Well, as long as we’re on the subject of jobs from hell, I might add one more snapshot from my rather full album. I find it interesting, now, as I look them over, that three of the worst jobs I ever had were all during my 18 years in Los Angeles.
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, 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 through 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, featuring 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 was 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 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.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com: