Karoshi by Jaclyn J. Reed

TO: [REPLY ALL] Employees of Sand Star, Inc.

FROM: Allie in Advertising, Cubicle 2 (2nd Row) by the Copier from 2005

DATE: August 10, 2017

SUBJECT: RE: Our Culture: We Want Your Opinion!


On behalf of myself, the ad. team, and my fellow worker bees, I’d like to inform the powers that be of the individual and institutional mismanagement, maleficence, and malapropism of Sand Star employees that has not only contributed to America’s middle class dystopia, but has no doubt also increased liquor sales and opioid abuse in Central Pennsylvania.


Sand Star, established 1956, is as top-heavy as a natural pair of double-G breasts in a bra without underwire. Like most successful companies, it hoards millions to avoid paying its 12,000 employees a living wage, knowing no one is going to leave a steady full-time job in this economy – the economy it helped shape – regardless of decreased PTO and conditional annual increases.

Sand Star’s headquarters is a 205,000 square foot, $11 million building on the city’s edge needing at least $2 million in upgrades to meet safety regulations, but there is a cafeteria with decent pricing and strong coffee. They also have a soda machine with an ice maker; should you suddenly be attacked by a falling ceiling tile and need a cold pack.

Upon entering this company – which specializes in pool toys, beach accessories, bathing suits, boating sports goods, and other various nonsensical summer-time splurges – I believed Corporate America was the stage I’d break out on, a world adorned with designer suits, red-bottomed pumps, and limitless opportunities. It represented, what I now understand to be, the unattainable ideal of a stable livelihood.


After toiling over email chains, spreadsheets, and budget plans for the better part of six months, I am convinced America will soon experience something similar to Japan’s occupational sudden mortality epidemic.

Each time someone responds to an email with a question I answered in the aforementioned email, the roof grows more and more appealing.


This month alone, I’ve logged more than 80 hours OT. I’ve also skipped lunch three days this week to get the necessary reports to Accounting by the 3 p.m. sales call (according to Wesley in Analytics that makes me this week’s Burnout Champion – thank you, Wesley, for the candy bar!).

Of the three meetings I scheduled to discuss my workload with members of the management team, only one was kept. Email & SMS Marketing Manager Debby sympathized with my struggle to prioritize the priorities and assured me steps to hire more employees were already being taken. She then sent me the creative brief and several action items for a project her Digital Coordinator is too swamped to handle.

Carol from Item Integrity smokes pot in the Marketing Department’s bathroom and never uses air freshener; it smells like a skunk died in the third stall. Several times she’s blamed it on Sarah in Merchandising (the one with a cat’s ashes on her desk, not the one obsessed with Harry Potter), but we know it isn’t Sarah because she prefers hard liquor (see the “lemonade” in the mini fridge under her desk).

HarryPotter-Sarah is having an affair with Rick from Financial Planning. While suspicions were aroused well before my employment, it was confirmed on Wednesday when Sarah’s assistant, Jessica, was seen standing outside the Pricing Conference Room after the FY18 planning meeting. I think I speak for everyone in the company, especially those in HR, when I say that Jessica’s job description does not include guarding the door while her manager gets off. If it does, her compensation is far from commensurate.

On the topic of the FY18 meeting, how is it possible that no one pointed out the penis in Graphic-Designer-Josh’s mock up for Spring Rollout? Of course, he hides phallices in all his projects, but this one was particularly obvious.

To be fair, most of the Creative Team is on some kind of medication. Both Grant and Josh are manic-depressives, and Amy shoots insulin upwards of six times a day because last minute redesigns drive her to stress eating. I know this because I borrowed Valium from Grant while discussing Amy’s run to the emergency room after a blood sugar crash. I don’t usually self-medicate, but the woman in the cube beside me likes to take personal calls throughout the day that consist of Game of Thrones spoilers, crying over her ex-husband (or his new wife, it varies), and commentary on Donald Trump, whom she insists is “exactly what America needs right now.”


The treachery, adultery, thievery, and unabashed tomfoolery has gone too far – as has I.T.’s blatant disregard for my complaints about Excel crashing. Others in their responses to HR praised the effectiveness of an “open door” policy for managers and suggested additional vacation days to cope with the amassing workload and dwindling staff. However, I posit there is only one solution for this disease: the immediate dismissal of all personale, management, executives, and physical walls so that, like a forest purged by fire, this company and those once held captive by it may rise from the ashes as people who draw the line at mandatory, 2-hour conference calls on Friday afternoons.

Please find my resignation attached and, in accordance with the Employee Handbook, regard the fire alarm as a drill unless actually on fire.

Thank you!


Sand Star, Inc. | Advertising Client Services Coordinator

P: xxx-xxx-xxxx | ajennings@sandstar.com

Jaclyn J. Reed received her MFA in Writing from Carlow University and her BA in English from the University of Pittsburgh. Her work has appeared in Adelaide, Northern Appalachia Review, The Sunlight Press, and Prime Number Magazine, among others. She works in e-commerce solutions and lives across the way from Hershey’s Reese’s factory.