Monday, February 14, 2005

Why I Hate Work, Part 26

by AJ/Skald

One summer break, during my undergrad days at UGA, I worked as an intern for IBM. I'd worked for them before and grew to dread the company. But my dad urged me to take the job. He's a lifetime IBMer and corporate exec-- I suppose he was hoping I could still be salvaged... might still turn out to be a responsible businessman.

He assured me I would have a good experience because I would be working in a "creative department": IBM's in-house video production unit. They had a state of the art studio. I thought, "this might be cool". How wrong I was.

I knew right away... the second I walked in the door: tan carpet, off-white walls, acoustic ceiling tile, fluorescent lights. . Desks were arranged in cubicles (chest high)... which were grey. The furniture was standard office supply: fake wood. They gave me a tour. Each cubicle was the same-- a picture of the wife or husband, a calendar, stacks of paper. The only windows in the room ran along one wall-- and were monopolized by the offices of managers and "senior staff". Everyone wore a suit and tie. Everyone wore black shoes.

Next they took me to the studios. I felt a twinge of excitement-- then a quick let down. Walls: Flat grey. Floor: Tan tile. Equipment: black or grey.

The videos they made were just as grey: announcements for "exciting" new products-- an actor in a suit (of course) stood and read from a teleprompter.... full face shot... Occasional computer graphic.

The staff, too, were grey. Empty husks. They were all white. They were all drab. They all had that look of resignation. One guy tried to be different. He chuckled and backslapped but it came across like a robot running a routine ("execute networking routine: Big smile. Slap back. Tell corny joke. Tilt head 20 degrees. Look person in eye. Move on to next person.").

I was a caged animal. I came in as late as possible, and left as early as possible. Eventually it got so bad that I went stir crazy... couldn't pretend anymore.

I made a ball out of duct tape. Everyday I took it to a studio and played "handball"... just to burn some energy. Sometimes I paced in circles, like the tigers at the zoo.

It was agony.


Anonymous said...

You've definitely got a way with words AJ! That part about that guy's robot routine in the office cracked me up. I still can't quite get my head around the fact I put up with cubicle hell for over 3 f*cking years myself. If I could hop into a time machine and do it over again, I would have headed for the exit door right after my first 'orientation session' on my 1st day!

AJ said...

Amen.... I'd rather dig ditches out in the sun than be locked in an office for 8 hours a day!