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Saturday, August 18, 2012

8-18-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians -- Starter Job #182 (Working Temp in NYC: Questioning the wisdom of the man)


Looking at the example of the 120-page document that was glibly sent by fax and redone at great expense, I saw many more examples of what I considered wasteful and non-insightful business moves. Looking into the corporate history of the many mergers and acquisitions (M&A’s) of one such company (which became the very publicly bankrupt Lehman Brothers), all I know is what I saw from the ground, looking up.

When I first temped for them, the company was called Shearson/American Express (’81 - ’84). Then it became Shearson Lehman/American Express (’84 - ’88). And then, Shearson Lehman Hutton (’88 - ’90). After that, it was Shearson Lehman Brothers (’90 - ’93). And then, Smith Barney Shearson.

Lastly, as a spinoff company, Lehman Brothers enjoyed a lengthy (by these standards) history, from 1994 to 2008, until it all went south for them.

At any rate, I worked mainly for the Shearson Lehman/American Express company. They had offices in the World Financial Center, across the covered pedestrian bridge over South Street/West Side Highway. They were nice offices, modern, full of light, not too high up. Their lobbies were gorgeous, especially during holiday season, in December.

Those WFC offices all looked and sounded like money. . . hushed, serious, intermittently jocular (pealing laughter and sounds of camaraderie amidst the silent gasps of defeat). The sound of money is an oxymoron, as when people can afford to, they minimize or deaden sound, with thick carpeting and soundproofing -- anything to keep out the sound of anybody else because that would introduce somebody else’s reality and money doesn’t have to care about anybody else because money is special, you see.

At least, that’s how it felt in these companies. . .they’d spring for private cars to take temps home afterhours. That’s because, instead of the bosses spending five minutes at the start of work and the end of work, monitoring what work had been accomplished by the temps, they ignored them. Temps would stay as late as they could, accruing overtime pay, then get a nice free ride (in a limousine service) home.

I wasn’t at all surprised when it all went bust in 2008. . . I wondered how Lehman Brothers kept going that long, really. . . 

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