Saturday, December 14, 2013

Randy's Washington Post

Aside from my one night's work in the late 1960's, all I know of the Washington Post during that era was from listening to many hours of stories from Randy my direct supervisor or as they are called at the Post, "assignment coordinators." Randy is about 10 years older than me but does not have a gray hair in his head. Rather, he has a full head of red hair. His descriptions of the Washington Post during the 1960's was very different from the paper while I worked there.

For one, he said you could smell marijuana smoke inside the building many days. Alcohol was served at all manager meetings. He told me of one guy who operated a liquor store out of his work locker. Randy said the guy usually had a good selection of booze, beer and wine available especially during the late night hours. Even today in DC you cannot buy bottles of alcohol legally in Washington, DC after 9 PM.

Sex was big at the Post as well. There was lots of it going on there in the sixties. One manager told be of having sex with one of the cleaning ladies. He got busted by the wife because she gave something to remember the affair by.

The practical joke became refined into a skilled black art back in the early days. Randy was normally the one always dealing out the joke it seemed. Like when Bob was driving his brand new Miata home late one night and a car came up behind him on the lonely road and began flashing their lights into his rear view mirror. Bob panicked and gunned the little car but the car followed closed behind now beeping the horn. At the light Bob got out with a stick or golf club or something and demanded to know why they were fucking with him. "No dude. I wanna buy your car." Apparently Randy had placed a big sign on the back of Bob's car offering it for sale for something like fifteen hundred or best offer.

Tagging other Post employees' car was something Randy did a number of times. He put a long tape used to typeset the papers in the olden days on the back of this hippie's VW Bug then watch the guy drive away with this 30 foot tail waving behind his car. Certainly many fellow drivers must have pondered the significance of this long car tail. But the funny part was this dude passed Randy about a year later with his Bug and he still had about twenty feet of the tape flapping behind him.

The Post had a piece of equipment delivered in a large wooden box the size of a coffin. The Washington Post also apparently had a guy dumb enough to believe a wake would be held on the premises of the Washington Post. Both of these facts are true and Randy set in motion, with a small cabal of accomplices, convinced a Post employee not known for intellectual achievement, that another Post employee had died and was laid out in the Post building. The conspirators used the wooden box draped with cloth to have a fellow conspirator lay inside and play dead. The guy stood at the fake casket and said over and over again that so and so was dead and that he just couldn't believe he was gone. Apparently they kept this guy going for some time.

That was Randy. He was real tricky and stealthily quiet. He could slip up behind you and you'd be oblivious. Or he could be like a magician and keep your eye busy with one hand as he was passing by you while slapping a big star badge on your shoulder and a pink paper gun on your side. Then everybody in the shop would call the victim sheriff and partner until he finally wised up from the giggling and such. But Randy would just keep a sort of Cheshire Cat grin but not laugh because that would end his practical joke. He like to work them for time as well as style and degree of difficulty.

One of his favorites was to stick pink spurs on both your heels. He's slip up from behind and push these pre-taped, ready to go giant spurs, cut from pink paper onto the victim's shoe in the back. Then they'd go walking from here to there with a couple of giant pink spurs flapping behind them. Other Post employees would begin to sing "I'm an old cow hand, from the Rio Grande," as the apparently gay cowboy would strut by. However, when you travel from one floor to another within the building and everybody is singing that song, a body does get suspicious.

I more than anyone, caused Randy to worry a bit. I can be sneaky too like when I put some change in his hub caps. It only jingled at slow speeds then quieted with cylindrical force at higher speeds. By the time he got home he knew what the sound was and figured I'd done it. But it was dark and he figured he'd take the change out in the light of the next day. Then he forgot about it until heading back to work the following day when he began to hear the jingle again.

Randy remarked one night that he had to drive his wife somewhere. "Doesn't your wife drive?" I asked him. "Nah, it hurts her back too much to drive." He responded. "Why does driving hurt her back, man?" I continue inquiring. In a mocking tone Randy said, "Your back would hurt too if YOU fell out of a six story window." I said, "Randy you pushed your wife out of a six floor window?" "Quickly he responded, "No, no. They thought I did." "Then how'd she manage to fall out a six floor window, dude?" I interrogated him like I had him on the witness stand. I pointed my finger at him then motion for him to fess up. "Look my wife was hanging curtains and standing on a chair. The windows was open and only the screen was between her and the concrete six floors below. Anyway she lost her balance and fell through the screen then landed on the sidewalk six floors below. I came out of the back room looking for my wife. She wasn't in the bathroom and for a minute I figured she'd gone to the laundry room - then I notice the chain was still on the door. I looked around then noticed the curtains blowing outside. I went over to the window, look down and saw a crowd of people forming around my wife."

"My God Randy! Was your wife alright?" I asked amazed by this accident story I'd never heard about. "Oh she had a broken spleen, ribs, her leg. She was lucky to survive." We grew quiet for a moment then I commented, "Damn Randy! That was a hell of a thing your wife went through." Randy without even hesitating to think replied, "Heck that's nothing. My first wife went down on a horse." The room at first grew deathly quiet as contemplation of Randy's statement took hold. Then a gay admaker, Alan, who knew my personality warned, "TOM!" Just as I began to reply, "Well I see why you fired the bitch. After something like that you could never measure up to that horse in her eyes."

The room exploded into laughter. People were falling out of their $1200 ergonomically correct chairs. For weeks Ad Ops workers would snicker whenever the subject was brought up. Henceforth, Randy would be known as "The Equestrian."

Friday, December 13, 2013

Leaving The Washington Post

Believe me, I was looking for a reason to leave the Washington Post after I realized they were in on the cover-up of the 9/11 treason. It also was clear that they were globalist insiders who were in on future economics and politics. For example, almost at the pinnacle of the Federal Reserve boom cycle, where the money supply was peaking, the Post sold the parking lot next to their 15th Street main building. They made a killing at the perfect time.

In addition by late in the first decade of the 21st century, the deal with the union had changed considerably since I arrived there in 1999. Then it was still the workers' paradise where if you showed up for work they darn near could not fire you if you were in the union. There were hundreds of workers in advertising operations toiling away both night and day. There was a 24 hour cafeteria and round the clock nursing care available.

How things had changed by 2009. We were down to 27 workers in advertising operations for two main reasons - computers allowed 100 times more work to be done by one worker than in the old lead type/Linotype days plus there was only 1/100 as many ads being bought than back in the pre Internet heydays. The Classified Section had gone from who knows how many pages to the Advertising column - perhaps two columns on a good day. The deal with the union had changed as well.

The old contracts had basically guaranteed workers a job for life at the Washington Post. The last contract that affected me essentially provided for something similar to the NFL Franchise Tag. For the Post that meant around 20% of their key workers could be kept while workers with more seniority could be fired. That was good for me because I am a hard worker and my superiors had already whispered to me privately that I wasn't going anywhere even though I was a worker low on the totem pole.

Then in August of 2009 the 27 of us were called into a big meeting where the head of Ad Operations, Costa Bugg, laid it on the line. Six of us had to go and there was going to be two ways to get it done. Either six of us would leave voluntarily and get a cash payout, or workers would be terminated to reach six with no cash payout. I looked around the room, not concerned for myself because of my situation, but seeing the shock and dread on the other workers' faces. It looked like they all were told they had terminal cancer. In fact, most were sick with something and desperately needed healthcare. I on the other hand was well and already on my nurse wife's health plan. In addition my wife earns a huge salary while we still live incredibly frugally. And of course I'd been told I wasn't going anywhere while other workers my superiors were chomping at the bit to get rid of.

However, the atmosphere at the Post had changed like night and day. It had gone from a shop of friendly, secure people making a good living with no more worries than bad health from living the fat life the Post employment provided for, to a cutthroat shop where if you could get another employee fired you reduced your chance of being let go yourself by 1/6. And that was the end for me.

I'll be damned if I'm going work in an environment that pits one employee politically against another all for a corporations that is as insider as they come. In fact if not for the government ad revenue the Washington Post would have been washed up already like so many other newspapers now a part of history like buggy whips and wash boards. I already knew I had to keep my mouth shut, which posed a huge problem for me on a couple of counts. One, I'm half deaf from years of loud rock music and some workers at the Post enjoyed my company along with a good laugh. Heck we used to do practical jokes on one another almost everyday like hanging a Kerry sticker on my supervisor Randy's back. He was a staunch Republican and letting him walk through the shop getting snickers from behind was a riot. If one might wonder about the wisdom of tagging your boss, Randy was the most cunning practical joker of all times.

So when Greg put some fake letter apparently from Donald Graham, the owner of the Post, on his underling David's desk that basically said "YOU'RE FIRED" it was an obvious prank. Even if Donald Graham himself HAD wanted to fire David, he had fifteen flunky managers or more to do it. In fact Donald Graham didn't even know David existed. Sadly, David saw this as an opportunity to get his superior fired and complained to management. Then the first I really heard about this debacle was when David came over to my desk that night and began by saying he was sorry.

I thought he meant he was sorry for ratting out Greg. However, he actually meant he was sorry for blaming me for the prank as well, which he failed to mention. He was taking me out as well that night. The evidence against me was someone heard Greg talking in my direction about the joke letter then seeing me laugh. I don't doubt this happened but the first I'd heard of the prank was David telling me. Being deaf and self conscientious about it I would quite often laugh or nod in agreement while someone was speaking to me even though I could not hear a word they said. I was being polite mostly with lots of work to get done. I didn't wish to say "What? then have the speaker repeat themselves and giving away just how deaf I am.

So when I was called to the fifth floor personnel grand inquisitor, I wasn't worried figuring they wanted to know what I knew about the joke. To my surprise I was a target of the investigation. The Post used secret testimony and evidence I never saw to conclude I had been in on the plot and in fact suspected me of orchestrating the entire prank. One piece of key evidence was my alleged laugh when Greg was supposedly speaking about the letter. I reminded Costa Bugg and the 25 or 30 something personnel inquisitor I hear only half of what I let on I hear and that Costa should know that since he was always telling me to lower my own voice when I didn't realize how loud I was speaking. It's a curse of being deaf.

So they already had me written up even before talking to me and handed me the paper. It was going into my permanent  Post record. Oooo! I told Costa if the buy out was at least fifteen cents I'd take it as I grabbed their little paper writing me up and walked out of their office. As soon as the offer was available I took it which paid me about sixteen grand before taxes to leave. What the hell, it was better than nothing.

Then I had to work next to this back-stabber David for the next several months until I left voluntarily. I had had this fat creep over numerous times like on the 4th of July and fixed his car. Sure I joked around with him at work as he did with me. Then the little sidewinder tries to get me fire to saves his job. I was there long enough to see David being led out of the building crying, obviously having just been fired. He'd screwed up some ad, again, and that could be 100K on a full page ad. He had back-stabbed me and several other people trying to save his job and ended up getting fired anyway.

In the end I walk out of there with my head up on my own terms. I know they have since let even more people go especially one black lady who screamed the most horrible things to me about a month before I left. She yelled things at me that I would have been fired immediately for but she got the day off early. Swell. At the Post there was a social order with middle-aged white men at the bottom and black lesbian women at the top. We were expected to shut up, cast our eyes downward and accept whatever verbal abuse dished up from our social order superiors. But that's another story you'll never read in the Washington Post.