I worked for a retail company that indulged a few CEOs with an obscene amount of money and stock options at the expense of their employees. The company renamed positions to phase out long time employees to hire others at lower wages to fill the “new” positions and other practices that I won’t detail. Those of us who were left, worked in a “you should be happy to have a job environment”.
My part in the retail supply chain required chiropractic visits, tendonitis bands, and hard physical labor for a paycheck. I was lucky to work with a crew of people who valued and exhibited an incredible work ethic or the job would’ve taken a greater toll on each of us. Tangible rewards now took the form of Friday donuts instead of a raise. Inevitably, moral was low.
What I called “marketing ploys” were used on employees. I abhorred the shallow nature of the supposed moral boosting programs and exposed their true nature whenever and wherever I could.
The worst of the worst programs was “the retail warrior” rolled out right before Halloween. For the holiday, employees were encouraged to dress up and partake in a costume contest.
I dressed as a warrior. I wore my indignation on my painted face and carried it with a fake sword and shield. Most of my fellow employees knew of my intended mockery against the latest bullshit.
The second in command came up to me and asked, “Just who are you supposed to be?”
“Boudicca, queen of the Iceni, who endured the rape of her daughters and flogging by the Romans. She then led a rebellion against the Roman Empire. It’s said that she and her followers took out 70,000 Romans before committing suicide in the face of sure defeat and torture. She was a badass who stood up for herself and her people. Google her.” I said.
“Okaaay.” The supervisor said. As she turned and walked away, I banged my sword against my shield. I couldn’t help myself. The supervisor avoided me after our exchange.
My coworkers voted my costume the best. The reward was hair care products that I knew were free samples. I unloaded the samples from the truck and stocked them with the cases of salon supplies. I also received Smarties, candy that didn’t carry the dignity worthy of a piece of chocolate. Touché.
I may have made a point that day, but continuing bad corporate decisions enforced the “you’re lucky to have a job” environment. There would never be a fair distribution of resources in this corporate system. Nothing in my power would change this. The company was and still is floundering.
In the few years since I moved on, the company retained less than a handful of employees I worked with, store wide. The supervisor who called me out also moved on.
Don’t be afraid to bang a sword against a shield. You may not change the world, but you’ll never become one of the walking dead.