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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

CORPORATE PUCKERING, PART I
NO LOVE IN THIS ELEVATOR

Workplace ass-kissers. I hate them.

Damn. I try not to use the word "hate." I don't want to be a hateful person. Hate breeds more hate and I don't want to be that kind of guy.

I will rephrase without the "hate."

I find the willingness of some people to kiss the asses of others unfortunate at best and unforgivable at worst. When someone kisses someone's ass, it demeans not just the kisser, but the rest of us, too – the rest of us who twist the balls of our feet into the soil every day to stake a claim for our human dignity by refusing to participate in the tired, tribal ritual of the lowly grunt paying homage to the mighty chief by plying him with hollow, saccharin-encrusted blandishments. A whore will tell you whatever you want to hear just to get paid when she's done. It's a duplicitous agreement between the powerful and the less so, each fully aware of the underlying deceit.

I don't play that game and I have no plans to in the future. I may have to a certain extent in the past but quickly realized that there was nothing in it for me except a lowered sense of worth and to be honest, I had that program covered in my after-hours activities. Back then, my self-destruction needed no reinforcement between the hours of 9 and 5.

Nowadays, my perspective can be summed up thusly: people are people. If they deserve a compliment then I'll give it to them. But if they suck, then fuck 'em.

See how I'm not hateful?

That said, I'm not stupid. I realize that it's generally better to be on friendly terms with the people you work with than not and if that means overlooking certain personality kinks, then that's cool, I can do that. And if it means making small talk with the "higher-ups" then I'll even try to do that.

Occasionally. The truth is I'm just not that good at it. When I get in the elevator in the lobby and in walks the president of the company for that long trip up to the 14th floor, I try to be casually and confidently conversational. I try to have a genuinely friendly exchange not because this guy deserves to have everyone lining up to be friendly to him, but because we're both human beings. We're both in this elevator together. Is there any reason we can't spend the next 20 seconds assessing the weather or the traffic or just the general level of life satisfaction we're presently enjoying?

But often I fall short of the mark. I usually start out strong with a full smile, eye contact, a pleasant greeting. If I'm lucky there's not too much of a pause before I think of some minutia to comment on. Thank God for giving us minutiae to comment on during awkward elevator encounters with corporate executives. Usually, I get through the greeting and through the first pass of banter before stalling abruptly. A momentary lapse in concentration instantly snowballs into full-on blankness. I become hyper-aware of the moment itself. It pushes me out until I see nothing but a couple of guys standing in an elevator with nothing real, nothing of any value to share with one another. To proceed with the charade seems futile and worse, false. Now I'm hopelessly outside the moment with no chance of re-entry. I just have to wait it out, the numbers above me sequentially illuminating a countdown to my escape and relief.


NEXT:
CORPORATE PUCKERING, PART II

INGRATIATION CAN BE DANGEROUS




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