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

08 October 2008

Great. I'm a £µ©λing Plant

So I get a mysterious email from "Jenny", one of our product managers:

"Metro, when you have a minute could you come by and see me?"

Quick mental review:No porn on workplace computer? Check. No office supplies in my trunk? Check. No blogging from work ... Uh-oh. Oh well.

In other words I have no idea what she could possibly want of me.

My managing editor is waiting in the office, but it turns out she's not supposed to be there with me.

"You're not even supposed to know about this," says Jenny. My boss raises her eyebrows and leaves.

"Have a seat, Metro." Jenny says, smiling.

Vaguely reassured, I sit.

"As you know, we're having this company meeting today. And we're ... we want ideas about how to increase renewals ..."

I look blank. I'm a writer. Renewals are surely a sales issue, right?

"So we'd like ..."

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that when some official uses we'd like, the thing we'd like is never good?

" ... you to just, you know, be in the crowd, and when Bossa Nova asks what the different departments can do to increase renewals, maybe you'd have an idea ..."

Understanding dawns, sorta. So does the phrase Potemkin village.

"And," I inquire "do you have any ideas ready?"

Turns out she doesn't. Oddly, this makes me feel better. I vouchsafe a couple.

"So if Bossa Nova was to call on you, you'd have an idea ready?"

Great. Just £µ©λing great. I am beginning to understand how Colin Powell found himself before the UN presenting fictional evidence on yellowcake. The only redeeming grace of this is that they've actually asked me for my own idea.

On the way back to my desk I stop in and ask my boss whether she thinks the management knows what a Potemkin village is.

I wonder what they'd say if Bossa Nova lobbed the loaded question over to me and I responded with:

"Well, as Jenny and I discussed in her office today ..."

I'm seriously wondering what they'd do if I waited for the bait question and said:
"Well, as we discussed in your office prior in preparation for this meeting ..."

Bossa Nova gave a tortuous talk c/w PowerPoint. He never once noticed me.

Afterward, Jenny came by and said "Oh, I think he was looking for you, in the crowd
(of about twenty, in a small room)."

"Ah," I replied "That would be me? In the lemon-yellow shirt?" Pointing at same.

Okay, so I lurked around the back but it wasn't like I was avoiding being the company Judas goat.

Or maybe it was.

You see, what they're doing now is finding out that ideas cost money. So they have these stupid contests where the idea is for the workforce to come up with ideas to sell the product. Then they get a sea of ideas for the peanuts they pay around here, plus some "prize" which assessed honestly might approach one-hundredth of the value of the revenue generated by said ideas.

In the current case, the "Race for the top" seeks to generate $3 mil in revenue. Everyone is expected to contribute, and at the end the whole company will get some unspecified event.

"How much fun the event is," says Bossa Nova, grinning like an enthusiastic schizoid off his meds, "Depends on how close we get to that $3 million."

I lean into the ear of the girl in front of me:
"I think that means that if we only make a million, they'll take us to church."

I'm from the most exploited department in the company. Our attitude with reference to adding "sales" to our responsibilities, quite frankly, is spelt with two "u"s.

Worse, we're totally overlooked. Our company has had record growth and profits for the past three years. My colleagues haven't had a raise in four, let alone a bonus. The sales team gets recognition and bonuses. During the stupid meeting the boss singled out the IT department for praise despite the fact that everything they've touched turned to $#17 in the past two months, and my boss has largely been working overtime putting out the fires. Including the one that resulted this morning when a daily newsletter failed to leave the building, and there was no-one in IT to handle the problem. My boss isn't allowed to touch that stuff, despite being about 110% responsible for it in the eyes of management.

Worse, the non-voting gen-Y yutz I mentioned earlier also got an "above-and-beyond" award, despite being an unco-operative sonofabitch in a company where passive aggression is occasionally expressed at posisitively artisic skill levels.

And for these guys I'm supposed to play Poindexter (or Ollie North) and chirp up with free suggestions from the sidelines?

My attitude to this is accuarately summed up in two words.

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At 7:52 p.m., Blogger Silverstar said...

Oh, come on, don't mince words. Tell us how you really feel.

At 9:06 p.m., Anonymous PJ said...

Funny, without *your* department, their product would be an advertising flyer.

At 9:58 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

Well okay then, I totally will!

Who would they get to write the advertising? Marketing was hopeless at it, so they hired a marketing writer. He's not part of editorial, but he oughta be.

At 9:24 a.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...


Shuffles nervously from left talon .... and back to right talon, nervously

I flatter myself that I agree with Monsiuer Metro on so many things .... apart of course from Politics and Religion and whether there should be any abatement of Mrs Palin's Constitootional Right to shoot ferocious Amerikan-Tourist-munching Tree Oktopodia from a Helicopter

..... but mmmm ....

What about reversing roles - if you had Jenny's job, while Jenny had your job .... and you were anxious about losing your job if Jenny's help were not forthcoming

... and you asked Jenny for help because you thought she had something to bring to the Party that might make the Company (and your position in it) survive the present recesson

How would YOU feel if Jenny couldn't be bothered to help .....

... and what if the Company went bankrupt while ALL of its employees find the BEST of reasons to decline to help

Just asking in a SchPirit of pScientific inquiry

At 8:50 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

A worthy question, good sir Eagle.

However, 1) this company is in no danger of bankruptcy--record profits lo these last three years, and the record highest sales month was last month.

2) Even if 'twere so, is that a good reason to plant stooges at company meetings?

I found out yesterday arvo that I was picked because the first person they asked refused point blank though, alas, not on moral grounds: He has a horror of public speaking.

And had they tried to actually put words into my mouth, I would have turned them down flat. As i said earlier, the only reason I said "yes" was that they were willing to let me bring my own actual ideas forward.

At 9:41 a.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Dear Monsieur Metro

Points well made

Sorry to have been so pompous - I am old enough to know the perils of mis-spelling monsieur, while uttering superficial judgment, while minimally embarrrasssed by enough knopwledge of the circumstances

Yr obedient servant etc


At 9:43 a.m., Anonymous G Eagle's redaktor said...

Confounded SchPell-checker !!!

As Eeyore (Winnie the Poohh's friend) opined :

"I don't care who you blame, as long as you don't blame me"

At 3:22 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

The spilling chequer is my fiend.

And I found your query well-reasoned and not particularly pompous.

At 9:57 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, you are the second person in your dept. who came to mind when they were trying to think of someone who can speak intelligently and can be easily manipulated, yes?



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