I haven’t worked outside of my writing efforts since leaving IBM a few years ago.
The work with big blue had some pleasantries outside of the obvious of paychecks and health benefits. Some of it was challenging and rewarding, and helped validate my sense of my abilities. Some impressive technologies were being developed, and I had some very talented and capable co-workers.
I disliked huge chunks of it, though. The bureaucratic nature was stifling. Worse, though, not just with IBM, but with the other companies that employed me, were the exhortations that we were family or a team. My wife used to tell people, whenever your boss said you were part of a family, watch out.
The family comparison was always a huge reach, unless you were talking about dysfunctional families. I knew little about co-workers, and they knew little about me. That became truer as many of us worked remotely from our homes, doing telecommutes. As that happened, IBM also cut down on celebrations. No more buying birthday cakes, having team lunches, or Friday donuts, even if people worked on a campus. Few pauses were provided to celebrate and reflect on how well things were going. We no longer visited the offices for a face-to-face connection in order to reduce costs.
That was my experience. Others probably have different experiences, depending upon their division, campus, work center, manager, and middle and upper management. I had thirteen bosses at one point in that organization. I heard the top bosses, the vice-presidents and SVPs once a quarter during a one-hour “town hall” meeting where we were told the financial results. Note, they didn’t call it a family reunion or team meeting. I heard from mid-level execs more often, like whenever something went wrong. They were very heavy-handed and hands-on then. I didn’t hear from them when things were going right. It was silent as a prairie, then.
They’re right in that we were a family, because, like a family, there’s no end in sight, not unless you left. People often left without the rest of us being told. Typically, you dialed into a meeting, and gosh, folks were gone. How is that for family?
As far as being a team, if we were a team, it was a team with an infinite season. It was a team for which we played a sport for which there was no championship, no victory parades, no champions’ laurels. It was just, “Let’s go, team,” every few weeks on the phone, or every few days on an email.
So, yeah, I don’t miss either of those false labels, team and family. They were a business, out to improve revenues, cut costs, and improve profit margins. Remote and focused on the bottom line, I don’t miss that family or team.
I’m sure they don’t miss me, either.
Floofasetic (floofinition) – a very satisfied housepet; a satisfying relationship with or between housepets.
In use: “The dog and cat slept together during most of the day, visiting the back yard together, eating side-by-side, and sleeping with their master on the sofa at night. The harmony was floofasetic.”
In honor of the gopher dream that I had last night, I thought I’d use Kenny Loggins’ song, “I’m Alright” from Caddyshack (1980).
As an outside, I was stationed in Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, the following year. VCRs were becoming big. We bought one. Caddyshack was one of the first movies we rented and played on it. A popular movie, it was played in the MAC Terminal to entertain people while they awaited flights. The command post where I worked was located in that terminal. It seemed like it was on whenever I left the command post. It came to drive me nuts.
I haven’t seen it in years, and I don’t want to see it, thank you. Meanwhile, Kenny did pretty good with movie songs for a while, didn’t he?
Walking this morning and thinking about writing and music, I suddenly recalled last night’s gopher dream. OMG, how could I forget it?
It was so weird but so nothing. What dream about gophers isn’t weird? They are for me, because I don’t have memories about dreams with gophers.
Basically, the dream found me cooking. The house I was in wasn’t any that I live in, but I knew it as my house. I don’t know what I was cooking except that I was tending a pot on a white porcelain stove. To my left was a lawn area, but the lawn area was in my house. That took me a bit to put together as I was cooking, because the lawn’s surrounding walls were interior house walls.
As I cooked, stirring the pot and peering in at the contents, I realized something was moving in the lawn. A few newspaper sections were on the ground. Something had moved under one of them.
While I’m cooking and pondering this, a female friend entered and started chatting with me. Then she said, “Oh my God, I think I just saw an animal in your grass.”
“Yes,” I said, “I thought I saw something before.”
I stopped cooking to check it out. As I did, I found, yep, a hole under the newspaper section. I didn’t know what made it but while I was checking it out, a big gopher popped out of another hole and looked at me. Then it ducked back.
I had gophers in my lawn in my house, but I was till cooking, and returned to the stove. As I cooked, another large gopher popped up from a different hole. I realized I had more holes than I thought. There were more and new holes. Holy crap.
About that time, my wife entered. As the female friend explained what was happening, my wife went onto the lawn to look at the holes. Comically, she’d go by a hole, and the gopher would pop up behind her, but she would never see them. More newspaper sections were on the lawn, too.
My wife finally went to the corner. Pulling back sections of newspaper, she peered into an exposed hole with our female friend beside her. “M,” my wife said, “you should come and see this.”
“I know,” I answered. “We have holes. Gophers are causing it.” As I said that, several gophers popped out of holes. They were all looking at me. My wife, with her back turned to them as she studied the hole, never saw them.
There is a post script.
Working on this section of novel, I’ve been dismayed. There are holes in the part I’m editing. Thinking about it, I realized there were holes in the proceeding chapters to these chapters. That’s where I think I need to put some energy and effort to improve it.
After I thought about that, remembered the gopher dream, and typed it up here, I realized the gopher dream was about the holes. I was cookin’, yer know? Writin’ and editin’, everything was copasetic. Doin’ good and feein’ fine. Then, suddenly….mmm…this isn’t working. Drat.
I decided that’s what the gopher dream was about. I’d missed holes. They’re paper over but if I look, their cause can be seen.
Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Got my coffee. Time to start editing and writing like crazy, at least one more time in 2018.