Pardon My Planet is a flashback not just to my days in an office, but to a particular set of them.
The details don't matter a whole lot, except that I was given the "we all need to do more with less" speech and assigned to tasks well beneath my pay grade and stripped of most of the tasks (though none of the duties) central to my job title.
Employers are often motivated to try to get people to resign in order to avoid paying unemployment compensation for either cutting their position to part-time, which was the goal in this case, or an unjustifiable firing, which I faced in another position.
The latter one was actually more bizarre, because it began with a steady stream of complaints about the quality of my work which were not only bogus but clearly so and then, when that didn't work, we got down into politely phrased personal insults, the intent by that point to provoke a response that could be labeled "insubordination."
And I smiled and agreed and they eventually had to fire me and pay the damned unemployment, which served 'em right. Since I was upper management by then, very few people saw the process.
But in the former case, I was right in the flow with everyone else and my colleagues were able to witness the squeeze, which is where my experience intersects with Vic Lee's cartoon: People kept coming by my desk to commiserate with me over what a lousy deal I was getting.
As it happened, I knew I was getting a lousy deal, but I was expecting no less. The publisher had taken early retirement and my boss had taken a buyout and I knew, to use a highly technical term, that my ass was grass.
I couldn't afford to simply quit, but I had reams of resumes floating out in the world, and the fact that I didn't down tools and run away eventually led to my finding a better job, because I was able to remain in touch with colleagues around the country.
Eventually, one of them said the right words at the right time and I ended up with a better gig, more pay, my own office and an assistant.
Which was worth six months of doing low-level tasks my ex had done as a college intern 30 years earlier.
What was wierd and annoying during those six months was the steady stream of crepe hangers drifting around my desk helping me understand how lousy it was to be working there.
And it made me notice their baffling, ever-present counterparts in the jobs that followed, because, yeah, I knew I was getting a bum deal, but I was working steadily to get out.
I mean, let's go down to the mall and I'll show you where they sell the suitcases. It's not like they hide them, you know.
Couldn't understand it. Still can't understand it.
I had one or two genuinely concerned friends who quietly said, "I hope you realize we know you're being treated unfairly," and that was welcome and just fine.
The rest? It was like they were happy to see someone else as miserable and stuck as they were, only I resented their assumption that I was actually stuck, and I especially resented their assumption that I was as passive and docile and content to be trodden upon and miserable as they apparently were.
I should have asked Wiley for advice.
And now, this bit of encouraging news:
Good work is out there, folks. It's nice to see it occasionally recognized and even rewarded.
Flashes from the past
As long as we're dealing with Thrilling Tales of My Past Jobs, today's Ink Pen rerun from 2007 provides an excuse to rerun one of the last stories I did as a reporter, back in 1993.
But let me say first that the fact that Ink Pen isn't around anymore is evidence of why newspapers should not devote print space to zombie strips.
If there were any justice in the business, the zombies would be available on-line only, and good second-tier strips like Ink Pen would be in print and (therefore) still in production.
In any case, yes, death of a superhero is one way to jack up interest, as evidenced in this story, for which the photographer and I had to show up at the warehouse at some ungodly hour, like 3 a.m. And at one point, we came across a pallette with the top wrap torn and two copies of the magazine out, so Mike set one up to get a picture.
And the suits descended on us as if we'd been snapping pics at Langley. Even after we explained to them that the comics would be on the stands by that afternoon and our story wouldn't appear until the next morning, they were pretty unamused by the move.
Anyway, here's a bit of history for you to click-and-make-bigger.
Does anyone out there know, by the way, how 13 million copies would compare to current sales figures? They were pretty blown away by the number twenty-one years ago.