You'd think I was two different people. Here I offend without meaning to, just by speaking by mind. At work I am often condemned for being "too nice". I am "soft", apparently, "afraid of confrontation". Which is total shit, of course. I am just more cautious at work because I know that truth is one commodity that isn't valued in the workplace, unless your truth happens to coincide with the boss' truth. So many managers in the world of work--and it's not a new thing--are like Shakespeare's King Lear: they want to hear what is convenient and makes them feel good about themselves, and will genuinely believe (because they identify, egotistically, their own cause with the common cause), that somebody who opposes them is making trouble and trying to dismantle the whole apparatus. (Perhaps you aren't drawn to the idea of leading people unless you are vain, insecure and capable of huge, fatuous, self-deceiving rationalisations.)
So, I flatter and deceive to gain advancement? I don't think so; I've been doing the same job in different companies for ten years now, so I'm hardly rising like a comet through the ranks by fair or foul means. But I do hold my tongue. Doing so is probably the prime cause of the stress I carry away from work with me, into my otherwise serene life of friends and country hikes and books-and-pinball in the Lookout. And given my union advocacy and strong views about Capitalism I probably have to be more cautious than most. They say it's a free country, kids, but scratch the surface of any democracy and it's you who'll wind up bleeding. I am even a little nervous about setting these views down here; but I've got to be able to free my mind of it somewhere.
Some have said I am an idealogue. I probably am, though my views are more complex than most of my critics seem capable of understanding. Some who know me well have accused me of reducing human beings to black-and-white stereotypes of good and evil, primarily on the basis of their economic position. I don't think that is true, since Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson are great heroes of mine and they are tremendously rich, and I have an instinctive snobbish dislike of uneducated working class people spitting in the street and chomping burgers on buses (I'm not proud of that, but it's there). But I do see the relationship between rich bosses and struggling employees as a contentious one, based on exploitation and oppression, one the boss dominates by conning and bullying the employee into obedience (this is largely the state of the workplace in modern Britain); I do see their relationship as one in which the employee must at all times be alert, looking out for the con, and prepared to defend himself or herself to protect his (her) own interests. If the interests of employer and employee are synonymous, as the rich Capitalist would have us believe, I'm a Dutchman.
So I will usually side with my fellow employees at work, unless they have made a client pregnant or stolen a hundred quid from the cash box. Which sometimes gives me the appearance, to my bosses, of being over-conciliatory, not having as much spine as colleagues who don't mind bawling out a fellow employee within earshot of the manager to show how well they're doing personally. "Look at me, boss, I don't mind endangering someone else's income by exposing them to you. Now, how about that bonus, eh?" I do mind, unfortunately. I don't necessarily want my fellow employees to be my friends, but I do want to be a friend of the man I see in the bathroom mirror in the morning when I get out of bed and decide not to shave again.
I wonder if there'll be more brotherhood in the workplace when the New Depression hits and these workplace prefects and sell-out bullies realise they need a bit of back-up to protect their own previously-secure incomes.