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So what qualifies the Czar as an authority on job interviews? Plenty! We have interviewed for dozens of jobs, and have interviewed people for jobs probably nearly as much. And in that time, weve realized a few truths that will help anybody look smarter… at least, smarter than those without web access to this page. Lets start with that eye-opener…
Having a great-looking résumé is not as important as you might think… in most cases, it will look like crap once theyre done with it. Instead of using fancy stationery and explosive color, just put it on plain white paper with simple, clear fonts. Anything more will be illegible once its photocopied and faxed around. And surprisingly, this mistreatment happens a lot to résumés, partially because so many people need to review a résumé before the interviewing process begins, but mostly because people like to copy and fax them around because they want a good laugh at your expense.
Note that the word is spelled résumé, not resume. Resume is a verb meaning to continue. Résumé is a noun, that means I dont know a lot, but am using big words to impress you.
An address is very important on a résumé, unless its a prison address. Also, put a phone number with the address. For maximum effect, be sure its your phone number, and that the phone works. If youre somehow still employed somewhere, dont put down your current work number, especially (a) if its risky for you to get a call at work from a prospective employer, and (b) if its a 900 number.
Some people put down what their objective is, next. We could never figure this out, since everyones objective is the same: a job which can mostly pay the bills, and from which one can steal whatever office supplies one needs. Our advice is to skip the objective, since, for one thing, its potentially limiting, and for another, nobody cares but you what your long-term goals are.
The next section should be your experience. Start with your most current job, and then go backward until you were born. Avoid gaps in your work history, particularly if the gaps are long enough to be prison sentences (see the paragraph above on addresses; employers dont trust active felons). If you have a gap in your résumé because you are afraid to put down an extremely unpleasant job experience, thats okay. Just make something up that sounds good. Put the time spent at each job, but be careful: interviewers get suspicious when you seem to leave every job after three weeks.
When describing what you did at each job, be creative. Remember, this is an ad, not a tax form. Honesty is right out (remember how that one car ad you saw convinced you to purchase that model, because of the elegant comfort, great mileage, and sexy design, and yet failed to mention anything about the transmission dropping out onto the pavement every few hours? Your résumé should be like this.)
Use action words in your résumé, like managed, transformed, enabled, oriented, sieged, and decapitated. Avoid weak or negative words like, hated, vomited, unseamed from nave to chaps, gurgled, or fainted. For example:
Worked in mail sorting department. Licked stamps all day. Sometimes cleaned counters. Occasionally napped and struck up conversations with FedEx guy. Stole eleven staplers. Am willing to part with staplers if you hire me.
Managed and transformed large-scale messaging and routing substation. Worked in key management capacity with high efficiency in applications. Functioned as core member of red team on periodic continuous quality improvement (CQI) program in facility renovation. Provided human resource management in scheduling on-the-job (OTJ) flex-time. Acted in key liaison role with Fortune 500 company. Boosted inventory beyond recommendations of inventory control. Developed active plan to migrate resources as leveraging tool.
Now, mind you, this can backfire. As an experienced résumé reader, we know about this stuff. You might think you could never compete with this guy:
Managed entire Systems Coordination Analysis department. Functioned as employment liaison between all levels of management, provided interfacing mechanisms to strategic development teams, and was responsible for $300,000 in direct savings to company profit plan. Key member of employee post-pay profit distribution program. Directly oversaw non-corporate appropriation, and provided technological direction on companys 1,000-node wide-area-network (WAN).
In fact, you stand a great chance, because this is what hes really telling us:
I was a one-man department that had no real function, so I assigned it a name that you could never possibly identify. I was the guy in our office who pretty much walked around and talked everyones ear off all day, although I sometimes sat in on some meetings without knowing what was being discussed. I saved the company $300,000 dollars by not embezzling that much from the profit plan… not that I even had the chance. By the way, I participated in the companys benefits program. Also, I stole a lot of stuff from supplies for my own, non-business use, and I had a computer on my desk that was connected to the network.
So rather than being down on yourself, cheer up! The résumé doesnt mean anything you dont want it to!
When done with your experience, be sure to put down what your educational background is. This doesnt mean diddly: interviewers just want to see what school you went to, and see if it was a rival to theirs.
That leads us to…
Here are some basic tips for the interview:
- Show up on time. Do not be three days late.
- Dress appropriately. Avoid Mardi Gras costumes or fig leaves. Be conservative: dress exactly like the interviewer, even if it means dragging a suitcase around with a variety of clothing and accessories.
- Do not mimic the interviewers lisp.
- A sense of humor is good, but avoid puppets or gags like wax lips.
- Dont bring your lawyer.
- Avoid answering personal questions, such as How old are you, Are you pregnant, or Would you show me pictures of yourself in the shower.
- Avoid falling asleep.
A lot of people come up to the Czar and say Czar, what on earth is wrong with us? Actually, they say you, and not us, but we know allegory when we hear it.
Of course, we cant answer that question completely. At least not with a yes or no answer because those, frankly, would be non sequiturs. But its a good question that has a lot of answers.
There are some clear signs that society should be worried about itself. Somehow, we have decided to put common sense in the hands of a few.
As an example, weve noticed the warning labels on familiar products. In fact, its hard not to, because theyre appearing everywhere. There just cant be that many liability lawsuits occuring: we must just be getting more stupid. In addition to warning labels, were also seeing step-by-step directions appearing on the most commonplace items.
You know how people put those huge carboard visors against their cars windshield, in order to block out the suns rays and keep the car a little cooler? In 1993, the Czar came across one of those, and stamped on the back was the phrase WARNING: REMOVE SUN SHADE BEFORE DRIVING. What on earth?
Correspondant LG once spotted directions on a candle. Its true: at the bottom of the candle was a mini-manual, explaining how to bend the wick, how to light it from underneath, and above all, that it was important to keep debris out of the wax pool. If you even know what a wax pool is, were willing to bet you already know how to light a candle.
Notice how many jars have the instructions TWIST TO OPEN on the lids. How many screw-on jar lids open any other way? Or consider envelopes that tell you to place postage here. Good idea.
This is off our toothpaste tube: If you accidentally swallow more [toothpaste] than used for brushing, seek professional assistance or contact a poison control center immediately. Can you imagine that phone call? Poison control. You what? Slow down, sir… you swallowed what? Too much toothpaste? Imagine somehow finding out that, after ingesting drain cleaner, you called Poison Control and were put on hold because of that call.
The Czars microwave oven warns against overcooking foods. Thats very important to remember, in case you havent figured this out for yourseslf yet. Oddly, it doesnt also warn against undercooking foods.
Today, the Galaxy IV satellite failed, plunging nearly the entire worlds supply of pagers into an eerie silence. Of course, not that any of us noticed. This only inconvenienced the twelve of you who still have pagers in the world of the cell phone.
You know who you are. The Czar bets you still call them beepers, too. Well, guess what? Your swingin 60s mod comsat, with day-glo daisy silhouettes painted on the side and transistors the size of a mouse just took a crap. And you realized, to your horror, that no one has been trying to reach you since 1994.
No more being introduced to some awkward coyote-faced endless talker chick at a party, and after 20 minutes of listening to her trying to remember whether her long ago one-month boyfriend Antoine, the rock climber, preferred a Klemheist to a Prusik, you suddenly clutch your inert pager and exclaim that the entire X.25 to Europe is down and you have to go. Now. No, now youre going to have to be like the rest of us and simply splash-chuck the remains of your drink right into her canine face and walk away. What, like Antoine is going to hunt you down? He hasnt seen her since the Plasmatics concert, and now he runs some crampon clinic at the Fort Lauderdale REI, and you know for damn sure that, between tokes, he isnt wondering about the girl with the donkey voice, and whether she would have liked him better if he only had a pager.
What a tragedy that the Galaxy III or the Galaxy V birds never picked up the immense slack, so that you could continue to swing by Mitchs retirement party at the Doubletree, pass a note to the concierge to please call your pager number at the front desk, blow into the party, drink four beers real fast, and then duck out of throwing in $20 for your portion because your pager went off 15 minutes into it. Sorry, gotta run, you say, putting a dollar bill in the bar druids tip glass, The token ring just jumped down from 16 meg to 4 meg. No, now you might actually have to remember who the hell Mitch is, shake the poor bastards hand, and put in the full Jackson. For once. Yeah, pay for your fair share. See what its like.
And pity the shellshocked schmuck who kept his old pagers so that he could walk into Memories on Montrose and Cicero with three pagers on his belt, wearing nighttime black-lensed aviator shades and a Members Only jacket, hoping that the sleek nympho in the Spandex dress rolling her eyes and gathering her belongings into a cartoonishly tiny purse might catch a glimpse of you and think…what? Military operator? Black ops guy? Government hit man? Because those three pagers prove youre always on call and answerable to only three authorities in the world, thereby taking attention away from your stained Polo shirt and the gut that says the last beep you answered was the sound of the deep fryer at Wendys announcing to the world your second order of jumbo-sized fries were about to land on your tray.
Requeiscat in paunch, old Galaxy IV. Yeah, officially you were launched in 1993, not 1963, but your spectacular failure was the better way to go, as opposed to being decommed in humiliation by 2001 because the only guys still using you were Mitch for the pager he forgot to turn into HR on his exit interview, and the backup feed to NPRs Remembering Margaret Mead in Word Jazz. Well call you once in a while from our cell phone.
Well, congratulations. Rumor has it you’re interested in fighting the good fight, keeping the world safe from villainy, and cleaning scum from the earth. We need people like you. But if you’re going to be effective (or at least planning on being effective), then you have to know how to play the game. Remember, there’s more to being a superhero than just being a hero. You also have to be super.
It helps to have superpowers. Most superheros would have it no other way. As it happens, these are pretty easy to come by. If you’re an alien, like Superman, you probably have more than you need right away. If you got your powers in the 1960s, the odds are that you got them from radiation (the Hulk, Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, the ubiquitous X-Men, and their ilk). Mutants are a big source of supervillains, and we’re lucky to have them mostly on our side. Mind you, if you lack native abilities such as these, you’re hardly out of luck. All you need is some sort of special tool to make the magic happen, like the Green Lantern’s ring or Thor’s lucky hammer. We guess Iron Man’s goofy suit qualifies here.
Mind you, even that doesn’t matter if you’re well-funded. With money, you can become a superb superhero, even if you have no super abilities whatsoever. While Batman and the Green Hornet come to mind, it oddly didn’t work for Ross Perot.
You need a costume. Even the most meager superhero has a costume. Your costume should be so far funky that it won’t be mistaken for a west coast fashion statement. Capes are normally de rigueur, but quite frankly, we think they have limited effectiveness: if the Flash wore a cape, the windspeed he generates would make him sound like a raspberry blowing past you, and that would be pretty humiliating. Further, if Hawkman wore a cape, it would inevitably entangle his wings. The last thing anyone needs is somebody his size crashing into a crowded intersection from a thousand feet up. And many superheros have completely done away with capes (the Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and the Fantastic Four).
Your costume should say something about you or your powers. Batman looks like a bat. Iron Man wears armor. The Silver Surfer uses a surfboard, since JetSkis are unwieldy in space (unlike surfboards). But be careful here, because some superheros stretched this one pretty far, and end up having a superficial link to their costumes: Gambit looks like a risky gamble, Doctor Strange simply looks strange, and it’s a wonder that Wonder Woman still bothers with her swimsuit in this conservative age.
On the other hand, you can be one of the few superheros who have done away with the concept of costumes entirely. The Submariner sticks with a pair of trunks. The Hulk is also a notable example, and it wasn’t until we saw Bill Bixby stealing clothes from a laundry line that we even found out where he kept getting all those pants and shirts.
Well, now that you have superpowers and a costume, you need a place to work from. Basically you have three choices. You can choose…
- A real city. This is what Spiderman does. He opted to stick close to home in New York City, which is convenient given that his sick aunt lives there. We forgot where Daredevil hangs out, but we can always say Detroit. If the city’s rough, move out to the burbs. The X-Men did, living in a nice part of scenic upstate New York. Fortunately, there’s a lot of danger out there, so it works out for them, as well.
- A totally fictitious place. Batman is pretty smart to choose Gotham City, since it affords him all the worst elements of New York City without the hassle of paying a city income tax. And Gotham is lucky to have him, given that they haven’t hired one competent police officer since about 1940. Superman lives happily out in Metropolis, which one writer surmised might (because of the proximity of the farming community of Smallville) be either Chicago or Cleveland. Wonder Woman spent some time in Washington, DC, although it must have been difficult to land that invisible plane on the Mall. At least, not without plowing over a few homeless people.
- Some other place entirely. The Hulk wanders around, and could be anywhere at any time. The Fantastic Four spend an awful lot of time in space, or in alternate dimensions, which has got to get pretty expensive after a while. If you’re Thor, you get to spend time in Aasgard, which also has the benefit of having some of Wagner’s coolest music (even if the overall Nordic mythology is a little dizzy).
Sidekicks… Yea, or Nay?
Generally, this is up to you, although only a small percentage of the superhero population uses them. Superman and Spiderman have decided against it, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use a helping hand time and again. Even Captain America used that little kid Bucky or whatever, before he realized that the Falcon (or whatever) was not only competent, but in many ways more hip. Generally, though, sidekicks are always needing a rescue, and quite frankly, the one or two clues they spot aren’t worth the trouble. Ironically, the only superhero who ever made good use of a sidekick was Batman, who by all accounts is a loner type. The Czar guesses everyone needs a friend.
You should have these. These can be of two types: cool tools, or headquarters. Spiderman has his special chemical webs which do just about anything a plot contrivance calls for, the X-Men have their Blackbird jet that not only flies in space, but also can go from one end of the earth to the other in a few seconds without melting. Also, a neat base of operations is definitely in order: the Fantastic Four own their own skyscraper (although they could net a fortune by subletting to some commercial and retail tenants), Wonder Woman’s golden lariat (some guys commit crimes solely so she’ll tie them up and make them tell the truth) and even Superman has his Fortress of Solitude, which is up at the North Pole, just down the street a piece from Santa’s Workshop, for which it is frequently mistaken.
But the absolute king of gadgetry is Batman. From his now famous utility belt, to his wide array of specialized vehicles (the Batmobile, the Batplane, the Batboat, the seldom-seen Batcycle, and the never-seen BatVespa), he stashes all of it in his monstrous, eighty-room BatCave. And Batman, like all the other superheros, has discovered the best part of all this: it’s all free! That specialized aircraft you want to use? Sure, it would cost several hundred million dollars, and require years of planning and design analysis from the best aerospace engineers… but only if you’re an ordinary schmoe! When you’re a superhero, none of this unbelievable engineering costs a penny. Ask the X-Men: they smash their stuff up all the time.
Well, now this is what you’re in business for. You have to get yourself some good archvillains to fight, or you’re really no better than the many vigilantes roaming the big city streets, illegally dispensing justice, making a mockery of the police and wearing red berets and white t-shirts. You need a supervillain!
Of course, some thought is warranted here. You can’t just go and get any old person to be an arch-enemy. For example:
- Good Names include Gor-Klops, Dr. Strangulo, the Astro-Men of Zeptar, Monstrolus, Vokaan the Annihilator, and the Fang.
- Bad names include Scruffy, Ned, Pushpin Boy, Prancer, the Floor Mop of Doom, Lord Nasally, and Downtown Badboy Brown.
Of course, what you get depends a lot on the decade in which you’re fighting. In the 1930s, you had to fight gangsters and other members of organized crime. Generally, superheros really did help the police.
In the 1940s, you fought Nazis for the most part, and did your best to help out the war effort. In fact, one of the major reasons the Nazis never developed the atomic bomb was because they spent too much time working on Kryptonite.
In the 1950s, most of your time was spent fighting communists. This was a great decade for Captain America, who spent an entire decade fighting the Red Skull, whom any other superhero would have pounded in three issues.
In the 1960s, you generally had to fight mutants, which was interesting because odds were you were a mutant yourself. Radiation produced some great villains, or some great monsters… or you could always fight robots, which were invariably powered by… that’s right… radiation.
In the 1970s, times changed a lot, and you probably wound up fighting racists, rednecks, or computers. The one thing these three had in common was a dislike for the common person. In many ways, this is still true.
In the 1980s, you spent all of your time fighting aliens. This was a banner year for SETI, as species of all kinds were dropping in and eating entire area codes. Who knows how many times the Golden Gate bridge was destroyed. Too bad the superheros didn’t use a Macintosh to defeat them, which Jeff Goldblum proved is far easier once you get it started without freezing.
In the 1990s, your time was spent battling environmental and toxic villains, although aliens are, by and large, pretty popular still. Ideally, the supervillain of the 1990s will be a mutant commie Nazi gangster from space intent on poisoning the oceans. And he’ll be a remake of a 1960s television series.
So for the new century, what sort of supervillains will we have? It’s too soon to tell, but if all supervillains are personifications of What We Most Fear as a society, there are three possibilities: (1) People Who Use Harsh Words; (2) Smokers; and (3) Cody Gifford.
Get A Life
Secret identities are essential. No superhero goes around telling people what his day job is. Even the Hulk has enough sense to run and hide from the media. Millionaire Bruce Wayne owns some companies, although it’s difficult to envision how he has time to run them. Tony Stark, when he’s not busy being Iron Man, manages to run his own Stark Enterprises in a similar manner. Peter Parker is an ordinary teenager who (like most teenagers) sticks to walls. A good identity is a must! It keeps the taxman off your back for unreported income, and it always helps to have a nosy neighbor almost discover your secret every five issues.
You don’t have to go to amazing lengths, either. No one has figured out Clark Kent, have they? Who would suspect that a skinny, awkward, nerdy guy with big glasses has immense and almost frightening power? Nobody! Except maybe Bill Gates.
Be A Role Model
Please! Superheros aren’t dumb. In fact, you always have to have a good line for the occasion! After you dispatch a bad guy, it’s a tradition to have a really bad pun ready. Hung a guy from a lamp post? “Why don’t you hang around until I get back?” Rope a guy up like a coccoon? “I’m afraid you’re tied up for a while!” Cook a guy up in a pan with corned beef, potatoes, and a little onion, black pepper, with an egg on top? “Let’s hash this out over breakfast!” It’s best to inspire your fans with good quips. However, a dumb comment never works. If you swap fists with your evil twin (which you don’t need to get, by the way: they turn up on their own), never say “Hey, you’re unbelieveably stupid looking!” On the other hand, don’t be an egghead or an obscurist. Don’t flip your opponent upside-down and remark “Hey, you’re as inverted as an E♭+6 is to a Cm(maj)7,” unless a jazz musician is your sidekick. Or your only reader.
Also, kids look up to you. Showing up with a half-smoked cigarette has been tabu since the mid-sixties. And it has never been acceptable to show up for work drunk. Nobody trusts an incontinent, drooling guy in a cape with slurred speech… even in the heart of DuPont Circle.
Now that you’ve got all this down, get out there and fight some crime. This page should have given you plenty to think about, and whether you’re The Dark Talon or Pink The Merry Tailor, you have to just bite the bullet (perhaps literally, if this is your super power) and smash some villains. But please! Don’t get an attitude just because you got some profressional pointers at this site. Batman and Spiderman have saved the world countless times, but even they stop to bag the odd purse-snatcher or burglar.
And you’re tougher than them, right?
The “Skynet” project had a little trouble today. Luckily, GorT was able to use his time/space traveling subroutines and transferred the project into the 8th dimension for safe keeping. We’ve shelved the multi-rotor flying automaton concept for a bit later. ‘Puter is still shaking his head, now with a “I told you so look” on his face.
The Gormogons’ “Skynet” project went online today. Looks to be good. The Mandarin has hooked it into a bunch of geosynchronous satellites and GorT augmented its processing with a Bayesian neural network processing core. ‘Puter keeps shaking his head saying something doesn’t feel right.
Grounds for an Empire
The Czar is not a coffee drinker. By absolutely no means: he doesnt even like the taste of the stuff, since it tastes like some mild acid-based solvent that somebody left the top off of for about three weeks, and is now so stale that you would expect an elderly neighbor to offer you in hardened candy form. But we really dont care for that analogy. Plus, the Czar is not sure why someone would offer you stale, solvent-based candy. Its best we move on.
Anyway, we really dont like it. But we are not repulsed by it either: in fact, the smell of fresh-brewed coffee is a Very Good Thing. If you try to imagine the smell of it right now, chances are pretty good you can indeed almost taste it. As far as the caffeine piece of it, we obtain other sources. Notably soda. The Czar can easily down a couple of cans in no time flat. Of course, we dont mean the sodas flat… merely the time. We digress yet again.
So this little Seattle-based company decided that coffee must be The Next Big Thing, and began appearing every place where they could find three square feet of space… Body Snatchers-like. And lo, the Starbucks empire became reality.
Boy, were they right. Within seconds of opening any Starbucks, hordes of khaki-wearing minions start loitering nervously in front, mobbing the tables, reading pulp novels and sipping weird bean blends out of these tall white canisters so large that, we swear, if they had a dome-shaped top, people would be throwing trash into them.
Its so bad that when a construction company starts doing the exterior of a future Starbucks… or any retail place shaped vaguely like one… the coffee army shows up and starts camping out. Its like some Grateful Dead caravan, with its own microeconomy and subculture. And there they are, with their sweater-vests, designer sunglasses, and cell phones all milling about wondering when they can get a Bahamanian Jerk Bean blend and a gargantuan muffin with sugar crystals on it the size of dice. Does it matter that its months before opening? Not really: even if it dawns on them that they arent likely to get served, they just walk seven more feet to the left and find another Starbucks.
Why Youre Wrong
You cant order anything in Starbucks without being wrong. Its true: whatever you order, they correct you. Its like the counterpeople simply like to counter people. Just remember, they are informed, the customer is always wrong.
Id like the double decaf mocha twist frapaspresso lattacino, please.
At once, she rolls her eyes, shifts her weight to her other foot in disgust and says, Do you mean the double mocha decaf twist frapaspresso lattacino? with her voice lilting mockingly on the last syllable.
Um… yes, you say, having lost total control over the exchange, although youre darn sure she told you the opposite yesterday.
A grande? she asks, much in the same way a parent talks to a child who just mailed all of the rent money through the slots on a sewer cover outside.
Yes, you meekly reply, having no idea what size that really is, although you suspect its bigger than you can physically ingest.
The Sale, Wherein the Czar Slits His Own Throat
Let us share with you a true story. The Czar is standing, literally, in the center of Lambert International Airport in Saint Louis, waiting to meet up with a someone arriving later. Like nearly every day in the Gateway City, its hot and muggy. Wed spring for a beer, thank you, but by FAA regulation, all alcohol in an airport must cost over ten bucks.
So the Czar looks for an alternative, and discover theres a Starbucks behind us. We realize that theyre not too likely to jack up their prices any more than they already do, and walk over. Plus, theres no line. This actually shocks us.
The Czar looks up at the overhead board to get an idea of what we might want. Toward the bottom, theres a section titled Iced Tea, and below that a goofy name like Tazo.
May I help you? she asks cheerfully, eagerly awaiting to see how she can trip us up.
Yeah, Id like an iced tea.
We dont have that.
We glance up at the board, half-expecting to see that menu choice dematerialize before our eyes. Okay… we say very slowly.
She grins, knowing her triumph. We do have Tazo. Its an infused brewed tea blend, with select spices, served chilled.
The Czar stares directly at her. That is an iced tea.
But its different, she says, gleefully pointing her finger at the Czar, as though he was some Renaissance Pope arguing with Galileo.
Okay, the Czar sighs in defeat, Ill have that, and pull out a couple of dollars.
What size? she asks, realizing her immense fortune at being able to potentially humiliate us twice in one transaction.
What sizes do you have? we ask, realizing perhaps we could minimize the ridicule she must surely be documenting to her manager as a step toward promotion.
Tall, Grande, and Veinte, she sighs, realizing that victory is not so easily won with this one. Blast, she thinks. She was just forced to hand us the answers.
Whats the smallest one you have? we ask.
Your small is a tall? we ask, incredulous.
Yes. The next largest is a grande. It occurs to the Czar their medium is grande, which of course means large.
Well, I guess a tall then.
There! We wanted a small iced tea, but was denied. Instead, the Czar was forced to buy a tall tazo… and in turn, she hands us a small iced tea. We pay for it, and return to the gate where were waiting.
The Czar is pleased to report, it was a darn good cup of iced tea.
At this point, though, the Czar is pretty much forced to speculate as to what goes on in the mornings at a Starbucks. Immediately before opening, the manager has the staff rearrange the signboard, just to confuse the regulars. I want that split shot skinny replaced with a skinny shot split, the manager hollers, as staff furiously scramble to scramble the signboard.
The bags are ripped open, and the marble fudge cinnamon biscotti and marshmallow pecan muffins and the host of other confections designed by computer spill out. Theyre neatly arranged to be as scary as possible, and the doors are opened.
Lo, and they begin filing in. There they all are: the guy who sits there, staring zombie-like over the top of his low-fat latte, wondering what on earth happened to his free time as he plans to spend the next three hours here. And there she is… that woman that just clenches her teeth and nods grimly as her friend complains incessantly about how morale is so low at work ever since they insisted on staff showing up regularly. There he is… the guy in his 30s trying to look much younger and much more wealthy, sitting in his J. Crew ensemble wondering why nobody has noticed him looking at his expensive watch every couple of minutes. Oh, and heres the woman that always insists on coming in wearing the clothes she slept in, dragging behind her some recalcitrant dalmatian whos wondering why they just couldnt sleep in some Saturday.
And they all sit there, sitting, reading or talking, and spending a lot of time staring. And they glance at their watches and pagers, their left leg bouncing incessantly up and down like a sewing machine.
We cant help but think, as we bit into a pastry thats as soft and tooth-crackingly moist as particle board, that if we just slammed our mighty foot onto the floor, these people would all snap.
Look at them! Theyre one loud noise away from screaming, tearing their hair out, and diving through any convenient plate glass. These are people who honestly, and perhaps pathologically, believe theyre relaxing right now. In reality, if they were any more tense, you could strum them.
So we shake our head, and turn to the register just in time to see the counter person sniff and ask someone, Do you mean the half-shot double steamed mocha?
There’s very little devoted to the topic of ruining your own success, so rather than join the millions of people trying to make you rich (and themselves), the Czar thought he’d show you business slouches how to really shoot yourself in the foot.
Why would you want a business to fail? We’re not sure, but it’s evident a lot of business owners do. Who are we to question? Either way, we’ve compiled a short list of sure-fire tips for nosing her right into the dirt, and make yourself a true ensign of industry.
Note: a helpful, easy-to-remember glossary of business terms will not be readily found at the end of this page.
- Put as much stress as possible on your call-center people. You’ve probably heard of these people, because in addition to working for you, they deal with your customers directly. Ideally, you know you have customers as well. Anyway, when the customer calls your company’s phone numberto order “goods and services” (as the economists call it), or “stuff” (as you most likely have mentally reduced it to)they talk to your call center representatives (“those phone people”). Because of this, you’ll want to make their jobs, their lives, indeed, their very essence completely miserable. You can do this by changing procedures on them frequently, giving them a 1980s-era ordering system that breaks down anytime someone uses a photocopier elsewhere in the building, rotating new managers on them every month, and as little useful training as possible. Then, order them to increase sales by 35%. These elements are ideal for creating a good customer interaction:
Customer: Hi. I’d like to order a…
Call Rep: Shut up.
- Destroy morale at all costs. One thing to look for is how employees decorate their cubicles (those roofless holding pens, which are as close to a useful workspace as an empty cardboard refrigerator box is a “time machine” to a five-year-old). You can learn a lot about employee morale levels from their cubes. Cat posters are ideal. If an employee has a poster of a basketful of kittens and a “Smile” caption, things are good. If you see an employee with a poster featuring a frightened cat hanging from a branch, with a caption of “Hang In There,” you have a morale problem. If you have an employee displaying a skinned, bloody cat carcass nailed to a wall with a caption of “I Hate This Place,” you’re indeed well on your way… especially if it’s not a poster. Low morale causes turnover, which raises training and recruiting expenses astronomically. Plus, the resultant labor deficit overloads the remaining employees to where they begin quitting. So low morale is a good weapon for destroying your business. The best way to accomplish low morale is to treat your employees like you think they’re imbeciles. Do this by offerring tenth-percent raises, denying training classes, and producing as many restrictive policies as possible… then, balance that with utterly insulting incentives, such as a “You’re the best” certificate printed from PowerPoint clip art on a crummy laser printer, or perhaps a pizza day every third August, and a work-from-home policy which you should promote and advertise like crazy until you cancel it two days before it was supposed to start. Bad morale, you see, produces all sorts of good business-killing results.
Customer: Hi. I’d like to check the status of my order.
Call Rep: Yeah? When I was seven, I wanted to be an astronaut.
- Eliminate, or at least flip, the corporate vision. Once, in ancient times, no one bothered with corporate visions. Life was pretty simple: you opened a business, competed on the strength of your products and services, and reaped huge profits. Then, the whole Quality scam kicked in, and all work stopped so companies could write mission statements. Of course, there’s really only one mission in business: To make enormous piles of cash for the investors. But today, you see all sorts of idiotic fluff-haiku sloganism from companies; ultimately, it’s evident which one was written by the CEO, because it’s blindingly obvious (“To be the leader in our industry”), and which one was done by a committee, since it’s group-think babble (“To develop an efforts-driven matrix ownership, manifesting in career-oriented reward sponsorship and quality focus engineering”), and which were done by the corporate visionary, because it’s some weird Zen koan (“Results. Efforts. Tomorrow. Where do you hear the thunder?”). Start promoting this stuff in your own company, especially at the departmental level, because a great way to stifle ingenuity is to confuse vision with distraction:
Customer: Hi. I’d like to place an order, please.
Call Rep: Uh… I guess we still do that. Let me check.
- Layer management. It’s tough to find work for all those people, right? After all, you just bought another whole company, and at least 60% of them have functions identical to people in your parent company. You can’t fire all of them, frankly, because that would be painfully smart. Well, if you really want to louse things up, start promoting them to middle management. That way, they’ll add rolls of red tape to previously brainless procedures, harmlessly eat up their own time in endless meetings, and work on their resumes, which totally solves the problem. You can even have a couple of them reorganize operations, so that new org charts are handed out with every paycheck. Adding management improves the company’s intellect in the same way adding water improves gasoline:
Customer: Hi. I’d like to place an order, please.
Call Rep: I’d love to, but my manager is shaking his head no.
- Eliminate the human element. Customers like your sales reps. They actually love your receptionist. And they even are impressed by the complaints department. Therefore, you want to eliminate that bond of trust at once. For this, there is no better tool than voice response systems. This is different from voice mail (which is actually useful) by making your customers thoroughly disassociated with their prospective purchase. Typically, the voice response bit involves a perky woman’s voice who talks to you like you’re the idiot. Usually, these give you totally ambiguous choices, so that a customer spends twenty minutes waiting on hold before your one remaining call center rep even gets a chance to answer.
Customer: Hi. I’d like….
Voice Response: Thank you for calling. For vendor purchasing, press 1. For operations buying, press 2. For business sales, press 3. For all other calls, stay on the line. <dial tone>
Could you effectively employ all of these ideas? Yes, and even a math-poor ox like yourself can see how quickly each adds up to your perfect recipe for failure. By using all these methods together, you do create the perfect plan for disaster:
Customer: Hi. I’d like…
Call Rep: Please hold while your call is transferred to our nearest competitor. Thank you, and have a Quality Day.
As we know, having the dead around your place can become a tad inconvenient. And in our ongoing effort to provide you the best there is to be had by people like you, we’ve put together a few useful tips the Gormogons have found regarding raising the dead.
Use these in any order, really, but don’t get too carried away. Remember that results may vary, and we can’t be held responsible for any… um… unforeseen difficulties… which might arise.
- First of all, try waking the dead. Call their names loudly, and see if they respond. Remember, it’s critical that you don’t confuse the dead with people who are merely sleeping. Ask your local coroners about how embarrassing this is. If they don’t wake up and demand an explanation, try banging pots and pans. Be careful: the Chinese used to frighten away solar eclipses with this same method, but you have to pick one methodology and stick with it.
- Wake your own dead. If you get extremely loud and irritating (Nine Inch Nails works well if this is your goal… ask our neighbors), someone nearby may scream at you that you’re waking the dead. If in fact you are waking their dead, apologize. While a noble goal, remember that this may not fit in well with their plans, and inconvenience is something the enlightened person strives to avoid.
- Avoid magic rituals. Many dark arts feature rituals and incantations which allegedly return the dead to life. This, of course, is likely a waste of time. There is no evidence whatsoever that such practices will work, and if you’re going to raise the dead, you should at least attempt to do so in the most scientific manner possible.
- Voodoo is best left to professionals. If you’re a fully-qualified houngan, raise the dead carefully. Remember that zombies technically don’t count, since we’re not talking about raising the undead. But if you’re going after bigger game, and you’re no expert, you’ll need more than a few chickens or snakes to do it right. Houngans are very particular about their techniques, and don’t take well to interlopers who think they can hack it. Don’t be like the Czars friend Brian, who thought he knew everything after reading an FAQ, and wound up irritating a local “specialist,” who enacted a small price on Brian. If you’re ever in Chicago, stop by the Lincoln Park Zoo and visit his cage. Brian will be happy to demonstrate what happened to him (and he never did succeed).
- Electricity was a popular approach at the end of the 1800s, but never panned out. Massive voltage might have brought Mary Shelley’s monster back, but quite frankly our own research succeeded only in stinking up the place worse. And the bill! It would have been cheaper to run an air conditioner in every window here for a full year. If anyone’s interested in an old Jacob’s ladder (worthless for raising the dead, by the way, but the Czar was naive), shoot us an e-mail.
- Contrary to popular rumor, repeated watching of C-SPAN has the opposite effect. If you have C-SPAN on, you run the risk of becoming dead yourself.
- Reincarnation is a powerful consideration. If you believe in reincarnation, you’re probably only going to louse things up, and really frustrate a few people. By the way, if you do believe in reincarnation, could you explain how the world’s population has consistently gone up in the last thousand years? Where are all these new people coming from? Can they be trusted? You should fear everyone.
- Take notes. If you’re successful, it helps to be able to reproduce the feat, especially if you expect to be believed. Witnesses don’t always help. If you startle the dead back to life, be sure you write down what you did (firecrackers, cold water, pictures of Shelley Winters, etc.), so that other people can benefit from your findings.
- One question most people ask the Czar is: “Is it ethical to raise the dead and charge money for it?” The answer is yes, provided you don’t charge the recently reanimated. They probably lack the funds to compensate you and since they didn’t expect your service, it’s rude of you to demand it. Remember the relatives might not appreciate you reviving “Uncle Slither,” and they might balk at paying. Then what will you do? Our advice is that if you plan on charging next of kin for this service, get their agreement to pay in writing. The Czar can’t stress this enough, as the recently-returned tend to freeload for months at your place unless you get someone to take responsibility for them.
- If you mistakenly raise the wrong person, apologize. Manners go a long way here. You don’t like being roused from sleep, so imagine how they feel.
Well, no doubt there’s something in these tips to offend pretty much everybody. We hope that if you’re planning on raising the dead, you do so responsibly. Remember to be professional: dress well, and speak clearly. Extend every courtesy to your clientele, and try to network with other necromancers. Not only will they cover for you while you’re on vacation, but in many cases, they’ll be the ones reviving you in a few decades. Have fun, and above all, remember to floss!