I’ve wasted many years in the soul-crushing world that is big business. I’ve ranted, I’ve screamed, and yes, I’ve even cried, about the asinine ignorance that seems to pervade in this culture. But never have I read a book that perfectly mocks the system as Institutionalized by Fred Smith and Joe Schmoe, and published by Blood & Treasure.
This book is a hilarious look inside the fictitious company Institutionalized Industries, a firm, like most of its real world counterparts, where those who occupy the top positions are the least capable of handling them. And at Institutionalized, insanity abounds.
From the newly crowned CEO, and Napoleon fanatic, Bill Oge, we learn of I.I.’s new direction. And, as in the real world, it is a lot of hyperboles wrapped in the language of H.R. speak. A lot of sound, but definitely no fury. Anyone who’s read a company press release will completely understand where this book is coming from. The author has expertly conveyed the neo-English that is corporate tongue. But it doesn’t stop there.
This book is littered with characters from all aspects of corporate life. They are all suspicious, flawed, and wrought with anxiety. Why do you think one of the new initiatives at Institutionalized was to spike the drinking water with a drug similar to Prozac? Even with these psychotic measures, the inmates still manage to run the asylum. And run it they do, right into the ground. From sexual harassment lawsuits, to environmental investigations, Institutionalized falls victim to them all.
The real fun in this book comes from finding reality in such an irrational portrayal of it. I laughed many times when I came across similarities I found between each of the characters presented and characters from my own experiences. And, just like in the real world, everyone is out for themselves. They plan, scheme, and derail each others’ plans the moment they are made aware of them, only to have their own plans blow up in their faces.
The ineptitude at Institutionalized is insurmountable; even their own leader is seeing a “psychiatrist” who, in my opinion, is nothing more than a very expensive hooker. But such ignorance is built upon by characters like COO Harry Mucs, a pencil-chewing paranoid; Senior Vice-President of Sales Lance Kiravam, an up an’ coming no bull crap kind of guy (who is my favorite character); Yvonne Revals, the very uptight, rule-enforcing Vice-President of Human Resources; and all the way down to a secretary named “Killer”. Every freak of corporate nature is represented here.
Institutionalized is a fun read for anyone who finds themselves stuck in the bizarre game known as office politics. You will find yourself in here, and you will most definitely find examples of people who you work with and for. There are some hilarious moments in this book, especially the product testing during which several people are killed, and the efforts made to set up shop in China, that makes it worth the read.
The scariest part of reading this book, is that most, if not all of the memos passed in its pages could come from any company I have worked for. Yes, they are that accurate. And even in a highly fictionalized story like this, that makes the reality of working in big business all the more creepy.