Seen Work: A Dispassion Play.

Identical work stations line the stage. Faceless workers sit at desks, typing in unison to the loud TICK of an unseen clock, like an employer branding video directed by Busby Berkeley and written by George Orwell.

LIGHTS UP on TOM, 30s and cookie cutter corporate, sitting at a desk downstage center.

The CLOCK gets louder as we realize Tom is the only worker not typing in time. He’s lost in his own world until…

JIM

Hey, douchebag. What you doing?

Tom SLAMS his computer shut as the ticking suddenly ceases. JIM, another generic white dude in business casual, walks downstage towards Tom’s desk.

TOM
Uh, working. You should try it some time.

JIM
Bullshit, man. I saw your computer screen. Dirty, dirty…

TOM
Come on, man.

JIM
…and most definitely NSFW. I mean, at least try to keep your personal shit on the DL.

TOM
Uh…I don’t know what you’re talking about.

JIM
Then why are you being so sketchy?

TOM
Because I’m at work.

JIM
I feel that. Anywhere but here, right?

TOM
For sure.

JIM
Which is why you were filling out a job application.

TOM
(sighs)
Busted.

JIM
I feel you. It’s all good, my man. Seriously. Hell. I filled 2 out this morning myself just for shits and giggles.

TOM
You must type fast. This one’s already taken me like 3 hours.

JIM
Right? We’d make a killing applying for these jobs if we could bill them at our going hourly rate. I mean, it’s like having another job trying to find another job. It’s fucked up.

TOM
Right? I mean, technically we should be. It’s like we’re doing free work for a competitor. Which is just ridiculous, really.

JIM
“Time theft is a very serious crime.”

TOM
(cracking up)
Thanks, Brenda.

JIM
Time theft. Seriously, who makes up this shit? I’m not Carmen Sandiego for fuck’s sake. If you could steal time, I’d get my twenties back from this place, you know? Big heist and all.

TOM
You know who makes up this shit? Same people that make me fill out my social security number so I can find out more – maybe – about a job I don’t even know if I’m actually interested in. HR is pretty much the worst.

JIM
Right? It’s like, “we’re not qualified for a real career, but we get to control yours.” It’s insane. Best part of landing a new gig is going to be going back to never having to deal with HR. Perks of being an employee, right?

TOM
How long have you been…

JIM
A while, now. I mean, c’mon. You know how bad it sucks here.

TOM
Yeah. I think I’m figuring that out. Guess you’re not going to use that stupid hashtag they want us to use to tell the world how awesome this place is, then? Shit kills me.

JIM
Right? Back in the day, it was like I felt lucky just to have a job. I was never actually like, proud to work here. It’s a crap job at a crap company. But I keep sucking it up. It’s a paycheck.

TOM
Technically, I guess.

JIM
What’s that mean?

TOM
There’s not a whole lot of pay, last time I checked.

JIM
Funny guy.

TOM
Gallows humor.

JIM
Good call. You’ll be spending a lot of time hanging if you’re looking for a new job, trust me. Most of these jobs you apply for, there’s this e-mail they send…

TOM
The ‘thanks, if you’re a fit we’ll be in touch’ bullshit?

JIM
…and that’s the first and last time you’ll ever hear back.

TOM
Might as well say, “thanks for wasting so much time on filling out that application. We have received it and determined your getting through all that horseshit just to apply is too dumb to ever consider hiring here.”

JIM
Only worse thing than no news is when you actually get a call for an interview. Trust me. Talk about time suck. That’s why I was “sick” 2 days last week, and the Tuesday before that…

TOM
Asshole. Had me fooled. You looked like you were going to blow chunks all over the room during that planning meeting.

JIM
That wasn’t an act. Always feel that way in our meetings.

TOM
Fair. So how many, exactly…

JIM
Nine interviews in the last two months. I’m running out of PTO just trying to get out of here. It’s like a Catch 22. Only I’d frankly take having to deal with the Luftwaffe over our corporate policies and “business partners.”

TOM
Could be worse. At least you’re getting interviews. I get the occasional ‘thanks but no thanks’ automated e-mail, but other than that, nothing, man. Crickets.

JIM
Funny how when you actually want to talk to a recruiter, they never call. Minute you stop looking, they start stalking.

TOM
I never get stalked. What am I doing wrong?

JIM
For starters, you’re filling out those job applications.

TOM
Yeah. I’m applying for jobs. You got a better idea?

JIM
Funny thing is, as many as I’ve applied for, I only get a call or score an interview when I hit up my buddies or the people I used to work with who didn’t suck, which is rare when you work for the Man, as you know.

TOM
Your friends must be way more legit than the people I kick it with. I mean, you need a quarter of kush or some blow, done. A decent job? If slinging dime bags counts, then maybe…

JIM
No. It’s crazy, but I’m telling you. The people who you spend the weekends with pulling bong and playing Fantasy football go turn into adults on Monday. Seriously. Turns out, my dirtbag buddies are mostly legit people in legit jobs at legit places during the week. I mean, look at us.

TOM
I’m pretty good at pretending to be an adult by now.

JIM
You don’t have to pretend, man. We’re all just making it up as we go along hoping no one calls us out. Of course, you can’t put that on a LinkedIn headline but it’s just how it goes.

TOM
LinkedIn? You mean the Facebook for old people?

JIM
Yeah. Sucks, but it’s one more BS thing you have to do to find a job these days. Makes me miss MySpace, but what can you do?

TOM
I signed up for LinkedIn but all I ever got was a ton of spam. Like, e-mails for jobs like an industrial dye cutter or some other random ass crap I didn’t even know was a job. Maybe the occasional message from some dude in Bangalore telling me about some “confidential opportunity” or some shit.It’s always so vague, might as well be a Nigerian Prince.

JIM
Surprised you can tell what the hell they’re talking about – I mean, how is it that these people have access to social media but somehow not spell check? Has that not hit India yet? I’m not trying to sound like a racist or anything, but…

TOM
I hear you. Shitty spelling and grammar aren’t a race thing. I think they’re just a recruiter thing.

JIM
(bumping fists)
Amen to that, my man.
(beat)
Speaking of, man, totally forgot why I came by.

TOM
It wasn’t just to be a dick like usual?

JIM
Fuck you very much. No, I had some QA stuff I needed to review with you for the new release. There are a ton of issues we to fix before this thing can go out.

TOM
Stop freaking out, dude. It’s like this every quarter – stress and ship on time no matter how bad it sucks.

JIM
I know the drill, but still. We have a roadmap to follow. You know someone’s going to figure out our product isn’t really a product, sooner or later. Just trying to cover our ass, amigo.

TOM
Alright. Let me finish this application and I promise, back to product. Or lack thereof, I guess…

JIM
No judgement. I just have like 3 more interviews scheduled for as soon as we ship. Which means for now I have to stop taking all that time to look for a better job if I want to keep this one. Which I don’t, but you need a job to get one, right?

TOM
I hear that. By the way. Don’t freak out about the whole “our product is vaporware” thing. No one is ever going to know. For real. Trust me on this one, man.

JIM
Don’t be so sure. It’s still seriously the shittiest software in the entire cloud. Like, here’s the cloud. And all that rain is pouring on this one little fucked up spot, and that’s us. Man. I should have gone into sales, right?

TOM
You’re not a big enough douchebag to sell business software.

JIM
…thanks, I guess?

TOM
You’re welcome. Also? It’s not vaporware. We sell a “candidate experience platform,” and our customers know that’s what theyare buying. No one knows what in the actual hell a “candidate experience platform” is in the first place.

JIM
I know it’s how I pay rent. Barely. That’s all I need to know.
(turning to exit)
I’m off for my 3 o’clock. Be good.

TOM
Ha. I’m as good as I have to be. And that’s pretty mediocre. I mean, no one uses our product after they buy it. Obviously.
(turning back to computer screen)
SHIT!

JIM
You alright?

TOM
“You have been logged out due to inactivity. Your application has not been saved.”

JIM
Those mother…

TOM
Fuckers.

Jim chuckles as he exits. Tom bangs his head on his desk, looking hopeless, pissed and frustrated as we FADE TO BLACK.

FIN.

2 Comments on “Seen Work: A Dispassion Play.

  1. Don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Would prefer the application they attempt to fill out simply lock up offering the following message: “you have been identified as a slacker and are not permitted to apply. Click on this link to see suggestions on how to reduce your NSS (net slacker score) to where applications will again be open and future employment a possibility”

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