There is something wrong with the world.Among the seething masses a poison seeps into the souls of the people, entirely unnoticed. It affects neither bones nor flesh, but leaves the mind decaying – a rotting pile of untapped potential.
Only recently have I begun to understand it. It has always been there, in some form. Most often it existed in those who sought to live off the work of others, the moochers, thieves, and brutes of the past. But there was a limit to how many could fit that mold; else civilization would have ceased altogether. In this century, however, technology has come so far that a few individuals can make life possible for millions. I don’t need to tell you how – you know it. Look at the people around you, at the jobs they do. How many are essential to our survival as a race? If you are surrounded by average people, probably none.
I don’t mean to sound a pessimist, or degrade the value of our technology. I think that the people of this world have achieved marvelous things, they have raised the potential for human life infinitely higher than it was even a few centuries ago.
I write about this now, because it is affecting my life. It is distracting me, discouraging me, and plaguing me to no end. It is something I need solved, and putting the words might help me overcome it.
A few years ago, something happened.I would characterize it by saying that I was infected, to stick with my earlier theme. I was 23 years old, and from the time I was 14 I had loved work. I got a job as soon as I was legally able to, working as many hours as I was able to get from my employers. I saved money but also travelled, modified my car, and in general just enjoyed life.
At my first job, back in 2004, I bagged groceries, pushed carts, and ran a register. I worked for an arrogant fool who was mediocre (at best) at his job, in a store run by an ignorant man wearing a maroon suit. At my next job, I organized pet food into neat, ordered rows, cared for fish, and stocked the pet department at a Wal-Mart, until moving into the seasonal department. I worked with a few great people, and the time flew by. My store manager was not only incompetent, he was a liability. I often had to ignore his orders so that I could do a project correctly the first time.
And yet, I loved both jobs. I didn’t love any of the tasks – watering plants, pushing carts, and the like were all well below my current and potential abilities intellectually. I loved them because I could take pride in my work. I was not just good as what I did, I excelled. I screwed off half the day, laughing and talking with employees and customers, yet routinely performed the work of three regular employees. I earned praise and admiration from some of my fellow workers, occasionally from my managers, and I earned my money. I earned it. I graduated high school early and took night classes at the community college so I could work 40+hours every week and still get a degree.
My managers at both those jobs were regularly incompetent. They rarely did anything well. Despite my successes, my managers just couldn’t see my potential, or worse – they saw it and refused to reward it. Maybe they knew I wouldn’t stick around forever. I applied for several promotions for jobs I was already performing (or could quickly learn). Against far inferior candidates, I never got those positions.
I changed the way I worked, became even more responsible, and conducted myself like a manager. I looked after my teams, did excellent work, always showed up for work on time, even dressing the part… and yet, I was never rewarded for it. I began to feel frustrated. How were so many incompetent people in management positions? I felt like they were holding me back, albeit unintentionally. They must not have been able to see the potential. Chock it up to poor training or something.
Fast forward three years.I had worked since 2010 as a manager (initially a manager-in-training) at Valvoline Instant Oil Change. Now if you’re like most people, you might think those places are a joke. And most of them are. But I ran a tight ship, and my crews rarely fucked up. We took ownership for our work, followed our procedures to a tee, and had some of the happiest customers in the area. Most of my employees loved me – the hard working ones, anyways. But my managers? Nearly all of them wanted me to fail. They gave me false information, set me up, tried to push me out the door. My area supervisor was a blithering idiot (who still works there, now going on twenty-something years) who did literally everything in his power to make me quit. I stepped down, and moved to a more local store. They replaced that manager with a pushy salesman, who lied to customers and whom I submitted video evidence against demonstrating he was stealing from the company. And they did nothing. Eventually, I’d had enough and I left.
This was when I first began to see the poison. I had watched other hard-working people get beaten down by those less able, pushed around by incompetent bimbos on a power trip. I thought my experiences were unique, but at every job I worked, the same continued. And when I spoke to others like me, people of ability, it was the same.
What I saw wasn’t happenstance. It was malicious. And it was everywhere.People who were too lazy to work were afraid of those who weren’t – and they tore them down for it. They beat at them, and rode them until they broke. Those too lazy to think attacked any man or woman who used the power of their brain. I saw it in various fields. Retail, education, sales, engineering; it didn’t matter the industry. It permeated every one of them. Those of lesser ability were trying to hold back anyone who had potential, trying to destroy them.
Soon after, I began to see this incompetence in other places. Not just other places, everywhere. I saw it in the way our highways are constructed, how our traffic lights worked, how people drove, how engineers designed parts for vehicles that are un-serviceable or simply absurd. And that is just in the automotive world. The same can be found in tech, service, and elsewhere.
The problem is that I saw, and continue to see, how things could be, and in many cases how they should be. I see the untapped potential in the world, how much better it could be… how much less frustrating and how much more enjoyable. That is the heart of my problem, and it raises quite a dilemma.
To Be Continued …
"Danger Poison" - Pixabay