|May 10, 2001
"Survivor" may be over for another season, but it lives on in spirit at the Totem Pole Company.
We may not have Immunity Idols or network sponsorship or catchy didgeridoo theme music. Our Conference Room may not overlook an Australian waterfall. Our "moderators" may not be as dimpled and charisma-fortified as Jeff Probst. But we've got everything else: reward challenges, crappy provisions, creepy alliances, accusations of script-tampering and behind-the-scenes story manipulation ...
... iffy personal hygiene ...
... and rats.
Boy, have we got rats.
There is blood in the air around the office lately. You can smell it, everywhere you go. It's been four weeks since they voted Ned off the Totem Pole ... almost two weeks since Alice got the boot ... and the rats are right there every morning, sniffing and twitching, waiting for the next *kill.*
Who's vulnerable? Who's expendable? Who isn't watching their back?
And the question on everybody's mind: Who's next?
Is it going to be Nadya, the nervous little Marketing Assistant? She was Alice's best friend/right-hand gal, after all. Without Alice there to protect her, will their previous alliance cost Nadya her job?
Or will they turn against Neil, the acerbic, laid-back Graphics Guy? He provides a unique and valuable service to the company -- he's the only graphics person we've got (although many find his graphics lumpy and inedible) -- but his *fudk authority* attitude and his refusal to ally himself with anyone might not sit well at tribal council.
And what about Bob The Engineering Guy? Or Bob The Other Engineering Guy? Or Bob The Brand-New Engineering Guy (Who Probably Wishes His Name Were 'Sven' or 'Chad' or 'Julius?')? They could all be targets if they don't win the next immunity challenge.
Or -- in what would surely prove to be the big ratings-grabber -- what if it turns out to be the long-suffering Executive-Ass turned Executive Administrative Coordinator, Secra?
Although a reasonably well-liked, pivotal member of the tribe for more than two years, Secra has become somewhat more extraneous -- and therefore more vulnerable -- in recent weeks. Many of the services she provides to the group these days could just as easily be provided by other members (or by a chimpanzee, frankly). Moreover, there are many in the community who are still reeling from her sudden switch in tribal allegiance from Franz to Jim last January. They perceive her as unstable and disloyal, as a result ... and they perceive her jump from the first floor to the fourth as a demotion, rather than as a lateral move. This has cost her valuable *respect molecules* with some of her tribemates. In addition, her penchant for solitude and her stubborn refusal to stand around in the lunchroom talking about golf and golf tournaments and golf handicaps all afternoon brands her as something of a "loner" and a "snob." Unless Secra wins the next dozen Immunity Challenges -- or unless she suddenly develops an incredibly useful and singular skill, like golf -- her position on the Totem Pole could be in serious jeopardy.
Last week I was invited to attend a training session for the new company contact-management software ... a session organized and led by the Vice President of Business & Financial Development. (I suspect that I was "invited" as an afterthought, since my name wasn't on the original meeting memorandum ... and since there were no chairs left by the time I was dragged into the session, already in progress. I had to sit on an end table.)
Fifteen minutes into the session, I looked around the room and realized:
I looked around the room at all of these fresh, eager, untroubled young faces ... most of them smiling adoringly at the VP of BFD, scribbling down his every word as though they were transcribing the Gettysburg Address from Lincoln himself ... and all I could think was Just wait.
Six months or ten months or a year from now: four of you will be gone. Two of you will have quit in disgust, one of you will have been fired, and one of you will have left to get married/have a baby/go back to school/join the Army/join an Ashram/do ANYTHING, basically, to get away from the Totem Pole Company. (We'll probably throw you a party when you go.) Out of the four of you who are still working here, one of you will have been "demoted" to a new job you hate, one of you will have been "promoted" to a new job you hate even more, three of you will be using the corporate fax machine to send out résumés during your lunch hour, one of you will be secretly studying voodoo, two of you will be on Paxil, two of you will be drinking too much ...
... ALL of you will own stock in Miss Clairol ...
...and none of you will be smiling.
Obviously I'm not about to start looking for another job just yet. It's too soon, for one thing. I'm not ready for the deluge of I told you so's! and See? You should have jumped while you had the chance! and Jesus H. Christ on a Monster Board, Secra!! Aren't you ever happy?? from my loyal and loving readers.
(And for another thing, no brand-new employer is gonna automatically give me two weeks off in July to get married.)
So I sit tight. I suck it up. I stay focused and I stay put ... at least for a while. And in the meantime I'll just keep chanting my new mantra, over and over again: