Working For The Great Man
The answer, when the microphones
were pushed into our faces was;
"I can't talk about it, now."
We had rehearsed this response.
From the moment we heard he
was dead, we, his 'loyal' staff
called a meeting
We had to meet, we had to
vent, and we had to formulate
a reaction that would insulate us.
Insulate us from the truth, and the repercussions of the truth
Working for Him
The First moment;
I had entered 'Headquarters' , as the office was called, and was
overwhelmed by the photographs and newspaper cuttings which
covered the walls.
Every one of them spotlighted The Great Man.
I should have run out of the building and taken a job packing shelves at
But I didn't.
I thought, (maybe it was that I wanted to believe), that the items were
placed by a proud staff. Not by the Great Man himself.
A few weeks later, Forge the Geek came to upgrade the computers at
Headquarters, looked around the rooms, saw all the awards and
photos, and newspaper clippings, and softly, "This is one sick puppy."
"You don't know the half," I had whispered.
If I had been willing to be honest. If I was willing to find another job.
If I could have found another job...I wouldn't be there.
But I hadn't been looking, and although I truly didn't want to be here, it always
seemed that just when I had enough, The Great Man would go away for a few
days, and the office, the Headquarters, would be a normal place to work.
To See Ourselves As Others...
The Great Man held himself up as a Liberator, a brilliant mind, sensitive to the plight of 'His People.'
That is, those 'People' who didn't work with him.
To those who worked for him: He gave no benefits. He was so cheap, so micro-
managing, so annoying, and insulting, that if he wasn't The Great Man, someone
would have shoved a pen in his throat.
The ancilliary staff, the messengers, helpers and handymen left after a few
months. The young and ambitious spent a week.
The man was a slave master; we weren't his staff but his wage slaves.
When reporters were around he was smiling and kind, and ever so flattering.
But on an average day, walking into that building sent a thrill of nausea through
our bodies, and we knew what awaited us.
We didn't want to know, we tried to pretend things were fine. But we knew that
he would ignore us all day, passing with his eyes disfocused as if we didn't exist.
Until near quiting time.
Near quitting time, when we were about to leave him to the desert of his life,
a life without acolytes, he'd demand our time.
Sometimes he'd pull up a chair, sitting near us, the smell of him ..the smell
of rancid sweat, stifling, for he needed to read the document on our computer
screen, because he didn't want to waste paper.
He needed to imprison us at our stations, force us to go over a document
word by word to find faults.
If we tried to explain or say; " I have that in the next paragraph.."
he'd become enraged. "Too much Talking!" He'd bleat.
He hated to hear us speak. He knew everything, you see.
Our opinions were worthless. We were worthless.
He was the only being worthy to live.
He loved making us work late.
The receptionist, knowing his proclivities would set appointments for him
after four. This meant he'd be broading off in his office, door closed, and
we'd be able to escape.
At least most of us, for somehow he'd capture one of us and start a litany
of faults or demand something be done now.
Especially something that was neither urgent, nor important.
Because he had to show his power.
Those pictures on the wall, those photographs and newspaper clippings
weren't just the manifestation of his ego, they were necessary to dispel
his deep well of inferiority.
He was inferior. He was the least sensitve, least compassionate, meanest
man I'd ever met.
When his secretary needed to leave because her child had taken sick at school,
he kicked up such a fuss, we stood and gaped. She sat, tears streaming down
her face, shocked.
Then, when he'd walked away, she left. He never said anything about the incident.
This was the kind of person he was.
We heard about his death
over the radio.
We called each other, and
met at a 'secret' location.
With the door closed we
said what we had whispered.
We dug it all out of our souls
and flung it around as mad
people tossing feces.
Then we appreciated that as the country thought he was a Great Man we
would discredit ourselves by telling the truth. Hence, we should say nothing.
We should clean up the office, see what the family and the organisations to
which he belonged decided, and act as if we were bereaved.
In this way we'd be able to get new jobs without difficulty.
Hence, our rote response to the reporters.
Hence our attendance at the funeral.
Hence our moving laterally, in some cases vertically.
And the world can continue to think that a Great Man had passed.