Thursday, May 11, 2006

Magnetism: Or, Understanding the Gravity of the Situation

Former Employer President Tiffany put a magnetic word set on the refrigerator of the breakroom there (I promise, I promise I will stop writing about them sometime really soon, but clearly I have some stuff to work through here, okay?).

She bought a corporate-themed one, with words like "synergy" and "memo" and "cross-functionality" and "facsimile" (that's "fax" to his friends). She thought it would encourage people's creativity, build morale, and possibly even reveal some brilliant tactics from the depths of the company's mental trenches. Instead, she ended up almost immediately throwing away the word "sex" because the first sentence that turned up was "serious stress solution is sex on my desk." Silly Tiffany! Almost our entire workforce was under 25 and we were, if I may say so, a fairly bright and (cough) reasonably hormonal bunch. You can make some shockingly graphic sentences from words about men, women, clients, offices, procedures, workplace supplies, and a handy assortment of verbs and adjectives.

My gawgeous lesbian pal V. rescued the word "sex" from the trash can for her own personal use and had "sex" for a long time on her computer monitor. (She later quit.)

It was such an excellent gauge of employee thought and morale - a free-association, anonymous manner of self-expression, turning out such gems as "bosses profit while employees work all night," "management needs vision / workers try hard / none will help," "you must be," and the small-voiced and pathetic "we live here;" plus offerings like the somewhat irreverent "bossy men have small desks" and "undress for success" - that nervous members of senior management (all since quit or fired, incidentally) regularly reshuffled the entire thing into chaos every morning.

I'm so thinking about buying just such a magnet set for my own cube, as all of us have metal cabinets. I spent a little time today spelling out very tame things with brightly colored magnet letters in a friend's workspace. I'm thinking I could place the words randomly on my own cabinet, never compose anything myself, and just see what turns up when I'm away.

Despite what experience keeps telling us, magnetism is the weakest force in physics - no, wait, it's gravity. Is it gravity? Damn, I can't remember. Anyway, I think I'll do it. It would certainly be interesting, and I might not even get fired.


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