The Corporatorium: I Am Prometheus (Episode One)



I am Prometheus. Prometheus. Say it slowly, roll the letters around in your mouth. Prometheus. It is not my real name but it is name most fitting for me. Prometheus, the creator of mankind and its greatest benefactor, chained to a rock, his liver eaten daily by an eagle, in eternal damnation for stealing fire and gifting it to mankind. Yes, there are definite similarities between us.

I am Prometheus, and this is my story. Except it’s not my story. I wish it was, but I am not unique or special. This is the story of untold millions of hapless chaps and chicklets caught up in the grinding gears of the corporate machine.

This is a faux memoir told episodically. You will be inclined, at times, to laugh at us, and cry for us. Do not hold back either impulse. That is the point of sharing this story—to remind us that life is nothing but a series of small comedies and tragedies. What is important is what we take away from each occurrence, what we learn from each calamity and joy.

What will be written here, on these pages will be comedy, and tragedy, both.  It will be a story of greed, of betrayal, of shattered dreams, of empty, though unspoken, promises, of careers stalled and ruined, of corporate lies and "noble purposes," of stunningly deceptive “value propositions,” of mythical mission statements.  In short it will be the story of a life in corporate America.

But for now, in this first episode of an epic tale, I will introduce you to the characters in this story—a motley unreasonable cast of miscreants and unfortunates.

But before I make introductions, know that no real names are used here—not to protect the innocent, for there are no innocents left to protect.  The few innocents we had were lost, sacrificed on the altar of shareholder value in the Church of Corporate Greed.

***

Ours was a small practice, part of a large corporation, a tiny profit center dealing with employees, sometimes thought of as people but more often as "human capital," for if corporations are people, employees certainly are not.  We were led by a small mean woman we called TWO, short for The Wretched One. Or as in Number 2, for she wasn't shit.  Not really.  Her large corner office stank of failure, the rotting smell of promise unnourished by hope.  She herself was surrounded by a coterie of tall, distraught women, unmarried, themselves without hope.  The three had offices surrounding her own, guarding the entrance to her office like Cerberus.  Accomplishing little they talked constantly; their deep, tight voices colliding as they rose from their constricted bosoms in a vain attempt to give voice to their collective and individual frustration.

In stark counterpoint was Nigel Gale.  Tall, dark, eerily silent he said little and when he did speak it was in tones so low he might as well not have spoken at all.  He lived in a narrow, high-ceilinged town house with 26 mannequins each of whom he dressed in fragile, perfect, vintage clothing and with whom he had dinner and conversation and occasionally sex.  It was a life that seemed sad, pathetic, to many but was in fact more than he'd ever dared hope for.

Then there were the Barbaras.  Though they shared the same name and adored each other, they were quite dissimilar.  Barbara the first was tall, blonde, cool.  Barbara the second was short, dark and intense.  Picture if you will, a distaff Hall and Oates cast in black and white, and you'll get the idea.

Barbara the first went to Harvard.  It was astonishing how often this came up.  "This is Barbara.  She went to Harvard." "Have you met Barbara?  She attended Harvard."  "Oh, that's Barbara.  She attended Harvard, you know."  Now she herself never mentioned Harvard but her demeanor, her very posture seemed to whisper: "Barbara, Harvard, Class of '92."

Our creative director, was a freelance artist named Diana Price. She’d recently married, trading her Prince for a King, thus Diana King, nee Prince, was now known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, or more reasonably as TAFKAP.

The Gates of Hell,
The Kunsthaus Z├╝rich,
Zurich
And leading our merry band of, often clueless idiots, was the company CEO, a slim hatchet-faced woman with breathtakingly bad hair.  She was as notorious for "cutting expenses"—which usually translated into firing people—as she was for her lack of personal style.  In her short tenure with the Corporation she had axed so many people she became known, less than affectionately, as "Lizzy Borden."  The Corporation had shrunk by a third since she took over the helm a scant six months before our story begins.  And morale was at an all-time low but profits were up so all was right with the world as far as leadership and the stockholders were concerned.

Alas, just as this story is getting started, I realize it is Sunday evening, and I must ready myself for the week ahead. So, I leave you now, here, at the gates…of hell.

Read Episode 2 here.
Read Episode 3, Gay Day in Hell, here.
Read Episode 4, The Workplace of the Future, here.
Read Episode 5, Ghost, Meet Devil, here.
Read Episode 6, Cactuses & Tears, here.
Read Episode 7, Out of the Frying Pan, here.
Read Episode 8, Into the Fire, here
Read Episode 9, Caipirinha, here.
Read Episode 10, Excelleration, here.
Read Episode 11, Bats, here.
Read Episode 12, The Brett Factor, here.

Copyright © 2016 Larry Benjamin

D I S C L A I M E R
The characters and events described in this blog post exist only in its pages and the author's imagination.

Feel free to comment on this story below, or connect with me on Twitter & Facebook.

Comments

  1. Replies
    1. thanks. There's more to come. I think I have 38 episodes already written...

      Delete
  2. Wait. What? Is this the company I work for? (Or maybe worked for?) I already know some of these people. And there are so many more. This may send me over the abyss.

    I'm trying to decide if that's a bad thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny I've heard that a few times. Guess we're all having similar experiences. Wait until you read Wednesdays episode--finishing that up now. There are 38 episodes ready to go...

      See you in the abysss

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. thnaks, gogo. :-) Don't miss the new episode on Wednesday!

      Delete

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