Ode to Work

The dynamic of domination intrinsic to work tends over time toward elaboration. In advanced work-riddled societies, including all industrial societies whether capitalist or “communist,” work invariably acquires other attributes which accentuate its obnoxiousness.

Bob Black

One of the “other attributes” of my job is the yearly employee performance review.  I mention this because I just had mine the other day.  Those of you unlucky enough to work in an office will know what I’m talking about.  Those of you fortunate enough to have no idea what this is, let me break it down for you.  If you can remember as far back as elementary school, it’s sort of a cross between your report card and the parent-teacher conference, except now you’re both the parent and the child, and you’re the one who gets to sit and talk to the “teacher” about how well, or not well, little Johnny or Jane (in this case, you) has performed during the recently expired grading period—or, as they put it in office jargon, “appraisal period.”  It’s a demeaning and degrading little charade in which you and your manager both pretend (because it’s in her interest that you appear to be succeeding, too) that you’ve satisfied your “developmental objectives,” a bunch of hazy goals set forth by your boss to ensure that you continue to “grow” within the job.  You sit there and smile and nod and emit various noises meant to indicate affirmation and agreement, all the while trying to not allow your face to betray the utter boredom and disgust you’re barely managing to conceal behind the silly mask of compliancy you have on.  The apparent point of this exercise is to remind you that you’re supposed to continue to earn what they’re paying you, as opposed to sitting in a cubicle for seven or eight hours a day, killing time, which is what you’re really doing.  From your perspective, the point is just to get through it so you can collect your 4% raise and get back to the article on tomato gardening you were busy reading on the internet before you were interrupted by the Outlook meeting reminder popping up on your screen.