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Archive for the ‘Wage Slaves’ Category

Upgrade

In Technology, Wage Slaves on October 8, 2012 at 04:04

You know how you have given it a run too many and it just doesn’t feel like before? You know how you know its past its prime but what’s one more time for old time’s sake, right? You know how you know when there is nothing left in the tank, not even for one more run?

Off course you do.

The question that keeps me up nights is, does the horse know?

Does he know that there is nothing else left to do but to de-commission him?

Since you are a mere wage slave, your story is not as heart-wrenching, certainly not enough to be made into a mainstream biopic.

But it does sadden you to finally put your old-world CDMA handset to rest. That’s right kids; CDMA is what your grandparents used to use to communicate with each other, kind of like a string phone, slightly better. You can almost hear employees at the service provider’s office giving each other hi-fis now that one the last remaining subscribers has ceased to subscribe. What were they thinking giving out life-time offers? You feel like the only surviving member of a war veteran’s club or a ham-radio enthusiast who finally realizes no one is ever going to talk back.

Not that you didn’t try, you really did. You faced ridicule from one and all, including haggard vendors, kids in your neighborhood and the security guard. You braved radiation fears even when it felt like your ear was being deep fried over a thirty minute conference call. You learnt to ignore the industrial grade vibration mode. Having dropped it one time too many, you will have to be content keeping your handy handset at home as a relic.

Not that you were not prepared for this day. You have already bought a fruity replacement for your war horse years ago. But it has never seen the light of day. You just carry it in your bag every day and never use it. That’s kind of twisted, a bit of Hitchcock in it.

Finally you will graduate to the twenty-first century. Say hello to sleepless nights and pointless status messages. You too, will become a part of the fruity club and try to look happy to be called a ‘Berry Boy’ in your mid-thirties. And as far as Berries go, yours is already a couple of ‘generations’ old.  So you will never catch up, such a shame.

Not that you are particularly a laggard or (gasp) old-fashioned. You don’t have an active msn account and you don’t wear glasses with rims. Not everything needs an upgrade but not everyone appreciates this. And you don’t expect them too either. If an upgrade is a proxy to moving up in life, you have very low standards.

–          J.

Cost Cutting

In Office humor, Wage Slaves on June 5, 2012 at 02:19

Half an hour into an ordinary Wednesday morning, something feels different. You look around and fellow slaves are typing away, scratching their heads, staring at their screens…the usual.

But it looks different. It is the lights, they are not on, not one. You inquire.

‘Don’t switch it on,’ beckons a colleague with the seriousness of a method artist.

‘Why?’

‘We are cutting costs. Haven’t you read the mail?’

‘You mean the notice?’

‘Yes’

‘I am sure there are better ways than…’

‘At this salary, I can’t think of any better ideas.’

And he goes back to his desk, dimly lit by his monitor. He does have a point. There is no way of unleashing Austerity without hitting morale. Try as you may, you go through the day with the most pedestrian of thoughts/ideas:

In the loo, you are surprised to find the soap dispenser still functional

At the pantry, you are surprised to find the same brand of biscuits still available.

And the coffee tastes just as bad as yesterday.

You check your self and keep the ‘penny-wise-pond-stupidness’ out of your scrooging brain.  But from meeting room to canteen, there is an outpouring of the choicest ideas:

>  Scribbling numbers on one’s palms instead of taking printouts

>  ACs on only in alternate cubicles

>  Washroom lights to be flicked on only when in use

>  No tissues, handkerchiefs to be made compulsory

>  Lower insurance for smokers

>  Only Economy flight tickets, better yet, travel by trains

>  No Stapling, U-pins to be re-used

>  Coupons for tea/coffee…

…‘That might lead to hoarding and a black market for coupons,’ I offer. The brain stormers stare at me for a couple of seconds and go back to their ideating without even a chuckle.

What could have brought about such seriousness? You go back to your inbox to read the notice again. It seems there is a prize for the ‘Best suggestions on Belt-tightening’.

Ingenious. You remember something about HS flying to a ‘Belt-tightening’ conference just last week. Needless to say, he travelled business class. All you can do is smile at the miniscule-ness of your fiscal apprehensions.

By the time you round up your day’s labour, the would-be cost-cutters have left. Their systems are still on, blinking. You take the effort to bend down and switch off their workstations. By stepping on the backs of thousand poor men does one rich person emerge! But poor men don’t have to be against conservation.

–          J.

Too Late, too Less

In Appraisal, humor, Salary, Wage Slaves on May 20, 2012 at 04:55

What do you work for? To keep busy? To feel useful? For recognition? For the greater good of mankind?

Anything but money, right? Yeah, tell yourself that. Tell yourself your motivations are on a much higher plane than…daily bread. But with runaway inflation and a bunch of show-offs for Facebook friends, daily bread is the least of your worries. Yes, everyone and his cousin seem to be taking a world tour and buying i-Pads. And you are sitting there ruing over your daily commuting cost.

You are face to face with…FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out.

For the wage slave, opportunity to progress in life comes but once a year, on a pre-ordained date. This year, the date has come and gone. There is no word about the letter, that single printout which will set the tone for the next 12 months of your mortal existence. And tilt the trajectory of your fiscal fate down towards poverty.

Working for money is a tacit setting, like a conditional friendship. It is well understood but impolite when expressed openly. So you can’t ask or express your displeasure, not about the money.

Week 2 into no-letter land, you have already received your salary slip. Try as you may, you can’t resist calculating against last month’s salary slip to find out the difference.

…there isn’t any! In fact, you have actually received fewer quid in hand than last year. The story of your appraisal has gone from drama to suspense to tragedy and now, an anti-climax. ‘Is this current month’s salary or last month’s salary?’ a similarly ill-fated colleague yells out. 

As other teams receive and rejoice, you feel like a special needs kid on sport’s day awards.

More than a week later, HS finally summons you into his cabin with a smile. You return the smile with ‘whatever’ expression. He finally found the time from his ultra-busy schedule. If only HS could clone himself so his mini-me could get around to unenviable tasks such as smiling through difficult increment sessions.

‘So, how are we doing today?’ is his uninspired opener. You want to convey your choicest opinions. But you manage to just grind your teeth and narrow your brow instead. With your carrot turning to peanuts, you don’t have much to lose.

 

 Without fear, niceties and formality go out of the window. HS is leaning forward resting his forearms on the table in what looks like mild anxiety. You are slouching in your chair in mild exasperation.

‘As you know, it has been a difficult year for all of us…’

‘We already know the salary. Just hand over the damn letter and be done with it.’

HS has no come back. You take the letter and walk out. The coolness of what you just did only sinks in after a couple of minutes. So that is what inspiration feels like. You ought to feel it more often.

Whoever said they don’t work for money probably had a large inheritance.

–          J.

Exit Strategy

In Boss, Head Slave, Hiearchy, Hopsquatch, Office humor, Resignation, Wage Slaves on April 16, 2012 at 23:21

You have always felt there are two cuckoos in your nest, if not more. One is the forceful voice you hear in your head and the other is the whimper that comes out of your mouth. They seem to co-exist uneventfully if not peacefully.

It has been growing inside you for months, prodding, teasing and pontificating. But you can’t…just do it. It’s not like ripping off a bandage now is it?  So you build a strategy, an exit strategy. It’s about time you applied some of your business acumen to your personal business.

Off course, you can’t just stand up and leave. That only happens in movies and sitcoms. In all your years as a paddler, you have never seen anyone stand up and yell, ‘I quit!’ Maybe you are not working in the right kind of office. Where is the drama?

Profound tragedies and arid humor do occur in your galley but at a subtle level. Oddly enough, Head Slave always seems friendlier when you have rebellion on your mind.

‘What are you thinking?’ says HS in the middle of an impromptu meeting.

‘I…was just trying to…get my head around how we are going to do this…thing,’ is your elegant reply.

‘We sure need to do a lot of thinking. We should get the server in-house next year. I want you to start working on it.’

‘Like I am gonna be here next year,’ is what you want to say. ‘…Oh..kay,’ is what you actually say with a crumpled smile.

‘Keep working this hard and we may give you an extra screen…and an assistant!’

‘That sounds…very…generous…,’ you stop short of saying thank you.

‘I want you to really sink into this thing. If you face any problems, you come straight to me. As this team gets bigger, we want good people to be in-charge.’

By good, he means government mules and by in-charge, he means fall guy. You have always been confused between a negative and a realistic take on things. When you are non-committal, the self-perpetuating nature of things is clearer than ever…from dictatorships to corporations to relationships.

You want to think this through but you don’t want to go Dubya on your exit strategy. Sure the world is full of opportunities. But what about the Greener Grass theory? Sure you could do better than HS? But what about the Known Devil theory? And what about all the time and energy you have invested in your current liaison/contract? What if he finds out you are straying? Sound familiar?

Between lost weekends and stretch working, HS seems to have talked more to you over the past one year than his wife and kids combined! That is a scary thought. You can’t keep this hollow relationship going for long. At some point, you have to tell him: ‘I am seeing other people!’

A very wise but evil boss told you once that no one leaves overnight, mentally; you have left six months ago. It has been about that long now.

J.

Slavedom Cometh

In Big Brother, conspiracy theories, humor, Office humor, SlavesInc, Wage Slaves on April 3, 2012 at 02:53

You don’t believe in religion, you have never known why. Perhaps, it is the effort-reward ratio that never appealed to you. It also seems a lot easier to go through life without a surveillance junkie overlooking your inconsequential existence. Sure He will be your Savior, but he also accepts credit cards.

You are not one of those militant atheists though. So you observe the quirks of the God-fearing tribe from a safe distance, without comment but with amusement. One such soul sits right across from your cube. Every day you see him offer elaborate prayers to a pantheon of godly beings that adorn a tray atop his rowing station. Only after a couple of minutes of this ritual does he sit down to work on excel sheets for 8 hours.

On this auspicious day, his ritual is broken by an even Higher Power. Mid-way through his fervent mutterings, an announcement erupts over the speakers. Today is the unveiling of a New Grand Design by the Powers that be, something about pan-organization efficiency. Most colleagues, still groggy, seem jilted as they look heavenwards to make sense of the ordinance. Like all historical occasions, Slaves are required to wear company colors. You, off course have forgotten. Your refusal to maintain calendar entries has cost you once again but the delusion of freedom it gives makes up for the inconvenience.

The announcement directs you to move to the parking lot. No other place in the building can accommodate all 200 slaves at the same time. This is going to be big.

You get an eerie feeling as you trudge along the congregation of working class people dressed in uniform. You are greeted by bright lights and instrumental music when you enter the lot. Without asking you for your approval, a group of volunteers slaps wristbands on you marking the occasion. Cattle tag attached, you spill over wherever the crowd takes you.

The Overlord is here today dressed in a three piece. He seems content overlooking the flock from the vantage of the podium. He wastes no time in getting down to business.

As fellow slaves behold with varied emotions; eagerness, bewilderment, anticipation, you are busy finding human walls to hide the non-compliance of your wardrobe.

Overlord’s speech seems well-rehearsed and almost evangelical. All the hallmarks of a covenant are there: Vague promises of utopia, certainty of penance required to get there, a routine prescribed for it and…hand holding. Yes, to mark this communion, all slaves are required to hold hands to form a chain of like dressed creatures as the theme song is played out. A video camera follows this human chain to capture the lameness for posterity. You know those stock photos of a differently colored stick figure standing out in a crowd or a green apple in a collection of red ones? You are the green/rotten apple here and there is no escaping it at least till the song is over.

Thankfully, it ends before homophobia takes over you completely. You wipe your hands and hurry to immerse yourself in the crowd. Far away, you see Head Slave’s head bobbing up through the sea of salaried humanity. He is coming towards you and he doesn’t seem happy. You can’t take more preaching on this day and make a run for it.

As the flock jostles to get through the alleyway, no one seems to have noticed the back exit. No one except you, you green apple! You make a dash for it and escape to the free air of a non-enclosed environment. You need to take a walk.

You don’t believe in religion, now you know why.

–          J.

Mr. Motivation

In HR, humor, Office humor, SlavesInc, Training, Wage Slaves on February 13, 2012 at 02:44

‘This carpet is a magic carpet! You are flying 3000 feet above the ground. Your mission is to invert the magic carpet without falling off. Don’t look down now. If you fall, there is 3000 feet of air followed by a 3000 feet deep valley. At the bottom of the valley are 3000 year old alligators who are hungry and are waiting for you!’

…all you could give in return to this pitch was a blank stare of disappointment. If you haven’t realized it yet, you are in process of being motivated by a professional motivator. It is the company outbound meet and attendance is compulsory.

There are 10 other slaves besides you garbed in ‘smart casuals’ scurrying not to fall off the magic carpet. You don’t know about them but standing with a bunch of grown-ups on a discount blanket in the middle of a grass lawn does not get you motivated.


At this stage, the only thing that can motivate you is wrapping Mr. Motivation in the magic carpet and kicking the fake high pitched drawl out of his mouth. The French Revolution in your mind is disturbed by a sharp sound in your immediate vicinity.

The ‘trainer’ claps in your direction as if to say ‘chop-chop’. Words finally escape your irritated conscience. ‘I feel like a fool,’ you say. The smiley on your company-branded t-shirt flutters in the outdoor wind, seemingly unaware of your frown.

Mr. M walks up to you, not willing to give up on a difficult student, not as a motivator he can’t. ‘You need to understand the rules of the game,’ he opines expertly. ‘What rules?’ you ask, ‘We have been randomly doing activities Kindergartners would deem lame.’

A couple of rounds of bargaining later it dawns on you that besides the motivation hoopla, this is also fertile ground for evaluation of slavery quotients. You put up your hands mid-sentence to say, ‘Alright, let’s do this!’ At the end of the outbound, you even get congratulated by Mr. Motivation on your leadership skills displayed on the grass-bound magic carpet.

You may have betrayed your inner Spartacus on the grass but on paper, you let it rip. A scathing feedback is all Mr. M is going get from you.

J.

Charting your Existence

In Boss, Head Slave, Hiearchy, humor, SlavesInc, Wage Slaves on February 5, 2012 at 23:49

You are staring at it. You just know it’s going to ring. And it does. You almost pick it up at the first ring. But you hold back, affording yourself a few seconds to catch your breath.

 

When you are institutionalized, things move like clockwork. You can predict most developments, even human behavior. It is the grind playing on loop that kills you, not anxiety.

‘Hello?’ you say betraying your gurgling annoyance.

‘We are in trouble’ says HS, salutations and niceties being a thing of the past.

‘What is it Sir?’

‘What is it?’ Have you not checked the report?’

‘I have Sir, it is submitable.’

‘Not like this it isn’t.’

He hangs up. The click of the receiver is an unspoken summons to his lair.

You are confident of your work but not of HS’ creativity. You didn’t expect this report to be your breakthrough performance but you didn’t expect it be a self-goal either. Having almost reached, you remember you are without the moral support of pen and paper. You rush back to your desk to get it.

Slowing down your steps, you touch up your hair in the glass of the cabin. It is time to take one of those deep breaths again.

You walk into the dreaded chamber. HS looks at you dismayed. He holds up a page from the report, clutching it like a butcher would handle a chicken’s neck.

‘The Organizational chart!’

Your eyes search frantically for the pain point but you’re stumped.

At utter loss for safer words, you ask, ‘what about it Sir?’

‘There are no photographs!’ says HS in disbelief. ‘Head Office will never approve it. Get everyone to a studio immediately! Will the prints be ready by tomorrow?’

Ignoring HS’ ignorance of technology and not bothering to enlighten him, you move out with a compliant nod.

You spend the next two hours knocking and entering every cabin on the floor. Your mission (since you had to accept it) is to click every last ugly kisser on the payroll and then paste it onto the Organizational chart. There is also the unenviable task of editing and aligning these candid shots on PowerPoint.

It is still an honest buck you are making. And you have one more story to pass on to your grand kids.

Thank God for camera phones.

–          J.

Founder’s Day

In Big Brother, Cause, Office humor, SlavesInc, Wage Slaves on January 29, 2012 at 00:42

The giant screen imposes on your small-town sensibilities. Your lack of individuality mingles well with the thousand-plus crowd of slaves herded together. A familiar image of an old guy with a plain face greets you from every screen, poster and standee. He is clad in a tailored suit, the kind your father could never afford. From a certain angle, you guess he looks destiny-bound. But add a sliver to the side of his mouth and…Pure evil!

He is the founder of your slave-driving machine. Today, off course, is ‘Founder’s Day’. Most slaves are in a different mood today. Some are visually happier. This is probably because this is the one day you get paid without typing anything or staring at a back-lit screen. Some are anticipating better food at the event. Some are still indifferent. You…are trying to guard against the onslaught on your psyche. By now, the Old Man’s face is more familiar to you than that guy on the currency notes (…whatshisname?). With each passing year, the legend is pushed beyond the realms of possibility. If you are not discerning, after a couple of cycles of this propaganda, you will start believing your galley is God’s gift to mankind.

As the final session ends with the third video montage to his Greatness, your Founder, there is a surge of energy through the captive audience. As they hum along the corporate anthem, there is an eerie Big Brother feel to the whole affair. You hope the compliance is out of anticipation of complimentary refreshments at the end of the show and not out of subliminal mind control.

The buffet counters open to a wave of hungry subjects that carry you outside the hall/Panopticon. You can’t take this Orwellian nightmare any more. You hurry out with an imaginary Thought Police on your back. As luck would have it, you trip over a standee of the Old Man. As you lie on the floor, face to face with greatness. You realize he is just another old man, perhaps less anxious than you but very much mortal. You stand up and walk out, leaving the Old Man on the floor.

Finders keepers losers weepers

J.

2011: Rise of The Slave

In Blogging, Cause, Office humor, SlavesInc, Wage Slaves on January 3, 2012 at 02:19

‘The first step to realizing your dream is to stop living someone else’s.’

…is a dose of truth I recently came across in print.

SlavesInc. has not been your typical Occupy movement, nor have we overthrown any dictators. But we have certainly awakened to modern-day bondage and had a few chuckles along the way. Even Spartacus took years to cause any serious damage.

More importantly, we resisted using stock images such as:

When WordPress sent sleek-looking stats for SlavesInc’s first year of operation, one could not help but share it with fellow wage  drones. Here it is:

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s a flattering excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Born To Follow

In Cause, conspiracy theories, humor, Office humor, Organisation, SlavesInc, true enlightenment, vitamin d deficiency, Wage Slaves on December 5, 2011 at 12:37

God made procrastination so we could sit around, admire nature, bask in the sun and never be deficient in Vitamin D. You would so like to do that. But having come eons past the hunter gatherer stage, you have to earn your living; simply being born does not count. It is difficult. Some overcome this primeval urge to bask; and harden into modern day achievement. Others end up doing jobs.

Your profound insight comes from staring long enough at the most unremarkable of places, you desk. Littered everywhere are hieroglyphs of your employer and its ultra noble mission. They also make some serious profits. But that is more of a byproduct of their lofty ethics and dizzying ‘goals’. You may not remember what grade your kid studies in. But if someone slaps you out of sleep in the middle of the night, you can recite your company theme and pledge without blinking.

You are not a memory gymnast nor are you an exceptionally committed slave. It is just that the branding is hard to miss. It is everywhere, like the skulls on Skull Island. Troopers have their fatigues. You have caps, pens, mugs and even underwear identifying your enslaver. It creeps up on you till you are a part of it. And you play along; it is not like you have some great plans of your own anyway.

You do not resist when this branding is taken one step further. You are the first one to start wearing a badge of the new corporate logo over your breast pocket, close to the heart. Years of subliminal messaging has to be overwritten here. So you act like a good sport and give up thoughts of vain rebellion. At least, they are not printing bar codes or inserting chips in you, yet.

But you do make a note to yourself:

You had better start working for a cause of your own; else people will make you work for theirs.