Thursday, January 19, 2006

You're Hired! Proceed to Re-education.

Have you ever noticed that the more meaningless your job the longer the job orientation is? The first few jobs I had involved assimilations that lasted days. They consisted of a battery of honesty tests, historical reviews of the company, speeches and even chanting.

Applying for a job at a local department store, the HR woman asked me, a young 16 year-old, “Who are you? What makes you tick? Where do you want to be in five years?” Well, obviously I wanted to be anywhere but there. But I think I blurted out, “I’d like to work my way up to management.” At that point she passed the honesty test across the table.

That interview did not go so well, so I applied at the new Target. That was by far the strangest and most fabricated I’d ever been to. We chanted no less than three times:

Fast! Fun! Friendly!
Fast! Fun! Friendly!
Fast! Fun! Friendly!

Although the atmosphere was supposed to be empowerig, I felt like I was being fitted to man an oar on a modern slave ship. Faster, damn you. Louder! You don’t sound like you’re having fun! Scream it you friendly little monkeys! Don't make me beat this drum faster!

It was a litany unmatched until I joined the Air Force and experienced boot camnp where they run you out of bed every morning at revelry to sing the Air Force fight song.

Of we go into the wild blue yonder.
Climbing high into the sun.

Louder, you maggots! Scream your guts out for Uncle Sam! Don't make me recycle you!

Yes, the Air Force was the longest orientation, lasting six and a half weeks so I could learn the ranking order, and the short history of American air superiority. When they were done breaking my will and rebuilding me into a patriotic zealot they hauled me off to tech school for another three months. The nice thing about the Air Force was that they paid you while they taught you. So, as far as I was concerned, they could take as much time as they needed.

But as my life has progressed up into the wild blue yonder my job responsibilities have increased but my orientations have become almost non existent. I ran this past a friend of mine who is a lawyer. That sounds like a job that involves a lot of responsibility, so much so that you have to go to school for seven years for an entry level position. She said they showed her where her desk was and that was it. I was stunned. No chanting? No video tapes? How about an honesty test?

Why, when I was 16, was I indoctrinated so much more than I am now, at 30? Is it the idea that I can figure out for myself what I’m supposed to do? Is it really true that the more responsible the job the less ramp-up time you receive?

Let’s pretend that the President has the job that involves the most responsibility (i said "pretend"). What type of job interview does it entail? Giving speeches, and raising money? Hardly a thought is even given to qualifications or experience. And then, once elected, what type of adaptation procedure do they under go?

Stand here.
Look official.
Don’t smirk.
Roll you sleeves up.
Stay something bold.
Your vacation time does not roll over. Use it or lose it.

Oh, I’m sure it’s much more complicated than that. After all, the President is responsible for the safety and reputation of three hundred million employers. There’s probably a perfunctory introduction video tape (entitled: So, You’re President?) or some autogenetic chanting (I am The President. El Presidente. Vini Vidi Vici. I am The President...).

But anyway, I’m glad I’ve moved past the orientations. I didn’t need a video to tell me how great Target was. I didn’t need someone to actually explain to me how much fun it was going to be to stock milk in the dairy cooler for six hours. Come on, people, these things are obvious. I’d think it beneath you to hire anyone who could not figure that out for themselves.

And now when I get a job, I get a name plate, I get my own little space where I can put a plant, a computer, there's a coffee maker within a stone's throw, and I get the same intro message the President gets: don't do anything too stupid. We have a good thing going here, just don't break anything ok? Sit here and look professional. I's a good job when the only orientation you need is "For the love of God, just don't download any porn."

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