Dear Valued Customer

Dear Valued Customer:

In accordance with company policy, we are pleased to inform you that you received merchandise with the same high quality standards afforded all our customers, and we feel you are extremely chicken-shit for returning this stuff, particularly since we did not authorize the return.

You know damned well we have a comprehensive and equitable Returned Goods Policy, and you will pay hell receiving credit unless this policy is strictly adhered to. We ship whatever the hell comes off the production line, and whether it meets specifications or not is beside the point. We are reasonably confident our packaging contains the proper materials a good share of the time, which is exactly what you ordered. By God, no one is perfect.

I’d like to see your production area sometime. I’ll bet you have a shit-pot full of problems too. Incidentally, you have really pissed off our Scheduling and Production people with your arbitrary statements regarding late delivery. After all, your last order was only three months overdue, which is a helluva lot better than most of our customers get. What the hell do you expect?

On future orders, we suggest you favor us with a higher dollar volume, and we will bust our asses. With this type of volume, we can guarantee a maximum late order condition of two months…how’s that for a thirty day improvement?

As a valued customer, it is certainly your privilege to request we check future orders more closely for requested shipping dates, but your prickish attitude will, we are confident, result in our shipping so damned late that you will be in such a bind that you will gladly accept any old shit we want to get rid of.

By the way, don’t give us any crap about order cancellations;
We’re already in production. We could, however, see our way clear to stop production if you will pay 90% cancellation charges, along with a 25% restocking fee. Otherwise, tough shit.

In summary, you work with us, and we will work with you. BUT!! Don’t pull that irate customer shit on us, we’ve been down that path before.

Warm personal regards,

P.S. You screwed up again when you insisted our part doesn’t resemble your specification drawings. BULLSHIT!! Your drawing isn’t even close to our part. We know there was a 1-1/2″ difference between the part and the drawing, which we consider minor and totally insignificant. Why don’t you get on your Engineer’s ass for a change?

Corporate America’s Recreational Activities

After a 2 year study, the National Science Foundation has determined the following results on Corporate America’s recreational activities.

  • The sport of choice for unemployed or jailed people is BASKETBALL.
  • The sport of choice for maintenance employees is BOWLING.
  • The sport of choice for line workers is FOOTBALL.
  • The sport of choice for Supervisors is BASEBALL.
  • The sport of choice for Middle Management is TENNIS.
  • And finally, the sport of choice for Upper Management is GOLF.

That the higher you are in the corporate structure, the smaller your balls become.

Understanding Corporate Speak

  • Essentially complete
    It’s half done.
  • We predict …
    We hope to God!
  • Risk is high, but within acceptable ranges of risk:
    100:1 odds, or with 10 times over budget using 10 times the people we said we’d employ.
  • Potential show stopper
    The team has updated their resumes.
  • Serious but not insurmountable problems
    It’ll take a miracle …
  • Basic agreement has been reached
    The @##$%%’s won’t even talk to us.
  • Results are being quantified
    We’re massaging the numbers so they will agree with our conclusions.
  • Task force to review
    Seven people who are incompetent at their regular jobs have been loaned to the project.
  • Not well defined at this time
    Nobody’s even thought about it.
  • Still analyzing the requirements
    See previous answer.

  • Not well understood
    Now that we’ve thought about it, we don’t want to think about it anymore.
  • Requires further analysis and management attention
    Totally out of control!
  • Results are promising
    Turned power on and no smoke detected — this time…

You’ve Been in Corporate America Too Long When…

  • You ask the waiter what the restaurant’s core competencies are.
  • You decide to re-org your family into a “team-based organization.”
  • You refer to dating as “test marketing.”
  • You can spell “paradigm.”
  • You actually know what a paradigm is.
  • You understand your airline’s fare structure.
  • You write executive summaries on your love letters.
  • Your Valentine’s Day cards have bullet points.
  • You think that it’s actually efficient to write a 10 page presentation with 6 other people you don’t know.
  • You celebrate your wedding anniversary by conducting a performance review.
  • You believe you never have any problems in your life, just “issues” and “improvement opportunities.”
  • You calculate your own personal cost of capital.
  • You explain to your bank manager that you prefer to think of yourself as “highly leveraged” as opposed to “in debt.”
  • You end every argument by saying “let’s talk about this off-line”.
  • You can explain to somebody the difference between “re-engineering”, “down-sizing”, “right-sizing”, and “firing people’s asses.”
  • You actually believe your explanation in number 15.
  • You talk to the waiter about process flow when dinner arrives late.
  • You refer to your previous life as “my sunk cost.”
  • You refer to your significant other as “my co-CEO.”
  • You like both types of sandwiches: ham and turkey.
  • You start to feel sorry for Dilbert’s boss.
  • You believe the best tables and graphs take an hour to comprehend.
  • You account for your tuition as a capital expenditure instead of an expense.
  • You insist that you do some more market research before you and your spouse produce another child.
  • At your last family reunion, you wanted to have an emergency meeting about their brand equity.
  • Your “deliverable” for Sunday evening is clean laundry and paid bills.
  • You use the term “value-added” without falling down laughing.
  • You ask the car salesman if the car comes with a whiteboard and Internet connection.
  • You give constructive feedback to your dog

Corporate Buzzwords

  • Blamestorming
    Sitting around in a group discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.
  • Body Nazis
    Hard-core exercise and weight-lifting fanatics who look down on anyone who doesn’t work out obsessively.
  • Seagull Manager
    A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, messes on everything and then leaves.
  • Chainsaw Consultant
    An outside expert brought in to reduce the employee headcount, leaving the top brass with clean hands.
  • Cube Farm
    An office filled with cubicles.
  • Idea Hamsters
    People who always seem to have their idea generators running.
  • Mouse Potato
    The online, wired generation’s answer to the couch potato.
  • Prairie Dogging
    When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people’s heads pop up over the walls to see what’s going on.
    What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids. Stands for Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage.
  • Squirt the Bird
    To transmit a signal to a satellite.
  • Starter Marriage
    A short-lived first marriage that ends in divorce with no kids, no property, and no regrets.
  • Stress Puppy
    A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.
  • Swiped Out
    An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.
  • Tourists
    People who take training classes just to get a vacation from their jobs. “We had three serious students in class; the rest were just tourists.”
  • Treeware
    Hacker slang for documentation or other printed material.
  • Xerox Subsidy
    Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one’s workplace.
  • Going Postal
    Euphemism for being totally stressed out, for losing it. Makes reference to the unfortunate track record of postal employees who have snapped and gone on shooting rampages.
  • Alpha Geek
    The most knowledgeable, technically proficient person
    in an office or work group. “Ask Larry, he’s the Alpha Geek around here.
  • Assmosis
    The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.
  • Chips and Salsa
    Chips = hardware, Salsa = software. “Well, first we gotta figure out if the problem is in your chips or your salsa.”
  • Flight Risk
    Used to describe employees who are suspected of planning to leave a company or department soon.
  • GOOD job
    A “Get-Out-Of-Debt” job. A well-paying job people take in order to pay off their debts, one that they will quit as soon as they are solvent again.
  • Irritainment
    Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying, but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. The O.J. trials were a prime example.
  • Percussive Maintenance
    The fine art of whacking the heck out of an electronic device to get it to work again.
  • Uninstalled
    Euphemism for being fired. Heard on the voicemail of a Vice President at a downsizing computer firm: “You have reached the number of an uninstalled Vice President. Please dial our main number and ask the operator for assistance.” See also Decruitment.
  • Vulcan Nerve Pinch
    The taxing hand positions required to reach all the appropriate keys for certain commands. For instance, the warm re-boot for a Mac II computer involves simultaneously pressing the Control Key, the Command key, the Return key and the Power On key.

Notice to All Employees

To: All Employees
From: Management
Subject: Office conduct during the Christmas season

Effective immediately, employees should keep in mind the following guidelines in compliance with FROLIC (the Federal Revelry Office and Leisure Industry Council).

  1. Running aluminum foil through the paper shredder to make tinsel is strongly discouraged.
  2. Playing Jingle Bells on the push-button phone is forbidden. (It runs up an incredible long distance phone bill.)
  3. Work requests are not to be filed under “Bah humbug.”
  4. Company cars are not to be used to go over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house.
  5. All fruitcake is to be eaten BEFORE July 25.
  6. Egg nog will NOT be dispensed in vending machines.

In spite of all this, the staff is encouraged to have a Happy Holiday.

If Major Corporations Ran Christmas

  • If IBM ran Christmas…
    They would want one big Santa, dressed in blue, where kids queue up for their present-processing. Receiving presents would take about 24-36 hours of mainframe processing time.
  • If Microsoft ran Christmas…
    Each time you bought an ornament, you would have to buy a tree as well. You wouldn’t have to take the tree, but you still have to pay for it anyway. Ornament/95 would weigh 1500 pounds (requiring a reinforced steel countertop tree), draw enough electricity to power a small city, take up 95% of the space in your living room, would claim to be the first ornament that uses the colors red/green together. It would interrogate your other decorations to find out who made them. Most everyone would hate Microsoft ornaments, but nonetheless would buy them since most of the other tree types wouldn’t work with their hooks.
  • If Apple ran Christmas…
    It would do everything the Microsoft ornaments do, but years earlier, and with a smaller mouse (not stirring of course).
  • If Silicon Graphics ran Christmas…
    Ornaments would be priced slightly higher, but would hang on the tree remarkably quickly. Also the colors of the ornaments would be prettier than most all the others. Options would be available for ‘equalization’ of color combinations on the tree.
  • If Dell ran Christmas…
    Wait a minute? Isn’t IBM running this Christmas..??
  • If Fisher Price ran Christmas…
    “Baby’s First Ornament” would have a hand-crank that you turn to hang the thing on the tree.
  • If The Rand Corporation ran Christmas…
    The ornaments would be large perfectly smooth and seamless black cubes. Christmas morning there would be presents for everyone, but no one would know what they were. Their service department would have an unlisted phone number, and be located at the North Pole. Blueprints for ornaments would be highly classified government documents. X-Files would have an episode about them.
  • If the NSA ran Christmas…
    Your ornaments would have a secret trap door that only the NSA could access in case they needed to monitor your tree for reasons of national security.
  • If DEC ran Christmas…
    We used to have Christmas back in the ’70s, didn’t we?
  • If Hewlett-Packard ran Christmas…
    They would market the Reverse Polish Ornament, which is put in your attic on the weekend after Thanksgiving, and placed out for viewing the day after the January Bowl Games.
  • If Sony ran Christmas…
    Their Personal Xmas-ing Device, which would be barely larger than an ornament and flat, would allow you to celebrate the season with a device attached conveniently to your belt.
  • If the Franklin Mint ran Christmas…
    Every month, you would receive another lovely hand-crafted item from an authentic Civil War pewter ornament collection. Each ornament would weight about 7 pounds, and require you to pay shipping and handling charges.
  • If Cray ran Christmas…
    The holiday season would cost $16 million but would be celebrated faster than any other holiday during the year.
  • If Thinking Machines ran Christmas…
    You would be able to hang over 64,000 ornaments on your tree (all identical) at the same time.
  • If Timex ran Christmas…
    The holiday would be cheap, small, quartz-crystal driven, and would let you take a licking and keep on shopping.
  • If Radio Shack ran Christmas…
    The staff would sell you ornaments, but not know anything about them or what they were for. Or you could buy parts to build your own tree.
  • If K-Tel ran Christmas…
    Ornaments would not be sold in stores, but when you purchased some, they would be accompanied by a free set of Ginsu knives.
  • If University of Waterloo ran Christmas…
    They would immediately change the name to WatMas.

The Tomato Millionaire

An unemployed man goes to apply for a job with Microsoft as a janitor. The manager there arranges for him to take an aptitude test (Section: Floors, sweeping and cleaning).

After the test, the manager says, “You will be employed at minimum wage, $5.15 an hour. Let me have your e-mail address, so that I can send you a form to complete and tell you where to report for work on your first day.”

Taken aback, the man protests that he has neither a computer nor an e-mail address. To this the MS manager replies, “Well, then, that means that you virtually don’t exist and can therefore hardly expect to be employed.”

Stunned, the man leaves. Not knowing where to turn and having only $10 in his wallet, he decides to buy a 25 lb. flat of tomatoes at the supermarket. Within less than 2 hours, he sells all the tomatoes individually at 100% profit. Repeating the process several times more that day, he ends up with almost $100 before going to sleep that night.

And thus it dawns on him that he could quite easily make a living selling tomatoes. Getting up early every day and going to bed late, he multiplies his profits quickly. After a short time he acquires a cart to transport several dozen boxes of tomatoes, only to have to trade it in again so that he can buy a pick-up truck to support his expanding business.

By the end of the second year, he is the owner of a fleet of pick-up trucks and manages a staff of a hundred former unemployed people, all selling tomatoes.

Planning for the future of his wife and children, he decides to buy some life insurance. Consulting with an insurance adviser, he picks an insurance plan to fit his new circumstances. At the end of the telephone conversation, the adviser asks him for his e-mail address in order to send the final documents electronically.

When the man replies that he has no e-mail, the adviser is stunned, “What, you don’t have e-mail? How on earth have you managed to amass such wealth without the Internet, e-mail and e-commerce? Just imagine where you would be now, if you had been connected to the Internet from the very start!”

After a moment of thought, the tomato millionaire replied, “Why, of course! I would be a floor cleaner at Microsoft!”

Moral of this story:

  1. The Internet, e-mail and e-commerce do not need to rule your life.
  2. If you don’t have e-mail, but work hard, you can still become a millionaire.
  3. Seeing that you got this story via e-mail, you’re probably closer to becoming a janitor than you are to becoming a millionaire.
  4. If you do have a computer and e-mail, you have already been taken to the cleaners by Microsoft.

Good Paying American Jobs

Joe Smith started the day early, having set his alarm clock (made in Japan) for 6:00 am. While his coffee pot (made in Japan) is perking, he puts his blow dryer (made in Taiwan) to work and shaves with his electric razor (made in Hong Kong).

He puts on a dress shirt (made in Taiwan), his designer jeans (made in Singapore), and a pair of tennis shoes (made in Korea). After cooking up some breakfast in his new electric skillet (made in the Philippines), he sits down to figure out on his calculator (made in Mexico) how much he can spend today.

After setting his watch (made in Switzerland) to the radio (made in Hong Kong), he goes out, gets in his car (made in Germany), and, as has been his daily task for months, goes looking for a good paying American job.

After the end of another discouraging and fruitless day, Joe decides to relax for a while. He puts on a pair of sandals (made in Brazil), pours himself a glass of wine (made in France), and turns on his TV (made in Japan), and ponders again why he can’t find that “good paying American job.”

3Com Park and After

Renaming California’s Heritage

Cisco, California November 15, 1998 — Well, it’s over. The bizarre episode that began two years ago, when Candlestick Park, San Francisco’s breezy, freezing sports stadium, was renamed 3Com Park to publicize a communications company, has come to an end. A review of the great damage done during this brief period may serve as a warning for a forgetful future. It might even help to prevent a repetition of this folly.

Oakland was, as might be expected, the first to follow. The sportsocracy of the East Bay was afraid of a taxpayer revolt if ticket sales continued to sag despite popular enthusiasm over the return of the prodigal football Raiders. Bids were solicited for a sponsor to place its name on the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

Larry Ellison, out-maneuvered in the bidding for Candlestick Park, won easily in Oakland. Oracle Park was born. (Persistent rumors that Ellison threatened to bring the Oakland economy to a halt by inserting a secret virus into municipal databases have never been substantiated.) Then California’s notorious highway department was privatized, and the floodgates opened.

The Golden Gate Bridge went first. The three months of political maneuvering that followed were too sordid for description. Sun Microsystems prevailed in the lottery that was held when all other methods failed. Sun Gate sounded too much like an astronomical scandal, so Sun Span was chosen. One side-effect: a reduction in the number of suicides leaping from the bridge. More than one would-be suicide has turned away from the edge, later telling police: “I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge had class, but Sun Span is simply too tacky. It sounds like a discount shampoo.”


The executives of Silicon Graphics, Inc., had begun to consider a change to a corporate name that would reflect more accurately the company’s increasing concentration on entertainment. This reform became more pressing when SGI bought the Great America theme park down the road and renamed it “Virtual America.”

Embarrassment grew when SGI’s all-digital musical, “Indigo Dreams,” failed utterly on Broadway. Variety’s headline: “Silicon Bomb Leaves Nothing but Gritty Taste.” So it was only natural that the company would change its name and simultaneously affix the new one to Highway 101, the battered, overcrowded freeway that passes the gates of SGI. Highway 101 is, of course, now known as “SGI Boulevard.”

In retrospect, the adverse consequences should have been anticipated. SGI sales have dropped for the first time in history. Commuters now associate their en route sufferings with SGI, not the bureaucrats in Sacramento.

A happier outcome was found for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. This awkward name, born of a political impasse more than 50 years ago, has always been ignored by those who live around the Bay. They have stubbornly referred to the bridge by the name used during its construction: “The Bay Bridge.” Bay Networks, Inc., took advantage of this preference and offered to restore the bridge’s name to its original simplicity — and pay for the reform. Popular gratitude was unprecedented, slowing for a while the upsurge of opposition to the “selling of the Bay Area.”


Apple was becoming increasingly frustrated as it lost out in one round of bidding after another. Then San Francisco began to auction off the names of its most popular tourist attractions. Moving fast, Apple scraped together its last few hundred million dollars and made a pre-emptive bid to place its name on the most famous attraction of them all. Naturally, the purchase was immediately attacked in the courts. The protracted litigation was followed daily on TV all over the world.

Then the judge ruled that, due to a defect in the intricate wording of the bidding document, Apple had paid approximately $321 million for the privilege of calling itself Fisherman’s Wharf, rather than the other way around. When the laughter subsided, the leadership of the former Apple decided to make the best of it. They accepted the new name and licensed its use back to the City and County of San Francisco for its original purposes.

Adversity may, occasionally, lead to determination. Apple had been, at best, plodding steadily downward. The reborn Fisherman’s Wharf (“nothing fishy about our performance”) has flourished ever since.


As is its policy, IBM had procrastinated until most of the best sites had been renamed. Then it made a try for Lombard Street, which swishes picturesquely down the side of one of the City’s splendid hills. IBM won the bidding easily but encountered opposition when it proposed the new name: “IBM POWERParallel RS/6000-S/390-AIX-OS2 Way.”

Even in wordy San Francisco, this was considered too cumbersome. In the arbitration that followed, IBM’s lawyers argued that this was a typical IBM product designation. Attorneys for the city won out after they proved that any sign capable of displaying the full name legibly would be wider than the street. The final compromise was: “Blue Street.” Proponents of the renaming fad noted that all this was simply innovative civic finance: revenue had been extracted from names, which had formerly been potential assets that had never paid their way.


Opposition was nevertheless exploding. It became tumultuous in the summer of 1997. Intel had been watching quietly, waiting for a suitable opportunity. Then an assistant treasurer of Santa Clara County siphoned off nearly $1 billion in county funds. She was caught, but the money could not be recovered. She had frittered away much of her stake, buying Netscape at 78. The rest was lost speculating on mohair futures.

The county authorities were relieved when Intel offered to make up the shortfall. In that atmosphere, the matter of the county’s name was only a detail. Hence today’s Intel County, and, inevitably, Intel Valley is replacing Silicon Valley.

Another precedent had been set. Cisco, another communications company, had by that time accumulated almost as much loose cash as
Intel. Cisco approached the civic authorities in San Francisco who were, as always, eager for any money they could get. Cisco shrewdly packaged its proposal as an economy measure. It presented evidence of the savings in letterheads, printing on the five million parking tickets issued every year, signs and other expenditures that could be made by removing seven letters and one space from the name San Francisco.


After Cisco’s proposal was approved, opposition became irresistible. Within a few weeks, enough signatures were collected to place Proposition 666, the Preservation of Historic Names initiative, on the 1998 ballot.

It was a bitter and expensive campaign. Supporters of the initiative exploited reports — never confirmed but never denied — that Microsoft proposed to solve the financial problems of Yosemite National Park if the Yosemite Valley were renamed “Windows Gulch.” A relentless series of TV ads showed a malignant, goggle-eyed Bill Gates reaching greedily toward Half Dome.

Proposition 666 carried by a decisive margin. In a deal with local and state authorities, the supporters of the proposition had accepted a key stipulation: names already changed would be retained until valid contracts expired.

Consequently, this article is still datelined “Cisco, California.” At least for now, however, the commercialization of names on civic monuments in California has been brought to a tardy but welcome stop.

Except for Disney’s efforts to change the name of the city surrounding Disney World to “Mickey Heim.” After almost two years, this proposal remains in litigation — with no prospect of early resolution.