June 26, 2000
*Surviving* the Totem Pole


Coming back to the office this week -- after our sweet, family-intensive sojourn to TicTac -- felt a little bit like tuning in to watch "Survivor" after you've missed a couple of key episodes.  Who have they voted off the Totem Pole in my absence? Cranky Rail Engineer Guy? Sweet-But-Ineffectual MIS Computer Guy? Annoyingly-Perky Marketing Assistant Person?

More importantly: who will be voted off NEXT?

Actually, I already know who is next. They're firing Craig this morning: Craig, the affable, overworked, out-of-breath little Chief Financial Officer. As soon as Franz gets into the office, they're going to pull Craig into the conference room ... give him a big song-and-dance about *reorganization* and *restructuring* and *carefully considering what is in the best interests of both the company AND the individual* ... 

... and boot his unsuspecting butt right off the Totem Pole.

Craig doesn't have a clue.

I found out about it the old-fashioned way: by "accidentally" intercepting a confidential memo, earlier this month. Once I had officially blundered into the loop, I was recruited to fax the top-secret correspondence back and forth ... to help schedule the sneaky offsite interviews for his replacement ... and, above all else, to maintain strict and impartial confidentiality about the whole thing. That was two weeks ago. I've been carrying around this dirty little secret, ever since.  It's felt a lot like walking around with a big smelly clump of moose flop in my purse.

But you know how it is. Word gets around. People talk. By this point, I think that half of the Accounting Department  --  and most of Corporate  --  is aware of the ax hanging directly over Craig's sweaty neck. Our department has all the *ambience* of a Death Row waiting room this morning.

But still, poor Craig remains totally in the dark. I just want to scream.

He stopped by my doorway a few minutes ago and welcomed me back from vacation. "Gosh, it's nice to see your smiling face again!" he said cheerfully. And then he stood and looked at the graduation photos pinned to my bulletin board, asking me questions about the weather in TicTac and complimenting me on my "beautiful" daughter.

"Maybe she should come to work here!," he joked.

I couldn't look him in the eye.

Neither could the Human Resources Director Person, when Craig stood in her doorway a minute or two later, chatting her up about art museums and Boy Scout camping trips and the results of his wife's biopsy. When he left and went backstairs to the Accounting Department, the HRDP and I looked at each other. She shrugged. I just stood there, feeling sick.

A few minutes later my phone rang. 

"Hey, do you have any idea what this meeting is going to be about?" Craig asked. "Should I bring the financials with me?"

"I'm not sure," I said, lying through my fudking teeth (and hating myself for it). "But I'll let you know when Franz gets into the office, OK?"

"That'll be great," he said. "And don't forget to come downstairs to Accounting sometime today: I'll show you how to do the new time sheets."

Question: are we allowed to vote ourselves off the Totem Pole?

Or are we required to eat a little barbecued rat, first?

one year ago

throw a rock