Cheap purple cloth hung from the rickety table; who puts a candle in the middle of a business meeting? The answer is someone who wants to make you think it isn’t a business meeting. This way, emotionally hungry people end up spilling more than they planned to. Afterwards you look back and are embarrassed you fell for it. The boss is still driving this ship even if you open with a song to the earth.
Some trends in business look humanely promising, like we’re about to all feel so cozy together at work, right at home. But I don’t believe it. I watch these trends, these “guided meditations” conducted by the development company before teardown of the house the old woman was evicted from. It is still a business meeting. In my demand for truth in writing I have demanded the truth of life. This means acknowledging the unhidden subjective reality of what is happening, in addition to objectivity, all elegantly complicated. It often isn’t pretty or ideal. It breaks through edited thoughts that, like the truth, aren’t edited beauty.
So when companies gather us together for a big company party to make us feel warm and trusting, I don’t believe it. They are lying to their workers’ hungry hearts. This is where truth-telling gets daunting because it’s damn disruptive, doesn’t make a safe LinkedIn cover, to tell this kind of truth. If a company can fire a person for any reason, at any time, this place is not a community. It isn’t mutual. If a company offers you a nap on a cot mid-shift it is not because they care about your wellbeing. It is because they want to get more productivity out of you. If getting productivity out of you for the dollar means killing you, then kill you they will. If they mean to get you to feel beholden to everybody as if you all were a family, especially to feel this loyalty for your boss, know that it will be your heart to suffer when you are no longer of use to them.
All of this isn’t to say that companies shouldn’t have uplifting business meetings or offer exhausted employees places to take a nap on their breaks. I, too, wish to make money and have comfort and prestige. I have come to see that lying to survive can be a moral value in its own right to human beings, lying about the truth of our hearts past the place of no return in life when we can nevermore be truly trusting before trust is earned, if we can ever be truly trusting at all. It is simply the strategy of our economical ecology. Seen in this light, the heaviness is taken out of it. It doesn’t need to be heartless. Now I have become shrewd enough to understand this, that the metaphorical killing-off of the time of childhood involves sacrificing half of one whole truth to survive by another. We must pay rent and buy food. We must, we always will, do attain our survival. So, too, do the smallest and greatest of beasts. But these motions are acts of survival, then become pangs of the heart. When the press upon your throat for survival is passed down from management, remember what you are capable of.
Karoshi is a Japanese word, meaning “overwork”. Overexertion. Men sleeping in train terminals and marching to death down fluorescent-lit halls are the demons of the modern Japanese work-culture, the death cubicle of endless hours because they think their companies actually care about them. They have been taught to believe they owe their corporation some kind of devotion. Great Corporation loves you as Father loves you. Americans have, until latter years, often been a bit too shrewd for this. We once were the unionists –with all of the problems and corruptions that came with it. Now, it is trendy to force “collaboration” by getting rid of privacy in the workroom. It would be more sincere to admit it.