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06.11.2003 - 5:27 p.m.


When we lived in Las Vegas briefly ('00), I got a marketing job with this company I'll call FuckedNetwork. I was super excited about the position at first - FN was a dotcom of sorts that seemed on the brink of explosive success. That is, if you believed the hyperbole constantly batted around the office like a bullshit-laden shuttlecock.

(How's that for a tortured metaphor? I wield my unholy language-mangling skills before you all! FLY MY PRETTIES!)

Like many dotcoms run by idiots with a whack-a-mole game where their brain stems should be, FN suffered from a severe lack of focus. They had basically purchased the source code to a java-based method of delivering streaming media, and they were coming up with all kinds of wacky ideas for molding products around the technology. Also, in classic dotcom "I love the smell of vaporware in the morning" fashion, they were trying to sell these products before they were actually created.

So I wrote lots and lots of copy about nebulous products that didn't actually exist, and made lots and lots of PowerPoint presentations pitching these products as enterprise solutions (so, so surreal) to companies like BMW, Toys R' Us, and - during a particularly weird period - the WWF. We spent hours and hours creating precarious demos, too, that were supposed to look like the products in action. Except it was all smoke and mirrors, because, well, the products! Didn't! Exist!

In the beginning, I thought we could pull it off. The company kept supposedly inching closer and closer to an IPO, which was going to make us each one meeelion dollars (of course!) and we all worked these ridiculous hours, and everything seemed kind of exciting and cool. But the hours got old, the mismanagement got old, and the horrible husband and wife founders team got REALLY old.

Craig and Amy were the founders of FN. He was vintage 'wacky creative CEO' - completely disconnected with reality. She was VP of Marketing at the time. The two of them were the most dysfunctional people on the face of the earth and made the scariest business combo I've ever experienced before or since. Their career background? Web-based pornography and infomercials.

He was a slob, and a lech. She was clueless, and a bitch. He swung wildly between indulging her and cutting her off in meetings and loudly berating her ideas for idiocy. She smoked pot constantly and couldn't keep a thought straight in her head for more than a few minutes at a time.

(About two weeks after I was hired, I flew with Craig, Amy, and the development head to L.A. to pitch a client. On the way back to the airport, Amy lit a joint, they passed it around, then held it out to me. I had no fucking idea what to do - never in my life had I been put in that sort of situation. I was panicking: should I refuse it? Would that jeopardize my job? If I took it, would I fail some kind of weird test? What if I coughed a bunch because it had been a while since I'd smoked out, would they think less of me? It was like middle school peer pressure to the Nth degree, it sucked royally, and yes I huffed on the damn thing.)

Eventually I was being micromanaged to death by a stoned boss who had perpetually changing requirements. The company was hemorrhaging cash and I moved offices about 6 times in as many months. Management got even stupider, to the point where they practically devolved and grew tails. I hated my job with a pure fury.

And whoosh, just like that, I was jettisoned along with several other people during a round of layoffs. A textbook case: it happened on a Friday afternoon, I couldn't access any of my files, a coworker sheepishly escorted me from the building as I blotted back helpless tears of humiliation and anger.

Stupid FuckedNetwork. They're still around, as far as I can tell, although none of the former staff is there. Craig and Amy seem to have been finally driven off with torches. Probably back to peddling pussy and Ginsu knives.

Today's trip down memory lane is sort of spurred by the fact that I wish I could write more about Workplace right now. It's nothing like FN, so it's not like I'm holding back a giant rant-fest like I've boorishly detailed here. It's more that I'd like to talk about the new person we hired, and the changes she's making, and how I think they're good but lots of people don't, and all the upheaval it's causing. But Workplace does deserve privacy, so I've probably said enough already.

Was that all cryptic-like, or what? It's like we all climbed in the MYSTERY VAN! (Let's make out!)

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