Core Values


A great thing happened to me the other day. I got fired. But, hey, wait a minute, I said “a great thing happened,” yet getting fired sucks. That’s right, it does suck, it’s a sinking “Oh shit!” gutpunch to know that you failed, you screwed up, you weren’t good enough and now you’re out on your ass with no paycheck. No doubt, that blows.

But, see, this was a soulsucking job that I planned to quit the minute something better came along, the kind of job where you wake up on Monday and check the clock to see if it’s five on Friday yet, a paycheck job that doesn’t give you time for anything else. Yeah, I saw this coming. Heck, I managed to hang on for two months longer than I expected, and, yeah, I should have been looking harder for new work, but when you get home at 7:30 and need to be in bed by 10 to take up at 5, these things seem to fall by the wayside.

It’s funny because, for the past two weeks, we’ve been forced, yes forced, to listen to Tony Robbins CD’s and I was actually planning to take him up on his Hour of Power, Get Juiced ideas which are ripped off from acting theory circa the 1700’s. I was going to put together my RPM, create a Massive Action Plan, and find more time for myself to write, exercise, get a better job and improve my life. Unfortunately, the boss’s Massive Action Plan included firing me. No shit. He called me in and said “Tony Robbins opened my eyes and you’ve got to go.” So now I have all the time I need. I can collect unemployment and take the time find a job that doesn’t equal nine hours of suicidal inner monologues a day, a job where I don’t purposely eat tons of fruit to stay regular, holding in all the shit until I get to work so I could take extended bathroom breaks.

Oh come on now, you say, it couldn’t be that bad. Fuck you, I say, allow me to wax poetic and enumerate the ways this job blew. That’s right, I said “wax poetic” and “enumerate” in the same sentence. I may be drunk but I can still sling multi-syllabic SAT style sentences, alliteratively even. Did I mention I’m drunk?

Anyway, I was a salesman for a temporary staffing agency. A few weeks too late, I realized that I’d backed a losing horse. My first clue should have been that they still hang their hat on the fast that they were #296 on a list of “Growing Companies” in 1997 and expect me to include it in every presentation, like Al Bundy bragging about his 4 touchdowns in a single game to every female in his shoe store. They didn’t realize that it only begs people to ask why haven’t they moved up the list and why aren’t they still on it? Those are questions I should have asked before I went to work for a company that was going down faster than your mom. This company was like a bottomless bottle floating in the ocean, barely staying above water but not fucking sinking either. It’s barely clinging to life, like that cat from the “Hang in there Baby” posters or Terri Schiavo.

There’s a reason, actually many reasons, that only five of the sixteen employees who were there when I started were still there 8 months later when I left, and 46 people have come and gone in the last two years. The front door is like a revolving door set to ludicrous speed and they go through employees faster than Lindsay Lohan goes through boyfriends or body sizes.

Let’s start with the Core Values, which we needed to memorize (tested every day) and use every day in every interaction. Let’s observe as management puts these Core Values into action:

Me: Hey boss, I just got an order for an accountant.

(Core Value #3 - Overcome obstacle and get it done)

Boss: What? They want an accountant? With experience and a resume? That’s crazy talk. We couldn’t possibly do that.

Me: Well, they’ve got a huge project going on and they really need the extra help.

(Core Value #2 - Listen to your clients and show them that you care)

Boss: I don’t care. Call them back and tell them we’ll send a receptionist.

And of course, we needed meetings to discuss these Core Values, because they’re so difficult to understand. There’s no way that grown professionals can comprehend such a complex code of conduct without staying after work for a lesson. It was like being back in school only in the special class. The meetings are run by the boss, Mr. Bald “It’s not a diet, it’s an experiment” Momma’s Boy, a failed teacher who ran back to the skirts of Mommy’s company. Since he still fancies himself a teacher, he can’t just sit down and say “Core Value #2 is -Keep Learning,’ here’s what it means.” Oh no, that would be too easy, it would only take ten minutes, I’d make my train and get home on time. Instead, he has to dig into his bag of antiquated sociological tricks and try to draw the answer out of us, probably imaging himself a brilliant magician, shocking us by reaching behind our ears and plucking out a shiny turd.

“So, Core Value #5, -Have Fun,’ what does that mean to you?”
Silence. “Umm, have fun?”

“Oooh, almost, but not quite, a little more than that. Anyone else?”

More silence, awkward, awkward silence. “Uh, we should enjoy our job?”

“Yes, that’s it. Who can give an example if enjoying your job?”

Oh, I know, call me teacher, I enjoy staying late for pointless meetings and being talked to like a child. Of course, old Baldy Four-Eyes doesn’t notice that we’d all rather drink each other’s urine than listen to more of his inane blather.

The only person who enjoys these meetings is the sales manager, Polack the Puppet. He has no sales experience, he’s a Polack, but hey, he’s a marine, let’s hire him and, once he’s in charge, he can hire more totally unqualified military. They have no clue what they’re doing but at least they blindly follow orders. It doesn’t matter if it makes no sense, contradicts the hallowed Core Values or involves dressing like a pirate, they’ll just bend over and take it like a man. Semper Fi, Oorah! Ooo-ooo-ooo-ooorah!

Puppet knows nothing about sales but he still gets paid the big bucks to parrot whatever Momma’s Boy says and repeat the same obvious things over and over and over again, repeat the same obvious things over and over again.

“Okay sales team,” he’ll say “time to make some phone calls and remember, before you dial, press 9 to get an outside line. Oh, and after you talk to someone, send a Thank-you card.”

“Oh,” I say, “You mean like this pile of Thank-you cards I have on my desk, the ones I’ve been writing every day for the past 6 months?”

“Yes! That’s it exactly.” he says, patting himself on the back, “This is even easier than taking Fallujah. Well, my work here is done. Semper Fi.”

Puppet knows so little about sales that Momma’s Boy has to lead the sales call training, which is way better. He always comes in 30 minutes late, snapping his stress toy du jour, choking his chicken or squeezing his balls, pretending that he’s actually getting messages on his blackberry and doling out the most worthless advice he can think of. For example, when a receptionist asks “What’s this call about?” he suggests a great idea “Instead of saying temporary staffing, say it’s about making her life easier and getting her a promotion,” because receptionists are retards and this will fool them into thinking it’s not a sales call. Instead they’ll think to themselves “wow, this guy’s going to get my boss a promotion? I better put him through right now! Maybe I’ll even get a promotion too!” Then there was his other brilliant idea to get people’s attention by leaving wildly insulting messages or, as he calls it, pissing on the desk. Now I’ll admit that we’ll probably get hung up on no matter what we say so why not do something stupid, but he’s just unbelievably proud for these ideas. As he walked away, you can see he’s thinking “Man, where did that come from? It’s like I’m some genius salesman sent here by the lord to teach everyone else how to sell stuff. I could sell fire to the devil. Wait til I tell the missus. She’ll be so proud she’ll let me move the beds together tonight!”
The sad thing is that a few weeks ago we were interviewed by outside consultants to improve the company (think “The Bobs” from Office Space) and they’re gunning for Polack. They asked everyone if we think he serves a purpose and I lied and said he did. I defended him and look where it go me. Of course, I said a lot of other things and, even though the interviews were “anonymous,” it’s apparently not hard to narrow it down when there’s only three salespeople. So I got shitcanned and why? Because I I showed up “exactly on time.” Yes, I got a ten minute lecture because I consistently showed up exactly on time and this proved that I “didn’t believe in the product” and “wasn’t motivated.” Very insightful of them and absolutely true of course. But I’m still not done recounting the many reasons to not be motivated or believe in the product.

Lucky me, even though I wasn’t a team player, they let me stay for one last meeting before me they let me go. That’s right, I sat through one final hour of worthless prattling, suppressed countless snarky comments and then got fired. I guess they thought the enjoyment of the meeting would soften the crushing blow.
And what happened in this meeting? We were learning about Core Value #3, “Overcoming Obstacles,” which obviously is much more complicated than it sounds. Polack decides he can illustrate the true meeting of CV3 with a story that just happened to him and Perky McTinyTits, the Oh-So-Gleefully nauseatingly cheerful new salesgirl who spends her days surfing Myspace, asking “What can I do to make my life better?” or “Tell me more Chuck Norris facts,” and believes that wearing blouses open to her bellybutton will literally make mountains out of molehills and trick us into thinking that she has boobs, a fashion tip that she sadly has yet to share with First Sergeant FakeBoobs in Recruiting. Anyway, Perky was taking Polack to a meeting (I learned long ago that this was a terrible, terrible mistake) and they were running late because they both thought SpongeBob’s big hand was the hour hand. They finally arrived half an hour late only to discover that, oops, Perky had like totally led them to the wrong office and had to call to reschedule.
“Huzzah!” said the Polack “Perky knew it would be difficult to make the call but she did it anyway. Let’s all be like her.”
Oh, that’s why I got fired. And here I always thought it was bad to be too stupid to check an address. D’oh, too bad I missed that meeting on ignoring common sense. Maybe I should have been more like Polack and never used spellcheck either.
Then there’s Mommy, owner and true boss of the company. She wasn’t there when I started because she’d broken her hip, hopefully not the same way as Roseanne’s mother, but the mythical stories of her epic evil convinced me that this was a good thing. She would occasionally pop in to keep an eye on her son but wouldn’t deign to say hello to the sales team. Unfortunately, this all changed when it became clear that her son was running the company into the ground and the dragon returned to its lair.
Of course, it wasn’t her son’s fault that he Bushed up the company, he’s dyslexic, which, of course, is his answer to everything. Miscalculated the commission checks? Dyslexia. Told everyone that Angelina was his one gimme? Dyslexia. Fled the scene after crashing into a policevan? Dyslexia. Somehow his ADD and rampant douchebagginess escaped blame.
But, I digress. I was talking about Momma Dragon, back to reclaim her throne of shit and return to her former glory when the company was on that list lo’ those many years ago. She started by trying to assure us that we were all equals, that she was one of us, by leaving her office and joining us at the communal desk, set at chest height and accompanied by ridiculously uncomfortable high chairs designed to force us to stand for our entire 9 hour workday because being miserable equals sales (one of the few perks of the job was watching Momma’s boy trying to clamber onto his chair, like Sancho Panza trying to mount his donkey, which of course only happened when he wasn’t reclining on leather chairs in his office).
So, like the underpants gnomes, Momma had a plan:
Step One: Sit with the common folks and win their acceptance.
Step Two: ?
Step Three: Profit.
Turns out that Step Two was to obliterate the idea that she was in the same species as us by issuing a decree that we communicate with her through email and speaking directly to her was strictly forbidden. Apparently, she didn’t enjoy sharing Chuck Norris facts with Perky. Yes, Momma is a quiet, awkward woman who, much like the Xenomorphs, only opens her mouth to spew acid and bite off heads. As such, any women with an obvious personality were seen as a threat and had to be eliminated. So long highly stressed, intense perfectionist Asian girl who worked harder and filled more orders than anyone else. Hello quiet receptionist who eats lunch by herself. So long Raunchy Ravi, the loud Muslim girl who thinks it’s hilarious that we’re friends even though I’m a Jew and she’s a terrorist. Hello tiny Asian lady with a Hispanic name and poor grasp of English who querulously mumbles hello as she passes on her way to the bathroom. Soon, even Perky will surely be shown the door to be replaced by a dumpy, deaf, dumb girl who communicates by tapping once for yes and twice for no.

Momma’s next brainstorm was a new marketing campaign centered around the idea of convincing our clients that we’d make them look like movie stars. Of course, we didn’t mention that we would make them look less like Brad Pitt and more like Clint Howard or Post-Divorce Tom Cruise. The plan was to send a series of incredibly poorly written missives, designed to make them look great when compared to our impressive incompetence, and then buy their business with cheap trinkets, which were more likely to remind them that the work could be done better and cheaper in China. For example, we sent a letter saying “Some people think temporary staffing is luck of the draw,” followed by three totally unrelated letters and a pack of Marilyn Monroe playing cards (Polack’s a big fan, had an impersonator at his wedding and everything). This was a step up from the time when they decided to show that we would cure work-related headaches by mailing aspirin to potential clients. Management was too cheap to splurge on an entire package of aspirin so they just sent the individual pills which were inevitably crushed into a fine, white powder by the time they arrived. This did garner a lot of attention from the police but, sadly, they had no need for temporary staffing.
Perhaps the greatest was the Goldfish campaign. We declared that we would make temp staffing as easy as shooting fish in a barrel and followed up be delivering goldfish. No, not Swedish Jellyfish or Cheddar Cheese Goldfish, but real life, living, four for a dollar goldfish. It was symbolic, you see. Just as our employees were only temporary, so too it was only a matter of days before the fish died.
Perhaps this wasn’t such a bad idea in theory but, much like the Chevy Chase Show, the reality left a bit to be desired. The day before we were to deliver the fish, the Mass Transit Authority went on strike and, as if that wasn’t enough reason to take a claw hammer to the genitals of each and every MTA employee, Momma’s Boy decided that we just couldn’t wait and should take his car for the deliveries, thus cementing his claw hammer status.
So I set off with the other two salesmen at the time: Kentucky, the top selling Southern boy who coined the phrase “Cunning Linguist” and managed to land two cash cow accounts (and the company managed to only screw up one) so that he could spend his days farking around on the internet and sexually harassing Perky, and Fish, the newest member of the sales team, who stuck around through months of hazing before he saw the writing on the wall and quit, sort of like rat fleeing the Titanic, which is still better a rat than a drowned Leonardo.
It took only moments for things to go wrong. First the awkward, foreign accountant was sent with us to the parking garage to lead us to the boss’s car. Unbeknownst to us, foreigners refer to vans as minibuses and SUV’s and SUVans, and can never remember where they parked. Forty five minutes later, we stumbled upon the car and the accountant returned to the office with the parking stub to put it with the rest of the receipts. It wasn’t until we were at the exit with a line of cars behind us that we realized we needed that parking stub to escape. Half an hour, and many new friends later, the stub was returned and we fled the scene. The rage and the chainsmoking had begun.
After two hours in traffic purgatory, we had traveled a total of four miles and made it to a pet store owned by some guy who, judging by his fury at us for downgrading our order by twenty fish, desperately needed five dollars. Then we went back into the hell that was the NYC streets and crawled to our first stop only to discover that, unlike us, our first target had enough brains to stay home. Approaching a berserker fury, we set out again and delivered a total of two fish. To give you an idea of how bad the traffic was, Kentucky decided he was better off walking four miles to get home, leaving Fish and I to drive the car back to the boss. I’ll spare you the horrifying details but the highlight was when I simultaneously cut off some asshole who was trying to cut me off, honked, flipped him off, swerved to avoid some dumbass pedestrian and flipped him off with my other hand, all to gain a total of ten feet. 9 hours after leaving the office, and only 2 hours after we should have gone home, we ditched the car three blocks from the office and left the boss with a bucket of dead fish, an imprint of my fist in the middle of the steering wheel and a life-size hood ornament in the shape of a biker. All in all, it was far better than spending the day at the office.

The kicker is that we couldn’t deliver on any of the things that we promised in the marketing campaign. To be blunt, we sucked harder than an asthmatic aardvark. To start, we had no inventory. Our reserves were emptier than Lance Armstrong’s testicle, if you’ll pardon the low blow (Rimshot!). I spent months chasing one of the largest law firms in the world, a true Brittney Spears account that I should have been able to Federline to my heart’s content. Unfortunately, once I landed the account, we totally choked. We couldn’t have choked any harder if this account was Dirk Diggler. We filled a total of 3 out of 30 orders because we didn’t have anyone. I felt like a pimp with no ho’s. It’s like I was calling people and saying “Hey Bob, Pimp Jay here, got a minute? Oh I know you don’t need any ho’s now. But hypothetically, if your wife was away or on her period, what kind of ho would you like? Whoah whoah, a big-breasted blonde with an incurable oral fixation? Who do you think I am, King Pimp? Tell you what. How about I charge you double for a short, incontinent handicapable ho with a mouthful of braces from the former Soviet Union?”
Oh, but there’s a perfectly good explanation for that. We have a patented triple tiered screening process that measures a staffer’s attitude towards work. Only 1 in a million people can pass our copyrighted testing process, behavioral interviews, colonoscopy and the Eliminator obstacle course. That way, on the rare occasion when Jupiter is in the House of Scorpio during the Winter Solstice and we actually do fill an order, we can guarantee that the staffer will be a superstar. And by “guarantee,” we mean that we’ll promise a full refund if the client isn’t satisfied then hope that the client forgets about that promise when he realized that by “superstar,” we meant a borderline Forrest Gump who won’t set fire to the building. Let’s take a look at some of the “superstars.”
Hmm, let’s see, there was Caleb who told his supervisors to “fuck off” when being questioned as to how one female employee overheard him speculating wildly about the anatomy of another female employee, yet managed to keep another two weeks before he showed up two hours late, drunk, promptly took a lunch break, then returned to regale everyone with his encyclopedic sexual knowledge and cursed out any supervisor with the gall to tell him to stop. But, to be fair, Caleb was only trying to get fired so that he could collect unemployment and the screening process couldn’t possibly be expected to catch that.
Then there was Feivel, who transcended all the stereotypes regarding our people when he no-showed his first day of work because he realized that there was no Kosher food near the office and he couldn’t use the office fridge because it was “common” and contained unkosher food (a problem which could easily be solved by putting his food in a plastic bag). After accepting our offer to buy him his very own lunchbox, he started pushing for cab fare, got turned down, then shouted that he didn’t need our charity and was never heard from again. However, the screening process couldn’t have foreseen this because that would have been racial profiling. So the screening process has never screwed up.

Oh wait, I forgot Helen, who we placed at a prestigious law firm which promptly complained that she “dressed like a bag lady” and “won’t keep her mouth shut.” Oh, and there was Bob, who got sent to a prominent bank before they discovered that his criminal history included approximately a dozen assaults, sexual and otherwise. Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without Michael, who spent a week at a brokerage firm before he tried to pass himself off as an actual employee of said brokerage firm, backing up his claims with very confidential, very stolen documents.
These are only the crème-de-la-crème of our “incompetent,” “work missing,” “long lunch break and/or multiple smoke break taking,” “non-stop talking,” “sexually harassing,” “lying,” “slacking,” “boozing,” “doping,” and just plain sucking “Superstars.” But they all pale in comparison to Claudine.. After three weeks, we told her she was being let go because her supervisor realized that she didn’t know Excel (yet passed our Excel test). Claudine took this news with all the grace and class of a true lady by marching back into the office and delivering an impressive dissertation on four letter words and the many combinations thereof. Then, while everyone was still struck dumb by her scatological stylings, she shredded three weeks of worth of important documents and capped off her tour de force by promising to sue for racial discrimination. Apparently this wouldn’t have happened if she was black. Bravo Claudine, Bravo.
Perhaps even more frustrating than the incompetence of our staffers, which nicely complemented the company’s general incompetence, management still managed to operate with a wholly undeserved sense of entitlement (wow, I never realized we had so much in common with K-fed.) First management decided that we shouldn’t be bothered with sending resumes for clerical positions because hey, we were once on a list and clients should just assume that we’re sending someone qualified, like Macy’s just sending you clothes without sending a catalogue first. Actually, that’s not fair: It’s more like K-mart. Eventually, the plan was just to send people to random offices and then follow up with the grossly inflated bill. They refused to accept orders for high level, hard to find employees and demanded orders for receptionists, but only if we could charge double. Then when I actually convinced someone to pay double, they decided that we were too good too spend out time on receptionists (a not too subtle code for “we don’t have any receptionists.”) They dropped a client that accounted for over 5% of our billing because they -were difficult to work with” and occasionally “changed their mind’ and asked for “people that we hard to find,” then complained that we were thousands of dollars behind our goals. Talk about cutting off a nut to spite your dick.
But then Tony Robbins came to the rescue and they realized that the company was failing because I didn’t believe in the core values and wasn’t motivated, which Polack said was painfully obvious because I showed up to work every day exactly on time, and so I was let go.
Am I bitter? Hell no! I think I’ve made it pretty clear that working at this company was worse than watching Bea Arthur’s gangbang sex tape. Sure, I worked with a decent group, even if one of the guys used the urinal with his pants around his ankles, and I’ll miss them, but not that much. Meanwhile, I’m sitting in a park by a lake, the sun is shining, birds are singing, bears are shitting, deer are fleeing hunters and pickup trucks on monster truck wheels, and somewhere, a job order is going unfilled and it’s not my problem. Oorah!

posted under Rants
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One Comment to

“Core Values”

  1. On July 5th, 2010 at 2:07 pm Bored Says: