Memoirs From A Sorry-Ass Job

July 2002

This essay will detail my experience in one of the most pathetic jobs I have been, and hope to ever be, a part of. Thankfully, I have just resigned and am in the final weeks for my time here. Some of the things I will be discussing are touched upon in my other musings and minimusings, but this piece will focus entirely on the specifics of my life on the job at Kaiser. I won't mention names or specific addresses or departments, but my place of employment must be known as the company, industry, and non-profit nature of the organization all play some role in making the experience what it was to me.

Basically, I'd like to start off with the fact that I pretty much make known to most people I talk to: I did no work. Now, it's important for me to be explicit about what I mean by this statement because many simply don't understand the concept of doing no work. So, let me illustrate the point by giving some statistics (my rough estimates). In the past 5 weeks, I have worked a total of 2 hours at the most. By that I mean 2 hours total in the entire 5 weeks. And by work, I mean doing something that I was forced to do. In my entire 13 months working here, I'd estimate I worked an average of 45 minutes a day. It's hard to estimate because there were a couple days that I did have a full load of work and even stayed late, but that was rare and non-existent in the last few months. A majority of the days, I did not do one second of work activity.

Now this brings up a slew of questions and don't fret, I plan to deal with them all in due time. The first question one might have is whether I'm just slacking and not doing work that I'm supposed to be doing and making others pick up the slack for me. The answer is that I am in no way guilty of not doing work that is needed and no harm is coming to any other people, or the company, by my slacking. I do no work because there is no work to do. Or more specifically, no meaningful work to do. The sheer fact that I am still employed after all this time, with absolutely no reprimands ever, defends my case that there is no meaningful work to do. Part of the reason is my boss does all the work. But most of the reason is that the stuff I am supposed to be doing is a total waste. Of the few times I have actually done work, it's turned out to be an absolute waste, either because the numbers have changed or it's been determined that the work wasn't necessary (see first minimusing.) So, after several instances of viewing my efforts as a waste of time, I simply stopped doing things, unless I felt I had to do them to avoid getting in trouble. And even these things, I knew were wastes and so I didn't really care about the quality that much, just wanted to get the junk done. It took me a while to see that my work was a waste because being new to a company, you can't tell right away, but after figuring it out, it was a whole new awakening for me, freeing up time for other activities.

Most of the work I did, on the rare occasion I had to, was totally menial too, like linking spreadsheets together or typing in numbers. Absolutely no college degree was required for my job, other than the general intelligence to pretend occasionally that there was actually analysis done. You also do need some business acumen to be able to spin your way out of a jam when questioned about some numbers that you know are screwed up. But for the most part, it's positively shameful to see what I was paid for doing this total meaningless, unthinking work. And I'm only talking about the 5% of the time I was doing any work at all! The rest of the time, was my time.

As I touched upon before, my boss was a large reason why I was able to do nothing for so long. The guy is nuts and a workaholic, never leaving before 8pm, working weekends, and quite frequently staying till 10pm, especially on Fridays. Because of this, he wants to do all the work, except for the really mundane spreadsheet stuff that takes me 5 minutes for what he terms as a "project." Because he is on the fast track and focuses on his work solely, he either doesn't care that I did no work, or was genuinely deluded that I was doing work the whole time. The strange thing is that I produced nothing and it's unbelievable that he could have thought I was working when I was really not and I didn't even try to pretend that I was. I mean, in staff meetings, I'd just give vague descriptions like "I'm still looking over the numbers" or "I am continuing to evaluate the model" or similar stuff that any regular person could easily see was code for "I'm not really doing much." But he's really into his work, getting his hands into tons of "high profile" projects and can't be bothered with worrying about what I was doing. And the head of the department had his own stuff to worry about and though might know I did nothing, was more concerned with keeping the status quo (and huge paychecks coming) than weeding out the wasteful people.

By the way, by wasteful people, I'm not just referring to myself, or even just the people doing no work. I'm talking about practically everyone on my floor that does work that provides no added value. There is a whole conspiracy here around propagating work to support departments and managers and there is so much bloated staff here it's sickening. Having a staff justifies a manager's salary, and hence my contribution is in keeping the conspiracy going by adding headcount. And in that sense, I performed admirably in my role as a Business Strategy and Financial Consultant. (BS&F, emphasis on the BS)

Read about a very sad event at my work.

So basically, we see how it is that I did no work. I had no recurring things due ever, an oblivious boss who did a lot of the work I would have been doing in a normal situation, a really screwed up department in serious dissaray with managers scurrying to protect their high-paying jobs with no shame to their own wastefullness, and, most importantly, I am the type of person that doesn't care to waste my time doing meaningless work. This last point is important because someone else in my exact same position would probably have treated the job completely different and worked all the time. It really scares me to even think about how much of their and other people's time this misguided worker would have wasted, either because he thought it was the right thing to do or simply out of self-preservation in regards to keeping his job. I never had any reason to be scared of this job being taken away due to my not being necessary. It was unnecessary, and I didn't hide that fact. But I was so certain that the necessary people didn't know or didn't care about it being a waste, that there was no way I was going to waste my time and/or lie to myself and others by creating a façade of importance by doing work. (Note automatic accent on "c"; the French have gotten to Microsoft.)

Another things here is that since I think most people do no work or see their jobs as wastes, they don't inquire about other people's jobs because they don't want to start a discussion that would put them on the spot and possibly illustrate their uselessness. So no one, other than the people I told or the people close to me in my immediate group, had any inkling that I did no work. It's really quite shocking and almost destroys my faith in capitalism.

Another thing that enables nothingness is the lack of job evaluations or goal setting. In my 14 months there, we set no goals for career development and evaluation purposes and had no performance review. The amazing thing about this is that even so, we got a bonus and raise, though both were pretty pitiful. So this further made it so that I wasn't forced to 'fess up that I did nothing.

So, What Do I Do When Doing Nothing?

After I explain how it can be possible that I did no work, the next question people would have was "What do you do all day?" And for that, I need to explain a bit about myself. I like the internet. A lot.

Well, there is more, but that does explain how I can stand doing no work. Without the internets existence, no way could I have tolerated this job longer than 6 months. Ironically, I wouldn't have gotten the job without the internet either, since they called me. So, the net got me the job, and allowed me to keep the job, at least for a little longer than otherwise.

But before I go into detail on the internet, other things also accounted for my ability to do nothing. First, I've had a lot of experience in stupid jobs which often have long periods of no work. This one by far exceeds all others, but the previous jobs gave me the practice for passing the time.

I like to read a lot. This is related to the internet, but not solely. One of my main activities was reading novels online. I will list the following books I read at work. By Mark Twain: Innocents Abroad, Roughing It, Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and Life on the Mississippi. By others: The Hobbit, Four Past Midnight (Steven King). Some of the Twain, I skipped because old literature rambles and some of all the novels I may have read some at home, but the majority was read at work, literally thousands of pages over a 9 month period, as I started on my novel reading in September. For the Twain, his books are in the public domain so I was able to download the text, copy to Word and size the window to half size vertically over my email so it would seem that it was the preview pane for me reading my emails. I would wonder if anybody thought it odd that I stared at my email all day, but no one ever said anything. For the Hobbit and King, these I got downloaded in PDF format and read in a similar fashion, sometime using PowerPoint graph underneath so the text would look like part of the presentation. I would spend a couple of hours many days just reading quietly these great works. I am grateful to have the time because I really enjoyed them, especially the Twain, which I never would have read on my own free time. I have gotten such great insight to the world and great humorous passages that I will always remember. (These can be found on my web site as well.) I've always liked Twain, but this job enabled me to increase my knowledge of his writings. Also, the Hobbit enabled me to get up to speed before seeing Lord of the Rings (during lunchtime, I might add) and Steven King's writing is a joy to read, even though some of the plots weren't that great in Four Past Midnight.

Check out my "assignment tracker" for use in painful staff meetings with boss. You can see the high profile things I was involved with.

Most people don't have the ability to relax at work, always uptight and nervous, but I am able to let go and was able to fully enjoy reading these works, knowing that it would be rare to get an interruption by my boss telling me to do something. On the rare occasions when this happened and he snuck up behind me, it would startle me a bit because I was lost in the world of the book, but my small fonts or boss's obliviousness made it so that I never was found out to be reading. I have bits of paper all around my desk with my chapter number or page number of where I left off for the day in whatever book I was on at the time, in case the word or pdf file got closed by accident or I shut down the machine for the weekend. I actually subscribed to the unabridged Merriam-Webster online dictionary to help me with some of the semi-archaic words used in Twain's works and other obscure words in King and the Hobbit.

At times, I became weary of reading and had to stop it for a week or two and then force myself back into it, especially with Twain. But when I stumbled upon that gem of a passage, it made the suffering though the boring parts worth it and inspired me to continue on. I’m a pretty patient person and take things in stride, so this reading was suited to me nicely. I didn't fret about wasting my life away (which, in a career sense was happening) but just enjoyed the moment and made the best of a situation which I was getting paid to enjoy myself to the best of my ability while being confined to a cube with a computer hooked up to the internet. My eye sight is pretty good so I could have the text small, read from afar and others couldn't see what the words said and my eyes didn't hurt too much at the end of the day. In all, I have a relatively sedentary temperament that made reading an enjoyable and conducive activity given my surroundings.

Now, let's talk internet. I simply love the net and this needs to be broken down a bit, so right now, I'm just focusing on the non-communication form of the net. My main activity, really even more than reading novels, was reading the news. Here's a little statistic: I spent approximately 1 hour a day just gathering the news I wanted to read. My reading mainly consisted of these "Big Three": San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times. Briefly, the LA Times made it in there, and it's a great paper, but I had to eliminate it once I discovered novel reading. A typical news gathering starts with the SF Chron, moves to WSJ, then finishes up with NYT. Again, I implement a Word based reading platform. My skills at copying and pasting are second to none. Quickly, I scan through headlines. When one looks like a subject interesting to me, I click the link, copy the text, alt-tab over to the blank word file and then control-alt-v to paste the text into word with my special macro that sized the font small and pasted as plain text to avoid gaudy formatting from making it look other than boring memos or emails. Then, alt-tab back to internet browser and continue. Lot of times a news story in the SF Chron I'll pass even though it interests me because I know a better, more detailed account will be in the WSJ or NYT and I'll get it from there. In fact, a lot of times, the SF Chron will say an article comes from NYT, so I know that most likely theirs is a summarized version (which sometimes is fine.) So, the same process goes on through the other 2 papers. A typical collection is about 30 pages of word document or 73,000 words, as it was in today's packet. I'm especially fond of all Enron/Andersen scandal items, A's/Sharks/49ers, WSJ Page One stories, NYT Science, and all other news that shapes our world. A recent tally of all my news files (I save them as ddmmyynews.doc) on my work computer came up with 17.3MB worth of documents. I found that a 100k Word document contained about 12,000 words, so I estimate that I've read approximately 2 million words in my news reading alone, not counting news read on the web directly, not counting fiction reading.

You can see now that I really like the news. In fact, I've read so much news at this job that I never watch TV news anymore and estimate that I know more stuff than 99% of the working public. Of course, most of it is useless knowledge, but still interesting stuff nonetheless. WSJ has great features and I'm into a lot of the business stuff and NYT has crazy long stories in their Magazine section that aren't always good, but when they are, they really rock your world. SF Chron isn't the greatest paper, but it's fine as a local news source and has by far the best archive (free, back to 1995) of any paper in the country that I know of. And the Night Cabbie has some great oddball accounts of the usual freakishness that goes on in San Francisco. For the WSJ, I pay to subscribe to online, $30 a year, which is a bargain for the amount of great stuff they have. Good archive too of the main stories in all sections back a couple months. NYT, also great is free to register for access. Usually, the news takes up all my time until lunch, and a lot of times, I need a bit of time after lunch to finish up.

Now, back to the internet again. General surfing also made up a big chunk of the nothing job. Before I start in on the news each day, I go down my favorites and check Yahoo Oddly Enough news, My Yahoo for stocks and breaking news, weather, sports, TV, etc., check various email accounts and respond or write if necessary, check winterstorm warning and Doppler radar in winter for snow information, check out the latest installment on, and various other little things as they come to mind. I might check bank accounts, look up phone numbers, research information on something I'm buying, make travel plans, and more things than I have time to enumerate on. This general surfing occurs throughout the day and even in the middle of my news and fiction reading to give a little break in between.

Communication is great aspect of the internet, and my nothing-job has made this important to keep me from going crazy. In particular, Yahoo Messenger has saved me. With it, I can instantly chat will fellow do-nothings, ranting about fools at work, fools in the news, funny stuff, sad stuff. It basically makes it so I have companions, since at work, you can't really talk to people because they are working on stuff they unfortunately think is important. Chatting is better than phone because it's more private. People around me can't hear, and it allows me to multitask, still read the news and surf while holding a conversation, and allows multiple conversations at once. It's better than email because you can have short conversations that make email a pain when just asking a simple question, plus it's quicker and always "online" checking for new messages. In addition, a late activity of mine related to Messenger is playing Yahoo Fighter, really a version of Rock, Paper, Scissors. This simple game actually is very fun to play when you are trapped at work and it's a great insight into game theory, trying to outmatch your opponent. I currently always lose the series of games and I still can't figure out what I'm doing wrong, but obviously, my habits are too predictable. Anyway, with Messenger, we instantly can send links or excerpts from interesting news stories, funny photos, plan Vega$ trips, give Simpson's trivia, vent rage surrounding work, etc. Messenger was a late addition to my repertoire of slacking, but a much enjoyable one that has enabled me to at least have others to talk to, easing the sadness of the job. It's just too bad that not all people can have Messenger up at work, so only a handful can slack and use it all day, but I am grateful for those people that were regulars on my "Friends" list and will miss you all once I start having a real job and can't slack all day and chat. Special note goes to Jesska_78, my main chatter who almost did/does as little work as me at her scam vacuum company, and provided me with some very entertaining discussions on various topics surrounding work and the world in general. And though we differed on the opinion of the enjoyment of eating meat, still we got along great based on the common bond of having sad jobs. <sniff>

This might be a good time to talk about internet use at work. At many companies, sites are blocked and your usage is tracked. At Kaiser, nothing is blocked and I doubt there is tracking because I would have stood out for my incredible usage by now. Really, the key is just to stay away from the porn, and you'll be ok. For that, I am grateful, because I really have needed unfettered usage of the internet to get me through these tough times. Any curtailment could have driven me mad, or, even worse, caused me to work on the meaningless crap out of sheer boredom. I've been very fortunate having good internet-friendly companies to work at. The trend is getting bad, but hopefully by the time internet is controlled more, I will have a job where I'll be working and won't need full-surfing ability to keep from going insane from inactivity.

Time For Some ZZZZZZs

Sometimes, late in the day, I'd need a little nap. Fortunately, my body has adapted and I can get some quick little naps in sitting in my chair, head slouched down, appearing to read a memo. My eyes are closed, but no one can see. The key is that I'm able to put myself into a state of suspended animation where I am able to rest up, but still aware just enough of what's going on around me. I'm a very slight sleeper in general. So this means that the slightest footsteps approaching my cube brought me to the awake state, and not even in a startled manner, but very smoothly and I was able to respond to questions directed to me even though a second earlier I was dreaming of some glorious land of waterfalls and angels and endless supplies of succulent fruits.

The Chart

Now, the internet cannot be one's only sustenance. My other inspiration that allowed me to go on coming into this mindless workplace, day after day like cow to the slaughterhouse, was my love of food. Lunch, to put it mildly, was a VERY large part of my day. I looked forward to it from the moment I sat down in the morning and even planned it out days in advance sometimes. Lunch had always been a big thing for me at work, but it took on great importance at this job since I did nothing and had to have something to look forward to each day.

Even before this job, I had been meaning on charting my eating, sort of having a diary of where I ate and my reactions to the meals. I'm not sure why, but I just find it interesting to look back over stuff like this. I know it's weird, but work has driven me insane, so I'm not to blame. At least entirely. Anyway, first thing I do at this sad job my first day, even before I have any idea of just how enormously pathetic it actually will become, is start a handwritten list of where I ate, and my rating. As my nothingness became apparent, this modest tally grew to a fully automated, multi-sheet Excel spreadsheet with numerous statistics and crazy formulas I got from Excel gurus on the Excel newsgroups. (See Food Chart). The creating of the chart itself took up several hours of planning and trial and error and searching for help on hard formulas. After the basis was down, the time involved was simply the input of the data and the eating. Occasionally, I would add a feature, but the structure of the Chart has been sound and unchanged for the last several months now.

As I wrote in my minimusing on Oakland, the city really is a great place for work lunches. Nothing too fancy, but great mid priced ethnic places, if you are willing to walk a few blocks. I really have grown fond of several restaurants here and will miss them when I return to San Francisco for work. Everyday holds excitement; where will I go, and with who, what time, etc. What mood am I in? Do I need something light to make up for heavy eating over the weekend? Do I need Mexican because I haven't had any for a while? Am in in the mood for some grease? Do I need a large quantity because I'm starving (the case most of the time)? Then after lunch, there's the usual 10 minute walk around Snow Park, a very nice space of green at 19th and Harrison near Lake Merritt.

This email had nothing to do with my work, thankfully, but when I heard a person talking about it that I knew to be one of the people perpetuating the stupidity of the organization state that he couldn't believe how crazy it was, I knew it would be a good one. And I think it delivers the goods in that regard.

The Chart became my only assignment at work, due every day. Never, did I fail to update the chart because of work or forgetting. I got in the habit of doing it first thing upon returning from lunch, and then looking over the stats a bit to make sure the formulas weren't screwed up from the chart getting too big. After the update, I'd use my FTP program to upload the updated Chart and homepage stating that the chart had been updated to my web site server because the public demanded instant knowledge of my eating and I aimed to deliver the information as timely as possible.

The Oakland Food Chart ends with my leaving Oakland, and will contain about 265 rated meals at at least 69 unique restaurants. I hope to start one up for San Francisco, but it won't be the same since I'll be working and will be just getting quick sandwiches a lot of the time. The pure freedom of getting whatever I wanted with no constraints due to the job is what made the Oakland chart great, along with the excellent choice of places to choose from.


You're reading yet another of my activities. After getting a bit burned out reading news and fiction everyday, I needed a new activity to fill the latter part of the day. I decided to add to my already highly esteemed collections of writings on my web site with some more musings and minimusings. Minimusings are simply short essays of around 1000 words that I can crank out the rough draft in just one or two hours at the most. I wrote several of these at work, which you can sample in my minimusings page. In addition, I wrote over half of this piece you are reading now (congratulations for making it this far!) at work. It's really nice to get on a roll writing and I almost stayed late to continue, but it was such a nice day, I had to get out, so I'm continuing at home right now. I also wrote most of the Money for Nothing essay at this job. I wonder what the people around me think when I'm typing like a mad man for hours when they know I do no work and also that my work does not involve writing huge manifestos. You see, the mindset of the usual people in these jobs is that when they can't seem to think of work to do, not to exercise their mind by reading news, fiction, or writing, but let's hole punch some stuff or make binders or do some other unnecessary work to pass the time. That is why no one probably imagined what I was doing with my time. But writing is a great way to both gather your thoughts into coherent arguments and helps in general in presenting ideas and it's fun and creative, so my musings really were a valuable activity.

The Occasional Outing

When the opportunity presented itself, I would pass the time by getting away from work early, leaving at lunch or seeing a movie at lunch, or swimming at lunch or all of the above, sometimes returning to make a showing in the afternoon, sometimes not coming back into the office at all. I saw Spider Man, Star Wars II, Lord of the Rings, A Beautiful Mind, and The Royal Tannenbaums during these outings. By my nature, I'm pretty conservative and knew better not to press my luck, even though most days, I wouldn't be missed at all if I was gone for several hours. But I wisely chose my spots and didn't abuse the situation too much and hence enjoyed a nice break now and then and never ran into trouble because of my excursions. As I write this, the boss plans a vacation for next week. (Late note: Fool canceled it again! See boss section for more on this behavior) Let's see, boss gone, I've given notice and last day coming up, no work to do, as has been for last 5 weeks. I think possibly there may be a few movie days coming up. Undercover Brother at Jack London Cinema definitely has my eye. Plus, I got the DISH people installing some satellite action from 8-12 on Tuesday, so I might be in late. Basically, the occasional outing is a nice way to reward myself for tolerating the patheticness. I don't get hooked on having these days or hours off, but when they come up, they really hit the spot.

The Last Frontier

I don't think I've mentioned the staff meetings yet. You see, my boss never had a meeting with our little group for the first 9 months we existed and then he got told to do so and what ensued was the most god-awful torture that the labor laws should definitely forbid. I mean, it basically was 1 1/2 hours of the boss droning on in monotone about very boring and meaningless garbage and I luckily had the window to look out of or else I might have gone mad. But the last meeting we had was tolerable because I had a little secret weapon: Vodka. I brought in a little homemade screwdriver in a Crystal Geyser bottle and sipped it leisurely as I surfed before the meeting. The liquor didn't let me down. It provided the right amount of intoxication and the meeting was actually an enjoyable one. Added to this was my knowledge of almost certain quitting to be given notice of in the coming days, of course. But the drinking at work was my last stand of slacking. Really, it was an insult to my psyche to NOT be drunk on the job. That place didn't deserve my sobriety, so I didn't feel at all bad about my one day of imbibing. Sure it was a collegiate thing to do, but it was mostly for spite and also for scientific reasons to see what the effects are when you mix liquor and soul-depleting, never-ending blather in a closed, small office that smells funny from the door being closed all the time and is hot from all the papers blocking the AC vents.

The Boss

I only write this because I am near certain this guy will never read this web site. If so, sorry, but this must be said. The guy is an unbelievable specimen of a human being. Quite honestly, I was certain he was going to have a mental breakdown one day and always was ready to dart out the fire exit if I heard him going crazy. (Fortunately, I was seated right next to the stairs.) He never did go crazy, but I am certain it will happen one day and god help those on the floor when it does. Let's start with some quick stats. The dude works minimum 8-8 everyday and NEVER leaves the building for lunch. His lunch is PB&J, apple, yogurt, soda every frickin' day, and I'm serious he never ever left the building for lunch or brings any other food for lunch than the usual. He actually brings multiple sandwiches, the second one being the dinner meal. The apple is eaten down to the core so far, that it exceeded my previous wildest imagination of how much of an apple one can eat. These apples are eaten down to the core more than those people on the street in the Great Depression ate theirs when it was their only food. He took one day off in 13 months of my being there, the day before Xmas. (He's due for a week off next week, but I still predict he's going to cancel. Late note: I was right) Frequently, we would receive emails from the guy at 10pm, usually on a Friday. Often, worked on weekends. Oh, did I mention during his lunch he continued working? So minimum 12 hour days for the guy, EVERY day. Plus, he lived really far away, so the commute was over one hour each way, even with no traffic. He didn't even take time to chew and would call people up on the phone with food in his mouth and act all surprised when he couldn't talk and apologize to the person. In other words, the guy is SAD.

He used to be the only person on the floor that kept his blinds closed on the interior window so no one ever knew if he was in there or not. His boss finally mentioned to him not to do it, and I was saddened because I liked not seeing him in there; it gave me hope that just maybe he was out. His door usually was closed too before the blind incident, which was good because the guy is exceedingly loud. Sadly, the door remained open a lot more after that. The piercing pitch of his voice, the volume, and the unbelievably unimportant tedium of his dealings made hearing this guy talk hurt deep down inside. It's almost as if he wanted everybody to hear his dealings and be impressed with all the work he's doing. Well, for me, the thought of patheticness was the only thing going through my mind. I can only pray for the unfortunate woman seated in the cube nearest to him, as she gets the full assault of his never-ending whining and epic voicemails he leaves for people that exceed the maximum voicemail length (gets him real pissed when system cuts him off, too.)

Listen to mp3 of a sad voice mail from my boss. Here's another good one, where he uses "ASAP" instead of the usual "high priority". A third, just average, but significant in that it was from when I had just 2 days left to go and sounds as if I'm going to be there for years.

He wants to be involved in every project going on and completely neglects his workers, which is why I'm able to write this essay at work. He took the manager job for the money, but wants the glory of working on all this "high profile" projects for various groups. He spends incredible amounts of time on totally small issues that nobody cares about, but that he gets people into a frenzy over because they just assume he knows what he's talking about. In that way, he really is harmful to the company because he totally wastes his own time and the time of others on all this extra work he creates.

His favorite term is "high priority" (listen to mp3 of voice mail at right ). I think of everything that he told me that was high priority, I did about 20% of them and never heard a thing about the other 80%. With someone like that, you never know what really is important and what isn't, so for me, I chose to treat everything as not important because I'd rather have to scramble on something was turned out to be needed than to waste my time on the majority of the stuff that was not. I never figured out if the upper management types knew this guy was nuts and totally wasting time. I think because he worked so much, they liked him because he'd always volunteer to do stuff and it made their jobs easier, but unless they were idiots, they had to know his reality was really screwed up.

I mean, I'm not exaggerating at all in this essay, so how can anybody claim this guy is not seriously deluded to have allowed one of his workers to do practically no work for 14 months of employment, and still get a bonus and a raise and praise when I gave him something that took my like 2 minutes to do and a 5th grader could have done? But to perpetuate their own tenuous hold on their high-paying management positions, they play along with him and he makes them all look busy and producing good work, so they like that.

On the rare occasion he had me do something, he really thanked me and it always made me laugh because for some reason, I think he liked my not caring and bothering him and doing the odd job for him. I think possibly he valued my not bothering him, more than the fact that I did no work because he just need to be on his own, with occasional assistance on some stuff every now and then. I've had other bosses like that. They don't care about your career development, and if you don't care about your own (because you know you're not staying at the company long-term), they leave you alone and are glad to have one less fool to manage.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention a couple things which made me not want to be in the presence of the guy. 1) Picking of the nose right in front on you as you are looking directly at him in a conversation. 2) Scratching of the crouch, very obviously, using the hands-in-the-pocket method. Both are human functions that I will admit to doing and need to be done be all people (women, use equivalent female function for #2), but the key is you do it in private. The fact that he did these things right in front of everybody furthers my theory that the guy is off in his own little world and goes though periods where he doesn't even see the people around him while he expounding on some great concept he's been working on.

Classic workaholic. I don't know the reasons for it, bad home life, chemical imbalance, but one thing is for certain, the dude gets a rush from work and that is really sad because this work is by far some of the most mind-numbing and godawful stupid crap I've ever been a part of. Mostly, it's all based on accounting garbage that means nothing. For someone to get a high on this stuff really depresses me. I can't even imagine what he does in his free time, or that he ever stops for a second thinking about work.

One instance that stands out was the 9/11 incident. He brings us in and says if we have kids, we can leave and pick them up. The guy didn't even know, after 5 months of us working for him, that none of us had kids. That's just an indication of how work was the sole focus for this guy, to the point that he virtually never engaged in any conversation with us or anyone else about non-work matters. Even getting back from vacation, he'd ask how it was and you could tell he wasn't listening, just ready to update you on the current status of whatever rinky-dink project was hot that week.

The guy would ignore me also. Right when I started, I requested some work on my phone line to allow second calls to not roll over to voice mail so I could put first call on hold. There would have been no cost to the department for this change to be made. He never responded to the request, even after the tech guys sent the second notice and I never said anything because I wanted to see what he would do, and he did nothing. Then, he gets some email about attending some piece of crap training class in dealing with the union or something and emails us "Have you taken this" and I write back, "No, should I sign up?" and he never responds. This is just 2 examples of the guy just focusing on himself and his real "important" work for the company. I for one didn't give a crap because I didn't care about my job and was almost amused by his total lack of care for his charges.

In closing, this guy really depressed me because his life, to me, was 100% of a waste and could not bring any enjoyment to a sane person. His saddness was a main reason why I had to get out of the place pronto. Even with my other activities easing the pain, the sadness was overpowering in the end.

The Meetings

OK, let's talk about some prime nothing time. For that, I will have to say my attending approximately 8 2-hour meeting 12-2 on E-procurement had to rank #1 in all-time waste. I never spoke a word at any of these meetings, except maybe to comment on somebody's lunch, of course. My boss told me to go and I had no idea why I was there or what to look for. They gave out crazy flow charts (See appendix for all time worst flow chart), and talked about the details of the system and it was seriously some really bad technical jargon about systems and the whole thing nearly made me ill. Then my boss asks me after the first 2 if I think it's valuable going to those meetings, since I need to spend my time on other priorities, and that made me laugh since these meetings were the only thing on my schedule. I say that I don't know if they are valuable because I don't know why I'm there. So, I tell the meeting people that I don't think I need to be there and they say they want someone representing our group there. So, I stay because it's 2 hours away from the floor in a cool building with a great view and I can add on lunch and be away for a while and also gives me some stuff to say I'm doing that boss doesn't know anything about. So I spent 16 hours in meetings for which I had no knowledge to add and got nothing out of it, except answered a couple questions for some people, but even for that, I had to get others to answer for me. Then finally, several month later, boss asks if the project is going ahead, so I call one of my contacts on the project I remembered at the meetings and he's gone from the company, call others and they say the project is stalled and not being rolled out. I do have a gigantic manila folder of diagrams of the system as it was being developed, so it wasn't a total waste.

View a Crazy Flow Chart from the 2-hour meetings I went to. Warning: may hurt your eyes.


All I can say is that my time at Kaiser, from a career perspective, was an utter waste, apart from the increase in salary I obtained my taking the job. I gained absolutely no skills or experience, and probably lost some skills from lack of use. For society, the only benefit I created was my riding BART and paying some fares to cover the cost of the system and the redistribution of some of my ill-gotten salary back into the Oakland economy for lunches. On a personal side, it was not a waste at all, though. I discovered new cuisines I like, ate great, was the most informed person in the company (maybe the country among working, non-news industry-affiliated people) on news, rediscovered the greatness of Twain and enjoyed other books, chatted with friends, met some interesting people, saw movies, and all around had a low-stress time while getting paid pretty good for it. I was able to endure such a long time of doing nothing because I can appreciate the good aspects and am not caught up on climbing the corporate ladder. But even I have limits and finally reached the end which coincided nicely with the new job opportunity in San Francisco. I did occasionally have to do work at Kaiser and it became such that I barely could bring myself to even attempt a crappy effort at doing the work I was required to and eventually, my luck would have run out and confrontation would have occurred. But who knows how long the sham could have gone on, probably as long as my stamina would allow. Though I would have been curious to see the further effects on my psyche by staying at Kaiser longer, I wasn't willing to continue to use myself as a guinea pig for the experiment. After all, I already noticed myself getting a tad insane. Hopefully, with a new job that isn't sad, the insanity will be reversible and I'll be able to get back to a normal life where one works at work, with occasionally breaks for web surfing to keep the mind fresh.

Last day, got this Friday email, sadly too late to wear the propper atire. Thanks to CK for pointing out similarity to this part of the film Office Space (audio only).

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