Re: A Memo

by The Inmate

Note: What follows is a memo I posted and passed out at my place of employment after the efficiency experts(sometimes called auditors or engineers) invaded our station to make us more efficient.  So, what did they come up with?  We were told that we must work with our backs to one another because we talk too much.  I wish I was making this up, but I’m not.

For you long-time followers of The Corporate Asylum (all 2 of you) I am revealing in this memo, for the first time, the actual name of the company for which I work.  The next six months to a year should be interesting as my company is in the process of buying Airborne Express and I will chronicle on this website some of the more interesting aspects of this new development.  This will make us a much bigger company (the third largest in the U.S. behind UPS and Fed Ex), but as I told one of my supervisors: “Contrary to popular belief, bigger is not always better.”[I did not know how prophetic I was being when I stated this. See my essay: Re: Layoffs]

The Inmate


To: All Couriers (If you are not a courier you should stop reading now—now—–Now!—-Stop Now!!)

From: Glen Draeger, B.S. in BS (1986-1990), M.A. in more BS (1991-1994), Ph.D. in even more BS (1995-present).

Status: Confidential, Sensitive & Classified

Subject: New Route Set-Up Requirements

As all of you are aware we are no longer allowed to sort our material on the belt.  The ostensible reason for this is because we talk too much which slows down our sorting abilities and hence costs DHL van loads of money.  Although this sounds good it is obvious that this is not the real reason that we must stand(or more likely squat) with our backs to one another in a smaller, less practical, less well-lighted space to sort our material.  DHL, I’m sure, is well aware that humans (that’s us) are gregarious creatures who not only need and want social contact, but benefit from it.  In fact, it’s good for morale and ultimately makes workers more productive.  This is so self-evident that it is clear that DHL must be up to something else(I refuse to even consider the theory that DHL does not view us as humans.  How could anyone be so cynical?).

As luck would have it this change in policy allows me to share something with you that has been bothering me for some time now.    Several times I’ve thought of saying something, but refrained, knowing that criticism is not always appreciated here in the mecca of overnight express.  However, now that I have the backing of DHL (even though they don’t want to reveal their true reasons for this change) I have gained the courage to reveal my thoughts and explain to you why not only I agree with this new policy change but consider it a good and necessary step for our well-being and growth not only as human beings, but, much more importantly, as couriers.

Real Reasons We Are Not Allowed to Sort on Belt

1.  The quality of jokes has deteriorated significantly.  I’ve been listening to the jokes over the past few years and, frankly, I’m appalled.  I’m sure our friendly auditors must have been appalled too.  Most of the laughter is simply polite so as not to hurt the feelings of the joke-teller.  Have we forgotten what humor is?  Have we forgotten what it is like to truly laugh?  Until the quality of the jokes reaches a tolerable level we are much better off simply not telling any.

2.  The insults are too polite.  There used to be a time here at San Diego when the insults that flew across the belt were truly offensive.  They were abrasive, cutting and had barbs sharp enough to slice the thickest of skin.  What do we have now?  Every one seems to be worried about each other’s feelings.  Now that Bill S. and Gary S. are gone I fear that we have no reason to believe that we will ever reach the heights that derogatory, disparaging, malicious, sarcastic and snide remarks attained here in the late 90’s.  Truly, this is a sad, sad time.

3.  General conversation is boring.  When the mediocre jokes and insults are not cascading down the belt the conversation is dull.  It usually centers around life outside of work: movies, sports, children, books, politics, boyfriends, girlfriends, wives, husbands—you name it.  Anything, except what we come here to do everyday: be the best couriers we can be!  Anyone listening would think that DHL is made up of a bunch of normal people who have more interests outside of work than within it.  DHL employees are not normal.  I’d like to hear more conversations about our SPORH’s, our pieces-per-man-minute, delivery and pick-up techniques, basically anything that will help us do our jobs our well.  That would be exciting and productive!  Remember, this is not summer camp.

4.  Most couriers do not put on a happy face.  : -(   Have you looked across the belt lately?  The facial expressions of your fellow couriers seem to indicate that they are not happy here.  This baffles me.  What’s not to be happy about?  These attitudes are detrimental and I have no doubt that as the auditors stared down the belt at our long faces they believed the only remedy to keep us from feeding off of each other’s depression was to make sure that we could not see each other.

We should be extremely thankful that DHL had the courage to make the decision it did.  It is unfortunate that DHL could not muster the courage to explain the real reasons, but since I am a part of DHL one could argue that it actually did.

What can we do?  For one thing, we can all prepare better jokes.  Spend some time at home thinking up good ones.  Do some reading.  Watch Leno or Letterman.  To become better at insulting your fellow employees listen to sports radio, pay more attention during elections and start reading company memos.  In addition to these suggestions practice your delivery in front of the mirror.  This is helpful for both jokes and insults.  Remember, timing is everything.  With a little preparation who knows?  Maybe they’ll let us on the belt again.

Lastly, even if you don’t feel happy–just act like it–no one will know the difference.  Besides, it could be worse—you could work for UPS or have to wear yellow uniforms.

Have a nice day!  : -)

Now get back to work (the rest of you were supposed to stop reading a long time ago).

Hugs and Kisses,


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