Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Selections from the Prison Notebooks...

As I've mentioned before I spent a year in the "real world" working for an actual corporation before I entered grad school. While this may sound very impressive, it really doesn't warrant any particular respect from anyone. The company I worked for was so staggeringly incompetent that my coworker and I often remarked that working for Satan would be an improvement. I mean, sure, he would be the source of all evil, but by all accounts the Prince of Darkness has definite goals, a clear business plan, and is quite a leader... even if he leads only into temptation.

In any case, while I held this job I used to take copious notes on a set of legal pads. Initially, before my innocence was forever ripped from my grasp, these pads were an earnest attempt to keep track of the details of my job. Over time, as it became increasingly apparent that my job was, at best, punishment for some wrong-doing in a past life, they became an outlet for my desperate frustration.

While searching my apartment for something recently, I came across the stack of pads that I accumulated during my tenure at this company. Why did I keep them, you ask? Well, I'll give you the answer I give everyone else: so that I can remember the necessary details when the subpoena is served.

Stop laughing, I'm completely serious.

This job was, in short, like serving time in prison and these pads were my very own Gramsci-esque notebooks. Now, like many authors, some sociologists have produced their best work while in prison, achieving insights that might have been impossible beyond the stagnant walls of jail. I am not one of those sociologists. Still, there are occasional amusing comments scribbled in the margins of these notebooks and, for lack of anything better to do, I've decided to share some. Feel free to ignore the remainder of this post as it is largely unimportant drivel. I'll indicate which notebook a given set of comments derive from as this allows you to track my descent into bitter madness more clearly. This post includes only the first three notebooks.

Notebook 1

The beginning. During this early period I was genuinely trying to do my job... mostly because I believed that such a thing actually existed. There are only one or two comments of any value in this notepad, but it's important to keep in mind that this pad covers the first two weeks of my employment when I was just supposed to sit next to my boss all day and watch him type. It also covers the very beginning of what would turn into a several-week argument via fax machine about a chi-squared test.

"How do we kill Dellhost? Maybe a wooden stake?"

"Machine down. We're screwed."

"Tap. Tap. Tap. All day with the tapping."

Notebook 2

See? I told you that earlier shit was brief. This second notebook covers my dawning comprehension that I had been cursed.

"Can we administer a server ourselves? Well, since you're an idiot and I know jack about networking..."

"So... if we aren't tracking client ID's over more than one session, why do we need to look up ID's in the first place? Fun?"

"Bob [a contractor] couldn't find his own asshole with both hands and a bad smell."

"Shit is resolved! OMG, we fixed something!!"

"Where the hell did the overflow come from? The contractors shall die!"

"He actually called me on his own initiative to offer help? Go Steve!"

"Possible names for product: Hemorragic Fever"

"He's in Manhattan. Oooh, I'm soooo impressed. Feh."

The following comes out of my first performance review:


No personality problems with others so far. (You just don't know me yet.)

Creative, reliable. (And that's just in bed.)

Willing to tackle problems. (For a fee, beat the shit out of them too.)

Thoughtful, responsible. (Um... really?)

Very good, just nervous sometimes. (Nah, it's just all the amphetamines.)

Needs Improvement:

Stuffy. (Bwahahahahaha!!!!)

Moving right along...

Notebook 3

By this point my officemate had been hired and I was starting to get well and truly annoyed with things. This is particularly the case with our lack of a product design, as I was sketching designs in my notebooks just to try and keep things clear in my own mind.

"Discussion: SEC situation. Conclusion: Don't piss them off. Did we really need to talk about it for an hour to figure that out?"

"How do we nicely explain that our sponsors are ashamed of us?"

"These people are SO fucking us! I mean, we don't need any help with that. We can do it just fine on our own."

"Write up documents on employee retirement accounts. A little premature, I think."

"Should we use Simon? Well, he's basically useless except for show."

"The contractors want a design document from us? HALLELUJAH!!"

"Is this product good for transvestites?"

"RandomGenericCompany- Our future owners I'll bet. Their system requires more training, more maintenance, and is more expensive, but is still better than ours. You know, in that it works."

"Simon: Doesn't like the strategy, but doesn't have any useful suggestions. Ignore him and hope he goes away."

"The purpose for this trip is 'getting things moving.' i.e. no good, specific reason."

"'Build options into our design.' How do we do what when we don't have a DESIGN DOCUMENT?!"

"Meeting from 10:00-12:30: Long pointless argument."

"Man, I don't trust this guy."

"Problem resolved. Verdict: Steve is a dumbass."

"We need to add office expenses to budgets. Not really sure why, but I'll try anything for a laugh."

"Steve is a twit. We all know it, even him."

"Meeting 1:30-3:00: Long pointless argument."

"Documentation is still being written and will continue into the foreseeable future because as long as it's all 'draft' we can't be sued. I feel so dirty right now."

Well, wasn't that fun? No? Well, fuck you too. Given how busy I am this week, you're lucky I didn't just type the work "Ass" over and over again for today's post.

Hey, come to think of it... that's not half-bad.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Those notes look eerily like my notes from the last desk job I had, except that in my case "Meeting from 10:00-12:30: Long pointless argument" read "Meeting from 10:00-12:30: Long pointless discussion, partly in Chinese."

I don't speak Chinese.

Now if you'll excuse me, my PTSD is kicking in.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005 7:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will all of you academic swine (not just you Drek, also my academic friends, and random complaining ninnies) please shut about your ridiculously short corporate experiences? I feel like kicking all you whining whinging bearded - or not - nancy boys for even mentioning it. Can Do attititude, my darlings, where is it? Business acumen? Negotiation skills? Or for that matter people skills?
MuhahahahaHA I shall now go and lead a meeting the way god intented us to, and conquer the WORLD. Sissies. Overeducated pansies.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 8:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reason number two why some of your commenters prefer to remain anonymous.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 8:41:00 AM  
Blogger Drek said...

Hey Anonymous,

Well, you're obviously blessed with an abundance of people-skills yourself! Please bestow your wisdom upon us, oh great one.

Just don't piss off a balcony during a meeting like my old boss. That was fairly disconcerting.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 9:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I promise I won't urinate off any balcony at any time. It would be fairly difficult.

There are always some people who couldn't tell a bit of irony if it bit them in the arse with dentures; glad you're not one. Seriously, of course I have doubts about selling my soul to a corporation, but you know what? I do have a competent manager with excellent people skills - a fluke I admit. Things go well at least 47% of the time. I get (re-)trained on relevant bits and bobs at least once a month. I even have a career if I choose to pursue one, and a dozen decent options. And damn it, yes, I actually am good at leading meetings. Does that mean I am happy in my job? Yes. No. Sometimes.

As for being anonymous - call me Ishmael. *grins*

Friday, April 01, 2005 12:04:00 AM  
Blogger Drek said...

Hey "Ishmael"

I, of course, didn't mean that the corporate world as a whole is necessarily a den of snivelling incompetence. Frankly, such an argument would run counter to sociology's traditional wariness when it comes to private industry. After all: why be wary of something that is utterly incapable of getting anything done?

I was merely recounting tales from my past employment, which was rather dramatically awful. If your job is good, then I commend your good fortune.

Glad to have you around the blog.

Friday, April 01, 2005 9:08:00 AM  

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