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A Banksters Award

A Story of Office Politics ~

I didn't realize it at the time, but I received this gift as an insult after completing a first web site for the Private Client Banking Group at the bankster company I had worked at for almost half a decade. The new web site had been revealed at some kind of big banksters convention in Orlando that I can't remember the official name of now and to which I was not invited to attend, even though I led the web site development team and did all of the design and a major portion of the implementation work to make it a success–working long hours into and through the nights during the project to do so. Only top managers got to go.

I didn't want to go to hot, sticky Orlando anyway. It was hot and sticky enough in downtown Dallas for my liking and I had just received a sweet job offer that would lead to my escape from the hard gray edge of that fetid, noisy Texas metroplex in the very near future. My boss had recently moved on to a bigger bankster corporation a few days earlier after he and the VP of the division had given me a nice fat bonus for my good work on the web site. I suspect he left out of disgust and frustration over the aggravating office politics going on at the time. I intended to accept the offer I had just received later that very evening for the same reason.

This was at the beginning of the dot com boom and people were anxious to jump aboard that thundering train of bloated reputation in any way they could, including a woman in the marketing division who didn't appreciate my work style. She would catch me leaving the office after working through the night to go home, eat and get some sleep before resuming work on the web site and assumed I was spending many of my days playing hooky from the important task at hand, certain I was going to fail to deliver finished product before the all-important Orlando banksters convention. She had also heard that I was planning to take a long (and long overdue) vacation upon completion of the project that month and didn't like that either. Only the highest managers got to take extended vacations. I was a mere technical team lead who didn't wear suits and ties and colognes and all of that happy crap.

In addition to my casual dress, she didn't like my shoulder-length hair style, mentioning to me once that a private client banking division was not where hippies worked. I just told the uptight bitch not to worry about it. My fingerprints were on file with the FBI (collected as a condition of being hired), so it would be a cinch tracking and apprehending me after I finally pulled off my Big Heist. She tattled that statement to my boss before he twisted off (as I knew she would) who had a good laugh over it, still completely confident in my qualifications and abilities, having already witnessed high levels of competency and productivity over more than four years on the job.

So she and her fellow office politician cronies presented the gift to me, and a similar coffee cup to another key member of the team I led, in my boss's former office–all of them perched around the room watching intently with dippy smirks on their shit eating faces as we opened the gifts. They probably thought I was all broken up over the recent departure of my boss and believed doing the appreciation awards presentation in there would shake me up considerably.

I'm not sure what reaction they expected. They probably hoped I would get angry or cry and demand an answer for why I wasn't invited to attend the fabulous bankster convention in Orlando or some such thing, but I genuinely liked the oversized Goofy cup. Goofy was one of my favorite Disney cartoon characters as a kid. I didn't drink coffee at that time but still liked the cup. My colleague received a Minnie Mouse coffee cup (I think they thought he was gay and boy were they a homophobic bunch). It wasn't anything in comparison to the fat bonus check my boss and the division VP had given me, but it was still cool in my eyes and my colleague seemed genuinely pleased with his cup as well (he got a big bonus check too). So we accepted them with enthusiastic grace, much to the chagrin of the office politicians, then snubbed the crappy delivered-pizza party they had planned for our team in the conference room that day to go feast at a local dim sum restaurant together instead. After returning from lunch, we walked past the conference room and there they all were, including the division VP, sitting around glumly looking at the unopened pizza boxes while waiting for the web site development team to arrive. We all apologized and lied to them that we just completely forgot about the pizza party.

Long after twisting off from that job and eventually escaping to a cool dot com job in even cooler, drier, gorgeous Colorado Springs less than a year later, I received word from my former colleagues that the office politicians who had given us our appreciation award coffee cups from Orlando had all been laid off after a big slump in the banking industry had set in and the company's stock had plummeted. Eight years later, that same bankster corporation would be exposed as one of the worst of the subprime lending scandal violators and had to be bailed out by taxpayers.

Memories of that day still make me chuckle as I sip coffee (which I thoroughly enjoy now in retirement) from my Goofy cup up here beside a crackling fire in my wilderness mountain retreat as snow gently falls outside, far removed from stinking cities and offices overrun by petty politicians.

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