Say what you will about being a contractor: It’s short term; they can cut your project at any time; it’s unstable; there are no health benefits; blah blah BLAH! For all the negatives, I can rebut with a good number of positives: The autonomy, the freedom to leave if the job sucks, the ability to work as many hours as you want (and want to bill) in a given day. All of these are great, but pale in comparison to one of the biggest perks of having contractor status – that being the ability to hover above the craziness of office politics.
I had forgotten just how deep the toxic slurry gets within America’s cubicle mazes! Allow me to share a tale of treachery and duplicity that I witness every morning once I take my seat in my open cube.
(*The names of the subjects in this tale have been changed to protect my job)
I work (contract) for a company that manufactures industrial equipment and pneumonic devices. In such a technical arena, you would expect to find graduates from the state’s leading technology institutes…like Georgia Tech. This being Georgia, you will of course be subjected to the company of persons who graduated from UGA as well. It is the graduates of the latter institution who have proven to lack any form of social grace.
*Bethany, Brittney, Mark and Tyler are all members of the electronic support team. Luke is their project manager. Brittney, Mark and Tyler all hate Bethany, whose only crime so far as I can tell has been to come into work every day. Bethany, who has been with the company longer than anyone else on the team, used to be the Director’s personal assistant, and rose through the ranks to become sales support. She is of course favored by the director, who has “grown her” into this position. She’s also cute and blond. I suppose this is the source of Brittney’s ire, who makes it a point to inform anyone who will listen that Bethany is not a hard worker, who spends all day on the phone and never gets any work done. Tyler and Mark in turn make it a point to point out any appearance of a transgression in order to get Brittney going in that whiny/ know-it-all/ just outta college brunette girl voice I have come to hate.
Take last week for example.
The director likes to send out Christmas cards to customers every year. Bethany, who is just as overloaded with work as anyone else on the team went out to buy the cards, but did not have time to sign and address them that day. Somehow, Brittney got a hold of the stack of cards and began addressing them.
“Why are we doing these stupid cards anyways?” she bitched.
“Because Martin used to think they were a good idea,” explained Bethany. “Although after this year, he will probably stop.”
Bethany then left to go get a postal delivery box from the mail room. As soon as she was out of earshot, Mark piped up.
“You know Brittney, since you’re the one sitting here addressing all these envelopes, you outta be the one to get all the credit,” he prompted.
“She’s so stupid,” sassed Brittney. “This is just one more thing that she slacked off on that I have to cover. My life would just be so much better if she never came in.”
For real? Your LIFE would be better if she never came in? C’mon Brit.
All day long, Tyler, Mark and Brittney Skype/chat with each other to berate poor Bethany for the most minor of incidences. Something as little as her sending a text message to the team to inform them that she’ll be an hour late coming into work is a catalyst for a 45 minute bitch session.
“Betcha she won’t come in for an hour and a half!”
“Could she not have sent that message 15 minutes before hand?”
“I was so annoyed when I got that text!”
I, being a contractor, have no allegiances to anyone in the group or the company. The only person I am allied to is the guy who signs my time card. For him, I will shuck, jig and jive two blocks down the road if I need to. Everyone else is free to tear each other apart without my input or intervention. Am I going to tell Bethany that her team is plotting to get her fired? Heck no! But I’ll feel really bad for her when it happens though. She seems like a nice enough girl.
At the end of the day, I truly hope that these people come to realize that it’s not that deep. We’re just building pressure gauges here folks, not eradicating world hunger. There’s no need to get your collective panties in such a wad and proceed on a viral hate campaign against your fellow co-workers!
Hey you – if you’re sitting in a cube, surrounded by cut throat mercenaries, can you feel me??