Hey! Get a clue!

A poisoned office atmosphere. Anyone who has worked in the office environment is, undoubtedly, familiar with the phenomenon. All it takes is one person to “stank” up an office. Unfortunately, there is usually more than one and they seem to gravitate toward a ringleader. The ringleader spreads discontent, animosity and loves malicious gossip, of any sort. These people seem to get high off it. The more trouble or unrest they cause? The happier they seem.

An office environment is a wonder in the study of psychology. Fascinating stuff. You can find all sorts of neuroses right there, in front of you, walking and talking. It’s great if you are a lover of observing human behaviour. I happen to count myself among those who love watching people interact, how they interact and why. Call it a voyeuristic hobby, if you wish.

I had a rare opportunity recently. Due to a minor medical condition, I was off work for about 6 weeks. Time to be removed from the office maelstrom. Time to recharge, refresh the mental batteries although by the end of the 6 weeks, I was more than happy to be going back to work.

I have friends who have been used, abused and tossed aside only to rise up from the ashes, take life on and move forward. I brook no excuses from people for inflicting misery on others. Particularly in the workplace. Work is what we do – we all march in come the morning, we are paid to do a job. We aren’t paid to gossip, we aren’t paid to make the lives of our co-workers a trial. We aren’t paid to hit targets on the backs of our confreres. We may not like each other but that simply doesn’t matter. Jobs need to be done and if you are doing your job, properly, then? In this world of downsized offices, of LEAN and Kaizen? Then you don’t have time to gossip, to worry about whether or not someone else has more work than do you. That’s not what you are paid to do. For those 8 hours, you are responsible to the company for your time. If your job description does not say that you are responsible for office doom-speak, nasty comments and wasting everyone’s time? Then you can rest assured, you are not doing your job.

I work for a corporation. I work for a very, very large corporation and the almost amusing gall of some of the folks with whom I work, sometimes just makes my jaw drop. How can anyone not understand how an international corporation works?

A corporation has no feelings, no empathy, no humanity. A corporation is a thing. It isn’t a person or even a group of people. It is numbers on the NASDAQ. It is intangible, it doesn’t think, it simply rolls along collecting cash wherever and whenever possible. The employees are liabilities, in the grand scheme of things. If a corporation could replace humans with computers, it would. Human Resource departments aren’t there for the benefit of the employees. They are there to keep the peons in line, to avoid law suits. Understand that and you are well on your way to, perhaps, making the most of your day at the office.

Branch managers or Operations managers are in an even more precarious situation than are the peons. They are in the middle of a rock and a hard place. I wouldn’t take on the role of a manager or supervisor; it isn’t worth the impact on your life. A manager is more disposable than a well-trained clerk. If employees are messing up in their work-a-day world, enough so that there is an impact to the bottom line? Out they go. There is always another body just dying to step behind the desk.

I understand wanting the money. It buys more, pays more bills but that balance sheet includes your life and for me, that cost is too high. I used to want to rise up the old corporate ladder but somewhere along the line, my eyes were opened. Is it my faith? I would have to say that this would be a “Yes.” I have no desire to be part of the big machine anymore. I want to do my job, work my 8 hours and spend the next 16 doing what I want to do, be with whom I choose. I don’t want the corporation to get its tentacles into my life. This is my life, it is a gift given, solely, to me. It isn’t meant to be shared with anyone except those who can enhance it. Human beings. Not a faceless corporate entity.

This is where so many people seem to misinterpret life. They are what they do for the company and they harbour some sort of fantasy that the company actually cares what you think or how you feel. This belief is somewhat akin to a belief in the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. It is totally ridiculous. The equation of working is so simple yet people make it so difficult. Work is not your life. Your co-workers are not your family. When you leave or retire, in a week’s time, it will be as if you never existed. Doesn’t matter to what level you manage to scramble, you will not matter a damn a week after you’re gone. To work is to work. You go through the doors, if you have any personal pride or dignity; you do the best you can for those 8 hours. You do the job you are paid to do and you leave with a clear conscience. What is the point of being miserable or making the lives of others miserable? Everyone from the C.E.O. to the building maintenance folk are all in the same boat.

I don’t care if you don’t like so and so. I don’t care what so and so does in their private lives. I don’t care if you think you are underappreciated – call your mother if you need a self-esteem boost.

We are simply doing a job that has no lasting impact on our lives or our souls. The world keeps turning; people keep dying and what you do? Won’t stop it. Accept it. Do your job and shut the hell up. Offices would be far more effective and financially successful if those one or two poisonous personalities would get this very simple clue.

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