Then, in the 1980's, came the paroxysm of downsizing, and the very nature of the corporation was thrown into doubt. In what began almost as a fad and quickly matured into an unshakable habit, companies were 'restructuring,' 'reengineering,' and generally cutting as many jobs as possible, white collar as well as blue... The captured the new corporate order succintly in 1987, reporting that it 'eschews loyalty to workers, products, corporate structures, businesses, factories, communities, even the nation. All such allegiances are viewed as expendable under the new rules. With survival at stake, only market leadership, strong profits and a high stock price can be allowed to matter'.
Once out of the mailroom, I began to learn more about fear. As soonas fear begins to ascend, anatomically, from the pit of the stomach to thethroat and brain, from fear of violence to the more nameless kind, youcome to believe you are part of a horrible experiment. I learned todistrust those superiors who encouraged independent thinking. When yougave it to them, they returned it in the form of terror, for they knewthat ideas, only that, could hasten their obsolescence. Management askedfor new ideas all the time; memos circulated down the echelons, requestingbold and challenging concepts. But I learned that new ideas could finishyou unless you wrapped them in a plastic bag. I learned that most of thesecretaries were more intelligent than most of the executives and that theexecutive secretaries were to be feared more than anyone. I learned whatclosed doors meant and that friendship was not negotiable currency and howimportant it was to lie even when there was no need to lie. Words andmeanings were at odds. Words did not say what was being said nor even itsreverse. I learned to speak a new language and soon mastered the specialelements of that tongue.