Friday, May 18, 2012

...And a Job from Limbo

Not all jobs are jobs from hell. Some are very nice jobs, as was my employment with the porn mill. And some jobs are, well, a couple steps above hell. I've had a couple of those too, the most memorable being the one I had immediately after leaving my glory days with the P.R. firm, related earlier. A friend got me a job with Peterson Publications, a magazine publishing conglomerate that cranked out countless well-known, very popular, mainly male-oriented periodicals such as Car and Driver. My tenure there was blessedly short, for reasons soon to be made clear.

I have always held to the philosophy that one should work to live, and one should never, as so very many people seem to, live to work. Combining that philosophy with my ability to exist in the world without really being a part of it has largely enabled me to pretty much sail though life like the Flying Dutchman. Still….

Some jobs are furnaces, some are ice boxes and some, like my stint at Peterson Publishing, are London fogs. My job with Peterson was definitely fog: fog so thick that I never did understand exactly what my job was supposed to be, other than do whatever I was told to do at the moment. I think I was in the Promotions department, the primary purpose of which I gather was to come up with little gimmicks to attract new readers. I do recall making up a fake airline baggage claim ticket to be attached to the front cover of one of their travel magazines. I assume it had something to do with an offer of a free trip, though its purpose was never explained to me and I never saw the finished magazine to which it was attached.

There was a similar cover attachment for a diving magazine for which they wanted to feature a ferocious-looking shark, which I was assigned to draw. This, to me, was proof positive that the inmates were running the asylum, since I have never, ever been able to draw anything that ended up looking even remotely like whatever it was I had set out to draw. I think I found a photo of a shark in some other publisher’s magazine and just traced it. It was atrocious, but they used it. And again, I never knew its purpose.

It was not a bad place to work, I don’t think. It  just reminded me of what Limbo must be like. There were people there, but other than the friend who had gotten me the job, they all existed in this thick, grey fog. I do not remember the face…let alone the name…of a single person there. I do not remember the layout of the workplace or what went on there. I could not find the building today if my life depended on it. I would imagine I did have a fairly good idea at the time where the restrooms were, but other than that…

But what I do remember distinctly was that the entire organization seemed to be focused on Office Politics, particularly among the management, whom I do not think I ever saw.

From what I could gather from my friend, the company operated like some strange, gigantic game of chess. While I know nothing at all about chess, I gathered that in this game, the employees were pawns, the lower level supervisors rooks, the supervisor’s supervisors the Queens, etc. So when one Queen bested another Queen, not only would the overturned Queen be fired, but all the rooks and pawns under him/her as well. Entire departments would be let go at one time. I couldn’t quite figure out how an organization could survive like that, but what did I know?

I did not understand the rules of the game and I really didn’t care.

Suffice it to say that after perhaps three months in Limbo, my supervisor’s supervisor lost to his faceless opponent and my entire department was let go.

I did not weep.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs ( ).


Diana said...

When you mentioned working to live it reminded me of a time in my youth when I was taking a six week trip to Britain. I decided to take a job at a meat processing plant because they paid excellent wages and it would only be for a few months. I started in sandwich meats, hot dogs, etc. which was fine but after a short time I had to decide to either be laid off or work on the kill floor. The two jobs available were to work where they stun the cows or where they get them on the production line. I just couldn't be a part of where they kill them and I really wanted to make some more money for this trip so I ended up on this tall scaffold on the line. The official name of my position was called "bum dropper." It's a good thing it was only for a few weeks. It's difficult to remember that I did that now and I can truthfully say it's the worst job I've ever done. I worked at a fish plant after that. It's amazing what we'll do for money.

Jordan L. Hawk said...

OMG, the shark drawing made me laugh. I once worked for a mega corporation that shall remain nameless, and like you occasionally got some very weird requests way outside of my skill set.

Kage Alan said...

I completely and totally appreciate your outlook being work to live, not live to work. The majority of the companies out there these days expect you to live to work, expect complete and total employee loyalty and absolutely scoff at the idea of offering little to anything in the way of employer loyalty.

Am very much enjoying these posts, D.