In this debut memoir, a Trinidad-born engineer/programmer shares stories of discrimination and absurdity during his U.S. career.
“Whatever happened to standard operating procedures for hiring?” Aaron says several times in this memoir, a collection of anecdotes about his perplexing experiences in corporate America. A native of Trinidad, he earned an MBA and a Master of Science in Engineering in industrial and operations engineering, both from the University of Michigan, in the late 1970s. Although he was clearly as accomplished as other job candidates, he says that he often encountered outright racism; one interviewer turned red in his presence because, Aaron says, he was “not used to outstanding black students, especially one from a poor-ass third-world country.” Recruiters and managers weirdly focused on his Caribbean education credentials rather than on “what I did at Michigan and afterwards.” He also relates an array of other head-scratching incidents, including taking a test for a job and getting a rejection letter nearly instantaneously. Aaron paraphrases pop-music lyrics throughout his narrative, including a chapter titled “What Does My High School Name Got To Do, Got to Do With It,” a reference to the persistent puzzlement about his Caribbean high school being called a “College.” He also uses many abbreviations and acronyms to make fun of and/or mask managers’ and companies’ names (such as a hiring manager he calls “JW—Just Wrong”). The book concludes with facsimile pages of his transcripts and diplomas. Aaron’s feelings of anger, confusion, and bemusement about his treatment in the workplace will certainly resonate with many readers. He thankfully keeps his tales on the short side, providing about 60 quick stories that offer an engaging scope of experiences. Their tone ranges from Office Space–type ridiculous to truly disheartening. However, some of Aaron’s complaints seem one-sided and incomplete; it seems quite understandable, for example, that employers would be hesitant to hire him before he had his green card.
Quirky, often relatable workplace riffing, although its grievances aren’t always persuasive.