Kelly Willis--"What I Deserve" (mp3)
John Hartford--"In Tall Buildings" (mp3)
If you work where I work, then you got your contract at the end of last week.
Yeah, I know they told us no raises and all of that, but we can hope, can't we? Contract time is that time when we throw the rest of world to the wolves and focus only on what we can hope to get. Friends? Yeah, we think, they've done pretty well and they're pretty valuable, but, hey, times are tough and we get into this mindset where, yeah, we know what the general conditions of the economy, the company, whatever, are, blah, blah, blah, but then we conveniently put those aside.
Instead, we think: "Yeah, I know most people are not getting raises, but that doesn't mean that they can't still recognize a valuable employee who has had a really good year, i.e., me."
And the best part is, it doesn't even have to be a "good year" to get us thinking. Of course, a good year is best, because it's hardest for our internal voice to refute. But we can easily find ourselves going with "tough year" (dealt with a lot of personal stuff) or "need to demonstrate that they want to keep me year" (I'm young and the world is my oyster) or even "fucked up early but got back on track year" (yeah, that was a bad decision, but that was way, way, way back in October). Potentially, there is a reward for anything. Potentially.
Hard Lessons of Life 1-101: If you work for something larger than yourself, then, ultimately, yes, you are a cog in a machine and they don't give a shit about you. They may smile, they may pat on the back, they may look you in the eye and tell you in all sincerity how much they value you. They may even believe it. They may be personal friends with you outside of the office. They may be Godfather to your children. They may have cried on your shoulder during a tough time they were having. They may confide in you more than anyone else. I'm here to tell you--none of it means shit. It isn't personal. It's just business.
Once, a long time ago, I was a business major, a management major more specifically, and though I didn't learn much, I did learn all 101 hard lessons of life and I will repeat them for your edification: if you work for something larger than yourself, then whoever you work for does not give a shit about you.
Here's how an introductory Management text would have put it: the first goal of any business, organization, or institution is self-preservation.
Once you work through that in your head, you know I'm not messing with you. If the primary goal is self-preservation, then everything else, and I mean everything (for anyone who is an idealistic liberal like me), is subservient. Yep, even you and your raise and your career and your life ambitions.
You can be sacrificed at the drop of a hat.
That is the truth, and the upside is, I truly believe, that the truth shall set you free. As Sean Connery said in The Untouchables, "Thus endeth the lesson." Now, sign your G-d contract and get back to work.
"What I Deserve" comes from Kelly Willis' first major CD of the same name. Hartford's "In Tall Buildings" comes from his John Hartford Anthology. Sadly, the man (who once played a brilliant solo show in our chapel) passed away many years ago. This song of his bears listening to with tears and recognition several times each year of your working life. Since I'm in the anti-Man mode tonight, I don't care if these songs are available at Itunes or not.