Human Factor

If all people are created equal, and when you think about it (biologically) we are, then why is it that some people are considered to be more equal than others?

What makes another person more than another? Ceteris paribis, Latin for “Other things being equal”, why are others elevated while the rest stay behind?

I ask these questions and write this column because of a story I heard about an office, a story in every sense of the word because I only know of it as a rumor. And as a rumor, I know that it has a 50% probability of being ficticious. But from my experiences thus far in rumors, lies and outlandish willful participation in campaigns of mis-information, there is always a hint of truth hidden in these stories. Now this office story reminded me of another, the brilliantly tragic “Animal Farm” by the visionary George Orwell. Orwell wrote “Animal Farm” as a ficticious story with factual events and hopefully this column will turn out to be ficticious as well.

This particular office I speak of has a reputation of being all-encompassing, honest and harboring a sense of camaraderie. An ideal place to work for any person not quite comfortable with cutting proverbial throats or backstabbing, or better yet those people who left such behavior where it belongs: in high school. And I guess for a while this sense of belonging and appreciation from the company was real; employees were happy and it mirrored in the companies thriving success rate for so-many odd years that they have been in business. That is, until recently. A series of sweeping changes (none of which I know as an outside spectator) shifted this energy of equality and togetherness to one side… At first causing a bit of friendly competition between each sector of a well-oiled machine… That is, until the first hint of a company wide segregation came to light.

At first glance the use of the word “segregation” may seem a bit harsh, however in this context I believe it to be an accurate representation of the situation as I know it. I’d be lying if I said that I had not heard about companies, not just this one I am referring to, who have done what I am about to say… But every time I do hear it again, it hurts to know just the same. This company, and others I’ve known and even worked for myself, has the rumor flying around of a “selective” guest list at the company’s Christmas party.

Yes, that’s right. A selective company Christmas party… where some employees in certain sectors, depending on their “successes” (read: money making abilities) are invited to a dinner, drinks and dancing evening while employees in certain sectors who have been deemed expendable and whose jobs have been mistaken for erroneous are excluded from the only party and only “gift” so to speak that a company throws and gives for its employees…A party that is most likely expensed as a “business” cost.

Now correct me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that a companies employees are the most important part of a business. From the perspective of an employee who has done her fair share of grunt work and has had her fair share of uninvites to Christmas parties, it is outrageous. It would be one thing if the company was going under; or if it didn’t make a lot of profit this year, or if simply they could not pull the damn thing off. Fine. Shit happens, I understand. This is NOT the case with this company or with any company I know that has had selective guest lists at their Christmas parties . And while yes, the work that some employees do may seem unimportant.. until there is no one to do it.

The prime example I can give? Housekeeping, especially in a hospital setting. No one ever looks twice at a cleaner roaming the halls where doctors, nurses, surgeons and whatnot rush here there and everywhere saving lives…. But holy hell if the cleaning staff every disappeared the hospital and everyone who ever stepped foot inside those doors would be shit out of luck.

As it is everywhere really… The little things, whether it be housekeeping or data entry, get done by the little people in your company, people you may not even notice and people you may not know you need until they are gone. The higher you climb up that ladder of success, you might want to think about appreciating whomever is holding you up, doing those little things you simply could not be bothered with because someone else will get it done for you. A happy worker is a productive worker; and if your workers are unhappy you and your company will eventually fall…. and when you do those little people you ignored, segregated and otherwise demoted in this apparent hierarchy of humanity might not notice… and even if they do, they might not even care.

I realize that it is only October and that in the future I may end up being the erroneous one, but the sense of inequity that stories like this produce has no time limit… and seemingly no end in sight. I can’t help but wonder what will happen in the not-so-distant future to those employees and all other companies who put their employees worthiness for appreciation into cold hard dollars and cents. It’s not something you want to think about… until it happens to you. And let me tell you, the feeling that you actually have a monetary worth placed on your head by your employer … it’s a pretty shitty feeling.

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~ by Carrie on October 8, 2006.

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