The Peril of the Purloined Panini

paniniAs we toil away in Corporate America, who amongst us has not suffered the loss of food from the communal refrigerator?  It’s a problem as old as the water cooler itself.  Plenty of Facebook posts and Youtube videos illustrate ways to get back at these inconsiderate jerks who seem to think they are at home where everything in the fridge is fair game.   I personally like the spitting technique or the hot sauce revenge.  I’ve been lucky, however; no one wants my leftovers.  (I don’t know why not considering my husband is a retired chef).  But I better not tempt fate.

kevin

A few months ago, a woman in our office became a victim of a refrigerator marauder.  I penned this ditty in her honor.

She was late for work
So she grabbed the first thing
From the freezer she saw
A new Lean Cuisine.

A panini she brought
And her tastebuds did soar
At the thought of the treat
She now had in store.

Ensconced in the freezer
The morning flew past
When lunchtime arrived
She could eat it at last.

But the sandwich was gone!
How could this be?
Alas, said Betty
From me, they took three.

Who would do such a thing
In an office so small?
Such a dastardly deed
So shameless, what gall!

With the box, Sheldon said
We could dust it for prints
But the crook was too smart
And left not a hint.
 
If we ever find out
The name of the thief
We’ll show him no mercy
No end to his grief
 
Remember revenge
Is always best cold
He’ll wish he had eaten
His own yogurt with mold.
 

© 2015 Renata Manzo

Old Man Walking

Im-a-grumpy-old-man-but-my-dog-still-loves-me___-by-Ed-Yourdon

He’s a grumpy old man but his dog still loves him. Picture by Ed Yourdon

Old man, where do you think you’re going
Nowhere in a hurry, that’s for sure
You don’t have much to do any more
Once you retired, they put you out to pasture
You’re angry all the time that much I can see
But don’t take it out on me
No, don’t take it out on me
Continue reading

A Reserved Parking Space does not mean your poop doesn’t stink

VIP Parking

The rich man can ride
And the hobo he can drown

Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
lyrics by B. Taupin
(c) 1972 Dick James Music Limited

Way back in the Dark Ages when I graduated from law school (1986), I first learned about parking space envy.  I had no idea a flat space lined with concrete could be such a status symbol.   I came to realize that it’s not the size that matters, but the location.
Continue reading

The Moral Bottom Line: What Happens when a Private Equity Firm Buys a Company

the-company-has-just-been-sold-and-ive-been-laid-off--94414
But you’ll never get to pick and choose
She’s bought you and sold you
There ain’t no shoestrings on Louise
  No Shoestrings on Louise
Lyrics by Bernie Taupin
(c) 1969 Dick James Music Ltd.

Once again, corporate America treats people like chess pieces.  When I got to work on the Monday morning after Thanksgiving, I was greeted with the following headline:  “Buyout Firms Said [to] Vie for World’s Largest Cigar Company.”  Continue reading

The Communication Continuum

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      My eyes are blind, my ears can’t hear
And I cannot find the time
Tonight”, lyrics by Bernie Taupin
1976 Big Pig Music

I have this theory about communication in the workplace.  I developed this theory after working in a law department that had awful–no–virtually non-existent communication.  It was the first time I had ever encountered such a phenomenom.  Continue reading

The Downside of Managing Up

when-i-want-your-opinion-ill-give-it-to-you--6c721
If it wasn’t for lies you’d be true
I know you could be just like you should
If it wasn’t for bad you’d be good
If It Wasn’t for Bad, B. Taupin (c)

 

I had lunch with a former colleague the other day, and I asked about her boss, who was also a friend of mine.  She said all the boss did was “manage up.”
Boy did that bring up some bad memories.  It seemed most managers and directors and up  at my former place of employment focused on managing up, to the detriment of the people they were supposed to be managing.

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Did you hear the one about the lawyer and the non-compete agreement?

Have you ever lived in a cage
 Where you live to be whipped and be tamed
 The Cage, lyrics by Bernie Taupin
© 1969 Dick James Music
Did you know that lawyers cannot be compelled to sign non-compete agreements?  Yup, they are prohibited by both the ABA (American Bar Association) and the Virginia Bar.  

Continue reading

Town Halls — I’ve Seen that Movie Too

I can see by your eyes you must be lying
 When you think I don’t have a clue
 Baby you’re crazy
 If you think that you can fool me
 Because I’ve seen that movie too . .
  Between forcing smiles, with the knives in their eyes
 Well their actions become so absurd
I’ve Seen that Movie Too, lyrics by Bernie Taupin
© 1973 Dick James Music Limited
Corporations have turned the concept of Town Halls on its head
    Town hall meetings began in small New England towns where members of the local community were invited to present their ideas, voice their opinions, and ask questions of their local public figures, elected officials, or political candidates.

    Corporate America has turned this idea on its head.  Continue reading

Why am I doing this?

if-you-didnt-want-to-be-offended-you-shouldnt-have-read-my-blog-now-go-away-f9096
I tell you the truth can be painful
 And the mainstream of life can be cruel
 If you believe in your chances today
 you could be a fool, don’t you be a fool, oh no
Up the Revolution, by Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb, David English
© 1986 (unknown)

Right after (by that I mean, the same day)  I revived the blog, a dear friend sent me an e-mail.  After admitting she had not read the blog, she warned me that if I was going to look for employment in the future I should not say anything negative that could be seen, because this stuff gets seen.

Well, that’s kind of the idea of the blog.  I want these things to be seen.  No one is paying attention to what’s going on in corporate America; maybe if enough people like me keep talking about it, someone might finally pay attention.

I’m not worried about my future in corporate America.  That ship has sailed.  I’ll go work in McDonalds if I have to.  

Besides, this is not just about me.   Yes, I’m still angry about how I was treated, but I’m even more angry about how some of the people I worked with—the most dedicated, honest and hardworking people I have ever met—were treated.  I watched people get promoted not because they had the right skill set, but because they were friends with the right people.  Or, as my always graphic husband puts it:  “it’s not who you know, it’s who you blow.” 

I was always the one who spoke out about something that seemed to be bothering the collective.  But most people are afraid to speak out because that might be “a career limiting move”.   I don’t blame them at all.  Self-preservation is very important, especially when you have a family to support.  We all have to do that.  I should keep my mouth shut, swallow hard and mind my own business.

But I can’t, and usually it is to my own detriment.    I got kicked out of my seventh grade science class permanently because I told the teacher, in class, in front of everyone, that he spent too much time lecturing us about failing, when most of us were working hard in class.  By most of us, I meant me, because I had no way of knowing how many kids in the class were in fact failing.  So I became the self-selected spokesman for all of us maligned and bored kids.  I spent the rest of the semester in the library researching evolution.   Funny, I didn’t mind.  I wrote a hell of a report on the subject. 

Yup, the die is cast for me.   These are important issues and they are worth speaking out about.   Even if no one but the choir is listening. 


 

 

On that heavy note, let’s lighten things up.   Today I offer you my takeoff  of  “Benny and the Jets.”    My version is “Penny, Place your Bets.”  If you can guess what show I was watching right before I wrote it, please leave me a comment with your answer. 

And please share this blog.  This  week I’ve made 27 cents in ad revenue!

Hey girls, let’s all go to Vegas
Penny left her boyfriend
And she wants to make him jealous
We’ll see a show or two
So come along
She’s gonna spend his hard-earned money
Until it’s all gone.

Say, Amy and Bernie have you seen her yet?
What’s taking her so long?
P-P-P-P Penny place your bets
Oh but her hair’s not perfect yet
Oh girl won’t you please come down
She’s got a sparkly dress
She likes to look her best
We’ll miss the free drinks when they come around
P-P-P-P Penny place your bets

Now we’re ready to get started
Maybe it’s useless
But Penny throws dice farther
We’ll play some craps until our favorite show
Then we’ll listen to the red piano
Until it’s time to go . . .

(c)  2014 Renata Manzo

 

I’m Back, I’m Still Standing and I’m gainfully employed

And I gotta get a meal ticket
To survive you need a meal ticket
To stay alive you need a meal ticket
Feel no pain, no pain
No regret, no regret
When the line’s been signed
You’re someone else
Do yourself a favor, the meal ticket does the rest
“Meal Ticket,”  Bernie Taupin

It has been a while, hasn’t it?  My last entry was in March, right before I started my job search.  Because I can split my focus in only so many slices, I decided I needed to concentrate on finding a new job.  By March I was feeling much better (but you should see me now!) and started my job search in earnest.  I sent out over 25 resumes, and only got three interviews.  But one is all it takes, right?
I almost didn’t send my resume to my new employer.  It was for another tobacco company, and I wasn’t sure that is what I wanted to do.  Plus, I could tell by the job description that it would be a step backwards in terms of my career (what career, I thought?)  And, the pay was a steep drop from what I was used to. But I figured, what the heck?
I received a call from an HR manager almost immediately.   After buying a new suit, having not worn one for years, and dyeing my beloved gray hair brown again, I embarked on a series of interviews, first with the GC and the one other lawyer in the company, then with the GC of the parent company in Denmark, and then finally with the presidents of the three U.S. subsidiaries for which I would provide legal services.
I was not sure how to take the GC when I first met him.   He was missing something. What was it?  Oh, yeah, I finally realized what he was missing– that giant rod up his butt that the lawyers at my old job all had secured firmly up their derrieres.   Instead, he was personable and very forthcoming about everything– the good, the bad and the ugly. This man holds nothing back.
He was looking for someone with tobacco experience, and I fit the bill.
Long story short, I took the job.
Almost immediately, the other lawyer resigned.
Crap, what have I gotten myself into?
The other lawyer wanted to make more money, so he left.  Too bad.  In the short time I got to know him, I liked him a lot.  But I could tell he was ready to move on the greener pastures.
Fortunately, the departing attorney knew of a lawyer from D.C. who wanted to move back to Richmond, and who also had FDA experience, which the company needed because of the impending federal regulations.  More on that later.
Although I asked a lot of questions about the corporate culture, having been through the meat grinder before, I still had some trepidation about the new job.   I think that’s normal.  But during the first few weeks, I had trouble adapting to the lack of stress.   I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.
On the Friday of my first week, I thought it had.  I received an e-mail from the GC with no subject line.  Uh, oh, I thought.  Here it comes.
To understand why I was concerned, you have to understand what I was used to.  At my previous job, I saw the GC maybe four times a year.  And her communication skills made a mime seem talkative.  We rarely received a communication directly from her.  Mostly they came through her management team, and it was hit or miss as to whether the message made its way down to the minion level where I toiled.
When we did receive an e-mail directly from her, you could almost hear the intake of breath from the other lawyers as it popped onto their screens.  News directly from her was rarely good.  Often, it involved new assignments for some of the lawyers.  She liked to re-arrange the deck chairs about once a year, just to keep everyone on their toes.  And the e-mail would be the first time anyone learned about the new assignments, including, I imagine, the lawyers who were being reassigned.  (Maybe not, but I’ll never know because, as I’ve mentioned, communication in the law department there was tantamount to non-existent.  Corps in a morgue have better communication skills.
So, on this Friday in May, when I saw this e-mail from the GC, my thoughts were racing around my head.  Had I screwed up already?  Had I stepped onto a landmine?  Walked into a buzz saw? Had I pissed off a VP so soon?  I hadn’t even talked to one yet.  Boy, that was fast.  I held my breath as I opened the message.
The e-mail contained only one thing– a link to a website.  I clicked on the link.
It took me to the Krispy Kreme website.  They were giving away free donuts on Saturday.
I just about fell out of my chair.  The GC, the person who has the ear of the President of the Company, the guy (in this case) who deals with all of the most serious legal issues facing the company, took the time to send out a link to the Krispy Kreme website.
I felt like I had gone from the Twilight Zone to Romper Room.  But not in a bad way, I promise you.  I don’t mean to suggest that this place was like a kindergarten. Quite the opposite, in fact.  I was finally being treated like a professional again, something I had not enjoyed since my days at H&W.
No, what I mean is this, and this was the toughest thing for me to get used to–
My new boss has a sense of humor.