Tuesday
May022006

« Free At Last! Free At Last! »

It finally came through loud and clear. I am now officially not working for AV Concepts. After a three and a half week mini-layoff—modeled no doubt on the six week version that spanned half of December and all of January—I am now free of the job I never wanted to accept, but sorta had to since nothing else came through in time for the move last summer. This time, I was not worked up over the loss. I had been gone for several weeks and had only done a single four hour shift one day and that was only to take a piss test and take the van for an oil change. No, this wasn't the crisis that December was. I was asked to come in to the shop to talk, but only found this out for sure that I was getting canned just as it was happening. I'd been waiting for something to come down regarding the damaged truck from early March. It's not that I didn't pass my piss test; it would be hard for me to fail it, being the square that I am who never even smoked a cigarette, let alone anything else. No, the expense in fixing the truck box was something like $4000, but they were looking to hang me anyway—December was all about the fact that I didn't let them boss my life around as well as they are accustomed, and that was brought up once again today, despite the fact that there was not one gig they offered that I turned down this time, the sum of which kept me working all of the 24 hours at one point or another. No, flexibility was not the issue, but to add it in there seemed to add some weight for what they wanted to accomplish. I guess I got too expensive for them. It's hard for me to lose any sleep over the whole issue. I mean, shit, I am moving in an ever more anti-corporate direction, and more so even now as I am aligning myself with a program that seeks to urge people away from the prevailing system, the corporate system. Oh, I can't tell you how it was conflicting to realize that my company was the cutting edge for a range of corporate giants—Yahoo, GSK, NIKE, Skechers, and so many others that just rub me the wrong way. Yup, I was living the Kafka life, working for the Man by day, and subverting him by night.

But in a really practical way, I am glad to separate from that place because it got to be a physical burden. I came home with more aches than any other job I ever had. Sometimes I apparently strained fingers and only found out the next morning when things just didn't work right. I really had my reservations about the physicality of the work. Pushing roadcases isn't the problem as much as loading trucks in different ways for every load. It could be harrowing at times. Add to that there was this one prick of a young punk there who loved to be sarcastic about my reservations. To which, I mutter something like, Hey, if you want to sling cases over your head and be dumb, that's your business. I can't get paid enough to want to let myself get hurt. Man, day after day, it was usually a fine way to wreck fingers and hands. But usually, just walking on the concrete all day hurt enough. Then, when I was a driver, things got easier except for the fact that I was not doing it all the time like when in the shop, so I sometimes fell out of fitness for it—slower responses, got sore easier, and I just had no real drive to do it as if I wanted to be there. It was clear that I was barely needed there for the last couple months.

I offered to get a class B license if that would help, but never got any clear answer. Then the truck incident happened. That was added to an earlier one that happened in the first week I came back in February when I damaged a rain gutter while backing up. Hey, I didn't ASK to be a truck driver. I was just fine as a shop guy. It seems to exemplify the logic of you get what you pay for. I was just a part timer who doesn't get taken for serious, isn't given any training in this sort of driving, and who also got the odd jobs not done by the main drivers.

Oh well, all that place really meant to me was a short lived way to get out of an awful bind last year when I needed something that paid reasonably well. I didn't want to reenter the field of event production, I didn't want to work around the clock, I didn't want to break my back moving heavy shit. I really was at odds with the place all the way. Given that my July 2005 film presentation featured the movie The Corporation, and that only a month later, I was working for AVC, you can see how I was biting my tongue the whole time. Oh, my interviews were an exercise in outright lying, but I don't care. It was hard to even be there nodding my head in agreement like I was going to be their best employee. It was hard to feign interest in the new gear they talked about. The audio gear wasn't even stuff I was used to. It took me six weeks from the time I applied to the time I set foot on the shop floor as an employee. Jeeze! I "connected" with only maybe three or four guys. The rest were either just "there" or people who irritated me. I was glad to get the driving jobs so I could get out and not sweat having the boom drop on me when the manager walked onto the floor. Many times he would do that and it drove me nuts. He was the total corporate stiff—out for his own ass. In the time I was in their employ, I see that several positions seem to have been slashed—an internal project manager, a site project manager, a salesman, and maybe others I don't know of. So it's no long stretch of the imagination why I got cut. If they don't have any compunction in slashing a $60,000 job or three, what is it to ditch me, who got a measly $11 an hour and tried to defend his time off? Yeah, this ops manager got his gig a few months before I got there. I see he has a shiny new Lexus, dresses in nice threads, and seems to have been able to keep his job well enough—made possible by being all decisive in that classic cutthroat corporate way—fire people so he may advance. I hear he is so bent on pinching pennies that he shuts off the Coke machine at night to save energy.

The great joke on AV Concepts, (and hardly a soul there would entertain the notion—the ones who did were pee-ons like me) is of peak oil reversing that company's fortune. Yup, more than once, I looked at that inventory, the one they so proudly pimp as "the best in the biz" and thought, totally fucking worthless in a few years! One by one, corporations across the country are going to fold up and won't be throwing hi-spectacle product launches for the media, or won't be holding super-classroom Powerpoint presentations for their expanding workforce. They won't be looking in San Diego for a production company if their gig is in San Francisco. Yup. Just wait. AVC is not looking at the growth they think they will achieve. I sat through the meeting last year just before Thanksgiving. The owners (private company) bought us Quizno's food. Forget the fucking turkey and stuffing and mash-taters, we get fast food and Cokes. Then we went upstairs and listened to corporate drivel for two hours about how the company is growing. Funny, I only see people getting fired.

There was this one dude (who I actually got along with best) who was 25 or so, and he hired on as an intern for something like minimum wage for a few weeks. Interestingly, it was the week I got laid off back in December. Hmm, could it be? I get laid off for the darkest winter months just as they find a guy who will bend over backwards to get his foot in the door and won't say no to any work? Mebbe. Consider: when I came back in February, he was working 6 and 7 day weeks. By then he'd gotten his raise to $9 an hour. I was working for $11 an hour. By any guage, he was getting gypped by $2 anyway, since it seems that $11 is the opening wage for us throwaway hands. I've heard it said a few times at this company, if you don't hire on at the wage you want, you better get used to it or get out. Later on, this guy and me got a chance to work together a few times and trade stories. Since I was out of the shop most of the time, I had not been up on all the gossip. But by the time he was due his review, he got nothing. No review. Sort of like me. Finally, I got a "90 day review" on day 120, only to get a layoff for my patience. I never got my review at the end of my extended probation, unless you consider today to be that review. It is, after all, the third month after I restarted back on the first of February. He got a review but it got him essentially nowhere. And the clincher? He wasn't the slacker that I seemed to be. He worked like mad. He learned how to do a lot of stuff. He was actually a good employee, but he seems to have gotten signed up at the real piss-on rate. Sad. I told him to know his limits and get out as soon as he could.

So farewell, AV Concepts, the stopgap job that placed me in contradiction with myself. It's not so much that I hate you. I just am sort of glad you're out of my life.

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