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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Beer on The Roof

I made it past the initial three articles without getting fired by the content mill ! In my other world I am still a prisoner of corporation X but this minor triumph was my "Shawshank Redemption" beer on the roof, feel good moment of the week.  I know there is still a long arduous road ahead but there is hope !  On another front I had an interview this week for a job at a rival evil empire.  It was a position I had an expressed an interest in a while ago but the hiring managers were too busy with routine torture sessions of existing employers to get back to me sooner.  It is a weird feeling going into an interview knowing that you intend to walk away from the whole profession in the near future.  It is a sign of the times we live in though when the interviewer basically says "this job is shite, working here sucks and most people get fired," in the opening preamble but that is what happened.  The key to getting a corporate job these days is saying "I am used to working in a shite environment, in fact my last three jobs have been exceptionally shite.  I like nothing better than to be abused, verbally assaulted and on occasions threatened with physical violence.  To be honest sometimes I deliberately fall further short of the unrealistic goals than I otherwise would just so I can be abused."  Recruiters love to hear that so that is exactly what I told them.  A defector is a valuable commodity in a small town and often times they will throw a bit of extra money your way to begin with in the hope that you will reveal all of the secrets of your current employer but eventually it all ends in tears. 

I have decided to use this time while I still have a modest income from corporation X to invest some time in a novel I have been writing on and off ...for 16 years.  I hit the 20,000 word mark today so there is a chance that if I live to be 114 I will finish it and get it published.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Three and in !

I started my quest last week by submitting my resume to an online company that claimed to provide work for free-lance writers. They asked me for some sample articles and even though I figured it was more than likely a scam I whipped out a couple in classic ‘Blue Peter’ - "here's one I prepared earlier style," and was promptly accepted into the fold.  I was emailed an instructional video to watch where various people sat around drinking coffee and talking about what a wonderful company it was to work for. It reminded me of the indoctrination process at my current job and ultimately the inane nature of the piece convinced me that it must be legitimate.

The company in question primarily provides articles for those web sites that answer commonly asked questions. You know the type:

"How do you build a nuclear bomb?
Step 1. Clear plenty of room in your garage.
Step 2. Befriend Kim Jung Il on Facebook and ask him for financing.
Step 3. Go to Kazakhstan’s Craigslist and bid on some stolen plutonium ...."

It sounds pretty easy until you are confronted a list of “do's and don'ts” the length of the Bayeux tapestry such as "don't write in passive voice, always use AP style ...except in these 10,000 instances where exceptions can be made." It is less William Wordsworth and more Cyberman dialect. It is hard to adapt to but after 10 years working for the corp. I am using to being broken down and re-educated.

The rule follows the popular English playground soccer variant "3 and in". You submit three articles and if they are all accepted you are in. If they are rejected then you're back to submitting info to Yahoo answers. So far I have had my first two accepted and I am waiting on the third but I am optimistic as the editor only made a couple of curt remarks about the original submission when asking me to make a few edits. I am especially keen to be accepted here as my informants at the corp. this week reaffirmed that people in my class of workers are in line for a pickaxe in the back of the head next year as the Comintern feel they can get more production out of the less costly proletariat members. Here's hoping…

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

No math, no sun ...Hold on a minute ! What the devil went wrong ?

When I was 16 there were two things above all else that I hated with a vengeance: math and the sun, and I am not talking about the tabloid I am talking about the ball of fiery hell in the sky.G422DS3UMWUD

The former was my least favorite subject at school partly because I always had disagreeable teachers and partly because I was useless at it. In fact, when I was 11 I was so bad at math that the headmaster (who actually was the third thing I hated with a vengeance) gave me detention for a week because I “pretended” to be so bad at math that I got a lower score than the special needs rabble rouser in the class. The sad fact was that he had beaten me fair and square by about 15%. I remember the joyful celebration I had the day I had my last compulsory math class and burnt my textbook vowing never to get involved with numerals again.

My other hate wasn’t as easily disposed of and in fact, it burnt me on a regular basis. Many kids in England are fair skinned by I was like Snow Whites lighter skinned sibling. Every time the sun shone and it was warmer than 60 degrees, I felt like an insect being singed by sunrays through a magnifying glass. I spent all my time trying to stay in the shadows. I decided I should leave England the sun baked land of my birth and move to a colder climate. I actually got as far as completing preliminary paperwork to go to a Siberian Railway Engineering school at a careers fair in London. The Yeltsin look-alike representative seemed please to sign me up but my parents insisted that my complete lack of knowledge of Russian could be a hindrance. In addition, this was only 4 years after the USSR dissolved so they were convinced I would be brainwashed and return to London as a KGB agent.

I then attempted to go to university in Helsinki but that collapsed due to funding cuts although my uni friend Prophet (who claimed to be an Israeli agent) later told me that half the people of Finland are members of a huge satanic cult so perhaps it was for the best.

My hate for sun and math was matched only by my love of the arts. I had been involved in drama, writing and the arts throughout my life and knew with certainty that I would end up as a writer with an overdrawn bank account in the North Pole. Things didn’t exactly go to plan. I now live in Florida. Yeah the hottest place this side of Venus. My job requires me to do math EVERY day. Lots of math. In fact nothing but math. I am going to set myself a goal of finding sufficient employment away from the math related corporate world with the next two years and hopefully get some snow thrown in for good measure.

2012 as the worlds end seems like as good an end date as any for my quest although talk about “trying to take the splinter out of your brothers’ eye when you have a plank in your own.” These Mayans are so bloody clever telling us about our demise when clearly their own apocalypse crept up on them unnoticed. Anyway let the quest begin.

Comrade Kjohn Betrays the Corporate Motherland

Ten years of working in corporate America have taught me that if Joseph Stalin were alive today he would probably be the CEO of a bank, an insurance company or perhaps an energy conglomerate.

When I started as a fresh faced poorly paid jobsworth in a corporation early in 2000 I was amazed at how quickly I was able to catch the eye of management by making a concerted effort to increase sales. One of my colleagues at the time complained, “because of you we’ll all have to work harder. If you hadn’t bothered then we could have carried on sucking.” At the time, her attitude appalled me because I was the guy Stalin would have had on posters throughout the USSR being hailed as a son of Mother Russia for growing a million kernels of corn in a single flowerpot.

I enjoyed the adulation and wondered why no one else had ever thought of working this hard before. What I did not realize was that the praise I received wasn’t aimed at encouraging me it was aimed at belittling my colleagues. If we were in the USSR they would have been the Ukrainian farmers sent to labor camps for failing to meet unrealistic harvests whilst I was receiving bouquet’s and having Cossack dances in my honor.

The problem is though that it never lasts and praise turns to silence and silence turns into “you piece of garbage you should be lucky you still have a job. If and when we fire you’re slack arse you’ll be lucky to get a job as a penny an hour janitor forced to clean bathrooms with your tongue.” Like any despotic regime, a good corporation lures you in with promises of glory and a brave new world then keeps a hold of you through fear.

I can abide this life no longer especially considering that according to the Mayans we only have 2 years left before the world ends. I don’t want to be on a sales conference call when a cosmic pulse incinerates the Earth. I want to be doing something fun and creative and so my challenge, which will be documented in this blog, is to escape the corporate world and earn a living as a self-employed creative soul.