Tantrum Warehouse
Tact Free Since 2003

WANTED: Dead or Alive

I saw this man yesterday that I used to work with. It was at my first real office job, I was eighteen. I am sure he wouldn't remember me but I sure remember him. Because he was wanted by the FBI.

I worked for a small internet startup before that was chic and there were very many. We were a multi-marketing company that sold a web-builder. For those of you unfamiliar with that last sentence we were a pyramid scheme like Amway (which is of course not a pyramid scheme because those are illegal) and we sold a product that allowed people who don't know HTML to have web pages. There are tons of products like that now, but of course none then.

Jon, the guy I saw, was one of our techs. We had two of them and they sat in the back of our office, without any direct sunlight, contact with people other than on the phone. Our office was this converted apartment building (the other office girl and I shared the living room as an office, each partner had a bedroom as an office, our conference room was the dining room/kitchen--we even had a shower in the bathroom). Joe (the other tech) liked this arrangement because he was a pudgy anti-social man who liked Japanese anime way too much (though he really was one of the nicest people I ever met--just very shy and DIFFERENT) and Jon liked it because he was wanted by the FBI.

I never got the whole story of why he was wanted by the FBI but I gather it had to do with telecommunications fraud. He wasn't like a killer or anything--he had just swindled a lot of people out of their money. But he was a perfect fit for this company because he had great computer skills but was willing to work for no money because they had to pay him under the table.

Like I said I was eighteen, I didn't know what offices were really like then. I was hired because I was eighteen, blond, had nice legs then and the only female partner was out of the office and the other three were doing the hiring. She did like me though--because I didn't know enough to say no to her bullshit. I was great at that job. The customers loved me, I work insane hours with no overtime, didn't take lunches or breaks and never said a word about the weird shit that happened there.

The other reason I remember Jon so well is that he saved my life more than once. I opened the office each morning at eight. I lived downtown and our office was in the now-fashionable but then-drug-flooded neighborhood of Belltown. So I would walk the ten or eleven blocks (big deal) and open the office. But since it had been and still looked like an apartment building we usually had a group of heroin addicts sitting on our veranda in the morning. More than once I would be trying to kick these guys off and one would run at me and Jon saved my ass. I was so stupid, I didn't demand that my employers get better security or provide more protection for me. I thought all receptionists did that. Jon was nice enough to start coming a couple of minutes early so that he would be there to help me open the office.

This was also the job where I learned about health and safety codes. One day the whole ceiling over my desk fell on my head. It was one of those drop ceilings so it didn't hurt me much. They gave me a day off (whee!) and had it fixed. I didn't know then that the whole DAMN BUILDING was condemned.

I was also sexually harassed for the first (but not last) time. One of our very married and thirty years older than me partners put his hand up my skirt. I did know enough to stop that. He was having an affair with our banker as well. And later I testified in his divorce.

Even though it was a crazy place and many bad things happened to me there I had a good time there. It all ended one day when three of the partners came (three weeks before Christmas) and fired us all. Then they told us to clean up everyone's offices and be out by five. Instead we used the petty cash to get drunk and clean our own shit out. And I convinced one of them to write me a personal check for my last month's salary.

Fucking assholes.

Of course now I work with people who think it is an outrage that we only get seven paid holidays. I hate to tell them about offices where you can only take a shit in one of the toilets, that ceilings come down and one of your job duties is to flirt with the counter boy at the copy shop so he doesn't charge you because we haven't paid our bill.

And I never got paid for a holiday.

9:35 a.m. :: comment ::
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