A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

23 November 2006

Sometimes You Realize You Had It Good

Metro used to work at an oil recycling shop, driving around in a 5-tonne truck picking up 45-gallon (205 litre) drums of waste oil, oil filters, antifreeze, and other products.

The work was hard, the products we handled, slimy. Surfaces underfoot were treacherous due not to the surfaces themselves but the massive quantity of oil absorbed by the "oil-resistant" soles of our steel-toed boots. Injuries were not unusual. Backs twisted, bruises, cuts.

But every year the boss went crazy with appreciation. He'd spend roughly $23,000 on the Christmas party, where he gave away flat-screen TV's, DVD players, and once, a novelty motor scooter. The first year, Mme Metro and I got a portable DVD player, the second it was an iPod video--both valued at about $300 at the time they were given.

Accompanying the gifts were bonus cheques and various company-related merch. I still wear to work the jacket I got last year. But things have changed. For one thing, I'm not doing the truck-driving thing any more. I've gone white-collar, and make my money by sitting behind a desk stealing other people's best lines and filing the serial numbers off 'em until they look like mine.

So this year I was surprised when the office sales & marketing apparatchik appeared with an envelope. It was labelled "editorial dept".

"Here's the envelope for Stan's gift," she announced chirpily.

It was explained to me thus: for some reason, each department gets its own envelope. "There's no obligation" to contribute. The money is collected and used to purchase our boss Stan--one of the company co-owners--a gift.

I have massive problems with this. For starters, why not simply put a box up in the canteen? Why is it necessary to have each department contribute separately when we all work in the same building? The woman in charge is a smarmy goit who works in sales. She may just think it's good organization, but the perception is that she likes to keep score.

Also, my department has about one-fifth as many employees as hers. If each person puts in $5, her department will produce about $100. Ours will come up with about $25. So to look half as good we each would have to donate twice as much.

And another thing: we've just put behind us the biggest sales month in company history. For the second time, at least. Our work has probably put this guy into a higher tax bracket.

But we should be getting him a present? £μ©λ that!

The first time we broke the sales record, he ordered in 20 pizzas and we had a company lunch. It was a good lunch and we got to talk to people from foreign lands (like marketing, which is more a strange and alien world where YOU GET MORE!!!!).

Anyway, that was nice. The second time, he passed out $2 scratch-and-win lottery tickets. People were overheard to say that they'd have preferred the pizza again. But we were okay with it. Until the television. He gave the sales department, among other little trinkets, a flat-screen TV.

Seeing as sales would have bugger-all to sell without our efforts, we felt just a wee bit resentful. So when I see an envelope marked "Stan's gift", I am, to say the least, ambivalent.

Or am I out to lunch here? Mme Metro has suggested that the situation is aggravated by my change in type of work. But I know very few people who work in a white-collar situation outside my company. Is this usual? Do the well-heeled get presents just for being rich enough to employ other people?

I see this as being totally bass-ackwards. What do you think?


At 3:14 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, I'm glad to be freelancing.

At 3:52 p.m., Blogger The Nag said...

It's always better to receive than to give.

At 8:12 p.m., Blogger Ærchie said...

Sounds like a new way to determine the bottom 20% of employees. You know, the ones who will get a present of a "pink slip" as part of the company renewal program.

At 9:02 p.m., Blogger amanda said...

Last year we all got tins of coffee in our editorial department, followed by a "catered" lunch (catered by Costco no less). But the best gift of all wasn't the extra lump of coal we got to heat the editorial room, it was the week off WITHOUT PAY when they closed the offices for the holidays. Not that I would have traded the days off for any amount of money.

I'm getting little gifts for my fellow editors and immediate boss, but the owners--no.

At 3:13 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Tradin' your hours for a hand fulla dimes."
This year everybody had to work extra hard because of staffing shortages and a record year of profit. As a reward the Christmas party was cancelled, because the usual crew of volunteers that organize the event were too busy working extra hard to make record profits.
I guess after counting all that money they decided that hiring an outside source to arrange the party was far too expensive. After all they still had to pay the managers their yearly bonus for keeping costs down and still making the company all that money.
Still, they can't seem to understand the complete lack of loyalty from the other employees.
I'd put in a symbolic 2 cents.


At 8:35 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

Okay, so it's not just me ...

Actually, I kind of knew that. I talked to a couple of co-workers. One of them summed it up exceedingly well, I think:

"I'll put in the whole of my raises from the past two years".

And c'mon Barb--you're telling us you're not greasing any palms out there at the Walrus et al?

Surely you don't expect us to believe being an excellent writer's enough?

At 12:43 p.m., Blogger Philipa said...

"Do the well-heeled get presents just for being rich enough to employ other people?"
Yes, they traditionally appreciate blue collar workers who are perceived to produce something/work as opposed to white collar workers who sit around drinking coffee and moaning and who should be eternally grateful for the privalege of a warm office and a salary, not a wage.

"I see this as being totally bass-ackwards. What do you think?"
I agree totally. Some people just lie but I've always been hopeless at it.

At 8:26 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol, Metro.

I sent you an email, but I'm not sure if I used the right address. You know where to find me...


At 3:24 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I was lying in 8 inches of snow during our -25 cold snap (-37 wind chill)flailing away at a frozen brake drum with a sledgehammer at 1:30am I thought "maybe white collar work isn't so bad after all".


At 5:46 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

Thanks for the pick-me-up, IH. This indoor business does have its advantages.

Did the putz who let the drum freeze buy you a coffee at least?


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