May Day means one of two things for you.
It is either a day for nymphs to dance around a May Pole in a pagan ode to spring. Or...
...It is the day that Lenin chose to honor the proletariat of the world in honor of their sacrifices.
For me it is the day that brings both. Back home, a local college that is tied to our family through 19th century donations holds a weekend honoring the family name, and features young women who partake in this ancient right.
But it also reminds me of the day the Internationale invaded my work life.
In the winter and early spring of 2008, Cookie was doing temp work at a union. My placement person had told me what was up, that this guy had been through a couple temps, would I give it a try? Sure. How bad could it be?
Well, I soon found out. I was working for a little troll of a man that everyone called Golem behind his back. By the end of the first week, I understood why the other temps left after a day or so.
He was Golem. He looked like Golem. He treated others like they were going to take his precious.
Paranoid and protective of "treasurers" he was an obnoxious little tyrant. Making chit chat one day in his office I noticed a picture of his son and an a toddler. Cookie is smart enough to ask the obvious question which was "Is that your son?"
That, he grumbled that they were indeed his sons. "The older boy has been ruined by his mother who is a miserable wretch. The younger is my son by my second wife. She wanted a baby so I gave her one."
What man sees his act of fathering a child as "giving her one." Why not just say "The young one is my son, too."
No, he "gave her one," which was code for "She wouldn't shut up so I poked in the bush, got her pregnant, and now she's my personal housekeeper for life."
To myself I said "If you really loved her maybe a diamond ring, or you should have jumped off a bridge and left her a big insurance policy," but the smile on my face said "Super!"
IN ANY EVENT, I tell you this because it was at that job, that on May 1, 2008, while seated at my desk, one of the Union's staffers gets on the over head page and says: "Today is May Day, the day designated by Lenin to honor the workers of the world! So please stand for the playing of the Internationale!" And through the speaker came a crackly LOUD online version of the Soviet anthem. The type of loud that over taxed the tiny speakers in the ceiling tiles.
Of course no one was standing that I could see in my general cube farm. Frankly, I was stunned. I called my husband and told him what was going on. He was stunned as well.
All around me, people were working. No one thought about participating. No one blinked an eye. But in their office, one solitary worker was standing, teary eyed. It was a bit surreal.
I adored the job, loved working there and would have stayed if I could have, but that would have meant working for Golum instead of the temp agency. And they (everyone BUT Golem) loved me. I was given two goodbye lunches, which Golem hated. But even the idea of benefits working for Golem were not enough to entice myself to bind my professional self to him.
Shortly thereafter, I decided to exit. I could have left that night and called the agency and never gone back. I gave them a months notice hoping they would find a real employee that Golem could have abused, and thus filed a grievance against. But no, as my final day approached, no job posting.
On my final morning, Golem brought me into his office with his personal flunky and preceded to try rip me an asshole and tell me what a terrible human I was. I interrupted the grinding of my bones for his ego's meal, I stood and I said "Super!" I mean if this guy hated me, hated my work and thought I was this despicable, then I must be a decent human being. And besides the protocol is that he tells HR how horrible the temp is, HR calls the agency and tells the agency how terrible the temp is, the temp is called by the agency and told "they won't be needing you in the morning."
No this was Golem telling me that I couldn't have his precious, even if I had wanted it. This was about degrading someone - a worker - who was doing their job and decided to move on. In his mind, I had betrayed him. Another knife in the back. It had nothing to do with me. It was this tiny, small little ego lashing out. Yawn.
I went out, sat down at my desk and did the job I was paid to do. That's what a dedicated worker does. They do their job to the best of their ability. Even when their supervisor is a sub human worm who clipped his toenails behind his desk.
Golem slunk off in the middle of the day to golf, and my remaining four hours were great. My temp contact called me with another job placement that would start the following Monday, so I was set. I called his flunky in, explained where every project was left off, and I shook her hand, and I left.
And as I left the building that day, the whole surreal Internationale thing aside, I knew that Golem was the embodiment and reason why there were unions in this world.
To protect workers from management fuck-wit's like him.