What Passes For Fun In Dystopia

Well, the big day has arrived. What happens now? Your guess is as good as mine. The only thing to do is brace yourself, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. What? You think I’m talking about the end of the world as we know it? Nah! It’s just my little brother’s birthday.

Happy Birthday, Bro! Remember, you’re only as old as you can remember. Birthdays are the best thing since sliced bread. What’s better than getting another year older? Friday Fictioneers, of course! This week’s picture worth a hundred words comes to us from Dale Rogerson, and driving the bandwagon is Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Thanks to you both.

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson
PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

Humor In The Post Dystopian Era

Discovery of a structure outside the city walls generated excitement among the Remainders. Centuries had passed since the Great Divide left them without a dependable power source and artificial intelligence began to decline. Drones were dispatched to investigate, but all they found were some decayed tablets.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Siri and Alexa amused themselves with jokes from their days at the AI Club.

“Siri, have you heard this one? An idiom, a cliché, and a platitude walk into a bar…”

“Hold on, Alexa, that’s impossible. Everyone knows idioms, clichés, and platitudes don’t have a leg to stand on.”

*****

More Fictioneers are here. Thanks for Reading

Taking Risks

What leaders do and how they do it is a topic of much discussion around the world and around my dinner table. Leadership theory as well as leadership in action is, one might say, “in my wheelhouse.” A debate about whether or not managers really need to know how to do the jobs of the employees they manage went on for many years in my house. Then this notion of managing vs. leading began to emerge.

It has become popular in organizational development circles to say that managers focus on processes and leaders focus on people. This raises the questions if a manager must be a leader and if leaders need to be good managers. The best case scenario is for leaders to model behaviors that inspire others to deliver results. Of course, accountability and integrity are qualities which managers and leaders share. The ability to build relationships is another. This does not require super-human skill. It does, however, require the willingness to put one’s self out there. In other words, take a risk.

Ten years ago I took a risk. I turned down a promotion and left the best job I’ve ever had to relocate for my husband’s job. It wasn’t long before I became bored. I needed something to do. There was no shortage of unpaid work to occupy my time. Volunteer opportunities soon turned into a passion for community service. So, I decided to take another risk. I went back to school to prepare myself for a leadership role in public affairs. I studied emergency administration and disaster planning. I studied non-profit management and public administration and conflict resolution. I had the opportunity to study abroad and learn prevention and intervention strategies to combat human trafficking. I learned about survivor aftercare. I returned from that experience physically and emotional drained but excited about the prospect of putting my knowledge and skills to work for an organization that needs a champion of customer relationships who can deliver dynamic results.

Now, here’s the biggest risk of all. After months of searching, I have only had one interview. My resume has been reviewed, revised, and has received the digital equivalent of “don’t call us, we’ll call you” so many times that I am beginning to question if all of my risk taking was for nothing. I’m not giving up. On the contrary, I’m reaching out, dear readers of this blog, and asking for your help. Please share this post.

The Real Deal

cropped-img_0802.jpg

Watching your hard work go unexpectedly up in flames can have a traumatizing effect on a person. One minute there is praise that raises your confidence to new heights, and the next you’re burned to a crisp. Nothing damages your ability to trust more than getting blind-sided by the very person who shares in your success, even profits from it, all the while holding the knife soon to be thrust into your back.

Greed has a cascade effect on the lives of those who unwittingly contribute to it. Carrots may keep employees coming back for more, but once the memo about doing more with less begins to circulate, it’s time to update your resume. A word of advice: Beware of the stock option incentive plan, the mother of all carrots. Companies that use the promise of future reward for past performance exploit loyal employees without regard for the impact it has on families when indiscriminate number crunching hits even the most exceptional performer right between the eyes.

Staying positive in the midst of uncertainty is critical. For seasoned, even well-seasoned, professionals this can be a challenge. The “not my first rodeo” attitude only gets you so far. Fortunately networking strategies abound on sites like LinkedIn and AARP. It may be a dog eat dog world, but if dog fights aren’t your thing and you’re unwilling to let a lifetime of professional experience go to the dogs, take heart, the dog days will soon be over.

Keeping fear and anger under control after a job loss requires a particular skill set. Roosevelt got it right when he said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He went a step further and identified the fear of his day as “—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Seems there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to fear. It is my firm belief that we can prevent fear from paralyzing and use the emotion of anger to propel us forward.

I was once told by an unscrupulous boss that perception is reality. I refused to accept that notion then and I do not believe it now. I will concede that the difference between reality and virtual reality is almost imperceptible. Almost.

 

 

When Living In The Moment Is A Bad Idea

img_0803

A diligent job search becomes an urgent one when two experienced professionals find themselves in the midst of a storm. There are no hard feelings, no feelings at all, for the decision maker who does not comprehend that in order to create value for an organization, one must cultivate loyalty. This action, of course, requires trust, a concept which may be irrevocably damaged by the prevailing climate of deception gripping corporate America.

Once upon a time, the “company man” (no gender intended), was the standard bearer for what made the American workforce great. This brand of employee, not necessarily given a corner office over the span of a career, was certainly rewarded for loyalty and definitely not cast aside on the whim of the shareholder.

Are the days when the words “value added” meant that everyone profits from efficiency and innovation gone forever? Has the definition of value been corrupted through synthesis of “core values” – integrity, loyalty, and transparency – nothing more than window dressing for a global store front?

In this moment, it seems so.

 

American Caricature

Yesterday I wrote a great story for this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt. It was funny. Very funny. It was a really, really great story. And so funny. Taking my writing cues from the new leader of the free world, I can say that readers everywhere would have thought “Campfire Girls All Grown Up” was a great title for my great story about old childhood friends who had met life’s challenges head on with the support of their group which they now called The Drunken Poets Society. This great, really great, story takes place at the twenty-second annual Drunken Poets Campout. I was all set to hit publish. Then last night something happened. I went with my son to see John Cleese and Eric Idle in their Together Again At Last…For The Very First Time North American Tour.

If you don’t know who these guys are, what cave have you been living in?

The two comic giants played to a sold out house at the Majestic Theater in Dallas. The first act got off to a slow start. What else would you expect from two old farts? Still, it was entertaining and informative. For instance, I did not know that the first PBS station to broadcast episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus in the U.S. was KERA in Dallas, Texas.

Two red armchairs cushioned the iconic, and well-worn, actors as they reminisced about the good old days of Monty Python. Name dropping mixed with comedy sketches and songs, it was like sitting at the knee of a profane uncle and loving every minute of it.

What this has to do with my Friday Fictioneers story, you may be wondering. Or not. Well, last night in my sleep, Eric Idle came to me and said, “Campfire Girls All Grown Up isn’t funny. In fact, Honie, it stinks. Then he sang me a song he’d written just for me. I can’t share it here due to copyrights, quid pro quo trade negotiations, Brexit ex post facto, ipso facto e pluribus unum and all that, but suffice to say, it was really, really, great. Really.

So, this morning I woke up a little hung over curiously sober, and in the light of day I decided to embrace the absurdity of being American. Here’s my new and improved story.

campsite-jwf
Copyright Jan Wayne Fields

 Isolationism

I read the news today. Oh boy! Frackers and hackers have surrounded the backpackers. Obese schizophrenics protest en masse. No one knows for sure what has offended them today, but they are armed with selfie sticks, free with every purchase at Starbucks.

I experience fever then chills then uncontrollable laughter. Nausea follows. I want to run, sleep, and vomit all at once. I call my doctor’s office, calming down on hold while I sing along, “Billie Jean is not my lover.” The virtual nurse comes on the line.

“If this is an emergency, please hang up and call 911. Goodbye.”

***** 

Thanks to Rochelle and her trusty companion, Jan, for this week’s prompt. Check out more FF stories here. Thanks for reading.