Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Juvenile Humor and The Failure of Symbolism

I believe that part of me is stuck at the age of 15 and I thank Godzilla for that fact, because it lets me laugh at silly things like the Smoker's Pole. It was located, not coincidentally, in the smoking area of a local hotel where we were holding a Bureau training class. My mind saw this sign, inverted it and saw it as 'Pole Smokers' , which immediately caused me to giggle. I doubt if I'm the only one in our class who had a similar reaction, but I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who snuck out of class to take a picture of it.

I'm on a day-to -day basis at work, which is becoming more excruciatingly stressful each day, so I'm trying to find humor in whatever I can. If my unvoiced immaturity can keep me smiling, my superiors (which now means everybody who isn't me)) might get the impression that I am happy in my work and thus be more likely to keep me around.

Jobs are being cut left and right and it's largely a lick-spittle popularity contest, so my best bet is to keep smiling and do a good job. This hurts, because I always try to the best I can at whatever I do- it's a matter of pride- but I hate having to suck-up out of desperation.

My bosses are all women now, but if they had poles, I'd be smoking them (in a figurative sense), if ya know what I mean. The Office has come to that- scheming, vicious backstabbing and political machinations from all quarters, coupled with a desperate need to please . I'm trying to play as much CYA as possibleand let my record speak for itself, but I'm becoming increasingly disturbed by the amount of appallingly hurtful bullshit I'm willing to endure in order to keep a paycheck-any paycheck- coming. I'm training people who get paid far more than me to do less work-including mileage simply for driving to the office and back home. They were all hired before my department was abruptly shut down, so I can't be angry with them, but I missed the chance get one of those jobs because the Bureau told me I'd be working my old job until the end of July.

I'll probably get hired again in the Fall, once things get busy again. Both of the departments I supervised this year finished #1 in the Region , but all that really means is that we've finished early and worked ourselves out of our jobs, at least for a few months. The pride that I take in my accomplishments is poisoned with the knowledge that my success has brought about my (temporary, I hope) financial ruin. Not that there's much to ruin, but the damage to my psyche is priceless.

In any case, it was nice to be away from the office. It was my second day away; yesterday I drove to the Beach area to administer a skills test, which was actually a refreshing change, despite the pay cut.

I thought I'd make amends for laughing at 'Pole Smoker' by reading Kafka's In The Penal Colony
during lunch hour. I read it in the same hopeful manner that a spider spins a web, but fortunately, I lured no flies into my parlor.

This was the conversation I wanted to have, but didn't:

Fly: "Whatcha reading?"

Me: " Kafka's In The Penal Colony."

Fly: "Huh?"

Me: "Well, it's often interpreted- at least partially- as symbolic of the conflicts between the Old and New Testaments and their respective adherents, and it probably is; but to a reader such as myself, one who has no inherently religious framework of reference; it seems more of an allegory of the futility of, and the human toll exacted by adherence to (or opposition of), The System, i.e, the vast, petty and indifferent cruelty of bureaucracy.

In the end, the Traveler, who eschews his task of voting yea or nay in favor of The System, is the only character who escapes the desolate, unnamed setting of the story. I find it interesting that the Officer ultimately chooses his own death with his blind-faith submission to advanced technology, which is both timeless and prophetic , especially considering that it was written in 1914."

Fly: "Oh, right...I remember that one now. Using that analogy, the Soldier and the Condemned could be seen as representing the hopeless sense of disconnected resignation imposed by a rigid workplace hierarchy, with one laborer destroying another, not out of any particular avarice, but rather because it is simply his job to do so. It wouldn't surprise me if Kafka had something of the sort in mind- or maybe not. The guy was weird."

But that conversation never happened, because not many people at work want to talk about Kafka.


"Nothing, once you think about it, could tempt you to be the winner of a race."
-Franz Kafka, Reflections For Amateur Jockeys


citizen of the world said...

I'm not sure I get it - does it mean the smokers have to stand at that pole?

And ack - I hate that you are stuck in a place of having to be something you are not, but hope it works anyway.

angel said...

Erm... Kafka sounds complicated.
I am so sorry about the shit at work Al, really. I do hope they can pull their fingers out of their arses and make a plan.
Love the smokers pole... so do they no longer have an area, only a pole?

yellowdog granny said...

i'd be leaving a sign telling them where to shove the pole...just saying..
your job situation is making me crazy and dont know how you can put up with it...your getting screwed and forced to like it..feck