The Visiting Statisticians

Our product was getting bad reviews and management were panicking. We weren’t panicking because we knew that it was shit. It had always been shit, but everyone who spoke openly about it being shit had been made redundant. Those of us who stayed learned to lie about it. We started to smoke our own crack. But then the upper management changed, and having told them it was a great product we couldn’t turn round and say it had always been crap. We had to pretend that it could be fixed, and fast. A pair of statisticians, Stato 1 and Stato 2, were imported from the US to complicate matters.

These people would make my life difficult, so I felt that I had to attempt to bond with them over dinner. I was delighted to find a shared interest, in running. I like to run in the hills. Stato 1 was training for a half marathon. Actually it was a 5 km, a 10 km and then a half marathon on consecutive days. Round Disneyland. In Star Wars costumes. There was no common ground there.

It says much about the odiousness of this robot that my subordinate mention what may have been genuine common ground, his Star Wars Lego collection. The subordinate clearly felt that he would be diminished somehow if he was to reveal this shared interest. It is always disturbing when one discovers a shared interest with a contemptible colleague.

Over dinner the only topic other than work that she would happily discuss was her car, a fast Subaru. She liked to so much that any time she saw a similar model in out car park she felt compelled to take a photo of it. Even if her phone was switched off and we all had to stand around waiting for it to boot. Over dinner she revealed the parking strategy she used to safeguard her precious vehicle / cornerstone of what passed as her identity. There was only one space that was only exposed on one side to the potentially paint chipping doors of other cars  She always noted who was parked next to her so she could hunt them down in the event of any mishap. If this preferred space wasn’t available she parked in a distant overflow car park where she could find an isolated space. I asked if she had ever actually had to hunt down a colleague. Disappointingly she hadn’t. I couldn’t have hoped for a clearer example of possessions bringing more suffering than pleasure. It made me look at my iPhone and feel disgusted at the pleasure that its purchase had brought me. Needless to say Stato 1 had an Apple watch. I never saw her look at it. Probably the battery was dead.

Stato 1 wore a revealingly smug smile as she bragged that she always got her own way at work. Probably she was reliving a previous triumph. I groaned inwardly, having come across this attitude before. She also mentioned how her team knew that she always sought out new projects. This constant hunt for enough work to keep her team stressed and overworked led to lots of work travel and little contact time with her young family. She wore it as a badge of honour, no doubt thinking that we would be impressed by her importance rather than repelled or repulsed. It is common with US corporate drones that they have a pitch that emphasises their position, attributes, and achievements. They emphasise their leadership by boasting how their subordinates have absorbed these values. The icing on the cake is to mention how they are battling adversaries, another group or function that adds less value to the organisation. For these soulless US corporate types it is a zero sum game, they are only interested in making themselves look good, and often the best way to do that is to make someone else look bad.

It was clear when I was forced into initiating this ‘collaboration’ that we would end up getting shafted, both individually and as an organisation. We were two disparate operating companies of a large multinational, and we were being gradually merged form the top down. The Visiting Statos’ boss, a large and grumpy Texan, with hang-dog jowls and blue jeans, was trying to stuff as many of his people into our organisation, moving his pawns before eventually toppling our kings. It was obvious to anyone with half a brain what was happening. So nobody noticed. Most people were happily oblivious, or rather fearfully oblivious, so conditioned to the fear of losing their job that they were incapable of detecting genuine threat, especially when came in the form of a Trojan Horse. Inside an exterior which was cunningly painted as a helpful collaborator was a ruthless shafter who had come to ensure that when our organisations came closer to merging and duplicate functions were eliminated as they surely would be, we would be the ones who would be eliminated.

Little did she know that elimination is a part of my long term plan. One of my greatest fears is that I don’t get eliminated and get so sick of the whole spirit crushing pointlessness that I quit and leave without the redundancy payment that I have been incubating for over a decade.


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