Monday, March 22, 2010


The other week I had to sit through endless training sessions about how to be sufficiently subservient to clients of the company I work for. "Empathy statements" and "vocal tone" and "to the client you are [the company]" and all that nonsense. Sometimes I suspect that by so extensively training their employees in specific ways to fake emotions they're trying to eliminate the real thing from us entirely.

Anyway, during these classes they would occasionally play us recorded interactions between people who have our jobs and the clients. Afterwards we were supposed to rate (and then discuss, which, ugh) how the "associate" did. Every time they read off the ratings choices, both my sense of elegant parallel structure and my sense of what words mean were struck to their core (my sense of dignity had long since departed). The choices were "exceeds" (as in, "the associate exceeds the client's expectations"), "meets" (as in, "the associate meets the client's expectations") and...."opportunity."

It actually took me a while to figure out what the hell "opportunity" meant. Eventually I realized that it was another word that corporate culture had redefined to suit its own twisted needs. Opportunity, in this case, means "the associate fucked up." There is opportunity to improve!

Once I realized this, I started seeing the word used that way all over the place. Bosses were saying it, stockbrokers were saying it, John G. Miller was tweeting it. And then I remembered uses like this. And I realized: when our corporate leaders refer to events like 9/11 and Katrina and other horrible life-ending disasters as "opportunities," they're not being soulless profiteers shock-doctrining their way into ever-greater personal wealth. They're recognizing exactly how awful these events really are: every bit as terrible as a call center phone conversation that doesn't go well.

SILLY UNTRUE THEORY ADDENDUM: Maybe this is why all the good liberals are so excited about the health care abomination. It's so terrible, it's an opportunity! This theory, while about as likely to be true as the one about Obama being a secret socialist with a Plan, at least has the advantage of explaining why all the liberals seem to think that this bill will lead inevitably, or at least more easily, to its exact opposite.

1 comment:

Soj said...

I hope you are using this blog as an "opportunity" to get your mind RIGHT with Jesus... ahem your corporate overlords :P