The guy who was directing us was a snot. First of all, I didn't want to be in some promotional spot, but I was offered little choice. The same went for a lot of people. The guy who was directing us reminded me of some really bad rave deejay. He had a poorly faked British accent, a patronizing attitude, and thought he was popular and funny. Several times he made fun of us, but not in a good, funny "Don Rickles" or "Triumph the Insult Comic Dog" sort of way. If you are going to be an insult comic, you should at least have the balls to go all the way, not use it to get people to do what you want them to do. So his sneer was probably genuine: he acted like he really openly hated us. "Come on you idiots," he said, "I know you never leave your desks, but try and remember how to walk backwards ... you did learn when you were in kindergarten, didn't you?" He said this is a long, drawn, fake accent like he was half joking, half angry at us. Needless to say, a lot of us got pretty mad. Especially when he made some joke about overweight people (which I was talking to a friend when he made the comment, so I don't know what he actually said that made the crowd boo, but I did hear him say off-mike that chubby computer people sure are cranky). He also got upset that we weren't "staying within the lines," the "lines" being small yellow pennant that outlined the shape of the logo we had to stay in. "Come on, stay within the lines, people! You learned this in grade school...!"
Did I mention "walk backwards?" I did. See, the vision of this director was to make us fill a shape (our logo), and then we'd walk backwards, slowly, towards a narrow exit. He wanted to play the film backwards, so it would look like we all spilled out from a bottle and made the logo. The fact that there was about 1000 of us piled on a lawn, walking backwards, towards a narrow exit, in hot rainwear on a sunny day, already mad at the director who had called us "empty headed" by this point, and we did NOT fall down and trample people is a feat in itself. Of course, half of us turned around and started walking forwards because we were fed up at this point. This made the director angry because it "rew-winned the shawt." But we didn't care. The party started serving beer and picnic food. People were here to get smashed.
And get tee-shirts.
There's this "thing" in our company about tee-shirts. You have to get them. It's like a milestone of how long you have lasted, sort of like a badge you get for combat duty. And with the recent layoffs, the people were getting ugly and greedy. It's really become a "everyone for themselves!" kind of mentality here, lately. This picnic was probably the most bitter and ugly event I have ever attended for this company. You'd think free beer, ice cream, hamburgers, and such would have placated us. But no. And when they set up the tent for tee-shirts, they took forever to give them out.
I had to get back to work because I had a guy from Sprint in my computer room fixing a problem it took us weeks to track down, and I wanted to get back before he left (to make sure it really was fixed). I wanted my tee-shirt, and so did the guy who gave me a lift to the main office (who also had to get back to monitor something). The whole event is run by "corporate events," which are a bunch of people who strike me as the type who thought of themselves as popular in high school. They are preppy, perky, and all white bread. The young Slim Fast model who was running the tee-shirt tent was a control freak. In addition to having way too much makeup that even a preteen at a pajama would say was overdone, she was a patronizing style of lip service who just HAD to do things her way. "Her way" was that when we got a tee-shirt, we had to sign it out, and then get our hand stamped so we didn't go back for seconds. Okay, folks, we're not giving out PDAs here, these are tee-shirts. They have no value on the open market (even thrift stores won't take logo tees). But the delay was that she could not find the ink to the hand stamps. The crowd was staring to swarm the tent, asking for shirts. And she wouldn't give them. So the guy I was with is the brother of a bigwig in our company. He went and got the president of the company to come down and let us have shirts. I think this was a bit overboard, but I got caught up in the moment, and didn't stop him. I watched the president of the company and the girl in charge of shirts get into an argument. "Give them their shirts, Brittany!" (not her real name, but this one fits better). She stood fast, "Mr. President, I can't find my ink! If I give those two shirts, I have to give them to everybody!" People were chanting to give out the shirts, and she was in danger of a full scale riot, if you ask me.
This was damn funny. She honestly could not see what she was doing wrong.
To make a long story short (too late), the president opened a box and gave us our shirts so we could get back to work. Of course, when you are a size over an XXL, you often find "one size fits all" or even "one size fits most" means "won't fit you, freakshow!" Our company is fairly good about this, but this was the first time when XL and below got better shirts than the throngs of XXL and up. The people XL and smaller got some nice blue denim shirt, and all the fat and tall mutants got white cotton tees that had the kind of thin fabric seen only during wet tee-shirt contests. I didn't complain, really, because I was afraid my coworker started a war (or at least a riot), the president would ban shirts, and that we'd get memos about it. Luckily, this did not happen.
After that, we left, but I heard the president said to give everyone a shirt, who cares if people take seconds? No one got signed in a clipboard, and no one had their hand stamped. And you know what? They had a lot of extras. They even sent an e-mail about "if you want some, we have a lot left over..."
I don't know what to think about all that. I don't even know who the good guys and the bad guy are in this. The perky corporate control freak I kind of identify with: I have OFTEN made mistakes because I was too stubborn to realize that there was a better option, leaning a heavy hint over my face, and all I am bitching about is how I can't see because the right answer is in my way. And the fact the tee-shirt was cheap and flimsy makes me think I am ungrateful (hey, at least we didn't get "oh well, tubby ... lose some weight and be like us!" kind of answer I got with a former company).
It was just a bad day. I didn't write it in my blog when it happened two weeks ago because I was confused as to what I felt, but then this last Friday, we saw the ad that fake Brit directed. I saw myself and about 1000 other grumpy people in cheap ponchos partially walking backwards towards from a small entrance to form our logo. And I laughed. I laughed not just at the silliness of that day, but the fact that you could see the street from the crane. I watched the loop over and over, as traffic drove backwards (including a large cement truck), steam vents sucked in white smoke, and the poorly filled logo wobbled to and fro within the little yellow flags, flapping backwards in the breez-- er, vacuum.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000240.html