Corporate life and the new civilian
It’s something that gets a lot of cheers and jeers. Some people celebrate the free market, the captains of industry, all that jazz. Some people lament the cubicles, the Office Space and Dilbert characters that seem to be everywhere.
And, like most things, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Things aren’t so amazing that I soil my pants with joy every hour. Things aren’t so bad that I’m vitamin D deficient from the life-siphoning fluorescent lights.
A few military friends have asked what it’s like. I went into a bit of what it isn’t a couple of posts back, where I talked about all the ways I didn’t have to stay on edge. So this time, I’ll get into a little bit of what it is.
Now, I do need to qualify some things. I’m not in full-blown corporate America, as much as people seem to slap that label on every circumstance they are personally in—like how troops say they’ve “been to war” whether they were in the Korengal or lounging poolside in Qatar. Are both extremes closer to war than those at Starbucks? Yes. Am I so deep into corporate America that I can claim to know what it’s all really like? Not really.
So, that said. It’s pretty cool, from a guy who tries to take things in stride. A lot of movie and comic stereotypes are here. I guess that’s why all those movies are so funny.
There are the people who live in total fear that their every move is watched.
There are those who have been around the company for a decade or two, working themselves to the bone, but always in ways that create more burdens for themselves without getting ahead.
There are the meetings…lots of meetings…lots. I have five hour-long meetings today alone. Geez.
There are the power walkers in the halls. There are the gym guys who say “boss”…or is it “hoss?” Dunno.
There is the aversion for all things provided. Eating at the cafes is so passé for some. Screw that, there are like five different cafes here! I’m hungry!
There are motivational banners up. There are core values and virtues posted on all the walls like some recruiting drive.
There are coupons! Cell phone belt holsters. I’m asked to focus my efforts on what is good for the member.
People laugh. They like being around people who laugh. There are the fashion conscious and those (especially guys) who need a couple of issues of GQ.
All to say it seems pretty “normal” from a guy who is new to “normal.” I like it, but I’m at a different point in life.
Already there have been a few projects that have come up where my coworkers flip into full freak-out mode because of some perceived need or expectation from higher ups.
It’s EXACTLY the attitude that followed generals around. There would be the “good idea fairies” who would create a crap-ton of work for the average Joe, all to anticipate unstated needs by the big bosses.
So, being a former NCO who has seen this scurrying-around-for-no-reason hundreds of times, I just get a soda and let people freak out. Once they settle down, I’m able to ask questions like “Did she say she wanted it three weeks early? No? Then why are we thinking she does? Ah, she’s going on vacation next week? Did someone ask if we could send it to her while on vacation? No? Let’s do that.” Turns out the boss would love a one-way-one-time update on the status of the big project. Problem solved.
So, corporate America? Sure, it works. I don’t let the small stuff hang me up. Five hours of meetings? No prob. Paycheck still goes through whether I’m working or listening to people talk all day. Doesn’t bother me at all.