Jewish World Review Sept. 30, 2002 / 24 Tishrei, 5763

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

If you are employed, you're part of the problem | A few years back, I was employed as a text-based content provider-- Internet speak for "writer"-- for a well-known video game company. A year after I started, the powers that be decided to spin our development division off into its own company, which then went on a wild acquisition spree, buying up other small developers, who all moved in with us, hundreds of us crammed two or three to a cube in a large windowless office space.

Those were heady times: weekly barbecues, off-site pow wows and confabs, motivational speakers, morning seminars with free coffee and doughnuts, long discussions and e-mails about the nature of our new in house culture, product presentations-- the world was our oyster!

Until our first products shipped, they sucked eggs, nobody bought them, and two thirds of the workforce was laid off or quit, myself among them. Six months after I left, the dregs of this baby company was itself bought by another baby company which was itself bought six months later. Ah yes: capitalism in the nineties. A bold enthusiastic entrepreneurial spirit accompanied by a jaw-dropping cluelessness.

Anyway, as I was clearing out my desk, our admin came by wheeling a cart full of office supplies-- floppy discs, pens, paper, paper clips, alligator clips, clipboards, three ring binders, sticky notes, pen holders, file folders-- which she handed out with a cheery "Help yourself!"

We all staggered to our cars with our booty, and drove away guilt-free.

I'm certainly not proud of having looted this now non-existent company. I probably set the defunct entity back forty or fifty bucks with my shenanigans. Still, if you match my petty theft against the lunkheaded antics of upper management, who managed to run a perfectly mediocre company and a hundred million dollars or so into the ground in less than a year-- well, I'm a piker.

I still have a dozen or so of those ball point pens left, and I believe a couple of them still work. To show my good faith, and atone for my sins, if the fine folks at WorldCom or Enron or Arthur Andersen need some paper clips, memo pads, or writing utensils with another company's logo to help defray the expenses of busted 401 Ks, worthless stock options, and legal expenses, give me a call. I'll let you have them at cost. It's the least I can do.

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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


09/25/02: "Up and comers," go away!
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09/10/02: Monotone felons
08/20/02: Will we soon need a passport to get caviar, duc a la orange, or Polish sausage?
08/14/02: Law and Disorder --- and Starbucks
08/12/02: Rummy's monkey
08/05/02: Time for some real cultural heroes
07/31/02: Yearning for a nostalgic American product that was neither
07/24/02: Voicemail heaven?
07/18/02: At the movies with your friendly neighborhood curmudgeon
07/12/02: King of Kitsch
07/09/02: Musicians' brains
07/01/02: Where's my cow?
06/24/02: Modern record stores can be a scary proposition
06/21/02: Life IS a movie?
06/19/02: Spreading fertilizer on a dictionary to try to raise a novel
06/17/02: Happy cows are really miserable?
06/12/02: Very similar to a rock
06/05/02: Of Humice and Men
05/30/02: Pooches in sharkskin suits and the end of dog tags
05/22/02: We baby boomers used to rule the roost
05/20/02: The Files now Ex
05/14/02: Entangled in Spider-Man's web!?
05/02/02: April Showers May Come Our Yadda Yadda
04/24/02: From child murderer to milk hawker
04/10/02: New realities
03/21/02: You did it your way? I have to kill you now!
03/12/02: Life in the warehouse
01/28/02: Shoes and food
01/24/02: Suspension of disbelief has nothing to do with whether we accept something as real or not
01/22/02: Save the Grand Ole Opry?
12/15/01: If you truly want to appeal to the lowest common denominator
12/11/01: KNITTING!
12/07/01: Conspiracy by the 'fat suit' lobby?
12/04/01: The future of comic books
11/15/01: Literary tips in a jar
11/12/01: The ectoplasm of a ghost economy
11/05/01: Sumner Redstone's passions
10/31/01: My irony
10/29/01: Even in wartime, America can still bring it home
10/25/01: Ad memories
10/17/01: Pathetic me
10/08/01: War time lite
10/01/01: Confessions of a sarcastic scribe
09/11/01: The end of Mom
09/07/01: Boy Loses Girl, Boy Bites Girl, Boy Gets Girl
09/05/01: Virtual elegance?
08/28/01: Buzz!
08/23/01: Radio workout
08/20/01: I robot, you Jane
08/15/01: A wild and crazy world!
08/10/01: When the future was "as real as a dime"
08/08/01: Garage Dearth!
08/06/01: That Big Clock
08/02/01: Stop the pop!
07/31/01: Catchphrase history of the world
07/26/01: The Bride of Science
07/23/01: That java jive
07/17/01: Homogenized hegemony
07/13/01: Applying Newton's First Law of Physics to textbooks
07/10/01: The dumb and the dead

© 2001, Ian Shoales