Who saw that crazy TV thing on Sunday night? Yeah…no, I didn’t watch the Superbowl. The OTHER one.
The deal here is that every week they’ll be sending out the president of some company undercover to see how his employees really work and what their lives are like.
In the premiere episode, the president of Waste Management – let’s call him by his Worker name, “Larry” – goes undercover and the transformation from the board room to the break room is amazing. You can hardly tell it’s the same dude – what with him having no suit and not shaving for a day. C’mon! Undercover should mean REAL undercover shit! DEEP Undercover Boss would be better. They should’ve put him in some wild costume with a back story. Or let him make some misguided character choice of his own, so he emerges from his executive bathroom in some crazy far-out get-up and he’s like: “I’m gonna be a hippy!” Then he’s out there hauling trash looking like Serpico.
He seems like a good guy, and genuine. But the show is a bit ridiculous. In the first segment, he spends time at a recycling plant pulling cardboard from a conveyer belt of paper. It’s a real “Lucy in the Pie Factory” moment, but the best part to me was the person showing him the ropes. She’s supposed to come off as a real salt of the earth type. But there she is standing behind him, talking to him like he’s a kindergartener: “Blue is whaaaaaat?….Recyling! Gooooddd….”
Everyone’s got their beefs. This lady’s beef is that she gets docked two minutes of pay for every minute she is late back from lunch. That last half a hot-dog could cost you a half-hotdog’s worth of pay. That’s what we call a point of diminishing returns. I say finish the dog and live a little.
The next guy he works with is a dismissive asshole, but later on in the show they’re saying how motivational this guy is just because he’s on dialysis and didn’t immediately mention it to Larry. He met the guy five minutes ago! He doesn’t have to say, “Hi I’m Clark and I’m on dialysis.” Just because he didn’t mention it yet doesn’t mean he wasn’t going to. It doesn’t mean that he’s motivational; it just means he doesn’t wear his dialysis machine on his sleeve.
Larry’s job is to catch paper that’s blowing around on this landfill hill and put it in a garbage bag. And his boss – Mr. Motivational – is saying stuff like, “There IS a hole in the top of that bag, isn’t there?”
Yeah, sarcasm REALLY motivates me. I REALLY like it.
For all the garbage fans out there, all this chasing around loose paper is frustrating to watch. “When do we get to drive around on a garbage truck!!??” Okay: calm down, garbage fans. We’re getting there. Larry does get to drive around with a kindly, loveable garbagelady named TK.
I live in Brooklyn, where our garbagemen aren’t very loveable. We used to have a garbage can with a broken wheel that made it a little harder to drag around. One day the garbageman threw it in the truck along with its garbage. Apparently, we needed a new garbage can.
I wish we had a Waste Management Garbage Lady like they had on this show. According to one sequence, the garbage lady is sort of like a beloved village postman from a Norman Rockwell painting, visiting everyone along her route and talking to everyone. They make a big deal about how Larry in his role of president has been trying to boost productivity without realizing the effect that it is having on his drivers. Surely there’s a way to be productive picking up garbage AND still have time to chat up old ladies in their garages, swap baby photos and recipe tips! Why not a leisurely Garbage Stroll instead of the garbage truck’s normal route? Why not combine garbage pickup with handing out lemonade and cookies? Oh, that’s why: no one wants to eat garbagey cookies and lemonade.
One of TK’s beefs is that she has a pot to piss in. A coffee can actually. There’s no place for her to use the bathroom on her route. I imagine this is why she has come to know so many of the townsfolk so well; from using their facilities.
It could also be that we just have An Exceptionally Chatty Garbage Lady here. If I was kind of a loner, didn’t want to talk to people too much, kind of want to keep to myself, keep everyone at arm’s length, I’d probably work as a garbageman. Or a hermit. That’s a job, right?
But if I were Exceptionally Chatty, I’d not be a Garbage Lady trying to shout the end of my fascinating anecdote off the back of my truck.
Another job that Larry gets to do is suck the poo out of Porta Potties. His supervisor has a round-about way of describing this task:
“There’s these toilets…and they don’t flush…they don’t have a flushing mechanism…impossible to flush…”
“…so when people do what people do in a toilet…it stays there…gawd, I’m not sure how to make this clearer…”
“Like a Porta Potty?”
“That’s a good way to put it! Yes, a Port Potty! So there’s…stuff in them…”
The guy Larry sucks poo up with is a jolly old soul who is not Santa Claus. Don’t make me go look up his name (like you care!). It’s amazing: even though this guy’s job is to clean out those, um, toilet-like things, he has a good attitude and tries to make it fun. Good for him! No use crying over spilt poo.
The point of this whole show, of course, is to show the Big Cheese how the Little People live. From his ivory tower, the Big Cheese has lost touch but now he has insights. Larry decides to institute a ton of changes based on what he’s learned. He calls his senior management team in to tell them of these revolutionary changes. The management team looks way nervous. These insights are going to change the way Waste Management does business forever.
Big Change #1: That crazy-fast conveyer belt? Leave that as is. But don’t penalize people for dawdling during lunch.
Big Change #2: That Asshole on Dialysis? Make him a motivational “health mentor,” whatever that is.
Big Change #3: That woman who was doing three people’s jobs? Hire two more people, so there are three people doing three peoples’ jobs.
Larry’s on the right track maybe, but these seem like kind of narrow insights to me. It’s not like he suddenly realized that Waste Management worked with trash. The insight’s more like “productivity is still important, but there’s a balance.”
I like to picture Larry going back to the headquarters of Waste Management and implementing all sorts of crazy changes based on his fleeting impressions of the various cranks he met and situations he didn’t fully understand.
“Let’s slow down the paper conveyer belt! It’s too fast. And everyone will now have a thirty-THREE minute lunch break.”
“We need Extra-Wide Bags for picking up pieces of paper floating around landfill hills!”
“Install a Women’s Bathroom on the back of all our trucks!”
Think up “funny names” for sucking poo out of Porta-Potties.”
A better show would be one where they have to do a swap! So while the CEO is out riding around in a garbage truck, the garbageman is deciding long-term corporate strategy. He drives his garbage truck to the country club and at first, the stiffs at the club don’t like him, but then he saves their golf tournament with some sort of garbage trick I’m too lazy to figure out right now.
I did actually like this show. It shows potential. I’m looking forward to next week when we get to see the president of Hooters get to the bottom of this “respect for female employees” thing. Perhaps he will have a major insight resulting in fat, hairy dudes serving burgers. Or maybe some hot lady will sway the stuffy board members by showing a little skin…