Poor Sisyphus, sentenced for eternity to push that damn rock up that damn hill only to have it roll back to the bottom when it reached the summit. I’m willing to bet that he spent all of those hours of futile effort cursing Zeus under his breath for condemning him to that fate.

We had a person resign here a few weeks ago. She followed all the normal procedures, gave her two week notice, showed up each and every day, and performed her functions as she normally would. Since she works pretty much solo, many of us were wondering who would take over her role when her time finally came and reall y didn’t have a clue as to what she actually did..

That time is today.

Just yesterday her manager put out a cry for help to other members of our so-called management team in order to get someone cross trained on what she does. My boss forwarded this e-mail to me with a one liner that read as follows :

”Bob, are you up to the task?”

With the job market being what it is and my company laying off people left and right I thought to myself “what choice do I have” and stepped up to the plate.

So now, I’m in an awkward position. I know nothing about the expectations or requirements of the job. The person who is supposed to train me is in Florida and I’m in Ohio. I’ve asked for procedures and thus far haven’t gotten any and have the feeling I’m going to be flying by the seat of my pants for the foreseeable future.

In a word, I’m “fucked” and not in the way that would normally bring a smile to my face.

I really dislike (hate is too strong a word) working in a “cover your ass” kind of mode. I feel that I’m a responsible individual who will own up to mistakes when they occur and are a result of my own actions but I feel as if I should somehow offer up a few caveats and set some expectations about being tossed to the wolves.

In reality, I’d like to offer up a scathing indictment regarding my management team and shake my fist at the sky. In hindsight, I should’ve harkened back my days in the suck where I learned early and often to never volunteer for anything.

Now that the personal stuff is out of the way, here’s a typical corporate workplace scenario you can use to see if someone is setting you up to fail.

Step 1

Your boss summons you into their office and assigns you some ambiguous task and then leaves you to fend for yourself.

Step 2

You make a mess of the task and lose a client, miss a deadline or provide inaccurate data.

Step 3

Your boss calls you on the carpet and reams you a new one for making them look bad.

Step 4

You go back to your cube farm with your tail between your legs and stew over the circumstances you've allowed yourself to be put in. You either try too hard the next time you’re called upon (and once again, fail) or act like a shrinking violet and slowly dissolve yourself from your boss and your co-workers.

Step 5

Your boss takes notice of your attitude and rather than mentor you or provide you with the proper resources, decides you aren’t worth the effort and shuns you like you were a whoring member of the Amish community.

Step 6

You resent being shunned and start to voice your complaints to anybody who is willing to listen. You begin to show up late, call in sick and start bad mouthing the boss in public.

Step 7

Your boss gets wind of your behavior and calls you in for a sit-down. Perhaps you think this is a good thing and a chance to clear the air and set things right once and for all.

Step 8

Your boss has other intentions since their ass is also on the line and informs you of some kind of “double secret probationary” period in which you will be monitored constantly under close adult supervision.

Step 9

You protest being treated like a child and make this known in a vociferous matter.

Step 10

Security is called and you are unceremoniously escorted from the premises in front of your former co-workers.

Step 11

With you out of the way, your boss goes after another “volunteer” to perform the task in which you failed so miserably.

Step 12

Repeat Steps 2 through 11 and good luck on your next job.

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