out, and take some pictures of lightning strikes. Post that shite to Facebook, see what Uncle Willie's got to say about it. Uncle Willie's likely shooting at groundhogs off his deck -- no t-storms in his neck of the woods, just humidity, booze, and boredom.

That's how it was on Steering Committee days -- interminable stretches of boredom punctuated by a sickening awareness of the genuine threat of getting fired. Enough to burn through a nice chunk of adrenaline. Effin corporate life, it's all about holding onto a job, isn't it? You can talk about the mission statement, sense of community, and self-fulfillment all you want. That's effin propaganda. The real deal is the pay-stub that shows you what gets deposited in ye olde banke twice a month. Talk about naiveté. I'd put on a blazer and a tie and press my slacks. (Got a sharp crease in that worsted wool, poot.) I wore my good underpants, even. Why? Because I figured I wouldn't get fired if I dressed up.

Hell, I also used to believe that it wouldn't rain if I carried an umbrella. Call it magical thinking, call it what you will -- I got my mojo workin' -- whatever it was, it worked about as well as a rabbit's foot or piece of crystal. Maybe a little bit better than a bachelor's degree.

I'm describing the way I really lived my life, not the way I pretended to live my life. Goddammit. I kept thinking there had to be more to it than buying a lottery ticket and waiting.

I was led to believe that I was an individual exercising my free will. Don't laugh, poot -- lots of human beings believe the same effin thing. Okay, so I went ahead and chose to volunteer for the Steering Committee. Why? Because I believed that the pricks wouldn't fire me if I volunteered. Volunteerism would be just like my clean underwear. Juju. Double protection.

Then I thought about it some more: how the hell is it possible to volunteer for anything inside a corporation? There I was, getting paid a salary to do a job. Volunteers don't get paid. Volunteers get emotional rewards and psychological benefits, sure enough. But no effin salary. You cannot be an employee and a volunteer at the same time. Plop! -- I'd fallen into a contradiction.

Jesus I hate contradictions. Contradictions don't belong in the workplace -- they belong in the church or in the classroom. Not the workplace. The workplace is sacred. You better believe it. Like childhood.

Okay, so I volunteered for the Steering Committee because I thought it would provide cover when the shite hit the fan. Can you blame me? The shite always hits the fan sooner or later in a corporation as big as that one was. It's inevitable, like t-storms at the leading edge of a cold front. All that effin hot air builds up -- call it management by convulsion. It's an effin law of nature.

I figured my position would be safe: the powers that be would see that I had volunteered for the Steering Committee -- a sure sign that I wanted to be one of them. It also meant that I would earn a salary and receive my emotional rewards and psychological benefits at the same time. That's what's called a "win-win situation," isn't it? Almost like having a social life outside of work. Lemme tell you -- it was one fucking win too many.

There I was in my navy blue blazer, white shirt, striped tie, matching socks, polished oxfords. Neat as a pin, right down to my skivvies. Sharp as a tack. A volunteer. Ready to steer. Hah -- I looked like a tree just before it gets hit by lightning. Post that online.


  1. Volunteerism? Bullshit!!

    I came to the conviction that the only things corporations value is how you contribute to revenue and profit. I dropped management responsibilities and participation in any "task forces" and focus on three things: 1`) serving clients, 2) delivering good product, and 3) supporting sales (if the company gives me the resources I need to fulfill the commitments to new clients). The rest is bullshit.

  2. I completely agree with Marc on this one.

    -Carlos Hernandez
    Tree Pruning Queens