April 11, 2000
Job Dream


I am in the Totem Pole Company lunchroom, pushing a threadbare O'Cedar back and forth across a sticky, filth-blackened floor.

The mop is too worn-out to do much more than move the dirt around in streaks,  but I figure that if I scrub long enough -- and hard enough -- I'm eventually going to cut through the motor oil and the dog poop and the old gum and the scuff marks, and see some actual *floor* again.

Just then the Human Resources Director Person comes into the lunchroom. "Franz wants you to use THIS instead," she says ... and she hands me a small plastic hairbrush.

"Are you serious?" I cry in dismay. "That's going to take ten times as long!"

But the HRDP is adamant. That's the way Franz wants it done.

Furious and frustrated, I toss the mop onto the floor. "Fine!" I say. "If that's the way *Franz* wants it done, then he can do it himself. I quit."  And I pick up a glass beer stein, filled with orange juice, and slam it across the room. It shatters against the far wall of the lunchroom.

Dream pauses.

Last week, while Franz was safely out of town for a couple of days attending the CELSOC convention in Monterey, I went into his office and literally swept his desktop clean.  

I positioned two enormous cardboard boxes on either side of his desk/credenza/ all-purpose crap-storage area ... rolled up my sleeves ... and, in one glorious motion, dumped everything into the cartons.

Memos. Aerial maps. RFPS and RFQs. Obsolete org charts *featuring* people who haven't worked for the Totem Pole Company in ten years. Coffee-stained business cards. State of Colorado phone books. European travel itineraries from 1996. Ten-inch-thick accounting department reports. Expired contracts. Faxes written entirely in German. Quarterly Business Reports. In-flight magazines. *Pre-Secra* Totem Pole Company newsletters. Take-out menus from long-defunct Chinese restaurants. Committee meeting notes scribbled onto the backs of paper napkins.

In other words: the 43,897,621 metric tons of *stuff,* unsullied by the touch of human hands, that has cluttered the top of his desk for the entire almost-year that I've been Franz' Executive Ass.

And then I hauled both boxes across the hall, into my teeny-tiny office ... rolled up my sleeves some more ...

... and began the daunting, arduous, mind-numbing process of sorting through it all.

Tossing the obvious junk. Weeding out duplicates/triplicates/quadruplicates. Filing stuff alphabetically. Filing other stuff chronologically. Cross-referencing. Collating. Creating lovely, crisp new folders with perfect labels for everything. Band-Aiding endless paper cuts.

Restoring order to chaos.

The result? Franz' desktop is neat as a pin. I wander into his office, every few minutes, and revel in its soothing, elegant orderliness. That's the good news.

The bad news? *My* office looks like the inside of a goddamn SNOWGLOBE, right now.

Plus, It was Thursday when I first began "Operation: Organize Franz (Whether He Likes It Or Not)." Today is Tuesday. I would guesstimate that I'm only a third of the way through the sorting/re-filing process.


But that's OK. He hasn't even seen my handiwork yet, anyway. Nor will he anytime this week, apparently, since he's blowing off everything on his calendar, including his semi-regularly-scheduled *cameo appearance* here at the office. So who knows? I may actually be finished with my project by the time he finally resurfaces.

(Then again, if he doesn't start dropping by the place once in a while,  there may not BE a Totem Pole Company. And that will sorta eliminate the need for an "orderly office," dontchoothink?)

Stay tuned.

Dream continues.

I feel terrible about quitting my job in such a dramatic and unprofessional fashion ... plus, I'm feeling *lonely* for my little Isolation Booth, and my view of the Tribune Tower, and my beloved three-hole punch ... so I return to the Totem Pole Company.

"Maybe if I just try to explain how frustrating it can be, trying to clean up after Franz," I tell myself, "they'll give me my job back."

But when I stop by the production room to pick up my mail, I notice that my name has already been removed from the mailbox slot next to Franz'. And when I walk back to the Corporate section of the office and try to unlock my office door, I discover that my key no longer works.

The Human Resources Director Person isn't in her office across the hall, so I decide to call and leave her a voicemail.

Her message kicks in immediately ... but instead of her familiar voice, it is an automated *robot voice* that answers. "You've reached the Human Resources Director Person," it says. "Once you quit your job here at the Totem Pole Company, we are no longer allowed to speak to you."  And the voicemail clicks off before I have a chance to leave a reply.

Sadly, I turn around and head for the elevator.

End of dream.

about a year ago





throw a rock