Saturday, February 03, 2007


Corporate Tyranny Turns Comical

At the link below, you will find a little satire in the "Modest Proposal" vein inspired by recent decision made by the CEO of the Scotts fertilizer company to fire an employee for smoking in his own home. His own home! What next? I remember an employer I had in Wilmington, North Carolina in the early nineties. He was a classic paranoid, a timorous tyrant in the mold of the senile Roman emperor Tiberius who trembled in anger at even the rumor of criticism. He once announced to his subordinates - us - that we were not allowed to make remarks about the company even when we were off duty. We could not say anything in shops, parks or restaurants. If word got back to him that we had slighted so much as the size of the company parking lot, we would be summarily fired. It's not like he himself was even part of this community. He lived in Greenwich, Connecticut and only flew down every few months or so. Nonetheless, his edict was strictly enforced. I recall dining with my wife to be and my future in-laws at a local seaside restaurant. The shipping manager of the company stood nearby, pretending to read a list of specials posted on a wood-paneled wall. Six feet eight inches tall, and cursed, like Kurt Vonnegut's Billy Pilgrim, with the figure of a milk bottle, this gentleman was far from conspicuous. But there he stood, listening intently, an eavesdropper in neon. As I began loudly to praise The Company in fulsomely obvious terms, using the inflections of a kindergarten teacher reading a Dick and Jane book, the gentleman began, slowly, to sidle away. A few months later, he himself was fired. Who knew why? Perhaps he blinked at the wrong moment during a company meeting. I hope he learned his lesson. All you Corporate Gestapo Hopefuls out there beware! Sucking up to corporate dictators will not necessarily spare you from the guillotine.

"I Am the Boss of You" from The Boston Globe

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