The Employee of the Month

Kevin Cowherd

November 11, 1992|By Kevin Cowherd

The day started on a disappointing note with the news that I'd been passed over once again for the Employee of the Month award.

It makes you wonder what you have to do to win one of these things. Apparently it's not enough to be dedicated, hard-working and cheerful to the point of . . . well, perkiness is the word that springs immediately to mind.

All I can tell you is, the Employee of the Month went to some guy in advertising. Or marketing. Advertising, marketing, what's the difference?

The point is, it didn't go to me. Which makes it . . . let's see, 11 years times 12, two and one is three . . . 132 consecutive months that the award has gone to someone other than myself.

Bitter? Oh, you betcha. Look, I'm sure this man from advertising or marketing or wherever does a very nice job.

I'm sure he's loyal, industrious, pleasant to his colleagues -- and probably good to his mom, too.

And I'm sure he cuts a fine figure in his Hugo Boss blazer and khaki slacks, and answers the phone exactly as suggested in the company manual, and keeps his work space nice and neat.

But look at it from my point of view. One hundred and thirty-two consecutive months without a plaque or even a mug, for God's sake!

How many times can you get kicked in the face and still turn on the word processor each morning?

A lesser man might be slipping into camouflage gear and smearing bootblack under his eyes and thumbing through the "For Sale" section in Guns and Ammo by now.

But that's not my style. My style is: Grin and bear it. Nose to the grindstone. Keep on keepin' on.

Anyway, I was still reeling from this whole Employee of the Month business when some people in the office invited me along for lunch.

I didn't really feel like eating -- how can you eat after something like that? But there was no sense sitting around the office moping.

My philosophy on moping is this: By and large, it is not something that should be done privately. Instead of being miserable by yourself, you might as well make everyone else miserable, too.

So we ended up at this greasy spoon and after I sobbed my little eyes out for 10 minutes, somehow the conversation got around to all the stores having their Christmas decorations up already.

Fighting through the depression that had all but engulfed me by now, I said: "Who's even thought about doing Christmas shopping?"

Suddenly this woman at the next table -- total stranger, never saw her before in my life -- leans over. And with this terribly smug look, she says: "I've already done all my Christmas shopping."

Well. It was all I could do not to crack her over the head with the pepper grinder. And I would have, too, except I was afraid she'd crack me back.

That's half the problem with this country: You can't even crack someone over the head with a pepper grinder anymore without worrying that they're going to crack you back.

So instead of creating a scene in the restaurant, I thought: OK. I'll just wait 'til she goes outside. Then I'll trip her. Just sort of casually stick my foot out -- make it look like an accident.

Anyway, for the rest of the meal, I sat there thinking: What sort of a person has all her Christmas shopping done in early November?

Oh, sure, I've heard of people like that before, but I'd never actually met one. I imagined what her house must look like: every piece of furniture Lemon-Pledged daily, kitchen all spic n' span, spice rack arranged alphabetically.

Her office was probably the same way -- pencils perpetually sharpened and organized in descending order of lead thickness.

Boy, she was annoying! Then toward the end of the meal, she spilled some coffee in her lap, which improved my mood somewhat, so I decided not to trip her after all.

Back at the office, I --ed off a quick note to the Employee Selection Committee, complimenting them on their fine choice of old what's-his-name from advertising/marketing as the Employee of the Month.

I also reminded them that there was a certain columnist who has been working tirelessly (two sick days in 11 years) in Features for some time now and who would -- at least if the voting is on the up-and-up -- and I'm not saying it isn't -- make a fine candidate for next month's award.

It's a damn shame when a man of my age is reduced to groveling for a little recognition.

But if that's what it takes . . .

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