The Company Man

By Jack Engelhard


(Originally appeared in The New York Times)


I work for a big company. I’m small. I’m much smaller than the company. My boss told me so himself. He said, “The company is much bigger than you.”


I work out of a cell. The company calls it an office but to me it’s a cell. There are no padlocks on the door, except those that I see in my mind. I could escape, but to where? Another corporation? That’s all there is. I’m a company man.


I do everything that I’m supposed to do, 8 hours a day, 12 months a year. I get weekends off for good behavior. I get paid once every week, whether I need the money or not.


I don’t make trouble. I play second base on the company softball team. I attend company picnics and parties and laugh when I’m supposed to. I don’t sexually harass female colleagues – it’s against company policy.


But this is a bad time of year. It’s review time. That means I have to go before my boss and have him evaluate me. This goes on, I’m told, all over the country. People like me get reviewed.