alea iacta esto

Snakes And Ladders

I’m hunting around for antivenom by the tankful. It started like so: after two gorgeous weeks doing la-di-da and swanning around California, I returned to my work desk on Saturday to prepare for my full return on Monday. I arrived with mild palpitations (I should have you believe from excitement not fear) to find a strange publication on my desk. What was it? Ho-ho, it’s the new Hail Mary from the corporate juggernauts upstairs. While some of us were sipping Bellinis in Hollywood and getting stuffed with oyster sliders, some other hardworking types (the Alpha A+ personalities) got us a new corporate image.

The thing is, fifteen months ago we hired a very famous sports personality to (allegedly) sing our praises; he was, I thought, just the sort of charming adventurer who would get out of bed – for us – for nothing less than [.] million and not even know what we did. Twelve months of “what-is-this-guy-doing-for-us-again?” later and some ten percent (or some nice round number) of us got caught with our underpants round our knees during a “rightsizing” storm: despoiled, cold, wet and desk-less just before Christmas. I think I barely survived the rout for reasons I won’t go into but, boy, was I in shock. I’ve always been conflicted about loyalty to one’s colleagues and employer and I am minded (by compassion or guilt or plain stupidity) to stick with them but I have found that such mind-fulness only travels one way.

An unsettling fortnight or so afterwards, we the survivors were feted, toasted and celebrated at the annual Christmas party. Gimme a break! So now we are out spending money again and this time, it’s the Holy Grail. Uh-oh we saw where that ended last time. We are now told the old publicity campaign (aka stunt) delivered its objectives. Of course! We are now told it’s time to step up to the next level. Certainly! I admit the new image looks very professional; just the right shade of cocky grey bespattered with the correct amount of white and red to bestir the passions. It’s sure to send zillions of new clients our way. Even better was the decision to stuff it with well-worn and torpor-inducing corporate blather often hectored by garrulous consultants, imposing PR people and uber-MBA types.

I think of all the money we spent (and will spend) and then all the jobs with red tick marks against them for the next cull. Should I remain the loyal foot soldier, standing ground like the 300 at Thermopylae even until the fateful steel blade is thrust into my back making short work of my corporate life? That is the question. It’s a big question deserving ample consideration. The answer: of course, my loyalty must be above suspicion. I’m a professional, after all. Please, pass me the antivenom.


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