Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rat In A Cage

What's crack-a-lackin', Gentle Readers?

For the past fifteen years I've been trying to volunteer for the Atlantic Film Festival held here in Halifax but due to the draconian nature of the attendance policies at the last two call centers I've worked at, it was never possible.

Last year I thought I'd start the bargaining process in earnest a full two months before the Festival was to begin.  In theory this should have given me plenty of time to get approval, complete the application process and sequester the required background check required from all first-timers.

Now, I refused to use my impoverished allocation of vacation time since (I know this sounds crazy) I wanted to actually use it for a vacation.  Sooooooo, that left only one other avenue: a two-week completely unpaid leave of absence to allow me to volunteer for this good cause. 

I went to my immediate supervisor and then to the call center manager in turn and rolled out the the ole' tried n' true "Bart and Lisa Simpson" method of asking for something:

But regardless of my methodology, I got nowhere.  I remained persistent and tried several employer-friendly spins:
  • "Hey, it would do wonders for my morale."
  • "I wanna give back to my community."
  • "I'll come back refreshed and more productive than ever!"
  • "I could make some good business contacts with local vendors."
  • "It will be a proactive experience compliment to help enrich my skill set value pool."
But no dice.

Of course, this may have had something to do with the fact that all the aforementioned reasons were completely transparent and unadulterated bull-s#@% and I was just trying desperately to find some inroads to a possible career in the local film industry.

Regardless, they should have been more accommodating. After all:

Well, several weeks of fruitless lobbying went by and eventually I gave up asking.  But I couldn't resist one last final twist of the screw before my precious ship sailed away once again without me on it.

About two days before the Festival was to start, I went to the call center manager and asked again, for a couple of reasons:
  1.  Just to see, at the very least, if the end indicator for the red tape roll was starting to show
  2.  To see if the Powers That Be had any inkling whatsoever when this local, high-profile, thirty-year-old   film festival was scheduled to begin (Hint: it's the same time every year!)
  3. To prove that their strategy to address my request all along could best be summarized as "IGNORE HIM UNTIL HE GOES AWAY".  
  4. To trowel on a nice layer of guilt
"So," I asked plaintively.  "Do you think we can swing this?

"," they stammered.  "The last thing I heard..."

Knowing what was imminent, I smiled sweetly without using my eyes, like a combination of Scott Thomson's Buddy Cole and the Cheshire Cat.  I tried not to be too obvious with the sadistic satisfaction I was getting out of watching this person squirm.

"...the HR department was still looking into how we might be able to do this for you.  You see..."

I held up my hand to stop the impending parade of lies that threatened to insult the both of us.

"Okay, listen," I said.  "The Festival starts in two days and I don't have enough time to complete the application, secure a background check and do an interview.  It's too late."

"Sorry," they told me, wincing with fake concern.

I got up to leave.

"That's okay.  I don't care how long it takes, but can you still look into it and let me know if it's a possibility for next year maybe?"

"Oh, yes, absolutely," they gushed, clearly presaging that I'd soon be out of their office.

Seven months later I still hadn't heard anything.

Little wonder people in the modern work place feel like f#@$%^& prisoners...
But mercifully, this year, I had no such restrictions...


FAIL: Yeah, it can be much worse...


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