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TorgoX (1933)


"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Monday May 06, 2002
02:32 PM

Very American

[ #4699 ]
Dear Log,

A friend of mine is Scottish, and was recently fuming about the lameness at his job at a "call centre" in Glasgow. They're really into "team motivation" at that job, and encouragement, and saying "good job!" a lot, and having happy rewards for whoever sells the most today! And "who's your sales buddy today? Remember, partnership is a PLUS!"

Rah rah rah.

I don't know how he stands it.

Recently they had some "group bonding exercise" where everyone gives eachother a neckrub.

He was complaining that it is all very un-Scottish, and in fact, very American.

American? I said, quite confused.

He explained that it was his impression of American culture (his impression being common there) that somehow this sort of smarm is endemic in the US, and native to it.

Apparently, if you take any concept whose invention (or at least popularization) post-dates 1900, and you'll be able to find somewhere where people think of it as "very American". And into this mythic conception of the US, people project their ideas of the future, and vice versa. At one time, that meant fabulous futuristic labor-saving kitchen appliances; but now it apparently means expecting corporations to invent queasy-making mind games whose purpose is to demonstrate to the workers (oops, "associates"!) that their contentment is MANDATORY. Therefore BACKRUBS NOW. Also, piss in this cup, it's drug test day.

I had to explain to him that the true American response to any work situation is not backrubs, but filing a lawsuit.

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  • Heh - I wonder how many seconds it would be from the first touch of a backrub to a sexual harassment case here in the U.S.

    On the other hand, I could really use a backrub right now. There's this spot on my upper right shoulder that's always nagging me. Send him over.

  • I have two data points on this: first working for Digital, and more recently working for Nokia both in Finland and US.

    Not that backrubs have been involved in my career development, but yes, in both cases working for an American company or an American branch instantly introduced weird Dilbertian "mission statements" hanging on the walls, and touchy-feely-smarmy HR assaults on intelligence like "diversity sensitivity training", "group bonding exercises", and fascinating middle-management infatuation with inane meetings.

    Maybe all that's not American per se, but at least I've noticed a trend that the more American business culture I'm subjected to, the more of the above I get.

    • This "Americanism" has likely infected most capitalistic countries as the US branches of companies relocate for cheaper labour and other markets...but it's the superficiality of this 'caring for the individual' that makes everyone think immediately that it's American. "We care about you as an employee so we just cut your health benefits and extended your hours in order to give the CEO a $2 million bonus".

      Hey, just imagine the spandex-clad Mantis declaring it's group neckrub day when Nokia cuts the fitnes

  • he means "very Californian".
    • "very Californian"

      As a Californian, I can assure you that if the state's motto were to be replaced (Currently: "Eureka!") it would be a tossup between "Whatever" and "Don't touch me, I'm carrying a prototype high-tech electro/chemical weapon that I'd love to test on you, your face, your hands, and/or your genitals".

      Altho I'd push for my personal favorite, "Yahtzee punks, fuck off!" [].