A Corporate Camus

By S.J.Lawrie

I am 31 years old and for the last year I have been stealing from my employer. I would like to tell you how I got to this point by telling you a little about myself.

I was expelled from military boarding school for stealing a heart from biology and putting it on my friend’s plate at lunchtime. My charge: “deliberate and wilful attempt to spread E. coli”. Absurd considering the school cooks seemed to be managing that fine by themselves.

I enrolled in a college, which was a culture shock but a fantastic place with wonderful people. A young single mother in my higher history class tried to sell me a large bag of Valium so she had extra money for her daughter at Christmas. I was honoured she picked me.

I then attended one of the ancient Scottish Universities. All I achieved was a £60 suspended non-academic fine for drunken disorderly. I left after 3 years; tired and more aware of my accent.

The credit crunch hit and I was on the dole for nearly a year.

I bought a one-way ticket to Cambodia and landed a job teaching English. I was terrible. I gave all the kids western names and mainly discussed football. I was sacked. I worked off a bar tab and returned home.

Once home I applied for a temporary job in an office for an extremely reputable law firm. I have been there for 6 years.

Last year I was promoted to manager.

Being in management wasn’t really a goal of mine. My father, a Union man, didn’t need another reason to be disappointed. It has though, settled a few concerns I have had about those in positions of relative authority.

I can confirm that managers actually know very little more than the people who work for them. They have just been there the longest. In my case this is 100% accurate. Also they actually do very little in terms of recognised work.

The most upsetting part for me is the cultivated opinion that you’re management and well, who’s going to discipline you? To illustrate, I sat in an inter-departmental meeting drinking champagne, discussing issues of ineffective communication, and that day we left early to find a cocktail bar. It was on the way to the cocktail bar as we were walking down the street, someone made a joke about the staff in their team having to work late. It was then, bubble drunk, I had an existential epiphany. I remembered a quote from Albert Camus. Camus said “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion”.

Opportunity knocked when a member of my team phoned in sick the following week. Protocol dictates I have to electronically record the absence, conduct a back to work interview and monitor their future absences. To save time I didn’t bother. A month passed and no one noticed. Then someone else phoned in sick and I didn’t bother again and still no one noticed, which got me thinking, “was there a big brother watching us?” or “was this fear created by management?”, management that I was now fully initiated.

I searched and discovered all businesses have departments that exist purely as administrative support and each of these operate in similar way. One of the main issues facing these departments is the effective management of time. Time management, amongst other elusive bureaucratic concepts, helped conceive and birth the deadline. I quickly began operating a first come first served policy in my department, which basically murdered urgency. The philosophy was simple; if everything was urgent, then nothing is urgent. 

I have, as mentioned, been stealing from my employer for the last year. By arriving 5 minutes late and leaving 5 minutes early. A quick calculation shows after subtracting holiday entitlement from the standard 260 working days in a year I have taken around 38 hours in 10-minute daily bundles, multiplied by my hourly rate of £10 equals £388.00 per annum. With the assumption retirement remains at the age of 67 and my hourly rate stays the same, which both won’t, by the time I retire the total accumulated sum will be a staggering £13,968. I call this “time embezzlement” and anyone can do it. 

There has though been a bitter twist of fate. My team love the new regime. They are happy at their work which has led to increased productivity and a high service standard, resulting in exceeding all SLA’s (service level agreements) and they are now working in line with the companies KPI’s (key performance indicators). Morale has never been higher.

Recently there has been talk around the coffee point of another promotion. If only they knew.

rebellious nature, work-place rebel