The Winners of the Workplace Turkey Awards

I’ve just finished tallying the votes, and ta-dah: here are the winners of the first (and probably last) Workplace Turkey Awards.

The Turkey of a Boss Award goes to Poindexter Johnson III. He only got hired at the Western Widget Waxing Company because his grandfather used to be on its board of directors. He only got promoted to manager because he slept with his boss and demanded promotion or he’d tell all. He tried to hide his inability to do anything by intimidating his supervisees. “I TOLD you: dashes, not semi-colons!” Finally, after two years of documentation, the company fired Poindexter whereupon he immediately filed a wrongful termination suit.

The Turkey of a Co-Worker Award goes to Missy Marcos, clerk for the overworked accounts payable department of the EverBroke Unified School District. She got her doctor friend to give her a note for a two-week sick leave while she luxuriated in a spa vacation replete with massages, aromatherapy, and nightly naked ritual dances to the Goddess. Meanwhile her already overworked coworkers had to work nights and weekends to do Missy’s work.

The Turkey of a Company Award goes to Two Berkeley graduates in mathematics, Dead Wong and Jag Deep rejected careers in biostatistics in favor of starting They allowed investors to make 1,000 free stock trades. Only one catch: all the trades had to be made in 30 days. To get ‘em additionally hooked, Dead and Jag took a lesson from the casinos: Every time an investor made money, his screen would blare with sirens and flashing lights.

Despite cost-saving measures such as prohibiting sending rejection letters to job applicants because “it’s a waste of resources,” was unsuccessful, but Dead and Jag still saw dollars signs in their eyes, so they turned their mathematical minds to cooking their books.

After the IPO, they established a 401K plan for their employees, but gave them only one investment option. You guessed it:

Dead and Jag slowly, quietly sold their grossly overvalued shares, and then, when consumer advocate Harriet Pitzer, investigated, the business went bust as did its employees’ retirement savings.

The Turkey of a Job Seeker Award goes to Anthony Jones. Fired from his previous job and then partied for a year, he finally began his job search by hitting up three friends and two relatives: “Hey, you know anyone who needs a guy with good people skills?” His next and final job search activity was to answer two ads for fun jobs for which he was unqualified. Anthony’s 39 weeks on unemployment insurance has just run out and he’s angry that America's taxpayers, unlike Sweden's, don't provide a decent safety net.

The Turkey of a Parent Award goes to Henry and Rainbow Gottlieb When their daughter Cindy was admitted to three University of California campuses and the private USC, Henry and Rainbow urged Cindy to consider the much less expensive University of California, but Cindy’s guilt-tripping tantrums (You would send me if you loved me) worked, and Henry and Rainbow forked over the $230,000 for the five years it took for Cindy to graduate from USC (in art history.)

After graduation, Cindy's parents urged her to get a job, but she insisted she needed time to “find herself.’ She spent the next four years setting up an art studio at her SOMA loft, making a spiritual pilgrimage to Nepal, and hanging out with friends, all, of course, at her parents' expense.

Still “exploring, waiting to find her passion,” Henry and Rainbow begged her to find work, any work, and even got her a job, but Cindy, who had by now changed her name to Chakra, refused it: “I can’t work in a corporation. Don’t you know me by now?”

Henry and Rainbow periodically threaten to cut off the cash, but have yet to follow through. Chakra’s most recent ploy to avoid work: “Dad, mom I’m thinking of going back to school for a masters in art history. Please pay for it. After that I’ll get a job. I promise.” Henry and Rainbow sighed. They’ll pay.

May the only turkeys you encounter have gizzards.

© 2008, Marty Nemko

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Marty Nemko holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and subsequently taught in Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. He is the worklife columnist in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle and is the producer and host of Work With Marty Nemko, heard Sundays at 11 on 91.7 FM in (NPR, San Francisco), and worldwide on . 400+ of his published writings are available free on that website and is a co-editor of Cool Careers for Dummies. and author of The All-in-One College Guide. E-Mail.

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