A four part retelling of a three month saga.
Part Three: Philosophise this
Resisting indoctrination is one of my favourite pastimes. The feeling of freeing yourself from mob mentality is like a hit of sugar to a diabetes patient, only you get to keep your legs. But ok, we live in a world where there’s a lot of talking and meetings but not always a lot of doing. So called ‘menial’ work has been replaced with what I’ve been told are called ‘new service professionals’ although I know for sure that I’d pay someone a hundred times more to take away my garbage than to manage my company Snapchat account. But that’s a moan for another time. This particular bank had a credo, don’t they all? They don’t? Oh that’s right, they’re a bank. In a perfect world, my bank’s credo would be something like, ‘We put your money in an account and we don’t fuck with it until you want it back.’ But the world’s not perfect, is it? So this bank’s motto was actually something along the lines of, ‘Pushing the boundaries of dynamic living and success through respect and rapport so our customers and our people are better off.’ I’m paraphrasing but it was this ambiguous and ridiculous and the reason I’m explaining all of this is because of the events surrounding how I found out about its existence.
We had just been dragged into another meeting, probably to do with the whole staff satisfaction survey thing again, so yes, this exercise was probably partly my fault, and our site manager asked us if we knew the company philosophy and why it was important to our work. Some sweet souls tried to guess it, but they were wrong. Others just stared blankly and some kept avoiding eye contact with our elephantine overlord. She seemed shocked that nobody knew this piece of useless prose for some reason so she gave us a clue. “It’s written somewhere on the building.”
She sighed. Then she asked us to dance for her. Kidding; but she may as well have, because what she actually asked us to do was just as humiliating. “I’m going to give you five minutes. Run all over the building and find out what our philosophy is. The first one to write it down and return gets a prize.”
These people were for the most part grown men and women with kids and call centre mortgages, not kindergarteners. They got up and half walked-half jogged out of the room (I call this ‘yogging’) and I followed. The door shut behind me and instead of yogging down the stairs, I leaned against the door and waited. I watched from the landing while these once-dignified people ran all over the warehouse in their unflattering polo shirts to find the credo par excellence. Five minutes passed and they came shuffling back up the stairs, out of breath. We all entered through the door and sat back down like the obedient bank dogs we had become and our matronly manager began the new round of questioning. “What’s the philosophy?” she asked. Three people try to read it in unison but are still out of breath. I tried to look knowledgeable and nod a lot, but she can see straight through that. “Where did you find it?” She looked at me.
I looked at my friend Mark. He motioned to me with a hand movement that looked like a shadow puppet; which was not at all helpful.
Just when I was about to cave, a Type-A behind me yells out, “In the entrance! It’s painted on the wall!” Our Dear Leader gave me a stare and continued her mind moulding. I am relieved that I will avoid a dressing down that I probably deserve in front of my workmates, but secretly elated that I subverted the system with sheer belligerence. It didn’t matter that I was too much of a coward to admit it, I had won a small victory in the name of freedom, and I tried desperately to hold on to that sense of glory as I trundled back down the stairs to the waiting pile of plastic baggies.