“Yes, I’ll wait my turn in line. But if you want to give me dirty, impatient looks, to make tension or push your way in front of me because you don’t think that trash like me belongs in the line, then you have got to expect trouble from me.”–Dee Dee Ramone
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER ELEVEN: PART THIRTY-THREE: DAYS OF WRATH
“I tried more than once, Yob, to walk the straight and narrow,” said Count Vicor Justin to his young protege Cadger Tandy. “You’d be surprised how many times I managed to soft soap my way into a job for which I was utterly unqualified–either through bogus references, or the gift of plying the mark with soothing bullshit, or by outright lying, or all three. The first thing you have to do when you start a job, or course, is to not work too hard, else they’ll expect you to perform at peak capacity every day. Next thing, after you get the lay of the land, is you have to worm your way into the confidences of the Big Boss. There are plentiful ways to do this; however, I have always favored the direct approach, which is sheer blarney. You flatter old Bosso by imitating him at every turn. If he wears spats, then, by the Neddy Jingo, so do you. If he whips the peasants, you stand by with kidney fat and tallow to grease the tip. The trick is all in the fake sincerity that you use. You have to give the impression that you’re not good at flattery. Not good at all. So you are prone to simply blurting out compliments about your boss. Preferably within his earshot. As if you don’t know that he is listening to every word.
“Everybody loves it when you pat them on the back. Even those rare individuals who are astute enough to know what you’re up to. It’s human nature the world over, Yob. Collar some fat old ugly hag on the street and blurt out how pretty you think she is, and watch her face just light right up. Before long, you’ll have her eating right out of your hand. She might even want you to throw her a fuck. People always want to be praised for their good qualities. Tell them they’re looking good, and they’ll adore you. Tell them that they are intelligence personified, and their critical faculties will fly right out the window.
“But suckers are especially keen on being praised for qualities which they don’t actually have, but would like to have. It’s always a good idea to go rummaging around through your boss’s desk when he ain’t there. You can gather up a lot of ammunition to use in your flattery campaign. It is also very useful to cultivate the skill of reading upside down. That’s because most bosses leave certain important papers on their desk without even thinking about how valuable the information might prove in the wrong hands.
“To get ahead, you have to sabotage the other guy. That’s one reason I got out of working in a business setting. I was too good at it. There are 100 ways to make your rival look like a slob, while you come across as a golden boy. One way is very simple–you never call the Boss by name. You always use some title, like Chief or Captain, or even Boss if you have to. Don’t listen to what they tell you–‘Call me Mike,’ they’ll say. Bullshit–they just eat it up when you call them Sir or Bossman. Especially if they have some kind of military title. Referring to your Boss as ‘Colonel’ is good for an extra twenty dollars a month. Believe me, I know whereof I speak. Sycophancy pays. In fact, the very same qualities that are conducive to business success also come in very handy in the grifting game. Listening to your boss gassing as though his words were pure honey, instead of last year’s baloney. Thanking him profusely for every small favor he grants you, as though he were the mightiest king of kings come down to earth to grant a great boon to a mere mortal. Or–get this–taking out a whisk brush and brushing the lint off his shoulders. I’ve seen it done! I’ve seen men get down on their hands and knees and start shining the boss’s shoes! There’s practically no limit to the amount of degradation you can subject yourself to in the interests of getting ahead at work.
“Bosses usually have a pretty good idea of the pecking order among their employees. They know who is in, who is out, and who the deadwood is, and who’s the busy beaver. And a shrewd boss will use that knowledge to pit one man against another. They will allow one Yellof to come and go as he pleases, and watch the other Yellof like a hawk. Of course, this puts the other Yellof on notice that he has incurred the displeasure of the Grand Poobah, and he’ll most likely tread extra careful and will come to work walking on eggshells. This will go on for years, until they hire another Yellof, and the boss plays the same trick, only this time the second Yellof is on top, and it’s the new Yellof who has to start watching his ass. Divide et impera–the Romans had a name for it–divide and rule.
“Now, sometimes your bosses will use flattery on you. They’ll tell you that you’re doing a good job. They’ll praise you for your perseverence. They may even invite themselves to dinner at your home. That is, of course, a cynical attempt to squeeze as much work out of you as humanly possible. They probably use the same tone of voice when they’re playing with their dog.
“Now, those are the GOOD bosses. There are very few of those in the whole wide world. Many men do not know how to convey their authority. That’s why so many people are always griping about their bosses. You’ve looched about in taverns; you’ve heard it with your own ears. If it’s not the mother-in-law and the damn furriners who bedevil a man, it’s nearly almost always his god-damned boss. Most people don’t know what to do when their boss starts in with criticizing them, except to keep their heads down and work harder than ever. But it’s downright hopeless, in many cases. Once the boss has formed an impression of you, that’s the impression that will stay with him until the day you leave, or he fires you. Or you retire, with a gold watch which you no longer need and an admonition–here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?–to not let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.
“And just try to find another job after you’ve been fired! It’s one chance in a hundred. That’s because the other ninety-nine employers pay heed to the biased opinion of your former boss. He doesn’t have to say much. Just that you had the wrong attitude, and you weren’t a good fit for the organization. I’ll tell you this much: Jesus Christ God Almighty his own self could come to Noxtown and try to find a job–and they’d all blubber he ‘had the wrong attitude’, and he ‘wasn’t a good fit’!”