More Aussteiger Please

consume hell
Somebody’s gotta work this. How ’bout you?

Word of the day:


Give it a try. Yet heed this. It’s important to note that an Aussteiger is someone who drops out. S/he is not a dropout.

It was the first thing I noticed when I started working–for The Man. Large cubicle workspaces that were strategically placed so that you could see offices lining the walls of the floor of the building. The walls had real offices with doors and furniture and windows. That’s where the managers sat and I so admired that they had a view to the outside world. Ironically as cubicle space expanded manager offices became less occupied. By the time I exited the freak show, none of those offices were filled. Of the managers that were able to maintain their jobs, they never looked out those windows. Indeed. They looked just like everyone else looked in their cubicles. They looked with their heads down, their necks cringing, their eyes empty except for the information they were focused on given from another manager above them. And so spews the cogs of the wheels of careers and corporatists. I did it for about ten years–on and off. And although I wanted one of those windowed offices, I never made it. Thank goodness.

The only outlet I had when working a cubicle life was the travel. But then–The Man–figured out a way to turn business travel into an office cubicle. Travel expenditures were cut. Frills and thrills of flying were slashed. If I wanted a preferred seat that cost more in economy, I had to pay for it out of pocket. The same went for a hotel. Seriously. The company earned millions and then they wanted to nit-pick about 20-, Euros extra for an isle seat on the wing in the middle row (because a window distracted me from my work!) or a hotel room with a real bed? Seriously. The hotel thing really did happen. It was a hotel in Stockholm. The hotel room was a bathroom with a pull-out couch in it. When I asked the Swedes about it they said that there was nothing to be done. There were simply not enough hotels in Sweden to accommodate those who, at the time, wanted to travel there. This was 1997/98. For whatever unknown reason, Sweden was part of the Dotcom boom and to this day I don’t know why. But I went there because it was a great outlet from cubicle hell and also all the minions and automatons that occupied those cubicles. Speaking of cubicle hell.

I also travelled to HP in Germany for some contract work. It was in Böblingen, near Stuttgart. It was also the largest cubicle hell I’d ever seen. The building was a huge hanger that could fit an airliner and it was filled with cubicles of all sizes. From the thirty foot ceilings hung massive signs that designated the areas underneath. There was “sales”, “project”, “hardware”, “network”, etc. At least fifty cubicles were under each sign and each desk was separated from the other by a plastic, styrofoam wall that was hooked to another and then another and then another. Some cubicles had more than one desk. Go figure, eh. There were glass enclosed offices through out the hanger as well–for managers, I guess. It didn’t matter where I traveled back then. Every cubicle, every wall office, every hallway, every toilet had the same face and the same human in it. Seriously. What have we done to ourselves?

Not that I give a shit anymore. I found a way out. Yet sometimes I can’t help but be reminded of those who can’t find a way out. Like most of the corporate workforce in the US today.  The NYT article (below) depicts the misery of working in America x2. That the article is about Amazon is of no surprise to me. Ironically, one of the last interviews I had when I had to work for The Man was with Amazon at their Bad Hersfeld facility in Germany. Boy am I glad I didn’t get that job. It was one of the worst job interviews I’ve ever had. I’ll never forget it. Those who interviewed me were rude, combative and pushy. The interviewers said things like “how far would you go if…” or “If I called you at three in the morning…” and “have you ever talked about your salary with another employee”, etc. Back then I knew that asking such things said more about the corporate culture than it did about the people doing, without question, what they are told. While reading the NYT article below, though, I can still imagine that interview as if it were yesterday. My last interview was, in fact, in 2001. Nothing changes for all the suckers who participate in this krapp.

Good luck suckers. Rant on. -t

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