Whenever I meet new people, they like to ask what I do, to which I reply, “Public relations.” Then when they ask which public relations firm I work for, I tell them I do in-house public relations for a bank. And that’s when their eyebrows shoot up and they ask, “Why a bank?” And the answer I’ve taken to giving is, “I’m just testing the waters.” Which is quite true; I don’t really know how to tell them that I fell into this job when I wasn’t even actively looking for one.
That doesn’t mean I don’t like my job. I do like it — most of the time, that is, i.e. when I’m not being pulled in different directions by different people wanting different things all at the same time, when I’m not being faced with stupid, petty office politics, and when I’m not fighting back the urge to set people on fire or push them out the windows of their 10th- or 25th-floor offices.
Recently, someone asked if I plan to do this in the long term, and the honest-to-God truth is that I don’t; maybe if I had planned to climb the corporate ladder from the very beginning I would feel differently. But I don’t plan to do this in the long term because, not only did I not plan to take on a corporate job in the first place, but I have too much cynicism and not enough patience to spend my life trailing around after someone, putting on that Smile and haggling for favors, which is what I see people around me doing every day.
That’s right; the corporate arena is the real snakes and ladders game: the climb that takes us further than we ever dared to dream, and the fall that brings us down faster and lower than we ever feared.
In the last five and a half months, I’ve seen people at the height of their careers throw their weight around and wield their power the way King Henry VIII of England would have done, with absolute single-mindedness. I’ve been trained to do their bidding, take their beatings and pick up their messes, all without question. And when I did question, the only response I was given was, “We need to keep our jobs. We need our bonuses.”
But at the expense of all moral and ethical integrity? For all the talk of looking out for one another and trying to do things the right way, in the end is it really all about looking out for ourselves? Is it all about the money, the titles, and everything else that they can buy, and not what we can do to bring change and progress with the power that’s given to us? How is it that there are those who find it so easy to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to everything that is going wrong and just say, “I can’t fight anymore”?