HUMAN RESOURCES

Your Worst Nightmare

Review of 'Sabotage in the American Workplace,' edited by Martin Sprouse.
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Looking for a good horror story? Skip the latest Stephen King and try instead Sabotage in the American Workplace, edited by Martin Sprouse (Pressure Drop Press, San Francisco, 1992, $12), a collection of more than 100 first-person tales of resentment and malevolence. The perversely entertaining anecdotes can be edifying, too. Many of the interviewees rationalize their destructive behavior as the justifiable consequence of having been mistreated by management. While such excuses can't be taken at face value, they bear consideration.

Our favorite for the holiday season comes from "Emmett," a shipping clerk for a company that makes Christmas ornaments:

"We were loading train cars with Christmas ornaments and there was this artificial snow stuff that was everywhere and it started caking in my lungs. I went to the supposed first-aid office to complain and it was locked with nobody there, as usual. I asked for a day off to go to the general hospital and they said no. 'We've got to get these boxes out so people can celebrate Christmas; you wouldn't want to ruin their Christmas!'

"I quickly got disillusioned with the place and started destroying all the Christmas ornaments I could get my hands on. I threw cases and cases of them against the brick walls. I just couldn't stop myself once I heard the sound of those delicate ornaments smashing into thousands of red pieces, green pieces, and pieces with snowflakes on them. When I reached my self-imposed quota, I packed the worthless ornaments up and sent them out to hundreds of soon-to-be-irate customers. Since I was the last person to load them onto the train, no one would find out till it got to its destination -- and I knew I'd be long gone."

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Last updated: Dec 1, 1993




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