Johnny America




If we watched him, as our sec­tion man­ag­er an­nounced the re­sults of the com­pa­ny wide sur­vey, we would have seen that slight shake, side to side, of his head. An un­de­served ges­ture, that’s what it was. We would have seen his dis­play of dis­gust and dis­dain for his fel­low work­er, if we were look­ing his way.

Of course we weren’t. Of course we were watch­ing the sec­tion man­ag­er. It was the quar­ter­ly all-em­ploy­ee meet­ing and our at­ten­tion was necessary.

Ear­li­er, tak­ing the sur­vey was not re­quired. But just over 50 per­cent of us took it any­way. That’s what the sec­tion man­ag­er re­vealed. Be­cause we were pay­ing at­ten­tion at the meet­ing we found that we had, more so than not, filled out that sur­vey. Find­ing out made it fine that we did not see him shak­ing his head so.

The sec­tion man­ag­er let us know that 85 per­cent of us felt that we were work­ing at a pace and lev­el above what was re­quired to sim­ply earn a pay­check. We were con­cerned about the wel­fare of our com­pa­ny. Next it was an­nounced that on­ly 23 per­cent be­lieved that our cowork­ers put in that same high effort.

We did­n’t need to look to hear him scoff. But we did be­cause that’s what we do when we hear an un­ex­pect­ed sound. That’s when we no­ticed his head was shak­ing — prob­a­bly had been in mo­tion since well be­fore the scoff. Maybe the scoff had been the re­sult of the con­stant mo­tion of his head. A re­lease of the en­er­gy stored from the ratch­et­ing process of mov­ing left to right, right to left. Maybe he scoffed at the re­port­ed re­sults of the survey.

We did­n’t re­al­ly care. Ac­tu­al­ly, it an­noyed us to some de­gree. He was most like­ly one of us work­ers who did­n’t re­al­ly care about the com­pa­ny. We were about 77 per­cent sure of that. What right did he have to scoff?

Our at­ten­tion turned back to the sec­tion man­ag­er. We want­ed to hear what else we had to say in the sur­vey. The sec­tion man­ag­er re­sumed where he had left off, if he had ever left. We learned that for the most part we did not be­lieve our hard work would pro­vide any op­por­tu­ni­ty for pay rais­es or pro­mo­tions. We learned that we had lit­tle faith in our com­pa­ny’s loy­al­ty to­ward us We learned that we felt we would go the ex­tra yard even though our com­pa­ny and our peers would not. We learned that the sur­vey we took re­vealed what we al­ready be­lieved — we worked hard while those among us hard­ly worked.

We looked around the cafe­te­ria to ex­am­ine our faces. The cafe­te­ria is where all our all-em­ploy­ee meet­ings oc­cur. We were dis­gust­ed with some of us. We oc­ca­sion­al­ly shook our heads, side to side. We may have pro­duced sounds.

They re­sem­bled scoffs. De­served­ly so.

Filed under Fiction on February 10th, 2005

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