America. The words just roll off the tongue, do they not?
Well, actually, you secretly contest, they don't.
You're thinking, rather, that they slide off the tongue like a slimy slug.
But they're such bitter words, really, such lemon-sour language, that you'd
rather spit them out like bad soup. Permitting them to simply glide off your
tongue is too generous; they don't deserve your benign benevolence. The words
"Corporate America" deserve only this: to be shredded through gritted teeth,
coughed up like phlegm, or spewed out in utter revulsion.
Gee, do we detect a little hostility in my rantings?
Nah, that's not hostility you're sensing, that's outrage. Hostility, you see,
is for wimps. Hostility is when you allow an injustice to shrivel your soul
to a mood of muteness, to carve away at your confidence until finally you
explode in a volcanic wrath.
Outrage, on the other hand, meets with unfairness
head-on; it does not cower in the looming shadow of injustice, but confronts
it without chagrin. Outrage is not laced with animosity; its vision is clear,
(And what the dictionary dictates doesn't concern
me; the meanings of words metamorphose over time, and soon enough "hostility"
and "outrage" will cease to be thesaurus twins.)
Anyway. So I'm outraged by the odious offenses
that Corporate America commits on a daily basis. And I'm well-versed in callous
corporate ways because for six years I have labored in the not-so-balmy bowels
of big business. I have endured conditions that make a weekly teeth-cleaning
from Satan's dentist a highly cherishable prospect.
But why exactly would I prefer to undergo ritual
gum-and-tooth torture from a demented dentist than perform work for a company
so I could afford to keep my stomach singing and my toes toasty?
Well, for one thing, Corporate America pays
its slaves barely enough to keep their stomachs humming along to Neil Sedaka
songs. Oh, sure, the slaveholder CEOs receive a sizable sum; hell, their tubby
tummies are belting out entire Broadway musicals. But why are they so poisonously
rich? Because they bear an "important" title? You could counter (as I'm sure
some of you corporate cronies will) that CEOs work hard, and therefore deserve
such pampering luxuries. But consider this: janitors work diligently, maids
are devoted to their work, and what kind of promotional profits do they enjoy?
Just because CEOs have jobs that are deemed
more "challenging" shouldn't entitle them to more prestige; besides, CEOs
are immersed in the exercise of generating vulgar amounts of money, whereas
a maid or janitor is involved in the honest pursuit of making a living. Maids
and janitors view money as a means to an end, whereas CEOs treasure money
as the end itself.
I mean, can someone please tell me what the
freakin' big deal is about owning a house the size of Texas, or driving a
car that costs more than the Federal debt? In what way, exactly, do these
things fulfill our basic needs?
(A refreshment course for those who require
a return to pre-school to de-cloud their beer-blurred brains on what constitutes
basic human needs: We need love. We need food. We need clothing. We need shelter.
And these things aren't just essential to happiness, they're essential for
But please note that survival is not contingent
upon owning South Fork Ranch, plus a condo in Colorado, plus a chalet in Switzerland,
plus the Parthenon in Greece. That's called excess, and pinpoints precisely
why I spew my stew at the mere muttering of the words "Corporate America."
How else do I loathe thee, Corporate America?
Allow me to enumerate the exhausting infinitude of ways.
The other main thing that flummoxes and infuriates
me about Corporate America is its absolute defiance of respect for humans
as humans. Corporations seem to revel in treating their employees like the
feces of echoli-infected swine. And that's on a cheerful day at the office.
Of course, we know why Corporate America minions
are treated like putrid poo poo. It all leads back to those diabolical dollars.
But let's please remember that money is not innately demonic; it is we who
make it so, by cherishing it so lustfully.
If companies were not belligerently bent on
making Everest-sized mountains of moolah, they could relax and discover that
those who toil their tails off for them are not instruments in the sordid
sports match between their corporation and the competition, but real, actual
people, with bones, brains, even a heart!
During my imprisonment in corporate cages, I've
seen it all: a secretary shrieked at for transposing two numbers in a phone
message; a typesetter harshly told "to get back to work" for helping edit
barely intelligible articles; a part-time employee routinely assured that
her job would convert into full-time, only to never see the promise materialize;
a newly-hired department of four denied desks for six months and thereby forced
to stake out temporary territory in whatever space happened not to be occupied
that day; that same crew of four receiving abominable reviews by a "manager"
who ignored his staff, took three hour lunches, and feigned work by reading
e-mails from friends; an employee regarded as unreliable and subsequently
fired for being hospitalized with a severe illness and having to miss work.
The aforementioned are just a few examples out
of the many many many many many many many many many many incidents I have
witnessed throughout my servitude to Corporate America. And yes, some of the
above-discussed offenses were perpetrated against me.
But what's most bothersome about such episodes
is not that they do occur - we all know that evil crap happens and will continue
to happen as long as penises and vaginas insist on dancing the Reproductive
Tango - but that they occur in such overt abundance.
And this, finally, is what Corporate America
is premised upon: playing the game.
If you do precisely as your bosses dictate, you're in. Creativity is scorned,
although some corporations insist they encourage innovation. But these companies
can only be innovative as far as their narrowly defined boundaries permit.
True creativity resists confinement.
You must follow the herd in Corporate America,
or the herd will trample you. Mistakes are allowed, yes, but only after you
whimper through a rambling spate of apologies (and sometimes you're even required
to offer up your spouse for sacrifice to dispel any suspicion that your love
for them surpasses your love for the company).
But why would a corporation persist in damning
its employees to a hell of humiliation when clearly a more prudent path would
be to uplift them into a heaven of happiness? I mean, I don't condone the
"Greenbacks are God" mindset, but if that's the sick reality, then wouldn't
money flow more fluidly if all workers were regarded as saints rather than
shit? It's not difficult to discern that a respected person spreads the infectious
love around, while a disrespected one only perpetuates the deadly disease
I'm not so naive as to believe that businesses
do not wish to make a profit; clearly, they do. But a profit is one thing;
what most big businesses make today is an egregious excess of the very thing
that many millions of homeless completely lack.
As my brother has said, if businesses would
just focus on providing the best service they possibly can, the money will
follow. And while the money may not be in the zillion-dollar zone, the employees
can at least return home at night satisfied that they put in an honest day's
Of course, if most businesses concentrated their
energies on providing good service, most businesses would consequently vanish,
because many exist solely to make a capital killing. These corporations are
only interested in generating money-making products - e.g., computers. I once
worked for a company that was the middle man for IBM - IBM sold us computers,
and we then added a few gimmicks and resold them at higher prices. The company
didn't add the gimmicks because it "cared" about the customer's well-being
- it added them so the customer would exclaim, "Oh, cool, I need that overpriced
computer with the Super 8 Pentium potato chip thingy to complete my Egyptian
pyramid-high pile of work in half the time so that I can see my philandering
spouse and faceless offspring at least once this month."
I'm not saying that computers haven't added
some good things to this world; clearly, they have. But that's really another
topic altogether. But what I am suggesting is that people look at what's really
paramount to promoting a sturdy society. If we probed our souls thoroughly
enough, we'd find that money and computers don't make a dent in our spiritual
Maybe I'm hopelessly utopian, dreaming of a
world where most businesses provide services that cater to the client's needs
and not their own. Maybe I'm just an idiot idealist; who knows?
I do know this: Corporate America's pervasive
power isn't making any of us any happier. But I suppose a society of money-junkies
is too strung out to notice that trivial detail, huh?