My Experience in Corporate America | A True Story, Sort Of

I think it’s time I got a real job, I said to myself. After all, I can still commune with dead saints and the energy bodies of trees on my own time.

So, I cast enfeebled, pallid, emasculated reductions of my being onto various streams of the Internet, and one of these washed up like the baby Moses on the shores of a company that, according to its website, did really important stuff without which the moral fiber of the country would suppurate, and the economies of nations would implode like aged massive stars.

The company sent agents to waterboard anyone who had ever had contact with me, extracted some of my precious body fluids for analysis, asked me to come back for some fine magnetic resonant imaging of the pathways between my pons and thalamus, which have something to do with dreaming, and hired me anyway. The last of twenty-six interviews for the “position” (“Let me show you to your rectangle”) was with the executive vice president for investor obfuscation, who earned $950,000 per year, plus bonus and stock options, and had his own private collection of state and federal political action figures and bobbleheads.

On my second day on the job, some nice fellows from the IT department came by to shave a spot near my brainstem and swab it with antiseptic, a supply of which they left on my credenza. Thereafter, every morning, I would myself swab and sterilize. Then a tentacle would come out of the ceiling and embed itself into my brain and suck out my lifeforce, leaving me just enough intelligence and spirit to sustain such necessary nonwork functions as showering and grooming, going to the bathroom, making coffee, and, of course, driving to work.

A week in, I stopped by the office of my supervisor to ask her about the claims by certain radicals (reporters for CNN) that the plastic tubing we claimed to produce for the purpose of feeding premature babies was actually being sold for administering corrosive chemicals and cosmetics to the eyes of rabbits. Showing up at her office without having first sent a meeting request turned out to be a faux pas, a breach of corporate etiquette, for I interrupted her in the process of eating her young. She wasn’t happy but told me that she wasn’t going to have my flesh scraped from my bones with currycombs this time.

A month in, the company was purchased by an equity firm. I rather liked seeing the new managers ride in with their shiny armor and crisp white livery and shields emblazoned with images of the true cross, for at least the octopi were inoperable while they swapped them out for succubae, which they considered more effective and reliable. There was a meeting. The new president had inherited ten zillion dollars from his grandfather, who, as it turned out, was a founding partner in the equity firm that had bought us! Funny how these coincidences occur! Such synchronicity! He brought to the job a lot of experience smoking hashish on the beach in Goa, India, and dancing in rave clubs in Ibiza with the other jet-setting sons and daughters of the illumined ones, as well as two weeks’ experience as an intern at Morgan Stanley BOA Chase Merrill Citi Deutsche UBS Goldman Credit Suisse, the firm that resulted from the mergers that occurred during the financial crisis of 2020–21. The new guy inspired confidence. He said, “You’ll like the succubae. When they liquefy your insides, it feels all warm and cozy.” Two weeks later, however, we got the memo that all employees with over three years’ experience would be desiccated, ground into powder, and fed to new hires. Our president had read an article in the Sloan Management Review that reported on an experiment with flatworms (Platyhelminthes). Researchers had taught these cute but cannibalistic and cross-eyed worms to turn left in mazes by administering shocks if they turned right. Then, they ground up the worms and fed them to worms that had not been taught. The untaught worms turned left, which suggested that the learning of trained worms had been transferred to them. The president explained that feeding experienced employees to new hires was purely a financial decision, and one that he did not take lightly. A company exists, he admonished us, to return a profit to its stockholders, and as the chief officer of the company, he had a fiduciary responsibility to do that by whatever means might achieve that end, and obviously new hires were cheaper than vested workers, who tended to be fatter and require larger cubicles anyway.

As it happened, I was not to be there to witness all the desiccating and grinding of the workers first hand, for when the end of my probationary period came, my supervisor indicated on my review that I was having ideas and showing initiative, either one of which was grounds for dismissal as per section K-21-468-10, subparagraph 289a of the Employee Handbook and Cheery Motivational Guide. In the days that followed, the color returned to my cheeks and I achieved reentry to the reel world like Kore returning from Hades, and for months thereafter, everything I encountered seemed, for some reason, finely articulated and luminous.

About Bob Shepherd

interests: curriculum design, educational technology, learning, linguistics, hermeneutics, rhetoric, philosophy (Continental philosophy, Existentialism, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, ethics), classical and jazz guitar, poetry, the short story, archaeology and cultural anthropology, history of religion, prehistory, veganism, sustainability, Anglo-Saxon literature and language, systems for emergent quality control, heuristics for innovation
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