One of the less palatable aspects of my job is bidding on government contracts. It would be less of trial if I thought it would be worth the effort, but it’s a complete waste of time.
Most state entities openly thumb their noses at the procurement regulations and carefully word their specifications to favour certain outcomes. The state officials have very itchy backs that require lots of scratching before you’re granted entrance to the preferred circle.
The fact that this is technically illegal is neither here nor there. The government occasionally makes a few disingenuous noises about “rooting out corruption” before election time, but the practice continues because few private firms have the stomach, stamina or stones to take the matter to court. They understand the power of the Dark Side.
Nevertheless, my boss insists that I keep hitting my head against this particular wall, because Senior Management Logic(TM) dictates that if something doesn’t work, you keep doing it until your skull pops.
Several times over the past few months, my boss has instructed me to attend meetings on his behalf. One may be tempted to think that he is starting to entrust me with greater responsibility, but this conclusion would only be half right.
You see, the meetings in question have all arisen as a result of some project-related calamity and I’ve been sent as the designated company shit sponge. The thing that clued me in was the fact that I hadn’t actually worked on any of these jobs.
You know that unfortunate idiot that your typical customer service department trots out whenever an irate complainant demands to speak to the manager? Yup, that would be me.
Hand me the antiseptic, please.
According to makers of motivational posters, the secret to a fulfilling career is to do something you love. This is great advice if you enjoy starving to death in a ditch, but not all that useful for the rest of us.
On the other hand, you’ll probably stand a (marginally) better chance of finding that dream job, if you actually know what you like. Take this dude, for example:
He has a simple, straightforward (albeit ambitious) goal. Fortunately, that annoying law against killing people is more of a guideline here in South Africa, so no worries there.
Consequently, if he applies himself, he could probably manage it in about five years. Assuming, of course, that he is able to secure some kind of sponsorship for his genocidal rampage AND if nobody fights back, runs away or hides.
However, his biggest obstacle will be staving off boredom. Repetitive tasks really do become deathly dull after a while.
If you’re like me and regularly find yourself trapped in a room full of corporate drones (aka the Wednesday morning meeting), you may also begin to think that “expanding client interfaces to synergise profit vectors” is a perfectly normal discussion instead of the complete bollocks it actually is. This is the insidious nature of groupthink: it slowly erodes your ability to think critically and you end up being pulled along in the current of consensus. Woe betide the individual who dares to swim against the prevailing direction of the stream, for that wretch will be cast into the pit of non-team players!
A similar phenomenon occurs on Twitter. The hive mind has a low tolerance for dissident opinions. These are crushed with a brutal efficiency that would have given Stalin a raging boner. Regular Twitterers may be forgiven for believing that they are changing the world with the latest hashtag, but that’s to be expected from people who are active participants in an enormous virtual incarnation of the human centipede. The harsh reality is that most people don’t really care too deeply about today’s trending topic. Especially if it involves a Kardashian.
This can be illustrated with the following handy infographic* (and who doesn’t like infographics?):
What this tells us that in a room containing a hundred people, one of them will be standing in the corner fulminating against the Bad Thing du jour. Of the 46 who are actually in a position to do something it, only four of them might be interested enough to pay attention. The rest may possibly catch the odd phrase here and there, but the majority will be too busy counting all the fucks they don’t give.
* Source material:
What do SA’s 24.9 mil internet users spend most of their time doing online?
What Twitter in South Africa looks like
IEC voter registration statistics