Ch 1 – Window Seat

In corporate America, having a “window seat” means the higher ups want to fire your ass. You are moved to a seat with a view facing outside like an errant child sent to the corner of the room. Where you remain, until top executives can come up with the best way to permanently flush you from the ranks of management.

The Corporate Window Seat

Not so long ago, you were in the “driver’s seat” (sometimes referred to as the “power seat”). Now your office is seen as taking up valuable floor space and your executive privileges are a nuisance. The incoming manager is already housebroken and instep with the new plan – which is the old “new plan” that failed miserably two regime changes earlier.

The leaders of the incoming management team settle in, gets cozy, and “hit the ground running” while team members race off in all directions like ostriches looking to bury their heads in the sand.

It’s times like this when my corporate survivor’s voice speaks to me (it’s my father who helped me get my first office job right out of college):

See son? Corporate bullshit ain’t so bad as long as you keep it in play. Simply duck when you see it coming like dodging a wild pitch. And don’t let it pile up around you. Remember: only eat their shit if it lands on your plate. If that happens, swallow it whole. Before long you’ll be running the place with your own brand of manure. That’s when you can rub their nose in it.

My dad knew what he was talking about. He ran a major automobile division in the 1990s and served as chairman of their corporate foundation before he was awarded his window seat.

I had a hell of a time getting his voice out of my head though. I finally had to burn him out. I took an early retirement then wrote a novel based on the annual Burning Man event in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

Your Window Seat

Who cares if the window is splattered with seagull droppings? You have a grand view of the corporate parking lot.

On the revised org chart, your name appears in a box with a new title “Advisor” and no reports (no one reports to you). You now manage a staff of none.

To the organization, you have become a ghostly zombie. A leg-dragging aberration others steer clear of as you wander the corridors in search of something to do. Workers in their cubicles say they feel your presence, describing the encounter as an ill wind.

Meanwhile, you enjoy taking long naps in locked meeting rooms and bathroom stalls.

Make no bones about it; the new regime wishes you would simply choke on a chicken bone or suffer a massive heart attack. Preferably they would like you to drop dead at home over the weekend. The process of disposing a corpse at work is a messy business. A lifeless body that shits on itself in the office is distracting and harms employee productivity already suffering from poor morale.

Golden Parachute

Golden parachutes are compensation packages designed to keep one’s mouth sealed for life. They are awarded ridiculously large sums to prevent lawsuits and bad press. It reduces the possibility of retaliation from disgruntled members of executive management on their way out the door.

The window seat buys the company more time to work out a compensation package that is so favorable it causes the employee to leave voluntarily with a frozen ear-to-ear smile so wide it makes botched cosmetic surgery look oh-so-natural.

A couple of well-placed emails (discoverable in a lawsuit) sent to HR while kicking back at one’s window seat helps them to see the wisdom of procuring your parachute using 24K gold fabric that is sown with pure silk thread.

Essentially, they are asking you two questions: Can you keep our company’s secrets? Will you promise not to work for our competitors? You answer smugly: Sure thing, big fella. Oh, and thanks for the full-retirement package, million dollar bonus, family vacation to anywhere in the world, and a new car not to exceed $75,000.

By the way, you had me at “go to your window seat.”


My Window Seat at the Corner Cafe

Unlike the last days of my 30-year corporate job, my new window seat is my favorite place to be. I am a full-time writer. Now, I can time travel to anywhere on the planet and visit worlds that don’t even exist. The scent of baked goods and fresh coffee keeps me focused on my craft.

My window seat at La Monarca Bakery and Kaldi’s Coffee & Tea offers a hometown slice of life. Lovers walk hand in hand, artists set up their easels, writers deploy their laptops on round table tops, the guy who sings Italian opera while he walks, and a man wearing dark shades and a hat (my reflection in the window).

Anyway, you get the idea. I like being around people with a Norman Rockwell town view. As the hours melt away, my laptop is open (a black cover with a glowing Apple logo and relief of Darth Vader below it). If you’re in the area, drop by and say hello. I like my coffee mixed with two packets of raw sugar with a splash of whole milk. Thank you!

A window seat is the closest thing I have found to paradise on Earth.


GO TO: Chapter 2 - Short Shorts


Ch 2 – Short Shorts

Ispit out a few super short stories from my window seat this morning.

Enjoy!  : )

Ron

Whenever anyone at work approached Ron with their troubles, he would respond like this: “Do you play the lottery? You can’t win if you don’t play.”

We all liked Ron. He refused to play office politics. And when the corporate call centers centralized in Los Angeles, Ron was forced to leave his family behind in Portland. He still had a few more years to gut out before retiring. So he relocated, leaving his wife, friends, and dog to move 965 miles further down the coast to La La Land.

Ron and his wife had a plan. They would ride out the inconvenience of living separately to secure their retirement income. Oh yes, Ron played the lottery. A lot. I imagine he clung to the hope he might just get lucky. Because you can’t win if you don’t play. And if he had won “the big one,” he’d be happily back home with his wife in Oregon two years earlier than planned.

After Ron retired, he sent me a picture from Porlandia. His hair grew long, pulled back from his smiling face and tied into a ponytail. Ron was a closet hippie. And now he was happy being himself. Going home was like winning the lottery.

The Harvard Milkmaid

We define ourselves by our work. When you meet someone for the first time, inevitably the question that comes up is: What do you do (for a living)? Unless you went to Harvard or drive a Tesla. In that case, you’ll want to mention that first.

“Well, in my junior year at Harvard I took an environmental science course and discovered the importance of protecting our planet. So recently I treated myself and Mother Nature to something really special. You know what I did?” I shook my head, clueless where the conversation was headed. “I bought a Tesla. I call it ‘my sweet electric crotch rocket’ because it’s so freaking fast off the line.” He laughed, then he told me what he did for a living. “I’m an attorney that specializes in class action lawsuits.”

“So, basically you get rich soaking large corporations,” I said, “while members of the class get almost nothing.”

He just smiled and replied sincerely, “You wana see my green balls fly or not?”

He certainly had a good sense of humor. Wouldn’t you? While others give their lifeblood to the corporate cow, he milks it for all it’s worth. His profession? A milkmaid with an Ivy League pedigree, nothing more.

Cool car though – a real speedster off the line.

Kris

The memory of a young man named Kris, who visited our home to repair water damage caused by a leaky pipe, still haunts me to this day. I knew his father from serving on the city council. He owned a plumbing company in town. His son Kris worked for the family business.

Kris spent a couple of hours repairing the leak and masking the ceiling, then said he would return in the morning to finish the job. He seemed in good spirits when he left.

That evening Kris entered his family’s plumbing business and hung himself in his father’s office. My wife and I were the last to see him alive.

Kris was only 26 years old when he died. We only spent a couple of hours with him. In that brief amount of time, you could tell he was earnest, good-natured, and physically fit. He was also quite handsome. His life came to an end at a tender age by his own hands. That told me all I needed to know.

I don’t know the details or circumstances of his misery, but I do know that feeling. No one can talk you out of it except for the voice in your head. And that’s where the pain is coming from.

Tat Jackets

In the office, short-sleeved shirts are permissible, but tattoos must be covered with a flesh-tone elastic or nylon sleeve.

Just to fuck with management, a contract employee who felt put upon came in one day wearing hot pink sleeves. He claimed to be showing his support for breast cancer awareness.

After an extensive review that involved Human Resources, he was allowed to wear pink as long as his sleeves were light pink or peach.

The next day he came in with black sleeves and a white polka dot pink bow tie. He was fired for insubordination and a poor taste in wardrobe. Management said the polka dot bow tie clashed with his tie-dye shirt, pink suspenders, lederhosen shorts, and knee-high socks with Abe Lincoln’s image imprinted on them.

Gabe stood at the center of the call center floor.

I stood beside him when corporate security arrived to escort him out of the building. He removed one black sleeve, stuffed it into his mouth, then raised his hand as if to say, “Here I am.” One of the tattoos on his right forearm was a pink ribbon with the words “Find The Cure” in longhand script.

I hadn’t noticed it before.


GO TO: Chapter 3 - Kinky Pulpism

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Ch 3 – Kinky Pulpism

Pictured above: My view from “The Last Book Store” in downtown Los Angeles.

Turn book pages with your tongue.                                         – Ray Bradbury

Bookstores. They are getting harder to find; vanishing as quickly as sex shops and porn palaces once did. A few brick-and-mortar establishments still exist for those of us who suffer from a bookworm fetish known as Kinky Pulpism.

My obsession is sniffing printer’s ink from the pages of a book. In a papal stupor, I cruise the valley like a nightcrawler searching for a newsstand for a quick tabloid fix.

Nothing matches the tactile pleasure of grasping a book by its spine. Then flipping through the pages so fast it creates a fan effect. The aroma nearly brings me to orgasm.

Sometimes I get a paper cut. No problem. I suck my finger with the zeal of a vampire.

Question: What do you call paper cuts at a Vampire Reading Circle?


IMG_4953Hundreds of books cover my bedroom walls as they did when I was a kid. Always close at hand, both friend and lifelong companion.

 

Answer: A Circle Suck


GOT TO: Chapter 4 - In My Room

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