The other day was strange. I was in Panera and walked past a table of business folk. Then looked over at a dude in business clothes, dressed to the nines, coat and all, waiting on someone. Since then I’ve been trying to place words to my feelings at that moment. I finally settled on repugnance. And that bothers me and doesn’t, all at the same time.
Why does it bother me? Because I’ve been a part of it for the last five years. I’ve been to the interviews. I’ve sent out the letters. I’ve looked people in the eyes and seen, sometimes, into their corporate souls. And on the surface, you would think, there’s nothing wrong with people dressing up and acting a certain way, some would say professional, in order to fit in, get a job, and keep a job. Maybe I’m just an idiot with an authority complex.
Why doesn’t it bother me? Because as Holden Caulfield might say, “It’s too goddamn phony for chissakes.” It really is. Business attitudes can be expressed in a simple symbol. The tie. A completely fucking useless accessory. You don’t see blue collar workers in ties because it would result in someone’s head being jerked into a piece of machinery. What it says is I am not a blue collar worker. How did this irritating piece of faux clothing even come into being? Turns out the Parisians caught on to a fashion statement made by Croatian mercenaries in the mid-17th century. Stupid fucking mercenaries. Ties are something that symbolize status. That’s it. But what they really represent is something for corporate minions to grab ahold to when they teabag you with bullshit acronyms, extra weekly hours, mindless adherence to policy, layoffs, and fake smiles that cover their extreme indifference.
It’s a rat race. And that’s cliché but completely true. Read a book called the Psychopath Test. It makes perfect sense. All the psychopaths are at the top. Why? Because that’s what it takes to get ahead and stay ahead. The ability to put on an insanely sincere and happy mask and then fire 10 percent of your workforce. And sleep like a baby that night.
And the same guy who will be laying you off next year and forgetting you existed by the next day, this is the guy sitting across from you today in the interview with a look of reserved entitlement. A look that says impress me if you can. I’ve seen hundreds of them just like you come and go. And then they mutter something like, “So why do you want to work for us?” that shows the extent of their egoism. Think about this question for a second. What they will tell you is that a good answer shows you’ve researched their company, done your homework. What? I don’t even have a job yet and you’re assigning me homework. What they want to hear is you tell them how wonderful their company is. What a conceited, self-absorbed question. Their company is no different than any other corporate behemoth. Cold, indifferent, apathetic. You conform and don’t complain until they are done with you.
Let me ask you something. Those of you who have been let go, for whatever reason, from your jobs. How much advance notice did you get? None, right? And you probably got escorted immediately from the building like a common criminal. But what do they want from you? Two weeks or more notice. We owe you nothing, you give us everything. Hypocritical bullshit.
So in the end it comes down to this. You are striving and giving everything you have to impress someone who doesn’t give a shit whether or not you exist. It’s kind of like marriage. I know, I know. But a few you are laughing. I can’t make everygoddamnbody happy (Love you Sweetie!).
I know how far you get in life and how stable that life is depends on how much bullshit you can put up with. Which is unfortunate for me. Because the more I’m here on this planet, the less and less able I am to swallow large amounts of idiocy with a smile. Unprofessional, some might say. If the definition of unprofessional is not buying into the fake smile, not being able to put up with mass amounts of bullshit, and trying to impress people who don’t give a rat’s ass about me, then yes. I am an unprofessional.
And maybe that’s what it was that was bothering me. The man at the table was a professional. And I am an unprofessional.
Smiled at the shout out to Holden Caulfield.