Lifetime Commitment

So, I need to be a little careful with what I say here, because I don’t want to talk too much about where I work. In general, it’s a good practice to avoid mentioning the place by name or giving details that might lead someone to figure it out. Not because anything I do is particularly sensitive, or because the people I work with are necessarily lacking a sense of humor, but because you never know someone might take to be violation of the established “business standards of conduct” or, because business loves abbreviations, “BSCs.” With all that said, I’ll set some context for this strip.

I have mentioned before that worked for a company that was acquired last year. The company I was working for had been around for a while, but we were acquired by an organization with a much longer legacy. Through the process of integrating the companies, I was introduced to people, or had them pointed out to me, who had been with the acquiring company for as much as thirty years. As of this year, I am forty-one, which means there are people still working for this organization who started their careers with this company when I was eleven. It’s hard even to imagine that.

I can only speak for myself when I say I grew up being taught that life was going to school, eventually getting a college degree, ideally in a field where you would pursue a career; and ultimately graduating and joining the workforce. From that point I was always told that I could expect to start in on the bottom, and eventually work my way up to somewhere around the top, even if it’s just the top of the middle. That’s what I was given as the facts of life, and what I was told I needed to do to be happy.

I think one reason my generation (Gen X) was so disaffected and angry, was we realized this is bullshit. Amid the “gimme 80’s” and “greed is good,” we realized what we were being told by our parents about life and happiness, who had in turn been told the same thing (more or less) by their parents, was a lie. It had started to become obvious that those in power had begun to manipulate the system so only those born into fortune and privilege would ever be in a position to succeed. The rest of us were being set up to perpetuate the lie that anyone could achieve happiness and fortune through enough hard work, while holding up wealthy people who’d never worked a day in their life (or at least not worked their way up) as icons of that falsehood.

All that’s probably a topic for another comic or post.

When I learned there were people with the new company who’d been working there for so long, this comic leaped into my mind, almost fully formed. My wife, Mildly Sensational, helped to tweak the second panel, but the dialog is almost not changed from the original draft. In panel two, the original script had Old Fred saying something like, “I had to attend my wife’s funeral by Skype.” Mildly Sensational pointed out, rightly, that it was a little too dark, and packed more of a punch than the third panel, where I want the joke to be. I backed off, replaced the funeral with a granddaughter’s wedding, and it worked much better.

Artistically, I’m trying something a little different here with the establishing shot of the cube farm in which the comic takes place, then pulling in closer until it ends on a two shot of the “Freds.” Fred is a name I give to all the random male characters who make an appearance in my comic. I don’t know why. I’ve just always thought Fred was a name with some inherent comic value.