Question: I’m feeling totally steamrollered at work and don’t see any way out.

It’s a question of being on the bus or off the bus, as Ken Kesey might have said. Corporations are a bit like a juggernaut, meaning an unstoppable force. A juggernaut is actually a wheeled chariot that rolls on, uncontrollably, crushing everyone in its path. So, much better to be “on the bus” in this case.

Who is Ken Kesey? you ask. Well, friends, he was a famous novelist and counterculture leader long before your ass was born. After participating in official government-sponsored experiments with a strange new drug called LSD aka “acid”, he woke up to new possibilities and his road-tripping activities became the subject of Tom Wolfe’s classic book “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”.

One feature of the road trip was a bus called Furthur [sic] and it would sweep through conformity-riddled suburbia and just pick people up who wanted to go. People who caved in to fears and refused to dare were “off the bus” and would never know the magic.

Those who were “on the bus” were the privileged insiders who got to experience the amazing highs and terrifying lows of expanded consciousness. It sounded a bit like being in a cult with a charismatic leader (Kesey, in this case).

The funniest part was when they visited Tim Leary, the East Coast acid evangelist. Leary was into responsible use of LSD, “set, setting, and dosage” as he put it. You had a guide and a safe space. Kesey was the opposite of this, and they had a little culture clash.

But I haven’t answered your question. Being “on the bus” in the corporate sense means buying into the official line of thinking which is generally that the company is poised to change the world with some game-changing technology or other, and you can be on that winning team. I think it’s more exciting just to be working on something interesting without all the fanfare.

And a lot of those companies aren’t around anymore. The ones that are, help keep the myth alive because everyone wants to be that Google millionaire. Feeling steamrollered means either you’re not being supported or you’re just not a true believer. Also this crazy life just isn’t for everyone. You’re not defective for wanting to work quietly on things that make sense.

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