Be Careful What You Ask For
by Peter Block
Sorry We're Closed: Diary Of A Shutdown
Diary Of A
I know that this journal is an act of betrayal and I accept the price. It is worth it to have this view, this information out there, even if it is not read by a single soul (except for my mom). This is why I am here. To establish this record of how we died. To take a picture of this mass grave.
Jim tells me that Chris Janning will take the job in Dallas, after two months of negotiating they have one more fine point to resolve and Jim says that he'll leave July 10th. Jim says; "I'm asking you to take Janning's job, Elizabeth but I know that this is a problem for you. But I'm faced with 8 months left to deliver the remainder of the contract and no one else to do the job."
Jim tells me about his uncertainty. He was interviewed in Tampa and they never got back to him and never did reimburse his travel expenses. He was offered a job at the transfer site, which he accepted. Then they called him back a month later and said that he would have to compete for the job with other internal candidates. Then he was notified of a manager position job in Columbus and he is competing with his friend Lawrence Miller for that one. He says; "I get so turned around by all this that I don't know what to think any more, Elizabeth." I sympathize and tell him that I appreciate his care and concern during this difficult time and he starts to cry. He says; "Well, I'm trying to shoot straight with you because no one's shooting straight with me, and that's when I can get anyone to return my calls."
I create places (that ring with the
music of passion)
If I become SMC 123 production manager tomorrow my work life will change dramatically. Will this happen? I don't know. This is like those mechanical bull rides and I'm not going to let go before I say the ride is over.
On the plane home I listen to the announcements about the connecting flights and suddenly I want to go somewhere else, anywhere else. Maybe when this is over?
The word must be out about my new job because I am getting copies of all kinds of email.
When Megan Nartker, the artist, was talking about finding objects and weaving them together, I knew exactly what she was she was talking about because that's what I'm doing with this story. I look for phrases, people, tones, music and tears and put them into a picture - a real big picture.
When I told her about me writing this small everyday story about the death of an organization, she said; "This is like the Titanic, you're going down with the ship."
It felt great to say; "No, I am not
dying, the company is."
I make the call to Chris Janning and arrange our first transition meeting. He seems happy, so between us there is balance. As I wait in his office I notice that the only book that he has on his desk is a religious text by Pope Pious. I also notice his brand new printer.
Throughout our conversation he reads
and apparently answers his email messages. I consider
leaving and coming back in with my laptop.
Al Smith reminds me of the four
tenants from Angeles Arien:
I know I can get those first three, but that last one is a killer.
When I tell my friend Keith about this I am struck by the fact that at this point there is more emphasis on controlling us than ever before, but we are less in control than I have ever seen. What is the lesson here? Are we just gypsies in the palace? I think there's something more, but I can't put my finger on it. Equipment is being logged and tracked and tagged and reported on, but at a lunch on Friday I can get anything I want. It is in part because we care about each other. So does this mean that caring and corporate goals are mutually exclusive? This is a riddle that I can't let go of. This seems like true power, even stronger than the power that shut us down.
Which is more honorable, success or failure?
I need a drawing from Design, but I ordered it 3 days ago and still no response, so I go talk to the manager. He shows me how to operate the equipment myself because all of the technicians have left and the administrative assistant that is filling in is way behind.
Stephen, the manager, says; "I think this is the lobster panic syndrome. When I was spear fishing, I could tell that the lobsters could tell that their buddies were getting zapped and they would start shuffling around. Some would dig in deeper into the hiding places, but some would make a break for it out into the open and that's when they would get zapped, unless they were real fast. We are the lobsters. Some people panicked and they got zapped by bad jobs and bad deals."
I take credit, but no satisfaction, from having trained good and obedient and cheerful slaves
I am incredibly frustrated because I can't just put my head down and ignore the larger picture and when I look at the larger picture I am furious and baffled about what to do. I wonder who else knows how bad this is. The constant chaos, the broken people, this huge open wound bleeding knowledge and money. I wonder who else is strong enough to believe this truth. The information that I have is dangerous, but I think that there is power in that danger, if I can find it without getting destroyed.