Nevermind the mold spores… just keep working!

07 Jun

Most people I know have seen “The Wizard Of Oz”, either because they had to, they were dared to, or they were drawn to it like a train wreck. Me? I just liked the 3rd munchkin on the left. The one in the Lollipop Guild. I always got a kick out of him. Munchkin-man reminded me of a guy i knew in 7th grade. Ron, i believe his name was. This guy moved in to our school, and got in with a macho group right away. But, he had kind of a baby face that off-set the sneer he would wear in public. I imagine it was like this for the 3rd guy on the left of the Lollipop Guild…..
1st guy.: (lick the lollipop) “Hey. who’s the new guy?”
2nd guy.: (kick an unoffending rock off the yellow brick road) “Um. I think his name’s… Jeff.”
1st guy.: (lick. lick. lick) “Maybe we should ask him to hang with us. He looks tough-ish.”
2nd guy.: (kick an unoffending daisy in the head, and jumps back as it bites him in the ankle) “Well, he does have a great curl, right in the middle of his forehead, but have you noticed he smiles every once in a while? Not a good sign of manliness. Plus, his name’s…. Jeff.”
1st guy. : (bites the lollipop, reaches into his back pocket for the next one) “Look, my name was Marvin when we first met up. want to make something of it?And yours was Reuben. REUBEN, for the love of chicken! We can make Jeff work into something else. How bout……Chet?”

And so, there were 3. At least, that’s what i am assuming, because Jeff/Chet was quite moving in that role. Riveting, really. The thing that was the most interesting to me about that movie, Jeff/Chet aside, was the dude behind the curtain in the Emerald City. You know the one? The guy that ends up being the big enchilada. And the famous line is, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…”

Here’s what is funny to me about this scene. It is still going on today, in so many roles. There is some dude or dudette behind a curtain, working knobs and levers feverishly, and what we sometimes see is the all important OZ of the corporate face. We say, “Wow. She/He went to Harvard/Oxford/BYU. She must be smart/intelligent/witty/sucessful….” And the followers keep following blindly. As for the dude or dudette running the show, he/she says, “Dang! All these levers and knobs. which one can make me look the best and still gives me the least amount of gas at the end of the day??” And life goes on living until … SOMETHING… breaks the cycle. It could be flying monkeys, sure. Or…., it could be a curious, yet obnoxious girl on the cusp of independence that just happens to have an even more obnoxious pet, looking behind curtains and spilling dark secrets. In fact, if you live in my life, it could look like SOMEONE happening to, say, trip over a stray hose, and a bit of moldy tile that has fallen off the ceiling at work and ACCIDENTLY sends an offensive email up the chain of command. Possibly. ……And then going on a 3 month leave of absence. you know, I’m just saying hypothetically….Either way, someone, somewhere says, “UM, hang on…..something doesn’t seem quite right. Why doesn’t anyone else see that????”

It seems to be that when people in charge say soothing words, the followers/workers/drones seem drawn to make the people in charge happy. Even when there are charging rhinos around. Don’t get what i’m saying? Well, Ok, lets see at what point you might say the words, “WHOA!!!! This just isn’t right….”

About 6 months ago i was working at a place that had great team atmosphere, challenging work load and…… the work environment from a sitcom. We are talking cramped work places, faxes/copiers that were constantly breaking down, computers that were outdated, and software that was pathetically slow. Now you and I know that this alone is not enough for a sitcom. In fact, that could be any number of real life situations. What pushes it over is this: About every 3 weeks to a month, the old, rusty pipes of this place would break, leak, or bust. Who know’s what triggered it? No one in charge seemed to know. It was always a surprise to them. What happened now? i’m shocked, they would say. It could be from the floor above us. It could be at the mens room across the hall. But it was always a flood. Luckily, there was always a plan for this. -ish…

And the solution? FANS. Lots of fans. Fans to suck up the water, with hoses directing the flow. Fans to blow air on the waterlogged carpet, walls, and ceilings. Fans to keep us, seemingly, from talking to each other about how ridiculous it was to have to move past the morning yellow CAUTION tape, walk over the large hoses strewn around the halls, and slog past the puddles of shudder-to-know-what-is-in-the-water-this-time darkness throughout the workspace carpet. Oh, yeah. And fans to keep the smell…in?…out? around? As long as we kept our heads down and acted like all was normal, the fans were the only oddity in the office to the outside world of managers and uppers.

No matter what, the fans kept the world running in our office. We just knew that if we had to step over or around a puddle or hose, we were supposed to keep working like everything was normal because “NEVER FEAR, HOSES ARE HERE TO CLEAN THIS UP”. And you know what? Even though the look on people faces, across the board was disgust mixed with just a HINT of incredubility, we humored the guys behind the curtain!!!! We knew they were running out of options, and the veneer was wearing thin, but instead of pushing or asking questions, we wanted to sooth them.

So each time a new leak/flood/waterfall/spark/drip would spring, and we got an email saying, “Nevermind the mold, just keep working”, followed by a play by play of how things were not as bad as our eyes were telling us, so never fear and don’t worry….. we would hunch our shoulders, look for a SARS mask, and trust that the big wigs knew what was going on and would protect us. Now i don’t know how this happened, but i tried on the LEMMING route for about a week. It doesnt’ fit me well, just so you know. I kept looking around and wondering, “Is it just me, or is this ridiculous?” I thought, well, i haven’t been in the corporate workforce for a few years, so maybe this is normal. Who am i to rock the boat? No one else seems to be whining loudly about the stench, the look, the OSHA red light district here. I can just keep getting a paycheck and hope i don’t get sick.

are u alerted yet? yeah, me too. And, by the way, i did get sick. It took me 3 days to realize that while the fans were going as some kind of morale for us to know that things were drying out, i was nauseous and afraid of which barrel to barf in, for fear of what would splash back at me. No, i didn’t call OSHA, but someone else did. thank goodness. I went to the dr. a few times and again, people were wondering why i was making a big deal out of it. sure things happen, ms. montgomery. Accidents happen. Have they said anything about mold? No? well, then, i’m sure it’s ok…… we can just run a few more tests….. And off they went.

So lots of co-workers were wanting the paycheck, and a few were grumbling. I simply took it up a notch. Was it rational? Probably not, but neither is wondering when i will get electrocuted as water is dripping out the light switches onto our computers. ew.

Yes, i admit it. I did send an email up the chain of command that looked like this:
“Lets go here, lets take this as far as we need to. We cannot keep this up. This has got to stop. People are looking to quit and it’s becoming ridiculous. This is not healthy, fair or productive. Stop the glad handing and smiling and do something about this now!!!”

No, i didn’t want it to go to the v.p. and the 2 managers. Necessarily. Or, actually, i didn’t want to be the only one to get slapped on the wrist, but hey, i’m a boat rocker. What came of it? Other than the email basically letting us know, “NEVERMIND THE MOLD SPORES, JUST KEEP WORKING!!!!”, I yanked the curtain aside a bit and let others see the uppers scrambling for levers and knobs while looking panicky. I don’t think they liked it a bit. I did end up on a 3 month leave to get my head straight, and they, with guidance from OSHA, moved buildings, fired a few knob turners, and brought back some dignity to the team. i’d call it a win.

So now we have an orderly OZ back in place, but i am firmly in the relm of leaving the curtains alone for a bit. Unless mold comes into the scene again. That’s just nasty. I don’t care how far i have to follow the yellow brick road when looking for success, I’ll know when to get off of it if i have to wade through mold to find it.

1 Comment

Posted by on June 7, 2009 in Life


One response to “Nevermind the mold spores… just keep working!

  1. TheWizard

    June 10, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Keep on rocking… and yes, this really is my screen name.



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