While taking a leisurely stroll through a crowded Fashion Square Mall, I spotted some corporate lizard people propaganda that was straight out of They Live. Of course, it should go without saying that the sort of place which puts out this kind of message is almost certainly a terrible place to work. If one were to open that door, what they would likely find on the other side would appear to be a utopia, the perfect workplace environment, and yet beneath the surface all would not be as sparkly as it seems. [By the way, the photograph above is not some conceptual art installation at a pop up gallery or “street art” as social commentary. It is a 100% real and unironic message from a corporation.]
Walk through that door, and you may be greeted by a sight of beauty which thinly conceals unspeakable horrors: “Unlimited time off!” (but when the time arrives and you actually put in a request for a day off it is always denied, or your sales quota is so high or client workload so heavy that to even consider taking a day off would place your job security in serious jeopardy.) “Fully stocked kitchen!” They give you snacks to fatten you up like Hansel and Gretel, while offering other meaningless perks as a substitute for paying you higher wages. “Full medical, vision, and dental coverage!” (except that the plan has a high deductible, and you may have to fork over thousand of dollars of your own money for medical expenses before anything at all is paid. Or, perhaps it is a great plan, but most employees simply get fired within the first three months anyway, so you’ll be left with no insurance before you know what hit you.)
It could be that I’m overly cynical, and that beyond that door lies an office paradise. Perhaps the visionary young millennial CEO has managed to catch lightning in a bottle, creating an ethical workplace which embodies the lofty humanitarian ideals which could revolutionize the way we view the concept of work itself and maybe even change the world in the process! It might be an amazing place to work for a couple of salad years before the investor funding starts to run out, and the company has to cut salaries and have a few rounds of layoffs after discovering that hype, prestige and a noble mission statement didn’t translate into profits (except for the CEO and top executives who will have pocketed enough cash to remain wealthy regardless of the outcome.) Then you can be escorted out the door by security, and you’ll be free to move on to the next exciting opportunity.
Brandon Adamson is a writer who lives in Phoenix, Arizona and is the author of several books of poetry.