His Most Important Body Part
Many years ago, before my present job, I worked at a large manufacturing company which from here on out will be known as BigPaper Corp. Life was good at BigPaper Corp., deadlines were lenient and my managers did not mind my blogging at work. Vacation was plentiful and the bennies good. Sadly, with all this bounty came a pager and an obligation to be on call 24x7. When I caught myself cowering each time a phone rang, I knew it was time to quit, so I found another job and gave notice. A few days later, when I was walking past my supervisor's office, he motioned to me to come in.
I had gone through six supervisors in my five years at BigPaper. The last one was a nice, friendly guy by the name of Andy. That's the first word that comes to mind when I think of Andy - nice. Extremely nice. Too fucking nice. Going out of his way to be nice to every single person at the same time. You cannot do that in a corporate world. You see, in a large corporation like BigPaper, there is a lot of politics going on. There are a lot of conflicting interests. There are tons of people who are out to get each other and actively working to put the other person out of the game. There are tons of people who want to get their way, no matter what. When you try to give each one of these people everything they want, you end up effectively screwing each and every one of them. That was Andy's biggest problem. As he beckoned, I walked into his office and sat down. What followed was a lecture on what a valuable employee I had been, how bad it was for the company to lose me, and can I maybe consider coming back in a year or two. One of the reasons I was leaving was because Andy had tried to shift another coworker's calls onto me, but I didn't feel like talking about it. Much like poor Andy, I am nonconfrontational almost to the point of idiocy. Andy droned on; I nodded with a sad look on my face. Suddenly something that flew out of Andy's mouth caught my attention.
"Last night," he informed me, "all of us team leaders were in my office discussing how we're going to replace everyone, you know, what with everybody leaving and all the hiring freezes we've had lately, you know, it turns out we are ten people short. We made a list of, you know, all the positions we had to fill, and what we'll have to pay them. We put it all on my whiteboard, you know."
I turned my head to look at the whiteboard. Yeah, that's a list all right. Here's my position, here's a few others. Wait, what is that? Their salaries?...
Bless his soul. Andy had sat in the office all day with the door open, so any passerby could turn their head and see how much money our replacements were going to make. And they were going to do very well for themselves. Whoever was to replace me, for example, was going to get 20K more than I did.
That kinda pissed me off.
I'd been with the company five years.
I'd been up more nights than a professional hooker.
I worked sixty-hour weeks, I pulled all-nighters, I made money for the company. And this person, who didn't even exist yet, was going to be paid that much more. This meant that, in return for my hard work, the company had been underpaying me so outrageously, they couldn't dream about offering the same amount to my replacement; they knew the amount was ridiculously small, even though all those years they had been telling me it was "competitive" and "right on the market reference point". And if they screwed me, then by the same token they must have been screwing the majority of my teammates the same way.
And they didn't even mind telling me about it.
"Hey," I offered, "20 thousand more than me? That's pretty harsh."
Andy turned all shades of pale and red simultaneously.
"Please don't tell."
Bless his heart. He was supposed to erase it and forgot. That's our Andy. He begged for another five minutes, then we both went back to our work.
I granted Andy's wish, almost.
I only told two of my closest friends. Two weeks after I left, everybody knew. I just thought people deserved to know they'd been had. Nothing material came out of it, though. But it was worth a try.
Andy, for unrelated reasons I suppose, was moved to a position where nobody had to report to him, then another more obscure position, then another, and now is no longer with BigPaper. I wish him success at whatever he's doing now. But first he needs to grow and nurture what I believe to be the most important body part in a manager, no, any person who wishes to get anywhere professionally in our field.
I am referring, of course, to a backbone.
Although a pair of balls would also come in handy.
As an aside, corporations are evil.