Friday, January 14

Flimsy, Inc., Part I

At 10:00 a.m. on the first day of my employment at Flimsy, Inc., there was a meeting. In attendance were:
• Mr. CEO
• me (recently hired as Mr. CEO’s assistant)
• and Melody,* Mr. CEO’s fiancé/ “designer”/ Co-Owner (*There’s just no other name to appropriately convey the aura of this person.)

In this Thursday morning meeting, we discussed some ordinary things. Really simple things. Like producing TWO HUNDRED COPIES of a THREE HUNDRED PAGE catalog composed of THREE HUNDRED ILLUSTRATOR FILES (which were ruined by some non- graphic designer they hired), which of course needed to be printed and bound and arrive in New York by Monday.

After I looked past my eager-to-please first day of work attitude and realized the absurdity of the task, my first step was to call a dozen nearby printing firms, hoping one of them would be insane enough to accept a two-day, over-the-weekend rush print job during the holiday season.

The first place I called wouldn’t budge from $15,000, but said they’d fix the files for me. Kinko’s proudly offered a price of $11,500. The next place settled at $11,000. And the final offer from a guy in the adjacent office building was $10,000.

When I presented the information to Mr. CEO, he balked. “Ten thousand is ridiculous. I’m not paying that. We’ll do it in-house,” says he, owner of a possessed Canon ColorPass printer.

Initial eager-to-please reactions of the first day work environment continue to win. I say, “Whatever you say,” and get to work, only to have my anger win out an hour later, realizing that this is idiotic. So, we negotiate the idiocy and settle on “see if the guy next door will do the cutting, collating, binding if we print them ourselves. What’s the price then?”

When I return with a quote of $6,000, he remains dissatisfied, suddenly claiming that he talked about this job with the guy only a week ago and it was less.

Ok, let’s review: You need two hundred 300 page catalogs printed, collated, and bound by Monday? (At this point, we’d settled for shipping the catalogs on Monday, rather than having them arrive Monday.) It’s now Thursday. If I’m REALLY fast, I’ll maybe have fixed half of these broken Illustrator files by tomorrow, so we could send them to print at the end of the day.

(At this point, they have me “working” on a Celeron processor generously equipped with 128 MB of RAM and a 15” monitor. Raise your hand if you’ve attempted to open 1GB Illustrator files with that kind of machine. Let’s just say I overestimated how quickly I could fix the text and alignment of three hundred files using the provided equipment.)

Still reviewing: I’ve found printers who will do your job, and you say “No”? Now what?

Oh, right, you expect me to fix all the files, print copies of each on your I-work-when-I-feel-like-it laser printer, cut the resulting 15,000 sheets of paper with that ten-sheets-at-a-time paper cutter over there, collate the 60,000 quarter-page slices, and bind two hundred of these on my first day on the damn job. Sure.

Also, if you talked about it a week ago, Mr. CEO, why didn’t you start this a week ago? ... And, why did you claim not to know about this sudden deadline from Melody in that meeting this morning?

“At Flimsy, Inc. we’re all about putting things off. We enjoy unreasonable, self-imposed deadlines resulting from unpreparedness and irresponsibility. We also encourage anger in the workplace and dissent in all of our employees. As we like to say, ‘We micromanage or we don’t manage at all,’ and we feel that the fluctuation between the two puts our employees in the constant state of uneasiness and displeasure that we desire. Above all else, we take pride in the shoddy work that comes from the implementation of these core values.”

How did the printing end up? Late and crappy, like everything else. I didn’t get to fix all the files, but we printed them anyway. We didn’t use the guy downstairs to cut, collate, or bind. We did it in-house. A part-time worker came in to make sloppy cuts, misplace pages, and STAPLE the catalogs together over the weekend. We missed our deadline of Monday by one week, and overall, represented the company in a fine way.

If ever a first day were indicative of my entire stay...

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