Better the devil you know

Mr B can be a hard taskmaster. Today he advised me that last night two of the horsemen of the apocalypse had lost their steeds on a drunken work night out in Blackpool, Hell on earth you might say. He was in a right mood. You should have heard the language, obviously it’s not for inclusion here but let’s just say it was like an industrial revolution. As you may already be aware, because it was ‘work related’ it’s hard for us to argue ‘what happens in Blackpool, stays in Blackpool’ however much we would wish for it. He does seem pretty angry most of the time these days, I mean, more than usual.

He was really ranting on. ‘We can’t call it the four horsemen department if two of them haven’t got horses, and you know what Famine’s like, with his two hour lunch breaks, he probably ate it’ I tried to calm him down a bit but it wasn’t working. ‘Do you want me to carry out an investigation’ I asked. It is preferable to me if we at least try and follow the procedure in these cases but I was unsure of the grounds for disciplinary. Was it a breach of the alcohol policy or misuse of office equipment? It was a quandary. ‘No he sighed, just try and locate the horrible beasts and if you can’t, just order a new one with the transport team. But you can tell them from me they can’t claim any expenses this month and neither can the rest of them’. Well, I thought, that’s going to go down like a lead balloon later, if one thing was certain on the expenses list each month, it was Death and taxis.

Anything else to report on? he added grumpily. I explained that I had received the quarterly performance reports from the Seven Deadly sins department. ‘At long last he snapped. What in the world could have taken them so long. It’s not like they have loads of projects on or anything. I’ll bet it’s that Sloth dragging his heels isn’t it? He’s bone idle I tell you, I’ll find something for him to do you mark my words!’

‘It’s not exactly the case Sir’ I replied. Honestly It has been a difficult few months. People’s feelings about the workplace have shifted I think and the desire for a better balance between home life and work life is on everyone’s mind. They do conveniently forget that for employees of Hell Inc, work and home life are generally speaking, the same thing. It’s not like there is much of a commute. I went on to explain to Mr B about this recent trend for so called quiet quitting and how the Deadly sins department were effectively only working what they felt they were paid for and no more. The need to reduce the risk of occupational burnout was just as present at Hell Inc as anywhere else. ‘Could we not just flay them a bit?’ Mr B enquired. Well, we tried that and some of them seemed to actually enjoy it I said, it helped them relax apparently. ‘I have no idea why they call it quiet quitting he continued, when they never seem to stop banging on about it!’ I stayed silent for a bit. Sometimes it was best not to pass comment. Mother always said if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Wise woman, terrible stand up comedian.

I tried to pivot the conversation and suggested that we put together a better wellbeing package for our employees. Mr B said he would think about it but I know that was just his way of saying no. I secretly had a kind of toxic admiration for their malicious compliance, I felt it showed promise. It wasn’t for sharing today though, not with everything else going on.

I did an induction and onboarding session this morning for our new apprentice, Alan. He seemed very sweet. I explained the tasks to him as clearly as I could and off he trotted, holding his phone up in front of his face inexplicably. I fear for this new generation of workers. I expect it won’t be too long before I’ll be telling him he’s fired. Not the first time he has heard that I’m sure.

Later I joined the weekly coffee huddle, the 7th circle. It’s not possible to have water cooler moments at Hell Inc due to the excessive temperatures so this is the best we can manage. I get the sense that all is not well in some of the other departments as well. In fact I expect to have my work cut out, chopped in to pieces, returned and stitched back in again over the next week. There are, as always, changes afoot but don’t worry, I’ll keep you in the loop.

See you in Hell soon

Phelan Tweed