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We see what we feel.

When I started my life at my current company, it was only supposed to be a day job. I had completely uprooted my life. Something inside me snapped and I broke up with my boyfriend , I quit my job and found a new place to live. On a Friday in the middle of may of 1999 I left my job at the investment bank early. I had registered with a temp agency and they had asked if I could help them out with a quick one day job from 4-7pm. I walked from one job to the other. The new company was named CKS but when I arrived there was a makeshift sign behind the receptionist that said USWeb/CKS. I guess they had just merged with another company.

My job that day was to help out with a moving computers in a cube shuffle. I sat in the reception area for quite some time before Jason, the person I was reporting to was able to speak to me. He apologized to me, explaining that there was a lot going on today. I agreed with him, thinking about myself. The move went smoothly, I was extremely fast at moving computers due to the constant jockeying by junior investment bankers vying to get that much closer to a corner office. At the end of the day as I was ready to leave, coat in hand, Jason asked me if I could come back on Monday. He confided in me that almost the entire IT team had quit because they were unhappy about the merger. He wasn’t even a member of IT, he was in charge of Rich Media.

I was happy I wouldn’t have to worry if I would be placed on Monday. I already had a job for another few days. The end of each day Jason would ask me if I would come back the next day. By Friday he asked if I could come in next week. I felt like I was a prisoner of the Dread Pirate Roberts from the Princess Bride. “Good job today Wesley, I’ll likely kill you tomorrow.” But soon Jason said to me he wanted me to keep coming in everyday until I was told otherwise. Yippeeee! Like Wesley I was moving up, soon I would be in charge of this pirate ship.

In anticipation of consolidating all the smaller offices into one supper office everyone had their pictures taken so they could be put on our security badges. They had setup the hallway into mall style glamour shots! It was hilarious. I loved my photo, I was holding back a laugh that showed brightly in my smile. I had just shaved my head for the first time and with my long locks gone I seemed to shed the boyish looks that always had guys asking me if I was over 18.

The merger between CKS and USWeb was the first of many name changes. It was a like a rollercoaster of bad names. USWeb/CKS plummeted to the horrible name marchFIRST (the grammar alone hurt my soul) after gobbling up Scient, Whitman-Heart/MMG and a few other companies. This was the disastrous name change that sent the company to be number one on fuckedcompany.com for months. Twenty six rounds of layoffs later the company went from having 4000 employees to about 200 spread over four offices. We were bankrupt. My coworker Chad started to fill his cube with the pictures he peeled from the badges of former employees. His cube was like a dot.com graveyard. Finally Chad was RIFed (Reduction In Force) too. His cube was cleaned of the ghosts of former employees.

Then we were bought by SBI a company in Utah who enjoyed buying companies for cheep fixing their business models and turning into profitable well run companies.Time was good under SBI. I had a crush on very sexy full bottomed Hungarian engineer named Lazlo. I was always surprised others couldn’t see what I saw. When he quit I took peeled his picture off his badge, pulled my badge out and stuck his picture on the back of mine. When I turned my badge over to see how faded my picture had become, I was really shocked. I never pulled it out of my wallet. I never looked at it. I thought it was fitting that it looked as worn out as my time with this company and all I had been though had made me feel. I was in sync with my badge.

Eventually SBI sold us off to Razorfish and there were several more mergers. Somewhere along the line new hires were no longer photographed for their badges. Most of the old employees had lost or broken their badge at some point and were issued new badges without a photo. I was told I had the oldest badge in the system. I don’t think anyone else still has a photo badge.

A few months ago I pulled out my badge to show someone the picture of how young I looked like when I started here. She had a confused look on her face, I realized I had the badge turned the wrong way and she was looking at Lazlo’s picture. Once she saw the real picture she said I look like a baby. I loved the look on her face when she thought I looked like sexy Hungarian. I decided it was time to remove his picture from the back of my badge, my wallet was too thick and full of crap. My wallet needed a cleansing and there was no need to carry a picture of a ghost anymore.

When Olivia quit, Pulled out my badge again. Looking at how my picture had faded so much I was almost transparent. I was just a shadow of the boy I used to be. There was no sparkle in my eye anymore. My skin had gone from a rosy pink color to a unhealthy looking cream. My smile was still firmly in place but the sharpened details were gone.

I peeled my picture from my badge. I wanted to stop my picture from aging. My company no longer had photo badges. They no longer cared for what us ancients went through, the experience and history we brought with us. They feel that we can be replaced by younger people with a drive to please. They are right, but they are going to lose everything that was special. Slowly our company has gone from a fine wine restaurant to a drive through.

It occurred to me that since my badge and I had always been in sync it was appropriate that it be blank like everyone else's. I’ve checked out. I did after I was told by someone who lips are hovered to upper management behinds that “It’s time for some of these oldsters (yes, she said oldsters) to leave so us newer people can shine.” Apparently she forgot I am one of the oldest employees in our office. It is time for me to go. I have no path. I work with someone who also has no path and is trapped and miserable. He makes me miserable. It is time to go.

So I interviewed. I made a great impression. I was just myself, they said I was a perfect fit for the company... But there was another applicant who was hungry for a new job where I was willing to wait. So they gave the job to the other person. But they made it very clear they are still planning on hiring me in a month or so. Fingers crossed. I think I’m a good fit for their company too, it’s full of fun happy people.

I’m looking forward to making my wallet even thinner be removing my 7 year old badge completely. I’m really amazed it’s stuck with me the whole time.






Grace - Jeff Buckley - Grace

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
fingertrouble
Sep. 12th, 2006 01:20 am (UTC)
beautiful but sad story - I too have been last man standing in a department (a small one, but from 10 people to 1 in just over a year) and you don't get a prize. Although you must have been useful to survive all that, I find that the more useful I was, the less it served my career...funny but true.

So probably time to go...
write_like_krzy
Sep. 12th, 2006 01:38 am (UTC)
Worn thin.
I fear that it's time for me to set off on my own new job search. I took a giant leap last August when I took the job I have now (after having my old one for 7 years), but little did I know, the new job wears a person thin after a year or so by history.
sisyphus238
Sep. 12th, 2006 01:53 am (UTC)
Working with happy people is important. Good luck. I suspect you'd probably be a good fit in nearly any 'good' company.
itsolivia
Sep. 12th, 2006 04:25 am (UTC)
reading this just made me reilive everything. I am crossing every finger for you to get that job!!!!!!
ewe_2
Sep. 12th, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC)
Good luck *hugs* sent your way bud.

As always I loved the story. A great perspective of things. I felt what you wrote. After 29 years I hope things work out so I can start something new next year. I'm not holding my breath that it will. But here's to hoping and dreams.

:-)

D
southernpm
Sep. 12th, 2006 05:15 pm (UTC)
There are times when you just express things so beautifully and well.

I'll keep you in my thoughts and send out good vibes for your new job.
walterwz
Sep. 13th, 2006 03:48 pm (UTC)
Trying Not to Gush
This is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read. You definitely capture the spirit of the times here.

Thanks
monkeyx3
Sep. 14th, 2006 02:29 am (UTC)
Re: Trying Not to Gush
Wow, Thank you very much Walter. That is a really powerful compliment knowing all the great journals you read. Thank you!
shamandl
Sep. 14th, 2006 07:33 pm (UTC)
You have a wondeful knack for bringing me along for the ride. I love the texture in your writing. You are an amazing man and wherever you land, the place is always the better. Love and peace to you Monkey!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )