Thursday, June 19, 2008

Crazy Corporate America (also known as "Peter. What's Happening.")

By now, we've all heard the stories about how Bear Sterns' employees were forced to buy their own paper clips and rubber bands, because the weird corporate culture there insisted on these crazy cost-saving measures (while executives were given million dollar bonuses).

And we all know the end of the story with Bear Stearns' demise, collapse, and "rescue" by the Feds. In fact, in today's news, it was reported that two of Bear Stearns' hedge fund managers were arrested on charges of securities fraud. Not good.

Worrying over the cost of a box of paper clips when you've got problems like that seems a bit hypocritical, doesn't it?

All this got me thinking about the odd (and frequently contradictory) measures that Corporate America takes to save money in the workplace.

I have personally worked at places where:

  1. Coffee was not free (and let me tell you, this caused considerable ill will amongst the staff). Workers get pissed off when they have to pay for their morning workplace caffeine.
  2. File folders (the cheap manila kind) had to be reused until they were literally falling apart... and when you moved an old file to storage, you had to pull out the loose paper and rubber band it all together. (Good luck finding something if you ever needed it again.)
  3. The office supply room was kept locked, and when you needed supplies you had to explain to a manager what you needed from the supply room, and why.
Yet, each of these companies (and these 3 examples were at 3 different companies.... all names you would know) were extremely profitable organizations.

What gives?!

What are your weird Corporate America/workplace stories?


Sugar said...

I was once put in charge of office supplies by a woman named Sally. She didn't do it willingly, but I begged, mainly because I wanted her to like me. I was pretty efficient at my job of managing two executives, and I needed something else to do to fill up the eight hours. I took on my new duty with glee and, shall we say, fervor! I think I'm going to have to post about this. Needless to say, I wasn't aware of this stinginess of a hotel that was charging such exorbinant fees for lighting a ficus or ringing chimes to alert guests to move towards the ballroom. After a couple of orders, Sally was fit to be tied. I was relieved of my office supply duties.

Needless to say, the whole episode did nothing in getting Sally to like me.

Sugar said...

OH! And CR is FANTASTIC! It's for ALL of life's issues. I've seen amazing transformations... not least of which has been mine. :) If you are in any way an influencer, please cheer this one on!

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Sugar, I'm laughing out loud... you are SO funny. :-)

And yes, I will "encourage" this person to REALLY sink some roots in at CR... she is dealing with some very VERY heavy issues.

D'Arcy said...

Luckily I have avoided corporate America, but I did have a "Devil Wears Prada" experience when I lived in NY. I was hired by a well known millionairess as her personal assistant and had to do everything from run to Versace to complain about her shoes, go to Dior and "yell" at them that they hadn't fixed her bag right, buy packets of cigarettes, perrier and macadamia nuts and have them anywhere and everywhere she might think. I had to organize her jewelry (just the photos of them from where they were in the vaults) into file boxes, I had to leave my phone on and leave a few NYU classes to comply to her needs, I had to take calls from her at 3 am when she couldn't remember where she had left a receipt for something she had bought three months previous....I can't even tell you the abuse...and yet, silly me, I kept taking it because I thought that's what young up and comings do in NY and this is how they get ahead....and the truth is, it is! I remember when I told her I was quitting and that I had never been treated so badly by someone. She told me I would regret it and that she was just about ready to refer me and my writing talent to her famous director brother....she tried to lure me in, but in the end, it wasn't worth it.

Crazy how that other half lives, and how they feel money gives them the means to treat everyone like they are dirt!

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Oh, D'Arcy - this is horrible! I've had my share of bad bosses (and also some really wonderful ones too), but this truly WAS a "Devil Wears Prada" type situation. It amazes me how people are willing to treat other people and think it's 'perfectly fine'.

What an icky person.

D'Arcy said...

Don't everything, this woman will be an AMAZING character in a novel I write....from her solid chrome toilet and 5th Ave penthouse to her crazy request to the doorman and her fear of subways!!

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

I cannot WAIT to read your novel! I will be FIRST IN LINE at the book signing! Just name the time and the place, and I will be there with bells on. :-)