Remember last Friday? Laid-off Weinstein company employees sure do. They had been asked on Wednesday to clean up their desks because a "special guest" was coming. Turns out it was HR to tell them they were fired. Surprise! We have more tales from the front lines of the inanity known as "work" (send your own stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.) In this edition, a tale of being newly hired only to be fired, and another reason to hate Gmail chat.
"Evil Fucking" Insurance-Cheating "Bastard":
We've been getting lots of angry e-mails from various freelancers with coverage in the Freelancers Union, which I mainly ignored until I realized it would negatively affect me, too. The oft-reported insurance provider for the creative underclass is—wtf—starting their own insurance company called the Freelancers Insurance Company. And members have no choice but to join it! The takeaway: if my shrink isn't in the new "Freelancers Insurance Company" network's koverage, no amount of generic Klonopin will be able to kwell my krazy!First of all, let's cut the bullshit with the name and starry-eyed, fake labor-organizing rhetoric of their ads—Freelancers Union—and call it what it is: a healthcare company. Freelancers aren't going on strike or picketing as part of the Freelancers Union—they're joining it for the health plan, so that their teeth won't fall out of their head—which would limit future job opportunities. And guess what: just like other healthcare companies, the Freelancers "Union" mostly sucks! Past practice indicates that the Freelancers Union has trouble simply administering enrollments for their outside plans, making this change appear even more worrisome. In fact, they pulled almost the exact same stunt last year, complete with a cutely-worded memo: ""If you want to wake up with insurance on New Year's Day, you have to let us know which of the plans from Empire or PerfectHealth you want." (This was their way of announcing that coverage under their current health plan, HIP, would end December 31 of 2007 in favor of more expensive coverage under Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield.) So they've done it again this year—and of course, the new FIC plans are even more expensive, with reduced benefits. The expense increase isn't entirely their fault—but the bait-and-switch is. Why bother joining the Freelancers Union if they're going to pull the rug out from under you every year? One freelancer complained to us, "Problem is, the new plans offer considerably fewer benefits and significantly higher costs, but were presented as a fait accompli, complete with a bunch of solidarity rhetoric. With just a few weeks to decide, many FU members feel that their safety nets have been ripped out from under them." Members are blogging angrily here and here! Wrote another tipster, "Can a PPO really be called a PPO without OON coverage?" We have no idea, but you know people are getting desperate when they start writing things like, "I'm going to check out Mediabistro's insurance plans."
Everyone's getting laid-off these days, what with the economy and all, and now we want to know what you'll be doing for money while the dust settles. There aren't any media jobs left and desperate times call for desperate measures. Depressing stories have already been trickling in, like the two longtime Jersey Star-Ledger newsroom employees who, after refusing a buyout, were banished to the mailroom! Or the Longmont, CO, Times Call staff who were invited to be valet parking attendants for their (probably soon-to-be ex) boss's fancy Christmas party. And, perhaps worst, a Hachette memo to staff inviting them to participate in the saddest thing of all, a holiday crafts fair. You know, so they can practice a trade before they inevitably get canned! "You will have the opportunity to show or sell your craft such as jewelry, accessories, chocolates, knitting and crocheting," it says. Sigh. Send us your post-axing, new job tales (depressing or not!) and we'll publish some of our favorites in the coming dark days. In the meantime, read the full dismaying Hachette memo after the jump.
We've been chronicling the drugs of the creative underclass—from the "I love my orange pills" Adderall to benzos to psychotropics. How the hell is everybody getting through their workday? It depends on your personality. For those with wandering attention spans, Adderall usually does the trick. For anxiety-prone neurotics, Adderall feels like a hit of crack combined with a bucket of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. I've relied on Xanax for special occasions and party reporting (all that excitement sends me straight to the wall), but recently-after totally casual anecdotal investigation on this website suggested that Klonopin was the current drug of choice for the creative underclass—I procured a prescription for Klonopin. (After all, they love it at downtown fashion mag Nylon!)Kloni is better than Xanax, my friends. Why? First of all, they're both benzos, with similar molecular structure. But: Klonopin gives you less of a buzz, is much longer lasting (sometimes it seems like Xanax only lasts two or three hours), and is less habit-forming. (Those who take Xanax and Kloni regularly and don't taper off can put themselves at risk for seizures, however. R&B singer Sean Levert, who recently died in jail, wasn't allowed to take the Xanax he brought in jail. According to UPI, "prison staff allegedly took the bottle away and didn't give him his medication during the six days he was there, even though he asked for it numerous times and suffered terrifying delusions due to withdrawal from the medication.") I experimented with Klonopin recently while doing some freelance work; I found its effect smoother and less buzzy than Xanax. And that was just half a milligram! It also increased concentration: words flowed freely onto my keyboard, absent the usual wrenching procrastination which we all know comes from fear of failure. Had I taken I Xanax, I imagine I would have slept for the next nine hours instead. Which is the best for you: Adderall or benzos like Klonopin? It all comes down to your personality type. For anxiety-prone people, benzos quiet the mind, shushing the paralyzing background noise and leaving you to do your work unmolested. Of these, Klonopin gives the smoother ride. As the departed Gawker/Jezebel editor Moe so succinctly put it: "Writing on drugs is my drug."
Poor Starbucks is barely making any money. The coffee chain's profit dropped 97% in the fourth quarter, because it's spending so much money closing down all the stores it opened earlier, when they thought every block in the world needed a Starbucks. At least they're good at giving away coffee for free! Hey, remember when Starbucks was the emergency backup job of the creative underclass, where you could make some scratch and get health care as a starving artist? Now it's aspirational. The emergency backup job is burglary. [AP]
In honor of the Friday layoffs sweeping through the media today, we bring you even more funny-sad stories of being fired. (Esquire, Wenner, O at Home, this one goes out to you.) As always, send your own anecdotes to email@example.com. Read on for sick-bed and weekend layoffs and a guy who's been laid off so many times, he's a "kiss of death" to any company.Get Well Soon! Yeah Right:
Ever have one of those days when you stalk out of work in a huff? Then, stepping outside, wonder WTF you are going to do with your day? Do you go over to Broadway and finger a tray of cashmere gloves at Club Monaco? Do you take the 6 train uptown, pop a Xanax, and watch TV? Or do you wonder which downtown bars are open and serving? Is it maybe 11 a.m. on a Tuesday? If so, you might enjoy Milano's on East Houston.If you want to drink in grave-like silence in the middle of the day, pondering the economy and your role in it, this hallway-shaped dive's for you. "Sex causes high blood pressure," an old man tells the bartender. "You know, the heart races and stuff." (Are you the only female in the bar? Are you, at this point, used to this?) You know what else causes high blood pressure? Not the failing economy! There've been reports that people are actually healthier (if not happier) during hard times. Another even older man comes in off the street, asks the bartender, "What's 2 across?" and heaves himself onto a barstool. It collapses and he falls to the floor. "The legs just snapped off," he says sheepishly. Which sort of represents the subprime market—and as someone wise once said, "nothing is so successful that you can't fuck it up." The answer to 2 across? I-R-R-A-T-I-O-N-A-L H-U-B-R-I-S. Anyway, Milano's. A pint of Brooklyn Lager? $5. The day off? Priceless. [Photo: Trig's Flickr]
It's not clear whether Kenneth from 30 Rock had anything to do with it, but NBC's page program now gets 7,000 applicants each year for roughly 70 slots, an admission rate of about 1 percent versus 7 percent for the undergraduate college at Harvard University . The $10-per-hour work consists of fetching coffee, guarding studio doors and giving tours for "at least six days" per week, the Times said this morning. You may have to live in Harlem and work at a bar to make ends meet. Then there are the long hours and flashcards:
If you want to impress people by pretending to be someone else and/or having a cool job, some advice: don't pretend to work for this website! A.) it doesn't work, and b.) nobody cares. (And if a romantic interest even suspects you mentioned them in a post, you'll have a huffy "That was OT fucking R" instant-message to look forward to.) That's why we were surprised to hear from a bartender in Brooklyn: "I’ve heard a lot of guys say a lot of wild things to random girls at bars, but 'I work at Gawker and just got mugged in Bed-Stuy… where I actually live because I’m a struggling writer,' was a new one..."
Hip Hop Weekly is an execrable, half-assed attempt at a hip hop version of Us Weekly. HHW was founded a couple of years ago by Dave Mays and Benzino, the guys who ran The Source into the ground through sheer selfishness before being forced out. Suffice it to say there's no reason to have a sympathetic view of the magazine's existence. Which makes this epic email fuckup on their part—reprinted below!—that much more enjoyable: HHW, we hear, has trouble paying its vendors, writers, and photographers. Or just doesn't want to. Either way, lots of people who have done work for the magazine are pissed at it. So it was pretty dumb for HHW to (mistakenly?) blast out an invitation to its 50th issue release party to a long list of contributors who hadn't been paid yet. Cue the responses!
In today's multicultural, politically correct workplace, large swaths of the year are de facto off-limits for firing people. It's cruel to let them go right before holidays—so Christmas is out, as is New Year's. Then there's Ramadan, Hanukkah... oh, and you probably shouldn't fire a black person on, say, Martin Luther King day. Also, check the calender to make sure it isn't the laid-off employee's birthday. Really, there's no good time to fire someone. In the middle of their shift? At the end of the day? When their mom has cancer? But whatever you do, you really shouldn't fire someone from a Jewish website today, on the eve of Yom Kippur:
Depression sex! No, not because you're depressed—because the economy is! As in, "the world is falling apart around us, let's cling together because we could all die and/or lose our jobs tomorrow." Remember the spate of hookups and reunited lovers post-9/11? This is a little like that. When the going gets desperate... the desperate turn to the Craigslist casual encounters.1.) Standard layoffs. Finance and Wall Street types, bored and sad in their apartments.
Do you ever get the feeling that you're only just now starting to be an "adult" with their "shit together"? It's only very recently that I no longer have to think, "Gotta wait til next Wednesday to buy new shampoo" and stopped drinking abandoned beers at bars. Then, someone your own age who didn't spend a few years fucking off mentions their intern. Wait, you have an intern? Yeah, it's like a doorman for your job. Like Mandy Stadtmiller needs one—she's the Post columnist whose tales of dating woe (and an insufferable lug nicknamed Super Preppy) made us LOL at (and not with) her all last year. Haha, she's getting her intern via Craigslist, though, so cancel that order of Oh-God-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life. (You can't get your casual encounters and your casually-paid career-helpers from the same place.)It's an unpaid internship, by the way. So when she tells you "I won New York's Funniest Reporter in 2006 and last year placed in the semi-finals for New York's Funniest Stand-Up"—she means it.
We thought that Williamsburg, Brooklyn's hipster kickball season was over after attending its corrupt end-of-season prom, where alcohol was served and a girl-kickballer in a tutu hit on our boyfriend. But they're still going! And they're still fightin'. Last Sunday's game included an "all-out brawl," with punch-throwing and tossed bottles of Colt 45—a beverage that even some homeless people think is beneath them. We e-mailed some kickballers to get the lowdown. One reply: "Omfg, I am totally appalled and offended. How does something so pure as alcohol and jr. high sports turn into something so ugly?"What happened? Says another kickballer,
Things end. People move on. The Brooklyn hipster kickball league has entertained us with their exploits all summer—fights, getting arrested in Macy's, letters to dive bars demanding a laminated free drinking pass. Now the season is over. Last Friday, they gathered in Greenpoint one last time for the Kickball Prom. We were there to create the memories that would last us the rest of our lives.OK, so I didn't do any reporting—or embed with a team, as was offered—because my heels were too high and my feet hurt. (When Clay Felker said that women make the best reporters, he meant that they make the best reporters if they are wearing sensible shoes.) But the New York Press did!