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The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist ™

JUL 2002

Fight when you can
Take flight when you must
Flow like a dream
In the Phoenix we trust!

Table of Contents

Heads Up: Event Solutions, Conocimiento Y Dirrecion, Training Kit/Book, AOL Chat
Shrink Rap:
"Cutting Edge" Strategies for Reorganizing and Downsizing
Main Essay:
Five Macro and Micro Strategies for Post-Enron Reorganization
Readers:
CEOnistas

Heads Up:

1. Training Kit: Want to strengthen your ability to lead or market a stress workshop or any kind of speaking/training program? Consider the Stress Doc Training/Marketing Kit, which includes both "how to" manual and articles and the opportunity for phone coaching. For more info: Training/Marketing Kit or email.

2. Stress Doc Book:

From Stress Brakes and Shrink Rap to Safe Stress and Cool Moon Cats:

The Wit and Wisdom of the Stress Doc, Stress Doc Enterprises, 1995

A 90 page compilation of my former syndicated radio essays, pioneering songs in the field of psychologically humorous rap music - "Shrink Rap" Productions - a creative visualization poem and other humorous lyrics/poems. "Stress Brake" radio essays are short (300 words), fast-paced and witty, covering such topics as stress, burnout, anger and conflict resolution, time management, creativity, men's and women's issues, romantic relationships, codependency, etc. (They make excellent fillers for newsletters.)

Price: $20 (which covers priority postage and handling)

Make check payable to: Mark Gorkin

Send check to:

Mark Gorkin
Stress Doc Enterprises
1616 18th Street, NW #312
Washington, DC 20009-2542

3. Media/Interview:

a) Provided extensive psychological perspective for "The Anatomy of Incentive Travel," Event Solutions, July 2002

b) Stress Doc "Downsizing Strategies" satire appears in the Argentinian Human Resources publication, CONOCIMIENTO Y DIRECCION. (Spanish synopsis and complete English texts below.)

c) Shortened version of the classic, "Four Stages of Burnout," is appearing in the Philadelphia-Professional Conference Managemetn Association (PCMA) online newsletter. (Email stressdoc@aol.com for the new version.)

4. Chat Group and Live Workshops

a) Stop by my AOL/Digital City Shrink Rap (TM) and Group Chat DC Support Chat, Tuesdays, 9:30-11pm EST DC Support Chat. It's a dynamic, lively, at times witty and always warm, thoughtful and supportive problem-solving group. We raise questions and share our ideas, hopes and experiences with each other.

Shrink Rap:

"Cutting Edge" Strategies for Reorganizing or Downsizing

As much as the US economoy has has faltered, the Argenine economy has truly been battered. I suppose this is one reason that an HR publication chose to reprint my satire on downsizing. I've provided both Spanish synopsis and the complete English text. It's almost as wicked as all those CEOs we've been reading about. It's followed by the shortened version of, "The Four Stages of Burnout."

Click here: CONOCIMIENTO Y DIRECCION

http://www.revistacyd.com.ar/

C&D

http://www.revistacyd.com.ar/Noticia_completa.asp?contenido=817

Estrategias "tajantes" para el Downsizing

Autor de la nota

Mark Gorkin

 

22/5/2002

 

Estrategias "tajantes" para la Reorganización o el Downsizing

En su habitual estilo satírico, el norteamericano Mark Gorkin analiza la reestructuración organizacional, y sus efectos en la fuerza laboral. Mientras algunos defienden un lineamiento conducido por el mercado o las políticas, el psicohumorista defiende un modo de achicamiento de mayor nivel, casi visionario.

Advertencia: Esta sátira puede afectar a quien carezca de ironía.

Recogidos:

"El desafío para los altos cargos consiste en tener el entendimiento y las agallas para destruir gran parte de su fuerza laboral al tiempo que mantiene la supervivencia de la productividad y la moral de grupo"

"Recuérdele constantemente a los empleados sobrevivientes que debieran estar agradecidos por tener un trabajo".

"Evite sentimientos negativos a través de la motivación positiva".

"Asegúrese de que los mandos medios y los supervisores parezcan aceptar felizmente el hacer más con menos".

"Cutting Edge" Strategies for Reorganizing or Downsizing

The "Stress Doc's" Top Ten Tips for Tip-Top Management

Warning: This satire may be hazardous to the ironically-impaired.

In this era of organizational restructuring or downsizing, or better still, right-sizing, or most on target, what I call "fright-sizing," the challenge for top management is having the savvy and guts to gut much of your workforce while still maintaining survivor productivity and team morale - that "esprit de corpse." While some advocate a market- or politics-driven streamlining, I believe in a higher-level, visionary downsizing mode. To create a "lean-and-MEAN" working machine requires an Olympian management team capable of both thunderously jolting a downtrodden, demotivated workforce and being down to earth, "hands on" role models. (Oh yes, in these hypersensitive, politically correct times, just be careful where you place those hands. If you have any questions, please refer to Mitsubishi's personnel policies and procedures manual.)

Warning: Some critics will claim these forthcoming strategies produce less "lean-and-mean" operations and more "lean-and-mean-spirited" organizations. Ignore such soft-headed, liberal posturing. Now for your "Top Ten" cutting edge commandments. Go for it!

1. Keep Employees Grateful and Humble. Continuously remind employee survivors they should be thankful to have a job. By not filling those vacant positions there's less competition for eventual promotions (assuming, of course, there's not another RIF - Reduction In Force). For recalcitrant, insufficiently grateful employees, some cheerfully designed signs - "thank you for not whining" and "beware the effects of second-hand whining" - may be prominently displayed in the work and break areas).

2. Avoid Negative Feelings through Positive Motivation. Hire a hot shot outplacement team to motivate people to ignore their feelings of betrayal, fear and rage and to generate employee enthusiasm and positive thinking about updating the resume. Reassure confused and vulnerable employees that a change of job or an out-of-state position is the new learning curve they've probably needed. Hey, it's so prehistoric, so "p.b." - pre-boomer - to work twenty or thirty years in one place.

3. Separate the Transitionally Displaced. Create a transition center for the dispirited who no longer have a job (but are still on payroll) that removes them from the rest of the company. Without distractions, these isolates will focus expeditiously on their future career plans. (And don't let anyone mistake this center for a leper colony; these individuals are ill-fated, not contagious.)

4. Beware the "Blame Game." Refuse to have management-employee team building/group grieving sessions; open expression of feelings just makes management the target of "another bitch session." (Please do not impute any sexist connotation to either open blabbering or the aforementioned "b"-word. These days, being a strong, silent John Wayne- or Rambo-type is not just a male thing. There are plenty of Rambettes out there.)

5. Don't Get Predictable. Keep information about the restructuring as vague and inconsistent as possible. In fact, the more disinformation the better. A certain amount of uncertainty heightens group competition and, hopefully, will disorient your best people and/or intimidate them from leaving (until you think it's appropriate, especially if they may be a threat to your own tenured position).

6. Demonstrate Decisive Displacement. Have new managers rapidly fill some of the positions of displaced managers, especially those managers who were well-respected; people don't need to dwell morbidly on the past. On a more positive note, this transition-transfusion also provides a real opportunity for new blood. (Of course, one hopes we are speaking figuratively here. You might want to have escorts, though, for these new managers as they leave work.)

7. Instill the Spirit of Overload and Accommodation. Make sure middle managers and supervisors appear to accept cheerfully "doing more with less," even if their employees feel they are at the breaking point. Low morale, heightened staff tension and anger or, especially, that self-serving term "burnout," are not sufficient counterindicators to "sucking it up"; nor is psychobabble about psychosomatic, stress-induced illness acceptable. (Cardiac arrest, however, continues to be grounds for excused leave.) Remember, a loyal master, I mean manager, who selflessly takes on an ever expanding workload without renegotiating priorities and time frames is a company icon. Such loyalty and dedication will surely inspire even surly subordinates to met the plantation's, I mean organization's, new goals.

8. Consider Token Team Building. If absolutely necessary, allow a small matrix group to meet sporadically to provide only positive ideas and buy-in for your ever evolving company vision (or is it hallucination?; so often it's such a fine line). Eventually retire the group with gilded framed team building certificates.

9. Create Social Diversions. Plan a company picnic, a Christmas dinner party, or some diversionary event for your beleaguered, "survivor shock" employees. When not enough people sign up (or refuse to contribute a potluck dish) send an e-mail saying how, because of lack of employee interest, regretfully, the party had to be canceled. You can also organize a committee to discover the reasons why people didn't sign up.

10. Retreat Reorganizationally from Reality. Avoid a sustained relationship with a consultant trained in reorganizational crisis, conflict, loss and grief work as this intervention will surely make things worse. You know because you once attended one of those touchy-feely retreats where they even made people briefly hug one another. Or you heard about a workshop facilitator who used a "let it all hang out" encounter group-like method on a law firm retreat with thirty litigators. Big surprise...The workshop turned into a primal attack/scream session and people didn't speak to one another for the next six months. (So the retreat was a wash; there probably had been too much socializing on company time anyway. Or maybe it was just one of those retreats where people took their vows of silence to heart.)

Of course, this consultant, from a well-known firm and with a prestigious degree, didn't have a clue how to deal with intense psychological dynamics or group interaction, including disarming predatory creatures. A true consulting superstar, however, will totally work out these basically minor post-restructuring adjustment problems. In addition, such a stellar management coach, if you act right away, should offer to place, on the same retreat, a big positive motivational bandage on all pre-reorganizational crisis dysfunctional work relationships, at no extra cost. If you do dismiss the retreat approach, there still is a safe, effective image enhancing option: send a couple of key personnel on a 3-day "team building" workshop. Then you can answer "affirmative" if anyone asks whether yours is a team-based operation.

In conclusion, if you or your executive management team has the courage and foresight to enact one or more of these cutting edge strategies, please let me know. As a reorganizational consultant, I certainly aspire to work with such a visionary, progressively "lean -and-MEAN" upper management team. I understand loneliness at the top. And believe me, you'll need all the help you can get!

Main Article:

Despite an opening rant on scandalous or shadowy corporate operations, the Stress Doc cautions not to forget the survivors of the streamlinings and mergers. Part I of this two-part series focuses on five micro and macro reorganizational strategies.

 

 

Five Macro and Micro Strategies for Post-Enron Reorganization

A Stress Doc Survival Guide

As the parade of corporate scandals increasingly lengthens, and the numbers on the sidelines waving bye to their stock options, 401Ks, savings and livelihoods increases, let's try a positive spin. Perhaps these CEOs were motivated less by criminal greed and more for the common good. It's well known that Americans have a decided problem with obesity. Despite all the downsizing and consolidating, rightsizing and frightsizing of the past and present, maybe the troops were still not sufficiently "lean-and-mean." Well Enron and Arthur, World.com and Martha…thank you. With our wallets shrunk, if not our waistlines, I believe many of us now are finally "lean-and-MEAN."

Clearly, excessive money and power together, if they don't blatantly corrupt can readily corrode values and ethics. I liken these criminal CEOs to addicted smokers sucking on and blowing up in smoke company capital and personnel resources, destroying the corporate organs and the organization while surreptitiously spreading their toxic second hand smoke. (In the boom daze, one must acknowledge, many did not want to detect the smoke as a potentially destructive fire.) When top management becomes a malignant corporate cancer we know the predictable therapeutic procedure for lowering costs and conserving cash: cut out or reduce excess - employees, human resources, research and training, all the soft stuff - that is, "do more with less" and "work smarter" to balance (or is it cook?) the books so that the corpus can "survive."

Balancing a Psychological and Economic Perspective

Okay, now that I've had a chance to rant, I'll also try to put this issue in a more objective perspective. First of all, one must acknowledge the "irrational exuberance" for easy wealth/stock options for many caught up in the web of Internet and telecom crazes. And with this "boldness" as Washington Post columnist, Robert Samuelson, noted, the inevitable byproduct is "waste and overinvestment…(It's not simply) get rid of the bad guys, and the good guys can win. The hyperactive stock market of the late 1990s encouraged looser ethics - speculative trading, the overuse of stock options, misleading accounting."

Still, high-achieving CEOs often climb the corporate ladder of success because they bend and rationalize the rules: remember the mantra, "Greed is good"? Of course, there can be a fine line between bending and breaking. Also, these individuals know they are not just unique, they also deserving. Such Type A+ types wear superman and superwoman capes (with dollar signs, I'd imagine) under their power suits. This undergarment description of the top execs at American Express coming from a somewhat amazed, somewhat wary in-house health nurse. If you are dealing with oversized egos, with a righteous belief in their power to soar over mere mortal limitations or convinced they can have teflonic powers when it comes to illicit behavior and negative consequences…then you have someone like Martha Stewart seemingly getting caught in an insider-trading scheme over a sum of money which, for her, was relatively trivial. (This is not unlike Nixon trying to get extra dirt on his Democratic opponents with the Watergate break-in even though he likely had the '72 election in the bag. The motivation is not just paranoia, but also arrogance and a driving thirst for control)

Of course, not all organizations are consumed by fraudulent malignancy and narcissistic personae; sometimes streamlining is done to survive an industry-wide economic downturn spurred by global factors; sometimes it occurs for a quick though often-shortsighted boost to the bottom line. (Not unlike yo-yoing weight reduction regimens, that is, shooting for a quick fix with a diet pill or supplement but not integrating healthy eating and regular exercise. Guess I wasn't quite ready to stop the rant. ;-) While it's easy to get worked up about the use of corporate funds in the millions to purchase art (and not pay taxes) let's not get totally sidetracked. More commonly, redundancy, inefficiency and ill-advised capital investment, or outrageously expensive corporate dinners and corporate game rooms clearly warrant some streamlining and doing more with a little (or a lot) less. Still, let me share some historical perspective as an Organizational Development Consultant: throughout the '90s and our economically erratic new millennium, reorganizing, if not consolidating or downsizing, have been fairly constant refrains for much of the American workforce.

And whatever the economic context - whether global or criminal, irrational exuberance or plain mismanagement - or whether involved in a merger or reduction in force we still have employees and the organization as a whole in serious need of assistance during this turbulent transition. So strategies and steps for reorganizational survival are critical if productivity, coordination and morale are to eventually rebound. And one of the most important survival structures for repairing the doubt and disconnect between individual and organization, between employees and management is the work team.

Part I of this series will focus on five systemic and individual survival elements. While more oversight in the corporate boardroom is needed, for example, some advocate making sure the CEO is not the Chairman of the Board, and that the latter have genuine scrutiny over the former, Part II focuses more on the relationship between top management, supervisors and employees. The article lists five strategies that illuminate how the team can become the nucleus for grieving and healing and the rebuilding of trust by: a) recognizing the loss of key personnel and integrating new team players, practices, emotional processing, etc., b) developing a more inclusive team decision-making process, c) coordinating new or modified working relationships in teams and departments and d) and interconnecting departments and divisions throughout the organization so all have a better sense of and commitment to the newly evolving big picture.

System-Element Survival Strategies

Let's begin with five macro-micro problem setting and strategies; some begin in anticipation (or in denial) of an impending restructuring:

1. Recognizing Reorganizational Uncertainty. With an organizational climate of mistrust, it may be difficult for all the worker munchkins and low- and mid-level managers at OZ Corp. to know what degree of control the highest execs, like the Wizard, actually have and what's just reorganizational smoke and mirrors. Based on consulting experience, I'm aware of so many external factors, for example, Congress for federal agencies, IT closings and the loss of the tax revenue base for state governments, or globalization issues for corporations, etc., that cloud the reorganizational picture of who's the real captain of the company ship when navigating such turbulent waters.

In this amorphous, uncertain and doubting environment, some employees don't want to focus on precarious possibilities; they shut down critical thinking or, even, push themselves to exhaustion. They work harder and harder to prove their "essential" status. Others, feeling like "pawns" try to battle their anxiety and sense of helplessness while establishing some control by cranking up the old mill. Not surprisingly, in this shadowy climate, with the fear of losing jobs or work hours, the rumor mill often goes into overtime.

Those at the top often make two mistakes, one an error of omission, the other of commission. First, management often does not institute workshops on loss and change that would formally allow employees and supervisors to vent about and better grapple with current conditions. The second error, though not always pre-meditated, is passing along information not grounded in first-hand observation or fact. While this sharing is meant to be reassuring (not simply for defusing anger toward management; let's not be cynical) or at least to help other's see the glass as half empty and half full, such information only fuels rumor-mongering. This is akin to a visually ambiguous projection test triggering multiple interpretations by viewers. Also, some staff may think that by sharing such fanciful information, management takes employees for fools.

What is clear is that these mistakes and missed opportunities can ravage long-term trust and loyalty. When it comes to transmission, better for key decision-makers and information gatekeepers to share less but more substantive data. This directive holds even if the only honest and affirmative statement is, "At this time, I don't know what's going on or what this really means." Truth in reorganizing should not be as dubious as truth in advertising!

2. Being Down and (Breaking) Out. In the early '90s restructuring rumors were flying at the US Postal Service, especially at headquarters and nearby facilities in the Metro-DC area. Still the prevailing attitude was: "We are always going through changes (in operation). No big deal." Alas, what was not foreseen was that Carvin Marvin Runyon was brought in wielding a decidedly "cutting edge" Postmaster General axe. Nationwide, within a year, troop size was reduced by 50,000.

Two categories of employees seemed to survive best the tumultuous transition:

a) the kick-started entrepreneur. I recall one employee declaring he could no longer put all his financial and career security eggs in the postal basket. He had been contemplating starting his own seafood business for years, while doing nothing tangible. Now he was definitely pissed and, perhaps, soon to be RIFfed Off (RIF = Reduction In Force). While not planning to leave the USPS presently, the downsizing was a "kick in the butt" to disprove that his entrepreneurial vision was not just a hallucination.

b) the back to schooler. Another group of folks who saw the opportunity in problems rather than a problem of reduced opportunity were those who decided to go outside for schooling or for additional in-house training. These steps would make them more marketable, provide more flexibility for landing on their feet when the downsizing dust settled…whether inside or out of the Postal Service. (As an aside, while writing the first draft of this article at Teaism, my tea house sanctuary, a fellow at the next table mentioned that in a company downsizing, one person wrangled a leave of absence to work on a novel. In general, I wouldn't count on this option.)

3. Setting Boundaries. For the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), already beset by multiple downsizings in the last few years, post-9/11 has meant you "do even more with less." During a recent Practice Safe Stress Program with the DIA, I was emphasizing the importance of "N & N" - the ability to say "NO" and to "Negotiate" - in light of how "burnout is less a sign of failure and more that we give ourselves away." A mature woman interrupts, challenging my philosophy: "My boss doesn't want to discuss priorities and time factors; he just wants it when he wants it!" The woman briefly listed various ways she's tried to reason with or please her supervisor…without success.

Intently outlining the burnout stages, I was taken aback be her mid-stage declaration. Suddenly, out of the murmuring void, a voice of clarity. A woman, perhaps in her 50s, with years at the agency, said, "I used to have this problem, trying to please my boss; staying till seven or eight almost every night. Eventually, I started getting sick." This wakeup call led to: a) pushing aside her reservations about standing up to authority and b) a serious "N & N" with her supervisor. The result: more control of her work schedule, less stress and improved health, not to mention greater confidence and self-esteem. I affirmed the survival wisdom. The extra-ordinary (occasionally staying till eight or coming in on a weekend; unless you choose to do so more frequently) must not become the ordinary (or routinely expected).

4. Seeking Outside Help. If that problematic boss won't listen to reason, think outside the one-on-one or department box:

a) EAP as Employee Ally. Talk to an Employee Assistance Program counselor or seek private counseling or coaching. The EAP option has several advantages: 1) with your permission, an EAP counselor can speak to your supervisor. This counselor can also facilitate conflict mediation between the antagonistic parties, 2) if discovering that you are not the only disaffected team member, the counselor can suggest a team meeting with the supervisor, with or without an EAP presence. (Several employees from a team or department using EAP services will eventually get management's attention, especially when going on company time.) If the level of trust and degree of openness between employees and a supervisor is compromised, outside facilitation is needed.

b) Call on OD Consultant. Sometimes Human Resources or, even, the EAP (often for confidentiality reasons) will recommend an outside consultant/facilitator. Another consideration is having an "objective" third party with no employment ties to the organization, that is, not simply a (perceived) management mouthpiece. Separate identity and sense of integrity are vital in this intervention role. (The Stress Doc is tested, rested and ready to roll. His motto: "Have Stress? Will Travel: A Smart Mouth for Hire!")

c) EAP/Consultant as Supervisor Ally. Finally, supervisors need to use the EAP not simply as a referral option for troubled or troublesome individuals. The best supervisors are those who seek out the EAP Counselor (or an EAP- or HR-referred consultant) for approaches in handling a difficult employee or complex team issue. The worst response by a supervisor is denying or downplaying the adverse effects of a slacker on his or her colleagues. Simply encouraging or expecting others to ignore a "stress carrier" heightens team members' anger and anxiety. ("Will this carrier explode or implode? Will I be hurt by the fallout?" Will a borderline employee have the chance pull a knife on a new supervisor partly because the supervisor's boss downplayed the violence potential of the employee?) Now both dysfunctional employee and dysfunctional supervisor become a tumor, inevitably eroding morale and productivity of the unit.

5. Following the Way of the Acronyms. Consider these two acronyms to bolster survival capacity during these trying transitional times:

a) Balancing The Triple "A". To affirm an employee's sense of professionalism and sense of responsibility, blend "The Triple 'A': Authority, Autonomy and Accountability." Management must recognize and support an employee's utilization of skills and knowledge, and the desire to have input in relevant decision-making ("Authority"). Workers also want some control of their turf, time frames and operating procedures ("Autonomy"). At the same time, employees must accept the objective and timely review of their work performance. Alas, with all the "Accountability" scandals at the top, I wonder if employees, in noticeable numbers, will start challenging a manager's right to one-dimensionally grade their work quality and quantity.

b) Investing in Organizational IRAs. When people are chronically doing more with less, don't assume they will be (or should be) grateful having a job in a tight economy. A management team that's concerned about motivation and loyalty or, at least, about the longevity of workplace survivors, makes sure people can earn those IRAs: Incentives, Recognition & Rewards and Advancement Opportunities, including opportunity for needed and desired training.

Part I has identified five macro-micro, organizational-individual strategies and structures for broadly managing the shock and subsequent fallout of a disruptive reorganization. These are: 1) Accepting Reorganizational Uncertainty, 2) Being Down and (Breaking) Out, 3) Setting Boundaries, 4) Seeking Outside Help and 5) Following the Way of the Acronyms. Part II will enumerate five specific team interventions for rebuilding and bonding within the team or departments and for subsystems across the organization as a whole. Hopefully, Parts I and II will heal wounds and regenerate individual, team and organizational energy and spirit while enabling all to…Practice Safe Stress!

 

Reader's Submission

Subj: CEOnistas

From: daisy@knowing.org

REMAINING U.S. CEOs MAKE A BREAK FOR IT-

Band of Roving Chief Executives Spotted Miles from Mexican Border. San Antonio, Texas (Rooters News Service).

Unwilling to wait for their eventual indictments, the 10,000 remaining CEOs

of public U.S. companies made a break for it yesterday, heading for the Mexican border, plundering towns and villages along the way, and writing the entire rampage off as a marketing expense.

"They came into my home, made me pay for my own TV, then double-booked the

revenues," said Rachel Sanchez of Las Cruces, just north of El Paso. "Right in front of my daughters."

Calling themselves the CEOnistas, the chief executives were first spotted last night along the Rio Grande River near Quemado, where they bought each of the town's 320 residents by borrowing against pension fund gains. By late this morning, the CEOnistas had arbitrarily inflated Quemado's population to 960, and declared a 200 percent profit for the fiscal second quarter.

This morning, the outlaws bought the city of Waco, transferred its under-performing areas to a private partnership, and sent a bill to California for $4.5 billion.

Law enforcement officials and disgruntled shareholders riding posse were noticeably frustrated. "First of all, they're very hard to find because they always stand behind

their numbers, and the numbers keep shifting," said posse spokesman Dean Levitt. "And every time we yell 'Stop in the name of the shareholders!', they refer us to investor relations. I've been on the phone all damn morning."

"YOU'LL NEVER AUDIT ME ALIVE!"

The pursuers said they have had some success, however, by preying on a common executive weakness. "Last night we caught about 24 of them by disguising one of our female officers as a CNBC anchor," said U.S. Border Patrol spokesperson Janet Lewis. "It was like moths to a flame."

Also, teams of agents have been using high-powered listening devices to scan the plains for telltale sounds of the CEOnistas. "Most of the time we just hear leaves rustling or cattle flicking their tails," said Lewis, "but occasionally we'll pick up someone saying, 'I was totally out of the loop on that.'"

So far, about 50 chief executives have been captured, including Martha Stewart, who was detained south of El Paso where she had cut through a barbed-wire fence at the Zaragosa border crossing off Highway 375.

"She would have gotten away, but she was stopping motorists to ask for marzipan and food coloring so she could make edible snowman place settings, using the cut pieces of wire for the arms," said Border Patrol officer Jennette Cushing. "We put her in cell No. 7, because the morning sun really adds texture to the stucco walls."

While some stragglers are believed to have successfully crossed into Mexico,

Cushing said the bulk of the CEOnistas have holed themselves up at the Alamo. "No, not the fort, the car rental place at the airport," she said. "They're rotating all the tires on the minivans and accounting for each change as a sales event."

Mark Gorkin, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, an international speaker and syndicated writer, is America Online's "Online Psychohumorist" ™ The Doc runs his weekly "Shrink Rap and Group Chat" on AOL/Digital City DC Stress Chat . See his award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite" -- www.stressdoc.com Stress Doc homepage (recently sited as "comforting" resource in a National Public Radio feature on "Bad Bosses"). Email for his monthly newsletter recently showcased on List-a-Day.com. For more info on the Doc's "Practice Safe Stress" programs, email stressdoc@aol.com or call 202-232-8662.

(c) Mark Gorkin 2002

Shrink Rap ™ Productions