Saturday, June 27, 2015

First day on the job in the brave new world

Jason Brand could barely contain his excitement. He had been unemployed for almost two years and was overwhelmed with relief when he received the call. The pay was great. The benefits were outstanding. It was more than he could have hoped for after his layoff a couple of years ago.

He entered the front entrance and given his visitor’s pass. At that very moment the HR rep showed up as if on cue.

“Mr Brand?” she said with a big smile, shaking his hand.

“Are you Shelley Stone?” Jaason asked.

“Yes, and call me Shelley. I’ll take you up to my office. We can fill out the paper work there…” She led the way and paused briefly, turning around smiling “…and welcome to Giganticorp”

At Shelley’s office things were neat and tidy. A folder lay on her desk with Jason’s name scribbled across the front.

Shelley’s swivel chair creaked a bit as she sat in it. She opened the plain file folder and sorted through the papers.

“You’ll find the normal paperwork we require to be filled out. Employment history, proof of citizenship, copy of college degree, insurance you want.” She chuckled “you know the drill I’m sure.”

Jason smiled and nodded “Oh yes. Been there. Done that.”

Shelley pointed to a desk across the hallway “Go ahead and sit there and fill it all out. If you have any questions, feel free to come and get me.”

After about 10 minutes, Jason brought the paperwork over. “OK. It was all pretty straightforward…” he said as he shuffled through the stack “…with the exception of one…oh yeah. Here it is.” It was upside down and he twisted his hand to read it “uh…policy, compliance and acceptance… What exactly is this?”

Shelley smiled. ”Oh yes.” She waved her hand in a downward motion, brushing it off. “We get questions about that one all the time. “ She chuckled again. “All it is is that you understand the guidelines that shape the policy of this company regarding same-sex marriage, hate speech and other stuff like that.”

Jason was a little confused. “Excuse me...but I don’t understand…” He leafed through the papers some more. “…but this is more than just an explanation of the company’s guidelines.”

“Hm?” Shelley lost her smile.

“This paper here that I have to sign says that I understand the…”

“…the guidelines, yes” she completed rapidly.

“Uh..no..” Jason still bewildered said “The paper I have to sign says that I agree with the guidelines -”

Shelley jumped in quickly “-Yes - that you agree to abide by the guidelines. Of course.”

Jason was starting to get serious. “Shelly…uh, no. That is not what the paper is saying. It says this “I, the undersigned, do understand the guidelines and rules of conduct and personally deem them to be good rules to live by and I hereby shall comply and accept these guidelines as my own personal moral code. To do otherwise would be offensive and cause great hurt and would be deemed bullying.”

“Shelley…uh.. huh!” He ran his free hand through his hair sort of at a loss as to what to say. “I have never had a problem working with gays. Hell, my previous boss was gay. She was a brilliant person. I learned a lot from her. But I would never consider her lifestyle to be acceptable.”

“Jason…” She sighed. “We have a problem.”

“Shelley, we most certainly do. Your company is asking…no… mandating that I say “I believe the gay life style is moral.” He threw the papers down. “And it is not.”

Shelley stood up slowly. “Jason...in order for you to work here… let me rephrase that….in order for you to work anywhere you must agree to put on the mantel of morality –“

“Morality? Morality? Forget whether or not gay marriage is moral or immoral. Is it moral for a company to force employees to say I must not only agree with their morality but make it a part of my own code? You can’t be serious. This is worse than slavery. This is complete thought control!”

There was a moment of silence. “Mr. Brand, can’t you just sign the papers and say you will comply? Everyone else does.”

"Shelley…I can’t do this. I can’t. As much as I like Giganticorp – I dreamed of this job. This is utterly dismaying.”

Shelley sighed. “Jason, I know you've been out of the loop for a while since you haven’t had a job for so long, but the President had just recently issued an executive order requiring all companies to bring their employees into compliance.”

“So you’re saying the president has put on the dual robes of President and Pope? And you’re ok with that?”

Shelley straightened up. “Yes. I am”

“Well Shelley…,” He tossed the papers onto her desk. “Enjoy your servitude to your king.”

Jason Brand walked away.

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