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Furies, welcome to your performance review. Today, I am not just your boss, Hades, Lord of the Underworld. I am also your prosecution, defence, judge, and jury.
You’ve been through this before, so you know the stakes: if you are found guilty of poor performance, I will feed you piece by piece to Cerberus—down boy! Now, get comfortable in your critique cages, which conveniently hang above Cerberus’s three heads. Let’s begin!
First, let’s get this straight: your job is to bring vengeance against all who displease the gods. You do this by enacting violent justice against both living and dead. While I could judge you on how many souls you’ve tortured, I like to go with my overall impressions. Nothing personal, ladies; just my observations.
This year you came up with some really fun punishments. I loved when you noticed that Al “Scarface” Capone hated spiders and had his face scar grow eight legs and attempt to scurry away. Plus, when you drove Fred Astaire mad by forcing Gene Kelly to tap dance off-beat on his taint? Great way to torture two dancers with one ‘Singin’ in the Rain’! I like how resourceful you are too. Especially when you reused Prometheus’s punishment and had Big Bird peck at Jim Henson’s liver every day while interjecting lessons for children.
It’s deeds like these that show your attention to detail and make you one of my favourites in the Underworld (don’t tell Persephone). On the whole, I’m impressed by your persistence, work ethic, and unlimited rage.
That said, you do have some areas for improvement. Your inability to relate to others is both your strength and weakness. Well, mostly your weakness. Team members have called the snakes in your hair “scary,” your breath “fouler than death,” and the whip you randomly crack during team meetings “distracting.” Try breaking the ice with some small talk! Maybe ask the Harpies about their day as you steal food together from starving men. Remember, teamwork makes the screams work.
You should also avoid punishing people outside of work assignments. For example, don’t use one of your belt snakes to slap someone for not texting you back. And stop using the company’s poisoned letterhead for your landlord dispute letters.
Lastly, I know there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other, but Persephone hasn’t found it yet. I’d like you girls to try harder to befriend Persephone. Invite her to lunch, give her a pomegranate to eat, maybe include her in a group Secret Satan. She’s only here for the winter, so let’s make sure she enjoys her stay.
Lucky for you, I oversee a lot of people I consider professionally useless—subordinates who’ve let souls escape in exchange for the soul of their firstborn child. This isn’t so bad on its own, but now standards have fallen to accepting souls of secondborns, adult children still living at home, and even pet chihuahuas. These incidents undid centuries of torture and embarrassed me in front of Zeus!
Comparatively, I judge your work to be satisfactory. Cerberus, you may close your jaws.
Congratulations on surviving another performance review. There’s no raise, but here’s some volcanic ash/snake oil hair conditioner as a token of my appreciation.
Next year, I want you to get even more creative with your tortures. Move past physical punishment and really highlight mental and emotional anguish. Get inspired by that Coronavirus disease that Pandora let out. It’s amazing the kind of hell you can create by locking young professionals and toddlers in the same apartment with no toilet paper.
I recommend Syrup by Max Barry, which I’ve read multiple times now for its kickin’ one-liners and ruthless one-upmanship. Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia is another favorite for its structure, metacommentary, and nervy narrator. The author’s blog, The War on Loneliness, details her writer’s journey more intimately than any other newsletter I subscribe to. Lately, I’ve been re-reading Sociable by Rebecca Harrington which is a perfect portrait of millennial self-consciousness and seriously underrated.