Life At Megacorp 14

Somewhere in your education you must have encountered those terrible stories of poor British children toiling in coal mines during the British Industrial Revolution subsisting in workhouses under horrific conditions. Poor dirty ragamuffins working for treacherous capitalists dying by the dozens in rockslides or in a myriad of industrial accidents or victims of consumption and disease caused by both horrible working and living conditions.

Do you remember your outrage when reading about these poor defenseless children? Smugly, then, you reflected just how far society has progressed in improving working conditions so such terrible tragedies would never repeat themselves.

You believed in continual enlightenment and progress until you finally understood Queen Victoria was one of the biggest dope dealers ever! You were wrong!

Working in Megacorp is akin to child labour in those British coal mines except what kills is stress. Yes, the rags have been replaced by “office casual.” The office tower has replaced the coal mine. Paper has replaced chunks of coal.

The owners of coal mines have been replaced by the Senior Management Team. Exploitation has “evolved” with the well fed and dressed Megacorp office worker becoming the new coal miner child in the Post-Industrial Revolution.

Now there are worker bees in Megacorp toiling on the shop floor, but they have the protection of the union to prevent flagrant workplace abuse by Megacorp. However, the office worker is hanging out on a limb without much protection.

The office worker at Megacorp rarely even thinks of unionization as that would be the quickest way out the door. That would make it so much more expensive for Megacorp if it had to pay overtime for the excessive long hours the Megacorp office employee logs.

Megacorp silently demands unpaid overtime for job tenure. The employee is supposed to be grateful for this privilege and expected to find challenge and satisfaction working under abusive Megacorp conditions. Being part of a “dynamic and winning team” does not tolerate a 9-5 culture.

Family and community involvement are lauded if you are a SMT member, but implicitly discouraged for everyone else where paper pushing and the bottom line reign supreme.

The “employee playbook” of Megacorp encourages community involvement and quality family time. Yet that’s just more doublespeak from the MBA theorists inspiring the Human Resources Department. Let’s face it after 8 hours who wouldn’t want to pack it in and head home to a family or any other form of personal life?

But, this runs terribly afoul of corporate commitment.

The reality is slavery with a smile and as a Megacorp worker in the office tower where there is no socially conscious reformer or union looking after their interests. At least those coal mining children seemed to have someone on their team seeking to reform their exploitation.

The Megacorp office tower employee has no reformer against abuse, but instead a justifier and promoter of abuse being the Megacorp HR types.

One of the most vicious and competitive Megacorps around in Toronto are the large national law firms headquartered on Bay Street. Lawyers have billable hour requirements foisted upon them by the law firm’s management committee. The targets are excessive and assume a lawyer works late in the evening and on the weekend.

These elite piece-workers make a very nice salary, but their family is held together by a Pilipino nanny. Therefore, it is no surprise Pilipino immigration to Canada amounts to 60,000 people a year. To patch up a decaying family structure through hired help, such immigration is required.

How many times have I been at the park walking my dog on the weekend seeing nannies playing with the children? The parents have been sucked into the office towers of Megacorp, but the Audi 6 runs so smoothly and the salary of mom and dad is enough to choke a boa constrictor!

While large law firms are perhaps the most abusive sort of Megacorp, the same conditions exist for much lower paid, non-law firm Megacorp office tower employees. That’s where the SMT trumpets praise to those who have gone “the extra mile” by working ruinously long hours.

Geez, I recall many an email from management I supported praising me from going that “extra mile.” I used to go home, have dinner with the family, then drive all the way downtown and work well past midnight for years at CRAP.

Given the Blessed Event, what a fool I was.

I recall one Christmas Eve morning being in the office at 5am, finishing a project which I managed to complete by the late evening. I saved Christmas Day for my family!

If I hadn’t delivered I would have been thrown out the door.

Perhaps one of the most interesting and eye-opening events for me at CRAP occurred one Saturday morning while I was in the office. My manager, Manny Fister, approached me and said in a strangely frank way, “What the fuck are you doing here on a Saturday? Don’t you realize the more you deliver the more will be expected of you? Get the fuck out of here and spend some time with your family.”

I ignored his rather strange and bombastic advice and kept on working, but over the next few days increasingly gave thought to his words. So, I toned things down and became a 9-5 man, even when transferred to Felicity Poker’s Legal Department. And I found it really didn’t seem to make a difference unless it was grounds for the Blessed Event that struck me.

Poor Manny Fister had a meltdown on a flight to Vancouver while on business several days after his outburst. A crying baby sent him into a vociferous rampage and, at 55, he was never heard from again. The prevailing thought was that the poor man had suffered a nervous breakdown.

The bowling ball of Megacorp has just knocked down another pin!

The conclusion to be drawn here is that fear of termination for not slogging your brains and body out is a prime motivator for Megacorp employee productivity. That is not a healthy motivator.

Don’t let your full stomach, faux mahogany office furniture, and well-made clothes make you think you are much different from the British coal miner child. Don’t fall for the crock of bullshit fed you by Megacorp’s HR Department, gurgling how important your quality of life is to Megacorp.

If it was so important, why the rise of mindfulness sessions, Employee Assistance, and Wellness programs? These don’t amount to compassion, but instead desperation.

If you stand up and attempt to challenge Megacorp’s abuse you aren’t going to take Megacorp down like a Harvey Weinstein. More likely, you’ll end up in the workhouse like Oliver Twist. Most likely you are powerless against Megacorp, but hopefully you have your head screwed on tight and realize you are a victim.

Perhaps, in time, a collective of victims can unite to press for some social reform. I am trending toward unionization of the office tower employees. The “Me Too” hysterical outing approach may take down a bunch of predatory movie executives, but it isn’t going to budge Megacorp.

Presently it would seem we are under the thumb of Megacorp and their HR minions grinding out tons of propaganda. Our worst enemy is our fear.

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About the Author

Ross Trenholm
Life at Megacorp is a true-to-life account of living and working in the higher echelons of the corporate world. Ross Trenholm is the fictionalized persona of those who have lived the Megacorp life and only the names and places have been changed to protect the innocent.