Meanwhile, at the ant farm…

UPDATE: I totally forgot this part but it perfectly illustrates how the boss thinks of the associates. Let’s say she doesn’t like “John” (because John probably is over fifty-five and keeps his head down because he’s, you know, working). She’ll refer to all associates she doesn’t like collectively as “the Johns.” Isn’t that nice?

Many changes are coming down the pike at work, revealing the patronizing, dehumanizing attitude of the people who work in corporate (who make six figures to change a logo font size). A tsunami of unpleasantry is headed our way.

I am privy to much information, more than I let on. I’m wise, see. Or, at least I became wise when I was caught reading something confidential that someone printed out at the copier. Anyways, I also frequent an anonymous rumor site to pick up leads that I can research. I’ve been way ahead of the curve that way. I get to see the “training the trainers” propaganda videos they share internally and they infuriate me, because I know your nefarious plans (which all come down to one thing and one thing only—cost cutting. In fact, I sometimes think they love cost-cutting more than profits!) and then I see how you “sell” them to the associates in the most insulting and infantilizing manner.

These changes are made at a high level with zero input from anyone on the ground and with no regard to quality of life. No one up there connects unwelcome changes, guaranteed by their very nature to make workers miserable, with a decrease in productivity and an increase in turnover. I’ve heard that in certain other countries, the company culture takes a more bottom-up approach or at least accepts input from the people doing all the work, though I don’t know if that’s true in reality. The most “input” my company solicits is a survey administered once or twice a year which is used to batter the managers, not to change anything for the better.

Boss almost seems to relish the prospect of inflicting the changes on the store workers. The attitude of upper management is always that if you don’t like it, you can leave. Workers are not valued on an individual basis; you might be “valued” insofar as you’re useful, but heaven help you if you utter even a slight misgiving.

To hear the way they’re spoken of makes me sick. They are treated as lazy and worthless if they don’t pursue promotions, so lazy and worthless that even money is not an incentive to take on responsibilities. They’d clearly rather be broke and poor rather than work, am I right?!

But the company does not understand the culture of lower income workers at our location. They are not lazy and worthless. The mindset is simply that this is their job, this is how they pay their bills, and they want to come to work, put in a good day, and get paid for it. There is little interest in a “promotion” that adds stress on top of stress with little recompense. For older people, you’re asking them to totally upturn a routine they’ve been following for decades.

Not wanting to change is NOT a moral failing nor a character flaw. Some people are content with their routine and would just like a little more money so that they can, you know, keep their lights on AND buy groceries.

(And even if  none of this were true, no one wants promotions because they don’t want to work directly for the boss. I know this for a fact because the perfectly qualified people I encourage to apply tell me so.)

To me, this is all very wrong, that one group of humans takes this attitude towards other humans: that it’s simply too bad, you are in no position to protest, there’s the door if you don’t like it. But in this socioeconomic bracket, every door opens to the same place! A whole class of people condemned to be miserable and derided for being unable to do anything about it.

I can just hear it now. “Oh, those jobs are only meant for high-school students to earn pocket money, not to support a family. Only a lazy moron with no ambition does that.” “Oh, my dad had to make his clothes out of newspapers when he was a kid because he was so poor and now he’s a millionaire, so they have no excuses.”

Well, maybe your dad did, and good for him. But that doesn’t take into account the hundreds of other people who did–and do–work just as hard but didn’t make it.

Back in the day, people could support themselves on a retail wage. But rising prices and cost of living far outstripped the pathetic pennies and nickels that are called “raises.” For others, they are caught in a generational trap that only a rare few can break out of.

I know that life is unfair and suffering is ubiquitous and employers suck, but I will never believe that’s an acceptable reason to shrug it off when people are treated like faceless pieces of shit devoid of any inherent worth.

I wish I never took a break from WordPress because I am sooo behind on everyone! I didn’t forget anybody, I’m trying to work my way through the backlog.

58 thoughts on “Meanwhile, at the ant farm…

      1. Oh my god the default interpretation of what I wrote was never gunna presume genuine sympathy right? Haha that’s suitably poetic but I totally see the other way of reading it given you do write fiction a lot. Funny.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve worked at a lot of places, and I’ve encountered this attitude many times. I felt great satisfaction when I told a boss to jam it, then watched them being placed in receivership, but I’ve also worked for bosses who do care. Bosses who invite their factory workers to stay with them when their spouse dies unexpectedly. Bosses who drive injured workers back and forth to the train station so they can get home (that was me). Bosses who tell you that they really appreciated your efforts when you leave. So there are bosses who see their employees as people.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. See I always knew you were a smart cookie. Well said! Seriously, just this morning I watched a corporate ad that glorified the tireless, 24-7 workers. What horse shit. I remember many demeaning, infantilizing “skip-level” meetings at the phone company, especially the one with the declaration that was a harbinger of things to come, where some middle management dude told us, “If you’re looking for a comfort zone, forget it. There IS no comfort zone.”
    Say whu-uuuu??? Neither was there pulling an eleven foot sack along between rows of cotton.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. HI Hetty, I totally loved this. Funny. it read like fiction, and you could even see people acting this out in a TV serial or film. Very well written and it disguised what is potentially a real-life scenario. The narrator knows, and we the reader know most of this in our experiences of life. But, still the reader (me) learnt a few things, I maybe never realised. Well done! I thoroughly enjoyed this!

    Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s funny you say that. Sometimes I will tell my fiance something and he’ll be laughing and I’ll get mad because it’s not funny, but he says he can’t help it because I just put a picture in his head that’s funny and sad at the same time.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Well stated. All true. You actually have to live it to believe it. EVERYTHING is motivated by profit and there are no exceptions. How can the same people complain about dishonest politicians when they will lie, cheat, steal, gaslight you and throw you under the buss for an extra dime? Every time I experience people like this I shake my head in amazement that these people even exist. I chalk it up to evolution: the psychopaths were more successful at breeding because they have no empathy and killed off the competition.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But what’s even worse about all this is that these managers don’t even partake in the profits! Sure they make a lot more money than the average worker but on the scale of salaries in the company they are way towards the bottom themselves. They’re serving the overlords just as much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They are so brainwashed by the system, and so ego-identified with their overlords, they want to be just like them so they carry out all their instructions and imitate them to the letter. I’ve seen it!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Preaching to the choir. What I liked was paying my own expenses to travel to corp home for 3 to 5 days (along with the rest of the boots on the ground crew) to attend meetings and get asked questions when the answers and the processes were foregone conclusions. Nobody gave a fuck. The inhouse feudal systems would offer their most “sincere” we need your input when their agenda was set, and we were going to have to deal with it regardless of what made sense. But, one event is worth a thousand bitch fests. Exec VP decides to grind parts vendors for heavier $ concessions. So, they go OK, send the bitch cheaper parts. Six months later shit is falling apart in the field. Everybody gets called home again. On our dime. She gets up in a room full of people and shows everyone how easy it is to break our shit. And her husband, the owner of this billion-dollar niche biz says, “Well, you’re the one bought the chickenshit parts. I don’t see why you’re wasting all these people’s time. We need a price hike, we’ll do it. But not until we replace all the garbage out there with my name on it.” Hal-uh-fuckin-loo-oo-ya. Cost cut this, bitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Read this tonight when you don’t have anything else to do. Way too much info here. Duke

    Hi H.,

    You’d make a good spy, not necessarily a bad thing. The points you make fit nicely into the history of debt in America. If you already know what follows, stop me from afar. I’ll try to hear you. Our history begins with slavery and indentured servitude. Owners of slaves and the rich who had contracts with servants, continually talked about what the slave and the indentured servant “owed them” since the owners and contract holders provided the necessities of life for the workers “free of charge”. Once slavery was abolished and indentured servitude faded, we had the rise of Jim Crow, company farms for share croppers, child labor, unsafe working conditions for most labor, and sweat shops for women. Slowly government reforms (assisted by the vote for women) led to the creation of a number of programs for workers in the 1930s. Much of this was in reaction to the Hooverian policies that made the Depression so much worse than it might have been. After the war, corporations took the lead in placing financial yokes around the necks of workers. They did this by low wages and relatively high prices which meant two things simultaneously: in order to live, the worker could not quit and the banks and corporations were only too happy to provide just enough credit to workers to hook then into interest payments that kept them immobile and afraid of their economic situation. Corporations want to induce a feeling of helplessness among workers. You need only look at the history of strikes in America. It took real guts to go on strike. Look up how many union people were killed and imprisoned. It is impressive. That tradition continues in how Amazon and Tesla treat unions. Workers in these companies vote down unions because they buy into the idea that even though they might be struggling financially, it is better than no job at all. How do you argue with that? So here we sit as capitalisms and corporate profits are stippling the planet of life. To make matters worse, we have a GOP that is essentially anti-environment, anti-science, anti-democratic and are in lockstep with people like the Koch family, Musk, oil and gas, big pharma, etc. America is at heart an oppressive society. Try to dispute what a boss or policeman or insurance company or a conservative/Trumper tells you. The people in power want you to believe the lie of freedom. If you give them too much trouble they turn violent. How can you be free on $15/hour with three kids? It has been that way since the beginning of the American Revolution and the fear of the “mob”, the 3/5s compromise and the slave problem, the bitter struggle for worker rights, the political annihilation of minorities due to old white men controlling the game, and, perhaps more to your points, the induction of slavery-lite by corporations/banks through the use of debt. Personal debt is the killer. Credit cards are little monsters in your pocket. Hopelessness is a way of life that employers love. Cause, you know, they have the world by the tail and nothing is going to stop them, even if all the rest of us burn to death. This is what freedom means in America: the right to die slowly. We are like frogs in the heating pot. Good luck and very nice post. Duke

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Try to dispute what a boss or policeman or insurance company or a conservative/Trumper tells you.” Come on Duke, you’re better than this. Lockstep is a two-way street. Our current Democratic administration is festooned with the same sort of unproductive rhetoric spewing clowns as the last GOP. Here’s the real corker – Want a portrait of (white) privilege? Look no further than the “first” (and second) families. If you can’t propose a solution that’s viable, at least stop the divisive bullshit.
      I have no dog in this fight either way other than to stop the idiotic Aristotelian logic that promotes “us or them, motherfucker’s.” rhetorical stance.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you for taking the time to write such a long comment, Duke. However, although my brain is like Teflon as far as history is concerned, it seems to me that these attitude far predate the events you describe. Perhaps even the shifting of the tectonic plates..


  7. Hi Hetty, I enjoyed reading you rake management over the coals for their nebulous chicanery. I’m reminded of the comic strip Dilbert which captured the reality of Office life in stunning detail and humor. I often thought the source of the comic stories was someone in my office. If I didn’t know better I would assume you were describing a senior military headquarters office where general halftrack is always outwitted by pvt. Beetle Bailey. Regardless, the depth of exposure to the inner workings of retail in a 60 minutes style excoriation was well written, engaging, and most of all captivating in that sense of deja vu.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Hetty, you are right. We have to be careful with whether we are in a fictional comic reality or a real comic reality. Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Boy, do I know this feeling of not taking a break on WordPress because it does catch on up you. It’s one of the few things that I managed to pull myself to do when I was sick. That feeling of staring at all the things you have to do on your return can be intense. Weird how serious we can take something that’s ‘recreational’, huh?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, although it’s technically “recreational,” I think we take it seriously because it is important to us. I never really thought about it before but it does seem to be the case that recreational =/= unserious.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m so happy I’m out of the corporate world but you know, having worked for two large non-profits, they can be just as bad. And at a non-profit you’re generally working for free. People think as boss (manager, whatever) their job is to change you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I work in one of those white collar corporate jobs that looks good on LinkedIn and I still hate this mentality that workers in retail or food service or customer service are somehow “less than”. It’s disgusting and absurd. Retail workers, food service, delivery, etc. these are workers who have had to put up with being on the front lines during COVID, riots and protests, holiday madness, and it makes me sick how our society devalues this whole segment of the population. As for the ambition part, I think it’s 100% valid to be content with the role you’re doing and not be interested in advancement, especially if the reward of “advancement” isn’t aligned to the increased work responsibilities and job bullshit that you’d have to put up with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for understanding. There are so many factors that go into this devaluation that it’s hard to tease out which are the main ones. Underlying all of them, I think, is a basic lack of recognition of humanity, the same humanity they possess, in another person.

      Liked by 1 person

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