Two Sizes Too Small

By all business metrics, I work at a really shitty company. On the rating scale of shitty places to work, my company ranks above child labor sweatshop, crime scene cleaning, the DMV, and sewer repair, but only just.

Today, a coworker put his notice in and everyone, including his boss, congratulated him with envy. No one ever asks, “Why are you leaving?” If you leave, you might get a sad-to-see you-go, but you’re far more likely to get several discreet is-your-new-company-hiring? solicitations. For the love of goats, take me with you!

We’re like a teacher with a favorite student: happy the student is moving on to better things, but sad that we are left behind in this awful place. Each time a coworker leaves, we realize how much of our own potential we’ve frittered away inside these walls.

Then, the inevitable vulture conversation commenced. Who’s going to get the desk chair (is it better than mine?), computer, office, organizer, stapler, etc. I had to fight over a tape dispenser when the last coworker left. I got it at great personal sacrifice.

This time, I was angling for his quasi-office. It’s really just a drywall lean-to half squatting in the warehouse, which is smaller than my bedroom closet and shared with another person, but it has a door. A door!

I missed out on the office, but I did get the computer. It’s a company-owned Mac, which means I won’t have to work on PC! Yay me! This is serious cause for celebration since the PC they sent me doesn’t have all the applications I need to do my job nor does it have even 1/10th of the fonts I told them I need. Plus, it’s newer than the paperweight I work on now.

Meanwhile, the coworker whose work belongings were being picked apart like a fresh corpse in the desert was still in the room: “Um, guys, I haven’t left yet. I’m standing right here.”

This is what it’s like to work at the world’s shittiest company that isn’t a manure processing plant or a clown factory. Yesterday, we had our holiday party. Hoo boy.

I blissfully missed last year’s event since they had it when Male was in town in January and it was a happy accident that I took that day off. Unlike previous years, this year’s party was actually held before the holidays–on a freakin’ Wednesday for no discernible reason, but before the holidays nonetheless. It’s a Christmas miracle.

A sign went up a few weeks ago at the front desk with the requisite crappy clip art (there are three full-time artists in the building, yet we’re never asked to do the signs) that said, “This office will be closed Dec. 16th from 11am – 3pm.” For weeks, we speculated what we could possibly do for four hours and whether we would get to leave at 3pm.

A dessert potluck sign up sheet went up in the break room, which I promptly ignored. There’s no way I’m spending time and money to make dessert just on the off chance that the company owners might eat it. I have no problem making things for my coworkers, but since the Scroogey owners would also be at the holiday party, I didn’t want to take that risk. It would anger me to no end if tightwad multi-millionaires ate something I made from scratch with my own money. Fuck you. You should buy us dessert, dammit.

At the beginning of December, one of my coworkers came around to sign people up for Secret Santa. I got roped into it last year, and it was painful and awkward, so I asked if it was mandatory. “No, it’s not mandatory, but everyone does it.” Many evil things have been justified with that very reason. “If it’s not required, then I’ll pass.” I felt mildly guilty for the three seconds she stared at me reproachfully, then I got over it.

I don’t understand the point of Secret Santa. Why spend $20 on something that a coworker you don’t really know probably doesn’t want only to get $20 worth of crap that you probably don’t want in return? I don’t even remember what I got last year; it was that memorable. No, thanks. I’d rather keep my cash.

At 11am, word came around that the warehouse was all set up and we should go get lunch. It has been unusually cold in California lately. I talked to my mom in northern Michigan last weekend and it was only 3 degrees colder there. Northern Michigan in December was only 3 degrees colder than southern California. We have officially broken the planet.

Screen shot 2015-12-18 at 10.35.14 AM

Anyway, the party was in the warehouse, which is not heated in the winter nor air-conditioned in the summer. In the summer, they have massive fans going so at least there’s air circulation, but there’s nothing to be done about the cold. They’ve outlawed space heaters, so there is no heat source whatsoever.

They set the party up right in front of the loading bay doors. There were several deliveries during the party, which meant the giant doors were opened and the breeze from outside blew in.

The food was already sitting there getting cold when we walked in, but we were told to do the Secret Santa exchange before eating. There goes the “secret” part of Secret Santa.

There are about fifty people who work at the California office, which is headquartered in New Jersey. There’s a high turnover rate at our company, because the smart ones get out fast. For at least five minutes, I watched confused people walk around asking, “Who is Henry?” “Are you Anna?” People bought gifts for coworkers when they didn’t even know who they were, let alone what they wanted. This is why I opted out. I’ve never felt so smug.

Someone at my table asked what I got. I said, “I got myself as a Secret Santa. I gave myself $20. It was awesome!” Meanwhile, the coworkers at my table looked at their junk jewelry, Santa socks and scented candles, and gave me the look that we usually give to coworkers who are leaving. I wouldn’t be surprised if more people opt out next year now that they know they can.

Finally, at nearly 11:30, we were told to form two lines for food. The food had been sitting there in the frigid warehouse with the wind blowing on it for at least a half an hour. It was ice cold. To be fair, even if it was piping hot, it would have barely been edible.

We are in Los Angeles, which has the best Mexican food outside of Mexico, and in some cases, better than the Mexican food in Mexico. You can’t walk four blocks anywhere in this sprawling megalopolis without running into better Mexican food than you can find in most states in the US.

Yet, as one of my coworkers aptly put it, they catered our holiday party with “white people Mexican food.” It did turn out to be the gift that keeps on giving though, since I was burping up onions and pepper all night long even though I didn’t eat any.

Then, it was time for speeches. Yay speeches! There’s no such thing as a free lunch. At my company, they give out plaques for lengthy servitude that you don’t even get to keep. They go up on the wall at the entrance.

You get a plaque at five years, ten years, and every subsequent ten-year interval thereafter. The longest plaque at the California branch is for ten years and there’s only one, the building manager’s. This is not a “career” type company unless you’re management or you own it.

The owner gave out over half a dozen five-year plaques. For the office people, he gave a little speech about them. “This plaque goes to a guy I’ve known for a while. The company would have a hard time getting along without him and I consider him a friend. Henry, come on up here! Congratulations!”

For the warehouse people, he just said their names, and he even mispronounced a couple of them. “Anna?” I thought the discrepancy between how the office people and the warehouse people were treated was incredibly tacky.

Then it was time for the raffle. Last year, I heard they called my name and when it was discovered that I wasn’t there, they called another name. What I didn’t realize then was that this isn’t so much a raffle as everyone gets something. He had a box with little pieces of paper with names on them which he pulled at random. Literally every single person who works at the California location had their named called.

Why the hell bother going through all the trouble of making it look like a raffle when everyone gets a prize? Just read the damn names alphabetically.

The worst part is that we had to applaud for everyone who “won” something, which was, uh,  everyone. After all the plaque applauding we had already done, it was ridiculous and so very fake.

I “won” a pair of wireless headphones. I do wear headphones all day, every day, but I have the low-profile in-ear variety. These were absolutely enormous 1970s-style headphones that were so hulking that they looked capable of crushing my head if I dared put them on. They were manufactured by some off-brand Japanese company that probably has a better Christmas party than ours. The only words on the box in English were “wireless” and “headphones.” Everything else was in kanji. Well, shit.

Not quite this big, but close. (
Not quite this big, but close.

It was 12:30 by the time they were done handing out all the fake wins. We looked expectantly to see what we’d have to applaud for now, and the owner said, “That’s it! No more speeches!”

The building manager looked at his watch and said, “Everyone back at 1 o’clock, okay?” Some smartass in the back mentioned how the sign for the holiday party said it went until 3pm. The building manager said, “I never said three! Where’d you get three? Be back at 1 o’clock.” So, no four hour party nor getting out early after all. Bah humbug.

Chatting with coworkers about the crappy things we “won,” which included a shaving kit, a glass and plastic tea set, a pleather wallet, and all manner of pointless, less than $20, grab as an afterthought gifts that some secretary in New Jersey was charged with buying, I mentioned my useless brickphones. One of the guys in the warehouse tried to trade me an iTunes gift card for them. “Nah, I never buy anything from there.” “What if I threw in a Target gift card?” I traded my brickphones for a $10 iTunes card and a $15 Target card. Not bad for a day’s work.

Later on in the day, I noticed that the clear plastic inbox attached to the building manager’s office door cradled a copy of the crappy clip art party flier with the “3pm” part vigorously circled in black magic marker. I wish I had thought to do that.

Happy Holidays from the crappiest company on earth!

“Seriously, who the fuck is Anna?”