Saturday, February 7, 2009

Zig Zag

Zig Zag

Always know where the back door is.

DB - The Vagabond

I have often found that the best way out of a bad situation is not necessarily the same way you got into it. Back peddling is the tactic used most of the time, but it doesn't always work, and at worst it leaves one open to accusations of hypocrisy and infidelity. And breaking through a wall to make an exit is harmful and causes a lot of resentment. Knowing where the rear exit is is the best plan.
Being a bit claustrophobic myself, I always want to know what my means of escape are in case I want to leave a place. I was very uncomfortable when I had to work in the hermetically sealed office buildings in New York. I worked in the World Trade Center a few times and though it was very comfortable when you were in there, trying to get in or out was an indication of how ill equipped it was to allow for easy egress.
In concert with the sealed up office buildings was the sealed mentality that ran many of the businesses that tried to function in them. That was another thing I needed to escape from. Many of the people I met in those environments reminded me of Bob Newhart's "Buttoned Down Mind." Suits were wearing men rather than the other way around. I could sit there in a cubicle doing ridiculous things and tell myself how important they were. In my files I have some minutes of a Board Of Directors meeting. One paragraph clearly states: "Dress down Friday was discussed and all agreed it was a great success. The Board voted unanimously to have it discontinued." Quick! Where's the back door?!
Sometimes you can find the back door in a contract. Many a game has been lost because the winner knew the rules and the loser did not. A good agent will always negotiate an "out clause" into a contract simply to allow for getting out of a bad situation.
I gave my notice at a radio station I was working for. The boss was resentful and wanted to know where my loyalty was. When I signed up there was guaranteed job security. But the contract was renegotiated and firing without cause was inserted. I had to explain to him that if you take away job security you also take away employee loyalty. They go together. He wasn't bright enough to understand that.
Once in my life I was fired. It was from an actng job. But the vacuum heads who ran the theatre didn't know what they were doing and I had to go into the office and show them how to fire me. They didn't know about a termination clause in the contract, that I could work for two more weeks if they wanted me to, or they had to give me two weeks severance pay, and they had to provide transportation back to my home. It was all in the contract, which they never read. I was the one being fired and I had to teach them how to do it. You see why I have a sense of humor?
There were a few other sticky things they didn't know about and when all the legal mumble jumble was finished they probably wish they hadn't decided to do it. But I didn't care. I didn't like that job anyway. Firing people was not the only thing they were ignorant about.
I showed them the back door and had them hold it open for me while I made my exit.

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