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Links of interest:
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Quotes from The Home Depot workplace:
"The world will become a better place and the sun will shine again, the day Big Corporations go the way of big-finned cars." John L., contractor, Home Depot customer
"The Golden Rule is where the one with the gold, rules." Ivan P., Home Depot Kitchen Designer
Conglomerates and corporations like The Home Depot provide a lot of food for contemplation, anymore. One wonders how it is that the final decades of both the 19th and the 20th centuries marked such enormously awful turning points for Americans. The year 1886 brought legislation allowing "natural person" legal rights to include corporations. The resultant extinction of both biological family and common decency might have seemed obvious for anyone with foresight (Lincoln saw it coming)...but eyeglasses apparently weren't very advanced, back then. The 1990's brought us NAFTA, of course. And while it isn't within the scope of this site to discuss political issues, most folk fated to work for survival in the aftermath of both decades might wonder, "Was silent genocide the goal?"
Uniformity-->Sterility-->Extinction is how the equation goes. The sweeping changes wrought by both decades' rulings accelerated the process by millennia.
Our hardy heroine walked into The Home Depot like a bluejay soaring into a surrealistic time-warp. Before trailing her path, it will behoove the job-seeker to keep the following information firmly in mind:
1. The Home Depot caters to builders and contractors. Naturalists are advised to look elsewhere for employment, or else to shut-up and fake it like Teacher did. The co-worker grieving about the 200-year-old silver maple his uncle just cut down doesn't care about the tree...it's the board feet dumb uncle lost, by cutting stupid, that have him in tears.
2. The Home Depot's internal promotion system is geared to maximizing profits. That means that the cheapest candidate is always the best qualified for advancement.
3. Pursuant to #2, all employees over fifty must be willing to adapt to having their lives in the palms of baby-fatted hands that generally don't know--or want to know--what they're doing. It is advised that one leave one's heart, hopes--and mostly--STANDARDS at home.
4. Bullet-proof vests are recommended. Workers weather homicidal customers every time the store gets busy enough for Managers to send workers home, giddy to maximize profits and get rid of everybody.
6. All successful Home Depot employees operate in SWAGGER. Women who want to be men do well, also.
7. The one exception to #6 is the attractive female. She is to operate in PREGNANT. Or heat.
8. Paychecks ARE delivered on time, and The Home Depot does offer generous sick leave/vacation benefits. You'll use every speck of them. 401K benefits are excellent for next-of-kin.
Now, Mr. Ghost did not follow our heroine to The Home Depot. He knew that he wouldn't need to. Other ghosts already haunted that bleak hillside, remnants of the deep forest that had been erased by parking lot, Wal-Mart, and The Home Depot. Neither the forest critters nor the human community had wanted those Big Boxes. But the Big Boxes clobbered them financially, of course, and won the bitter battle.
In the meantime, that once-revered Piano Teacher had begun to resemble Cinderella. She had sold what little jewelry she owned, and had bartered a month's rent in exchange for work on her landlords' battered little A-frame. With indomitable determination, then, she plunged into her new roles both at home and at The Home Depot.
Cinderella's childish naivete, as she adjusted to her new place of employ, was best expressed by her chronic question, "Is this place bankrupt?" reiterated to anybody within whispering distance. The store bore the hallmarks of a shell running on empty, with its "seconds"-grade and damaged products, its false signage, its empty hype with no follow-through, its depressed, dissociated Management. But no, The Home Depot wasn't "bankrupt." It was simply structured to maximize profits for a few at the top. Bob Nardelli walked away with well over $210 million once he had finished with Jake, the Receiving guy whose yearly bonus progressed from $350 in his first year to $8 in his fourth.As for NAFTA's effects, the imprints were everywhere--most notably in officious packaging with the wrong item inside, illiterate or nonexistent buyers' manuals, zero quality control, and shipments trashed during their thousands of miles en route.
Our heroine did well enough regardless, for the first few months. By her sixth month, she rated as an All-Star for her sales in Kitchen & Bath. Humans have a way of banding together when subjected to unlivable conditions, so Cinderella and her buddies in Plumbing and Kitchen Design forged through one miserable day at a time, lubricating the store's dysfunctional wheels with sardonic jokes and hilarity. After Cinderella had made some droll quip, one day, the ever mumbling Kitchen Designer Murphy--an industrial artist from New Jersey--suddenly turned around, looking lit up--his wheels creaking in their own rusty groove. "That's IT!" he croaked. All eyes looked up. "By God I can't believe this, but that is EXACTLY IT! We ARE SLAVES!! Nothing has changed! We're SERFS! We REALLY ARE SERFS!!"
Cinderella did harbor a secret band of allies all her own, for support. Come most lunch hours, she would retreat to her truck, which was parked at the edge of the lot next to an open field of scrub. There, she would watch a family of crows romp, play and nap together. It was enchanting relief. She had never known that, when crows chase after other crows who've snatched food, it's a comraderie thing, not a war. They're celebrating the all-'round good fortune, and the guy with the food is Mr. Popular. They would practice the whole thing with dead leaves.
One day after the first night of autumn's chill, Cinderella watched spellbound while one "genius" crow put on the most spectacular aerial display that she had ever witnessed. It was like a ceremonial dance, performed with a large seed polyp. The crow would soar skyward with the polyp, drop it, and then dive straight down after it, spinning in somersaults and backflips so virtuosic that they'd have awed any Olympic gymnast. Over and over, the crow would perform its increasingly elaborate dance, never once allowing the polyp to reach earth--at times swooping it up not four inches from the ground. The other crows watched contently.
But most healing was the gentle affection that those creatures shared for each other. It was all so opposite from what Capitalist America had come to be. Cinderella generally left her cozy little family with a heartfelt groan, whenever she had to return to Hell's cavern.
Only gradually did Cinderella begin to see the light, to understand why nothing at The Home Depot worked. It was the workforce that was unbelievably naive, for taking on its tasks so sincerely, for thinking that doing a good job would pay off, for getting upset over broken systems and raging customers. Nothing worked because fixing things might mean a delay in short-term profits, or a decrease in the CEO's pay. The Manager rationalized by referring to all complaints as products of a "culture of entitlement." Customers were spoiled, that's all.
Complainers had not yet evolved to the flat-lined hum that enables New Agers and Nazi gas-chamber operators to cope.
By summer's end, Cinderella needed to make some huge changes. Fast.
Quote heard in The Home Depot workplace:
"Keep 'em scared, and they'll do anything for you." Caligula E., Home Depot Assistant Manager
Once that revelation sank in, Cinderella changed gears. Each day was becoming like a Reign of Terror. Her job search had never ceased, but she also began pressing for a transfer to Operations, now.
Meanwhile, appropriately enough, Human Resources' Pierre suddenly hired a new Kitchen & Bath Associate to fill the desperate need for a burly male out in the aisles. Management refused to
train Cinderella on machines (citing cost effectiveness...they wanted her
selling), and so the poor Plumbing guys were constantly being dragged
out of their area, to service Kitchen & Bath.
This was no "burly male." Bon Bon's first words, after gushing effusions of introduction, were, "Oh no, I don't do stocking or any of that. People are my specialty!" Evidently, she had failed to notify Pierre of that little item.
Kitchen Design was doomed.
Sure enough, Mme. Bon Bon proved true to her word...about the only true word ever to flow from those unctuous lips. Schooled in the "Find Their Pain" sales tradition, Mme. Bon Bon prided herself on an ability to "sell anything!" The little lady seeking a $30 shower head for her ailing mother was somehow reduced to tears over the matter, at which point Mme. Bon Bon smoothly soothed her with hugs, whispering "You're such a good daughter! You're such a good, good daughter!" all the while that she divested her prey of $1,800 that she didn't have. For folks who had already maxed both of their Home Depot credit cards and the rest as well? No problem! Get a third Home Depot card.
That the majority of Mme.'s orders went south before reaching first base, was of little concern. The power lay in the numbers, in Acting talent, and the majority of Bon Bon's time was expended either at the computer, eating and elaborating upon her mirages, or in the breakroom (six breaks a day were her norm outside of lunch) loudly announcing her undying efforts to repair the errors of sadly incompetent co-workers. She quickly became the most reviled employee in all of Hell's Cavern.
And yet...Pierre was smitten. There was nothing that anybody could do. He evidently didn't understand that there was no such thing as Mme. Bon Bon's "MBA in Psychology." Schizoid was his Ideal Sales Model.
Savvy customers fled the Kitchen Design department in droves, appalled that it had become a Used Car Sales lot. Design's valiant Project Manager Herbert fell to muttering, "Oh, beam me up!" at frequent intervals, while Master Designer Ivan fled to Millworks and old Murphy took a medical leave of absence. Only the diminutive cowboy Designer Snake seemed impervious. He had been with The Home Depot for sixteen years, had more seniority than anyone in Management, and had seen just about everything. Unfortunately for Cinderella, Snake had also started living up to his name a bit too well.
It began with heavy vibes and sitting too close, while Cinderella followed his computer coaching. When the "vibes" threatened out-of-control, Cinderella sought safety out in the aisles, on the electric ladder and waiting on customers. And when it became evident that Snake's seductions were failing to garner reciprocation, he began retaliating by butting rudely in to orders that Cinderella was taking, directing her to some "task" so that he could snatch away her order. Snake was married forty years, a staunch church-goer, and a rabid fundamentalist. His favorite theme was, "Jesus SAYS that Armageddon will be "atomic"! If we'd just go blow UP a few of these losers, we'd have another Golden Age just like the Fifties!" Snake also hated customers with a passion. Any customer daring to know what she wanted was instantly berated behind her back with, "Well! Aren't we just SO SPECIAL!" She wasn't. She was just discerning. Snake's wife, along with the other 9,381 women that he had "converted," might have benefited by a little "discernment," themselves.
It was becoming impossible for Cinderella to do her job, so she finally reported Snake's seduction-retaliation tactics to Pierre, requesting to be removed to another area, and that Snake be watched. The little guy was a serious pervert. Pierre listened with interest, but noted nothing. Snake was Mr. Irreproachable.
The following week, Cinderella had her back turned to Snake when he reached over and, in a quicksilver move too fast to see, grabbed her little derriere and slipped his fingers right where they didn't belong. Stunned, she failed to follow The Correct Procedure, which would have comprised whirling with steely glare and bellowing, "Keep your !#*%! slimy hands to yourself, BUCKO!" for all customers and personnel to study. No, cowardly lady that she was, Cinderella bolted, badly needing to vomit. Management wasn't going to believe her, so after sounding the alarm to a couple of fellow workers, she dove into the nearest telephone booth. Within mere seconds after vomiting, Cinderella had emerged in a brand new guise:
She was going to GET this little slimeball, Management or no. Pierre, conveniently for Pierre, was nowhere to be found for days. So she called The Home Depot's Awareline, a wonderful system in place just for cases like these. Nevermind that the Awareline didn't work. An ebonics-speaking male took the report, dwelling long on Snake's seduction tactics, battering her with, "Wahh..wa-waaahhWAIT a minute. Whaddayou talkin' m'bow?" and, "I own't unnerstan' a WERD you jus'say." She battled on thus, for about thirty minutes. When she hung up, she congratulated herself for having done The Right Thing, even if it had been disgusting.
Pierre returned the following week, and Buffy reported the situation to him immediately. Awareline's report came in soon after, stating "touched her thigh" for allegation. Upset, Pierre promised an inquiry. He also sent Buffy home for the rest of the day, to return the following night as a Freight Crew worker. Our little heroine was euphoric to have been rescued.
Snake was an impeccable citizen,
of course, denying all charges with blustering indignation. There had
been no witnesses fast enough, so the case was filed as "Inconclusive." Buffy
didn't mind. The alarm had been sounded for other women's sakes, she
was free of vampire clutches, rid of Pierre's precious Bon Bon, rid of
Used Car Sales tactics and the resultant lawsuits looming, and she
could learn Operations now. Life would be good.
And indeed, Buffy throve on night crew. It was like an eight-hour aerobics workout. The Department Head--a foul-mouthed former nightclub bouncer--proved the best "boss" that she had ever had at The Home Depot. He not only supervised his crew, but he worked. He trained Buffy and she finally got the machines licenses that she had needed for the past year.
Alas, little did she know that her doom had already been sealed. Three months after her Snake report, with nary a negative write-up nor a single point to her name (ten points= fired), Buffy made her fatal stumble. After clocking out one morning, she tried to mimic her cuss-mouthed Department Head by cussing at him in the presence of an Assistant Manager. Buffy wasn't a cusser. It was supposed to be funny. Nobody laughed.
She was fired instantly. Buffy the Vampire Slayer met the Inferno of Termination for the first time in her long life, because she had foolishly relied on the systems in place to expose a Snake. The Assistant Manager was so determined to finish her off fast, that he dreamt up whole phrases of filthy content never uttered or dreamt of by Buffy, then attributed them to Buffy. In writing.
Meanwhile, female Human Resources Manager was appointed to replace Pierre. She believed the Assistant Manager unconditionally, and Buffy's own succinct written statement wasn't even considered.
Buffy sought legal counsel, but hers was an "At-Will" state where no reason whatsoever is required for an employer to fire an employee. Couple that with lack of witnesses to Snake's quicksilver maneuvering, the one very real cuss-word that emitted from Buffy's fair lips...and litigation would have brought more quicksand than rescue. The Human Rights Commission did take her case and write up a statement, but it was so rife with inaccuracies and dripping with "sex" that it turned our little Slayer's still healthy stomach.
She opted out. Buffy had escaped with body and soul intact. Our silly, naive little teacher was very, very lucky even to be alive.
Since that day, a number of reports have come in regarding our heroine. Sightings have been made out on the Olympic Peninsula, where she was last seen pushing a wheelbarrow across the wide expanses of various billionaires' lawns. They say that she looked alone and at peace with the sea, the sky... and many, many crows.
If you're interested in the laws that enabled corporations to take over our government, you might check out the following site:
Copyright 2007 by Harwood Studio