A Lesson in Class

My girlfriend, Sigone (Significant One), was fired from her job the other day. It was a 21st century job: part time, contracted, no benefits, no taxes withheld. The pioneering, “do it yourself, because we don’t care,” entrepreneurial paradigm so keenly prevalent in our brave new workaday world. This isn’t your parents’ US of A, folks. They had jobs and unions and benefits and retirement packages. We have tasks. Every man for himself.

Sigone working from home.

Hers was one of those new-era work-from-home, writing positions of which you see an abundance posted on Craig’s List and elsewhere. It’s all about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Most of these outfits pay you, like, two bucks to write three hundred words about hair salons in Durham, North Carolina, or whatever. Really innocuous. I don’t know who performs those tasks, but it ain’t anyone in this household.

Sigone’s assignments were a little more sophisticated than that. She worked for an organization that produced “biographies” for professional types–all eager to come in at the top or at least on the first page of a Google or Bing search, with the sort of content that they can tightly control.

The clients came from all walks of life. Some were merely trying to increase their visibility in the marketplace. Others were attempting to outrun certain notorious internet entries, by loading five or six different bios (from “separate” sources, of course) to crowd out the offending motes and beams onto page two of the search.

How the editor sees herself.

Since signing on last October, Sigone had written several hundred of those bios. The company for which she was working have editors (forty or so apparently) who routinely check all bios for grammar, spelling and content. They are especially sensitive to “plagarism.” By today’s definition of plagiarism, it is quite unlikely that the Bible ever would have taken shape. But that’s a horse of a different blog post.

The realm is so specialized that outfits like the one she wrote for employ sophisticated software that detect not only outright unattributed copying, but also grey-areas such as paraphrasing or rewriting. I don’t know how a term paper gets drafted anymore.

Our heroine.

As to what transgression got her fired? We’re still trying to piece that together. She had written a bio about an architect whose professional credo drifted into the neighborhood of Ayn Rand’s John Galt–relentlessly committed to his architectural principles and ideals. Sigone’s subject employed very technical terms in the information he provided.

Hearth and home.

He was all about chimneys and fireplaces, hearth and home, or some such. Go ahead. Thesaurus me that. Chimney. Hearth. To make things worse John Galt donated technical bon mots–yer fascias and chimney pots.

Let’s see. What’s another word for this thing?

Corbelling. That’s a good one. What’s another word for corbelling? Oh, don’t go there. You don’t even want to know what a thicket that is! These words are the resultant distilled crystalizations of years of tribes of architects wandering in the verbal desert attempting to give name to undefinable concepts. Fascia. Corbelling. Cornice. Amen.



Now, Sigone’s only previous run-in with an editor in all the time she had contributed biographies was with a woman named Kat. She accused Sigone of plagiarism. It should be pointed out that Sigone has impressive credentials of her own. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa in Religious Studies from the University of Washington. She attended Oxford. She holds masters degrees from Northwestern University in History and Creative Writing.

It would seem that if she were to have exhibited any sort of propensity for kyping the work of others it probably would have been discovered before her entry into the oh-so demanding world of  biographies designed to increase Search Engine Optimization. Good lord! How much is there to say about most of these people in the first place?

Anyway, it just so happened that Kat was patrolling the plagiarism front that day, diligently calling out all the little word thieves out there in her temporary domain. She sent back Sigone’s bio for corrections with offending passages shaded in yellow. Rather than to quibble, Sigone merely deleted the offending passages, thus ending any conflict. But hearth and corbelling and fascias remained.

How the contractor sees the editor.

The next thing Sigone knew, she had been terminated. Apparently Kat felt compelled to report to management whatever gross violation she had detected. Sigone had stolen copy. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. Hearth. Corbelling. Fascias.

And Sigone was gone. She wrote an impassioned plea to management that her job was very important to her, vital financially, and she asked for another chance. She did not receive the courtesy of a reply.

Corporations are people too, Captain Willard

It’s internet work. All employer/employee business is conducted online. It makes it easy to be impersonal, one would suppose. An email and you’re hired. An email and you’re fired. Clean as a snail crawling along the edge of a straight razor. No responsibility toward any sort of human exchange. It’s all business, you see. Corporations are people too, my friend. But they’re not very good at interpersonal relations. There’s no profit in caring.

Yes,sir. Corporations are people too. Can I get you anything, Mister Koch?

Corporations may be people, but that doesn’t make them persons. And, in the end, the people who are persons end up being consumed body and soul by corporations that are merely people, my friend. No moral accountability, our accountant handles all of that. But, hey–we’re the job creators.

And it’s so convenient  for purported human beings to hide behind the corporate veil of anonymity, affording them the luxury to freely express themselves without fear of discovery of the little man (or woman) cringing just on the other side of that curtain.

Excuse me. Uh. Help?

This is the climate that many if not most of us must endure in order to remain employed. Cynical? You bet. Cowardly? Surely. Just do as you’re told, take what you’re given, and keep your mouth shut. Don’t rock the boat. And don’t expect anything from your employer. They don’t care what happens to you.

Oh, you think I’m leaning a little hard on the vitriol? Let’s see. How can I tell this tale? The very few of you who read my blog know that a few months back I wrote a piece about the shameful joy I felt upon hearing that my former employer was experiencing financial problems. Just scroll down a post or two and you can read the rest. “20 Years of Schoolin’…”

I had my fun with Small Egg Roll and that was pretty much the end of it for me. From everyone I spoke to, I’d struck a blow for the little guy; pip-pip, hip-hip and all that. But, because of my Luddite-ness (also explicated in greater detail somewhere below this entry), my Luddity, if you will, I was not aware that another chapter was unfolding.

Riff McWingo

Yeah, I’d heard about the post-blog email Brendan had received from Riff McWingo telling him that he was dead to Small Egg Roll for spreading the word about the corporation’s financial misfortunes. Brendan was, of course, crushed. It would have been more crushing for him but for the fact that he no longer worked there. I think they were dead to him before he was dead to them.

No, what I didn’t know was that I had received an email of my own. A comment on that particular blog post had appeared. Buko, my web administrator, found it. I never would have. I don’t even know where to look for comments on my website. That’s still a long way away in my realm.

How can I put this?

But I received a comment from one “Superchick 474” regarding my blistering Small Egg Roll blog. It wasn’t a very nice comment. Downright hateful. Buko didn’t even want to tell me about it. I reminded him that I had been a music “critic” in Portland for over thirty years. I’ve heard it all. Really. Even this:

Ahh, Scrooge McOldAsFuck, I see you’re whining as always. Haven’t you died yet? How your pathetic excuse of a heart and cynical outlook haven’t killed you yet, I have no idea.

The letters I get!

My guess is that you were let go for your continuously shitty attitude and inability to get things done. It is true that if you don’t like your job, someone else will. Nothing is more toxic than a shitty attitude and you still seem to have a copious amount of that.

When the good Lord does take your life, and hopefully soon, I can only hope that a homeless man with AIDS pisses on your grave to give you a taste of all the venom that you spread.

Rest in peace, Old Balls.

Well that was bracing! Honestly, and I may be biased here, but that seemed rather spleeny and mean-spirited, don’t you think? I didn’t wish any misfortune on Small Egg Roll in my blog. I’m quite aware they can bring that on themselves with their own dark karma without my help. Schadenfreude? Well, yes, maybe.

And schadenfreude, while certainly not an admirable sentiment, seems a damn sight better than expressing disappointment over the fact that someone has yet to undergo greatly anticipated hardship (death). That seems downright nasty, though, in this instance, not totally unanticipated.

L’amé McWingo

The prevailing thinking among members of the Wasted Talent Pool is that this piece of work came from the desk of daddy’s little nepot, L’amé (like the shiny shiny fabric) McWingo. It is certain that it came from inside the walls of Small Egg Roll, as Brendan and I and several Talent Poolers recognized the IP address. Buko was able to confirm this fact, tracking the address back to its source.

Whether or not she was sharing the corporate (family) sentiments, I cannot say. Nor is it clear if she was acting in an emissarial capacity for the firm. I mean, lesser men might read all of this as a veiled threat. Without doubt not a wish for well!

And it’s so poorly written. Good Lord, here’s your chance to really smoke it to me, to really tell me off, put me in my place, and that’s the best you could do? What sort of college education did your dad finance anyway? You didn’t even say “bitch slap.” Cranks always say “bitch slap” to/about me. I don’t know why.

McOld as wha’?

The ironies begin with the salutation: Ahh, Scrooge McOldAsFuck. What thuh?  I worked for notorious tightwads and their ambassador is referring to ME as McScrooge (the rich grandfather in Donald Duck comics)? Oh, that’s perfect! It was I withholding wealth from the corporate maw. How dare I? It was all my fault. Coulda called me Mister Selfish and just cut to the chase.

It’s a textbook example of deflection: the patently Republican ploy of blaming one’s adversary for precisely the trespasses for which they themselves are culpable.

I guess to a recent college graduate, working for her dad, I would seem old as fuck. Apparently the company sanctioned this assessment–although I’d never heard anything of the sort while I worked there. I’m not sure how to take this pronouncement, as heretofore I had not yet thought of myself as old, let alone “old as fuck” (which, according to Wikipedia, is pretty fuckin’ old)

And then the whole Mc thing. In my blog I called her family McWingo and now she’s calling me McOldAsFuck. I think this shows an appalling lack of originality. Probably a Business Admin major. Whining as always. I bitch. I complain. I object. I question. I beg to differ. But I don’t whine. Not particularly well thought out, I’d say.

Haven’t you died yet? How your pathetic excuse of a heart and cynical outlook haven’t killed you yet, I have no idea.

Many have wondered if this line was some sort of veiled threat. She seems awfully attached to the idea of something killing me. It sounds malicious. Disappointed. Like, “Aren’t you dead yet? Why aren’t you dead yet?” What does she know and when did she know it? As if she can’t figure out why the poisoning hasn’t taken effect yet.


Why, L’amé? It’s because my father was Rasputin and I know how to hold my poison. That’s why. But, I will admit to being cynical. Fifteen years at Small Egg Roll would make a cynic of a saint. Although saints work at a better pay scale, I’m told. Cynics have to take what they can get. Obviously.

Saint George the Dragonslayer

I have a rockin’ patron saint, but not a patron cynic. Although if I were to have a patron cynic, it would be Saint George Carlin, the Dragonslayer.

My guess is that you were let go for your continuously shitty attitude and inability to get things done.

Where would you like me to put this?

“Let go.” That sounds so diplomatic. “Set free” would have been nice. “Allowed to leave.” Shitty attitude and inability to get things done doesn’t ring quite true somehow. You’d think the braintrust would have sussed that out within the prior fifteen years of my employ–over the duration of which I managed to dump into their coffers 30-plus million dollars in sales lucre, while the company’s fortunes grew sextupally. Just sayin’. The empire’s attitude got shitty long before mine did. My wealth sure as hell didn’t grow sextupally.

It is true that if you don’t like your job, someone else will.

Atlas preparing to shrug.

Well, in this case, that isn’t altogether true–since my accounts were given to the other members of the sales-staff to quell their rampant disapproval for having their commissions slashed in half (Field General Guppy J. Lapdog, VP of Sales, told us we’d “come out ahead” with the new configuration–yeah, right. The “royal” we). So, no one likes my old job. There is none to like. Small Egg Roll “discontinued” my department. Whatever that’s supposed to mean.

When the good Lord does take your life, and hopefully soon, I can only hope that a homeless man with AIDS pisses on your grave to give you a taste of all the venom that you spread.

This is God speaking.

Now, this is so full of confused thinking it’s difficult to fully ravel. But the sentiments are again clearly Republican in nature. In their world, the “good lord” takes the lives of the people they don’t like. And hopefully soon. There you go, brevity is next to godliness–the good lord apparently receiving directives from L’amé via the red phone hotline.

I can only hope that a homeless man with AIDS pisses on your grave to give you a taste of all the venom that you spread.

Here’s the deal. After I’m dead, I’m hardly likely to “taste” any venom at all. But it’s really not within my control nor of any concern to me who pisses venom on my grave, as there will be none upon which to piss: after my cremation. My first wish was to have my carcass left in the woods for the scavengers to devour, but apparently that’s not legal. Otherwise, I suppose it would be easier to just dump my corpse in front of Small Egg Roll and let the scavengers there do the job.

Venom pissing applicant.

And then, to drag a poor homeless man into this and to give him AIDS, no less–while he’s pissing venom on somebody’s grave (’cause it ain’t mine). Girl, you read too many graphic novels in school when you should have been studying and attending class. Or maybe it’s all that trashy Japanese video product you’re forced to promote for your corporate family overlords.

Rest in peace, Old Balls.

Old balls at rest.

Well, that’s a nice sentiment. When I have rested in my life, it has always been in great peace, owing to the fact that my conscience is relatively clear at this point in the procession of my days. I have been more generous than selfish, which is more than I can say for Small Egg Roll.

And how did you know my porn name is Old Balls? You’ve been peeking again!

Today Sigone came home from her volunteer position at a non-profit clinic, to which she devotes a couple of days a month. She does this because she loves the emotionally challenging work and she is extremely talented at it. It fulfills her. She remarked as to how everyone who works there seems happy and glad to be there. They’re all supportive of one another. They treat you with respect and act like they’re glad to be there and glad that you’re there with them.

Will Work For Justice

I thought about it for a second and I couldn’t recall any job I had like that–except being a musician, which no one considers a job anyway.  Musicians play music, they don’t work it. Okay. The good ones work it, but that’s a different blog.

Actually, thinking back, Riff McWingo did present me with a very gracious card of appreciation for all my efforts. That was back in 1998. From that point forward–for the subsequent thirteen years–it would seem I was no longer appreciated (word to the wise, L’amé).

A lot has changed since 1998 when Bill Clinton was president and life seemed okay. Life is not okay anymore. If it wasn’t okay for me alone, then I would be willing to deal with that. But it’s not okay for just about everyone I know and everyone they know.

AIDS venom of a homeless man on my hands!

As the prospect of corporate personhood grows, the state of humanity declines exponentially. What will life be like when corporations are the only acknowledged “people” and real humans are mere inconveniences to be dealt with like cows that need a morning milking?

Fortunately, according to some timetables, there will be a poor homeless man with AIDS pissing venom on someone’s (Peter Graves’?) grave that he thinks is mine, and I won’t have to worry about any of this. But lots of luck to the rest of you in your brave new world. May the corporation be with you, my friend.




Ever vigilant, duly diligent Mister Buko rightly noted that I had forgotten to include my regular installment of Biblical Haiku (copyright pending, all you crazy-assed editors out there).

The Bible V

If Revelations

Should end up turning out true,

Me and you are screwed.



All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.