My friend, Rick, was just laid off, or as it was phrased to him, transferred to the ‘Off Payroll Division’, and he told me the one thing he absolutely will not miss is the performance reviews. Who knew they still had performance reviews, anyway? I haven’t had one in years but, then again, what can they really tell someone who plays Elton John records on the radio for a living? You should have played them better? Seriously, I thought reviews went the way of the beer an opener (church key) or Morton’s Mustache Wax (Motto: You look stupid. Go home and shave). However, if you still have reviews, I guess you should be grateful because it means you still have a job.

For the uninitiated, the performance review is conducted strictly for the entertainment of the reviewer. The reviewee already knows how it’s going to end. It’s very much like having to sit through a bad movie after having seen all the horrible previews. Oh yeah, for the victim, it’s like having to endure a root canal from a dentist who really, really enjoys garlic.

The reviewer seems to take great delight in the subtle digs, jabs and twists of the knife. “Say,” (big belly laugh) “remember when you used to call me names that implied that my face and my buttocks were interchangeable? (GULP!) Hey, how about that golf luncheon last year, when you and your cronies put vaseline on all my club handles and then you switched the tomato juice in my Bloody Mary with real blood from a deceased gopher. I’m still in therapy as a result of that. Yeah, that was a good one. Now sit down. Let’s begin, shall we?” (DOUBLE GULP!)

It’s critically important to never, ever burn bridges. Burning bridges loosely translated means being nice to awful people, however monumental a task that may seem to be. Inevitably, the person you rail on, will no doubt, someday be in a position to help you and you don’t want to do anything to hinder that process. By example, let’s look at the mistake Claude made with, at the time, a co-worker of equal irrelevance at Widgets R’ Us. Claude posted a note on the breakroom bulletin board that read: “To whoever stole my Pastrami sandwich from the office fridge…JIM, I hope you enjoyed stealing it and savoring every delectable morsel. Gee, it’s just too bad that my slobbering dog, Elsie, licked the crap out of it before I made the sandwich. Ha-Ha. Hope you burn in Hell… JIM, and, by the way, your wife says the last time she enjoyed a romantic interlude, YOU WEREN’T THERE. Ha-Ha. So, again, whoever took my pastrami sandwich from the fridge, you’re a jerk…JIM.”
P.S. Jim ended up becoming Regional Manager in charge of Widget Design and Manufacturing. Unfortunately, this didn’t end well for Claude.

It’s especially annoying when your supervisor used to work FOR you. The only reason this jerkball leapfrogged over you in the first place is because his cousin (usually it’s Vinnie from The Bronx) knew somebody who once chauffeured Derek Jeter, and whose sister just happened to be The Director and Purveyor of the Rapidly Assembled Nourishment Division (hot dog vendors) at Yankee Stadium. As luck would have it, they ended up getting married and the next thing you know, this guy hands off Yankee season tickets to the big boss and BINGO: INSTANT PROMOTION. Sometimes life isn’t fair, kids.

One other thing to keep in mind about performance reviews is that every good thing you’ve ever done will be covered in the first ten seconds. “Bob, you did an adequate job fixing that paper jam in the copy machine last month and I really liked your orchestration of the Masters golf tournament office pool (long pause, removal of glasses and clearing of throat) but…” OH CRAP! HERE IT COMES. Why does there always have to be a BUT? Because getting the positives out of the way early leaves them the rest of the time to make you feel like you’re a worthless piece of flesh who is just taking up oxygen on the planet and to make you thankful that a malcontent, such as yourself, still has a job in the first place. It’s their job. It’s what they do…and the revel in it.

So, good luck with your next performance review and remember, get a good night’s sleep beforehand, sound alert when you’re in the office and try to exercise some restraint when you feel like jumping across the desk in an attempt to strangle the interviewer. By the way, the next time you have a pizza delivered and the guy at your doorstep is mumbling and kicking himself in the shins, say ‘hi’ to him for me. His name is Claude.


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