“Caillou Meets the Berenstain Bears”.a
Ask any 25-year-old “How’s it going?” and they’ll probably say “All right!” . And they’ll tell you about the weekend at their friends’ cottage, or recent party, or their boy friend or girl friend.
But ask anyone over 35, and you’re almost guaranteed to hear “Busy!“, invariably followed by a litany of how they just don’t have time, the next three weekends are booked at the cottage and Justin has his karate championship next month and they’re getting their new roof put in and things are just SO “busy!”
And they seem proud of this.
But as you hear them talk, as your eyes glaze over and you resist the urge of throwing yourself into oncoming traffic, you feel sorry for these people.
Because you know they’ve crossed that middle-aged threshold: they’ve embarked on the Busy-Bus.
Yes, that famous mythical Busy-Bus, the mandatory mode of transport for double-income middle-class breeding-couples who have chosen to follow the path of get-married-have-kids-work-your-ass-off-till-you-die.
There’s never a dull moment, on the Busy Bus.
The one-way journey begins with overtime work that interfere with evenings and weekends and family time. But this is expected. Because the riders believe “If you want to make the Big Bucks, you have to put in the Long Hours”.
(At least, that’s what all the other passengers tell them).
And they need the Big Bucks. Otherwise, how could they pay for their SUVs, 2nd vehicles, the McMansion homes, European vacations, mid-life-crisis toys, Gigantor-Screen TV’s and $8000 bathroom fixtures?
In fact, a 2nd income is required to sustain all this, so their spouse must also work.
Hurray! Now the BOTH of them can ride the Busy Bus together.
But not before they wake up extra early every day, and rush through breakfast and transfer the kids to daycare. (Which, by the way, consumes most of their 2nd income, but that’s besides the point).
At work they attend seminars on their own time, called “Lunch and Learns”. They become soup-martyrs, working at their desk during meal-times while slurping their penance-bowl of broth. They attend long meetings without bathroom breaks. And they do this without complaining, because sustenance and bodily functions come second to putting in the Long Hours so you can make the Big Bucks.
And even THAT’s not enough. Because they can (and are expected) to use their Crackberry to multi-task and check their emails while listening to the budget meeting approving next fiscal years’ deliverables.
And when the workday is finally done, they’ll pick up some groceries, pick up the kids from daycare, cook supper, wash dishes, make sure the kids do their 4 hours of homework..and then, only THEN do they allow themselves to “relax”.
For about 15 minutes, before they collapse with exhaustion
Only to wake up the next day, get on the Busy Bus, and do it all over again.
For the next 30 years.
Until they retire or die.
(Whichever comes first).
And the sad thing is, the Busy-Bus riders can get off anytime they want.
Only they don’t want to.
Is it the weekend? Should we take time to sleep in? Go the beach? Go for a Sunday drive? Or visit gramma?
Heck, no. Let’s bring extra work home. Because it will show the managers we want to get ahead. So we can get promoted, so we can make more Big Bucks, so we can buy more stuff.
But if we DO have time for something fun, like going for a hike or fishing, let’s bring the CrackBerry along, so we can stay in touch with the office in case they call.
And it’s about time we got the kids involved in competitive sports. They’re almost five now, and it’s our duty to teach them to ride the Busy-Bus just like Mommy and Daddy.
Hey, kids! Now “Family Time” consists of your parents driving you back and forth to hockey games, softball tournaments, competitive horse-shoe league, and organic Tai-chi meets.
And don’t forget the piano lessons, Black-smithing lessons, and Organic yogurt-making.
If a Busy-Bus parent has done their job right, every moment of their childrens’ leisure time is filled, scheduled, structured and organized. (That is, when the poor youngsters aren’t stuck doing their 150 math problems and writing 800 page book reports)
Dont’ worry, though. If little Krystin is lonely, a “play-date” with a classmate can always be arranged.
We’ll try to pencil something in three weeks from now.
Let’s say the Bus-Bus riders have managed to survive the first part of the trip without having a coronary.
Their kids are now teenagers, beyond the age where they need to be driven around and supervised.
Is everyone done with the Busy-Bus yet?
Because that’s when the Busy-Bus riders decide that their perfectly acceptable house just isn’t good enough anymore.
So they rip it up and renovate, installing granite counters and stainless-steel appliances and Direct-Buy pretentious crap that cost more than their first home.
That’ll keep them occupied for the next few years or so: living on a construction site, dealing with contractors and mis-matched floor tiles and selecting the right color imported patio stones.
Not to mention, having to work extra hours to pay for it all.
And if that’s still too easy, well, then there’s always the option of buying a summer cottage on the lake.
Nothing like a second home 200 miles away that needs constant repairs and maintenance to consume the next couple of decades worth of summer weekends and vacation-time.
Eventually, though, the Busy-Bus riders will reach the point on the itinerary where the cottage is complete, the house is paid off and renovated, and the kids have finished college.
Their career’s ending…they can now retire on a full pension.
Surely, NOW, they’ll slow down and finally start enjoying the fruits of your labor?
Some riders STILL wont’ get off.
They’ll go back to the same lousy company they worked for, hire themselves out as a “Consultant”, and do the same lousy job they were so happy to have retired from.
Because they don’t know what to do with themselves, otherwise.
Not to mention that they’ll need the extra double-dipping money for that new fishing boat. And the condo in Florida. And that European trip they’ve been planning.
And even when they finally stop officially working, they’ll continue to ride the Busy-Bus.
Because there will always be something more important than just sitting down and enjoying life.
Never mind that these sad folks have forgotten what it’s like to just wake up on a summer weekend and let the day go where it takes you.
Or what it’s like to enjoy spontaneous, unscheduled visits from friends.
Or to let oneself be unconnected, off the grid, and just listen to the sounds of ones’ own thoughts.
That doesn’t matter to them.
Because if you ask them “How’s it going?”, they’ll beam proudly and tell you:
Is this what we have to look forward to?
Is this what riding the Busy-Bus is all about?
Then let me off at the next stop, please.
Because I think I’d rather walk.
The ticket office would be located at the top of the hill, 500 vertical feet above the parking lot.
Nobody would be allowed on the ski lifts until they attended a “Pre-Ski Briefing” each morning.
The number of runs down the hill would be dictated by a Ski Permit, to be signed and authorized by the Ski Patrol, the Lift Supervisor and the Resort Manager.
Unfortunately, the Resort Manager would be in a 4-hour meeting discussing the color of the table-cloths in the restaurant. So nobody would be allowed on the slopes until he got back.
By the time the Resort Manager got back, then it would be time for the Ski Patroller’s break, so everyone would have to wait for yet another 35 minutes.
There would be signs posted every 20 feet, reminding everyone to be aware of the dangers of “Slipping and Falling” on the ice and snow.
Any time you fell down, or saw someone else do it, you would have to fill out a BPF (Butt-Plant Form).
Most chairlifts would only be 4 feet off the ground, to minimize the potential risk of falling from height. Anyone using it to would need to be trained in Fall Protection. They would have to wear a safety harness which must be clipped to an anchor point approved by a Certified Structural Engineer.
This would have to be done every time someone got on and off the chairlift. As a result, you’d be lucky to get to the top of the hill by quitting time.
Taking this into account, Management would increase the Ski Permit quota from 10 runs per day to 27. If these “Expectations” were not met, it would be considered “Unacceptable”.
80% of the trails would be bare, though, because Management would insist on the ski resort opening on April 1st.
A Consultant would be hired for $100,000. It would take him 4 months to recommend that the hill be opened in December instead.
The Consultant’s advice would be ignored.
On the bright side, however, $2,000,000 would be budgeted to conduct an “Optioneering Study” to determine why all the neighboring ski resorts are doing so much better.
The “Optioneering Study” would end up being 300% over budget, and would conclude that the hill be opened even later, on July 1st.
The resort would continue to bleed money, and would ask the government to bail them out.
The grant money would be spent on a state-of-the-art office building and swimming pool, for another Optioneering Study.
If I wanted to run the Shittiest Cafeteria in the World, this is how I’d go about doing it:
The first thing I’d do is locate it where I’d be guaranteed a monopoly: right in the middle of Butt-Scrape nowhere. On Company property, where employees only had 40 minutes for lunch and the nearest restaurant down the road was 15 minutes away.
I’d also make damned sure the Company didn’t subsidize anything, so that I could mark up my prices exorbitantly. In fact, I’d charge even MORE than that same restaurant down the road.
I’d have a huge mural showing brightly-colored photos of the freshest fruit and produce, glistening with morning dew….which would in NO WAY would resemble the soggy fare I’d be serving in plastic cups.
I’d use bread as filler for the hamburgers….but I wouldn’t even bother trying to hide it. No…I’d deliberately leave the bread in 1/4-inch sized chunks, so that everyone can see them embedded in the burger, like so many grease-soaked croutons.
I’d make sure there were no ready-made sandwiches to eat, not like most places have. This way, anyone who’s in a rush would have to wait in line for 10 minutes, while we’d make each and every sandwhich on demand. Which would also be more expensive than Subway.
By the way, if anyone wanted a slice of processed cheese on one of these sandwiches, I’d charge a dollar…(A DOLLAR)!
I’d start putting out pizza on the rotating heat-trays at 10:30 AM, so that by the time it’s 12 Noon, the melted cheese would have the consistency of a soccer ball. (Providing there’s any pizza left, at this point.)
I’d make sure to foster feelings of mistrust with the customers. If someone came to the cash with a Styrofoam container, I’d make them open it, to prove they were buying just the toast like they said they were, and not trying to pull a fast one.
I’d also post signs pointing out the napkins and straws and condiments are for “paying customers only”. Just to make sure that anyone brown-bagging their lunch didn’t get any ideas. (Never mind that there’s nowhere else on-site to sit down and eat…that’s irrelevant!)
I’d further discourage brown-baggers by having (maybe) 4 working microwaves, for a staff of 2500. I’d post more signs, saying that if the microwaves were not kept clean, they would be removed.
I’d make getting free water as inconvenient as possible. There would only be two available water coolers located at the far end of the eating area, and I’d only leave out thimble-sized drinking glasses. This way, people might get fed up and would be more prone to buying my over-priced beverages.
If the toaster-conveyor-belt machine broke, where it only browned one side of the bread, I’d make sure it didn’t get fixed for at least three months. Maybe four.
If someone came in at the end of the day, and there was tons of food in the hot trays waiting to be thrown out, I’d still serve them a regulation-sized portion…and not ONE iota more.
I’d post a sign proudly stating that we apply FME Principles. “Foreign Material Exclusion” is important, if you want to avoid getting thumbtacks in the soup again.
I’d make sure the doors and metal cupboards were locked at night, to keep the raccoons out of the food. Because those varmints somehow always manage to break in.
One last thing. I’d pay my staff shit. So that they became just as jaded and burnt out as my customers were.
How would you run YOUR Shittiest Cafeteria in the World?
I remember the interview like it was last week.
I had applied for an internal job within the company I was working for at the time. I figured I had a good chance.
After all, I was on good terms with the Friendly Manager, who liked me and basically encouraged me to apply for the position.
Plus, it wasn’t like I was a newbie. I had 12-years of successful experience, including five at the company itself. This job was more like a horizontal transfer, for a change of scene.
Unfortunately, the Friendly Manager was nowhere to be found at the interview. Instead, he had put his 2nd-in-command in charge, who interviewed me with two others.
Things were going well, until they asked the standard put-you-on-the-spot interview question:
“Tell us about a co-worker you’ve had conflict with, and tell us how you resolved it.”
Sigh. Another one of those God-Damned Human Resource bullshit questions.
But I had been to enough interviews that I knew how to handle this one.
I gave a story about how I didn’t get along with a lab technician in a previous job. Yadda yadda yadda. How I approached her and asserted myself, and we ended up being very good friends. Yadda yadda yadda.
Always put a positive slant on things, I told myself. Good job, Friar, you handled that well.
Then they asked: “What’s the biggest disappointment of your life?”
I gave an honest answer, about how I was heartbroken not to have gotten an offer for a professor job I had interviewed for. But again, I put a positive slant on it.
That was 6 years ago. Yadda yadda yadda. And looking back in hindsight, I think things worked out for the best, because I’m making the same money and I have normal work hours and balanced life. Yadda yadda yadda.
Again, I thought I handled that well.
But the questions kept coming, from all three directions.
“What don’t you like about your present job?”
“Going back to that other job you mentioned: what didn’t you like about your old boss?”
Oh, for Chrissakes. It’s going to be one of THOSE interviews.
Again, I tried to answer the best I could. I talked about trying to apply “win-win” principles to bad situations. I talked about learning from my experiences, and continuously trying to improve myself.
But they wouldn’t let up. It’s like they were sharks circling around me, looking for a weak spot.
“Tell us what your faults are.”
WTF is with all the negative questions?
What are they going to ask me next: “When did you stop beating your girlfriend?”
“Tell us about another conflict you had with a co-worker, at THIS company. And how did you deal with it?”
At this point I was getting tired. I tried to think of the least harmful example I could, but I ended up stammering.
Umm…there was this co-worker, he was difficult to deal with, he kept distracting me, I said. I was being harassed and I ended up talking to my manager about it.
Then came the barrage:
“You said two things: he was distracting you, and you were being harassed. Which one was it? Are these two separate issues, or just one? ”
“What did the manager do? What did you tell him? ”
“How did you handle it? How long did this problem last? What was the outcome? How was it resolved?
Wham! Wham! Wham! They just wouldn’t stop.
At a loss for words, I decided the only thing to do was to be perfectly honest.
I told them, the problem was resolved, when I left the department, and moved to another position.
Right then, and there, looking at the faces around the table, I knew I blew it.
At this point: Piss. Me. Right. Off.
If I didn’t’ know any better, I’d almost swear they had been trying to DISCOURAGE me from getting the job.
They obviously weren’t that interested in my qualifications as an engineer.
Or the fact that I’d been in charge of major research projects. Or that I’d presented papers in front of hundreds of people at international conferences and had received major awards.
Or that I’d put in my time on the plant floor, supervising extremely hazardous work, responsible for the safety of others, where people could DIE if I wasn’t vigilant.
Or that I’d successfully met deadlines, satisfied clients, and always had good performance reviews.
No, obviously they didn’t want to hear about THAT.
What they were more interseted in was putting me under pressure, like I was some 21-year-old apprentice, and watching me squirm.
So that they could play their bullshit head-games with me. Until they painted me into a corner and caught me saying something I shouldn’t have.
Needless to say, I didn’t’ get the job.
In fact, some feedback I got afterwards was that they picked up on me leaving the other job, as a way to deal with my being harassed. That apparently didn’t present itself very well.
But just as well.
Because…if THAT’s they way they treated me in just the interview (when they were supposed to try to impress me)…I can only imagine what it would be like if I had started working for them.
1. Grunta-saurus Rex
Quite common, actually. Suitable for Project Managers, bosses, etc. who’s only “motivational” technique consists of growling and threatening their staff. Costume comes with extra sharp claws.
Not a reflection on one’s work ethic. Rather, a good reminder to the worker-peons on where they stand in the corporate food chain. (Just above algae and nematodes, but below the lesser-vertebrates).
3. The Procedure Queen
For those who live, eat and sleep for paperwork, but who couldn’t wipe their own arse if there wasn’t a procedure to explain how to do it.
(Arse-wiping Procedure included, for $12.99 extra)
4. The Walking Brain-Dead
5. Huge DoucheBag
Bag of money comes extra.
6. The Phantom of the Office
Costume comes with sack-cloth and ashes.
A great way to recognize office idiots who can’t speak freaking English, unless the first letters of every word combine to make another word.
8 . Soul-Sucking Vampire
Costume can also be used as a Human Resource Manager. You decide.
9. Clunk-FuK™ the Mindless Safety Robot
Clunk-FuK™ likes to focus on the most trivial, painfully obvious safety tips, while totally ignoring the more serious issues.
Also great for helping train staff, during Safety Orientation Week.
10. Pavlov The Dog
Perfect the Wannabee Yes-Men, who slaver and drool at whatever comes out of their bosses’ mouth.
11. Dr. Spaztard the Mad Scientist
Are you a brilliant PhD scientist put in charge of multi-million dollar project? Do you also have the social skills of Rain-Man?
Then THIS is the costume for you!
12. Corporate Drones/Worker Bees
Like the slug costume, a great way of reminding staff on where they stand in the grand scheme of things.
Buckets are included. But you can’t keep the pollen.