I'm a pension consultant. What does that mean? For one thing it means that I work 830 to 430 in an office and do whatever the company wants me to do. Usually it ranges from interesting to tolerable to draggy to I need to take a walk and get the hell out of here. Below that, there is also uh oh, something is all screwed up and I'm in trouble.

There are lots of good moments. They generally consist of talking with co-workers about our interests, a tv show or a sports event. My conversations are content-driven, focused on something we're interested in, more than just small talk. I suck at small talk. But I get interested in things. My buddy Tom, a big Irish guy, is always talking with me about mixed martial arts. My buddy Rich, a tall thin Italian guy, is always talking with me about, believe it or not, American Idol. Neither one of us likes the entertainment on the show but we both get a kick out of the show itself, goofing on it, whatever.

The boss is a short Jewish guy with no heart. My pal Gary calls the boss The Tin Man because he too didn't have a heart. With a heartless boss, you never know how secure your job is. He'll dump your ass in a second. Then he'll reassign your work to the remaining employees. It has happened often to others.

I remember reading an article in the old TV Guide about a college football coach who was saying that loyalty is a one way street. The employee must show loyalty to the boss, but the boss has no loyalty to the employee. The boss's only loyalty is to his own bottom line. Maybe that's a rule carved in stone and maybe it isn't, but though there are exceptions, I think it is the general rule. With the responsibility on your shoulders, you have to make some cold decisions, and with some bosses it goes beyond that into - can I get away with firing two people now and re-distributing their work, saving myself two salaries to pay? Will the remaining employees crack under the added pressure? I don't think they will. So I'll do it. The other employees often work Saturdays and late nights, and they will just keep doing that, give me more free overtime, they won't say a word about it, screw em.

And yet, this boss at least works. He shows up. He does useful things. Not like the last guy I worked for, who showed up at noon, barged into the office quickly to catch anyone who didn't look busy. Then he would walk into his private office and close the door. Then he would use the company phone to call his lawyers regarding personal matters, usually his parents' estate to be divided between him and his brother and sister. He was the executor of the will and he wanted to be sure to screw his brother and sister out of as much as possible. Then he would go outside and rape the corporate account of all the money in there, give the banking records to the clerical employee to do something or other with (so his machinations weren't a secret), and then announce to the staff that there wasn't enough in the corporate account to meet payroll so we better start calling deadbeats and get some money in if we wanted to get paid.

Oh yeah, then this old boss would leave, at about 2 pm, having done exactly nothing to benefit the company.

My job consists of meeting lots of deadlines, keeping track of the assets in pension plans of lots of clients, determining how much money a person is entitled to, from his pension plan, when he leaves the company, filing tons of forms with the government to close up a pension plan that the company owner doesn't want anymore, this and that.

The clients are usually nice to talk to. You call them by their first names and put it on a friendly basis, and they come to trust you, usually. You also get the difficult clients now and then, people you really never want to have to deal with, but that's a small percentage. When I get those, I sometimes get rid of them one way or another. Sometimes I make a trade, give them to another employee for a client they don't want.

I had this pain in the ass client with an attitude. I tried to break her of her attitude by dealing with it directly and telling her to cut it out, and that worked, actually. She became a lot more polite. Sort of Taming of the Shrew. But then, when another employee wanted to get out from under an administrative nightmare of a case and offered a trade, I sent the shrew over to her in exchange. I didn't mind the administrative nightmare. It wasn't so bad for me. I just hope the nightmare case never gets audited because if they do, they are screwed.

The rules of my business change every year because new pension laws are always passed in Congress. Congress never fails to make tons of changes. The changes always complicate things. I see it more clearly than the Congressmen do because I have to actually implement the changes that they come up with. They are being advised by screwballs. The field is unbelievably complicated now thanks to 25 years of fixing things that ain't broke until you break them.

25 years ago it was common for employees to have a nice pension plan that was funded by the company. Now that has changed. The most common retirement plan is a 401k where you put the money in yourself, it's your money you are putting in, as in "thanks for nothing". That's a huge change. Congress made the old style plan so unattractive by its "improvements" that it has nearly died out. That's the direction we are going in.

With so many complete re-writes of the methods that must be used, it is very easy to screw up big time, use the old rule when the new rule is supposed to be used, use the new rule when the old rule is supposed to be used, so many "heat of the moment" decisions, that you know something has to be wrong. If you do 100 things, can you get 99 of them right? Great. What happens to the one that's done wrong? The one that you were given bad information on, when the latest law came out, before you had time to really understand it. Lawsuit time. Maybe you get fired. Something is wrong, kid.

Baseball players screw up all the time. Strike three, you're out. The ball hits off your glove, error. Interceptions in football. Mistakes in every sport, committed by people playing at the top level.

But as a wage slave, you're a hamster on a treadmill, there are no championships, never an end. Hamster on a treadmill. You just did a fantastic job on a difficult case? That's nice but that's done, and you have lots more to do. Get moving, hamster, the treadmill never stops.

Actually I think it is a soft version of hell. I don't think that's putting it inaccurately. I think the American Indians had a more civilized society than we have, except that they were always raiding their neighbors. I think that the life of an American Indian male consisted of hunting, which is fun, going to war, which they really needed to stop doing, and lazing around. That's a lot better than what I do. The life of an American Indian woman consisted of doing all the work around the camp, but not having to hunt. I'd much rather go hunt buffalo than do the shit I do. Sophistication in a society isn't always progress. Seems like we all have to sacrifice 90% of our freedom to accommodate this sophisticated society of ours. Well, maybe you don't.

So, I'm a wage slave and that's about it.

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skald said over 3 years ago ...

Yes, that is what most people are wage slaves. Good reading

quietone said over 3 years ago ...

yup... thats a great analogy - hamster on a treadmill! That would be me too! LOL

rollingc said over 3 years ago ...

That about sizes up most people on the work force. Even the salaried management workers are really just hamsters on a treadmill. Good post.


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