Thanks for the pen.

I was talking to a friend tonight about her crap office job, and thinking that about half the people I read on the elljay have crap office jobs of one kind or another. They all work for neurotic incompetent failures who bully them, are paid badly and screwed on their benefits, and get impossible workloads followed by blame dumped on their heads.

This is because I know lots of people who are around 25, and if you’re a smart 25-year-old finding a career you end up being the slavey for 35-year-old failures who’ve topped out at the supervisor level. They may start out human, but quickly decay into little Napoleons in chinos. There’s a pompous, patronizing sadism this sort of toy emperor practices that’s just the thing for grinding down younger, smarter employees.

I used technical skills to get out of this mess quickly and only had a couple of jobs this bad. Most of my friends, though, spent the 1990s working in places like this: temp office gigs, entertainment companies, variants on Innotech. Greg worked in a mailroom at a movie company for a while. His supervisor was too old to be the mailroom supervisor and be going anywhere, but had delusions of a future. He dressed for success, combined over his bald spot, and lied to his bosses about his skill at cost-cutting and improving efficiency. He made sure that no one got raises or got to use their vacation time, and never paid overtime, to show that he was made for the corner office. Once, unbidden, he decided to let everyone in his domain know what he was destined to achieve: “I see myself, in ten years or so, in an executive position. Because that’s my goal, and I achieve my goals. I am going to have a mistress, and my own jet, and three houses”. The young musicians and artists and soon-to-be graduate students sat there as the 35-year-old single mailroom supervisor from Burbank told tales of his future empire.

Greg wrote a song for him that was recorded on the Ferdinand CD Demoted to Greeter, a record that more than any other tells the story of all of us 80s kids getting fucked by the 90s. Here it is:

Thanks for the Pen (mp3, 2.9 MB). It’s pretty loud and thrashy.

Let’s call it as it is
You don’t care
You won’t back me up
Thanks for the pen!
I got it right here…
Thanks for the pen
Gonna throw it right back at you

7 thoughts on “Thanks for the pen.

  1. They may start out human, but quickly decay into little Napoleons in chinos.
    Unfortunately, we have one of those running around here too. It’s convenient though, he’s short.


  2. The sad part is you can see it coming a mile away too. The over eager yes-men who nod at every comment, smile as if they know exactly were you’re going with your point in a meeting before you even do, and persistantly comment on every point no matter how redundant their statement.
    I hit “executive level” by 30 and I’m already burning out on it because of having to deal with personalities. It’s sad to see technical people being stuck in the technical-non-promotable position. Many technical people have a clarity of vision honed by years of dealing with logic and methodology, yet they’ll never be promoted to management due to a) the valuable technical experience, and b) the stigma of lack of interpersonal skills in techical people.
    In short, management sucks, burn them all (just not me, I’m nice.. really).


    1. I was a manager for 1.5 years. I survived this by basically working for my “subordinates”; shielding them from corporate stupidity, making it easier for them to get actual work done, and trying to make their environment more comfortable. It’s amazing how well that worked for them, the management, and my career.


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