Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Making Faces at Corporate America

Hey there, cats and kittens,

This Moday just past marked the end of five weeks and a day of temping at a mega-giant corporate law firm in Manhattan. Most of you who know me would probably think, "That's weird, Brent doesn't really seem like the sort of person who would thrive in the corporate world."... and you'd be right. So, the question then becomes, how did I maintain my sanity in such a hostile environment? Good question. (Yes, I do ask myself questions, and then complement myself on the quality of the questions I just asked... it makes me feel good.) The answer: You know those "Magic Eye" pictures that were all the rage a couple decades ago? At first glance they just look like a bunch of dots, but then if you adjust your eyes in just the right way, you're like, "Oh, wow! It's Gorbachev... and he's wearing a party hat." (Sidenote: I was never able to do these, and on behalf of all those who couldn't see the hidden pictures and were treated like leapers, I just wanna say that all you dot-staring jerks and your hidden sailboats can eat it!) The point is, that if you adjust your eyes in just the right way, you can see the hidden silliness all around you. Or sometimes the silliness finds you.

Example, one morning my mega-millionaire boss came out of his hole ("hole" meaning "gigantic corner office", which seems to be something that's sought after by people that wear business suits, but if you ask me, a hole is a hole) fuming and bubbling with anger, and barks for me to call computer services right now because he's got a major problem. I say, "Okay, what's wrong." And he says to look at it, the computer screen is black and when he types and nothing happens. I walk in there, blink, then bend over and push the "on" button on the computer. Some jokes write themselves.On the other hand, sometimes things get a little slow, and that's when you have to make the silly come to you. Hence, my art project.

Every morning when I walked into the Metlife building on 42nd Street, I had to go up to the "Visitor Center", show my I.D. and have my photo taken for my badge that day. And every single time they snapped that little digital photo of me it was a very depressing experience. I looked awful, and no, I'm not just saying that. They all looked like drivers license pictures taken during the midst of a bout of food poisoning, without fail. I could smile, I could do straight-faced, but I always just looked ugly. So, after about a week, as I was walking up to the Visitor Center, I figured, "as long as these pictures look ugly, I might as well just try to look ugly." So I made an ugly face...

..every day, for the next few weeks...

What started as one of my least favorite moments of the day became something that I looked forward to on the train every morning. And so I share with you, Faces of Temping (named, appropriately, after "Faces of Death", which I would recommend you NOT look up, if you don't already know what that is). To go in chronological order, start at the top left, and go right (it reads like a book... a book of big, stupid faces).

Now, the best part is that the security guards who were taking these didn't even notice I was doing anything until about two weeks in (right around where I pulled my upper lip back). When they finally did notice, though, they laughed. And one said it made his day. On the day when I had the Kleenex hanging out of my nose, the guard had just been growled at by his boss, and when he looked up at me, he said, "Thanks, man, I really needed that." For the moustache at the end, I just cut a strip off a black plastic bag, then licked it and stuck it to my face right before the shot was taken, thus integrating good ole American ingenuity.

Anyway, that's my art project, and that's the lesson of the day: Find the silly. Then make some more of it. Your surroundings are only as stark and sterile as you choose to perceived them; you may change your mood to suit your environment (booo!), or you may change your environment to suit your mood (yay!). And, when all else fails, you've always got your plastic bag fake moustache to fall back on.

You may have to work for the man, but that doesn't mean that you can't make faces at him.

-BR 10/4/06

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