Thus far my campaign to be named Employee of the Month at The Baltimore Sun seems bogged down in petty bureaucratic wrangling and the kind of seamy back-room politics that would make an old Teamster blanch.
Bitter? Oh, you betcha I'm bitter. But it's a good kind of bitter, the kind that gnaws at your stomach and pounds at your temples and makes every other negative emotion (jealousy, gloom, etc.) seem like a morphine drip.
Regular visitors to this space may recall reading about this Employee of the Month business some months ago.
In the typically hard-hitting prose with which this column has become associated, I noted that I had been at this paper nearly 12 years without once winning this award.
What made this so incredible, of course, was my lengthy record of dedication, selflessness and hard work, along with a cheerful nature that bordered on . . . well, perkiness is the word that comes to mind.
Unfortunately, the situation has not improved in the least.
As of this writing, it has now been . . . let's see, 11 times 12, carry the one, add eight . . . 140 straight months in which the award has gone to someone other than myself. Think about that: 140 months!
Last time they gave it to someone in advertising. Or maybe it was marketing. Advertising, marketing . . . what's the difference?
The point is, it didn't go to me. So that makes 140 months without so much as a plaque or a ribbon or even a coffee mug, for God's sake.
(About the only thing I ever got from this joint was a cheap Sun clip-on pen, which I had to steal while praying I could get the damn thing past security.
(This proved to be a waste of good prayers, since it appears you could wheel a howitzer past the security team in this building.)
In any event, at long last I may have finally stumbled upon the reason for this dismal showing in the Employee of the Month balloting.
Apparently, in order to be named Employee of the Month at The Baltimore Sun, one must first be nominated for the honor.
In other words, someone must actually think you're doing a good job.
And according to the people who oversee the contest -- this sounds hard to believe, but here it is -- no one has ever nominated me for Employee of the Month.
Well. With all due modesty, a lesser man would not handle this sort of rejection quite as gracefully.
A lesser man would be perched on the 17th-floor ledge of an office building, sobbing and swilling a bottle of cheap wine and threatening to jump if the cops come any closer.
Not that the whole thing hasn't upset me. There are days, quite frankly, when it's difficult to get out of bed in the morning, and even harder to turn on the word processor.
And there are nights when I lie in bed and stare up at the ceiling until 3 a.m. thinking: "What do you have to do to win one of these things?"
Of course, writing a column about not winning the Employee of the Month award is fraught with its own dangers.
The last time I wrote about this, one colleague suggested that it was somehow unseemly to lobby in print for the award, or to, as he put it, "whine about it to the readers."
Look, you think I like doing this?
You think I enjoy putting an 0-for-140 streak on display for strangers to snicker at as they raise that first forkful of meatloaf to their mouths at dinner?
You think it's fun pouring your heart out like this, knowing that all your carefully chosen words and concise phrases will end up as fish wrap or (and this is a best-case scenario) lining someone's parakeet cage?
Believe me, this is not my idea of a good time.
I get tired of constantly having to trot out my qualifications for the Employee of the Month award, but . . . here we go again:
I keep a very neat desk -- pens and pencils in their own separate compartments, paper clips sorted according to size, no bourbon bottles rattling around in the drawers, etc.
I answer the phone courteously, take very few sick days, genuflect properly when the corporate big shots visit the newsroom and . . . look, I could go on and on here, but I think you get the idea.
All I'm saying is, if the voting is on the up-and-up -- and no one is suggesting it isn't, at least not yet -- there is a certain columnist here who is certainly deserving of the award.
Although it's a damn shame when a man of my age is reduced to groveling for a little recognition.