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