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I work for a very large firm. I was one of those who worked hard and was compensated accordingly. A real company man. And I really believed in my firm’s mission statement.
I work for a drug company. Quite important stuff.
Yet, I’ve now outgrown it. There is no challenge left, no new invigorating work. The old stuff bores me and the new stuff is just a pretty picture and gift wrapping of the old stuff. The company parties, the rah rah rah, the focus groups, the PR, all that holds nothing for me now.
The work hasn’t changed, it is I who has changed. The reason behind my transformation is that I found out that my firm is a sham. Yes, a big fraud. The next Enron. For obvious reasons I won’t state the firm’s name but I recently found out that my much vaunted company deals in placebos. It’s a big secret and even most of the employees don’t know. If the public or even the medical community gets wind of it, that will cause big problems. Placebos work even though there’s no substance behind them. They work just as well as the real thing. But they only work if the patient is unaware. Once the cat’s out of the bag, it all falls apart. And I don’t want to be the one to tell my staff and other co-workers. Besides, they wouldn’t believe me.
Where was I? Oh yes. But that’s not all. I have it on good information that the firm’s pension plan is a fraud. I can’t prove it, but there are other old timers who agree with me. I still work hard and the pay is not bad, quite good as a matter of fact. But when I retire, I’m getting nothing, nadda, bubkes. They throw a little party for you, ship you off to a country that has no legal hold on this one. And then no one ever hears from you. But they don’t pay up on the pension. And there’s no recourse.
And that is very depressing.
So while I still work for the company, I don’t contribute much to the pension plan. Just enough not to arouse suspicions. If word got out that I’ve lost the mission, I’d probably get the boot.
I also found out that I’m not the only one in on this little dirty secret. And like me there’s lots of us who just stick it out.
Some do leave, especially if they find out early in their career.
There are always plenty of new young eager employees who are absolute whizzes at their jobs and they’re all gung-ho. These are the ones that don’t have a very varied background. They’re more like the way I was, when I entered the firm, sole minded on the product – no distractions at all. These new young ones do a great job and the stock price just keeps climbing.
I stand aside, nostalgically, and watch them all get excited, just the way I used to. Come the weekend, they collect their paycheck, (which is clearly better than the competition) and they gloat over their 401k accounts, never even imagining the possibility they’ll never collect.
Me? What can I say? I sure miss the good old days. But – the pay is still decent, even though the free placebos don’t do anything for me anymore. I just float along waiting for something to happen.
The people I work with are still a big part of my life. I know them for so long, we’re like family.
The reasons I don’t leave are pretty clear. It’s just not worth it. After so many years, my current firm is the place to be for me.
Yep, Golden Handcuffs.
Am I making myself clear?
(This post in honor of the Dubner Maggid whose yahrtzeit is never more than six months away.)
Originally published on Baal Habos on 10/7/07, and reprinted here with permission. Authors have asked us to note that as the essays featured in “Best of the Blogs” document journeys of transformation, the author’s views may have changed since initial publication.
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