Lesson One The Company in Which I work In the company in which I work , each of us is afraid of at least one person . The lower your position is , the more people you are afraid of . And all the people are afraid of the twelve men at the top who helped found and build the company and now own and direct it . All these twelve men are elderly now and drained by time and success of energy and ambition . Many have spent their whole lives here .They seem friendly ,slow , and content when I come upon them in the halls and always courteous and mute when they ride with others in the public elevators . They no longer work hard .They hold meetings , make promotions, and allow their names to be used on announcements that are prepared and issued by somebody else . Nobody is sure anymore who really runs the company ( not even the people who are credited with running it ) , but the company does run . In the normal course of a business day …I am afraid of Jack Green because my department is part of his department and Jack Green is my boss ; Green is afraid of me because most of the work in my department is done for the Sales Department , which is more important than his department , and I am much closer to Andy Kagle and the other people in the Sales Department than he is . Green distrusts me fitfully .He makes it clear to me every now and then that he wishes to see everything coming out of my department before it is shown to other departments .I know he does not really mean this : he is too busy with his own work to pay that much attention to all of mine , and I will bypass him on most of our assignments rather than take up his time and delay their delivery to people who have an immediate need for them . Most of the work we do in my department is , in the long run, trivial . But Green always grows alarmed when someone from another department praises something that has come from my department . He turns scarlet with rage and embarrassment is he has not seen or heard of it . In my department , there are six people who are afraid of me , and one small secretary who is afraid of all of us . I have one other person working for me who is not afraid of me who is not afraid of anyone , not even me , and I would fire him quickly , but I’m afraid of him … The people in the company who are most afraid of most people are the salesmen . They live and work under pressure that is extraordinary . When things are bad , they are worse for the salesmen ;when things are good , they are not much better . They are always on trial , always on the verge of failure , collectively and individually . They strain, even the most secure and self assured of them , to look good on paper ; and there is much paper for them to look good on . Each week , for example , a record of the sales results of the preceding week for each sales office and for the Sales Department as a whole for each division of the company is kept and compared to the sales results for the corresponding week of the year before . The figures are photocopied and distributed throughout the company to all the people and departments whose work is related to selling . The result of the photocopying and distributing is that there is almost continuous public scrutiny and discussion throughout the company of how well or poorly the salesmen in each sales office of each division of the company are doing at any given time . When salesmen are doing well , there is pressure upon them to begin doing better , for fear they may start doing worse . When they are doing poorly , they are doing terribly . When a salesman lands a large order or brings in an important new account , his elation is brief , for there is danger he might lose that large order or important new account to a salesman from a competing company the next time around . It might even be canceled before it is filled , in which case no one is certain if anything was gained or lost . So there is crisis and alarm even in their triumphs . Nevertheless , the salesmen love their work and would not choose any other kind . They are vigorous , fun-loving bunch when they are not suffering abdominal cramps or brooding miserably about the future ; on the other hand , they often turn cranky without warning and complain a lot . Each of them can name at least one superior in the company who he feels has a grudge against him and is determined to wreck his career . The salesmen work hard and earn big salaries , with large personal expense accounts that they squander generously on other people in and out of the company , including me . They own good houses in good communities and play good games of golf on good private golf courses . The company encourages this . The company , in fact , will pay for their country club membership and all charges they incur there , and rewards salesmen who make a good impression on the golf course .
Unmarried men are not wanted in the Sales Department , not even widowers , for the company has learned from experience that it is difficult and dangerous for unmarried salesmen to mix socially with prominent executives and their wives or participate with them in responsible civic affairs . If a salesman’s wife dies and he is not ready to remarry , he is usually moved into an administrative position after several months of mourning . Bachelors are never hired for the sales force , and salesmen who get divorced , or whose wives die , know they had better remarry or begin looking ahead toward a different job . Strangely enough , the salesmen react very well to the constant pressure and rigid supervision to which they are subjected . They are stimulated and motivated by discipline and direction. They thrive on explicit guidance toward clear objectives . For the most part , they are cheerful , confident, and gregarious when they are not irritable , anxious , and depressed . There must be something in the makeup of a man that enables him not only to be a salesman , but to want to be one . The salesmen are proud of their position and of the status and importance they enjoy within the company , for the function of my department , and of most other departments , is to help the salesmen sell . The company exists to sell . That’s the reason we were hired , and the reason we are paid . The people in the company who are least afraid are the few in our small Market Research Department , who believe in nothing and are concerned with collecting , organizing , interpreting , and reorganizing statistical information about the public , the market , the country , and the world . For one thing , their salaries are small , and they know they will not have much trouble finding jobs paying just as little in other companies if they lose their jobs here . Their budget , too , is small , for they are no longer permitted to undertake large projects . Most of the information we use now is obtained free from trade associations and some governmental organizations , and there is no way of knowing anymore whether the information on which we base our own information for distribution is true or false . But that doesn’t seem to matter ; all that does matter is that the information come from a reputable source . People in the Market Research Department are never held to blame for conditions they discover outside the company that place us at a competitive disadvantage . They are not expected to change reality , but merely to find it if they can and suggest ingenious ways of disguising it . To a great extent , that is the nature of my own work , and all of us under Green work closely with the Sales Department and the Public Relations Department in converting whole truths into half truths and half truths into whole ones . I am very good at these techniques of deception, although I am not always able anymore to deceive myself . In fact , I am continuously astonished by people in the company who fall victim to their own propaganda . There are so many now who actually believe that what we do is really important . This happens not only to salesmen , but to the shrewd , capable executives in top management . It happens to people on my own level and lower . It happens to just about everybody in the company who graduated from a good business school with honors . Every time we launch a new advertising campaign , for example , people inside the company are the first ones to be taken in by it . Every time we introduce a new product , or an old product with a different cover , color , and name that we present as new , people inside the company are the first to rush to buy it even when it’s no good . It’s a wise person , I guess , who knows he’s dumb , and an honest person who knows he’s a liar . And it’s a dumb person who’s convinced he is wise . We wise grownups here at the company go sliding in and out all day long , scaring each other at our desks and trying to evade the people who frighten us . We come to work , have lunch , and go home . We goose-step in and goose-step out , change our partners and wander all about , and go back home till we all drop dead . Really , I ask myself every now and then , depending on how well or poorly things are going at the office or at home with my wife , or with my retarded son , or with my other son , or my daughter , or the colored maid , or the nurse for my retarded son , is this all there is for me to do ?Is this really the most I can get from the few years left in this one life of mine ? And the answer I get , of course , is always Yes !… I am bored with my work very often now . Everything routine that comes in I pass along to somebody else . This makes my boredom worse . It ‘s a real problem to decide whether it’s more boring to do something boring than to pass along everything boring that comes in to somebody
else and then have nothing to do at all . Actually , I enjoy my work when the assignments are large and urgent and somewhat frightening and will come to the attention of many people . I get scared , and am unable to sleep at night , but I usually perform at my best under this stimulating kind of pressure and enjoy my job the most . I handle all of these important projects myself , and I rejoice with tremendous pride and vanity in the compliments I receive when I do them well . But between such peaks of challenge and elation there is monotony and despair . ( And I find , too, that once I ‘ve succeeded in impressing somebody , I ‘m not much excited about impressing that same person again ; there is a large , emotional letdown after I survive each crisis , a kind of empty , tragic disappointment , and last year’s threat , opportunity , and inspiration are often this year’s inescapable tedium . I frequently feel I ‘m being taken advantage of merely because I ‘m asked to do the work I ‘m paid to do . ) On days when I ‘m especially melancholy , I began constructing tables of organization….classifying people in the company on the basis of envy , hope , fear , ambition , frustration, rivalry , hatred , or disappointment . I call these charts my Happiness Charts . These exercises in malice never fail to boost my spirits but only for a while . I rank pretty high when the company is analyzed this way , because I ‘m not envious or disappointed , and I have no expectations . At the very top , of course , are those people , mostly young and without dependents , to whom the company is not yet an institution of any sacred merit but still only a place to work , and who regard their present association with it as something temporary . I put these people at the top because if you asked any one of them if he would choose to spend the rest of his life working for the company , he would give you a resounding No ! , regardless of what inducements were offered . I was that high once . if you asked me that same question today, I would also give you a resounding No ! and add: “ I think I’d rather die now . “ But I am making no plans to leave . I have the feeling now that there is no place left for me to go . Lesson Two Eveline She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue.Her head was leaned against the window curtains , and in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne . She was tired . Few people passed . The man out of the last house passed on his way home ; she heard his footsteps clacking along the concrete pavement and afterwards crunching on the cinder path before the new red houses . One time there used to be a field there in which they used to play every evening with other people’s children . Then a man from Belfast bought the field and built houses in it not like their little brown houses , but bright brick houses with shining roofs . The children of the avenue used to play together in that field ?the Devines , the Waters , the Dunns , little Keogh the cripple , she and her brothers and sisters . Ernest , however , never played: he was too grown up . Her father used often to hunt them in out of the field with his blackthorn stick ; but usually little Keogh used to keep nix and call out when he saw her father coming . Still they seemed to have been rather happy then . Her father was not so bad then ; and besides , her mother was alive . That was a long time ago ; she and her brothers and sisters were all grown up ; her mother was dead . Tizzie Dunn was dead ,too, and the Waters had gone back to England . Everything changed . Now she was going to go away like the others , to leave her home
 

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