I like my job. Always have. There’s a lot of typing, sure, but I prefer working indoors because I sunburn easily. I don’t have to work midnight shifts or weekends. The pay is fine. Gee, I hope my bosses don’t read this.
Now that I think about it, I’ve liked all my jobs. Some of my employers took a chance on me, and I’m grateful to them. I’m particularly fond of the ones who didn’t fire me.
But last week it hit me: I have been one dumb, gullible employee all these years. I’m going to stop. From now on, I’m going to be more like Conan O’Brien. Now there’s a guy who’s playing it smart.
He may love his job. He may even be grateful to his bosses at NBC for taking a chance on him. But he sure isn’t showing it. He’s not dumb. By throwing such a diva fit at the prospect of having his “Tonight Show” delayed by a half-hour, O’Brien made it clear he’s not gullible.
As a result, it looks like he’ll get a big payoff in return. For a while, it appeared he may get to keep his time slot and let Jay Leno go off and die a ratings death in some other slot. Then some speculated NBC would move O’Brien’s show but pay him more to shut up. That way, he wouldn’t have to scrape by on that $10 million or so a year that he reportedly earns. Now, it looks like they’ll pay him big money just to leave, and he’ll be free to start over on another network. What a deal.
Yeah, that’s the way to do it these days. Don’t say you’re grateful. Say you’re mad.
Am I being too hard on him? After all, he actually had to leave New York for his job. One anonymous insider was quoted as saying: “He’s done a great job for NBC. He moved his entire staff, he moved his family, to L.A.”
Imagine the horrors. They’re now learning, firsthand, what it’s really like to have to spend January in Los Angeles. Some days, the temperature doesn’t even get into the 70s. Lately, it’s actually rained. Poor family.
And think of the work he has to do. Sure, he gets to work indoors (it looks like he sunburns easily, too), but he has to stand a lot. And it’s got to be a burden, having millions of people adore you and everything.
Of course, there’s the embarrassment the poor guy’s had to endure. Just think. His show. Delayed. A half-hour. Oh, the profound public disgrace.
If my boss had shifted my schedule back when I was grateful but gullible, I would have said something like, “Well, I can’t say that I like the decision. But if that’s what you need to do to make this enterprise more successful, then let’s do it. I will do the very best I can in my new schedule.”
But no more. I’m with Conan. Now, I’d say, “Up yours.”
Of course, I realize that Los Angeles has been limping along for months with a 12 percent-plus unemployment rate and an underemployment rate that’s got to be high, too. And I know most of those folks would be grateful for a job. Any good job. Even one that would make them work a midnight shift.
And I know that even the fully employed would like to complain because they’re now expected to do the work of their dearly departed ex-colleagues, too. But they can’t complain. Instead, they’re saying such things as, “Yes, sir. I’d be pleased to work on Saturday. Again.”
But maybe they’re being gullible and grateful. Maybe they should go all Conan on their employers and trash them publicly.
NBC reportedly now is in negotiations to pay O’Brien something like $40 million to let him go free. I don’t know about you, but if my employer didn’t want me to do my job any more, I’d be pleased not to do it for half that much money.
But on my way out the door, I’d probably revert to my old self. I just know I’d say something stupid. Something like: “I liked this job, despite all the typing. You took a chance on me. Thank you.”
Charles Crumpley is the Editor of the Los Angeles Business Journal. For more, visit Fox & Hounds Daily.